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On the City Council ballot, for the first time I can remember, there are six women on the regular ballot, plus one certified write-in candidate. This election presents the prospect that three or even four women may be elected to City Council all at once. No, of course not, I answered. There have been women on City Council as long as I can remember.
I looked into it, and I was right. In all of Knoxville history, there have indeed been more than seven women on City Council. There have been eight. This column is mainly about her.
Meanwhile, since the founding of Council inthere have been literally hundreds of individual men on the body. Later, in the late 20th century, we encountered the opposite phenomenon, as several Council members, male and female, served a couple of decades. During that time, there were fewer individuals serving on Council.
Fewer men, fewer women. But it still seems remarkable to me: four new female Council members elected in would represent one-third of all the women ever elected to City Council in Knoxville history. However, there was one lone woman before that, almost forgotten. One woman was elected to City Council incelebrated as the first woman to hold the office.
Her name was Hattie Love. Then just after World War I, she attended Knoxville Business College and found work for a few years as a journalist, first for the Journalthen the Sentinel. People knew her best as a city court clerk, an office she held for a dozen years, but she was also a businesswoman, partners Woman moving to Knoxville her brother in an ice-cream company called Galo, which once had two locations, the main one on North Sixth.
Then she achieved a distinction no longer within the grasp of folks who have no high school or college degree: She became an attorney. At night, after Woman moving to Knoxville with court papers and ice cream, she attended the private law school run by John R. Neal, the severely eccentric former UT professor who had led the defense team for John Scopes at the famous Dayton monkey trial.
A formidable presence in Knoxville between the wars, Squire Neal produced lawyers with unusual skills. Love passed the bar and got herbut never tried a case. She lived in North Knoxville, in a house on Ashwood Place, but was fond of the outdoors and spent every available weekend at her cottage on family property in the mountains of Polk County, in the southeastern corner of the state.
At public events in the s, she was sometimes the entertainment. In the s, during disputes about the very structure of city government, Love became an advocate for the city-manager style, instituted in the s, and considered a progressive step forward by many.
Taking the day-to-day business of government farther from partisan politics seemed to keep city government cleaner. But it was threatened with a state Legislature move to ban it. Women had had the vote for more than 15 years, but few Knoxville women had run for public office.
One early notable exception was legendary suffragist Lizzie Crozier French herself, who had run for City Council inat the age of She got almost 2, votes, more than some male candidates, but not nearly enough to win an at-large seat.
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Another was Annie Davis, who actually was elected to the state Legislature to represent Knox County for one term in City Council, often contentious and sometimes mean, remained an all-male bastion. In Octoberjust a month before the election, she announced her candidacy for one of five at-large seats. She was 42, single, and ready for a fight. She stood against corruption, which was as common in s Knoxville as soot, and favored raising the hiring standards for city employees.
She ran a thrifty campaign.
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Her friends told Hattie she needed a new hat to get elected. She declined to do so, citing her devotion to economy. As she formally reported later, she did not solicit, or spend, a single penny on her month-long campaign. That November, in a field of 15 candidates for the at-large seats, she received 4, votes, the second-highest tally of the entire field. Cary Spence. She Woman moving to Knoxville a hand in several issues, especially the power agreement that resulted in the Knoxville Utilities Board.
And she led the effort to rename the broad street leading to the Henley Bridge, Henley Street.
It was an old name for a quiet residential street that had been there before, Woman moving to Knoxville things had gotten complicated since the construction of the bridge eight years earlier, and for a while there were two South Broadways, one big, and one little. Her most important and lasting effort was in the field of air-pollution control.
It required participation from industry, but citizens said they could tell a difference. The strangest incident of her term on Council involved a controversial Socialist speaker. David Lasser was president of an organization called the Workers Alliance. He wanted to speak on the subject of the Right to Work. Lasser was a remarkable fellow in several respects. Science-fiction novelist Arthur C. But during the Depression, Lasser became an advocate for the idea that a government owed each of its citizens a good job. Hattie Love, hardly one of the more conservative members, refused.
She had information, she said, that the Workers Alliance was a Communist organization. Nine Council members and an unidentified tenth pitched in to rent the hall for Lasser.
His talk, which turned out to be mainly a defense of the Workers Alliance from charges of Communism, drew some hecklers, and it was overshadowed by the fact that the American flag behind him was hung backwards from the way most folks were used to seeing it. To some progressives, especially TVA employees who had assured Lasser that Knoxville was an enlightend Southern city that would greet him warmly, the incident was embarrassing.
But a few months later, as Congress condemned him as a subversive, Lasser himself reed as president of the Workers Alliance, charging that his own organization was infiltrated with Communists. She stood for re-election six months later, and likely expected to be on Council for at least another term. But there were new candidates and more voters. She returned to her old job at city court clerk, then worked as a secretary to the chief of police in later life—all the while keeping her job as secretary and treasurer of Galo Ice Cream.
She remained a popular speaker in Woman moving to Knoxville s, on subjects from smoke abatement to parliamentary procedure, but was never elected to another public office.
She developed a stomach disorder and died at age After her departure from the assembly, City Council remained a men-only club for almost 30 years. Jack Neely is the director of the Knoxville History Project, a nonprofit devoted to exploring, disseminating, and celebrating Knoxville's cultural heritage. The Scruffy Woman moving to Knoxville surveys the city of Knoxville's life and culture in the context of its history, with emphasis on what makes it unique and how its past continues to affect and inform its future.
Hattie Love: the woman we elected to local government, and then forgot - The Knoxville Mercury. Jack Neely. Share this Post.