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John Knight Shields (August 15, 1858 – September 30, 1934) was a Democratic United States Senator from Tennessee from 1913 to 1925.

John Knight Shields
John Knight Shields.jpg
United States Senator
from Tennessee
In office
March 4, 1913 – March 3, 1925
Preceded byWilliam R. Webb
Succeeded byLawrence Tyson
Personal details
Born(1858-08-15)August 15, 1858
Bean Station, Tennessee
DiedSeptember 30, 1934(1934-09-30) (aged 76)
Knoxville, Tennessee
Political partyDemocratic


Shields was born at his family's estate "Clinchdale", near the early pioneer settlement of Bean's Station, Tennessee in Grainger County. His education as a youth was by private tutors, a sign of the family's affluence. He studied law and was admitted to the Tennessee bar in 1879. He practiced in the counties surrounding his home until 1893, when he was named Chancellor of the former 12th Chancery Division. The next year, he resumed private practice in nearby Morristown, in Hamblen County.

In 1902 Shields became an Associate Justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court, an office which he held until 1910 when he was named Chief Justice. He resigned that post in 1913, becoming the last Tennessean elected to the U.S. Senate by the Tennessee General Assembly prior to the 17th Amendment coming into effect. Shields was popularly reelected in 1918 but in 1924 lost the Democratic nomination to Lawrence Tyson, and returned to the private practice of law, this time in Knoxville.

While in the Senate, Shields served as the chairman of several committees. He chaired the Committee on Canadian Relations in the 63rd and 64th Congresses, the Committee on Interoceanic Canals in the 65th Congress, and the Committee on the Sale of Meat Products in the 66th Congress.

Shields died at his estate "Clinchdale" and is buried in Knoxville's Memorial Cemetery.

External linksEdit

  • United States Congress. "John K. Shields (id: S000363)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
William R. Webb
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Tennessee
Served alongside: Luke Lea, Kenneth McKellar
Succeeded by
Lawrence Tyson