Wednesday, November 23, 2011

1000 words: Visiting Austin Peay & Willie Blount

Confederate Memorial, Greenwood Cemetery, Clarksville, TN
Paying respects to Willie Blount

Blackhorse Pub & Brewery, Clarksville, TN
My Great Great Grandparents Grave, Red River Cemetery, Adams, TN
Effrin & Major, Bellwood Cemetery, Adams, TN
 Name: Willie Blount
Birth: 18 April 1768
Death: 10 September 1835
Age at Death: 67 years, 4 months, 23 days
Interment: Greenwood Cemetery, Clarksville, TN
Term in Office: September 20, 1809 – September 27, 1815
Political Party: Democratic Republican

Willie Blount was born on April 18, 1768, in North Carolina to Jacob and Hannah Baker Blount, making him the half-brother to former Tennessee Governor William Blount.  Willie would go on to study at both Columbia and Princeton and be admitted to the bar in North Carolina. In 1796, after Tennessee was admitted as a state, Willie would serve as one of the states first judges. At this time he would also serve as a cabinet member for his half-brother. In 1809, he was elected governor and would serve three successive terms. During his term he would offer the state’s support in the War of 1812 as well as send troops into neighboring Mississippi to help defend against attacks by Native Americans. Following his terms as governor, Willie would remain active in politics and attend the Tennessee State Constitutional Convention of 1834, as a representative from Montgomery County, TN.  He would die on September 10, 1835 in Clarksville, TN. 


 Name: Austin Peay
Birth: 1 June 1876
Death: 2 October 1927
Age at Death: 54 years, 4 months, 1 day
Interment: Greenwood Cemetery, Clarksville, TN
Term in Office: January 16, 1923 – October 3, 1927
Political Party: Democratic
Austin Peay was born on June 1, 1876, in Hopkinsville, KY, to former Confederate Calvaryman, Austin Peay, Sr., and his wife, Cornelia Leavell Peay. After briefly attending Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA, Austin would graduate from Centre College in Danville, Ky.  Graduating from college at the age of 19, Austin would marry Sally Hurst with whom he would have two children. For the next six years he would work at his law practice until being elected to the Tennessee’s House of Representatives to represent Montgomery County. Running on a platform stressing tax reform, improved education and finishing the state highway system he was elected as governor in 1922. His term would see the creation of different state bureaus leading to the consolidation of state government, which in conjunction with reforms to the tax code would result in the elimination of all of the state's debt. It was also during his governorship that the state would prosecute John Thomas Scope for teaching the theory of evolution in public schools.  The trial, which would become known as the Scopes Monkey Trial, would bring national attention to the issue of religion vs. science as taught in public schools.  Scopes would be prosecuted but the decision would ultimately be overturned due to a technicality. In declining health, Austin would be reelected to his third term in 1926, and after a protracted battle with the legislature over funding of his school programs, would die while still in office on October 2, 1927, with many people blaming his death directly on stress caused by the legislature. Austin Peay is the only governor of Tennessee to have died while in office.  In 1929, a school in his adopted home city of Clarksville, TN, was named in his honor.

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