Edward Ward Carmack


Induction Year:1969





Columbia Herald; Nashville American; Nashville Democrat

The Commercial Appeal, Memphis; The Tennessean, Nashville


Edward Ward Carmack was a writer, orator, lawyer, congressman, and editor whose habit of boldly expressing his opinions on public questions led to his assassination. He is the last Tennessee editor to be slain and the only one to be memorialized by a statue on the state capitol grounds.

Carmack was born in Sumner County, attended school in Maury County, and went on to read law and be admitted to the bar in 1879. He practiced law in Columbia, served in the state legisiature, and became editor of the Columbia Herald in 1884.


He moved to Nashville in 1886 and worked on the Union-American, then founded the Nashville Democrat. Those papers merged, and Carmack went to Memphis and became editor of the Commercial. Under his direction the Commercial merged with the Appeal-Avalanche, and Carmack became editor of the Memphis Commercial Appeal.


He left that paper and ran for Congress against the candidate the Commercial Appeal supported. He won by a narrow margin. He was re-elected to the House for a second term and in 1901 was elected to the Senate. In the House and Senate he was known for his fiery attacks on American imperialism before and after the Spanish-American War. He was defeated for re-election in 1906 and ran unsuccessfully as a "dry" candidate for governor.


Carmack was named editor of the Nashville Tennessean and continued his blistering editorial attacks against the governor, bringing about a bitter dispute with Duncan Cooper, a friend of the governor's. As a result of these editorials he was shot and killed by Cooper on November 9, 1908.

Carmack was considered "a good writer, a brilliant speaker, a great editor of the old-fashioned type." He is ranked among the most influential men the state.