News release from Secretary of State’s office:
Here’s a quick trivia question: Can you name five Tennesseans who became president?
If you’re a good student of the state’s history, you probably won’t have any trouble naming former U.S. presidents Andrew Jackson, Andrew Johnson or James K. Polk. But a fourth or fifth?
It’s a trick question, because there were also Tennesseans who later became presidents of foreign countries, such as Sam Houston, who led the briefly-independent Republic of Texas, and William Walker, who was inaugurated as president of Nicaragua on this date in 1856.
Walker’s life is highlighted in one of the Tennessee State Library and Archives’ online exhibits. The exhibit can be found at http://tn.gov/tsla/exhibits/walker/index.htm.
Walker isn’t as famous as some Tennesseans chronicled at the State Library and Archives, but in his day, he was quite infamous for his efforts to colonize Central America.
Three years before he became president of Nicaragua, the Nashvillian led a group of 45 men who landed in Baja California, Mexico. Walker declared the land to be the Republic of Lower California and proclaimed himself to be the new country’s president. Mexican forces soon threw him and his troops out of the country and he was tried (but acquitted) for violating U.S. neutrality laws when he returned.
Walker then led a group of 57 soldiers into Nicaragua. After fighting a number of battles and eventually becoming president, he launched a plan to “Americanize” the country by declaring English the official language and encouraging U.S. residents to immigrate there. He was later ousted by the combined forces of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. After unsuccessfully attempting to regain the presidency of Nicaragua, he was eventually captured and turned over to the Honduran government, which executed him for piracy.
“The story of William Walker is one of thousands that can be found at the Tennessee State Library and Archives,” Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. “Because his life is chronicled in one of our online exhibits, it is accessible to Tennesseans free of charge, 24 hours a day and seven days a week. I encourage people to visit our web site and learn more about the resources that are just a few mouse clicks away.”
From “History Bill” Carey:
Paul Clements spent 11 years researching first-person accounts of the early settlements of Middle Tennessee. He assembled every available account of events such as the journey of the Donelson Party, the Battle of the Bluffs, the Nickajack Expedition and countless other events between 1775 and 1800. He recently published many of these in the book “Chronicles of the Cumberland Settlements.” This amazing 800-page volume sheds new light on the early history of Nashville and proves that many of the stories we have heard only tell part of the story.
Carey’s Q and A session with Clements is HERE.
And Carey has a piece in the City Paper. An excerpt from that: A native of Nashville who doesn’t even have a degree in history, Clements just moved the understanding of Nashville’s early history forward one very large step. He did this the old-fashioned way — by staring at microfilm for more than a decade in places such as the Metro Nashville Archives and the Tennessee State Library and Archives.
“I’m in awe of what Paul has done,” said John Egerton, Southern historian and the author of Speak Now Against the Day: The Generation Before the Civil Rights Movement in the South. “The very idea that such a thing could happen at this stage is astonishing.
“The only way it could have happened is because of a guy like Paul.”
You see, in the 1840s, a man named Lyman Draper interviewed many of the people who were here when present-day Davidson and Sumner counties consisted of nothing more than a series of forts and homesteads. Draper conducted these interviews intending to write a long book about the history of the American frontier.
Draper never wrote the book, but he wrote transcripts of the interviews. In some cases, the notebooks containing these interviews had never been translated from his mid-19thcentury handwriting — until Clements did it.
Furthermore, about 75 pages of handwritten notes written by someone who interviewed Edward Swanson in the 1820s were discovered in a West Tennessee home in the 1980s. This was a remarkable discovery. Swanson, you see, was one of Middle Tennessee’s earliest settlers; he came to the “French Lick,” as Nashville was once known, before the Donelson Party got here. Swanson’s notebooks were detailed, containing accounts of events such as the Battle of the Bluffs, and descriptions of the fort that used to be in present-day downtown Nashville.
Legislation putting restrictions on law enforcement use of drones was revised by House-Senate conference committee on the final day of the 2013 legislative session, then approved by both chambers and sent to Gov. Bill Haslam.
Differing versions of the “Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act” (HB591) had been approved earlier by the House and Senate. The final version, approved late Friday, declares that drones can be used by law enforcement only when a search warrant has been obtained with four exceptions:
To “counter a high risk of a terrorist attack by a specific individual or organization” identified by the Department of Homeland Security.
When the law enforcement agency “possesses reasonable suspicion that, under particular circumstances, swift action is needed to prevent imminent danger to life.”
To “provide continuous aerial coverage when law enforcement is searching for a fugitive or escapee or is monitoring a hostage situation.”
To “provide more expansive aerial coverage when deployed for the purpose
of searching for a missing person.”
The House version earlier had contained a provision allowing use of drones “to protect life and property during crowd monitoring situations,” which proponents at the time said would cover crowds during University of Tennessee football games. That was deleted in the final version.
The bill’s sponsors were Rep. James “Micah” Van Huss, R-Jonesborough, and Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mount Juliet. They said the final product strikes a balance between allowing use of drones where needed for a legitimate purpose and avoiding governmental intrusion.
Tennessee currently has no statute dealing with drones, which are expected to become more widely used in the near future. The bill does not address use of drones by individuals or corporations, but the sponsors said they may propose legislation on that topic next year.
A bill to forbid United Nations representatives from observing Tennessee elections, approved by to state House panels previously, was killed when it came before a third on Tuesday.
The bill (HB589) would have made monitoring of a Tennessee election by a UN official a misdemeanor crime. It was sponsored by Rep. James “Micah” Van Huss, R-Jonesborough, who has said the idea came from tea party members in his district.
A UN-affiliated group sent two observers to Nashville last year to monitor elections – part of 42 persons sent around the United States to see if laws requiring photo ID to vote impacted elections.
“Frankly, the United Nations has no business doing that,” said Van Huss on Tuesday.
The bill was approved earlier this year by the House Local Government Subcommittee and the full Local Government Committee. But when it came before the Calendar Committee for scheduling a floor vote, it was instead sent to the Civil Justice Subcommittee on motion of Rep. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol. who chairs that panel.
When it came up there Tuesday, Lundberg told the panel that keeping the state’s election process open to observers is a way of showing others that the United States and Tennessee have “the best form of government” and that “we don’t have systematic problems.”
Some other members voiced similar sentiments, but Reps. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, and Rick Womick, R-Murfreesboro, said their distaste of UN tactics led them to support Van Huss’ bill.
Carter said “those nuts issue reports saying we’re committing fraud and we’re doing it right.”
“They’re sending individuals in for the sole purpose of destroying our system, to declare that we have human rights violations,” said Womick. “We’ve got some real nutjobs in charge of the UN and we don’t want them in here.”
By Kristin Hall, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee lawmakers are preparing to take up a measure that seeks to restrict police agencies in the state from using unmanned drones and the sponsor is someone with experience piloting the planes.
It’s a hot topic both in Congress and on the state levels as the technology has rapidly outpaced regulations on the use of remotely piloted aircraft domestically. Currently, Tennessee law enforcement agencies are using drones rarely.
A House civil justice subcommittee on Wednesday pushed a vote on the proposal to next week. Rep. James “Micah” Van Huss, R-Jonesborough, is the sponsor.
The military has relied heavily on drones overseas, which Van Huss experienced firsthand as a former active duty Marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is currently in the Marine Corps Reserves.
“I have actually piloted a drone myself in the Marine Corps,” he said. “Not one of those $7 million drones, but technically a surveillance drone.”
He said the technology has been a valuable tool on the battlefield, but he doesn’t want to see it used to target Americans.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation opposes legislation that would curtail law enforcement using drones in criminal investigations, reports Hank Hayes. State Rep. James “Micah” Van Huss, R-Jonesborough, has filed a “Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act” scheduled to be considered Wednesday by a House Civil Justice Subcommittee.
Van Huss, a military veteran, did not respond to an email and phone call about why he filed the bill.
The bill would prohibit law enforcement agencies from using drones to gather evidence or other information, but there are exceptions.
Drone use would be allowed if the law enforcement agency first obtains a search warrant, or if the agency has “reasonable suspicion” that swift action is needed to save lives, according to the bill.
The legislation says anyone “aggrieved by a violation of this bill” may initiate a civil action against a law enforcement agency to obtain relief as determined by a court.
Evidence obtained or collected in violation of the bill will not be admissible in a criminal prosecution, the bill adds.
In filing two bills in the legislature, freshman state Rep. James “Micah” Van Huss, R-Jonesboro, is fulfilling a 2012 campaign promise to protect Tennessee from the United Nations if elected to the state House, reports Hank Hayes. Van Huss made that pledge at a tea party event in Kingsport last October and specifically spoke out against Agenda 21, a 20-year- old United Nations initiative advocating sustainable development.
The 34-year-old military veteran, who now serves House District 6 in Washington County, has filed two bills with intentions of keeping the United Nations out of the state.
Van Huss, in an e-mail, said he authored the bills “out of a desire to reinforce our eroding national sovereignty.”
He added: “I feel, as a lot of my constituents do, that the United Nations continues to put forth agendas that would infringe on our personal liberties; that’s not the freedom that I fought for, and not the freedom that my buddies gave their lives for.”
He cited a news story noting that the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe sent a 44-member multinational delegation to the United States to monitor and observe America’s election process for human rights violations, voter suppression and election fraud.
Tennessee Democratic Party spokesman Brandon Puttbrese, however, said Van Huss’ bills are a prime example of the GOP-controlled legislature not working to create jobs.
“They are concentrating on bad ideas that distract our legislature from doing the important work of putting Tennesseans back on the job,” Puttbrese said.
…When asked for a response to Van Huss’ bills, United Nations spokesman Farahn Haq emphasized his organization does not get involved in domestic legislation.
“In any country we try to follow a policy of noninterference with domestic legislative affairs,” Haq pointed out. “At the same time, we do work with the government of the United States, the federal government. … Since its founding in the 1940s, the United Nations has had a strong and productive relationship with the government of the United States and we hope to continue to do so.”
James Yeager, 42, of Camden, had his handgun carry permit suspended after posting a video on YouTube where he allegedly claimed he would “start killing people” if President Barack Obama’s administration took executive action to pass gun control measures, according to a news release from the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security.
From the Jackson Sun: In the video titled “Pack Your Bags,” Yeager starts by saying he received a news update that Vice President Joe Biden is asking the president to bypass Congress and use an executive order to ban assault rifles and force stricter gun control.
“I’m telling you if that happens, it’s going to spark a civil war and I’ll be glad to fire the first shot,” he said in the video.
There was no answer at various phone numbers listed in Yeager’s name. Yeager then tells his viewers to “make sure your rifle’s clean, pack a backpack with food in it and get ready to fight.”
A new video was uploaded to YouTube by Yeager on Thursday in response to his permit being suspended.
“I was mad when I said it and probably allowed my mouth to overrun my logic,” he said in the video about his previous threats. “But I don’t retract any of my statements. Now I have edited my video and took off the end where I said I’m going to start shooting people.”
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee Highway Patrol sergeant has resigned rather than be fired after an investigation revealed misconduct that included having sex while on duty.
The THP announced Wednesday that 45-year-old James Sells resigned following an internal affairs investigation that also found he misused state property and equipment and was negligent in performing his duties.
Sells worked in the criminal investigations division in Cookeville.
It’s one of several recent misconduct incidents involving the THP.
A Cookeville-based trooper fired in June was later indicted on drunken driving and weapons charges, while two colleagues were disciplined for not reporting the incident.
A Bradley County trooper is charged in the accidental shooting death of his 3-year-old granddaughter.
A former Pickett County trooper pleaded guilty in July to having sex with a minor.
A good bit of the Tennessean setup story on the 8th District Congressional race concerns incumbent Rep. Stephen Fincher’s sponsorship of a bill that eases regulations for IPO offerings by some businesses — a move praised by President Obama and business, but criticized by consumer advocates. There’s also a rundown on Fincher’s opponents. Fincher, meanwhile, has shown himself to be one of the House’s most prolific fundraisers as well, having raised $2.03 million for his re-election and his personal political action committee combined through June 30.
…His Democratic opponent is Timothy Dixon, 53, of Germantown, who has 25 years’ experience in various aspects of the automotive industry, including work with both Chrysler and Cummins, the engine manufacturer.
Dixon decries the gridlock that has engulfed Congress on most matters over the past two years and says he wants “work on the problem rather than working on being a partisan.” He added: “It’s time for serious discussions and collaboration.
“Republicans,” he said, “have gone so far to the right they have become obstructionist in the House and in the Senate.”
Dixon also vowed to work on the economic potential of West Tennessee, saying its prime location in the middle of the country continues to make it a potential hot spot for businesses if Congress provides more certainty about budget and tax decisions. Dixon has raised $15,602 through June 30.
Fincher also faces two independent candidates, Mark Rawles of Jackson and James Hart of Buchanan.
Rawles, 53, a business communications consultant and sales manager, said Republicans have spent the last generation selling out the nation to “economic globalism” through unfair trade agreements, while Democrats have become advocates for “social globalism” that calls for surrendering American sovereignty to the United Nations.
“This country is in crisis,” he said, adding Fincher lacks “the strength of consciousness” to judge the long-term effects of congressional actions.
Hart, 68 and retired, says he wants a congressional seat so he can “bury the counter culture” and liberal ideas such as gay marriage, especially in the nation’s schools. He said he wants to restore the nation to “a traditional moral compass.”