Jo Byrns
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Jo Byrns
Jo Byrns
Speaker of the House Joseph Byrns LCCN2016890551.tif (cropped).jpg
41st Speaker of the United States House of Representatives

January 3, 1935 - June 4, 1936
Henry Thomas Rainey
William B. Bankhead
Leader of the House Democratic Caucus

January 3, 1935 - June 4, 1936
Henry Thomas Rainey
William B. Bankhead
House Majority Leader

March 4, 1933 - January 3, 1935
Henry Thomas Rainey
William B. Bankhead
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee

March 4, 1909 - June 4, 1936
John W. Gaines (6th)
Ewin L. Davis (5th)
Clarence W. Turner (6th)
Richard Merrill Atkinson (5th)
Constituency6th district (1909-33)
5th district (1933-36)
Member of the Tennessee Senate

Member of the Tennessee House of Representatives

Personal details
Joseph Wellington Byrns

(1869-07-20)July 20, 1869
Cedar Hill, Tennessee, U.S.
DiedJune 4, 1936(1936-06-04) (aged 66)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Julia Elizabeth Woodward
ChildrenJoseph W. Byrns Jr.
Alma materVanderbilt University

Joseph Wellington "Jo" Byrns Sr. (July 20, 1869 - June 4, 1936) was a U.S. politician. He served as a 14-term Democratic Congressman from Tennessee, and as the 41st Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.


Byrns was born in Cedar Hill, Robertson County, Tennessee, son of James Henry Byrns and Mary Emily Jackson. He was named for a maternal uncle, Joseph William Green Jackson, who died in the American Civil War. His great-grandfather, James Byrns, Esq., figures in the legend of The Bell Witch, and is mentioned in the Authenticated History of The Bell Witch by Martin Van Buren Ingram. A graduate of public schools, he displayed a strong early interest in politics and was elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives in 1894 and reelected in 1896 and 1898. In 1900 he was elected to the Tennessee State Senate.

In 1902, he ran for district attorney of Davidson County, Tennessee, but was defeated — his only unsuccessful political race in 18 efforts. In 1908, Byrns received the Democratic nomination for U.S. Representative and was elected in November of that year to a term beginning March 4, 1909. He served in the House for the rest of his life.

Byrns was widely respected and his influence grew as his seniority did. He was chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee from 1928 to 1935.[1] In 1931 he was appointed chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee and in 1933 became House Majority Leader. In 1935 he became Speaker of the House.

Byrns suffered a serious heart attack at his Washington home on the evening of June 4, 1936. The Speaker died before he could be taken to a hospital.[2] His funeral, attended by President Roosevelt and other dignitaries, was held in the United States Capitol. He was interred at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Nashville. His son Jo Byrns Jr. later served a single term in the House but never achieved the popularity of Jo Sr.

Byrns was also an active Civitan.[3]

See also


  1. ^ Irish, Ann B. (2001). Joseph W. Byrns of Tennessee: a political biography. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press. pp. 220. ISBN 1-57233-131-3.
  2. ^ . Retrieved 10 September 2020.
  3. ^ Leonhart, James Chancellor (1962). The Fabulous Octogenarian. Baltimore Maryland: Redwood House, Inc. p. 277.


Jo Byrns High School, in his hometown, Cedar Hill, Tennessee, is named in his honor. The local elementary school is also called "Jo Byrns Elementary School".

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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