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The Biggs Machine: Politics in Polk County, Tennessee

15 May 2024

For almost two decades, Polk County Sheriff Burch E. Biggs reigned supreme in Tennessee’s southeasternmost county. His political machine was built upon three pillars―election fraud, police brutality, and graft―and while it is true that Biggs was not the first (or last) American sheriff to permit “fee-grabbing”, take kickbacks, or stuff the ballot box, the duration and brutality of his tenure makes him exceptional. He was finally deposed in 1948 when a bipartisan political party, known as “The Good Government League,” defeated him in the violent election of August 5, 1948. Tyler L. Boyd tells the untold story that is, in many ways, a sequel to the infamous Battle of Athens.

About Tyler Boyd
Tyler L. Boyd is an author, historian, and educator from Athens, TN. He serves as president of the McMinn Co. Historical Society, secretary of the McMinn Co. Library Board, Programs Committee member at the McMinn Co. Living Heritage Museum, and a member of the Athens Historic Preservation Commission. His first book, Tennessee Statesman Harry T. Burn, won several awards, including the East Tennessee Historical Society’s Award of Distinction. His second book, Nellie Kenyon: Trailblazing Tennessee Journalist, won the Project Excellence Award from the East Tennessee Historical Society.

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May 15
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm


East Tennessee History Center
601 S Gay St
Knoxville, TN 37902 United States
+ Google Map
(865) 215-8830
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