The Political Graveyard: A Database of American History
Politicians in Trouble or Disgrace

Politicians in Trouble or Disgrace: Tennessee

in chronological order

  William Blount (1749-1800) — Born in Windsor, Bertie County, N.C., April 6, 1749. Member of North Carolina house of commons, 1781, 1783; Delegate to Continental Congress from North Carolina, 1782-83, 1786-87; member, U.S. Constitutional Convention, 1787; member of North Carolina state senate, 1788; Governor of Southwest Territory, 1790-96; delegate to Tennessee state constitutional convention, 1796; U.S. Senator from Tennessee, 1796-97; member of Tennessee state senate, 1798-1800; died in office 1800; Speaker of the Tennessee State Senate, 1798-99. Presbyterian. Became involved in a conspiracy to turn Florida over to British control; when this plot was uncovered in 1797, was expelled from the U.S. Senate; afterwards, on July 7, 1797, he was impeached, but the Senate dropped the matter for lack of jurisdiction. Died in Knoxville, Knox County, Tenn., March 21, 1800 (age 50 years, 349 days). Interment at First Presbyterian Church Cemetery, Knoxville, Tenn.
  Relatives: Son of Jacob Blount and Barbara (Gray) Blount; half-brother of William Blount; brother of Thomas Blount (1759-1812); married, February 12, 1778, to Mary Grainger; father of William Grainger Blount.
  Political family: Blount family of North Carolina.
  Blount County, Tenn. is named for him.
  See also congressional biography — Govtrack.us page — Wikipedia article — NNDB dossier
  John Henry Eaton (1790-1856) — also known as John H. Eaton — of Nashville, Davidson County, Tenn. Born near Scotland Neck, Halifax County, N.C., June 18, 1790. Democrat. Lawyer; served in the U.S. Army during the War of 1812; member of Tennessee state house of representatives, 1815-16; U.S. Senator from Tennessee, 1818-21, 1821-29; U.S. Secretary of War, 1829-31; Governor of Florida Territory, 1834-36; U.S. Minister to Spain, 1836-40. Member, Freemasons. Resigned from Cabinet in 1831 during the scandal (called the "Petticoat Affair") over past infedelities of his second wife, Peggy Eaton. Died in Washington, D.C., November 17, 1856 (age 66 years, 152 days). Interment at Oak Hill Cemetery, Washington, D.C.
  Eaton County, Mich. is named for him.
  See also congressional biography — Govtrack.us page — Wikipedia article — U.S. State Dept career summary
  Alfred Osborn Pope Nicholson (1808-1876) — also known as A. O. P. Nicholson — of Tennessee. Born in Tennessee, 1808. Democrat. Member of Tennessee state legislature, 1830; U.S. Senator from Tennessee, 1840-42, 1859-61; chief justice of Tennessee state supreme court, 1870-76. When the Civil War began, he left Washington but did not resign his seat in the Senate; one of ten Southern senators expelled in absentia on July 11, 1861. Died in 1876 (age about 68 years). Interment at Rose Hill Cemetery, Columbia, Tenn.
  See also congressional biography — Govtrack.us page
  William Henry Carroll (1810-1868) — also known as William H. Carroll — of Memphis, Shelby County, Tenn. Born in Nashville, Davidson County, Tenn., 1810. Democrat. Postmaster at Memphis, Tenn., 1853-60; delegate to Democratic National Convention from Tennessee, 1860; general in the Confederate Army during the Civil War; Gen. Braxton Bragg had him arrested for drunkenness, and he resigned from the army. Died in Montreal, Quebec, May 3, 1868 (age about 57 years). Interment at Elmwood Cemetery, Memphis, Tenn.
  Relatives: Son of William Carroll and Cecilia (Bradford) Carroll (1792-1848); brother of Mary Catherine Carroll (1816-1842; who married Caleb Cushing Norvell); father of William Henry Carroll (1842-1915).
  Political family: Conway-Norvell-Johnson family.
  See also Wikipedia article — Find-A-Grave memorial
  Nathan Bedford Forrest (1821-1877) — also known as "Wizard of the Saddle" — of Memphis, Shelby County, Tenn. Born near Chapel Hill, Bedford County (now Marshall County), Tenn., July 13, 1821. Democrat. Cotton planter; slave trader; general in the Confederate Army during the Civil War; in April 1864, after the Battle of Fort Pillow, Tennessee, Confederate troops under his command massacred African-American Union soldiers, not accepting them as prisoners, since the Confederacy refused to recognize ex-slaves as legitimate combatants; this event, seen as a war crime, sparked outrage across the North, and a congressional inquiry; in 1867, he became involved in the Ku Klux Klan and was elected Grand Wizard; the organization used violent tactics to intimidate Black voters and suppress their votes; delegate to Democratic National Convention from Tennessee, 1868; in 1869, he had a change of heart, and issued a letter ordering that the Klan be dissolved and its costumes destroyed; he went on to denounce the group and its crimes; in 1875, he gave a "friendly speech" to a meeting of an African-American organization in Memphis, calling for peace, harmony, and economic advancement of former slaves; for this speech, he was vehemently denounced in the Southern press. English ancestry. Member, Ku Klux Klan. After his death, he became a folk hero among white Southerners, particularly during the imposition of Jim Crow segregation laws in the early 20th century, and later, in reaction to the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s. Died, from complications of diabetes, in Memphis, Shelby County, Tenn., October 29, 1877 (age 56 years, 108 days). Original interment at Elmwood Cemetery, Memphis, Tenn.; reinterment in 1904 at Health Sciences Park, Memphis, Tenn.; memorial monument at Myrtle Hill Cemetery, Rome, Ga.; memorial monument at Live Oak Cemetery, Selma, Ala.
  Relatives: Son of William B. Forrest (1801-1837) and Miriam (Beck) Forrest (1802-1867); married 1845 to Mary Ann Montgomery (1826-1893).
  Forrest County, Miss. is named for him.
  The city of Forrest City, Arkansas, is named for him.  — The World War II Liberty ship SS Nathan B. Forrest (built 1943, scrapped 1973) was named for him.
  See also Wikipedia article — Find-A-Grave memorial
  William Nathaniel Porter (1812-1867) — also known as Nathaniel Porter — of Tennessee. Born in Henry County, Tenn., December 15, 1812. Colonel in the Confederate Army during the Civil War; member of Tennessee state house of representatives, 1866. With others, tried to stop the ratification of the 14th Amendment in 1866 by staying away and preventing a quorum; this tactic was not successful. Expelled from the Tennessee House a few days later. Died in Henry County, Tenn., June 11, 1867 (age 54 years, 178 days). Interment at Poplar Grove Cemetery, Henry County, Tenn.
Andrew Johnson Andrew Johnson (1808-1875) — of Carthage, Moore County, N.C.; Greeneville, Greene County, Tenn. Born in Raleigh, Wake County, N.C., December 29, 1808. Mayor of Greeneville, Tenn., 1830; member of Tennessee state house of representatives, 1835; member of Tennessee state senate, 1841; U.S. Representative from Tennessee 1st District, 1843-53; Governor of Tennessee, 1853-57, 1862-65; U.S. Senator from Tennessee, 1857-62, 1875; died in office 1875; Vice President of the United States, 1865; President of the United States, 1865-69; candidate for Democratic nomination for President, 1868. Member, Freemasons; Knights Templar. In 1868, was impeached by the House of Representatives; tried and acquitted by the Senate, which voted 35 to 19 (short of the required two-thirds) on three of the eleven articles of impeachment. Died, after a series of strokes, at his daughter's home in Carter County, Tenn., July 31, 1875 (age 66 years, 214 days). Interment at Andrew Johnson National Cemetery, Greeneville, Tenn.
  Relatives: Married, May 17, 1827, to Eliza McCardle; father of Martha Johnson (who married David Trotter Patterson (1818-1891)).
  Cross-reference: Edmund G. Ross — George T. Brown — Christopher G. Memminger — Thomas Overton Moore — John W. Chanler
  See also congressional biography — Govtrack.us page — Wikipedia article — NNDB dossier
  Books about Andrew Johnson: Hans L. Trefousse, Andrew Johnson: A Biography — Howard Means, The Avenger Takes His Place: Andrew Johnson and the 45 Days That Changed the Nation — Paul H. Bergeron, Andrew Johnson's Civil War and Reconstruction — Mary Malone, Andrew Johnson (for young readers)
  Critical books about Andrew Johnson: Nathan Miller, Star-Spangled Men : America's Ten Worst Presidents
  Image source: James G. Blaine, Twenty Years of Congress, vol. 2 (1886)
  Marshall Tate Polk (1831-1884) — also known as M. T. Polk — of Bolivar, Hardeman County, Tenn. Born in Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, N.C., May 15, 1831. Democrat. Colonel in the Confederate Army during the Civil War; delegate to Democratic National Convention from Tennessee, 1876; Tennessee state treasurer, 1877-83. Wounded at the Battle of Shiloh, during the Civil War, and lost a leg. In 1883, a $400,000 shortfall was was discovered in the state treasury. Polk fled to Texas, was arrested there, and brought back to Nashville for trial. Charged with embezzlement, he pleaded not guilty -- his lawyer argued he was only guilty of "default of pay" -- but was convicted, sentenced to twenty years in prison, and fined. Imprisonment was delayed pending his appeal, and he died in the meantime. Died in Bolivar, Hardeman County, Tenn., February 20, 1884 (age 52 years, 281 days). Interment at Polk Cemetery, Bolivar, Tenn.
  Relatives: Son of Marshall Tate Polk (1805-1831) and Laura Theresa (Wilson) Polk (1808-1848); married to Evelina McNeal Bills (1836-1926); nephew of James Knox Polk and William Hawkins Polk; first cousin of Tasker Polk; second cousin of Edwin Fitzhugh Polk; third cousin of Mary Adelaide Polk (1817-1863; who married George Davis) and Richard Tyler Polk; third cousin once removed of Rufus King Polk and Frank Lyon Polk (1871-1943); third cousin twice removed of Charles Polk and Elizabeth Polk Guest; third cousin thrice removed of Raymond R. Guest; fourth cousin of Augustus Caesar Dodge; fourth cousin once removed of Trusten Polk.
  Political families: Ashe-Polk family of North Carolina; Polk family; Manly-Haywood-Polk family of Raleigh, North Carolina (subsets of the Three Thousand Related Politicians).
  Epitaph: "Every one that loveth is born of God."
  See also Find-A-Grave memorial
  Edward Hull Crump (1874-1954) — also known as Edward H. Crump; Ed Crump; "Boss Crump" — of Memphis, Shelby County, Tenn. Born near Holly Springs, Marshall County, Miss., October 2, 1874. Democrat. Head, E. H. Crump Buggy Manufacturing Co.; president, E. H. Crump & Co. (involved in banking, real estate, and insurance); mayor of Memphis, Tenn., 1910-16, 1940; resigned 1916; proceedings were brought for his ouster as mayor in 1915-16, based on charges that he failed to enforce state liquor laws; when the ouster suit was upheld by the state supreme court, he resigned; Shelby County Treasurer, 1917-23; delegate to Democratic National Convention from Tennessee, 1924, 1928, 1932, 1936, 1940, 1944; U.S. Representative from Tennessee, 1931-35 (10th District 1931-33, 9th District 1933-35); member of Democratic National Committee from Tennessee, 1936-45. Died in Memphis, Shelby County, Tenn., October 16, 1954 (age 80 years, 14 days). Interment at Elmwood Cemetery, Memphis, Tenn.
  Relatives: Married to Bessie Byrd McLean.
  See also congressional biography — Govtrack.us page
  Books about Edward Hull Crump: William D. Miller, Mr. Crump of Memphis
  James Patton Sutton (1915-2005) — also known as Pat Sutton — of Lawrenceburg, Lawrence County, Tenn. Born near Wartrace, Bedford County, Tenn., October 31, 1915. Democrat. Served in the U.S. Navy during World War II; U.S. Representative from Tennessee, 1949-55 (7th District 1949-53, 6th District 1953-55); candidate in primary for U.S. Senator from Tennessee, 1954; Lawrence County Sheriff; pleaded no contest in 1964 to charges related to his involvement in a counterfeiting ring; imprisoned for 10 months for violating a federal probation order. Died, in the Lakeland Specialty Hospital, Berrien Center, Berrien County, Mich., February 3, 2005 (age 89 years, 95 days). Cremated; ashes interred at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va.
  See also congressional biography — Govtrack.us page — Find-A-Grave memorial
  Leonard Ray Blanton (1930-1996) — also known as Ray Blanton — of Adamsville, McNairy County, Tenn. Born in Hardin County, Tenn., April 10, 1930. Democrat. Member of Tennessee state house of representatives, 1964-66; U.S. Representative from Tennessee 7th District, 1967-73; defeated in primary, 1988; candidate for U.S. Senator from Tennessee, 1972; Governor of Tennessee, 1975-79. Methodist. Member, Lions; Moose; Shriners; Freemasons. Ousted as Governor amid charges of selling pardons; later convicted of conspiracy to sell liquor licenses and served 23 months in prison. Died, of kidney disease, at Jackson-Madison County Hospital, Jackson, Madison County, Tenn., November 22, 1996 (age 66 years, 226 days). Interment at Shiloh Church Cemetery, Shiloh, Tenn.
  See also congressional biography — Govtrack.us page — NNDB dossier
  Gentry Crowell (1932-1989) — of Tennessee. Born in Chestnut Mound, Smith County, Tenn., December 10, 1932. Democrat. Member of Tennessee state house of representatives, 1969-77; secretary of state of Tennessee, 1977-89; died in office 1989. His office was a target of the federal "Operation Rocky Top" investigation into fraudulent charity bingo games; his administrative assistant admitted to longtime embezzlement. Suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound on December 12, 1989, and died eight days later in Vanderbilt Hospital, Nashville, Davidson County, Tenn., December 20, 1989 (age 57 years, 10 days). Interment at Cedar Grove Cemetery, Lebanon, Tenn.
  See also Wikipedia article — Find-A-Grave memorial
  Lafayette Christopher Thomas (1926-2000) — also known as Fate C. Thomas — of Nashville, Davidson County, Tenn. Born in Nashville, Davidson County, Tenn., September 23, 1926. Democrat. Candidate for Tennessee state house of representatives, 1954; Davidson County Sheriff, 1972-90. Catholic. Indicted in federal court in 1990 on 54 counts of abusing his power as sheriff; pleaded guilty to theft and mail fraud; sentenced to five years in prison; released in 1994. Died, following heart bypass surgery, in Nashville, Davidson County, Tenn., July 25, 2000 (age 73 years, 306 days). Interment at Calvary Cemetery, Nashville, Tenn.
  Byron Low Tax Looper (b. 1964) — also known as Byron Anthony Looper — of Cookeville, Putnam County, Tenn. Born in Putnam County, Tenn., September 15, 1964. Democratic candidate for Georgia state house of representatives, 1987; Republican candidate for Tennessee state house of representatives, 1992; Republican candidate for Tennessee state senate, 1998. Changed his middle name from Anthony to Low Tax. He was indicted in March, 1998, on 14 counts of official misconduct as Putnam County Tax Assessor. On October 19, 1998, he shot and killed Tommy Burks, his opponent for a state senate seat; he was arrested soon after and charged with murder. He lost the November 1998 senate election to Burks' widow, who ran as a write-in candidate with the support of both parties. In August, 2000, he was tried for murder, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison without parole. Still living as of 2008.
  Cross-reference: McCracken Poston
"Enjoy the hospitable entertainment of a political graveyard."
Henry L. Clinton, Apollo Hall, New York City, February 3, 1872
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