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History: John D. White and the U.S.congressional race of 1894
John D. White and the race for U.S. Representative seat
in the 11th Congressional District, 1894
"Under the Sign of the Eagle"
Click on headline for story with photo(s)
By Michael Watson
Adair County Historian
Who remembers when the County of Adair was in the 11th Congressional District? We were somewhat gerrymandered then as we are now, with a long string of counties along the Tennessee border. However, the direction of the district was not westward, but eastward.
The "Old Eleventh" was made up of the counties of Adair, Bell, Casey, Clay, Clinton, Harlan, Knox, Laurel, Leslie, Letcher, Metcalfe, Owsley, Perry, Pulaski, Russell, Wayne, and Whitley.
As was the custom of the day, each major party, and when necessary, independent party, formed a state committee, which then called for candidates to place on the primary election ballot. This was the case in 1894. The committee consisted of the following: R.D. Hill, Whitley County, who was Chairman of the Republican State Committee for the 11th District; W.W. Tinsley, Knox County; A.R. Dyche, Laurel County; J.L. McCoy, Bell County; A.F. Young, Wayne County; G.W. Chambers, Whitley County; J.O. Russell, Adair County; F.P. Combest, Casey County; James Eversole, Clay County; J.V. Smith, Clinton County; H.L. Howard, Harlan County; James A. Conyers, Metcalfe County; William Dixon, Leslie County; W.H. Blair, Letcher County; H.H. Moore, Owsley County; James Hall, Perry County; James Denton, Pulaski County; and John D. Irvine, Russell County.
A number of the county chairmen met on August 16th and formed the Republican party's ticket for the primary that was to be held on Saturday, September 29th. However, not all the members were in attendance.
John D. White, of Clay County, had been interested in entering the race on the Republican ticket, "Under the Sign of the Eagle." However, he was not chosen by the committee. He then filed suit against the committee, claiming there had not been enough members present to constitute a quorum. White claimed that he had been "for 24 years last past a member of the said Republican party and a Republican voter." He further stated the committee had refused to place his name upon the ballot. Therefore, he filed the court action on 25 September 1894, four days before the primary was to take place.
The suit caused quite a sensation in the the State and was the stimulus for additional court actions on behalf of some of the Committee members and by the Party.
The news dominated headlines across the state for some time. The Middlesboro News, issue of 27 October 1894, printed several front page items, including: "...Mr. White, on the 24th, had withdrawn his name from the contest in favor of Hon. Silas Adams..." Col. Silas Adams, of Casey County, had filed an injunction, in an attempt to have his own name on the ballot, but it was refused by Judge Morrow, of Somerset.
In a letter, published in the Middlesboro News, 27 October, J.O. Russell, Chairman of the Republican Committee in Adair County, stated that he was a supporter of Col. Adams, but since the court's ruling, "...I will now support Mr. Colson, as a loyal Republican..."
The official Republican nominee for the 11th Congressional seat, who appeared on the November 6th ballot, was David Grant Colson, Bell County.
The Democrat Party ran Hon. George E. Stone as their candidate in the 11th Congressional election. He was, according to a biographical piece in the Courier-Journal of 10 October 1894, born at Jamestown, Russell County, aged about 42, and a practicing attorney at Liberty, Casey County.
- MIKE WATSON, Adair County Historian
This story was posted on 2013-05-02 08:38:56
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