Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Malcolm R. Patterson
A native of Alabama, his father was a Confederate cavalry officer. He attended Christian Brothers College (now Christian Brothers University) and Vanderbilt University. He was admitted to the bar in 1883. He was attorney general for Shelby County from 1894 to 1900, and then elected a member of Congress, serving the former Tenth District (1901 - 1907) prior to being the Democratic nominee for governor in 1906. Patterson won the election against Republican nominee H. Clay Evans of Chattanooga and was inaugurated in January 1907. He was the first governor of Tennessee from West Tennessee.
During his first term in office, Patterson married Mary Russell Gardner of Union City. He was only the second governor of Tennessee to marry while in office.
In October 1908, Patterson used the State Guard to suppress a "Night Rider" vigilante movement which had broken out over disputed fishing rights to Reelfoot Lake in West Tennessee. After being brought to trial, six of the "Night Riders" were condemned to be hanged and two were sentenced to twenty years in prison. Patterson was widely praised for his swift and decisive action on the issue.
In November 1908, Patterson was nominated for a second term as governor. The Republican party nominated George N. Tillman of Nashville. Governor Patterson was reelected, and began his second term in January 1909.
During his second term, Patterson vetoed the return of statewide Prohibition, arguing that the issue should be decided at the local level rather than by the state. In a rare instance for the era, his veto was overridden by the state legislature.
Patterson initially intended to seek a third term in 1910 but there was so much political turmoil, particularly within the Democratic Party regarding the Prohibition issue, that he withdrew from the race for re-election after having already won the nomination, being replaced by United States Senator Robert Love Taylor, who was defeated in the general election.
After his term as governor, Patterson changed his position on Prohibition, becoming an outspoken proponent of it. He resumed the practice of law and for the last eleven years of his life served as a Circuit Court judge.
| Preceded by :|
John I. Cox
|Governors of Tennessee|| Succeeded by:|
Ben W. Hooper
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