Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Ben W. Hooper
Hooper, who was of illegitimate birth, spent part of his childhood in a orphanage, was unoffically "adopted" by members of his rural church, and was belatedly acknowledged by his natural father, a prominent physician. He was a native of Newport in Cocke County, Tennessee. He was admitted to the bar in 1894, and served in the state legislature. He was a captain of volunteer forces in the Spanish-American War of 1898, and nominated by the Republicans for governor in 1910 over Alfred A. Taylor. His initial Democratic opponent, incumbent Governor Malcolm R. Patterson, withdrew. The Democrats then nominated United States Senator (and three-term former governor) Robert Love Taylor, Alf Taylor's younger brother.
The Prohibition issue had badly split the Democrats and a faction of them called the "Independents" endorsed Hooper for governor, leading to his election. During legislative sessions during Hooper's administration, armed guards were employed. Nonetheless, he was reelected in 1912, but was subsequently defeated for a third term in 1914 by Democrat Thomas C. Rye, a Prohibition advocate. During his terms, early child labor laws were enacted and school attendance was made compulsory for young children provided that they lived within a realistic walking distance of a school. The method of the death penalty was changed from hanging to electrocution.
Hooper continued the practice of law after his time as governor and maintained a keen interest in public affairs and Republican politics until just before his death in 1957. He wrote an autobiography, The Unwanted Boy, and was widely regarded in East Tennessee as an inspirational figure.
| Preceded by :|
Malcolm R. Patterson
|Governors of Tennessee|| Succeeded by:|
Tom C. Rye
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