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Archives and Special Collections: State Governors

The Stockton Archives | Cumberland University, Lebanon, Tennessee

State Governors Who Graduated from

Cumberland University

Robert Looney Caruthers (1800-1882) | Tennessee Governor (1863-1863)

Robert Caruthers Portrait Robert Looney Caruthers, born July 21, 1800, helped establish Cumberland University and Cumberland University Law School (now Cumberland School of Law, sold to Samford University in   Homewood, AL in 1961). The Greenville College and Washington College alumni began his career in 1823. Throughout his life, he served as a clerk for the Tennessee House of Representatives   (1823-1824), the attorney general for Lebanon (Sixth Judicial District; 1826-1832), the Tennessee militia’s brigadier-general  in 1834, the representative for Wilson County in the Tennessee House of   Representatives (1835-1837), the representative for Tennessee’s seventh district (parts of Middle and   West TN) in the U.S. House of Representatives (1841-1843), state elector-at-large for the Whig Party in 1844, and Middle Tennessee’s justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court (1852-1862). In 1863, during the   Civil War, the Confederates elected Caruthers as governor, ultimately replacing Governor Isham Harris.   Due to thCaruthers Halle Union’s occupation of Middle   Tennessee,  Caruthers could not take oath   before the General  Assembly, a requirement   of the governor-elect. Instead, future   President  Andrew Johnson became Tennessee’s governor, as elected by the Union forces. 

 Caruthers was a strong advocate for the establishment of Cumberland University. Robert and his brother, Judge Abraham Caruthers, created the first law school in the South, Cumberland School of Law, on January 9, 1847. He served as the Board of Trustees President from 1842 until his death in 1882. Following the death of his brother and the end of the Civil War, he became a Professor of Law, starting in 1866, which he performed until his resignation in 1881. He funded the construction of the Law School’s building, Caruthers Hall, in 1878. Robert Caruthers passed away on October 2, 1882. His home still stands today in Lebanon, serving as the home of Ligon and Bobo’s Funeral Home, and a large portrait (as seen above) hangs in Baird Chapel, located in Memorial Hall.


The portrait hanging in Baird Chapel, Memorial Hall. Photo taken 8/16/23 | Photo from 1900-1901 Cumberland University Catalog.

Edward Hazzard East (1830-1904) | Tennessee Governor (1865-1865)

Edward Hazzard East, born October 1, 1830, graduated from Cumberland School of Law in 1853.

Before  Edward Hazzard Eastattending Cumberland, East received a degree in literature from Washington Institute in 1850. Throughout his life, he practiced law, served as a Chairman of the County Court for Davidson County, TN  starting in 1883, was a President of the Board of Directors of the Tennessee Hospital for the Insane, the first president of Vanderbilt University Board of Trustees, and was a member of the University of Nashville and Tennessee School for the Blind&rsquo's Board of Trustees. He was elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives in 1859 as a part of the Opposition Party, which replaced the recently defunct Whig Party. He remained there until Tennessee began taking sides with the Confederacy. East, a firm supporter of the Union, could not stand beside his state and its stance with the Confederacy and resigned his seat shortly thereafter. While he disagreed with the Confederacy and everything they stood for, he refused to go against his fellow Tennesseans and;fight those he loved and respected.

Under Andrew Johnson’s governorship of Tennessee, he was appointed to Johnson’s cabinet as the Secretary of State in 1862. However, with Andrew Johnson being chosen–and later elected–as Abraham Lincoln’s Vice President in 1864, Tennessee officials quickly realized there would be a one-month gap between Johnson’s departure as governor and the next governor’s swearing-in. President Lincoln appointed East as Tennessee’s Acting Governor from March 4 until April 5, 1865. Following this, Governor William G. Brownlow took office on April 5, 1865.

After his stint as governor, East served as a chancellor for Davidson County from 1869-1870, chancellor for Tennessee’s Seventh Division from 1870-1872, a councilman for the Nashville, Chattanooga, and St. Louis Railway, and a chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. He was asked to serve on President Johnson’s cabinet upon his inauguration but ultimately declined. Additionally, he ran for Tennessee Governor on the Prohibition Party ticket but lost. Edward East passed away on November 12, 1904, and was buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Nashville.

Photo from: Sketches of Prominent Tennesseans - William Speer (1888).

James Davis Porter (1828-1912) | Tennessee Governor (1875-1879)

James Davis Porter, born December 7, 1828, attended Cumberland School of Law between 1849 and 1851.* The Henry County native graduated from the University of Nashville, receiving his Bachelor of Arts in 1846 and his Master of Arts in 1849. He divided his time between 1849 and 1851, attending law classes at Cumberland School of Law while also studying law with notable attorney, General John H. Dunlap of Paris, TN. After passing the bar in 1851, he practiced law and began a political career. Porter was elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives for the Whig party in 1859. He created the 'Porter resolutions' in 1861, which stated that upon the inevitable and forthcoming Civil War, Tennessee would align itself with the seceding states instead of the Union. This became a reality within the year, as Tennessee sided with the Confederacy in May 1961. 

During the Civil War, Porter served as an adjutant general and assisted in the organization of the Provisional Army of Tennessee. He was also appointed to the staff of Confederate General Benjamin “Frank” Cheatham for the duration of the war. Some of the most notable battles he witnessed or participated in include the Battle of   Belmont, the Battle of Shiloh, the Battle of Chickamauga, the Battle of Missionary Ridge, and the Siege of Atlanta. Following the war, Porter served as a delegate and a member of the judiciary committee for Tennessee's constitutional convention in 1870, which drafted the Tennessee State Constitution. This version of the Constitution is still in use today. He began serving as judge of Tennessee's 12th circuit, which includes Bledsoe, Franklin, Grundy, Marion, Rhea, and Sequatchie counties in the southeastern portion of the state.

In 1874, Porter received the Democratic nomination for Tennessee governor. He won the election with nearly 50,000 votes over his Republican opponent, Horace Maynard. His 1876 reelection proved no different, beating William F. Yardley, the first African James PorterAmerican to run for governor in Tennessee. He instated laws to help Prohibition through his “Four Mile Law,” which banned all alcohol within a four-mile radius of every school.

From 1880 until 1884, Porter served as president of the Nashville, Chattanooga, and St. Louis Railway and on the Board of Directors for the Tennessee Coal, Iron, and Railway Company. He also was the trustee for the Peabody Education Fund for Peabody College in 1883. President Grover Cleveland elected Porter to serve as the Assistant Secretary of State to Thomas F. Bayard from 1885 to 1887 and the U.S. Minister to Chile from 1893 to 1894. During that time, he began his role as president of the Board of Trustees at the University of Nashville in 1890. Years later, he served as the chancellor of the University of Nashville in 1901 and president of Peabody College in 1902. He grew angry that his fellow Peabody Trustees planted the new Peabody College's site near Vanderbilt University instead of near the originally planned University of Nashville site, which prompted his resignation shortly afterward. 

Porter was very active in the Tennessee Historical Society, where he served as president, and helped write Confederate Military History.** He died on May 18, 1912, and is buried in his hometown at Paris City Cemetery. 

*James Porter does not appear in our records. Some have estimated he attended Cumberland in 1851, and others claim he graduated in 1884. It can be estimated that he studied here without graduating while studying law with John Dunlap in Paris, TN.

** The Vise Library owns this book, located in our Military Collection; M 973.7 C74N V.10.

Left photo here | Right photo from: Confederate Military History, vol. viii, 1899

James B. McCreary (1838-1918) | Kentucky Governor (1875-1879 & 1911-1915)

James Bennett McCreary, born July 8, 1838, graduated from Cumberland School of Law in 1859. Before this, the Kentucky native received his bachelor’s degree from Centre College. He practiced law in Richmond, Virginia, until 1862, when McCreary joined the Confederate forces and earned the title of major in the 11th Kentucky Cavalry. He earned the title of lieutenant colonel of the regiment and promptly began commanding them following the death of his colonel on July 4, 1863. His regiment was captured and surrendered to Union forces between July 17-18, 1863, at the Battle of Buffington Island, where he was arrested and taken to Ninth Street Prison (Ohio), Fort Delaware (Delaware), and Morris Island (South Carolina) during July and August of 1863. He was later released during a prisoner exchange, where he resided in Richmond, Virginia. He continued to command battalions through Kentucky and South Carolina until the war ended. Some notable battles McCreary participated in include the Battle of Hartsville, the Battle of Tebbs Bend, and the Battle of Buffington Island. He was elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives in 1869, where he was later elected as the Speaker of the House starting in 1871. 

McCreary ran for governor of Kentucky on the Democratic ticket in 1875, ultimately defeating Republican nominee John Harlan. There he served until 1879 when Luke Pryor Blackburn took office. Following this, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Kentucky’s Eighth District in 1884, serving six consecutive terms from March 1885 until March 1897. He continued to represent Kentucky at Democratic National Conventions and practice law after this stint as governor. McCreary then was elected to the U.S. Senate, representing Kentucky from March 1903 to 1909.

By 1911, McCreary again took up his role as Kentucky’s governor. While a relatively successful term, he was not nominated for reelection by the Democratic party. He continued to practice law once more until he passed away on October 8, 1918. He now rests in a Richmond, KY cemetery.

Original photo here.

William Brimage Bate (1826-1905) | Tennessee Governor (1883-1887)

William Brimage Bate, born October 7, 1826, attended Cumberland School of Law from 1850-1852.* Before this, the Castalian Springs, TN native’s first job entailed him working on a steamboat that traveled through Nashville to New Orleans. Because of this job, he joined a Louisiana regiment in the Mexican-American war in 1848. A few months later, he enlisted as a lieutenant for Company I of the 3rd Tennessee Volunteer Infantry. At the war's end, he began publishing The Tenth Legion, a democratic paper in neighboring Gallatin, TN. He also became a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives, being in office from 1849 through 1851.

After attending Cumberland, he strongly supported Tennessee’s secession and the Confederacy. In May 1861, he earned the position of colonel in the 2nd Tennessee Infantry. During a march with his regiment and the Army of the Mississippi, Bate hurt his leg, requiring amputation. He refused this, pointing a gun at the surgeon set to do the procedure. Because of this, it was noted that he walked with a limp for the rest of his life. During his recovery, he was promoted to Brigadier General and went on to command the Army of Tennessee. He was offered the nomination by Confederate Leaders to replace Governor Isham G. Harris, but Bate declined. The nomination eventually went to Cumberland School of Law founder Robert Caruthers (see above). He went on to serve as Major General on February 24, 1864. Shortly afterward, he was shot in the knee near Atlanta. Stories account that his horse was shot out from under him on six separate occasions, and Bate was wounded thrice. His role in the Civil War ended in 1865 when he surrendered near Greensboro, NC. Some of the most notable battles he witnessed or partook in include the Battle of Aquia Creek, the First Battle of Bull Run, the Battle of Shiloh, the Battle of Hoover’s Gap, the Battle of Chickamauga, the Battle of Missionary Ridge, the Battle of Resaca, the Battle of New Hope Church, the Battle of Dallas, the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, the Battle of Peachtree Creek, the Battle of Atlanta, the Battle of Franklin, the Battle of Nashville, and the Battle of Bentonville.

He went back to Nashville to practice law and partake in politics. He was active in the State Democratic Committee and the National Democratic Executive Committee and was nominated for the U.S. Senate three times (1875, 1877, and 1881).

Bate began his governorship on January 15, 1883, and he went on to be reelected in 1885. Following this, he was elected by the Tennessee General Assembly to serve in the United States Senate on March 4, 1887. He is best remembered in this role for serving as chairman of the Committee on the Improvement of the Mississippi River and the Committee on Public Health. He served this role until his death on March 5, 1905, when it is assumed he caught pneumonia from attending President Theodore Roosevelt’s presidential inauguration. He is buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Nashville.

*Bate’s actual graduation date is unknown. He was listed as attending Cumberland School of Law in our 1850-1851 and 1851-1852 catalogs, but he is not listed among those graduating. Additionally, he is not listed in the 1868-1869 catalog, which lists all known alumni by year and school. This could either mean our records inadvertently omitted his graduation date or Bate did attend Cumberland and did not complete the program.

Photo 1 | Photo 2

Murphy James Foster (1849-1921) | Louisiana Governor (1892-1900)

Murphy FosterMurphy James Foster, born January 12, 1849, graduated from Cumberland University with his Bachelor of Arts in 1869. The Louisiana native grew up on a sugar cane plantation and attended Washington and Lee University prior to attending Cumberland. After graduating from Cumberland, he obtained his law degree from modern-day Tulane University. Foster became a State Senator in 1880, representing Louisiana’s tenth district. He served until 1892 when he was elected governor of Louisiana on the Democratic ticket. 

Foster served as the governor of Louisiana from 1892 until 1900. Following his role as governor, he was elected to serve as a U.S. Senator for Louisiana from 1900 until 1913. President Woodrow Wilson then appointed Foster to the position of Custom Collector in New Orleans, which he continued to hold until he passed away on June 12, 1921, in Franklin, LA. He is buried in Franklin Cemetery within St. Mary Parish, LA.


Original photo here.

Jefferson "Jeff" Davis (1862-1913) | Arkansas Governor (1901-1907)

Jefferson ‘Jeff’ Davis, born May 6, 1862, graduated from Cumberland School of Law in 1882.* The Arkansas native applied to West Point Military Academy in 1878 and was ultimately rejected. This resulted in his enrollment in the Arkansas Industrial University (now the University of Arkansas), where he attended until 1880. Following this, he attended Vanderbilt University Law School, completing the two-year program in one year. Vanderbilt refused to let Davis graduate since they required students to complete the two-year residency. Davis then applied to Cumberland School of Law for the Fall 1881 semester. During the summer, Davis returned home to Arkansas, where, with the help of his father negotiating to ignore that his son was underaged, he passed the bar. He finally received his diploma in 1882 and returned to Arkansas to work in his father’s law firm.

Watching his father step into politics enabled Davis to crave a spot on the political stage himself. He soon was elected as Prosecuting Attorney of the Fifth Judicial District of Arkansas from 1892 until 1896. Three years later, he served as the Arkansas Attorney General from 1899 to 1901. By the end of his role as State Attorney General, Davis ran and was elected the Governor of Arkansas. He served in this role until 1907. Chosen by the State Legislature, Davis served in the U.S. Senate starting in 1907. He held this position until his death on January 3, 1913. He is buried at Mount Holly Cemetery in Little Rock, AR.

*As seen with Murphy Foster, Jefferson Davis’s name does not appear in our records. It is recorded that Davis attended Cumberland from 1881-1882 in most sources regarding the Arkansas Governor; however, our 1881 and 1882 catalogs do not mention his name as a student or in the graduating class. His name is also not mentioned in our 1887 catalog, which lists all alumni by year and department. 

Original photo here.

Park Monroe Trammell (1976-1936) | Florida Governor (1913-1917)

Park Monroe Trammell, born April 9, 1876, graduated from Cumberland School of Law in June 1899. Prior to attending Cumberland, Trammell grew up in Florida on his family’s farm before attending Vanderbilt University in 1898. With the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, Trammell served within the Quartermaster Corps in Tampa until the war’s conclusion months later. Upon graduating from Cumberland, he became Mayor of Lakeland, Florida, from 1900-1902. This was the same role his father, John Washington Trammell, held, serving as the first mayor of Lakeland in 1885. Trammell served in the Florida House of Representatives, representing Polk County from 1903-1905. Shortly afterward, he served as the President of the Florida Senate, representing the 7th District. After resigning from the Florida Senate to work privately in 1907, he was appointed the Attorney General of Florida by then-State Governor Albert Gilchrist. He served in this role from 1909 until 1913.

Trammell was elected as Florida’s 21st Governor on the Democratic ticket. This role lasted from January 7, 1913, to May 8, 1917. He spent the last few months of his governorship running for Florida's seat in the United States Senate. With just over two months remaining in office, Trammell won the popular vote and began his role on March 4, 1917. During his tenure, he served as the Chairman of the Senate Expenditures in the Treasury Department Committee from 1917 until 1919. Additionally, he served as the Chairman of the Senate Naval Affairs Committee starting in 1933. He held the position along with his role in the Senate until his death on May 8, 1936. He was laid to rest at Lakeland’s Roselawn Cemetery.

Original photo here.

Sidney Johnston Catts (1863-1936) | Florida Governor (1917-1921)

Sidney Johnston Catts, born July 31, 1863, graduated from Cumberland School of Law in 1882. The Alabama native pursued a career as a minister, insurance salesman, and teacher before stepping into politics. Catts sought a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives on the Democratic ticket in Alabama’s 5th District in 1904 but ultimately lost. This did not deter Catts, who then decided to run for Florida governor in 1916. Catts became the first person to campaign using an automobile, a Ford Model T, to personally reach voters throughout Florida. Despite rumors that some wanted to assassinate Catts, he won the Democratic ticket by only a few hundred votes. Upon a recount, Florida’s Supreme Court ruled that his opponent, William Knotts, won by 21 votes. Still determined to run, Catts joined the Prohibition Party, where he defeated Knotts and other opponents by several thousand votes. Upon his election in 1917, he replaced buggies with cars in his parade, paying extra homage to the beloved Ford Model T he drove throughout his campaign. In addition, his inauguration speech was the first filmed in Florida’s history. 

 Following his governorship, Catts ran for the U.S. Senate in 1920, Florida Governor in 1924 and 1928, and a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives for Florida’s 3rd District in 1930, all on the Democratic ticket but ultimately lost each race. He faced multiple indictment charges later in life before his death on March 9, 1936. He is buried at Magnolia Cemetery in DeFuniak Springs, Florida.

Original photo here.

William Judson Holloway (1888-1970) | Oklahoma Governor (1929-1931)

William Judson Holloway, born December 15, 1888, graduated from Cumberland School of Law in 1915. The Arkadelphia, Arkansas native attended modern-day Ouachita Baptist University in his hometown and graduated in 1910. Shortly afterward, he studied at the University of Chicago. Holloway then moved to Oklahoma, where he began studying law while serving as the principal of a local high school.

During his time at Cumberland University, Holloway served as the Class President in his Junior term. He was a member of the Philomathean Debate Society, the Lex Debating Society, and the Masonic Club of Cumberland University (Lodge Number 217). He also played tennis in the school's Tennis Club. Following his attendance and graduation from Cumberland, he began his role as a county attorney for Choctaw County, OK in 1916. Holloway longed to serve in World War I and entered an officers’ training school to prepare for battle; however, the war ended before he could finish the program. He served as the representative of Choctaw, Pushmataha, and McCurtain counties in the Oklahoma Senate from 1920 until 1927. In the last two years of this role, he was elected President Pro Tempore of the Oklahoma Senate.

He traded this role for the position of Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma after being elected on January 10, 1927 upon the Democratic ticket. He obtained this role after former governor John Walton’s impeachment and previous Lieutenant Governor, Martin E. Trapp, replaced Walton. Similar circumstances occurred in 1929 when Henry Johnston, Oklahoma’s seventh governor, faced impeachment charges. As second-in-command, Holloway took over as governor of Oklahoma on March 20, 1929. Upon encountering the start of the Great Depression, voters elected William Murray, a Democratic nominee, to replace Holloway on January 12, 1931. Holloway left politics to practice law in Oklahoma City, which he did until his death on January 28, 1970. He is buried at Rose Hill Cemetery in Oklahoma City, OK.

Left photo from 1915 Phoenix Yearbook | Right photo here.

James Burr V Allred (1899-1959) | Texas Governor (1935-1939)

James Burr V Allred, born on March 29, 1899, graduated from Cumberland School of Law in 1921. Before attending Cumberland, the Bowie, Texas native attempted to attend modern-day Rice University but could not due to financial issues. As the United States joined World War I in 1917, Allred quit his job with the United States Immigration Service to enlist in the Navy, where he served until 1919. After his stint in the Navy, Allred applied for Cumberland School of Law. As a student, he was very active in both athletics and extracurricular activities. He played halfback on the Phoenix football team, where he was described in the 1921 Phoenix Yearbook as “Out with the "pep" and determination common among men of the "Lone Star" State, Jimmy was particularly adapted to his position. He had an educated toe, speed and nerve [sic].” He served as president of the Texas Club, where he earned the nickname “Silent Jim,” and Parliamentarian of the Philomathean Literary Society. He was also a member of the Psi Chi Legal Society, the Alpha Sigma Zeta chapter oFDR, LBJ, JBVAf Lambda Chi Alpha, and the Masonic Club, where he held the membership rank of Master.

After graduating, Allred practiced law in Wichita Falls, TX, until he served as the district attorney for the Thirtieth Texas District, including Wichita, Young, and Archer counties, from 1923 until 1926. In 1931, he became the Attorney General of Texas, serving until 1935. Within the same year, he won the Texas governor election, running on the Democratic ticket. He served in this role from January 15, 1935 until January 17, 1939. During his governorship, Allred was appointed to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas on July 11, 1938. He ultimately declined the offer to finish his term as governor. Months later and days before his role as governor ended, President Franklin D. Roosevelt nominated Allred to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, which he accepted and began serving on February 23, 1939. He resigned on May 15, 1942 to run for the United States Senate under the Democratic ticket. Proving unsuccessful, he began to practice law again until his second nomination to the United States District Court for the Southern District, this time by President Harry S. Truman. Allred held this role from October 13, 1949 until his death on September 24, 1959. He is buried in Riverside Cemetery in Wichita Falls, Texas

(Left to right: Franklin D. Roosevelt, James Burr V Allred, and Lyndon B. Johnson)

Left Photo from 1921 Phoenix Yearbook | Right photo here.

Gordon Weaver Browning (1889-1976) | Tennessee Governor (1937-1939 & 1949-1953)

Gordon Weaver Browning, born November 22, 1889, graduated from Cumberland School of Law in 1915. Growing up, the West Tennessee native watched as his father served as Milan, Tennessee’s Justice of the Peace. This seemed to spark a passion for a political career at a young age. Before obtaining his law degree at Cumberland, Browning attended Valparaiso University, where he graduated in 1913 with a Bachelor of Science and Pedagogy. During this time, he taught and waited tables to pay for his tuition. After graduating from Cumberland, he practiced law in his hometown.

With the outbreak of World War I in 1917, 28-year-old Weaver enlisted and joined the Tennessee National Guard, where he became a 2nd lieutenant in Company D of the First Tennessee Field Artillery. His unit eventually got deployed, and he fought in France under the 114th Field Artillery of the 30th Infantry Division. It was here that he earned the rank of Captain. 

Following his discharge from the war, Browning ran for the 8th district (West Tennessee) seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1920. He lost the seat by a 1% margin to his Cumberland classmate, Lon Allen Scott. It was not until 1922 that Browning ran again, winning the election and holding the seat for five terms. He also represented the 7th district (Western-Middle TN) between March 4, 1933 until January 3, 1935, due to redistricting. Browning longed to hold the U.S. Senate seat for Tennessee after fellow Cumberland graduate Cordell Hull resigned to take on his role as the U.S. Secretary of State in 1933. Browning proved unsuccessful in the Democratic primary election, losing to Nathan L. Bachman. Despite his recent loss, Browning celebrated an enormous victory when he beat Republican candidate Burgin Dossett by over 250,000 votes to be Tennessee’s 38th Governor. He served from January 15, 1937 until January 16, 1939. Additionally, he served as the Chancellor of the 8th Tennessee Chancery Division, which he served from 1942 until 1949. 

Now in his early fifties, Browning longed to serve in World War II upon its outbreak. After bringing the issueBrowning directly to the Army’s offices in Washington D.C., he was enlisted and served as a Captain starting in 1943. During this, he attended the School of Military Government in Charlottesville, VA, and earned the title of Lieutenant Colonel. He directly assisted with the Belgium-Luxembourg mission to restore civilian government in the area, aided with the win at the Battle of the Bulge, and served as a commander of a military government in Allied-occupied Bremen, Germany. He served until 1947 and earned the Legion of Merit Military Award for his wartime achievements.

Although not actively present in Tennessee at the time, Browning ran in the Democratic Primary Election of 1946 for Tennessee’s next Governor election but ultimately lost. He earned many votes from black voters and veterans during the 1948 Democratic Primary Election, which he won, beating Jim Nance McCord, who beat Browning in the previous Democratic Primary. The general governor election proved just as easy for Browning as he defeated Republican candidate and country music singer Roy Acuff by over 150,000 votes. He continued to win reelection, allowing him to serve as Governor from January 16, 1949 until January 15, 1953. His predecessor, Frank Goad Clement, also attended Cumberland School of Law, beating him in the primary election by over 50,000 votes. He once again tried to defeat Clement in the 1954 Democratic Primary but lost once again. Retiring from his political career, he began to practice law again and operated an insurance firm and dairy farm until he died on May 23, 1976. He is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Huntingdon, Tennessee.

Left photo from 1915 Phoenix Yearbook | Right photo here.

Fuller Warren (1905-1973) | Florida Governor (1949-1953)

Fuller Warren, born on October 3, 1905, attended Cumberland School of Law in 1928.* Prior to attending Cumberland, the Northwest Florida native found his passion for politics early. At just twelve years old, Warren attempted to become a page within the Florida State Senate. He later attended the University of Florida, graduating in 1926. As a college senior, he ran for a seat in the Florida House of Representatives, representing Calhoun County. At the age of twenty-one, he won the election and remained in office for one year.

After practicing law in Jacksonville, he was elected to the city council, where he served from 1931 until 1937. Within two years, he was back in the Florida House of Representatives, this time representing Duval County for the entirety of 1939. Warren followed this by running for governor of Florida in 1940, where he came in third place out of eleven candidates. As World War II erupted overseas, Warren, a Florida National Guardsman, joined the Navy, where he served as a Gunnery Officer. 

Warren ran for Florida governor once again in 1948 under the Democratic ticket. He won and served from January 4, 1949 until January 6, 1953. Following his governorship, he was a political analyst on a Miami television station, WITV. He ran for governor once again in 1956, but lost in the Democratic Primary Election to fellow Cumberland School of Law graduate LeRoy Collins. Fuller Warren died on September 23, 1973. He is buried at Nettle Ridge Cemetery in Blountstown, Florida.

*Fuller Warren only appears in our 1928-1929 Catalog as an incoming Law Student for September 1928, and our Law School Bulletin (1929-1930), where he is listed as a member of the Junior Law Class in Fall Term, 1928. Some sources claim he graduated in 1930, while others completely omit his attendance at Cumberland. It is possible that he applied but never attended, or took a small amount of classes.

Original photo here.

Frank Goad Clement (1920-1969) | Tennessee Governor (1954-1959 & 1963-1967)

Frank Goad Clement, born June 2, 1920, attended Cumberland University from the Fall of 1937 to the Spring of 1939. Clement was born in his family’s hotel in Dickson, Tennessee, which has since become the Clement Railroad Hotel Museum. Politics ran in the young man’s blood as his father, Robert Samuel Clement, served as an attorney and politician. Additionally, Frank regularly took speaking lessons with his aunt. Attending Cumberland became normative for the Clement family, as his father, Robert, graduated a few years before his son and received his Law degree in 1934. Frank’s uncle, Jesse Archibald “Archie” Clement, also graduated from Cumberland’s College of Art & Science in 1925, where he played as a Guard in Football and a Forward in Basketball with future Missouri Governor James T. Blair.

While attending Cumberland, Frank Clement participated in many extracurricular activities, including the Y.M.C.A., Debating Team, Public Speaking Club, the International Relations Club, and a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. After attending Cumberland, he continued his education at Vanderbilt University Law School, graduating in 1942. Afterward, he attended an FBI Training School in Virginia, where he would spend three months training before working as an agent until November 1943. He then enlisted in the U.S. Army at the age of twenty-three, rising to the rank of First Lieutenant by June 1945. He became the Commanding Officer of Company C of the Military Police Battalion at Camp Bullis in Texas at the time of his discharge in 1946. Following his release, he worked within the Tennessee Railroad and Public Utilities Commission until 1950.

Clement became the youngest Governor in the United States at the time of his gubernatorial inauguration on January 15, 1953, successfully beating previous Tennessee Governor Gordon Browning, a Cumberland School of Law graduate. He easily won the re-election of 1954, which allowed Tennessee governors to serve a full four-year term for the first time in the state’s history. During his second term, Clement would order for all the state’s schools to desegregate following Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. In 1956, Clement joined the list of candidates for Vice President for the Democratic Nominee. His speech at the 1956 Democratic National Convention became one of the most renowned speeches of the convention’s history, as many compared it to a powerful sermon. The forty-three-minute speech received a four-minute-long standing ovation from the crowd. Some considered the speech overkill and an outright failure, while other famed politicians, such as Bill Clinton and Zell Miller (Georgia Governor, 1991-1999) recalled it being impactful, even decades later.

In addition to his political career, Clement was an avid supporter of the country music industry. In 1959, both ClementClement and Albert Gore, Sr. earned honorary Co-Chairmen for the Country Music Association (CMA)’s Board of Directors. During the 1960s, he suffered from alcoholism that began to strain his political career. His son, Robert ‘Bob’ Nelson Clement, joined his father on the campaign trail while seeking governorship in 1962. Here, his son began to make speeches for his father, fueling his passion for politics, similar to Frank and his father. Clement was elected Governor once again and went into office on January 15, 1963. While in office, Clement ran for the Democratic Primary for a newly opened U.S. Senate seat opening but lost to Congressman Ross Bass. Clement ran for the Senate seat again in 1966, winning in the Democratic Primary but losing the main election against Republican nominee Howard Baker. His governorship ended on January 16, 1967.

Clement announced his plans to run for Governor again in 1969. Shortly afterward, Clement, on the verge of reconciling his marriage to his wife of 29 years, died in a two-car collision in Nashville after his car swerved into oncoming traffic. He died on November 4, 1969, at 49 years old. He is buried at Dickson County Memorial Gardens in Dickson, TN.

His son, Bob Clement, became president of Cumberland University in 1983, serving until 1987. He helped the school regain its four-year and university status, changing its name from Cumberland College back to Cumberland University. He also served in the U.S. House of Representatives for Tennessee from 1988 until 2003. The Bob and Mary Clement Room is housed in the Vise Library today.

Left photo from: 1938 Phoenix Yearbook | Right photo here.

Thomas Leroy Collins (1909-1991) | Florida Governor (1955-1961)

Collins 1931Thomas LeRoy Collins, born March 10, 1909, graduated from Cumberland School of Law in 1931. Born in Tallahassee, Florida, Collins attended Eastman Business College in Poughkeepsie, New York before attending Cumberland. At Cumberland, he was a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, Vice President of the Senior Law Class, and voted Bachelor of Ugliness in the 1931 Phoenix Yearbook (left). After graduation, he was elected to the Florida House of Representatives, representing Leon County in 1939. He left the House of Representatives to help fill a seat in the Florida Senate, which recently opened due to the death of William Hodges. He held this seat until 1943.

At the age of 34 in 1943, Collins tried to enlist in the Navy to serve in World War II but did not get accepted until 1944 as a lieutenant junior grade. It was here that he began training in spoken Chinese. When his unit disbanded, he moved to the 13th Naval District in Seattle, Washington to work as an attorney for the Navy’s Judge Advocate General Corps (JAG). He served in this role until March 1946. 

Upon returning to Florida in 1946, he was again elected to the Florida Senate, where he would be re-elected and serve until 1954. He was voted “Most Valuable Senator” twice. Collins would go on to win the Florida gubernatorial election in 1955. He would be re-elected to serve a four-year term the following year, making him the first governor to run two consecutive terms in the state’s history. Collins was considered for the Vice Presidential nomination in 1956 to Adlai Stevenson II. He became Chairman of the Southern Governors’ Association in 1957. As seen in 1956, Collins was again heavily considered as the running mate of future President John F. Kennedy in the 1960 election due to his support of the Civil Rights Movement but lost out to Lyndon Johnson. He became Chairman of the 1960 Democratic National Convention, which chose Kennedy and Johnson to represent the Democratic party.

After his governorship ended on January 3, 1961, he became the President of the National Association of Broadcasters, which he resigned after Lyndon Johnson appointed him to become Director of the Community Relations Service following the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Additionally, Johnson appointed him the United States Under Secretary of Commerce in 1965. He resigned in late 1966 to partner in a Tampa Law Firm. Two years later, he was nominated for a United States Senate Seat on the Democratic ticket but lost to Republican Edward Gurney. 

LeRoy Collins died on March 12, 1991 after a battle with cancer. Political figures such as Jeb Bush, Bob Graham, and Reubin Askew consider him one of the greatest Governors in Florida. He is buried at Call Family Cemetery in Tallahassee, Florida.

Left Photo from 1931 Phoenix Yearbook | Right photo here.

James Thomas Blair (1902-1962) | Missouri Governor (1957-1961)

James Thomas Blair Jr., born March 15, 1902, graduated from Cumberland School of Law in 1924. The Northwest Missouri native grew up with dreams of becoming governor and living in the Governor’s Mansion in Jefferson City, MO. His father, James T. Blair Sr., fueled his dreams as he watched him serve as a Missouri Supreme Court Justice, representative within the Missouri General Assembly, and assistant attorney general. Blair Jr. attended Staunton Military Academy in Virginia, modern-day Missouri State University, and the University of Missouri before coming to Cumberland to obtain his law degree. While at Cumberland, Blair kept himself busy in athletics and extracurricular activities. He joined the Amassagassean Literary Society, Oratorical Debating Council, Y.M.C.A., the Missouri Club, the Odd Greek Club, and the Philomathean Literary Society. In 1923, he was a part of the Phoenix Yearbook staff, Honor Council, the University Chorus, and served as the President of the Tennessee Oratorical Association. He was also active in Sigma Chi and Sigma Nu Phi Fraternities. In addition, Blair was a Tackle in Football and a Guard in Basketball throughout his college career, even serving as the Bulldog’s Basketball Captain in 1924.

After graduation, Blair was elected in 1925 as city attorney for Jefferson City. In 1929, Blair was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives, serving two terms from 1929 to 1937. He became the youngest man in Missouri to become Majority Floor Leader during his second term. He also acted as Chairman of the Cole County Democratic Committee during this time. 

In World War II, Blair served as an Air Force Officer in Europe, making his way up to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel before his discharge in 1945. He earned the Air Medal for his night flights that flew from Europe to Africa, the Bronze Star, the Legion of Merit, the Presidential Unit Citation, and eleven Battle Stars for his service.

Two years after his return, Blair was elected mayor of Jefferson City in 1947. In 1948, he resigned when he was elected as Missouri’s Lieutenant Governor, a role which he served until he was elected the 44th Governor of Missouri, going into office on January 14, 1957. He was rumored to be a potential vice president nominee in the 1960 Presidential Election. Due to a law prohibiting governors from running for a second consecutive term, Blair’s role as governor ended on January 9, 1961. 

Less than two years later, James Blair and his wife, Emilie, were found dead from carbon monoxide poisoning in their home on July 12, 1962. Many claim it was caused by a car accidentally left running in the couple’s garage, making the fumes enter their home. He is buried in Riverview Cemetery in Jefferson City, Missouri.

Left Photo from 1924 Phoenix Yearbook | Right photo here.


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