Athens, Tennessee: The uprising was led by ex-GIs recently returned from battle, to discover dishonest election tactics and corrupt and crooked local government. Having seen first-hand, Tennessee blood spilled and Tennessee lives lost in the battle for freedom, these patriotic veterans weren't about to knuckle under to the special interests. Certain insiders, for their own profit and benefit, had taken control of the small community of Athens, a town of about 7600 people.
The violence started on election day when a poll watcher was attacked and thrown through a glass door. The town folks, already agitated, became incensed. They went home and returned with pistols, shotguns and whatever weapons they could lay their hands on. The incumbents and "insiders" had recruited extra deputies from neighboring cities and counties but they were no match for the now armed and angry citizens of McMinn County. Sheriff Pat Mansfield and State Senator Paul Cantrell, along with others, fled the scene. Twenty-five deputys retreated to the jail which was surrounded and fired upon by the civillian army.
At 4:00 A.M. the next morning, the "25" surrendered their arms and came out with hands up. Although a cry went up to "hang 'em", cooler heads prevailed. The "25" were taken to the edge of town, stripped naked and told not to come back.
The upshot was the incumbent and "insider-clique" were out. The slate backed by the citizens and supported by the GI patriots was officially certified victorious by State authorities in Nashville.
Thus, a new sheriff, trustee, register of deeds, circuit court clerk and county court clerk were seated (3 Democrats, 2 Republicans). All were new, all were honest and freely elected. The year was 1946. In 1948, a city council / county commission form of government, one of the first in the state of Tennessee was created. Athens prospered and grew and today has more than doubled in population.
(Isaiah 33:22) For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; he will save us.
Copyright 1996, 2014, by Gregory Allan; All rights reserved.