NEWTON CANNON was born in Guilford County, North Carolina and moved with his family to Tennessee at an early age. After learning the saddler’s trade, he became a clerk, merchant, and surveyor. He served in the Creek War in 1813 as a Colonel in the Tennessee Mounted Rifles. He was elected to two nonconsecutive terms in the Tennessee State Senate. He was also elected to fill a vacancy in the U.S. House of Representatives and reelected for an additional term. In 1819 he was appointed by President James Monroe to negotiate a treaty with the Chickasaw Indians, after which he was elected to two additional terms in Congress. Although he was defeated in his campaign for governor against Sam Houston in 1827, he won election as the state’s first Whig Governor and was reelected two years later. During his administration, legislation was enacted to improve the state’s transportation facilities via construction of railroads, turnpikes, and canals, and a state bank was created primarily to raise funds for internal improvements and for the aid of public education. Cannon’s Whig criticisms of Democratic national policies were viewed as attacks on President Andrew Jackson. He was defeated for reelection to a third term as governor and retired to his plantation in Williamson County. He died in Nashville and was buried on his country estate.Cannon County is named in his honor.
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