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James Chamberlain Jones (April 20, 1809 October 29, 1859) was the Governor of Tennessee from 1841 to 1845, and a United States Senator from that state from 1851 to 1857. While governor he was a Whig and was initially elected to the Senate as a Whig; however while in that body he switched parties, leaving the moribund Whigs for the Democrats.


A thin man whose nickname was "Lean Jimmy", Jones was born in Davidson County, Tennesseemarker and was the first native-born Tennessean to be elected governor. He had been educated as a lawyer, but was farming in Wilson Countymarker when elected to the state legislature in 1839. He opposed incumbent Governor James K. Polk for reelection in 1841, defeating the future President. He was said to have been the first Tennesseemarker politician to master the art of "stump" speaking (which often at the time literally consisted of delivering a speech from atop a freshly cut tree stump). When Polk opposed him for a second term in 1843, Jones defeated him again.

While he was governor, Nashvillemarker, which had been serving as the temporary capital of the state for years (as had several other places before it) was officially selected as the capital city of Tennessee on a permanent basis. Prominent architect William Strickland, a student of Benjamin Latrobe, was selected to design a Capitol building, and the cornerstone for it was actually laid while Jones was still governor. However, Jones did not seek a third term, choosing instead to accept an offer to become president of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. He was an elector for Zachary Taylor in the U.S. presidential election of 1848. He later served one term in the United States Senate, from 1851 to 1857. After this, he retired to his farm near Memphismarker, where he died. He was interred in Elmwood Cemeterymarker.

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