John Bell Edit

John Bell (February 18, 1796 – September 10, 1869) was an American and Confederate politician, attorney,

John Bell

John Bell in 1868

and planter. One of Tennessee's most prominent antebellum politicians, he served in the House of Representatives from 1827 to 1841, and in the Senate from 1847 to 1859. He was Speaker of the House for the 23rd Congress (1834–1835), and briefly served as Secretary of War during the administration of William Henry Harrison (1841). In 1860, he ran for president as the candidate for the Constitutional Union Party, a third party which took a neutral stance on the issue of slavery. Annoyed by the continuous sectional strife in the Senate, Bell had pondered forming a third party to attract moderates from both the North and South throughout the 1850s. By 1859, the Know Nothing movement had collapsed, but Tennessee's Whigs had organized themselves into the Opposition Party, which had won several of the state's congressional seats. Several of this party's supporters, among them Knoxville Whig editor William Brownlow, former vice presidential candidate Andrew Jackson Donelson, and California attorney Balie Peyton, urged Bell to run for president on a third party ticket. John Bell ran against General Robert E. Lee in the 1868 election and lost by an electoral landslide.