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1909-1915 Thomas Clarkson Thompson

TC Thompson 1909(Lived September 21, 1860 – March 21, 1938)

In 1860, T.C. Thompson’s father, Hugh Smith Thompson, was commander of South Carolina’s military college, The Citadel, and there, on September 21, T.C. Thompson was born.  Hugh Thompson served as South Carolina’s governor from 1882 to1886. 

T.C. Thompson  moved to Chattanooga in 1893 as a representative for the Atlanta Manufacturing Company.  In 1898, Thompson became manager of the National Life Insurance Company for Tennessee.  Thompson was very active in civic organizations, especially the Civitan Club.

Elected mayor in 1909, T.C. Thompson appointed a committee, consisting of several former mayors and current business leaders, to petition the state legislature to change Chattanooga’s city government from a Board of Aldermen to a city commission system.  When established, this system meant that no longer did each ward within the city elect a representative to the Board of Aldermen, but all citizens voted for just five commissioners to oversee the city government.  In 1911, the commission form of government changed the term of service for a mayor to four years. 

After adoption of the new commission system, the election cycle changed to have the commissioners and mayor elected in April of each year.  Mayor Thompson’s first term was cut short with the change in voting procedures. However, he was re-elected mayor in April 1911 and served the first four-year term of any Chattanooga mayor. In 1912, Mayor Thompson oversaw the establishment of Warner Park.

At the end of his second term, Thompson did not seek re-election.  In 1917, Thompson became a civilian aid to the Adjutant General of Fort Oglethorpe and served in the position for two years.  After returning to private business, Thompson’s lifelong interest in improving the lives of children continued, and he worked to establish a children’s hospital.  Working through the Civitan Club, Thompson privately raised funds for the hospital before asking the city and county to issue $250,000 in bonds for the project.  During the construction of the eighty-nine bed Children’s Hospital, Thompson insisted that distinction not be made in patient areas so that those without means were not separated into “charity wards.” 

T.C. Thompson served on the board of the Childrens’ Hospital until his death in 1938.  Six years later, the board of trustees voted to change the name of the hospital to the T.C. Thompson Childrens’ Hospital.

Photo by Phillip Stevens and Matt Lea