David M. Key

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David Key
DMKey-PostmasGener.jpg
Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee
In office
May 27, 1880 – January 21, 1895
Appointed byRutherford B. Hayes
Preceded byConnally Trigg
Succeeded byCharles Dickens Clark
Judge of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee
In office
May 27, 1880 – January 21, 1895
Appointed byRutherford B. Hayes
Preceded byConnally Trigg
Succeeded byCharles Dickens Clark
27th United States Postmaster General
In office
March 12, 1877 – June 2, 1880
PresidentRutherford B. Hayes
Preceded byJames Tyner
Succeeded byHorace Maynard
United States Senator
from Tennessee
In office
August 18, 1875 – January 19, 1877
Preceded byAndrew Johnson
Succeeded byJames E. Bailey
Personal details
Born
David McKendree Key

(1824-01-27)January 27, 1824
Greeneville, Tennessee, U.S.
DiedFebruary 3, 1900(1900-02-03) (aged 76)
Chattanooga, Tennessee, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Elizabeth Lenoir
EducationHiwassee College (BA)
University of Tennessee, Knoxville (MA)
Military service
AllegianceConfederate States of America Confederate States
Service/branch Confederate States Army
RankConfederate States of America Lieutenant Colonel.png Lieutenant Colonel
UnitTennessee 43rd Tennessee Regiment
Battles/warsAmerican Civil War

David McKendree Key (January 27, 1824 – February 3, 1900) was a Democratic U.S. Senator from Tennessee from 1875 to 1877 as well as the U.S. Postmaster General under President Hayes, and a United States federal judge.

Biography[edit]

Key was born in Greene County, Tennessee, the son of Reverend John and Margaret (Armitage) Key. In 1826 the family moved to Monroe County where Key was reared, graduating from Hiwassee College in 1850. He selected the legal profession as his vocation through life, and the same year of his graduation he read law to be admitted to the bar. He practiced law for two years at Madisonville, then worked for a short time in Kingston. He moved to Chattanooga in February 1853. He married Elizabeth Lenoir in 1857, and fathered nine children.

When the Civil War broke out, Key enlisted in the Forty-third Confederate Tennessee Regiment of Infantry, served until the close of the war, and was mustered out as a lieutenant colonel. He then resumed the practice of law in Chattanooga until 1868.

Key was a member of the Tennessee state constitutional convention of 1870, which composed the basic instrument of government of the state still in effect. In August of the same year, he was elected chancellor of the Chattanooga (3rd) division, defeating the Republican incumbent, Daniel C. Trewhitt. He maintained his chancellorship during an unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. House in 1872, but resigned in 1875 to accept the appointment by Tennessee Governor James D. Porter to the vacant Senate seat created by the death of Andrew Johnson.

Defeated in the next senate election in the Tennessee General Assembly, Key was appointed Postmaster General in 1877 by President Hayes, and served until August 25, 1880. His appointment as Postmaster General was part of the Compromise of 1877, implemented to ensure there was Democratic power in the Republican cabinet. Key's work as Postmaster General is harshly criticized by Mark Twain in The Autobiography of Mark Twain.

On May 19, 1880, Key was nominated by President Hayes to a joint seat on the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee and the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, vacated by Connally F. Trigg. Key was confirmed by the United States Senate on May 27, 1880, and received his commission the same day. Key retired from the bench on January 21, 1895. He died in Chattanooga in 1900 and is buried there.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • United States Congress. "David McKendree Key (id: K000156)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved on 2008-02-13.
  • David McKendree Key at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  • Goodspeed Publishing, History of East Tennessee, Hamilton County. (1887)
  • Dictionary of American Biography
  • Abshire, David. The South Rejects a Prophet: The Life of David Key. New York: F.A. Praeger, 1967.
  • Murrin, John M. Liberty, Equality, Power. Fourth Edition. Australia: Thomson Wadsworth, 2005.
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Andrew Johnson
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Tennessee
1875–1877
Served alongside: Henry Cooper
Succeeded by
James E. Bailey
Political offices
Preceded by
James Tyner
United States Postmaster General
1877–1880
Succeeded by
Horace Maynard
Legal offices
Preceded by
Connally Trigg
Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee
1880–1895
Succeeded by
Charles Dickens Clark
Judge of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee
1880–1895