William Cocke, U.S. Senator

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William Cocke

Birthdate: (80)
Birthplace: Amelia County, Virginia
Death: August 22, 1828 (80)
Colombus, Lowndes County , Mississippi, United States
Place of Burial: Friendship Cemetery Columbus Lowndes County Mississippi
Immediate Family:

Son of Abraham Cocke and Mary Cocke
Husband of Mary Cocke and Grizel Cocke
Father of Gen. John Alexander Cocke, US Congress; Mariah Martha Jane Buckingham; Stephen Cocke; Sterling Cocke, Capt., Judge; Elizabeth Jack and 3 others
Brother of Martha Lacy; Elizabeth Sydnor; Stephen Cocke; Peter Cocke; Mary Ellis and 3 others

Occupation: Lawyer, politician, frontiersman
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About William Cocke, U.S. Senator

William Cocke (1748 – August 22, 1828) was an American lawyer, pioneer, and statesman. He has the distinction of having served in the state legislature of four different states: Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Mississippi, and was one of the first two United States senators for Tennessee.


from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Cocke

William was born in Amelia County, Virginia in 1748. He was the sixth of ten or eleven children of Abraham (c.1695–1760) and Mary (Batte) Cocke. William was educated at home before reading law. He was admitted to the bar in Virginia and engaged in a limited law practice.

Cocke spent more time on the frontier than he did in a law office. He was involved in exploration in the company of Daniel Boone, seeing much of what was to become eastern Kentucky and East Tennessee. He was elected a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses and a colonel of militia; in 1776, he led four companies of that militia into to what became Tennessee for action against the Indians. Later that year, he left Virginia and moved to what was to become Tennessee. During the attempted organization of the State of Franklin, Cocke was elected as the would-be state's delegate to the Congress of the Confederation.

In 1796, Cocke was chosen as a delegate to the convention that wrote the first Tennessee state constitution. The newly formed government then selected Cocke to be one of the new state's initial senators, along with William Blount. Cocke and Blount then presented their credentials to the United States Senate on May 9, 1796. The Senate refused to seat Cocke and Blount while they debated the admission of Tennessee into the Union. When Tennessee was finally admitted on June 1, the issue of Cocke and Blount's seating was again raised. The Federalist Senate held by a narrow margin (11–10) that Cocke and Blount's election was illegal because it had occurred without Congressional authorization. The Tennessee legislature duly reselected Cocke and Blount on August 2.

His initial term expired on March 4, 1797. However, the Tennessee General Assembly initially neglected to elect a Senate successor to Cocke; he was subsequently appointed to the post in his former seat by governor of Tennessee John Sevier on April 22, 1797, until the General Assembly belatedly elected his successor, Andrew Jackson. Later, he was elected by the Tennessee Assembly to the other U.S. Senate seat, serving in it from March 4, 1799 to March 4, 1805.

Cocke was appointed a judge of the First Judicial Circuit of Tennessee in 1809. He later resigned this position and moved to Mississippi. There, he was elected to the state legislature in 1813. He briefly returned to military duty, serving under Andrew Jackson in the Creek War. In 1814, he was appointed by President James Madison to be Indian agent to the Chickasaw nation; he died in Columbus, Lowndes County, Mississippi, in 1828 and is buried there, in Friendship Cemetery.

Cocke County, Tennessee is named in his honor. His son John Alexander Cocke (1772–1854) was a four-term U.S. Representative from Tennessee; his grandson, William Michael Cocke (1815–1896), was a two-term U.S. Representative from Tennessee.

General in Revolutionary War. Delegate to TN state constitutional convention, 1796. US Senator, 1796-97, 1797, 1799-1805. Circuit judge, 1809-12. General in the U.S. Army during the War of 1812. Member of Mississippi state legislature, 1822.




"COCKE, William, (father of John Cocke and grandfather of William Michael Cocke), a Senator from Tennessee; born in Amelia County, Va., in 1748; pursued preparatory studies; studied law; was admitted to the bar and practiced; in company with Daniel Boone explored the territory of eastern Tennessee and western Kentucky; successfully led four companies of Virginians against hostile Indians in 1776 in Tennessee; member, Virginia house of burgesses and a colonel of militia; moved to Tennessee in 1776; member of the State constitutional convention in 1796; upon the admission of Tennessee as a State into the Union was elected to the United States Senate and served from August 2, 1796, to March 3, 1797; was appointed his own successor, as there had been no election by the legislature, and served under this appointment from April 22, 1797, to September 26, 1797, when a successor was elected; again elected to the United States Senate as a Republican and served from March 4, 1799, to March 3, 1805; appointed judge of the first circuit in 1809; moved to Mississippi, and was elected to the Mississippi legislature in 1813; served under Gen. Andrew Jackson in the War of 1812; was appointed by President James Madison as Indian agent for the Chickasaw Nation in 1814; died in Columbus, Miss., on August 22, 1828 and interred in that city."

[Source: Biographical Data of the United States Congress, Retrieved July 7, 2002 from http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=C000572]

"William Cocke studied law before moving to Washington County, Virginia, in 1769. After serving in Dunmore's War, he went to Kentucky with the party that settled Boonesborough. He returned to the Watauga settlement and participated in the Cherokee Campaign, but was accused of cowardice and suspended from office. In 1777, however, he was sent to the Virginia Assembly. During 1780 he was an ensign (or captain) and was in the battle at Kings Mountain. He was also in the battles at Long Island Flats and Fort Thicketty. When the state of Franklin was created, he was sent to Washington on its behalf. Next, he was made brigadier-general in the militia of Tennessee and in 1796 was one of the state's first elected federal senators. He was reelected in 1799. In 1809 he was a circuit judge for Tennessee and was later a member of the state legislature. In 1812 he moved to Columbus, Mississippi, and upon the outbreak of the War of 1812 he volunteered as a private. Cocke was appointed Cherokee Indian Agent in 1814. His son, John Ellis Cocke, married Sarah Stratton."

[Source: Moss, Bobby Gilmer. The Patriots at Kings Mountain. Blacksburg, SC: Scotia-Hibernia Press, 1990, p. 50-51.]

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William Cocke, U.S. Senator's Timeline

September 6, 1747
Amelia County, Virginia
December 7, 1772
Age 25
Brunswick, Nottoway, Virginia, United States
Age 26
Age 37
March 1787
Age 39
June 15, 1789
Age 41
Hawkins Co, TN
Age 44
Age 50
Age 52