WILLIAM BRIMAGE BATE was born near Castalian Springs, Tennessee. At the age of sixteen, after the death of his father, he left school and became a clerk on a steamboat traveling between Nashville and New Orleans. When the Mexican War broke out he enlisted in a Louisiana Company and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. He later established the Tenth Legion, a Democratic newspaper. From 1849 to 1851 he served in the Tennessee House of Representatives, and in 1850 he was a delegate to the Nashville Convention that was called to consider means by which Southerners might protect their rights in the U.S. territories. After receiving a degree from Cumberland University Law School, he opened a law practice in Gallatin and was elected District Attorney General in 1854. He went on to serve in the Civil War, rising from the rank of private to Major-General. When the war ended he opened a law office in Nashville. Throughout this period and thereafter he remained active in the Democratic Party, serving as a Presidential Elector in 1860 and 1876, as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention of 1868, and as member of both the state and national Democratic executive committees from 1868 to 1878. He went on to win two terms as governor. During the Bate administration, the governor’s recommendations for a more uniform system of taxation, increased appropriations for education, and the creation of a railroad commission were implemented. In 1886 Bate was elected to the U.S. Senate, and was elected to three additional terms, serving until his death in Washington, DC, from pneumonia. He was buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Nashville.
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