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Boyd Anderson Tackett (1911–1985)

Boyd Anderson Tackett was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented the Fourth District of Arkansas in the Eight-First and Eighty-Second Congresses, serving from 1949 to 1953.

Boyd A. Tackett was born near Black Springs (Montgomery County) on May 9, 1911, to John Stark Tackett and Myrtle Sandlin Tackett. As a young boy, he moved with his family to Glenwood (Pike County). He attended Arkansas Polytechnic College (now Arkansas Tech University) in Russellville (Pope County) from 1930 to 1932, as well as Ouachita College (now Ouachita Baptist University) in Arkadelphia (Clark County) during the 1932–33 school year. He graduated from the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1935. Later that same year, he was admitted to the Arkansas bar, and he practiced law in Glenwood, Murfreesboro (Pike County), and Nashville (Howard County). He married Norma Armstrong on April 26, 1936.

While Tackett was still developing his law practice, he made a foray into politics. Running as a Democrat, he won election to the Arkansas House of Representatives, where he served from 1937 to 1941. Tackett followed his time in the legislature with a term as the prosecuting attorney of the ninth judicial district, a post he held starting on January 1, 1941. He enlisted in the armed forces in October 1943, during World War II. Tackett served as a corporal in the U.S. Army Signal Corps until his discharge in November 1944.

Tackett returned to Nashville and resumed his law practice. He also served as state police commissioner from 1945 to 1948. In 1948, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served from 1949 until 1953. In the House, Tackett served on both the Judiciary Committee and the Committee on Patent Revisions. He earned a reputation as a staunch segregationist, being an outspoken opponent of the post–World War II anti-lynching laws that were debated as many returning African-American soldiers sought equal rights in the country they had defended overseas.

After the 1950 census, Arkansas lost seats in the House of Representatives, and in the redistricting that the losses necessitated, Tackett was left without an uncontested district of his own. After assessing the political landscape, he decided that, instead of running against a fellow incumbent, he would instead run for governor in 1952. Seeking to establish himself as the true conservative alternative in the multi-candidate race, Tackett ran a campaign that focused on his opposition to communism, a popular issue at that time, especially in the wake of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s developing crusade. Tackett also emphasized the threat of immigrants to the American way of life. However, garnering just under twenty percent of the vote, Tackett finished third in the Democratic primary behind the incumbent, two-term Governor Sidney McMath, and the eventual victor, Francis Cherry.

He retired from politics, resuming his law practice, this time in Texarkana (Miller County), where he practiced until his retirement in 1980. In 1983, Tackett and his wife moved back to Nashville, where he died on February 23, 1985. Tackett is interred in Restland Memorial Park in Nashville.

For additional information:
“Boyd Anderson Tackett.” Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=T000005 (accessed September 22, 2014).

“Former U.S. Congressman, State Politico Dies at Age 73.” Arkansas Democrat, February 25, 1985, p. 6B.

McMath, Sidney S. Promises Kept. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2003.

William H. Pruden III
Ravenscroft School

Last Updated 10/6/2014

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