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Beverly Briley (1914-1980)

Beverly Briley, first mayor of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County (1963-75), was born in Nashville in 1914. Briley grew up in East Nashville, attended Vanderbilt University and Cumberland Law School, and in 1932 became the youngest Tennessean ever admitted to the bar. Following his service in the navy during World War II, he ran successfully for election as county judge in 1946 on the "G.I. Joe" ticket, which was identified with reform of local government.

Briley proved to be a gifted politician and effective reformer. He was a champion of metropolitan government and in 1963 won election against Ben West to become Metropolitan Nashville's first mayor. Briley was reelected in 1967 and 1971, retiring in 1975. Briley's term of service as mayor encompassed a period of rapid growth in the city's population and economy, fueled in part by generous federal grants. Under Briley's leadership Nashville experienced desegregation and political polarization; Briley followed his mostly white suburban constituency and moved to the political right. In 1968 he defected from the Democratic Party by endorsing Richard Nixon as president. Briley died five years after leaving office at the age of sixty-six.

Published » December 25, 2009 | Last Updated » January 01, 2010