A Short Biography of Landon Carter Haynes

Ancestors and Early Life:

Landon Carter Haynes was born on December 2, 1816 by the banks of the Watauga river, in the Buffalo community of Carter county, Tennessee four miles from Elizabethton.

The family name was German and originally "Heine". Landon's grandfather, George Haynes was originally from Westmoreland County in eastern Virginia. George was a farmer and saw service in the Revolutionary War. After the closing battles of that war in the Carolinas, he headed home on foot toward his place in Winchester, Virginia. On the way he stopped for a drink of water at a spring in the territory which would eventually become Carter County, Tennessee. There he met a lovely young lady named Margaret McInturf. George fell immediately in love, married Margaret and stayed.

George and Margaret had twelve children. Their son David was born in 1790. David married twice. His second wife, Rhoda Taylor, was born in Rockbridge county, Virginia. As a young girl, Rhoda came to live in Carter County with her uncle, General Nathaniel Taylor.

David was a highly successful land speculator. Among the properties he obtained was the old John Tipton farm. He and Rhoda had twelve children, seven boys and five girls. Landon, the oldest son, was named in honor of General Landon Carter, for whom Carter county is named.

In 1840, Landon's father, gave him the property which now comprises the Tipton - Haynes Historic Site at Johnson City, Tennessee as a wedding present. Landon remodeled the farmhouse about 1 1/2 miles south of a small village which, with the coming of the railroad would be called Johnson's Depot. During the Civil War, the town would be known as Haynesville in his honor.

The farm has been considered one of Tennessee's most historic sites. It has been a landmark since at least 1673 when two Indian traders, James Needham and Gabriel Arthur traveled across it. Daniel Boone probably visited. The land became part of the Tipton holdings in 1783 and the Battle for the State of Franklin took place there in 1788.

Landon started his formal education at Anderson School, at the head of Buffalo Creek in Carter County. Every Friday, the schoolmaster would hold recitations. This was Landon's favorite school time.

Higher Education, Marriage, & Early Employment:

When he was about 20 years old, Landon Haynes was enrolled at Washington College near Limestone, Tennessee. Tuition was $10 per session, room and board (including fuel and washing) was $30, and the library fee was fifty cents. There were two 26 week sessions in a college year. There was also a six-week summer session. Landon was graduated in 1838 and moved back to Elizabethton.

The next year, Landon began "reading", that is studying, law with Thomas A. R. Nelson of Elizabethton. Nelson was serving as State's Attorney in the first Congressional District. In 1840, Nelson moved to Jonesboro and Haynes followed to continue his law studies. He was admitted to the bar later that year.

During his law studies, Landon met and married Eleanor Powell, daughter of Robert W. Powell, who was prominent in state politics for many years. Landon and Eleanor had a number of children, including Robert who followed his father's political footsteps and was elected several times to the Tennessee General Assembly from Madison County in western Tennessee.

During the period when Haynes was living in Elizabethton and reading law in Jonesboro with T. A. R. Nelson, he became engaged in a feud with William G. "Parson" Brownlow, a Methodist circuit rider. While the cause of the feud has never been fully explained, Haynes and Brownlow agreed on very little. Brownlow was publisher of the Whig weekly newspaper. Haynes was a Democrat. The feud developed but when Haynes tried to ignore Brownlow, the editor used his newspaper to assail the law student as a "young puppy, because he himself, the dishonest rascal, and unprincipled scoundrel, does not possess the nerve to assail me."

Landon's father, David, tried talking to Brownlow but could not appease the "Parson", who said Landon had been educated on his fathers "swindlings." On the evening of March 2, 1840 someone took two shots at Brownlow while he was reading by candle light at his home. The bullets just missed his head. Brownlow accused Haynes of the crime. Actually, friends of both parties suspected Haynes of involvement. Brownlow thought that Haynes was behind the attack but that he did not actually pull the trigger. Haynes suggested Brownlow had staged the incident himself, with the aid of the Parson's brother in an attempt at character assassination.

Shortly after the Elizabethton incident, Brownlow moved his newspaper to Jonesboro. There Haynes and Brownlow met again on May 14 of that same year. The facts are in dispute but appears that Brownlow thought Haynes was unarmed and struck the young law student over the head with his cane. He then grabbed Haynes by the neck and struck him with the butt of his pistol. Haynes somehow managed to obtain a pistol and ended up shooting Brownlow in the leg. The animosity between the two continued throughout their lives.

After his admittance to the bar, Haynes took a job as editor of the Tennessee Sentinel at Jonesboro. The paper had been formed in 1835 to support the candidacy of Martin Van Buren by Thomas Anderson and Lawford Gibson. Anderson retired in 1840 and Haynes was given the editorial position. Lawford Gibson later became Haynes' brother-in-law. Haynes continued to edit the paper until it was sold in 1846.

During his time as editor, Landon Haynes temporarily became a Methodist minister. Haynes schooling at Washington College included indoctrination of the Presbyterian church, under whose auspices the college operated. Haynes joined the Presbyterian church but denounced their practice of baptizing infants and withdrew his membership within a year. In 1842 be became a Methodist, during a Camp Meeting.

Haynes was licensed as a Methodist minister, along with two of his brothers-in-law a short time later, although Haynes still disagreed with the infant baptism practice of the Methodists, as well as Presbyterian church. A disagreement with another Methodist minister led to Haynes being barred from preaching the next year. Haynes claimed Whigs, including Brownlow, were trying to break Methodism and conspired against him. In The Sentinel, Haynes denounced Brownlow as "the greatest hypocrite that ever wore the sheet of our holy religion."

Haynes took up law following his editorial position. He was a good orator and became established as an excellent trial lawyer. Haynes built his law office at his "Green Meadow" farm. Thus he became the first attorney to establish residence at Johnson City.

He handled all types of legal transactions, as well as his trial work. Before the War Between The States, Haynes taught law to at least two men who later became prominent in local legal and political circles, William Watterson (who became clerk and master of the Chancery Court in Hawkins County) and William D. Haynes, who server as chairman of the Democratic Executive Committee in the First Congressional District from 1876 until 1882.


Landon Haynes became a Polk elector in 1844. His former law instructor, T. A. R. Nelson supported Henry Clay of Kentucky. The two men spoke together at numerous rallies. The issue was the annexation of Texas. Haynes and the Democrats supported annexation, while Nelson and Whigs insisted the United States obtain the consent of Mexico first. In November the Whigs carried Tennessee, but Polk was elected President, the first time a President was elected without winning his home state.

The next year Haynes considered running against Andrew Johnson for the US House seat of the District but decided to decline a run against the established Democrat.

In 1845, while still a newspaper editor, he ran for and won a seat in the Tennessee House representing Washington, Hawkins and Greene Counties. He supported financial aid to the School for the Blind in Nashville and incorporating a School for the Deaf in Knoxville, both of which matters passed and became law.

He also supported a new law regulating "Tippling Houses", or taverns. Parson Brownlow once commented that Landon Haynes and Andrew Johnson had been seen drunk in every tavern between Gatlinburg and Saltville, so maybe Haynes considered this an important vote.

Haynes also voted for admission of Texas to the Union during this term.

In 1847, Haynes considered running against Andrew Johnson for the Democratic nomination to the US Congress. Johnson expected him to run and opened his campaign with a denunciation of Haynes. Landon decided to run for the Tennessee Senate instead and won that seat representing Johnson, Carter, Sullivan and Washington Counties.

He worked to incorporate the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad and worked out a compromise to improve the river between Knoxville and Kingsport in exchange for the support of the people for the railroad along the Holston.

In 1848 Haynes spoke as an elector for Lewis Cass of Michigan against General Zachary Taylor. Taylor won the election, but Cass won the local district by 46 votes.

In 1849, Haynes was offered the Democratic nomination as Governor of Tennessee but decided to run for the Tennessee House again, where he thought he might be elected Speaker. Haynes won the election to both the House and the Speakership. In his acceptance speech he thanked the legislature for the honor of his election as Speaker and talked about one of his favorite topics - Tennessee.

"Tennessee occupies a distinguished position in the confederacy. She is the center figure in the Union. She embraces a million humans souls of immense moral intellectual and physical energy. For the last twenty years the dominion of her influence upon the policy of the Federal Government has been admitted. She has given to the Republic some of those great spirits, civil and military, who have rendered her history glorious in eyes of nations. In military prowess and courage she stands foremost, in front of her twenty-nine sisters Though brought into the confederacy since the "old thirteen" were admitted into the society of nations, she has flashed the sword of her power over the battle-fields of three wars, and on every one adorned her standard with the wreaths of victory. Her brave sons have carried her name to the highest and holiest place in the temple of our national fame, and there as with a beam of light, written it in the golden book of the nation's honor, to exist while the masculine virtues of her constancy courage magnanimity and patriotism, shall have admirers among men and liberty a votary on earth. To be made the parliamentary head of the Representative body of a state so distinguished is a compliment too high to be justly claimed by one as humble as myself."

Haynes, a major stockholder in the East Tennessee & Virginia Railway worked to get State government support for the building of the rail line.

Haynes finally ran against Andrew Johnson in the next Congressional Campaign. By all accounts it was a dirty race with both men accusing the other of dishonest conduct. Johnson won and Haynes retired from politics for the next eight years and concentrated on his law practice.

In 1859, Haynes ran against his old law teacher, Thomas Nelson, for the US Congress. The two had remained friends, but had significant disagreement on political matters. Unlike the campaign against Johnson, both men showed fairness and honorable respect to each other. Haynes spoke eloquently for states' rights and the ties of Tennessee to her southern neighbors. Haynes said, "it would be a traitorous son who would stand against the mother who bore him." Nelson won the election by 90 votes.

States' Rights & War:

Haynes continued to speak on the policy of States' Rights. In the 1860 election there were four candidates: John Bell of Tennessee (Constitutional Unionist), Abraham Lincoln (Republican), Stephen Douglas (Northern Democrat), and Johns C. Breckenridge of Kentucky (Southern Democrat).

Lincoln was not really a factor in the Tennessee election voting. T. A. R. Nelson supported Bell. Haynes supported Breckenridge. Haynes spoke over the whole state in support of Breckenridge thus making himself know throughout Tennessee. Bell took Tennessee by 5000 votes. If Douglas had not run, Tennessee almost certainly would have gone for Breckenridge.

In Knoxville on January 2, 1861, Haynes declared that Tennessee should leave the Union and join the Confederacy because she was,

"Bound to the South by identity of institutions; bound to the South by soil and productions; bound to the South by reciprocal interests, bound to the South by the lines of her latitude; bound to the South by eternal laws of nature and of God; bound to the South by the great rivers that pour their floods into the Gulf of Mexico and give her an easy transit to the consumers and her products through the world; let her feel that her union with the Southern States . . . is natural and inseparable, and the unalterable condition of her present and future safety prosperity and independence."

Five days later on January 7, 1861, Governor Isham Harris called a special session of the legislature to pass an act permitting the voters of Tennessee to decide whether or not to hold a secession convention. The bill passed, but the voters voted against such a convention on February 9, with 91,803 votes to 24,749.

With the Union attempt to re-supply Fort Sumter and the Confederate shelling of the fort, Lincoln called for Tennessee to supply 75,000 troops for the support of the Union cause. Governor Harris refused. Nelson and Johnson spoke for remaining in the Union. Haynes was for secession but intervened on the behalf of his opponents with men who wished to "arrest" Johnson and Nelson on May 18 in Rogersville for "treason against their state", although Tennessee had not yet voted for secession.

That vote did come on June 8 and Tennessee left the Union. On July 6, Haynes wrote Confederate Secretary of War, L. P. Walker about the situation in east Tennessee. He said he was looking at "every moment also to hear that the bridges have been burned and the East Tennessee & Virginia railroad torn up." Haynes suggested that 6 regiments of troops be sent to put down the rebellion in east Tennessee.

Because of his firm stand in support of states' rights, Haynes, on October 24, 1861 was elected by the Tennessee Legislature along with Gustavus A. Henry as Tennessee representative to the Confederate States' Senate.

Haynes tried to obtain additional troops for General Zollicoffer but to no avail. The action at Mill Springs, Kentucky in early 1862 cost the Confederacy both General Zollicoffer and Cumberland Gap.

Upon the fall of Forts Donelson and Henry, Haynes and the entire Tennessee delegation, except for Judge Swan, called for the replacement of General Albert Sidney Johnston. The authorities failed to act and Johnson died as the Confederacy lost the battle at Pittsburg Landing, better known in the South as Shiloh.

Haynes supported the conscription act but proposed a raise in pay for the soldiers and suggested that POW's widows and children receive the men's pay while in Union prisons.

Haynes also proposed legislation protecting the rights of citizens while the Writ of Habeas Corpus was suspended and said that Martial Law, which some military leaders had independently instituted, was unknown to the Constitution. In October of 1862 the Confederate Congress passed a law limiting military law only to members of the armed forces.

When not in Congress, Haynes visited Tennessee battlefields. On one occasion at Knoxville in 1863 he is known to have shouldered a rifle.

After the War, Haynes was arrested by Federal Troops. Tennessee Reconstruction Governor, William G. Brownlow refused to sign his pardon. Haynes sister, Mrs. Nathaniel G. Taylor was living in Washington at the time. Her husband had been a Union supporter and she visited President Johnson in her brother's behalf. Johnson reportedly laughed about the fate of his old political enemy at the hands of the obnoxious Brownlow and ordered Haynes pardoned.

After the War, Haynes was unable to stay in East Tennessee because of very real threats to his life and moved to Memphis. In 1865 He sold the farm to brother-in-law Lawson Griffin. Their daughter, Mrs. Samuel Simmerly inherited the farm and her son David sold it to the state of Tennessee in the 1950's.

Haynesville quickly became Johnson's Depot again after the War and in 1865 Johnson City was incorporated.

In 1866 Haynes, along with Senator Henry and General Nathan Bedford Forrest, supported President Johnson and his policies.

Ode To East Tennessee:

In 1872, Haynes was attending a party in Jackson in honor of the members of the Tennessee Bar Association during a session of the Tennessee Supreme Court in that city. General Nathan Bedford Forrest served as toastmaster and during the evening stood and said,

"Gentlemen I proposed the health of the eloquent gentleman from East Tennessee, a country sometimes spoken of as the God-forsaken land," Haynes smiled, arose, and began:

Mr. Toastmaster and Gentlemen:

I plead guilty to the soft impeachment. I was born in East Tennessee, on the banks of the Watauga which in the Indian vernacular means beautiful river, and beautiful it is. I have stood up on its banks in my childhood and looked down through its glassy waters and beheld a heaven below and then, looking upward beheld a heaven above, reflecting, like two mirrors, each in the other, its moon and planets and trembling stars. Away from banks of rock and Cliff hemlock and laurel pine and cedars stretches a vale back to the distant mountains as beautiful and exquisite as any in Italy or Switzerland. There stands the great Roan, the great Black and the great Smoky Mountains upon those summits the clouds gather of their own accord, even on the brightest day.

There I have seen the Great Spirit of the Storm after noontime go and take his evening nap in his pavilion of darkness and of clouds. Then I have seen him aroused at midnight like a giant refreshed by slumber, and let loose the red lightnings that ran along the mountain tops for a thousand miles, swifter than an eagle's flight in heaven. And again I have seen the lightning stand up and dance like angels of light in the clouds, to the music of that grand organ of nature whose keys seemed to hate been touched by the fingers of Divinity in the halls of eternity.

Then I have seen the darkness drift away beyond the horizon, and the morn arise from her saffron bed like a queen put on her robe of light, come forth from her palace in the sun, and stand tip-toe on the misty mountain tops and while night fled before her glorious face to his bed-chamber at the Pole she lighted the green vale and beautiful river where I was born and played in childhood with a smile of sunshine. Oh, beautiful land of mountains, with thy sun painted cliffs, how can I ever forget thee.

Haynes practiced law in Memphis until his death February 17, 1875. He is largely remembered for his oratory. We also remember him for his patriotism to his state and his country.