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Winfield Dunn Autobiography Manuscripts

Identifier: MS-3213

  • Staff Only

Winfield Dunn's autobiography deals primarily with his campaigns in the 1970 Republican primary and the following gubernatorial race. Dunn provides his political background, which he begins in 1962. It was in this year that Dunn entered the race for a seat in the Tennessee State legislature. In the text, Dunn notes that he entered this race with the intention of not winning: he intended the competition to be his coming out into the Republican Party in Tennessee. This race gave way to his nomination to hold the County Chairman position in the Shelby County Republican Party. Dunn mentions his appreciation for this post, which allowed him to be actively involved in both state and national campaigns. Dunn notes that his political career did not stop following his four years in office, as he was immediately nominated as a delegate to the twenty-ninth Republican National Convention.

As written, Dunn began considering the possibility of running in the Republican Primary for Governor in 1969. Dunn had the encouragement of many prominent Memphis Republicans, and formally declared his intentions on 1970 April 18. Following this proclamation, Dunn was put into a position to fight the well funded and well known Max Jarman. Dunn illustrates the difficulty and strenuous nature of a primary campaign. He was forced to travel around the state making himself known to voters and prominent party members in every corner of Tennessee. Dunn mentions a difficult relationship with East Tennessee Congressman Jimmy Quillen. Dunn notes Quillen's need to involve himself in the business of others, but with his primacy in the state, candidates were forced to appease him. Having raised only $80,000, Dunn was able to capture the Republican nomination for Governor of the State of Tennessee. His statewide campaign was started in September of 1970, and in the November elections, Dunn became Governor elect. Following this victory, Dunn notes conversations with Governor Buford Ellington and the organization of his cabinet. Dunn was sworn in 1971 January 15.

Dunn claims to have written this autobiography in order to illustrate a shift in politics in Tennessee. The state had been historically been run by the Democratic party, so Dunn made it a point to change this domination and through his hard work was able to do just that.


  • undated

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This manuscript describes the political life of former Governor of Tennessee Winfield C. Dunn. The bulk of the text deals with the 1970 Republican Gubernatorial Primary and the subsequent Gubernatorial race in the State of Tennessee.

Biographical/Historical Note

Bryant Winfield Culberson Dunn was born 1927 July 1 in Meridian, Mississippi to Aubert Culberson and Dorothy (Crum) Dunn. Dunn's father served in the United States House of Representatives from 1935 to 1937. Winfield Dunn graduated high school at the end of the 1944 fall term and then enlisted in the U. S. Navy. He was sworn in as Hospital Apprentice First Class in 1945. He served in the Navy for eighteen months and then attended a junior college for one year before being admitted into the University of Mississippi. While at the University of Mississippi, Dunn was president of the Kappa Alpha Order, President of the School of Commerce and Business, chosen as Cadet Colonel of the ROTC, and was admitted into many honor societies. He also met his future wife, Betty Jane Prichard. After graduation Dunn attended dental school at the University of Tennessee, Memphis and then went into practice in Memphis.

Dunn began to involve himself in Republican politics after reading a book by Senator Barry Goldwater in which the author introduces a more conservative approach to dealing with the problems of the United States. Dunn ran for the State Legislature of Tennessee in 1962 but was defeated in democratic West Tennessee. He later held the position of Shelby County Chairman for the Republican Party, in which capacity he was able to show support in Memphis for presidential candidates Barry Goldwater and later Richard Nixon. In 1970, Dunn began his gubernatorial race. Although he was not the favorite, he was able to win the Republican candidacy. Dunn was elected Governor of Tennessee following this campaign and was inaugurated in January of 1971.

Dunn remained active in politics following his term as Governor. He sought election in 1986 but was defeated by Ned McWherter. Dunn served on the Board of Trustees for the University of Tennessee as well as Tennessee State University. He remains active in charitable organizations and in the 2004 Presidential election acted as one of the eleven electoral votes for Tennessee.

Dunn and his wife have three children, Chuck, Gayle, and Julie. Currently, the couple lives in Nashville, Tennessee.


This collection consists of 4 folders.

Acquisition Note

This is the property of the University of Tennessee's Special Collections Library.

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA