Walter "Clift" Chandler (October 5, 1887 – October 1, 1967) was an American politician from Tennessee and a Representative for the ninth district of Tennessee.
Chandler was born in Memphis in 1887 to parents of Scots/English descent, William Henry Chandler and Knoxie (Clift) Chandler. He attended public schools before going on to earn his law degree at the University of Tennessee. He taught school, reported for the Knoxville Sentinel.
city attorney of Memphis 1928-1934; delegate to the Democratic National Conventions in 1940 and 1944; elected as a Democrat to the Seventy-fourth, Seventy-fifth, and Seventy-sixth Congresses and served from January 3, 1935, until his resignation on January 2, 1940, having been elected mayor of Memphis; reelected mayor in 1943 and served until September 1, 1946; resumed the practice of law; temporary president, Tennessee constitutional convention, in 1953; mayor of Memphis in 1955 for unexpired term
A member of the Tennessee General Assembly, Chandler served in the Tennessee state house of representatives in 1917. He served as a captain in the One Hundred and Fourteenth Field Artillery, Thirtieth Division, American Expeditionary Forces, from July 25, 1917, to April 19, 1919, during World War I. and then was a member of Tennessee state senate from 1921 to 1923. He married Dorothy Wyeth on October 10, 1925.
Chandler was elected U.S. Representative from Tennessee 9th District, and served from January 3, 1935 to January 2, 1940, when he resigned. He was mayor of Memphis, Tennessee, from 1940 to 1946, and served in that capacity again in 1955. He was also a delegate to the Democratic National Convention from Tennessee in 1940 and 1944.
Although supported by the E. H. Crump machine, Chandler made significant contributions to the world on his own. He was the author of Chapter 13 bankruptcy legislation. He filed the original suit in Baker v. Carr, the U.S. Supreme Court case that argued against Tennessee's status quo of seldom changing the boundaries of congressional districts, even though population growth in urban areas far outstripped the growth in rural areas. By 1960, the district lines had not been redrawn since 1900 despite a provision in the Constitution of Tennessee requiring them to be redrawn every 10 years. In some cases one state representative district might be more populous by a factor of ten than another, more rural district. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Baker, viewing the case not as one of legislative jurisdiction, but as a case of insuring each individual's right to equal representation.
Chandler was considered a sensitive and thoughtful man by some, and that he retired from politics in disappointment after E. H. Crump failed to support him for a senate seat. Chandler was an active and contributing member of the West Tennessee Historical Society. His recollections of early life in Memphis provide one of the clearest and most lucid pictures of Memphis at the turn of the 20th century.
Chandler died in Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee, on October 1, 1967 (age 79 years, 361 days). He is interred at Forest Hill Cemetery, Memphis, Tennessee. He died in the same year his son, future mayor Wyeth Chandler, was elected to the first Memphis City Council. His son served as Mayor of Memphis from 1972 until 1982 and later as a judge.