John Bell (born near Nashville, Tenn. 1797-1869) was an Representative and a Senator from Tennessee. He graduated from the University of Nashville in 1814 where he studied law. In 1816 he was admitted to the bar and commenced practice in Franklin, Tennessee. Bell became a member of the Tennessee state senate 1817 but declined reelection and moved to Nashville. In March 4, 1827 he was elected to the Twentieth Congress and to the six succeeding Congresses. He held the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives during the Twenty-third Congress and chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs throughout the Twenty-first and Twenty-sixth Congresses, except for Twenty-third. In the Twenty-second and Twenty-third Congresses he held a position on the Committee on Judiciary and was appointed by President William Henry Harrison as Secretary of War on March 5, 1841. He held this position until September 12, 1841, when he resigned. Bell became a member of the State house of representatives in 1847. After becoming a member of the Whig, he was elected to the United States Senate in 1847, and reelected in 1853. Bell was a southern Whig, and neglected to join the anti-slavery Republican Party.
In 1860, he ran an unsuccessful bid for the Presidency as a member on the Constitutional Union ticket. After this loss he became an investor in ironworks at Cumberland Furnace in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Bell died at his home on the banks of the Cumberland River, near Cumberland Furnace on September 10, 1869. He was buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery, near Nashville, Tenn.