The Great Depression & WW II

Senator Kenneth D. McKellar

Kenneth McKellar grew up in Alabama. His sister and parents taught him at home, although his father died when he was only 11. He worked at different jobs and put himself through college, earning three degrees from the University of Alabama.

When his family moved to Memphis, McKellar became involved with Memphis political leader Edward Crump.   McKellar was part of the Crump political machine that had a lot of influence over politics in Memphis and Tennessee. With Crump’s support, McKellar was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1911.

While in the House, McKellar voted for the constitutional amendment that allowed the direct election of U.S. Senators. Prior to this, Senators were elected by the state legislators. McKellar benefited from this amendment as he was elected U.S. Senator in 1916.

When Franklin Roosevelt was elected president, McKellar used his seniority to help Tennessee benefit from many of the New Deal programs. He supported federal aid for farmers, and led the fight for the Tennessee Valley Authority Act in 1933.

But over the years, McKellar broke with President Roosevelt on several issues. He also became difficult to deal with. After World War II, McKellar wasted opportunities for the state in feuds with political enemies and spent less and less time in the state. In 1952 McKellar had become out-of-touch with the voters, and lost his reelection campaign to Congressman Albert Gore Sr.

For more information on McKellar, click here



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