The battle for Athens restoring the rule of law... August 1 ~ 2 1946

McMinn County Tennessee
A wealthy familiy, The Cantrells, had taken control of the county polotical machine in the 1930's

Paul Cantrell was elected county sheriff in 1936, 1938, and 1940

In 1942 and 1944 he was elected to the state senate, while his chief deputy Pat Mansfiled, was elected County sheriff.

The US Department of Justice recieved complaints bt county citizens of electoral fraud in the 1940, 1942 and 1944 elections.

These complaints went unanswered.

Deputies commonly accepted bribes, intimidated voters, tampered with ballot boxes, and began beating those who spoke out.

The sheriff's department falsely ticketed and arrested individuals to obtain finances for personal and political purposes.

Local political bosses were just as corrupt.

WWII veterans returning to thier home county were outraged by the tyranical establishment.

During the 1946 elections, veterans fielded their own non partisanncandidates and attempted to have a fraud free election.

Paul Cantrell was again running for sheriff, while the current sheriff, Pat Mansfiled, sought the state senate.

On August 1st, election day, Sheriff Mansfields brought 200 "deputies" to detain and beat ex-GI poll watchers, in addition to taking the ballot boxes back to the jail house for an "official" Count.

Taking the ballot bozes constituted a violation of Tennessee state law, as the ballots must be counted in full view of the voting public.

Enraged veterans armed themselves and sought to obtain the ballot boxes to prevent electoral fraud and stop the government tyranny.

The conflict which follows became known as...


The veterans were never prosecuted for their armed resistance to government tyranny.

All of the weapons the veterans borrowed fro the local armory were cleaned and returned before sunrise.

The veteran electoral candidates were victourious over the deeply entrenched and corrupt political machine.

The rule of law had been restored to McMinn County, Tennesee

"A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed"