A Governor for Tennessee

Historical Marker # 1333 marks the birthplace of Albert Smith Marks, the twenty-fourth governor for Tennessee.

Born in Daviess County, Kentucky, Marks lived in Kentucky until he was nineteen years old. In 1850, at age fourteen, Marks’s father passed away. Marks promptly quit school in order to be the head of the household. Five years later, he left Kentucky for a relative’s law office in Tennessee. After studying law, Marks was admitted to the Tennessee bar in 1858.

Although Marks was staunchly against secession, he enlisted in the Confederate Army when Tennessee withdrew from the Union. Initially elected captain, Marks was later promoted to colonel of the Seventeenth Tennessee Infantry. In December of 1862, at the Battle of Stones River at Murfreesboro, he was wounded while leading a charge, which resulted in the amputation of his right leg. When he finally recovered, Marks served as a judge advocate to the staff of General Nathan Bedford Forrest until the end of the war.

After the Civil War, Tennessee, the first state readmitted into the Union after the war, was the only former Confederate state to not have a military governor installed during Reconstruction. Like the rest of the south, as well as Kentucky, civil unrest spread throughout the state. Marks went back to law after the war, and gained the reputation as one of the most brilliant lawyers in the state. Because of this, he was convinced to enter politics and run a governor for Tennessee, of which he won in 1878. However, problematic state issues, including civil unrest and debt, were so troublesome that Marks declined to run for a second term. Instead, he returned to his law practice, although he stayed involved to some degree in politics after his term ended. For example, in 1888, Marks was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention held in St. Louis, Missouri.

Albert Smith Marks died at the Maxwell House Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee on November 4, 1891. He is buried in the Winchester City Cemetery.