Henry Clay Evans

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Henry Clay Evans
Portrait of Henry Clay Evans.jpg
Portrait of Evans by Frances Benjamin Johnston
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 3rd district
In office
March 4, 1889 – March 3, 1891
Preceded by John R. Neal
Succeeded by Henry C. Snodgrass
Mayor of Chattanooga, Tennessee
In office
1882 – 1883[1]
Preceded by John A. Hart
Succeeded by Hugh Whiteside
Personal details
Born June 18, 1843 (1843-06-18)
Juniata County, Pennsylvania, United States
Died December 12, 1921 (1921-12-13) (aged 78)
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Resting place Forest Hills Cemetery
Chattanooga, Tennessee[2]
Citizenship  United States
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Adelaide (Durand) Evans
Children 3[3]
Profession Businessman
Military service
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch United States Union Army
Years of service May 6, 1864 to September 24, 1864
Rank Quartermaster Sergeant
Unit Wisconsin Company A, 41st Regiment, Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry
Battles/wars American Civil War

Henry Clay Evans (June 18, 1843 – December 12, 1921) was an American politician and businessman who represented Tennessee's 3rd district in the United States House of Representatives from 1889 to 1891, and was twice a candidate for Governor of Tennessee (1894 and 1906). He also served as U.S. Commissioner of Pensions from 1897 to 1902, and as U.S. consul to London from 1902 to 1905.[3]

A supporter of progressive causes such as the Lodge Bill, Evans frequently found himself at odds with the Southern Democrat-controlled state legislature. His district was gerrymandered to ensure his defeat in the 1890 congressional elections,[4] and the state legislature tossed thousands of votes in the 1894 gubernatorial election to allow his opponent, Peter Turney, to win.[3] He also consistently quarreled with fellow Tennessee Republicans, initially Congressman Leonidas C. Houk, and later the faction led by Congressman Walter P. Brownlow. Brownlow helped thwart Evans's bid for the vice presidential nomination at the 1896 Republican National Convention.[5]

Evans was also active in local politics in his adopted hometown of Chattanooga, where he championed education. He served two terms as Mayor of Chattanooga (1882–1883), and in his later years served as the city's Commissioner of Education.[3]


Born in Juniata County, Pennsylvania, Evans moved to Wisconsin in 1844, with his parents, Jesse and Anna Single Evans, who settled in Platteville, Grant County. He attended the common schools, a business school in Madison, and graduated from a business school at Chicago in 1861.


During the Civil War, Evans enlisted on May 6, 1864, as a corporal in Company A, 41st Regiment, Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry and served until he was discharged as a quartermaster sergeant on September 24, 1864. For a year, he was an agent with the quartermaster department in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He then spent some time in Texas and New York. He married Adelaide Durand in Westfield, New York, in 1869 and they had three children.[6]

In 1870 Evans returned to Chattanooga and engaged in the manufacture of freight cars. Elected mayor in 1881, he served two terms. He organized the public-school system of Chattanooga and served as first school commissioner.[7] From 1884 to 1885 he worked as cashier of Chattanooga's First National Bank. Evans became president of the Chattanooga Car and Foundry Company and remained principal owner until 1917.

Elected as a Republican to the Fifty-first Congress, Evans served from March 4, 1889 to March 3, 1891.[8] He was not a successful candidate for reelection in 1890 to the Fifty-second Congress and was First Assistant Postmaster General from 1891 to 1893.

Evans was elected Governor of Tennessee in 1894 on the face of the returns, but a recount rejected certain votes and declared his Democratic opponent, Peter Turney, elected. He was appointed Commissioner of Pensions April 1, 1897, and served until May 13, 1902, when he resigned to enter the diplomatic service.

Appointed United States consul general to London, England, on May 9, 1902, Evans resigned from that position in 1905. He was chosen commissioner of health and education of Chattanooga in 1911.


Evans died from heart disease in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on December 12, 1921 (age 78 years, 177 days). He is interred at Forest Hills Cemetery, St. Elmo, Chattanooga, Tennessee.[2]


  1. ^ History of Mayors, Chattanooga.gov. Retrieved: 28 August 2013.
  2. ^ a b Henry Clay Evans at Find a Grave
  3. ^ a b c d Leonard Schlup, "Henry Clay Evans," Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture. Retrieved: 28 August 2013.
  4. ^ Phillip Langsdon, Tennessee: A Political History (Franklin, Tenn.: Hillsboro Press, 2000), pp. 219-220.
  5. ^ Langsdon, Tennessee: A Political History, pp. 227-229.
  6. ^ "H. Clay Evans". Tennessee Historical Society. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  7. ^ "H. Clay Evans". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  8. ^ "H. Clay Evans". Govtrack US Congress. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 

External links[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress website http://bioguide.congress.gov.

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
John R. Neal
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 3rd congressional district

Succeeded by
Henry C. Snodgrass