Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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LEA, Luke, congressman, born in Surry county. North Carolina, 26 January, 1782; died near Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, 17 June, 1851. He removed with his father to Tennessee in 1790, was clerk of the state house of representatives, and commanded a regiment under General Jackson during the Indian wars in Florida. From 1833 till 1837 he was a representative in congress from Tennessee, having been chosen first as a Democrat and afterward as a Union Democrat. For thirty years he was cashier of the state bank of Tennessee, and in 1849 was appointed by President Taylor Indian agent at Fort Leavenworth. He met his death by being thrown from his horse while returning from a visit to the tribes near that place.--His son, John M., jurist, born in Knoxville, Tennessee, 25 December, 1818, was graduated at the University of Nashville in 1837, admitted to the bar in 1840, and began the same year the practice of his profession in Nashville. He was appointed United States district attorney in 1842, and in 1850 elected mayor of Nashville. During a cholera epidemic in the following year he was constantly among the sick and the dying in the hospitals, and by his judicious measures contributed largely to the stay of the pestilence. He was an ardent Unionist, and when Nashville fell into the hands of the government troops he was able, from his influence with the authorities, to do much to lighten the hardships which were necessarily felt by the families of the refugee Confederates. In 1865, at the urgent request of the bar of Nashville, he accepted from Gov. William O. Brownlow the appointment of judge of the circuit, court, but resigned in the following year, and also declined a seat on the supreme bench of the state. When a bill to remand Tennessee to military control was before the reconstruction committee of congress, his opposition prevented a report in its favor, and secured the defeat of the measure. In 1875 he was elected to the state senate, where he opposed every suggestion for repudiation of the public debt. He has been a liberal benefactor to the Tennessee school for the blind, the Woman's mission home, and other public charities, and is president, of the Tennessee historical society.
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