Skip Content
U.S. Flag

Kenneth Douglas McKellar: A Featured Biography

Senator Kenneth McKellar of Tennessee

Kenneth Douglas (K.D.) McKellar served in the House of Representatives before becoming the first popularly elected U.S. senator from Tennessee in 1917. Frequently seen sporting pinstriped trousers and a white-edged waistcoat, McKellar was both a sharp dresser and a skilled orator. He served more than three decades in the Senate, ultimately becoming chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee (PDF) and Senate president pro tempore. McKellar secured numerous appropriations for his home state, but he always begrudged the fact that he was not chosen to introduce the Tennessee Valley Authority Act. In 1942, while serving as the Appropriations chairman, McKellar was asked by President Roosevelt to secure funding for the Manhattan Project, which yielded the atomic bomb. Later that same year, he was the subject of a legendary quorum call incident, in which the sergeant at arms physically escorted the senator from his residence to the Senate floor. McKellar lost his 1952 bid for a seventh Senate term to challenger Albert Gore, Sr., and retired to Memphis, Tennessee.

All Featured Biographies