The Biggs Machine

Old Time Politics in Polk County, Tennessee

Retail Price: $29.95

For the first half of the 20th Century in Polk County, Tennessee, Sheriff Burch Biggs reigned supreme. From 1904 to 1948, the political machine of Biggs was built upon three pillars—election fraud, police brutality, and graft—and while it is true that Biggs was not the first (or last) American sheriff to permit “fee-grabbing”, take kickbacks, or stuff the ballot box, the duration and brutality of his tenure makes him exceptional.

Biggs was elected sheriff eight times, and when he was out of office, one of his two sons served in his place. The Biggs Machine tells the story of Burch Biggs, his corrupt empire, and how it all came crashing down following World War II.

Extensively researched, including interviews with Polk Countians who lived during the Biggs regime, The Biggs Machine presents the true story of how “absolute power corrupts absolutely”, and a cautionary tale to prevent history from repeating itself.

Proceeds from the sale of this book will also help other communities and organizations preserve their history through Our American Heritage Project, a non-profit organization.
About The Author

Tyler L. Boyd  Tyler L. Boyd’s first book, Tennessee Statesman Harry T. Burn: Woman Suffrage, Free Elections and a Life of Service(2019), was selected for the Tennessee State Museum’s 2020 Book Club, won the Award of Distinction from the East Tennessee Historical Society, and the Award for Historic Preservation from the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. His second book, Nellie Kenyon: Trailblazing Tennessee Journalist, was published in 2022. Boyd studies history, civics, economics, geography, a Learn More about Tyler L. Boyd

“Tyler Boyd’s The Biggs Machine is the fascinating account of Burch Biggs, the influential and notorious sheriff and politician from Polk County, Tennessee. Set in the turbulent years of the Great Depression, The Biggs Machine is a complex and often sordid story of the ambition, corruption, and violence that characterized the politics of a remote county in southeast Tennessee and is a must read for those interested in Southern history in general and small town politics in particular.”

-—Dr. Robert Barnett, Distinguished Professor of History, Lee University

The Biggs Machine tells the previously untold story of government corruption spanning decades. The rise and fall of this fierce political machine had ramifications and impact felt throughout Tennessee, not just Polk County. It is thoroughly enjoyable and historically accurate, yet sensitive to societal and political concerns that are still in play today. Boyd took on the tough task of bringing all the details together that tell this story, good and bad. History buffs and folks concerned with our political system will love it.”

-—Adrian Lambert, Executive Director, Tennessee Overhill Heritage Association

“The atrocities committed in Polk County by the Biggs’ Democrat Machine have lain silent far too long. Tyler Boyd’s book finally tells a story that is long overdue, and the people of this region owe a great debt to him for finally exposing the many outrages that occurred during those years when Polk County was controlled by that machine.”

-—Carroll L. Ross, former Circuit Court Judge for the 10th Judicial District of Tennessee

Book Details
Author: Tyler L. Boyd
Pages: 368 pages
Product Dimensions: 6" x 9"
ISBN: 978-1-956027-52-5
Cover Type: Hardcover
Case Quantity:

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