John Bell (February 18, 1796 – September 10, 1869) was an American politician, attorney, and planter. One of Tennessee's most prominent antebellum politicians, he served in the House of Representatives from 1827 to 1841, and in the Senate from 1847 to 1859. He was Speaker of the House for the 23rd Congress (1834–1835), and briefly served as Secretary of War during the administration of William Henry Harrison (1841). In 1860, he ran for president as the candidate for the Constitutional Union Party, a third party which took a neutral stance on the issue of slavery.

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  • John Bell (February 18, 1796 – September 10, 1869) was an American politician, attorney, and planter. One of Tennessee's most prominent antebellum politicians, he served in the House of Representatives from 1827 to 1841, and in the Senate from 1847 to 1859. He was Speaker of the House for the 23rd Congress (1834–1835), and briefly served as Secretary of War during the administration of William Henry Harrison (1841). In 1860, he ran for president as the candidate for the Constitutional Union Party, a third party which took a neutral stance on the issue of slavery. Initially an ally of Andrew Jackson, Bell turned against Jackson in the mid-1830s and aligned himself with the Whig Party, a shift which earned him the nickname, "The Great Apostate." He consistently battled Jackson's allies, namely James K. Polk, over issues such as the national bank and the election spoils system. Following the death of Hugh Lawson White in 1840, Bell became the acknowledged leader of Tennessee's Whigs. Although a slaveholder, Bell was one of the few southern politicians to oppose the expansion of slavery in the 1850s, and campaigned vigorously against secession in the years leading up to the American Civil War. During his 1860 presidential campaign, he argued that secession was unnecessary since the Constitution protected slavery, an argument which resonated with voters in border states, helping him capture the electoral votes of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia. After the Battle of Fort Sumter in April 1861, Bell abandoned the Union cause and supported the Confederacy. (en)
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  • John Bell (February 18, 1796 – September 10, 1869) was an American politician, attorney, and planter. One of Tennessee's most prominent antebellum politicians, he served in the House of Representatives from 1827 to 1841, and in the Senate from 1847 to 1859. He was Speaker of the House for the 23rd Congress (1834–1835), and briefly served as Secretary of War during the administration of William Henry Harrison (1841). In 1860, he ran for president as the candidate for the Constitutional Union Party, a third party which took a neutral stance on the issue of slavery. (en)
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  • John Bell (Tennessee politician) (en)
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