The Battle of Athens, Tennessee
Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, their families and cohorts remind many patriotic citizens today of Paul Cantrell and his political machine.
In Athens, Tennessee, the seat of McMinn County, was once upon a time, the headquarters of Sheriff Cantrell, the unscrupulous boss of a corrupt Democratic machine which stretched from Tennessee to Washington, DC.
When so many of the husbands, fathers, uncles, sons and cousins left for duty during the Second World War, Cantrell kicked his corruption into high gear.
🔹On the books, Cantrell drew salaries of nearly sixty thousand dollars per year over his first six years that were worth over $715,000 in today’s dollars.
🔹He was also appointed superintendent of the county workhouse (which didn’t even exist) for an additional two thousand dollars annually. a time when the median Tennessee home was worth less than two thousand dollars and the starting salary for enlisted men was fifty dollars per month.
🔹Despite the strict rationing for millions of patriotic citizens, Cantrell’s “lieutenants” and “enforcers” had plenty of cars, tires, and fuel.
🔹Reminiscent of Bill Clinton and Jeffrey Epstein, or Joe Biden and Judge Emmett Sullivan, Cantrell and company had their own whorehouses, not to mention illegal casinos, and speakeasies, to play in and take in thousands of dollars per month in protection money.
🔹Like Congress and the Senate today protecting their beloved kickback schemes from Ukraine, by 1946, Cantrell had dozens of county employees on the payrolls to provide cover for their vast money laundering operations.
🔹By August 1, 1946, citizens had enough. The boys who went to fight in World War II returned home as men, brave veterans.
🔹While the “roosters” were gone saving the world from tyranny, the “fox” made certain the elections were rigged, much like 2020.
🔹McMinn County ballot boxes remained in Democratic offices. Cantrell’s deputies were the “election officers,” some of whom went down in history as “brutal killers with the blood of innocent civilians on their hands. Other local thugs and felons were on hand to further inculcate the climate of fear, including a man who murdered his own father and, five months after the election, murdered his sister-in-law, an expectant mother, and an infant child.”
🔹Like the patriots of January 6, 2021, some of McMinn County voters were imprisoned to prevent them from voting.
🔹Similar to the fake news of Big Media today, the message went out to older voters that their pensions would be held up unless they voted “the right way.”
🔹When a Republican election judge, a disabled veteran of World War I, tried to view the ballot count, he was dragged into the corridor and beaten, leaving him paralyzed.
🔹Another man who attempted to observe the ballot count was pistol-whipped, and one gunman fired at a poll worker who tried to leave the courthouse.
🔹Citizens petitioned the Department of Justice for relief, knowing that local and State officials would not take any action against the machine.
🔹Like the DOJ of 2022, the 1946 Department of Justice took no to little action and downplayed any evidence.
🔹Judges then, as now, dismissed evidence and lawsuits that did make it into courts. Of course, judges, DAs, senators and congressmen were associated with the machine. In one case, the judge not only dismissed most of the charges but fined the men one penny for the charges that stuck.
🔹The machine awarded Cantrell by having him “elected” to the Tennessee Senate. Pat Mansfield replaced him as Sheriff.
🔹Stories started to spread that widows and daughters of some deceased military heroes were forced into prostitutuon.
🔹Surviving veterans returned home to a community of horror.
🔹Near the end of September, 1944, Earl Ford, a returned Navy Seabee, was shot and killed by one of Mansfeld’s thugs, George Spurling.
🔹Not long after Ford was killed, Bill White returned from his tour of duty. Bill’s father, Edd, a veteran of the First World War, told his son a story:
He walked five miles a day to work at the power station on Railroad Avenue. He carried his lunch in a brown paper bag and a pint of milk from Mayfield’s Dairy. While walking past the jail on his way home he saw four deputies stare at him, get in a car, and start the engine. As he walked past the courthouse, the car was in the middle of the street, following him. He lowered his head and kept walking. He walked past the bus station and they were right alongside him. Edd picked up the pace. They accelerated. He didn’t know what they wanted with him or why. But he knew it wasn’t good. He panicked and started running to his house. The car pulled in front of him and slammed on its brakes. Four deputies jumped out with clubs in their hands. He was arrested and taken to jail. Now it was time to figure out a reason. The deputies took his milk bottle out of the bag and passed it around, taking a sniff. “Smells funny,” they agreed. The deputies who protected the roadhouses and honky-tonks and lined their pockets with kickbacks from bootleggers and pimps decided the remnant of Edd White’s milk was alcohol. He was fined $16.05, several days’ pay.
“It was a big surprise,” Bill described about returning home from the war, and “everything, everything, everything you’ve been told you’re supposed to be fighting for wasn’t there.” There were “liquor houses, whorehouses, gambling joints all over the county,” protected by “a bunch of thugs wearing guns and badges.”
Sounding very familiar to Americans today, Cantrell back then decided he was returning to Athens to “run” for Sheriff, Mansfield would be his handpicked successor to “run” for the State Senate seat.
🔹The veterans could stand no more. It was time to take action. They were told to keep away from the polls and to not even think about running for office, the veterans began organizing anyway.
🔹They prepared in secrecy to put a ticket together. They called it the “Ex-Serviceman’s Cleanup Ticket for McMinn County.”
🔹The local Republican Party endorsed them. One party official summed it up:
“We are involved in a conflict with desperate enemies who have sought to subject us to tyranny and oppression…We feel a deep sense of obligation and now seek in measure to repay…Young men who have fought against oppression abroad will continue that fight for honesty and decency at home.”
🔹Bill White finally told the group they were being naïve, arguing that they had to organize a fighting bunch:
“Listen. Do you think they’re going to let you win this election? Those people been taking these elections for years with a bunch of armed thugs. If you never got the guts enough to stand up and fight fire with fire, you ain’t gonna win.”
An Athens minister preached to his congregation:
“If you do not vote as your conscience dictates, then you have sold your citizenship and do not deserve to be citizens. It is the responsibility of each and every person to preserve our most cherished possession, liberty, or forever lose it.”
🔹Armed deputies “guarded” each polling place, and reports of election fraud poured in to GI headquarters almost immediately.
🔹One veteran reported, “They already started knocking our boys in the head and putting them in jail. They’re taking this thing…This thing’ lost.”
🔹A deputy beat and shot a sixty-year-old who insisted he was going to vote as he tried to enter a polling place.
🔹Another deputy brutally beat an election judge, a veteran who protested the shameful voter fraud he witnessed.
🔹One writer indicated “there were twelve ballot boxes: one in the jail, another inside a heavily defended courthouse, a third barricaded in the Dixie Café, a fourth in the vault in the Cantrell Bank Building, and poll watchers had been ejected at two other locations.”
🔹Inside the courthouse, deputies held a handful of GI poll watchers hostage, two of them wounded.
🔹Bill White and some of the team of GI veterans took these courthouse “deputies” for a drive out in the country were they marched them into the woods, made them take off their clothes, and tied them to trees. Some were whipped with a hickory stick.
🔹Leaving the naked and whipped deputies tied to the trees, White and team returned to town. White told his fellow patriots:
Well! Here you are! After three or four years of fighting for your country. You survived it all. You came back. And what did you come back to? A free country? You came back to Athens, Tennessee, in McMin!n County, that’s run by a bunch of outlaws. They’ve got hired gunmen all over this county right now at this minute. What for? One purpose. To scare you so bad you won’t dare stand up for the rights you’ve been bleeding and dying for. Some of your mothers and some of your sisters are afraid to walk down the streets to the polling places. Lots of men, too! Because they know what happens. A car drives by in the night and shoots out your windows. If that doesn’t scare you enough, they’ll set fire to your house or your barn. They’ll beat up members of your family and put them in jail. For no reason! Is that the kind of freedom you were supposed to be fighting for? Do you know what your rights are supposed to be? How many rights have you got left? None! Not even the right to vote in a free election. When you lose that, you’ve lost everything. And you are damned well going to lose it unless you fight and fight the only way they understand. Fire with fire! We’ve got to make this an honest election because we promised the people that if they voted it would be an honest election. And it’s going to be. But only if we see that it is. We are going to have to run these organized criminals out of town, and we can do it if we stick together. Are you afraid of them? Why, I could take a banana stalk and run every one of these potbellied draft dodgers across Depot Hill. Get the hell out of here and get something to shoot with. And come back as fast as you can.Bill White, 1946
🔹The veterans returned with an arsenal of pistols, rifles, shotguns, squirrel guns, and European souvenirs like a German Mauser. It wasn’t enough.
🔹A group of them raided the nearby National Guard armory, where they found revolvers, a Thompson submachine gun, an array of .30-caliber M1917 rifles, and plenty of ammunition.
🔹Sheriff deputies gathered at the jail, where the ballot boxes had been taken.
🔹 White remembered how they had sworn to defend America against all of her enemies. Later, he explained that “if it was worth going over there and risking your life, laying it down, it was worth it here, too. So, we decided to fight.”
🔹The veterans formed a line on a hillside across from the jail and demanded that the machine men bring out the ballot boxes. From the jail, someone yelled, “You’re going to have to come get them.”
🔹A gun battle commenced and the vets climbed to rooftops, strategically surrounding the jail.
🔹 Other veterans fired from behind walls and parked cars. They shot out the transformer that supplied the jail. The deputies could even see their ammo which had mostly been used up.
🔹More deputies from both Monroe and Polk Counties arrived with a plan to kill Knox Henry, the veteran candidate for Sheriff.
🔹After receiving news that the National Guard had been mobilized, the veterans asked White what they should do. He replied immediately, vowing, “We’re not going to do anything about it. We’re going to keep shooting here until we get those ballot boxes and get those people out of there.”
🔹Some of the veterans went and returned with an enormous stockpile of dynamite in the old county barn that the county used to clear roads and blast stumps and stones.
🔹They began tossing dynamite in increasing amounts at the jail, aiming closer and closer with each throw, finally promising that the next would be through the window.
🔹The deputized political machine men, outgunned and out of ammunition, surrendered with their hands held straight up as they walked out.
🔹The patriots searched the deputies for weapons and marched them from the jail to the courthouse in a column led by Bill White.
🔹White’s men gathered all deputies fancy late model cars so citizens could see them turn them over, douse them with gasoline, and set aflame.
🔹The veterans delivered a statement to a local radio station:
“The GI election officials went to the polls unarmed to have a fair election, as Pat Mansfield promised. They were met with blackjacks and pistols. Several GI officials were beaten and the ballot boxes were moved to the jail. The GI supporters went to the jail to get these ballot boxes and were met by gunfire. The GI candidates had promised that the votes would be counted as cast. They had no choice but to meet fire with fire. In the precincts where the GI candidates were allowed watchers, they led by three-to-one majorities. The GIs are elected and will serve as your county officials beginning September 1, 1946.”
The GIs continued by:
🔹Halting their planned aerial attack at a nearby airstrip in which they had planned to drop bombs over the jail.
🔹Raided all of the gambling dens, seized the slot machines and destroyed the equipment.
🔹Knox Henry was sworn in as Sheriff and declared:
“We have accomplished what we started out to do. We’ve broken the grip of the political machine that has ruled McMinn County for ten years without regard as to the wishes of the people in how their government was to be run. When I say we, I mean the other GIs on the nonpartisan cleanup ticket and the citizens of McMinn County who helped us win the battle.”
“We regret that the gunfight at the jail had to happen…Our only alternative was to use force…there will be no trouble of this kind at the next election. Any person who can qualify for an office may run with the full assurance of an honest election and the people will have nothing to fear when they go to the polls on Election Day.”
🔹Knox needed a whole new team of deputies, and pinned a star on Bill White. Almost immediately, they carried out raids on the moonshiners and bootleggers who had enjoyed the protection of the eliminated machine.
Soon, a Commonwealth editorial read:
“Since, after all, our American nation was founded by virtue of revolution, and since such revered figures as Jefferson evidently thought that revolution had valuable tonic effects on the body politic, it would be a trifle hypocritical for Americans to raise their hands in horror at these goings-on in the shadow of the Great Smokies.”
These brave patriots of Athens, Tennessee, fought and won the only successful armed insurrection in the United States since the War of Independence….so far.
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