Thomas Hart Benton
PHOTO: Library of Congress
County Seat: Camden
Counties are usually named for one person. But Benton County is named for two people who never met each other and weren’t related to each other but who happened to have the same last name. Originally, it was named for Thomas Hart Benton, a Missouri senator who once got in a fight with Andrew Jackson. But in 1852 the Tennessee legislature passed a bill that kept the county’s name but made it clear that it was, from that point onward, officially named for a citizen of the Benton County named David Benton. Why? Because at the time, Senator Benton had become a very vocal critic of slavery, which was offensive to many slaveholding people in Tennessee.
By the way, Benton County, Tennessee, isn't the only place where something such as this occurred. There used to be a Benton County in Alabama, but hatred of Thomas Hart Benton resulted in that county being renamed Calhoun County. (For more about this, read pages 239 through 243 of Lies Across America by James Loewen).
A pearl, straight out of the Tennessee River
Shifting to geography, Benton County is also the site of the only freshwater pearl farm in North America. Click here
to take our virtual tour of the Tennessee River Pearl Farm.
Here's the Benton County Courthouse.