The McMinn County War – Citizens and WWII Veterans Fought Tyranny
By Faye Higbee – Posted November 13, 2018
McMinn County, Tennessee in 1946 was rife with corruption and voter fraud. The E.H. Crump political machine was well known for stealing votes and running the entire area as a racket. WWII veterans coming home from the war became angry at the continual actions of the machine. They rose up to do something about it.
It was August 1946, election time in McMinn County. The Crump machine had already elected the sheriff and other “officials” numerous times unopposed, so they had no reason to think it wouldn’t be that way again.
Paul Cantrell was elected sheriff in the 1936, 1938, and 1940 elections, and was elected to the state senate in 1942 and 1944, while his former deputy, Pat Mansfield, a transplanted Georgian, was elected sheriff. A state law enacted in 1941 reduced local political opposition to Crump’s officials by reducing the number of voting precincts from 23 to 12 and reducing the number of justices of the peace from fourteen to seven (including four “Cantrell men”). The sheriff and his deputies worked under a fee system whereby they received money for every person they booked, incarcerated, and released; the more arrests, the more money they made. Because of this fee system, there was extensive “fee grabbing” from tourists and travelers. Buses passing through the county were often pulled over and the passengers were randomly ticketed for drunkenness, whether guilty or not. Between 1936 and 1946, these fees amounted to almost $300,000.
When Cantrell switched places on the ballot with Mansfield for the 1946 elections, the GIs knew something was up.
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Attribution:Uncle Sam's Misguided Children