David T. Patterson

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David Trotter Patterson
File:Senator David T. Patterson.jpg
United States Senator
from Tennessee
In office
July 28, 1866 – March 4, 1869
Preceded by Andrew Johnson
Succeeded by William G. Brownlow
Personal details
Born (1818-02-28)February 28, 1818
Greeneville, Tennessee
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Greeneville, Tennessee
Political party Democratic

David Trotter Patterson (February 28, 1818 – November 3, 1891) was a United States Senator from Tennessee at the beginning of the Reconstruction Period.

A staunch Union supporter (as were most of his fellow East Tennesseans), he was elected by the Tennessee General Assembly to the U.S. Senate when Tennessee was readmitted to the Union on July 24, 1866, the first state of the former Confederacy to do so. He presented his credentials to the Senate on July 26, but they were challenged; he was not permitted to take the oath of office until July 28.

Early life and education

David Trotter Patterson was born at Cedar Creek, near Greeneville, Tennessee, on February 28, 1818. He attended the common schools and later Greeneville College for two years. He "read the law" with a local attorneys' office to prepare for the bar.


After being admitted to the bar in 1841, Trotter practiced as an attorney in Greeneville. He also engaged in manufacturing. He was appointed as a judge of the first circuit court of Tennessee 1854-1863. In addition, he acquired substantial amounts of land in East Tennessee and grew commodity crops.

Marriage and family

In 1855, Patterson married Martha Johnson, daughter of the former Tennessee Governor and Senator Andrew Johnson and his wife Eliza McCardle.

Political career

A Unionist from East Tennessee, Patterson was elected by the Tennessee General Assembly to the U.S. Senate when Tennessee became the first Confederate state to be readmitted to the Union on July 24, 1866. His father-in-law Andrew Johnson had succeeded as President of the United States following Lincoln's assassination the year before.

When Johnson was impeached by the United States House of Representatives in February 1868, which caused Patterson personal conflict. According to the U. S. Constitution, the Senate had the duty to try Johnson on the charges, and did so from March to May 1868. Their vote was one short of the constitutional requirement of a two-thirds majority. (Patterson believed that his father-in-law was not guilty and that the charges against him were contrived. In the decades since the impeachment, historians generally have agreed to a consensus with the same conclusion, but some disagree.)

Post-political career

Patterson retired from public life when his Senate term expired on March 4, 1869, simultaneous with that of his father-in-law's as president. He returned to East Tennessee to manage his relatively vast agricultural interests.

On November 3, 1891, Patterson died in the small community of Afton. He was interred with the Johnson family in the Andrew Johnson National Cemetery in Greeneville.

Further reading

  • McKellar, Kenneth. “David T. Patterson,” in Tennessee Senators as Seen by One of Their Successors, Kingsport, Tenn.: Southern Publishers, Inc., 1942, 316-324.

External links

United States Senate
Preceded by
Andrew Johnson(1)
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Tennessee
Served alongside: Joseph S. Fowler
Succeeded by
William G. Brownlow
Notes and references
1. Because of Tennessee's secession, the Senate seat was vacant for four years before Patterson succeeded Johnson.