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Joseph Wellington Byrns Jr.
Member of the United States House of Representatives
In office
January 3, 1939 – January 3, 1941
Preceded by Richard Merrill Atkinson
Succeeded by Percy Priest
Personal details
Born Joseph Wellington Byrns Jr.
August 15, 1903 (1903-08-15)
Davidson County, Tennessee
Died March 8, 1973 (1973-03-09) (aged 69)
Daytona Beach
Citizenship United States
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Cornelia Park Byrns

Lillie (Warmack) Adams Byrns

Alma mater Vanderbilt University
Profession Attorney
Military service
Allegiance United States United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Rank captain
Battles/wars World War II

Joseph Wellington Byrns Jr. (August 15, 1903 – March 8, 1973) was an American attorney and one-term Member of Congress from Tennessee.

Biography[edit | edit source]

Byrns was born in Davidson County, Tennessee, the son of former House Speaker Joseph W. Byrns and Julia Woodard. He completed his schooling at the Emerson Institute in Washington, D.C. in 1923 while his father was serving in Congress. In 1928, he graduated from the Vanderbilt University Law School and was admitted to the bar the same year. Byrns was first married to Cornelia Park in 1929, but the marriage ended in divorce. It is said that Cornelia liked being Mrs. Joseph W. Byrns Jr., and for the rest of her life refused to acknowledge the divorce. Byrns later enjoyed a happy marriage to Mrs. Lillie (Warmack) Adams of Goodlettsville, Tennessee.

Career[edit | edit source]

From 1930 to 1938, Byrns was a member of the reserve component of the former Army Air Corps, where he became a captain.

In 1938, Byrns won the Democratic nomination for his father's old House seat and was elected to that office in November of that year. He served that one term, from January 3, 1939 to January 3, 1941.[1] and won the Democratic nomination for a second one in 1940. His vote for an amendment that would have postponed the operation of the Selective Service Act by 60 days helped to inspire opposition from an independent candidate named Percy Priest, who was a member of the editorial staff of the Nashville Tennessean. Priest defeated Byrns by a 50%-43% margin (24,565 votes to 20,933 votes, with 3,459 votes going to the Republican nominee). After his defeat, he resumed the practice of law.

Byrns served on active duty in the United States Army during World War II, from June 23, 1942 until August 17, 1945, almost all of this time in the European Theater of Operations.[2]

Although Byrns achieved some stature during his life, he was always overshadowed by the successes and popularity of his father. Afterwards, he retired to Florida.

Death[edit | edit source]

Byrns died in Daytona Beach, Florida on March 8, 1973 (age 69 years, 205 days), and is interred at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Nashville along with his parents and second wife.[3]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Rep. Joseph Byrns Jr.". Govtrack US Congress. http://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/joseph_byrns/402157. Retrieved 9 May 2013. 
  2. "Byrns, Joseph Wellington Jr.". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=B001218. Retrieved 9 May 2013. 
  3. "Byrns, Joseph Wellington Jr.". The Political Graveyard. http://politicalgraveyard.com/bio/byrns-byrum.html. Retrieved 9 May 2013. 

External links[edit | edit source]

  • J at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  • Gowan, Phillip A. Byrns/Jackson, A Record of Their Probationary State
  • This article incorporates material from the public domain Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Richard M. Atkinson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 5th congressional district

1939-1941
Succeeded by
Percy Priest

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