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William Carroll

Gov. William Carroll

  • October 1, 1821 - October 1, 1827
    October 1, 1829 - October 12, 1835
  • Democratic-Republican (first three terms); Democrat (last three terms)
  • March 3, 1788
  • March 22, 1844
  • Pennsylvania
  • Married Cecilia Bradford; four children
  • Army


WILLIAM CARROLL was born near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Although his formal education was limited, he learned bookkeeping, surveying, and the principles of mathematics, putting them to good use in what was to become a successful business career. He moved to Nashville in 1810 and soon attracted the favorable attention of Andrew Jackson, under whom he served as Brigade Inspector and Major General in the Creek Campaign as well as in the War of 1812. After the war he resumed his business career in Nashville before undertaking a successful campaign for governor. He was reelected twice without opposition, and after a constitutionally-required interval of two years, he was reelected to three additional terms unopposed. He was defeated for an unprecedented fourth consecutive term in 1835. Known as the “Reform Governor,” Carroll is known for having put Tennessee on sound financial footing during his years as chief executive, as well as for the enactment of progressive legislation during his administrations. After leaving office, he returned to private life and to his land holdings in Tennessee and Mississippi. He died and was buried in Nashville. Carroll county is named in his honor.


The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 7 New York: James T. White & Company.

Past Governors of Tennessee

Philips, Margaret I. The Governors of Tennessee. Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing Company, 2001.

Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

White, Robert H. Messages of the Governors of Tennessee, 1821-1835. Nashville: The Tennessee Historical Commission, Vol. 2, 1952.

Recent Tennessee Governors