Back to Results
Historical Highlights

A Spirited Debate Over a Tennessee Valley Authority Dam

May 08, 1936
A Spirited Debate Over a Tennessee Valley Authority Dam Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
A nine-term Member from Tennessee, Sam McReynolds chaired the Committee on Foreign Affairs during his tenure.
On this date, in the 74th Congress (1935–1937), Members of the House of Representatives debated renaming the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Chickamauga Dam after Congressman Samuel McReynolds of Tennessee. Following an age-old practice of naming public works projects after local politicians, House Members tried to amend the TVA appropriations bill to honor the Congressman who worked tirelessly to bring the project to his district. Right before the House was slated to vote on the naming amendment, Representative Aaron L. Ford of Mississippi suggested renaming another TVA dam after John Rankin of Mississippi. Some Members insisted that the renaming of the dam constituted a change in the legislation. Cannon cited sections 3864 and 1445 of Hinds’ Precedents, and insisted that the words “known as the Rankin Dam” were descriptive and not a legislative change. A humorous floor debate ensued for nearly an hour. Topics ranged from discussing the problems of naming a dam after a living or dead Congressman to the syntax of descriptive language versus legislation. The House erupted into laughter when the Minority Leader, Bertrand Snell of New York, raised the question, “Would it be possible during the expansion of the T.V.A. to build enough dams so that every deserving Democrat could have his name on a dam?” Four pages of the Congressional Record were filled with such back and forth between Members. Ultimately, it remained the Chickamauga Dam, named after the tribe of American Indians that split from the Cherokee Nation in the eighteenth century.

Related Highlight Subjects

Historical Highlight