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Notes on The Memoirs of Cordell Hull
by William P. Meyers

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Page 2
Tennessee Legislature, Law, and Congress

In 1892, despite not being quite old enough to vote, Cordell decided to run for the Tennessee state legislature against a popular incumbent. At the time the Democratic Party nominee was picked at a convention, and guaranteed to win in the district in the actual election. Cordell Hull demanded the institution of a Democratic Party primary. He won the primary and joined the Tennessee State Legislature in January, 1893, at the age of 21. [p. 27-29]

Hull practiced law when the legislature was not in session, at Celina and Nashville. He was re-elected in 1894 with no opposition within his party. He was made chairman of the Corporations Committee. He declined to run in 1896 to devote himself full time to practicing law. [29-32]

When the United States initiated the Spanish-American War in 1898 Hull raised a company of volunteers and "was commissioned" captain of H Company, Fourth Regiment, Tennessee Volunteer Infantry. By the time they were called up and shipped out, the war was over. Hull was stationed in occupied Cuba for five months, serving as a legal liason to local Cubans. Hull admits to having lost most of his pay in poker games. He became a civilian again in May 1899. [33-36]

In 1901 he moved to Gainesboro, practiced law, then was judge of the Fifth Judicial Circuit until 1907, when he entered the United States House of Representatives, representing the Fourth District of Tennessee. He mentions that at the time the session of Congress for 1907 did not actually begin until December of that year. His priorities were the development of highways and agriculture in his district. [37-44]

In 1907 Theodore Roosevelt was President and there was a banking panic, in which 8000 banks closed. "Agriculture had been most depressed for many years, labor had received almost no recognition in its relations with capital, and the nation was hopelessly handicapped by great trusts and monopolies operating virtually without restraint." [45] Cordell decided to specialize in tax and finance matters, including tariffs, which were then the main source of revenue for the U.S. government. [45-46]

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