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Paul Cantrell became elected Sheriff of McMinn County beginning from 1936, 1938 and again in 1940. It wasn’t until the early 1940’s that corruption within the county became noticeable. Paul Cantrell than went on to become elected for State Senate in 1942 and in 1944 leaving his deputy and right hand man Pat Mansfield to be elected for Sheriff, Cantrell’s former position. During their corruption in 1941 a state law passed which reduced political opposition for their party by reducing the amount of voting precincts available from 23 to just 12 and minimizing the number of Justices of Peace from 14 down to just seven.
Cantrell and Mansfield than went on to orchestrate a fee system in which they received money from arrests and incarcerations totaling of up to $300,000 in additional funds. This operation became especially lucrative because at the time many veterans were returning from the second world war and were spending much of their free time at bars and saloons celebrating their victories.
Investigations - Cantrell - Mansfield - Elections - Citizens
Investigations into Cantrell and Mansfield elections began when citizens noticed that many of the votes tallied included felons and deceased members of the county. As well as the returning veterans were routinely targeted by the Sheriff’s men as they made up roughly 10 percent of the county’s voting populous. An opposing non-partisan party to Cantrell and Mansfield was formed by the returning G.I.’s and thus the 1946 battle of Athens, Tennessee began.
In August of 1946 Cantrell and Mansfield swapped positions in order to appease the voters, Cantrell once again running for Sheriff and Mansfield running for State Senate. Instead of appeasing the voters the voters became to realize the corruption that had been laid right in front of them. An obvious popular outcry of the county was in large support for the non-partisan party the returning...
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