Ed Jones

UT Martin*, ’32; UT Knoxville, ’34

Ed Jones


It was once said by a conservative newspaper writer in Memphis, “If you ever wanted to check the pulse of Tennessee’s 8th Congressional District, check the pulse of Ed Jones.”

Jones, a democrat of Yorkville, Tennessee, served as U.S. congressman for Tennessee’s 7th and later 8th Congressional districts from 1969-1989. In Washington, Jones was known as “Mr. Agriculture.” At home, he was affectionately known as “Mr. Ed.” A political giant in his time, Jones placed the highest value on constituent services. Unlike many politicians, he not only published his home number in the phone book but would surprise callers when he would answer the phone.

Jones served 20 years in the House of Representatives, ultimately serving as the second-ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, where he chaired the conservation, credit and rural development subcommittee. Many of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s program authorities today were authored by Jones in the areas of soil and water conservation, farm and rural business credit, commodities trading, rural development and agricultural trade.

Jones was born in 1912. He attended UT Junior College* at Martin and later the University of Tennessee. He served as Tennessee commissioner of agriculture from 1949 to 1953 and was elected to the House in 1969 in a special election. Jones’ papers from his years in the House are housed in the UT Martin library’s special collections, and a distinguished lectureship series has hosted former U.S. secretaries of agriculture, members of Congress and various agricultural leaders. Jones died in 1999.

Part of the Tennessee Alumnus100 Distinguished Alumni feature.

—Anthony Haynes (Martin ‘88) is UT vice president for government relations and advocacy.

*UT Martin was known as UT Junior College from 1927 to 1951.