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The Battle of Athens, 1946

Posted: January 4, 2013 at 8:00 am   /   by

This video is now making the rounds, for somewhat obvious reasons. A large remnant of Americans loves liberty, loves free and fair elections, loves the Constitution, reveres the birthright bequeathed to us by the Founders, and will defend their natural liberties with their last breath. The fight that took place in Athens, TN, in 1946 was just such a fight. Today, people are feeling an existential threat to liberty, and they see kinship with the citizen combatants at Athens.


The Battle of Athens was an armed rebellion led by WWII veterans and citizens in Athens and Etowah, Tennessee, United States, against the tyrannical local government in August 1946.

(HT: VoxVocisPublicus)

It should come as no surprise to anyone who understands what the Democrats have always been in this country that the corrupt machine was run by Democrats.

This is from an eyewitness account:

I will never forget the day this occurred.  The G.I.s had returned to McMinn County and were faced with the same political machine they had left and were determined to do something about it to rid McMinn County of machine politics.

Paul Cantrell was sheriff at this time and he loved two things: money and power.   He ruled McMinn County with an iron hand.  He was tied to the “Crump Machine,” which was the political boss of the State of Tennessee during the 30′s and 40′s.

Cantrell used deputies who had served prison terms for gambling and bootlegging.

Election day (August 1, 1946) in Athens was a war of “ballots and bullets.” We lived only a few blocks from the jail, where the votes were counted.  There were around nine thousand residents in Athens.  Of these, seven hundred Negroes played a small part in the election, but they formed a balance of power.  Most of the Negroes were Republican and received threats and repeated arrests from the Democrats.  The election of the sheriff was very important in McMinn County.  The Republicans tried to unseat the Democrats.  The pressure of a world war and the return of veterans from World War II had great influence on the politics of the county.

Election day in Athens was like an armed camp.  When voters came to the polls, the Cantrell Machine was staging demonstrations, strutting around with pistols and black jacks.  Deputy Sheriff Pat Mansfield, used thugs from other states as deputies.  The voting was heavy at the polls.  The GI’s were “poll watchers.”

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From American Heritage, via Free Republic:

The GIs came home to find that a political machine had taken over their Tennessee county. What they did about it astounded the nation.

In McMinn County, Tennessee, in the early 1940s, the question was not if you farmed, but where you farmed. Athens, the county seat, lay between Knoxville and Chattanooga along U.S. Highway 11, which wound its way through eastern Tennessee. This was the meeting place for farmers from all the surrounding communities. Traveling along narrow roads planted with signs urging them to “See Rock City” and “Get Right with God,” they would gather on Saturdays beneath the courthouse elms to discuss politics and crops. There were barely seven thousand people in Athens, and many of its streets were still unpaved. The two “big” cities some fifty miles away had not yet begun their inevitable expansion, and the farmers’ lives were simple and essentially unaffected by what they would have called the “modern world.” Many of them were without electricity. The land, their families, religion, politics, and the war dominated their talk and thoughts. They learned about God from the family Bible and in tiny chapels along yellow-dust roads. Their newspaper, the Daily Post-Athenian, told them something of politics and war, but since it chose to avoid intrigue or scandal, a story that smacked of both could be found only in the conversations of the folks who milled about the courthouse lawn on Saturdays.

Since the Civil War, political offices in McMinn County had gone to the Republicans, but in the 1930s Tennessee began to fall under the control of Democratic bosses. To the west, in Shelby County, E.H. Crump, the Memphis mayor who had been ousted during his term for failing to enforce Prohibition, fathered what would become the state’s most powerful political machine. Crump eventually controlled most of Tennessee along with the governor’s office and a United States senator. In eastern Tennessee local and regional machines developed, which, lacking the sophistication and power of a Crump, relied on intimidation and violence to control their constituents.

In 1936 the system descended upon McMinn County in the person of one Paul Cantrell, the Democratic candidate for sheriff. Cantrell, who came from a family of money and influence in nearby Etowah, tied his campaign closely to the popularity of the Roosevelt administration and rode FDR’s coattails to victory over his Republican opponent.

Fraud was suspected—to this day many Athens citizens firmly believe that ballot boxes were swapped—but there was no proof. Over the following months and years, however, those who questioned the election would see their suspicions vindicated. The laws of Tennessee provided an opportunity for the unscrupulous to prosper. The sheriff and his deputies received a fee for every person they booked, incarcerated, and released; the more human transactions, the more money they got. A voucher signed by the sheriff was all that was needed to collect the money from the courthouse. Deputies routinely boarded buses passing through and dragged sleepy-eyed passengers to the jail to pay their $16.50 fine for drunkenness, whether they were guilty or not.

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That the Party of Slavery, Segregation, Jim Crow, poll taxes, Dred Scott, and the KKK would use violence to deny blacks the right to vote? I’m shocked!

That the Party of Tammany Hall, the Solid South, JFK, LBJ, Al Franken, and Barack Obama would engage in vote fraud? Gasp!

That the Party of statism and force—from human chattel slavery . . . to forcing millions into economic bondage to millions of others  . . . to public union corruption  . . . to state power-fueled cronyism—would abuse state power for its own nefarious aims? Say it ain’t so!


Those who know what the Democrats have always been are not surprised to learn what they were in Tennessee in 1946.

This man knew:

Christopher Cook

Christopher Cook

Managing Editor at Western Free Press
Christopher Cook is a writer, editor, and political commentator. He is the president of Castleraine, Inc., a consulting firm providing a diverse array of services to corporate, public policy, and not-for-profit clients.

Ardently devoted to the cause of human freedom, he has worked at the confluence of politics, activism, and public policy for more than a decade. He co-wrote a ten-part series of video shorts on economics, and has film credits as a researcher on 11 political documentaries, including Citizens United's notorious film on Hillary Clinton that became the subject of a landmark Supreme Court decision. He is the founder of several activist endeavors, including (now a part of Western Free Press) and He is currently the managing editor of and principal contributor to
Christopher Cook

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The Battle of Athens, 1946