William Tappan Thompson was born in Ravenna, Ohio and spent his childhood in Ohio and Philadelphia. He started out early in life as a printer but later moved to the South to study law. Like Thorpe, Thompson is a Northerner by birth. However, Thompson will spend the majority of his life in the South as a strong advocate of Southern society and the Confederacy. He worked with the first of the Southwestern humorists, Augustus Longstreet, on the Augusta States Rights Sentinel. In 1842, while editor of the Augusta Mirror, Thompson published the first of his Major Jones letters. Thompson's most famous book was an epistolary novel called Major Jones's Courtship that consisted of twenty-eight such letters spanning two years in the life of his character.
Major Joseph Jones of Pineville, Georgia is the famous character creation of Thompson-- as Sut Lovingood is of Harris and Simon Suggs is of Hooper. Major Jones, however, is unique among characters of Southwestern humor because he does not fit the profile as a citizen of the lower, working classes. Major Jones is representative of the upper middle classes of the 1840's. He is a land and slave owner with some education and as such he appealed to a different class of readers -- especially those in his community of Augusta, Georgia, who fit a similar profile.
Along with a higher social class, Major Jones possesses another exceptional quality -- he is virtuous. In marked contrast to other Southwestern characters, Jones is an upstanding teetotaler, respectable family man and Whig who appealed to the more genteel gentleman and lady readers of the day. However, with his pristine personality, sketches like "Major Jones Pops the Question" and "A Coon Hunt, or A Fency Country" are popular as a result of the humor of the situations, rather than the comic complexity of the characters themselves.