Entries

Murderous Mary
The press called her Murderous Mary, but Mary actually was a five-ton circus elephant lynched from a one-hundred-ton railroad crane car in Erwin on September 13, 1916. She had killed her trainer the d... Continue Reading »
Murrell, John Andrews
John A. Murrell, a thief and counterfeiter, spent much of his short life in prison and was a notorious outlaw in antebellum Middle Tennessee. In 1844 he died in Pikeville at the age of thirty-eight, s... Continue Reading »
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
This important national organization for civil rights began in 1909 in protest of violent forms of racism, including lynching; of racial segregation; and of disfranchisement of African American voters... Continue Reading »
Neal, James F.
Nashville attorney and federal prosecutor James F. Neal achieved prominence as successful trial counsel in some of the nation's highest profile criminal cases from the 1960s through the 1990s. He... Continue Reading »
Night Riders of Reelfoot Lake
Probably no event in the region's history, with the exception of the Civil War, polarized the population of Obion County as did the Night Rider episodes of 1908. Nearly a century later, public op... Continue Reading »
Oliver Perry Temple
Oliver Perry Temple, author, East Tennessee economic promoter, and trustee of the University of Tennessee, was born on January 27, 1820, near Greeneville. An 1844 graduate of Washington College in Was... Continue Reading »
Overton, John
John Overton, trusted friend and advisor to Andrew Jackson, was an early Tennessee lawyer, jurist, banker, and political leader. Born in Louisa County, Virginia, Overton moved to Mercer County in pres... Continue Reading »
Peyton, Balie
Balie Peyton, born near Gallatin, Tennessee, was an attorney and colorful political figure whose career included public service in Tennessee; Washington, D.C.; Louisiana; Chile; and California. Throug... Continue Reading »
Pusser, Buford
Immortalized by three screen portrayals of his career, Walking Tall (1973), Walking Tall II (1976), and Walking Tall III: The Final Chapter (1977), McNairy County Sheriff Buford Pusser earned a reputa... Continue Reading »
Roane, Archibald
Archibald Roane, second governor of Tennessee, was born in 1760 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He became a lawyer and served with distinction in the Continental Army during the Revolution. Roane a... Continue Reading »
Sanford, Edward Terry
An influential Tennessee lawyer, civic leader, orator, and U.S. Supreme Court justice, Edward T. Sanford was born in Knoxville on July 23, 1865, the eldest of six children whose wealthy parents stress... Continue Reading »
Slavery
In the 1760s Anglo-American frontiersmen, determined to settle the land, planted slavery firmly within the borders of what would become Tennessee. Over time, East Tennessee, hilly and dominated by sma... Continue Reading »
Smith, William Macon
William M. Smith was the preeminent Radical Republican leader in Memphis during Reconstruction. As a judge, Smith confronted some of the most controversial legal issues of the period and led the Shelb... Continue Reading »
Tennessee Anti-Narcotic Law of 1914
Tennessee's first anti-narcotic law was largely the work of Dr. Lucius Polk Brown, Tennessee's food and drug commissioner. It went into effect on January 1, 1914, and reflected the moral ref... Continue Reading »
Tennessee Bar Association
Founded in 1881, the Tennessee Bar Association has been an influential voice in shaping Tennessee law and setting standards for legal instruction, lawyer discipline, and continuing education. Today ov... Continue Reading »
Tennessee Courts Prior to 1870
For Tennessee's first hundred years, justices of the peace were the foundation of the state's legal system. These men, often without legal training, served the citizens in their counties by ... Continue Reading »
Tennessee Prison System
Section 32 of the Tennessee Constitution states that "the erection of safe and comfortable prisons, the inspection of prisons, and the humane treatment of prisoners, shall be provided for." In 1796 th... Continue Reading »
Tennessee Small School Systems v. McWherter
The Tennessee Supreme Court decided in 1993 that the system of financing public education in Tennessee violated the provisions of the Tennessee Constitution guaranteeing equal protection of the law to... Continue Reading »
Tennessee State Prison
Interest in the construction of a penitentiary dates back to 1815, when a state Senate committee recommended construction of the structure using funds obtained through public subscription. This effort... Continue Reading »
Tennessee Supreme Court
Tennessee's first constitution did not create a state supreme court. The Constitution of 1796 provided only for "such superior and inferior courts" as the legislature should create, with the judg... Continue Reading »