Lewis Ernest Sawyer (1867–1923)
Lewis E. Sawyer was born in Shelby County, Alabama, on June 24, 1867, to Virginia L. Sawyer (maiden name unknown); his father’s name is unknown. He moved with his family to Lee County, Mississippi, where he received his early formal education in the local public schools. He graduated from the University of Mississippi at Oxford. Sawyer studied law and was admitted to the Mississippi bar in 1895. Soon afterward, he opened a private practice in Friars Point, a once prosperous town on the shores of the Mississippi River that had struggled economically after the Civil War.
Shortly after starting his practice, he got involved in politics and became mayor of Friars Point in 1896. Sawyer held that office until June 1898, when he enlisted in the U.S. Army in order to serve in the Spanish-American War, becoming part of the First Tennessee Infantry. Sawyer’s war service was spent in the Philippine Islands, where the American forces quickly dispatched the Spanish opposition. Sawyer was back in the United States in 1900. At about that time, he married Sarah Miller; they had two daughters.
After the war, he relocated to Iuka, Mississippi, where he resumed the practice of law. In 1908, Sawyer moved to Arkansas, settling in Hot Springs (Garland County). There, he opened a new law practice. Once he had fully established his practice, Sawyer returned to the political arena, winning election to the Arkansas House of Representatives, where he served for two sessions, in 1913 and 1915. Well regarded by his colleagues, he held the post of speaker of the House in his second year in the legislature. Leaving the Arkansas House after his stint as speaker, he returned to private practice until 1922, when, running as a Democrat, he was elected to the Sixty-Eighth Congress, beginning his term on March 4, 1923. However, his congressional career was short-lived, for he died suddenly on May 5, 1923, in Hot Springs.
Sawyer is interred in Hollywood Cemetery in Hot Springs.
For additional information:
“Congressman Sawyer Dies While Seated in Hot Springs Clubroom.” Arkansas Democrat, May 6, 1923, p. 1.
“Lewis E. Sawyer Expires Suddenly.” Arkansas Gazette, May 6, 1923, p. 1.
“Lewis Ernest Sawyer.” Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=S000090 (accessed September 14, 2021).
Moore, Maurice. “L. E. Sawyer: Hot Springs’ Only Congressman.” The Record 34 (1993): 21–23.
William H. Pruden III
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