A Virginia native, Huntsman resided in all three grand divisions of the state, settling in Knoxville, Overton County, and Madison County. He served five terms in the state senate, one term in Congress, and was an influential member of the 1835 constitutional convention.
Huntsman was among the most colorful personalities in antebellum Tennessee. Despite losing his leg, he never lost his sense of humor. It was an essential ingredient in his political writings and speeches, sprinkled with Biblical references and selections from Aesop's Fables. It brought him personal popularity in courtrooms and on the campaign trail, where he never lost a race for public office.