Ed Jones (U.S. politician)

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Ed Jones
Ed Jones Congressional Photo.jpeg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 8th district
In office
January 3, 1983 – January 3, 1989
Preceded by Harold Ford, Sr.
Succeeded by John S. Tanner
In office
March 25, 1969 – January 3, 1973
Preceded by Fats Everett
Succeeded by Dan Kuykendall
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 7th district
In office
January 3, 1973 – January 3, 1983
Preceded by Ray Blanton
Succeeded by Don Sundquist
Commissioner of Agriculture of Tennessee
In office
Governor Gordon Browning
Personal details
Born (1912-04-20)April 20, 1912
Yorkville, Tennessee, USA
Died December 11, 1999(1999-12-11) (aged 87)
Dyer, Tennessee
Political party Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Llewellyn Wyatt[1]:5
Children Mary Llew Jones McGuire and Dr. Jennifer Jones Kinnard [1]:5
Alma mater University of Tennessee University of Tennessee at Martin
Profession Farmer
Religion Cumberland Presbyterian[1]:4

Ed Jones (April 20, 1912 – December 11, 1999) was a U.S. Representative from the state of Tennessee from 1969 to 1989. He was also the Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture from 1949 to 1953. He was inducted into the Tennessee Agricultural Hall of Fame in 2011.

Personal life[edit]

Jones was a native of Yorkville, Tennessee. Born April 20, 1912, he was the first of three boys born to Will Jones and Sibbie Hortense Pipkin. He graduated from the University of Tennessee Junior College (now the University of Tennessee at Martin) in 1932 and the University of Tennessee in 1934 with degrees in agriculture. His father was a laborer who worked odd jobs for local farmers. He instilled a strong work ethic in Jones from an early age, requiring him to work after school and on Saturdays. When Jones' father was unable to pay his medical bills, he began doing odd jobs for Dr. Finis Ewing Wyatt, the local country doctor. Ed Jones would marry Dr. Wyatt's daughter, Llewellyn, in 1938, and they had two daughters: Mary Llewellyn Jones, who died in 1977, and Jennifer Jones Kinnard, a retired nephrologist, who currently resides in Charleston, S.C. On May 22, 1980, Congresswoman Marilyn Bouquard of Tennessee welcomed Jones into the "grandparents club" with an address on the House floor shortly after the birth of his only grandchild, Meghan Elisabeth Kinnard, a political and legal affairs reporter for The Associated Press.

Ed Jones was a dairy farmer and remained so throughout his lifetime - even during his 20 years in Congress. In the late 1990s, Jones was diagnosed with Alzheimers and died on December 11, 1999, in Dyer, Tenn.

Business and professional activities[edit]

In 1934, he took a job as an dairy inspector for the state of Tennessee. He remained as inspector until 1941 when he began working as a supervisor for the Tennessee Dairy Products Association. In 1944, Jones became an agricultural agent for the Illinois Central Railroad, a job he held until 1969, except for four years when he was Commissioner of Agriculture. This public role was pivotal in helping to make him a public figure in West Tennessee.[1]:6–7

He was appointed Commissioner of Agriculture of Tennessee in 1949 by Governor Gordon Browning. He is the youngest person to serve as Commissioner. His education, public role, and business experience provided a foundation for helping to guide farm policy for Tennessee during a time of rapid technological change and the social changes as many people left the rural farms. His challenges included the transition of Tennessee agriculture from small family farms to commercial business operations. He created an Assistant Commissioner position to oversee the administrative operations so that he could focus on strategic issues involving animal health vaccination and inspections, artificial insemination for breeding dairy cattle, establishment of a surplus food distribution program for schools, food safety inspections, and agricultural disaster response.[1]:7–8

In 1961 President John F. Kennedy appointed him chairman of the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service state committee for Tennessee. He held that position until his election to Congress in 1969.[1]:9[2]

U.S. legislative service[edit]

In March 1969 Jones won the Democratic nomination for a special election to replace Robert "Fats" Everett, Congressman from the Eighth District in Northwest Tennessee, who had died in office. The election was unusual in that it was contested not only by the Republicans but also by the American Independent Party of George Wallace, who did very well in Northwest Tennessee in the previous year's presidential election. The other two candidates almost split the vote evenly in the March 25 contest; Jones won with a substantial plurality and was sworn in as soon as the results were certified. However, he was never again to face an election nearly this close.

Jones was re-elected to a full term with less opposition in 1970. In 1972 his district was renumbered the Seventh District due to Tennessee losing a district after the 1970 census (it became the Eighth District again after the 1980 census). Jackson, which had been the base of its own district represented by fellow Democrat Ray Blanton, was added to Jones' new district. The resulting district was, if anything, even more Democratic than his previous district. To avoid a primary election, Blanton ran, unsuccessfully, for the United States Senate against Republican Howard Baker. Jones retained his seat easily even as Richard Nixon won 90 of Tennessee's 95 counties, including most of his district. He was reelected completely unopposed in 1974.

In 1976, Martin businessman and state representative Larry Bates, an associate of high-profile East Tennessee banker Jake Butcher, ran against Jones in the Democratic primary. This was the first (and as it turned out, only) serious challenge of any sort Jones faced. No other party put up a candidate, meaning that victory in the primary was tantamount to election. Bates had a very conservative record as a state representative, even by Tennessee Democratic standards. He ran well to the right of the moderate Jones and spent a large amount of money by the standards of rural West Tennessee at the time. However, he made no real inroads in Jones' support and was heavily defeated. (Bates later moved to Memphis and became a Republican and a right wing radio talk show host.) After this, Jones coasted to five more terms (including a completely unopposed run in 1984), choosing not to run for a 10th full term (11th overall) in 1988. The Jackson Sun reported on February 14, 1988: "Jones says he's retiring simply because the time has come. He wants to spend more time with his wife, Llew, and with his granddaughter, Meghan."[3]

Jones co-sponsored over 100 bills that successfully entered into law during his tenure in Congress. Jones was the primary author of five bills that passed into law, all of them on agriculture.[4] Among those bills was the Egg Research and Consumer Information Act of 1974, which lead to the creation of the American Egg Board.[5][6]


He served as a member of various agriculture-related boards and committees. Jones continued to operate his farm near Yorkville until shortly before his death at Dyer, Tennessee on December 11, 1999.

He was one of the few members of Congress in the late 20th century who was an active farmer instead of merely listing it as an occupation. In 2011, he was inducted as the 13th member of the Tennessee Agricultural Hall of Fame in recognition of his service to Tennessee.[7]

His congressional papers (1969-1988) are housed in the special collections of the Paul Meek Library at UT Martin. They include 121 linear feet of paper files organized in five series, Correspondence, Legislation, Projects, Committees, and Public Relations.[8] The collection also includes over 250 audio tapes for two periods, (1969-1972) and (1987-1988).[9]


External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Robert A. Everett
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 8th congressional district

Succeeded by
Dan Kuykendall
Preceded by
Ray Blanton
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 7th congressional district

Succeeded by
Don Sundquist
Preceded by
Harold Ford, Sr.
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 8th congressional district

Succeeded by
John S. Tanner