Entrepreneurs in the Age of
David Kennedy arrived in Fink, Tennessee, in 1842 to start a dry goods store. Within a few years, his reputation for solid business practices led to his election to the board of directors of the Fink branch of the powerful Bank of Tennessee, and he eventually resigned to form his own bank, the Bank of Northern Tennessee. He continued to run a prosperous but uneventful business until April 11, 1861. On that day, the South Carolina “fire-eater” Edmund Ruffin touched off a cannon fuse that opened bombardment on Fort Sumter, igniting at the same time the bloodiest conflict in American history. For the next four years, while war raged, Kennedy's banking business experienced swings as the Confederacy attempted to persuade Kennedy to support the new nation with his bank's gold (he would not) and then as Union troops took Clarksville. As federal troops drew near, Kennedy loaded whatever gold he could carry on his horse and made his way through Mississippi to a point that he could catch a steamer to New Orleans. There, he transferred the bank's assets to safety in an account in England. After the war, he withdrew the assets and shipped the specie from England to Tennessee, where he reopened the bank, one of the few in the entire South to survive the war.