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Special Collections Online at The University of Tennessee

Ray H. Jenkins Papers

Identifier: MPA-0131
This collection houses letters,transcripts, statements, newspaper clippings, records of telephone calls, subpoenas, lists, and photographs documenting Ray Jenkins' participation in the Army-McCarthy Hearings.


  • 1953-1954


21 Linear Feet (21 boxes.)

Biographical/Historical Note

Ray Howard Jenkins (later dubbed the Terror of Tellico Plains by Time magazine) was born on March 18, 1897 to Columbus Sheridan and Amanda Nicholson Jenkins in Unaka, North Carolina. In 1905, the Jenkins family moved to Tellico Plains, Tennessee, where Columbus Jenkins served seven consecutive terms as mayor. Ray Jenkins was educated at Maryville College and at the University of Tennessee, where he earned his LL.B degree in 1920. He was admitted to the Tennessee Bar in 1919, and maintained a practice in Knoxville from 1920 until his death in 1980. During his career, Jenkins defended over 600 people accused of murder without losing a single client to the electric chair, a feat that earned him renown as the king of Tennessee's courtrooms.

Jenkins rose to national prominence in 1954 when he served as special counsel to the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations in the Army-McCarthy hearings. This controversy began in 1953 when Senator Joseph McCarthy, then chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations, accused the Secretary of the Army (Robert Stevens) of covering up foreign espionage activities. The Secretary retaliated, asserting that members of McCarthy's subcommittee had threatened Army officials in order to obtain preferential treatment for a draftee who had once worked for the Committee. The ensuing investigation, which was widely publicized, exonerated McCarthy of the charges against him but censured him for his investigative methods and for his abuse of several Senators and Senate Committees. It was this investigation that marked the end of McCarthy's influence in American government.

Jenkins was married twice: once to Evalyn Lavinia Nash (with whom he had one daughter, Eva Lois), and once to Eva Crouch Tedder. He died in Knoxville, Tennessee on December 26, 1980.

Previous Citation

This collection was previously listed as MS.0953.

Repository Details

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

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA