Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Linn Boyd - Scotch-Irish statesman who was born in Nashville

Linn Boyd was born in Nashville, Tennessee, on 22 November 1800 and he was the son of Abraham Boyd and Elizabeth Linn, who were married in Nashville in 1798.

His grandfather James Boyd was a Virginian who moved to South Carolina and was killed in the struggle for independence.  his father also founght in the Revolutionary War, having enlisted at the age of sixteen.  The Boyd family were of Ulster-Scots descent and Linn's paternal grandmother Martha Burns was related to the Scottish poet Robert Burns.

Linn Boyd moved with his parents to New Design, Trigg County, Kentucky.  At the age of nineteen he was a United States Commissioner and negotiated a treaty with the Chickasaw Indians for land near the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.

He married Alice C Bennett on 20 October 1822 in Paducah in McCracken County, Kentucky, and they had several children.  They included Ward Boyd, who was born in Nashville in 1823, and three more boys who were born in Paducah,  These were Butler Boyd, born in 1824, Linn Boyd Jr, born in 1825, and Felix Boyd, born in 1827.

In 1826 Linn Boyd became a farmer in Calloway County and was elected to the Kentucky state legislature from 1827 to 1832.  He served at the same time as his father, who had been elected from Trigg County.

Linn Boyd moved back to Trigg County in 1834 and was elected to the United States House of Representatives from 1835 to 1837 and then from 1839 to 1855.  Altogether he was a member of Congress for eighteen years, including four years from 1851 to 1855, as speaker of the House.  Linn Boyd was a Democrat and, like Andrew Jackson, stood firmly against the United States banks.  In 1850 he proposed a 'little omnibus' bill, which combined the measure for defining the Texas boundary and the assumption of Texas debt with a proposal to organise the New Mexico territory.

Boyd was married for the second time after the death of his first wife.  His second wife, Anna Rhey Dixon, was a widow and they had one son, Rhey Boyd.

In 1856 Linn Boyd was proposed as a candidate for vice president at the Democratic National Convention but he was unsuccessful.  He was elected lieutenant governor of the state in 1859 but when the Senate convened he was too ill to preside over its deliberations.

He died in Paducah, Kentucky, on 17 December 1859, before he was sworn into office, and was buried in Oak Grove Cemetery.  Boyd County in Kentucky was formed in 1860 and named after him.
  • Belle Stanford, Pioneer History of the Boyd Family: Indianapolis, 1892
  • William Henry Perrin, Counties of Christian and Trigg, Kentucky: historical and biographical: 1884 
  • Holman Hamilton, 'Kentucky's Linn Boyd and the Dramatic Days of 1850', Kentucky Historical Society Register (July 1957)

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