Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Joe L. Evins
Evins was a native of DeKalb County, Tennessee. He graduated from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee in 1933 and the law school of Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee in 1934. He was admitted to the bar in that same year and began practice in Smithville, Tennessee, county seat of DeKalb County.
In 1935 Evins was named a staff attorney for the Federal Trade Commission, and served in this position until 1938, when he was named the FTC's assistant secretary, a postion which he held until 1940. Shortly after U.S. entry into World War II, he was commissioned in the United States Army Judge Advocate General Corps, serving on active duty until 1946, when he resumed his law practice in Smithville. Upon his return, he was also elected chairman of the Smith County Republican Party. Later in that same year, he won the nomination of the Democratic Party for the seat from the Fourth Congressional District. He won the election easily in this solidly-Democratic area, and was re-elected to fourteen more terms, generally with little or no opposition.
Evins was a powerful figure in Congress. He was chairman for 12 years of the House Select Committee on Small Business, and served on the important House Appropriations Committee. He used his influence to make sure that his home area was well taken-care of; Smithville was the smallest city chosen for participation in the "Model Cities " program and its major throughfare was renamed "Congressional Boulevard". Like most of his constituents, Evins was a moderately conservative Democrat; he was slow to be agreeable to racial desegregation, not because of deep-seated personal bigotry but because it was a change to what had long been the accepted order of things.
Evins' family was and is very prominent in the area; one brother ran a local bank, another is the namesake of an area state park, another was the guiding force behind the founding of the Cracker Barrel restaurant chain. A niece, Karlen Evins, is a prominent Nashville radio personality.
Evins died in Nashville and is buried in Smithville.
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