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Adam R. Huntsman (1786-1849)

Adam R. Huntsman, attorney and congressman, was born in Charlotte County, Virginia, February 11, 1786, to Jacob and Mary Devine Huntsman. Huntsman attended schools in Virginia before migrating to Knoxville around 1807. There he studied law and was admitted to the bar. Huntsman began his law practice in Overton County, where he remained until 1821, when he moved to the newly settled Madison County in West Tennessee. In addition to his law practice he took part in land speculation and shared a merchant partnership.

Closely associated with Andrew Jackson and the rising Democratic Party, Huntsman fought in the Creek Indian War, apparently losing his leg during this conflict; thereafter he wore a wooden leg. From 1815 to 1821 Huntsman represented Overton, Jackson, and Smith Counties in the Tennessee General Assembly. In 1824 he was appointed one of three commissioners to improve the navigable rivers of the Western District. He returned to the legislature as state senator for Madison, Fayette, Hardeman, Haywood, Shelby, and Tipton Counties from 1827 to 1831. Huntsman served as a delegate to the Tennessee Constitutional Convention of 1834. He was the "timber-toed" Democratic candidate who defeated Davy Crockett in the 1834 congressional race, prompting Crockett to declare his intention to go to Texas. Never a Democratic front-runner, Huntsman nevertheless served the party well as a dependable "war horse." He influenced legislation on banking, tariffs, and internal improvements.

Huntsman married three times: first to Sarah Wesley Quarles in 1825; then to Elizabeth Todd in 1829; and finally to Nancy (last name not known), sometime in 1847 or 1848. Huntsman was the father of four children. He died on August 23, 1849, and is buried in Old Salem Cemetery in Madison County.

Suggested Reading

Chase C. Mooney, "The Political Career of Adam Huntsman," Tennessee Historical Quarterly 10 (1951): 99-126.

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