Posted by: Journal News on Apr 24, 2020

Journal Issue Date: May 2020

Journal Name: Vol. 56 No. 5

In Praise of ‘History’s Verdict’

I commend the Journal for the excellent historical articles by Russell Fowler. In an era when many colleges are little more than trade schools, history gets short shrift. It is important for everyone, lawyers especially, to understand the historical background of our world and profession.
— Hon. Robert A. Lanier, Memphis

This is another extremely interesting article [“The Income Tax: Tennessee’s Gift to America,” by Russell Fowler, March 2020 TBJ]. Thanks for your time and efforts to write about figures in Tennessee history.  
— Jack Carrier, Johnson City

Celebrating Our State Constitution’s 150th Anniversary

The year 2020 marks the centennial of Tennessee’s ratification of the 19th Amendment, which is appropriately being celebrated by the TBA and other groups. While this is certainly an event worthy of commemoration, it obscures another important anniversary.  This year marks the 150th anniversary of the adoption of our current state constitution. After a convention of several weeks in January and February, 1870, a March 26, 1870 ratification vote of 98,128 in favor and 33,972 opposed was certified on May 5, 1870.  
   There were few significant differences from the Constitution of 1834.   Primarily, the new constitution was adopted to at least nominally acknowledge the results of the Civil War relating to the rights of black citizens, but also to insure that  the state returned to local majority white control.   Because it was deemed a temporary expedient to achieve those purposes, the men of the 1870 convention, who were among the more prominent political and legal lights of the day, fully expected “all this must be done again” in ten years. We now know that it remained unamended until 1953.  Even though there have been further amendments in 1960, 1966, 1972, 1978, 1998, 2006, 2010 and 2014, the work of the 1870 convention is still largely intact. While their motives were not completely pure from a modern standpoint, these men, who had endured the disruption of civil war and subsequent postwar strife, were thoughtful enough to provide our citizens with the fundamentals of a functioning and stable state government and strong protections for personal liberties that live on today.  It is an anniversary that should not go unnoticed.
— Sam D. Elliott, Chattanooga