James Eli Watson was a U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator from Indiana. He was the Senate's second official majority leader. While an article published by the Senate gives his year of birth as 1862, this is most probably incorrect. He was born in Winchester, Indiana, one of six children. His father was a lawyer, a Republican state legislator, and owner-editor of the local newspaper, the Winchester Herald. At the age of twelve, Watson accompanied his father to the 1876 Republican National Convention. Watson attended DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana and graduated in 1886. At DePauw he was a member of Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity. He then studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1886 and joined his father's law firm.