Reverberations of the McMinn County War Redux

Just a year ago, I noted that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.)—considered by many a despicable poltroon, a kind of love child of Barney Fife and Lucrezia Borgia—had a political predecessor in an earlier incident in American history. 

Then, as now, the Democratic Party machine sought to absolutely and unfairly control the processes of a free government.

Bettmann Archive/ Getty Images

Given the current statistically suspicious Joe Biden vote in Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Nevada, it might well be worth repeating that piece of American history to the Democratic Party en bloc.

In 1936, Democrats were elected into office in Tennessee, among them McMinn County Sheriff Paul Cantrell and his successor, Deputy Pat Mansfield.

Cantrell and the Democratic Party machine became so entrenched in McMinn County that within a decade they controlled every government agency, the schools, and the local newspaper.

GIs from McMinn County returning from World War II battles in the Pacific and in Europe, where they had fought fascist tyranny with rifles and bayonets, now found themselves in the grips of a localized tyranny that controlled everything, especially the police.

Like today’s Democrat bigwigs, the sheriff did all he could to make his procedures absolutely secret, so that no one could manifest the size and scope of the hijinks of his Democratic Party machine.

The newly returned soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines found themselves under the thumb of this localized dictatorship in which the sheriff’s deputies were paid under a fee system: more arrests meant more money.

The returning GIs, many of whom were immediately fleeced by a system over which they had no control, formed the “GI Ticket” and set about voting the sheriff out of office.

When the election came in August 1946, the deputies seized all the ballot boxes and took them to the county jail “for safekeeping.”

Much like the thinking of many Trump voters around the country today, the GIs realized that something more than the normal parliamentary response was in order.

So while today’s Trump voters are, as yet, armed only with their smartphones as they try to ascertain the legitimacy of Tuesday’s vote, the McMinn County GIs decided to seize the ballot boxes and count the votes . . . the hard way.

Upon seeing what the sheriff was attempting to do in the secrecy of his reinforced building full of armed deputies, the GIs took up arms quite literally—Thompson submachine guns, M-1 rifles, and shotguns.

The combat veterans organized a siege of the jailhouse and demanded a public counting of the ballots.

No one quite knows who fired the first shot, but a vigorous gunfight ensued. Under covering fire, a couple of brave veterans, apparently former combat engineers, rushed the building and were busy placing demolition charges on the reinforced doors when deputies raised a white flag.

In the end, nobody died but at least 20 people were wounded.

The sheriff, in fact, had been engaged in electoral fraud. When the ballots were counted in the light of day, it turned out that the GIs had quite legally won the election

Twenty-first century Democrats of the same mindset as those corrupt McMinn County cops might take note of the reaction of voters when secrecy and deceit are applied to public electoral processes . . . or simply imagine the looks on the faces of haughty McMinn deputies as the ex-GI sappers got ready to set off their demolition charges.

About Chuck de Caro

Chuck de Caro is a contributor to American Greatness. He was CNN's very first Special Assignments Correspondent. Educated at Marion Military Institute and the U.S. Air Force Academy, he later served with the 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne). He has taught information warfare (SOFTWAR) at the National Defense University and the National Intelligence University. He was an outside consultant for the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment for 25 years. A pilot since he was 17, he is currently working on a book about the World War I efforts of Fiorello La Guardia, Giulio Douhet, and Gianni Caproni, which led directly to today’s U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command.

Photo: Bettmann/Getty Images

Want news updates?

Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.