BELL, John

BELL, John
Oil on canvas, Willie Betty Newman, 1911, Collection of U.S. House of Representatives
1796–1869

Biography

BELL, John, a Representative and a Senator from Tennessee; born near Nashville, Tenn., February 18, 1796; graduated from Cumberland College in 1814; studied law; admitted to the bar in 1816 and commenced practice in Franklin, Tenn.; member, State senate 1817; declined to be a candidate for reelection and moved to Nashville; elected to the Twentieth, and to the six succeeding Congresses (March 4, 1827-March 3, 1841); Speaker of the House of Representatives (Twenty-third Congress); chairman, Committee on Indian Affairs (Twenty-first through Twenty-sixth Congresses, except for Twenty-third), Committee on Judiciary (Twenty-second and Twenty-third Congresses); appointed by President William Henry Harrison as Secretary of War March 5, 1841, and served until September 12, 1841, when he resigned; member, State house of representatives in 1847; elected as a Whig to the United States Senate in 1847; reelected in 1853, and served from November 22, 1847, to March 3, 1859; unsuccessful candidate in 1860 for President of the United States on the Constitutional Union ticket; investor in ironworks at Cumberland Furnace in Chattanooga, Tenn.; died at his home on the banks of the Cumberland River, near Cumberland Furnace, September 10, 1869; interment in Mount Olivet Cemetery, near Nashville, Tenn.

View Record in the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

[ Top ]

External Research Collections

Alabama Department of Archives and History

Montgomery, AL
Papers: Correspondence supporting Bell in the Jeremiah Clemens papers, 1842-1860.

Boston Public Library

Boston, MA
Papers: 2 letters.

East Tennessee State University Library
Archives of Appalachia

Johnson City, TN
Papers: Correspondence in Frederick Steindinger Heiskell collection, 1810-1882.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA
Papers: 1860-1862. 1 bound volume and 3 loose sheets. Containing minutes of the Friends of Bell and Everett Association, which later merged with the Constitutional Union Party of the 15th Ward, and was an ad hoc campaign committee supporting Bell for president.

Library of Congress
Manuscript Division

Washington, DC
Papers: 1815-1861. 1 container; ca. 120 items. Correspondence, speeches, and reports. Includes material on patronage in Tennessee, national politics, and Bell's candidacy for president in 1860. Available on 1 microfilm reel. Also photographs.

Tennessee Historical Society

Nashville, TN
Papers: Miscellaneous letters in various collections.

Tennessee State Library and Archives

Nashville, TN
Papers: Small collection of papers.

University of North Carolina
Southern Historical Collection

Chapel Hill, NC
Papers: Personal and political correspondence (1850s) of Bell as senator in Polk and Yeatman family papers, 1773-1915. 4 feet, including 25 volumes.

University of Rochester
Rush Rhees Library

Rochester, NY
Papers: 5 letters by and 6 to Bell (1841-1865) in various collections. Finding aid.
[ Top ]

Bibliography / Further Reading

Caldwell, Joshua W. "John Bell of Tennessee: A Chapter of Political History." American Historical Review 4 (July 1899): 652-64.

Grim, Mark Sillers. "The Political Career of John Bell." Master's thesis, University of Tennessee, 1930.

The Life, Speeches, and Public Services of John Bell. New York: Rudd & Carleton, 1860.

McKellar, Kenneth. "John Bell," in Tennessee Senators as seen by one of their Successors. Kingsport, Tenn.: Southern Publishers, Inc., 1942, 251-261.

Moore, Powell. "James K. Polk and the 'Immortal Thirteen.' " East Tennessee Historical Society's Publications 11 (1939): 20-33.

Parks, Joseph H. "John Bell and the Compromise of 1850." Journal of Southern History 9 (August 1943): 328-56.

___. John Bell of Tennessee. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1950.

Parks, Norman L. "The Career of John Bell as Congressman from Tennessee, 1827-1841." Tennessee Historical Quarterly 1 (September 1942): 229-49.

___. "The Career of John Bell of Tennessee in the United States House of Representatives." Ph.D. dissertation, Vanderbilt University, 1942.

Scott, Jesse W. "John Bell: A Tennessee Statesman in National Politics from 1840 to 1860." Master's thesis, Tennessee A. & I. State College, 1950.

[ Top ]