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JIM: Mr. C.G. Jeffries and the election of 1921

Something happened in Adair County in 1921 which has rarely - if ever happened in Adair County politics; probably only JIM or his cousin Mike would know - happened. A successful independent candidacy.


In the summer of 1921, C.G. "Gus" Jeffries, then in his 44th year, announced his candidacy as an Independent for Judge of the Adair County Court. In the announcement, published in the August 23rd News and addressed "To the voters of Adair County both White and Black," Mr. Jeffries noted that he had three times before served the people of Adair County: as a Justice of the Peace (first district), later as a deputy County Court Clerk under Walker Bryant, and then as Jailer of Adair County.

Absolutely without fear, he took on the "machinery" of both parties:

[W]hen a man is honest enough to do what he believes is right, some of you think he has committed an unpardonable sin and stand on the streets and send word out over the county not to vote for Gus Jeffries for Judge for it won't do since we cannot control him, it a dangerous proposition.

I want to thank some of those kickers for they are making me votes daily for the country people know all about the the town cliques, both Democrats and Republicans. The country voters know full well that there is a bunch of on both sides that ally their unscrupulous rascality together to put the daylight out of any politicians that they cannot handle or control...I would be afraid to go to sleep if I was as confounded mean and tricky as some of you are.

He went on to say (among other things) that

I am in favor of stopping the rowdyism that goes on here most every night, getting drunk and fighting, breaking out window lights, shooting on the public square., and all kinds of cussedness...and if the good class of people will elect me Judge of Adair County, I hereby swear that with the help of God and a co-operation of the better class of people that I will put an end to this to the best of my knowledge and ability...I will track the law to a letter and give every man, woman and child, white or black, justice. I expect to rule without feared or favor to anyone...

In early October, former Adair County News editor C.S. Harris, by then three-year citizen of West Point, Mississippi and still a staunch Democrat, penned a long letter to his old friend Gus. The letter subsequently appeared in the October 11th edition of the paper. Mr. Harris wrote, in part:

I admire your open, frank statements of your avowed purpose of law enforcement and a close scrutiny of public expenses should you be elected...Your position is one that ought to appeal to every voter who desires to maintain good public conduct or to make improvement over present conditions.

Harris went on to comment about Mr. Jeffries' decision to run as an independent instead of a party regular, stating

[T]here are times and conditions when independent action is absolutely necessary for the public good. Good citizenship is unquestionably better than party regularity and, in my judgment, independent voting -- voting for men and measures -- is far better and safer and more commendable that blindly following the Rooster or the Cabin...

Now, Gus I am your friend and I know you well enough that you are bullheaded sufficiently to carry out every promise you have made if within your power and if you are elected I will be disappointed if you fail to do it...Keep a cool head. Stand pat on your promises and let the critics alone.

Come election day, the folks of Adair County took Mr. Jeffries' platform and Mr. Harris' words to heart. Although his victory over W.S. Sinclair was by the slightest of margins, only 27 votes, it was no mean feat for an Independent to defeat an incumbent Republican.

(Mr. Jeffries passed in 1957, age 80.) - Compiled by JIM

PS: Hit's allus been." - Jim.

This story was posted on 2012-04-17 11:33:29
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