The Mayors of Memphis                   ... From 1827 to the Present

 

 

In 1819, James Winchester, Andrew Jackson, and John Overton founded a city on the fourth Chickasaw bluff.  At that time this settlement was four blocks wide with a population of fifty and Winchester named the settlement  "Memphis".  A charter was drawn up, creating the office of Mayor and a board of aldermen.  The aldermen would be elected by all the people in town, and the mayor would be elected by the board of aldermen.  The first Mayor was Marcus Winchester, son of James.

 

Once the mayor had been chosen the issue was how to pay for the newly installed government.  So taxes were assessed on property owners.  The peddlers, tavern keepers, doctors and lawyers paid a business levy.  In addition each free male and slave were levied a 25 cent tax for residing in Memphis.  Since that time, Memphis has maintained various mayor-council forms of government.  Today there are 13 seats on the council with seven positions being elected from single-member districts, and two districts electing three representatives each.  The mayor is elected by the entire voting population.  All of the Memphis Mayors from 1827 to the Present  are covered below .


Click on small photos to see larger images


 

     

Marcus B. Winchester
1827 - 1829

 

Marcus Winchester, son of founder James Winchester,  had made the Chickasaw bluffs settlement his home.  He had served as a real estate agent and opened the first store in the town.  He was also one of the first five members of the Quarterly Court and was elected Register in 1820.  When the city was incorporated in 1826, he was elected the first Mayor.  He also operated a ferry and served as postmaster until 1849.   Around 1823, Winchester married Mary, whom most historians agree was a "woman of color" and his career did decline.    His grave is "somewhere" in the area of Winchester Park, which originally was the Winchester Cemetery.

 
     

Isaac Rawlings
1829- 1831

     

Isaac Rawlings was a pioneer settler and the 2nd Mayor.  After the incorporation of Memphis he remained a populist leader, being elected Mayor twice.  He became a great student of law and was honored with the title of "Squire Rawlings."  He always considered Memphis a "rowdy, river town" and insisted that he not be buried in Memphis.  His grave is in the nearby old Raleigh Cemetery.

     
     

Seth Wheatley
1831- 1832

 
     

Seth Wheatley was a lawyer with ability who stood up for the "poor man".  During his administration Memphis became the object of fierce contention between the states of Mississippi, Arkansas, and the Chickasaw Indians.  All three claimed the city was built on part of their land.  A re-survey settled the dispute.  After his stint as mayor, Wheatley became President of the Farmers and Merchants Bank of Memphis.

     
     

Robert Lawrence
1832- 1833

 
     

From the beginning of his term, the voters of Memphis made it clear they wanted a stronger leadership than Lawrence provided.    Shortly after his election, a census was taken that revealed that the population of Memphis had increased to 906.  So the town limits were expanded to bring in more tax.

     
     

Isaac Rawlings
1833- 1836

     

Isaac Rawlings was a pioneer settler and the 2nd Mayor.  After the in corporation of Memphis he remained a populist leader, being elected Mayor twice.  He became a great student of law and was honored with the title of "Squire Rawlings."  He always considered Memphis a "rowdy, river town" and insisted that he not be buried in Memphis.  His grave is in the nearby old Raleigh Cemetery.

     
     

Enoch Banks
1836- 1837

 
     

During the administration of Enoch Banks, Memphis purchased a fire engine as an  expanded town service.  And a board of health was appointed to report all causes of disease, and the printing of death notices was begun.

     
     

John H. Morgan
1837 - 1838

 
     

John H. Morgan also attempted to improve conditions in Memphis.  The board of aldermen passed an ordinance requiring the operators of dray wagons to obtain a license for ten dollars per year, and if a driver was found "...guilty of staling of of having received stolen goods, he shall forfeit license and be thereafter prohibited from driving a cart, dray, or wagon within corporate limits."  A few months later the aldermen passed a more stringent law that imposed "a penalty on persons shooting, whooping, gambling or swearing within the limits of the town."  Fines ranged from five dollars for swearing to ten dollars for discharging a firearm and fifty dollars for gambling.

     
     

Enoch Banks
1838 - 1839

 
     

 2nd Term, Enoch Banks :  See above ...

     
 
     

Thomas Dixon
1839 - 1841

 
     

Mayor Thomas Dixon expanded the anti-crime measures implemented by  Mayor Morgan.  He realized the constable couldn't patrol the town 24 hours a day, so the board of aldermen hired two night watchmen to patrol the town's streets from 10- PM to daylight.  Dixon and the aldermen also passed an ordinance requiring dog owners to buy a license and place an identification collar around the dog's neck.  If a dog was found without a collar, it would be shot by the town;s constable.  During this administration a larger fire engine was purchased.   In spite of Dixon's accomplishments in fighting crime and expanding city services he was defeated for reelection by William Sickernagle in the next election.

     
     

William Spickernagle
1841 - 1842

 
     

Prior to this time, the office of Mayor had few powers and didn't even pay a salary.  This now changed under Sickernagle's tenure, when a salary of $500 per year was provided.  And he addressed another major concern:  Flatboat operators had refused to pay city fees when they docked at the city-operated wharf.  This severely restricted the ability of government to provide services.  Sickernagle hired Dick Davis as Wharf Master, offering him 25% of his collections and promised to stand by him.  Soon wharfage fees filled the city's treasury.

     
     

Edwin Hickman
1842 - 1845

 
     

Edwin Hickman defeated Sickernagle in the next election.  The rage of the flatboat operators over paying a tax turned bitter in 1842.  500 Flatboats were docked at the wharf.  One owner brandished a spiked club and threatened to "comb the wharf master's head" with his club.   He continued the same threats when the wharf master showed up.  The gathering crowd of seamen now boosted his moral.  The militia came out ... and this event ended after the boat owner went to sea and continued to taunt the militia.  They fired upon his boat, killing him.  This decisive action by Hickman and the Wharf Master  broke the power of the flatboat men and secured this important revenue for the city's treasury.

     
   
     

Jesse J. Finley
1845 - 1846

 
     

Jesse J. Finley was born near Lebanon, Tennessee and pursued an academic course.  He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1838.  In 1842, he moved to Memphis and continued the practice of law.  He served as mayor of Memphis in 1845.  In 1846 he moved to Florida where he remained the rest of his life.

     

 

 

 

Edwin Hickman
1846 - 1847

 
     

3rd Term.  See Above ...

     
     

Enoch Banks
1847 - 1848

 
     
3rd Term:   Memphis and South Memphis merged adding significantly to the revenue in the Treasury.
     
     

Gardner E. Locke
1848 - 1849

 
     

Gardner E. Locke tied for votes with his opponent forcing the Board of Aldermen to choose.  After two ballots they chose Gardner.  In a short time he convinced the alderman to pass a big ordinance establishing free public schools in Memphis.  Two new schools opened shortly.  Opposition arose over the funding of public schools and called for discontinuance of free education, but it was quickly rejected.  Locke introduced  a new ordinance guaranteeing that "all white children between the ages of six and 16 had the opportunity to attend a free public school."  Opposition to this bill caused a big divide in the next election and Locke was defeated.

     
     

Edwin Hickman
1849 - 1852

 
     

3rd Term:  When Hickman resumed his Mayoral duties he remained a dedicated foe of crime as one would expect of the executive who had crushed the flatboat insurrection.  During his 3rd Term, ordinances were passed making gambling, illegal, as well as organized prostitution, animal cruelty.  All businesses were now required to close on Sundays.

     
 
     

A. B. Taylor
1852 - 1855

 
     

South Memphis had been added to the growing boundaries of Memphis and these additional voters shifted the political balance to elect A. B. Taylor as mayor.  He served until 1855.  Taylor established a city high school, constructed a new jail, and improved local transportation by having wooden planks laid on the surface of Adams and Madison.    An ordinance was also passed authorizing the city hospital to treat destitute Memphians who couldn't afford medical treatment.  He was also one of the founders of Elmwood Cemetery.

     
     

Addison H. Douglass
1855 - 1856

 
     

Public Health was a big concern for Addison H. Douglass.  During the summer of 1855, Yellow Fever spread through the Lower Mississippi Valley, infecting more than 1200 Memphians and killing 220 of them.  During Douglass' one term the city also issued a number of bond issues for railroads and street construction.  By the end of the 1850s, municipal debt ballooned to more than $1 million.  And there was much waste as well as misuse of public funds.  This will effect Memphis for decades to come.

     
     

Thomas B. Carroll
1856 - 1857

     

Thomas B. Carroll had inherited from his father, a former Governor of Tennessee, warm, impulsive, and fearless qualities.  He was also outspoken, with a quick and impulsive temperament in all his dealings with men - which sometimes made enemies.  Yet he was quick to repair a wrong when convinced that he had erred.  He was elected to clean up the waste and misuse, but died unexpectedly at the age of 38 in 1857 before his term was over.  Ironically the board of aldermen drafted Addison H. Douglass to complete Carroll's term.   The Memphis and Charleston railroad had been completed and a grand Railroad Jubilee was organized to celebrate the "wedding of the Atlantic Ocean and Mississippi River."  There weren't enough hotels to take care of all the visitors who had traveled to Memphis to be part of the festivities.  The Navy Yard held a banquet for 10,000 people.  Much had changed since this little hamlet was established in 1826.  The population was now 22,000 residents.

     
     

Richard D. Baugh
1857 - 1861

 
     
Richard D. Baugh
     
   
     

John Park
1861 - 1864

 
     

John Park was mayor when the Union took over Memphis and occupied the city during the Civil War.  He has the distinction of having to surrender the city to the Union.  The government of the city was then dictated by Ulysses S. Grand and General Sherman.  After they put General Washburn in charge, he ordered the Memphis Government to be suspended and forbid these officials to perform any official acts or to exercise any authority.

     
 
     

Thomas H. Harris
1864

 

     

Lt. Col. Thomas H. Harris of the Union Army  was appointed "Acting Mayor" by General Washburn, during the Union occupation of Memphis.

     
 
     

Channing Richards
1864 - 1865

 
     
Channing Richards of the Union Army was appointed "Acting Mayor" when Lt. Col. Thomas H. Harris resigned.
     
 
     

John Park
1865 - 1866

 
     
2nd Term:   The Civil War ended and the government was turned over to Memphis.  All the officials from 1864 were reinstated.
     
     

William Lofland
1866 - 1868

 
     

The first election after the Civil War was in 1866.  William Lofland was elected as the first post-war Mayor.  The Metropolitan Police District was organized under a Police Commissioner.  Legislation was passed that extended the terms of Mayor and Aldermen to two years.  All voters were required to register to vote.  ... and then, the riots of 1866!

     
 
     

Edgar M. McDavitt
1868

 
     

Edgar M. McDavitt was a successful financier and leading wholesale merchant.  He was elected 4 terms as alderman in the 1850s.  His firm failed during the Civil War and he became the first President of the Bank of Commerce.  He was one of several "Interim Mayors" of Memphis.

     
     

John W. Leftwich
1868 - 1869

     

John W. Leftwich was involved in mercantile pursuits before the Civil War.  When Tennessee was allowed to have representation after the war, he was elected to Congress, and later became Memphis Mayor in 1869 and 1870.

     

     

John T. Swayne
1869

     
John T. Swayne was mayor post-Civil War.  He died of Yellow Fever during the 1873 epidemic.
     
     

John W. Leftwich
1869 - 1870

     
2nd Term:  Legislation was passed granting the city a new Charter, which REDUCED the City Limits.
     
 
     

John Johnson
1870 - 1874

     

Memphis now had a population of 40,226.  Mayor Johnson reported that the treasury didn't have a dollar of cash and credit was so impaired that the city was paying double the price for services and supplies - all which he considered "appalling."  He proposed that the city be run on a "cash basis", but this didn't win any support.  Crime was rampant.  The streets were in poor condition and sewage was never picked up.  There was a foul smell everywhere.  Memphis would pay the penalty for this neglect.  The winter of 1873 brought small pox, and then the summer brought the Yellow Fever which reached epidemic proportions with over 1244 deaths.

     
     

John Loague
1874 - 1876

 
     

John Loague was a good financier and his first act was to reduce the city's debt and the overwhelming burden of taxes.  He proposed a commission who would work to get financers to agree to payment less than face value.  NO DEAL.  He was forced to issue "Script" as partial payment.  But the city had begun to pay attention to sanitation.  However when one summer passed without a return of Yellow Fever, carelessness set in once more.

     
     

John R. Flippin
1876 - 1879

 
     

John R. Flippin continued legislation to improve the city's debt with a little success.  The city was in trouble and there were proposals to dissolve the City Government.    Yellow Fever had stayed away for five years and during this time the city had slipped back into its old filth.  Now the fever returned in the midst of all the financial ruin.  And this time it was horrendous with over 5000 deaths - and then it returned the following year and claimed 600 more.  When it was over, Memphis was a ghost city.  The city was further humiliated when their charter was revoked.  It was no longer a city - only a taxing district.

     
 
 

 TAXING DISTRICT ... 1879 - 1893

 

As a result of the yellow fever epidemic in 1878 and 79, Memphis lost so much of its population that it was disincorporated and its charter was not reinstated until 1893.  Thus there was no Mayor from 1879 - 1893.

The city leaders during this period were known as "President of the Taxing District"

 

         
D. T. Porter
1879 - 1881
John Overton
1881 - 1883
D. P. Hadden
1883 - 1891
Wm D. Bethell
1891 - 1893
W. L. Clapp
1893 - 1895
         
         

When the city's charter was reinstated in 1893,  Walker L. Clapp, as the current "President of the Taxing District"  automatically became the Mayor.

 
     

Walker L. Clapp
1895 - 1898

     

Walker Lucas Clapp practiced law with his father and was admitted to the bar in 1874.  In 1887 he was selected speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives.  He lost the 1898 mayor's election by just over 500 votes to Joseph J. Williams.

     
 
     

Joseph John Williams
1898 - 1906

     

J. J. Williams was educated in the private schools of Memphis where he began studying medicine under his father.  After his father's death J. J. entered politics as a bookkeeper.  In 1896 he was elected County Trustee, a position he resigned after being elected Mayor.  Williams was noted for his capacity for business, suavity of manners, fine appearance, and genial nature.

     
 
     

James H. Malone
1906 - 1910

     

James H. Malone's record was considered "absolutely clean" and " one that he should be proud of and the community grateful for."  He is the Mayor who "Paved Memphis", expanded the artesian water system, and doubled the funding of Public Schools.  He also wrote "Chickasaw Nation",  a history for the centennial of Memphis, while he was Mayor of Memphis.

     
     

Edward Hull Crump
1910 - 1915

     

E. H. Crump had a rising business career where he began to make political connections that served him for the rest of his life.  By 1919 he had built a political machine which came to have statewide influence.  And unlike most Southern Democrats, he was not opposed to blacks voting.  For the most part, they were reliable Crump voters as long as the party paid their poll taxes.  He manipulated the blacks with the "help me, I'll help you" form of politics and skillfully manipulated Republicans who at this time were weak in Tennessee.   He was influential for nearly 50 years by generally working behind the scenes.  He served only three two-year terms as mayor at the beginning of his career.  Yet he named the next several Memphis mayors. 

To be continued below ... The Crump Machine in action ...

     
 
     

George C. Love
1915 - 1916

     

George C. Love had been in the Wood and Lumber business and later went into the Steamboat business.  Always interested in politics, his friends in 1901 urged him to run for the board of Public Works.  He was elected and became head of the Department of Streets, Buildings, and Sewers.    Later he won the election for Mayor - and was considered a good Mayor.

     
 
     

Thomas C. Ashcroft
1916 - 1917

  

     

The Memphis theatre managers had begun "testing" the Sunday "Blue Laws" by opening on Sundays.  This created a huge political turmoil in the city.   Ashcroft had allowed the theatres to remain open on Sunday and consequently he and other officials were ousted from office during the fallout.

     
 
     

Harry H. Litty
1917 - 1918

     
Harry Litty immediately set about enforcing the "Blue Laws" to the letter, as he said "... not because they're right, but because they are on the books."  Litty was a prominent lawyer of Memphis as well as a railroad engineer on the Frisco Line.  Had the honor of being the first engineer to drive a passenger train across the Mississippi River.  During his tenure as Mayor he also set his goal on reducing public expenditures.  Litty Park is named in his honor.
     
 
     

Frank L. Monteverde
1918 - 1919

     

Monteverde was the first native Memphian to hold the position of Mayor and the first and only Italian American Mayor.  He also defeated the Crump Machine of the time.  While Mayor he aggressively worked to eradicate malaria from the mid-south area.  Before becoming Mayor, he had been Sheriff and was responsible for  hiring the first blacks for the Memphis Police Department and appointing the first black detectives.  He was totally for law enforcement.

     
 
     

Rowlett Paine
1920 - 1927

     

Mayor Paine and E. H. Crump joined forces to fight the local Ku Klux Klan, who opposed his candidacy, and nearly lost.  Later Paine and Crump turned on each other.  The city went on a building spree  ... the bootleg booze binge ... cotton prices plummeted ... the great flood of 1927, crowding Memphis with refugees.  As a reform mayor, Paine's contributions to the city have been largely under exposed and under appreciated.  He ultimately lost out to the Crump machine in 1927.

     
 
     

Watkins Overton
1928 - 1939

     

When Watkins Overton ran for Mayor, construction of an airport was a major focus of his campaign.  After his election, which was totally backed by Crump, he appointed an airport planning commission and the Memphis Municipal Airport opened for business in 1929.  The city was also $900,000 in debt when he took over.  He managed, during the depression, to erase the debt and accumulate a $1 million surplus.  He also successfully lobbied for federally funded projects through the WPA and PWA.

     
 
     

Edward Hull Crump
1940

     

This 1940 scenario shows the Crump Machine "in action":  Crump had been named to the Democratic National Committee in 1936 and served until 1945.  In 1939 he was elected a final time as Memphis Mayor, although that term was officially served by Walter Chandler.  Crump felt that Walter Chandler, the U.S. Representative for the Ninth District,  could spend his time better tending to congressional matters in Washington than campaigning for mayor in Memphis.  So without a platform, without a speech, and without opposition, Crump was elected mayor of Memphis.  He was sworn in at a few minutes past midnight.  With laughter, he resigned immediately.  Vice Mayor Joseph Boyle became Mayor until the next day, when the Memphis City Commission elected Chandler.  Watkins Overton's term had ended at midnight, and so Memphis had four mayors in less than 24 hours.

Crump's statewide influence began to wane in the late 1940s.  For the rest of his life, his influence was largely limited to Memphis.  What did Memphis get out of this "deal": 
Crump's marks on Memphis can be still be seen today.  He was a strong supporter of fire service and for many years the Memphis Fire Department was considered one of the best in the country and is still quite well regarded.  He felt separate operations for each municipal utility were inefficient and today, the Memphis Light, Gas, and Water is one of the largest combined municipal utilities in the United States.  He believed that cities shouldn't be too noisy.  Memphis has strong noise ordinances that are more aggressively enforced than those of other cities.  He was an early supporter of automobile safety inspections.  All of  Memphis-registered vehicles were inspected annually up to 2013 when the City Council cut the funding for this.  And  Crump  believed that cities should be clean.  Memphis developed the Clean Up-Paint Up-Fix Up campaign and was named Tennessee's cleanest city from 1940 through 1946 and the Nation's Cleanest city for 1948, 49, 50, and 51.  Very interesting, considering that during its early years Memphis was considered the dirtiest and most foul-smelling place on earth.  While all of these projects and innovations certainly benefited Crump personally, they also certainly benefited the city of Memphis  as well.  Perhaps it's just another example of "Help me, I'll help you." politics?   Crump had offered Memphians a safe, clean, prosperous city...all he asked in return was control over every phase of civic life

 

* E. H. Crump has another page on this website with comprehensive coverage ... >  Click here

     
 
     

Joseph P. Boyle
1940

 
     
Joseph Boyle was Vice Mayor and upon E. H. Crump's 1940 resignation, became Mayor for 24 hours.
     
 
     

Walter Chandler
1940 - 1946

     

Walter Chandler was city attorney of Memphis from 1928-34.  He was also a delegate to the Democratic National Conventions in 1940 and 1944.  He was supported by the E. H. Crump machine and was "assigned" the Mayor's job by E. H. Crump to complete the term that Crump had been elected to.  Sadly, he was little more than a "figurehead" at this time.  He resigned in 1946 because he wanted to return to private practice.  Greatly disappointed when Crump will not support his bid for Senator.

     
 
     

Joseph P. Boyle
1946

 
     
Once more, Vice Mayor Joseph Boyle steps in as Mayor after Walter Chandler resigns in 1946.
     
 
     

Sylvanus W. Polk, Sr.
1946 - 1947

 
     

E. H. Crump influenced Mayor Sylvanus Polk and the Park Commission to purchase 355 acres of land in the county as a balance for Overton Park.  He wanted the name to be Bluebird Park, but the Commission named it Audubon Park.  Polk resigned April 1947.

     
 
     

James J. Pleasants, Jr.
1947 - 1949

     

As mayor, Pleasants adopted a pension plan and civil protection for city employees.  Involved, with Crump, in refusing to allow whites and blacks to visit the "Freedom Train" together in 1947, and thus the Federal Government cancelled the trains visit to Memphis.  He resigned January 1949.

     
 
     

Watkins Overton
1949 - 1953

     

2nd Term:  Overton was the great great grandson of the founder of Memphis and was the longest serving mayor in the history of Memphis. 

     
 
     

Frank T. Tobey
1953 - 1955

     

Frank Tobey was E. H. Crump's handpicked successor to Watkins Overton with whom he no longer supported.  Tobey embraced city planning and was mayor at the time of Crump's death in 1954.  He had a lot of support for his re-election in 1955, but died of a heart attack during the campaign.

     
 
     

Walter Chandler
1955

     

Walter Chandler completed Frank Tobey's term.  He was considered a sensitive and thoughtful man and he retired from politics in disappointment after E. H. Crump failed to support him for a Senate seat.  After politics, he was an active and contributing member of the West Tennessee Historical Society. 

     
     

Edmund Orgill
1956 - 1959

     

Edmund Orgill, a highly respected businessman (Orgill Bros & Co.), banded together with other concerned citizens to defeat Crump's candidates and restore democracy in Memphis.  In 1956 he became the first mayor of Memphis elected without Crump's backing in almost five decades.  During his administration (and afterwards), Orgill helped ease integration in Memphis.  He was key in convincing the Memphis business community to peacefully desegregate public places such as department stores, parks, libraries and eating establishments. 

 

* Orgill Bros & Co. have another page on this website with comprehensive coverage ... >  Click here

 
     
 
     

Henry Loeb
1960 - 1963

     

Loeb was elected at the age of 39.  During this first term, he was an ardent segregationist, and opposed such projects as the construction of a new stadium, a civic center and fine arts center. Loeb resigned October 1963 to take over the family business.

     
 
     

Claude Armour
1963

     
Claude Armour was Interim Mayor for two months in 1963 due to the resignation of Henry Loeb.
     
            
     

William B. Ingram
1963 - 1967

     

 

   
 
     

Henry Loeb
1968 - 1971

     

Loeb was mayor during the 1968 Sanitation Worker's strike ... and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, jr.  After the strike ended, the city was left sharply divided and traumatized.  Although it was generally considered that Loeb handled the situation badly, he never felt he should have done anything differently.

     
 
     

J. Wyeth Chandler
1972 - 1982

     

Chandler was mayor at the time of death of Elvis Presley and  the city filled up with mourners and then the police and fire departments went on strike.  His tenure also included the redevelopment of Beale Street and the development of Mud Island.  He resigned October 1982 to accept a seat as judge on the Circuit Court..

     
 
     

J. O. Patterson, jr.
1982

     

J. O. Patterson served as Interim Mayor for 20 days in 1982, following the resignation of J. Wyeth Chandler, to become a judge.  He was the first African American to serve as Mayor.

     
          n to ever hold the office
     

Wallace Madewell
1982

     
Wallace Madewell succeeded J. O. Patterson who was temporary manager after Chandler's resignation
     
            
     

Richard D. Hackett
1982 - 1991

     

Hackett was 33 years old when elected - the youngest mayor of a major U. S. city.  He was a fairly popular mayor during his 9 years in office.  He ran and won three times,  But by 1991 he had become vulnerable due to changing demographics (white flight), as well as controversies during his second term (Holiday Inn's headquarters moving to Atlanta, and "issues" involving the financing of the Pyramid Arena.  During his 9 yeas, tourism, downtown redevelopment, business growth and non-profit development were his main priorities.

     
 
     

W. W. Herenton
1992 - 2009

     

Willie W. Herenton was the first African American elected Mayor in Memphis, and he was re-elected to a total of five terms.  He resigned in 2008 to run as Superintendent of the School Board.  Obviously with an election record of five terms he did "something right", but  during his final days in office, he faced many criticisms from Memphians, including "Failure to ensure sound fiscal management of the City of Memphis.  Fraud allegations involving national money for the building of the FedEx Forum, Failure to communicate effectively with the City Council, Failure to address multiple allegations of improprieties regarding Memphis Light, Gas, and Water, Angering citizens to the point of becoming a target of a recall effort, Doing little in response to the significant rise in crime under his leadership, Appointing new leadership to the Memphis Public Library over the objections of the Tennessee Library Association.  Etc."

     
 
     

Myron Lowery
2009 ...Pro tem

     

Myron Lowery became interim mayor following the retirement of Mayor W. W. Herenton.  He ran for Mayor in a special election in 2009, losing to A. C. Wharton.  His tenure as Mayor Pro Tem was marked by attempts to remove officials from Herenton's prior administration and efforts at transparency in government.  In 2015, Lowery moved to unearth the remains of Civil War general Nathan Bedford Forrest and his wife and have his memorial removed because "It is no longer politically correct to glorify someone who was a slave trader and someone who was a racist, on public property."

     
 
     

A. C. Wharton
2009 - 2015

     

A. C. Wharton ran for Mayor of Memphis in a special election to replace Mayor Herenton in 2009.  He won with a 60% of the vote in a field of 25 candidates.  His win made him the fourth African American to serve as Memphis Mayor.  In 2010 Wharton pleeged to build over 50 miles of bicycle lanes in Memphis.  The Memphis Greenline was completed and bike lanes were designated throughout the city.  He created the city's Office of Talent and Capital in an effort to promote employment in the city.  He has been criticized for awarding contracts to his friends, for under-funding Memphis City Schools, Under-funding the Memphis Police Department, and for cutting services for young people and the elderly while offering incentive packages to corporate interests.  In 2014, the City Council passed Wharton's budget which included his plan to cut retiree and current employee health benefits.  On the plus side,  after being on Forbes 2010 ranking of "Most Miserable City in America", Memphis no longer appeared on that list by 2013.  During his last year, three Civil War parks were renamed and he supported Lowery's proposals to exhume bodies of N.B. Forrest and wife to Elmwood Cemetery and sell the Forrest statue.  In 2015 A. C. Wharton lost his re-election campaign and conceded to Jim Strickland.  He only obtained 22,199 votes compared to Strickland's 41,829.

     
 
     

Jim Strickland
2016 - present

     

Jim Strickland was first elected to the City Council in 2007 and was Vice Chairman in 2013 and Chairman in 2014.  He ran for Mayor in 2015, focusing on crime and poverty throughout Memphis and was elected with 41.55% of the city's vote.

     
            
        
 
            
               
       
     
               

Thanks to George Whitworth for photographing the mayor's portraits at City Hall

 
 
 

       

 
 
 

Credits

 

The Historic-Memphis website does not intentionally post copyrighted photos and material without permission or credit.  On occasion a "non-credited" photo might possibly be posted because we were unable to find a name to give credit.  Because of the nature of our non-commercial, non-profit, educational website, we strongly believe that these photos would be considered "Fair Use.  We have certainly made no monetary gain, although those using this website for historic or Genealogy research have certainly profited.  If by chance, we have posted your copyrighted photo, please contact us, and we'll remove it immediately, or we'll add your credit if that's your choice.  In the past, we have found that many photographers volunteer to have their works included on these pages and we'll  also do that if you contact us with a photo that fits a particular page. 

 

The "Historic-Memphis" website would like to acknowledge and thank the following for their contributions which helped make this website possible:  Memphis Public Library, Memphis University Library, Memphis Law Library, Memphis Commercial Appeal, Memphis Press Scimitar, Shelby County Register of Deeds, Memphis City Schools, Memphis Business Men's Club, Memphis Chamber of Commerce, Memphis City Park Commission, Memphis Film Commission, Carnival Memphis, Memphis Historical Railroad Page, Memphis Heritage Inc, Beale Street Historic District, Cobblestone Historic District, Memphis Historic Districts, Vance Lauderdale Family Archives, Tennessee State Archives, Library of Congress, Kemmons Wilson Family, Richard S. Brashier, Lee Askew, George Whitworth, Woody Savage and many individuals whose assistance is acknowledged on the pages of their contributions.  Special thanks to Memphis Realtor, Joe Spake, for giving us carte blanche access to his outstanding collection of contemporary Memphis photos.

We do not have high definition  copies of the photos on these pages.  If anyone wishes to secure high definition photos,  you'll have to contact the photographer  or the collector.  (To avoid any possibility of contributing to SPAM, we do not maintain a file of email addresses for anyone who contacts us).

 

 
 
 

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Historic Memphis Website