LEA, Luke (1879-1945)
Senate Years of Service: 1911-1917

LEA, LUKE, (great-grandson of Luke Lea [1783-1851]), a Senator from Tennessee; born in Nashville, Tenn., April 12, 1879; attended the public schools; graduated from the University of the South, Sewanee, Tenn., in 1899 and from the law department of Columbia University, New York City, in 1903; admitted to the bar in 1903 and commenced practice at Nashville; founder, editor and publisher of the Nashville Tennessean; elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate in 1911 and served from March 4, 1911, to March 3, 1917; unsuccessful candidate for renomination in 1916; chairman, Committee on the Library (Sixty-third Congress), Committee to Audit and Control the Contingent Expenses (Sixty-fourth Congress); during the First World War, fought in Europe with an artillery unit and rose to the rank of colonel; returned to Nashville and resumed newspaper interests; appointed to the United States Senate in 1929 to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Lawrence D. Tyson, but declined the appointment; entered into the banking and real estate businesses; died in Nashville, Tenn., on November 18, 1945; interment in Mount Olivet Cemetery, Nashville, Tenn.

Tennessee Historical Society
Nashville, TN
Papers: Miscellaneous items in various collections.

Tennessee State Library and Archives
Nashville, TN
Papers: 1826-1993. Finding aid. Also letters and biographical sketches in various collections.

  • Lea, Luke, edited by William T. Anderson. "The Attempt to Capture the Kaiser." Tennessee Historical Quarterly XX (September 1961): 222-261.
  • Qualls, J. Winfield. "Fusion Victory and the Tennessee Senatorship, 1910-1911." The West Tennessee Historical Quarterly 15 (1961): 79-92.
  • Schlup, Leonard. "Pugnacious Progressive: Senator Luke Lea As a Political Leader From Tennessee In the Wilson Era.'' International Review of History and Political Science 21 (November 1984): 52-66.
  • Tidwell, Cromwell. "Luke Lea and the American Legion.'' Tennessee Historical Quarterly 28 (Spring 1968): 70-83.
  • Tidwell, Mary Louise Lea. Luke Lea of Tennessee. Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1993.