Joseph W. Byrns

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Joseph W. Byrns

Joseph Wellington Byrns (* 20 July 1869 in Cedar Hill , Robertson County , Tennessee , †  4. June 1936 in Washington, DC ) was an American politician of the Democratic Party , a member of the US House of Representatives for Tennessee and Speaker of the House .


After attending general schools and the High School of Nashville , he studied from 1887 to 1890 law at the Law School of Vanderbilt University . After his subsequent admission, he took up a practice as a lawyer in Nashville.

He began his political career as a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives , to which he was elected between 1895 and 1901. He was then a member of the Tennessee Senate from 1901 to 1903 . In 1902 he unsuccessfully applied for the office of District Attorney General in Davidson County . In 1908, Byrns was elected to the US House of Representatives for the first time as a representative of the Democrats and, after 13 subsequent re-elections, from March 4, 1909 until his death, initially represented the sixth and, since March 4, 1933, the fifth constituency of Tennessee.

He was later from 1928 to 1930 chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee . Between March 1931 and March 1933 he was first chairman of the Investment Committee ( Committee on Appropriations ) and then until January 1935 parliamentary group chairman and thus leader of the democratic majority group ( Majority Leader ).

On January 3, 1935, Byrns was finally Speaker of the House of Representatives and held this office until his death on June 4, 1936. Byrns was the first speaker whose term began immediately after the beginning of the legislative period in January. At the time of his death he was already nominated for the upcoming elections to the 75th US Congress. After the memorial service in the hall of the US House of Representatives, he was buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Nashville.

His son Joseph was later also a member of the Congress for Tennessee's 5th Congressional District.


  • Ann B. Irish: Joseph W. Byrns of Tennessee: A Political Biography. University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville 2001, ISBN 1-57233-131-3 .

Web links

  • Joseph W. Byrns in the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress (English)