Thomas Dickens Arnold as an American politician that represented Tennessee's second and first districts in the United States House of Representatives. He was born in Spotsylvania County, Virginia on May 3, 1798. He moved with his parents to Knox County, Tennessee in 1808. At the age of fourteen, he enlisted as a drummer boy in the War of 1812. He taught school in Knox and Grainger Counties. He studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1820, and commenced practice in Knoxville, Tennessee.
He was elected as an Anti-Jacksonian by Tennessee's 2nd district to the Twenty-second United States Congress, which had lasted from March 4, 1831 to March 3, 1833. In 1836, he was made a brigadier general of the Tennessee Militia. He moved to Greeneville, Tennessee and was elected as a Whig by Tennessee's 1st district to the Twenty-seventh Congress, which lasted from March 4, 1841 to March 3, 1843. During the Twenty-seventh Congress, he served as chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Claims. He was not a candidate for re-election to the Twenty-eighth Congress. He resumed the practice of law in Greeneville and died while attending court in Jonesborough, Tennessee on May 26, 1870. He was interred in Oak Grove Cemetery in Greeneville.