John Taliaferro Thompson


Honorary Degree (1922)
Doctor of Laws
Location: Bloomington
Presenter: William Lowe Bryan


United States Army Brigadier General John Taliaferro Thompson attended IU before graduating from West Point. The youngest colonel in the Spanish-American War, Thompson was a small arms specialist and Director of Arsenals whose work was recognized with the Distinguished Service Medal in 1918. After his military career, he was chief engineer at Remington Arms Company where he invented the Thompson Submachine Gun. The weapon, popularly known as the "Tommy Gun," earned notoriety for its use by gangsters in the 1920s. He received the honorary LL.D. in 1922 from IU and spoke at Commencement in 1932 and the dedication of the Union Building.

His father was James Thompson, professor of military science and engineering, 1869-1876. Military drill was dropped in 1874 but J.T. remained as professor of math and civil engineering.