‘Mr. Hub’ – Senator Herbert S. Walters

By Ray Hill Herbert Sanford Walters was a successful businessman and by the appointment of Governor Frank Clement, United States senator from Tennessee. A reminder of Herbert Walters to many East Tennesseans is Walters State Community College. Born November 17, 1891 in Jefferson County, Walters attended both Carson-Newman College and the University of Tennessee. UT […]

The Colonel: Luke Lea, Part V

By Ray Hill By 1929, Luke Lea had reached the apex of his political influence in Tennessee.  Lea was the undisputed power behind the throne and no one had more influence in the administration of Governor Henry Horton.  When Tennessee’s junior United States senator, Lawrence D. Tyson, died unexpectedly in August of 1929, Horton immediately […]

The Colonel: Luke Lea, Part IV

By Ray Hill   Once again happily married, doting on his newborn daughter, former United States Senator Luke Lea concentrated upon reducing his indebtedness after his return from the World War.  Frequently discussed as a potential candidate for high office, Lea made no move to seek election, but he was becoming more and more influential […]

The Colonel: Luke Lea, Part III

By Ray Hill Senator Luke Lea had lost his reelection bid in November of 1915, running third behind Congressman Kenneth D. McKellar and former governor Malcolm Patterson.  Lea’s defeat occurred for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was his affiliation with the “fusionist” movement in Tennessee.  Having benefited from his alliance with […]

The Colonel: Luke Lea, Part II

By Ray Hill Luke Lea had not only survived the intense political wars in Tennessee, but had profited from them. Elected to the United States Senate in 1911, Lea’s alliance with “Independent” Democrats and Republicans had created a “fusionist” combine that held the governorship, both seats in the United States Senate and the Tennessee House […]

The Colonel: Luke Lea, Part One

  By Ray Hill The pages of Tennessee’s history is littered with colorful characters, but the life of Luke Lea is one right out of a novel; handsome, urbane, highly intelligent and successful, Lea climbed to the heights of financial and political accomplishment.  Lea would become one of the first publishing magnates and would be […]

Percy Priest, The Unlikely Congressman

By Ray Hill   Percy Priest was an unlikely candidate for Congress and faced daunting odds to get to the House of Representatives in the first place.  Yet once there, he remained there until the day he died. Percy Priest was once described by William “Fishbait” Miller, Doorkeeper of the U. S. House of Representatives, […]

Congressman John J. Duncan

By Ray Hill   For two decades there was no politician in the Second Congressional district more popular than John James Duncan. John Duncan had hitchhiked to Knoxville with five dollars in his pocket to attend the University of Tennessee and remained, rising to become Law Director and Mayor of Knoxville and eventually won a […]

‘Hillbilly Bill:’ Congressman J. Will Taylor

By Ray Hill   For twenty years, James Willis Taylor was the Congressman from Tennessee’s Second Congressional district. J. Will Taylor, popularly known to many of his constituents as “Hillbilly Bill,” was a power in both the national Republican Party and the Tennessee GOP. Born August 28, 1880 near Lead Mine Bend in Union County, […]

Congressman J. Ridley Mitchell of Crossville

By Ray Hill   Long forgotten by most, John Ridley Mitchell was a member of Congress for eight years and twice a viable candidate for statewide office in Tennessee. J. Ridley Mitchell was a formidable politician and a wily practitioner of the art of politics. Albert Gore, Sr., who succeeded Mitchell in Congress, once described […]