United States Senators from Holly Springs
Since Mississippi became a state on Dec. 10, 1817, 44 men served the state as United States Senators. The first two senators to serve from Mississippi were Walter Leake and Thomas Hill Williams, and our two current senators, Thad Cochran and Trent Lott are the latest in the long line of distinguished men to represent Mississippi in the Senate.
In between those first two Senators and our current senators there were five men who served in the US Senate who lived in Holly Springs, either before or subsequent to their senatorial tenure. All five of those from Holly Springs are buried in the Hill Crest Cemetery. Those five are James Fisher Trotter, Joseph Chalmers, Hiram R. Revels, Edward Cary Walthall, and Wall Doxey. Of the five senators from Holly Springs, three are in the Mississippi Hall of Fame; James F. Trotter, Hiram Revels, and Edward Cary Walthall. Edward Cary Walthall was in the first group of inductees into the Mississippi Hall of Fame and Hiram Revels was in the most recent class of inductees into the Hall of Fame.
The first of the men from Holly Springs to serve in the Senate was James Trotter, although he was not a resident at the time of his appointment. (Until the adoption of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution in 1913, all senators were elected by their respective State legislatures. With the adoption of the 17th Amendment, senators were popularly elected.) Trotter was born in Brunswick Co. VA in 1802 and died in Holly Springs in 1866. Trotter was a lawyer and public official serving as a State representative, a State senator, circuit judge, Judge on the High Court of Errors and Appeals, Vice Chancellor of the courts in North Mississippi, law professor at the University of Mississippi, in addition to being a US Senator. He only served as a US Senator six months before resigning.
Joselph Chalmers was appointed in 1845 to fill a two year term left open when Sen. Walker resigned from the Senate. Chalmers was born in Halifax County, VA in 1807 and died in Holly Springs in 1853. After attending the University of Virginia for two years, he entered the practice of law in Richmond, VA. After marrying Fanny Henderson, he emigrated to Jackson, TN, to establish a law practice. He was one of the defense attorneys for the land pirate John Murrell. In 1840 he moved to Holly Springs and set up a practice with Alexander Clayton, and subsequently with Roger Barton. When he entered the Senate, he was a staunch supporter President Polk, whom he supported in the Mexican War, the acquisition of the Oregon Territory and Polk's advocacy of Manifest Destiny.
Hiram Revels was next in the list of senators with ties to Holly Springs. Revels was born in Fayetteville, NC in Sept. of 1827. He attended, among other educational institutions, Quaker Seminary in Union County, IN, and was a graduate of Knox College in IL. He was ordained Minister of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Baltimore, MD in 1845. He served as a minister as well as a teacher in St. Louis. During the Civil War he helped organize the first two regiments of US Colored Troops in MD. During the War he was a chaplain with a regiment of US Colored Troops in Vicksburg. After the War, he was an alderman in Natchez, a State Senator, Secretary of State of Mississippi, President of Alcorn College, and while living in Holly Springs he was the District Superintendent of the AME Church. He was appointed to the US Senate to rank from Jan. 20, 1870. He remained in the Senate until Mar. 3, 1871. Revels was the first black United States Senator. He died at Aberdeen in 1891 and was returned to Holly Springs for burial.
Edward Cary Walthall was the next man from Holly Springs to serve as a US Senator. Walthall was born in Richmond, VA on April 4, 1831, and died in Washington, D.C. April 21, 1898, while serving as US Senator. He moved to Holly Springs when he was ten years old. He attended the old St. Thomas Hall, a private school. He studied law with his brother-in-law in Pontotoc, and then entered his law practice in Coffeeville, MS. He served in the Civil War as a Lt. Col. with the 15th Mississippi Infantry, as Col. of the 29th Infantry, before being promoted to Brig. Gen. of the Confederacy in 1862. In 1864 he was promoted to Major General of the Confederacy. As such he was the highest ranking military officer from Holly Springs. After the War he returned to Coffeeville, then moved to Grenada until 1885 when he was first appointed to the Senate to complete a term of L.Q.C. Lamar. Except for a brief time in 1894 he remained in the Senate until his death. In one of his last appearances in the Senate he spoke vehemently against the Spanish American War.
Wall Doxey, Sr., was born Aug. 8, 1892, and died March 2, 1962. Senator Doxey was the only one of five senators from Holly Springs to have been popularly elected, even though he only completed the remainder of the term left vacant by the death of Sen. Pat Harrison. Senator Doxey, who served in the US House of Representatives from 1929 until his election to the Senate in 1941, also served as sergeant-at-arms in the Senate. Before entering the US House of Representatives, Sen. Doxey had a private law practice in Holly Springs, as well as serving a district attorney. Sen. Doxey was a friend and ally of Pres. Franklin Roosevelt. He had a large collection of memorabilia from Roosevelt and the New Deal, but unfortunately most of it was destroyed in a fire when the old Stafford's Café burned.
There is probably no other town the size of Holly Springs in Mississippi to have five US Senators buried in the local cemetery and it is likely no other city of comparable size in the country can surpass our history in this respect. In the 19th century Holly Springs was a power to be reckoned with in Mississippi. For instance, in the elections of 1851, more votes were cast in Marshall County than any other county in Mississippi.
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