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 Washington County, Temple studied law and gained admittance to the bar in 1846. During the Civil War, Temple dedicated his time to aiding the Unionists of East Tennessee and helping organize the East Tennessee Relief Association. In 1866 Governor William G. Brownlow appointed Temple chancellor of the Eighth District, a position he held until 1878.
In his later years, Temple promoted the interests of farmers by organizing the East Tennessee Farmer’s Convention. During his fifty-four years as a trustee for East Tennessee University, later the University of Tennessee, Temple promoted agricultural and mechanical education to supplement the institution’s liberal arts program. He was instrumental in obtaining federal funding for higher education and worked tirelessly to transform the university into the state’s land grant institution.
Temple became a spokesman for the promotion of regional growth. He recognized East Tennessee’s economic potential, encouraging the construction of a transportation system and the development of the area’s coal and iron resources.
Temple also worked to preserve East Tennessee’s distinctive heritage in his books The Convenanter, the Cavalier, and the Puritan; East Tennessee and the Civil War; and Notable Men of Tennessee, which was published posthumously. Temple died in Knoxville on November 2, 1907.