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19th Century African American Legislators of Tennessee


19th Century African American Legislators of Tennessee Produced at the Tennessee State Library and Archives Nashville, Tennessee 37243 2010 edition – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: 19th Century African American Legislators of Tennessee

19th Century African American Legislators of
  • Produced at the Tennessee State Library and
  • Nashville, Tennessee 37243
  • 2010 edition
  • .

African American Legislators in Tennessee in the
19th Century and Their Elected Terms
  • SAMPSON W. KEEBLE . . . . . . Davidson County . .
    . . . . . 1873-1874
  • JOHN W. BOYD . . . . . . . . . . . . .Tipton
    County . . . . . . . . . 1881-1884 (2 terms)
  • THOMAS F. CASSELS . . . . . . . Shelby County . .
    . . . . . . . 1881-1882
  • ISAAC F. NORRIS . . . . . . . . . . .Shelby
    County . . . . . . . . . 1881-1882
  • THOMAS A. SYKES . . . . . . . . . Davidson County
    . . . . . . .1881-1882
  • LEON HOWARD . . . . . . . . . . . . Shelby County
    . . . . . . . . 1883-1884
  • SAMUEL A. McELWEE . . . . . . Haywood County . .
    . . . . .1883-1888 (3 terms)
  • DAVID F. RIVERS . . . . . . . . . . Fayette
    County . . . . . . . . 1883-1886
  • GREENE E. EVANS . . . . . . . . . Shelby County
    . . . . . . . . 1885-1886
  • WILLIAM FIELD . . . . . . . . . . . .Shelby
    County . . . . . . . . .1885-1886
  • WILLIAM C. HODGE . . . . . . . . Hamilton County
    . . . . . . .1885-1886
  • MONROE W. GOODEN . . . . . . .Fayette County . .
    . . . . . . 1887-1888
  • STYLES L. HUTCHINS . . . . . . .Hamilton County .
    . . . . . .1887-1888
  • JESSE M. H. GRAHAM . . . . . . .Montgomery County
    . . . . 1897 (unseated)
  • Rivers served 1883-1884 both Rivers
    McElwee were prevented by white supremacists from
    serving a later term to which they had been
  • No other African Americans were elected to the TN
    General Assembly until 1964.

Sampson W. Keeble
  • ca. 1833 - 1887
  • A Republican barber, he was
  • elected to represent Davidson County
  • in the 38th Tennessee
  • General Assembly, 1873-1874
  • He was the first African American
  • elected to serve in the
  • Tennessee legislature.
  • ..
  • ..

Bust of Sampson Keeble in Tennessee State Capitol
by sculptor Roy W. Butler, 2010.
Sampson W. Keeble, p. 2
  • Sampson W. Keeble was a Nashville
    businessman, the owner of the Rock City Barber
    Shop, when he was elected to the 34th General
    Assembly. Born in 1833 in Rutherford County TN,
    he was the son of Sampson and Nancy Keeble. His
    parents were the slaves of H. P. Keeble, an
    influential Murfreesboro attorney.
  • Keeble worked as a press-man for various
    newspapers in Murfreesboro before the Civil War,
    then fought in the Confederate Army during the
    conflict. After the war he established his
    Nashville barber shop and served on the boards of
    directors of a bank and several other African
    American organizations.

Sampson W. Keeble, p. 3
  • In November 1872, riding the coattails of
    Ulysses S. Grants Republican Presidential
    victory, Keeble was narrowly elected by Davidson
    County voters to serve in the Tennessee General
  • During his single term in the
    legislature, S. W. Keeble introduced bills
    protecting wage earners, amending Nashvilles
    city charter to allow African Americans to own
    and operate businesses downtown, and
    appropriating funds for the Tennessee Manual
    Labor University. Not one of his bills received
    sufficient votes to pass into law.
  • Keeble, who died in 1887, is buried with his
    daughter and son-in-law in Nashvilles Greenwood

42nd General Assembly, 1881-82
The 4 African American legislators are at far
John W. Boyd
  • John W. Boyd
  • ca. 1850 March 10, 1932
  • A Republican attorney, he was
  • elected to represent Tipton County
  • in the 42nd Tennessee
  • General Assembly, 1881-1882,
  • and re-elected to
  • the 43rd Tennessee
  • General Assembly, 1883-1884.
  • .
  • .

John W. Boyd, p. 2
  • John W. Boyds parents, Philip Sophia
    Fields Boyd, were born in Virginia and moved to
    Tennessee with their slave-owners. John married
    Martha Doggett of Mason TN in 1879. His brother
    Armistead served with Co. C, 88th US Colored
  • An attorney during Reconstruction, Boyd
    was a magistrate in the Ninth Civil District of
    Tipton County until 1900. Named a census
    enumerator for Civil District 10 in 1880, he was
    elected to the state legislature the same year,
    serving 2 terms.

John W. Boyd, p. 3
  • In the General Assembly John Boyd worked
    diligently with other legislators to overturn
    Chapter 130 of the Acts of 1875, the first of
    Tennessees Jim Crow laws, which permitted racial
    discrimination in public facilities. Boyd also
    attempted to repeal the restrictive contract
    labor law, which had the effect of keeping
    working blacks in bondage.

Chapter 130, Acts of Tennessee, 1875
  • African American legislators worked harder to
    overturn this 1875 law than almost any other. An
    amended version of Boyds bill to repeal it was
    passed in 1883, but it did not effectively deal
    with the larger issue of racial discrimination.
  • Excerpt Hereafter no keeper of any Hotel or
    public House, or carrier of passengers for hire,
    or conductor, driver, or employee of such carrier
    or keeper of any place of amusement or employee
    of such keeper shall be bound, or under any
    obligation, to entertain, carry, or admit any
    person whom he shall for any reason whatever
    choose not to entertain, carry, or admit to his
    house, Hotel, carriage, or means of
    Transportation or place of amusement, nor shall
    any right exist in favor of any such person so
    refused admission but the right of such
    keepers...and their employees to control the
    access admittance or exclusion of
    persons...shall be as complete as that of any
    private person over his private house, carriage,
    or private theatre or places of amusement for his

This shows the cover and first page of John W.
Boyds 1883 bill, HB 663, to prevent racial
discrimination by railroad companies. The bill
was amended to order separate accommodations for
black and white passengers. Although Boyd
objected to, and even voted against the amended
bill, it passed into law by a vote of 56-19.
Thomas F. Cassels
  • Thomas F. Cassels
  • ca. 1849 1906
  • A Republican attorney, he was
  • elected to represent Shelby County
  • in the 42nd Tennessee
  • General Assembly, 1881-1882
  • .
  • .

Thomas F. Cassels, p. 2
  • Thomas F. Cassels was born in Kentucky about
    1849 to free parents. He attended Oberlin
    College in Ohio, and then moved to Memphis to
    practice law. Probably the first African
    American to practice law in Memphis, he was also
    the first to plead before the Supreme Court of
    West Tennessee. He was appointed Assistant
    Attorney General of Memphis in 1878.
  • The year after his term in the General
    Assembly ended, he represented activist Ida
    B. Wells in a discrimination lawsuit against a
    railroad company. In 1888 he served as a
    Republican Presidential elector.
  • Cassels continued to work as an attorney
    until his death from tuberculosis in Memphis in

Isaac F. Norris
  • Isaac F. Norris
  • ca. 1850 ca. 1910
  • A grocer and businessman (coal wood),
  • he was elected as a Republican
  • to represent Shelby County
  • in the 42nd Tennessee
  • General Assembly, 1881-1882.
  • Convinced to run the following year
  • on the Democratic ticket with
  • Gen. William B. Bate,
  • Norris was defeated,
  • although Governor Bate and others on
  • the ticket won easily.

Isaac F. Norris, p. 2
  • Although Isaac Norris is said to have
    accumulated a considerable amount of personal
    wealth in his lifetime, probably from a
    successful coal and wood business, little else is
    known about his life. He was one of Memphiss
    elite African American group who saw several of
    their number
  • elected to offices ranging from coal
    inspector to assistant attorney general during
    the 1870s and 1880s. During the election of
    1882 the Democrats, who had persuaded Norris to
    join their ticket, referred to him in several
    news stories as a man of fine practical sense
    and good judgment.

On March 30, 1881, Rep. Isaac Norris introduced
House Bill No. 682, To prevent racial
discrimination by railroad companies among their
passengers who are charged and pay first class
fare, and fixing penalty for same. The bill
passed its first and second readings, but it was
apparently tabled in committee and did not come
forward for a third and final reading. This was
one of the earliest bills to make an effort to
repeal Chapter 130 of the Acts of 1875, one of
the earliest of the Jim Crow Laws.
Thomas A. Sykes
  • Thomas A. Sykes
  • ca. 1835 ca. 1900
  • A former member of the
  • North Carolina Legislature,
  • a gauger at the Customs House,
  • and owner of
  • a Nashville furniture store,
  • he was elected
  • to represent Davidson County
  • in the 42nd Tennessee
  • General Assembly, 1881-1882.
  • ..

Thomas A. Sykes, p. 2
  • The 1870 North Carolina census, which
    erroneously indicated that Sykes could not read
    or write, showed that he and his wife Martha had
    three daughters before moving to Tennessee, and
    listed his NC occupation as Representative.
  • During the 1870s 1880s Sykes joined
    city councilman James C. Napier and others in
  • a reform movement against
  • Mayor Thomas Kerchevals political machine.
    The group made significant progress in moving
    African Americans into city jobs as bridge
    watchmen, public works employees, and laborers a
    few blacks even obtained leadership positions,
    serving as bosses of road construction crews or
    captains of African American fire companies.

Thomas A. Sykes, p. 3
  • Although a total of 12 black
    legislators served in the General Assembly in the
    1880s, by the end of the decade there were none.
    Thomas Sykes was not re-elected after his term
    ended in 1882, and his career after that time
    serves as a poignant example of the effects of
    the Jim Crow laws on black Southerners.
  • In 1885 Thomas Sykes had owned a thriving
    dry goods store, Sykes, Harris, and Company.
    However, by 1890, the first term in a decade in
    which there were no African Americans seated in
    the Tennessee legislature, Thomas Sykes was
    working as an elevator operator at the United
    States Customs House where he had once held a
    management position.

Leon Howard
  • Leon Howard
  • ca. 1850 ca. 1910
  • A hotel porter and janitor, he was
  • elected to represent Shelby County
  • for one term as a Republican
  • in the 43rd Tennessee
  • General Assembly, 1883-1884.
  • .
  • .

No photograph available
Leon Howard, p. 2
  • Very little is known about the life of Leon
    (or Leonard) Howard. When he unexpectedly
    defeated two other African American candidates,
    Norris and Price, who had been persuaded to run
    as Democrats in the 1882 election, Memphiss
    newspapers, strongly Democratic (most had
    scarcely mentioned Howard during the campaign)
    patronizingly referred to him as a very
    respectable representative of his race.
  • Howard introduced several bills in the
    legislature. One, requested by Governor Bate,
    would create the position of Assistant
    Super-intendent of Public Instruction to oversee
    the education of African American students.
    Another was a bill to end racial discrimination
    on public transportation and facilities. A
    third bill legislated punishment for white men
    who raped black women. All Howards bills were
    tabled or defeated.

Rep. Leon Howard brought this bill, HB 493, on
February 15, 1883. It was a response to
Governor Bates request that the General Assembly
approve the appointment of an Assistant State
Superintendent of Public Instruction to oversee
schools for African American students. The bill
passed its first and second readings and was
referred to the Committee on Education and Common
Schools but did not pass out of committee.
Howard made a second attempt to introduce this
legislation in a special House session later in
the same year, but the bill again failed.
Samuel Allen McElwee
  • Samuel A. McElwee
  • June 26, 1858 October 21, 1914
  • Scholar, teacher, storekeeper,
  • and newspaperman, he was elected
  • to represent Haywood County
  • in the 43rd Tennessee
  • General Assembly, 1883-1884,
  • while still a student at Fisk University.
  • f
  • Re-elected to the 44th (1885-1886) and
    45th (1887-1888) General Assemblies
  • Earned a law degree from Central Tennessee
    College in 1886, during his second term
  • The first African American to serve three
    terms in the legislature AND
  • The first African American nominated as Speaker
    of the House.
  • ..

Samuel A. McElwee, p. 2
  • Samuel A. McElwee was born a slave in
    Madison County. After emancipation his family
    moved to a farm in neighboring Haywood County,
    where young McElwee attended Freedmens Bureau
    Schools part of the year. Having been taught to
    read by his former masters children, he
    progressed quickly through school, even though he
    had to devote much of the year to farm work. By
    16 he was a teacher himself, and at 18 he
    attended Oberlin College for a year, paying his
    way by washing windows, waiting tables, and
    picking fruit.
  • Supporting himself by teaching and peddling
    Bibles patent medicines, he studied German,
    Latin, and mathematics with a Vanderbilt student
    whose strong recommendation earned him a Peabody
    scholarship to Fisk University. In 1882, while
    still in college, he was elected to the General
    Assembly from Haywood County. Although his wife
    died in 1885, leaving him with two small
    children, he nevertheless served two more terms
    in the state legislature, earning a law degree
    (1886) from Central Tennessee College during his
    second term.

Samuel A. McElwee, p. 3
  • During his second legislative term, the
    26-year-old McElwee was nominated by former U.S.
    Senator Roderick R. Butler to be Speaker of the
    House of Representatives, receiving 32 of the 93
    votes cast. McElwee was also the first African
    American Tennessean elected to a third
    legislative term.
  • During that third term he delivered a
    celebrated oration calling for stronger statutory
    sanctions against lynch mobs. After reminding
    members of three recent Tennessee lynchings, he
    exclaimed Great God, when will this Nation
    treat the Negro as an American citizen? ... As a
    humble representative of the Negro race, and as a
    member of this body, I stand here to-day and wave
    the flag of truce between the races and demand a
    reformation in southern society by the passage of
    this bill.
  • Despite his eloquence, the bill was tabled
    by a vote of 4136.

The cover and first page of Samuel A. McElwees
bill, HB 526 (1883) to ensure more fair jury
selection. The bill was tabled by the Judiciary
Samuel A. McElwee, p. 5
  • By 1888, as he campaigned for a fourth term,
    Samuel McElwee had gained a national reputation.
    He had spoken at the Tuskegee Institute and other
    educational institutions he had chaired the
    Tennessee Republican Convention and had
    represented the state at the National Republican
    Convention in Chicago, where he would
    successfully persuade presidential candidate
    Benjamin Harrison to give greater attention to
    civil rights issues.
  • At the same time, however, white separatists
    in Haywood County were conspiring to get rid of
    McElwee. As armed patrols terrorized African
    American neighborhoods and blocked the ballot
    boxes, fearful black voters stayed away from the
    polls. In spite of lawsuits brought later by
    federal election officials, those responsible for
    the fraud, who made no secret of the fact that
    they had deliberately miscounted votes, were
    never punished. That years General Assembly,
    which had no black members, quickly passed a
    series of laws intended to disfranchise African
    American voters.
  • McElwee and his family fled Haywood County,
    barely escaping with their lives. For several
    years they lived in Nashville, where the former
    legislator established both a successful law
    practice and a popular newspaper. The family
    later moved north to Chicago. McElwee spent his
    final years there as the head of a prosperous law

David F. Rivers
  • David Foote Rivers
  • July 18, 1859 July 5, 1941
  • A Peabody Scholarship student at
  • Roger Williams University
  • at the time of his election,
  • he represented Fayette County
  • as a Republican in the 43rd Tennessee
  • General Assembly, 1883-1884.
  • Rivers was re-elected to the 44th
  • General Assembly but never took his
  • seat, having been driven out of
  • Fayette County by racial violence.
  • .
  • .
  • .

David F. Rivers, about 1930
David F. Rivers, p. 2
  • David Rivers was born in Montgomery, Alabama,
    to Edmonia Rivers, a free woman of color, and an
    unknown father. He was listed in the 1870 census
    as living in his grandfathers Somerville, TN,
    household, along with two younger brothers and
    an assortment of relatives and boarders. Rivers
    did not learn to write until he was 19, when he
    first attended high school,
  • probably in Fayette County. He was so
    successful in his studies that he was invited to
    attend Roger Williams University, Nashville, on a
    Peabody Scholarship. He was studying for a
    degree in theology there when he was elected to
    the Tennessee legislature. A challenge to his
    eligibility, based on his periodic absences from
    his home county to attend college, was

David F. Rivers, p. 3
  • Although elected to the General Assembly for
    a second term in 1885-1886, Rivers never took his
    seat, having been driven out of Fayette County by
    what his son Francis referred to as a large body
    of racially prejudiced whites. However, having
    earned his degree in theology from Roger Williams
    University, he stayed on and taught there for two
    years, then preached at the Fifth Ward Baptist
    Church in Clarksville for some time. In 1893 he
    moved his family to Kansas City, Kansas, where he
    became pastor of the Metropolitan Baptist Church.
  • In 1898 David F. Rivers was invited to
    Washington, D.C., to accept a post as pastor of
    the Berean Baptist Church. He served that
    congregation for 43 years, until his death in
    1941. His son Francis, equally distinguished,
    was a member of the New York General Assembly,
    Assistant District Attorney in New York County,
    and Justice of the City Court of New York.

44th General Assembly, 1885-86
The four African American legislators are at
lower right.
Greene E. Evans
  • Greene E. Evans
  • Sept. 19, 1848 Oct. 1, 1914
  • A well-educated businessman
  • and former teacher,
  • he was elected as a Republican
  • to the 44th Tennessee
  • General Assembly, 1885-1886.
  • A member of the original Fisk
  • Jubilee Singers, he took part in their
  • first U.S. concert tour
  • in 1871-1872.
  • .
  • .

Greene E. Evans, p. 2
  • Green E. Evans was born into slavery in
    Fayette County. He escaped from his master to
    become the servant of a Yankee officer in
    Alabama, then moved to Indianapolis after the
    Civil War. There he paid a tutor part of his
    10-a-week salary to teach him to read. He
    hauled sod and gravel to pay his way through
    college, teaching during the summer months in a
    schoolhouse he built with his own hands.
  • At twenty he entered Fisk University, where
    he sang bass with the original Fisk Jubilee
    Singers, performing before President Grant in the
    White House. After graduation, Evans worked in
    the wholesale coal and wood business and as a
    mail agent and deputy wharf-master at Memphis.
    Active in Republican party politics, he received
    the partys nomination to run for the General
    Assembly in 1884.

The first Fisk Jubilee Singers. Greene Evans is
seated second from left.
Greene E. Evans, p. 3
  • During his single legislative term Evans
    introduced bills to repeal Chapter 130 of the
    Acts of 1875, to amend the public road law in
    order to permit fair employment of African
    American workers, and, supporting a request by
    the governor, to provide for an Assistant
    Superintendent of Public Instruction to oversee
    the education of black students. None of Evanss
    bills passed into law.
  • The 1900 Census showed him, at the age of 51,
    living with his wife Anna in Chicago, Illinois.
    His occupation was listed as coal dealer. He
    died in Chicago on October 1, 1914, at the age of

William A. Feild
  • William A. Feild
  • ca. 1852 unknown
  • A farmer and school teacher, he was elected as a
    Republican to represent Shelby County
  • in the 44th Tennessee General Assembly,
  • 1885-1886.
  • .
  • His surname has been spelled Feild, Field, and
    Fields. A prominent slave-owning family in West
    Tennessee spelled their own surname Feild, but
    many of their slaves changed the spelling after
  • .

William A. Feild, p. 2
  • Very little is known about Feilds early
    life. He may have been related to an earlier
    state legislator, John Boyd of Tipton County.
    He and his wife Elizabeth were the parents of six
    children. He was a school teacher in the Fifth
    District of Shelby County (now part of Memphis)
    at the time he was elected to the Tennessee
    General Assembly. There he introduced a number
    of bills -- supporting compulsory school
    attendance, opposing racial discrimination in
    public facilities, and urging fair and truthful
    labor contracts.

William C. Hodge
  • William C. Hodge
  • ca. 1846 ca. 1900
  • A man who held many jobs,
  • including railroad agent and jailer,
  • he was elected
  • to represent Hamilton County
  • in the 44th Tennessee
  • General Assembly, 1885-1886.
  • He served as a member of the
  • Chattanooga city council for several years.
  • .
  • .

William C. Hodge, p. 2
  • Born in North Carolina, Hodge held a number of
    jobs before he became a legislator contractor,
    stone-cutter, house mover, night mail transfer
    agent at the railroad depot, alderman for the 4th
    Ward of Chattanooga, and city jailer.
  • During his legislative term he introduced
    bills to safeguard employment and voting rights
    for all Tennesseans, and to overturn Chapter 130
    of the Acts of 1875, which permitted
    discrimination in public transportation, hotels,
    and places of public amusement. All his bills
    were tabled or rejected.
  • Hodge was a legislative candidate in 1884, a
    year when Tennessees Republicans declared
    themselves opposed to black candidates. He
    announced it was time for white voters to get
    educated up and allow blacks to hold
    responsible positions. Black leaders reminded
    Chattanoogas Republican office holders that
    African American votes were keeping them in
    office (Hamilton County black voters out-numbered
    whites more than 3-1!), suggesting that a little
    reciprocity would go a long way . . . . Hodge
    subsequently became the countys first black

45th General Assembly, 1887-88
The three African American legislators are at
lower right.
Monroe W. Gooden
  • Monroe W. Gooden
  • 10 May 1848 19 January 1915
  • The only African American Democrat
  • in the Tennessee legislature
  • in the 19th Century,
  • he was elected
  • to represent Fayette County
  • in the 45th Tennessee
  • General Assembly, 1887-1888
  • .
  • .

Monroe W. Gooden, p. 2
  • Appointed to the Agriculture and Federal
    Relations committees, Gooden introduced a bill to
    ensure the honest counting of ballots, but it
  • One of the few black Democrats in Tennessee
    during the 1880s, and the only one to serve a
    term in the legislature, Gooden was the second
    man to represent Fayette County, after Republican
    David F. Rivers. From 1830 to 1980 the Fayette
    County population of Fayette County consisted of
    many more blacks than whites (by 1865 the ratio
    was 2-1), yet only two black legislators have
    ever been elected to represent the county.
  • A farmer and cotton ginner near Somerville,
    Tennessee, Gooden and his wife Anne Baskerville
    were the parents of seven children. He was a
    deacon in the Baptist church and a member of the
    Masonic order.
  • (Black Freemasons groups have existed in the
    U.S. since 1775 the number of black lodges
    increased significantly after the Civil War.)
  • After the Civil War Gooden, who eventually
    became quite wealthy , owned the very plantation
    on which he had been a slave.

Styles L. Hutchins
  • Styles Linton Hutchins
  • 21 November 1852 7 September 1950
  • A Chattanooga attorney, he was
  • elected to represent Hamilton County
  • in the 45th Tennessee
  • General Assembly, 1887-1888
  • ltgtltgtltgtltgtltgt
  • Styles Hutchins, Monroe Gooden,
  • and Samuel McElwee were
  • the last African Americans
  • to serve in the General Assembly until
  • Representative A. W Willis, Jr.,
  • was elected in Shelby County
  • in 1964.
  • ...

Styles L. Hutchins, p. 2
  • Styles Linton Hutchins was born in
    Lawrenceville, Georgia, in 1852. The son of a
    wealthy artist, he was one of the first black
    graduates of Atlanta University (1875). A year
    later he earned a law degree from the University
    of South Carolina Law School and was admitted to
    the South Carolina bar. He served as a
    Republican state judge, resigning with the
    Democrats return to power.
  • Returning to Georgia to open a law practice,
    Hutchins over-came opposition from the
    legislature to become the first African American
    attorney admitted to the Georgia bar.
  • In 1881 he opened a law practice in
    Chattanooga, also taking on the editorship of The
    Independent Age, a popular black newspaper. A
    valiant spokesman for civil rights, he ran for
    the legislature in 1886, winning by eight votes!

Styles L. Hutchins, p. 3
  • Tireless in his role as legislator, Hutchins
    served on the Education and New Counties
    committees and was successful in passing laws to
    repeal poll taxes in Chattanooga and to prevent
    criminals from other states from testifying in
    Tennessee courts. His bill to limit the use of
    convict labor was not successful.
  • After his legislative term, Hutchins
    returned to his law practice, held a patronage
    position in the revenue department of the U.S.
    Treasury, and became deeply involved in church
    work. He was known throughout Tennessee and
    Georgia as a fiery preacher who often used his
    sermons to denounce racism in the South.

Legislator and attorney Styles L. Hutchins
introduced HB 447 on February 12, 1887, in an
attempt to better regulate the work and
confinement of convicts. Referred to the
Committee on Penitentiary after its second
reading, the bill was tabled in committee.
Styles L. Hutchins, p. 5
  • In 1906 Hutchins was involved in one of the
    most famous lynching cases in history. Hired to
    appeal the rape conviction of a black man named
    Ed Johnson, Hutchins and law partner Noah W.
    Parden carried the appeal to the Supreme Court,
    who agreed to hear it and issued a stay of
    execution. That very night, however, a mob broke
    into the Hamilton County jail, dragged Johnson
    out and hanged him from a bridge.
  • Hutchins and Parden immediately urged federal
    officials to file suit against the sheriff and
    the mob. In a precedent-setting case, the
    Supreme Court found Sheriff Shipp and others
    guilty of contempt of court. After serving a
    brief sentence, Shipp returned home to a heros
    welcome, while Hutchins and Parden had to leave
    Tennessee for their own safety. In 1910 Hutchins
    was practicing law in Peoria, Illinois the 1920
    Census lists him as the owner and operator of a
    barber shop. He died in Mattoon, Illinois, in
    1950 . . . at the age of 98!

Jesse M. H. Graham
  • Jesse M. H. Graham
  • 8 February 1860 25 July 1930
  • A Republican newspaper editor,
  • elected to represent
  • Montgomery County
  • in the 50th Tennessee
  • General Assembly, 1897-1898
  • A challenge of his eligibility to hold
  • the office was successful,
  • and the House of Representatives
  • declared his seat vacant
  • on 20 January 1897.
  • .

This portrait of Jesse Graham appeared in the
Louisville Courier Journal on November 15, 1896
Jesse M. H. Graham, p. 2
  • In 1896 he became the first black legislator
    elected in ten years, but an opponent filed a
    protest regarding Grahams eligibility to hold
    the seat because of a period of absence from his
    home county. He was provisionally seated on Jan.
    4, 1897, while the Committee on Elections debated
    the issue. When the committee declared both
    Graham and his opponent ineligible to serve, the
    General Assembly passed a resolution declaring
    the seat vacant.
  • Jesse M. H. Graham attended public schools
    in Montgomery and Davidson counties. In 1881 he
    won a Peabody Scholarship to attend Fisk
    University, where he took courses in English and
    education. After teaching school in Kentucky for
    a time, he worked as a postal clerk in
    Louisville, Kentucky, and Clarksville, Tennessee.
    In 1895 he was named editor of the Clarksville
    Enterprise, an African American newspaper.

Jesse M. H. Graham, p. 3
  • Once again making his home in Clarksville,
    Graham served as an officer of St. Peters
    African Methodist Episcopal Church there and
    helped to found American Legion Post No. 143.
  • Before WWI he had been a clerk in the U.S.
    Bureau of Audit and had spent some time working
    in the Philippines. He later took a position
    with the U.S. Federal Government in Washington,
    D.C., where he was residing at the time of the
    1930 Census.
  • During the first World War the U.S. Army
    commissioned more than 1,200 African American
    officers. The only training camp set up
    exclusively for black officers was in Fort Des
    Moines, Iowa. Jesse Graham was one of the 638
    officers who graduated from officer training in
    that program. Commissioned as a second
    lieutenant in the Army on October 15, 1917,
    Graham was assigned to the 317th Engineers.
    Honorably discharged at wars end, he returned to

Sampson W. Keebles monument in Greenwood
Cemetery, Nashville.
Tennessee Historical Commission marker on Lower
Broadway, Nashville.
Produced at the Tennessee State Library and
  • by Kathy B. Lauder, Archival Technical Services,
  • with the generous assistance of
  • Dr. Tommie Brown, State Representative,
    District 28
  • Riley Darnell, Tennessee Secretary of State
  • Irene Griffey, Certified Genealogist
  • Dr. Robert E. Hunt, Department of History,
    Middle Tennessee State University
  • Judicial Commissioner/Historian John Marshall,
    Shelby County
  • Karina McDaniel, State Photographer,
    Preservation Services, TSLA
  • Vincent McGrath, Legislative History
    Coordinator, TSLA
  • Charles Nelson, Director of Legislative
    Services, TSLA
  • C. Michael Norton, Attorney at Law
  • Tim Pulley, Director, Brown Harvey Genealogical
    Room, Montgomery County Library
  • Carol Roberts, Director of Preservation
    Services, TSLA
  • Mike Slate, Publisher, Nashville Historical
  • D. Ralph Sowell, Archival Technical Services,
  • Jeanne Sugg, Tennessee State Librarian and
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