Senator McKellar & the Fracas on the Senate Floor

By Ray Hill There are several stories told about Tennessee’s Senator Kenneth D. McKellar, some of which have become legend.  Perhaps the most frequently told story is that of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt asking McKellar if the Tennessean could hide $2 billion in the budget, which was the origin of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.  […]

Thetus W. Sims of Tennessee

By Ray Hill For twenty-four years, Thetus W. Sims served West Tennessee as a member of Congress. Now almost entirely forgotten, he is a figure from a distant past. In fact, before his career was over, Sims was already becoming an antiquated figure, which helped to usher him out of office. Sims had been superintendent […]

Tennessee And FDR’s Court Packing Plan, I I

By Ray Hill President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, coming off his greatest reelection campaign, had announced he was submitting legislation to Congress to expand the United State Supreme Court.  Roosevelt’s proposal was widely and bitterly attacked in much of the press and despite huge Democratic majorities in both Houses of Congress, many Democrats were openly opposed to […]

Tennessee And FDR’s Court Packing Plan, I

By Ray Hill   February 5, 1937 was a Friday and President Franklin D. Roosevelt publicly announced his intention to ask Congress to enlarge the United States Supreme Court.  Roosevelt was fresh from a smashing reelection campaign in 1936, which saw the president carry every state in the union, save for Maine and Vermont.  The […]

Senator McKellar’s Homecoming, 1946

By Ray Hill Senator Kenneth D. McKellar turned seventy-seven years old in January of 1946.  He had been in Congress since 1911 and in the Senate since 1917.  It was clear McKellar was aging and there had been some thought the old Tennessean would retire.  President Franklin D. Roosevelt had summoned E. H. Crump, leader […]

Davy Crockett

  By Ray Hill   The first real media marketing campaign began in December of 1954 when Walt Disney aired Davy Crockett, Indian Fighter.  It was the first of three episodes planned by Disney based on the life of the Tennessee frontiersman.  The Disney movie starring Fess Parker inspired a genuine craze with youngsters demanding […]

Eleanor ‘Cissy’ Patterson, Publisher & Personality

By Ray Hill Eleanor Medill Patterson was the first woman to successfully run a major metropolitan newspaper.  Known as “Cissy” due to the nickname given to her in childhood by her brother, she was volatile, unpredictable, frequently gleefully malevolent and unquestionably gifted. Eleanor Patterson was born into a wealthy and prominent family on November 7, […]

Andrew Jackson & the National Bank

By Ray Hill   If Senator K. D. McKellar was an accomplished feudist, another son of Tennessee was at the very least as accomplished in that art: General Andrew Jackson.  President Andrew Jackson carried the bullet in his body from a duel he fought until he died; the other fellow didn’t emerge from that encounter […]

The Great Smoky Mountain Park Feud: Senator K. D. McKellar and the National Park Service

The Great Smoky Mountain Park Feud: Senator K. D. McKellar and the National Park Service

By Ray Hill   As with most everything in Tennessee, Senator Kenneth D. McKellar felt a proprietary interest in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. McKellar had been instrumental in helping along the park, sponsoring legislation with Senator Claude A. Swanson of Virginia to acquire land for the park. The full history of the Great […]