John H. Overton

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John H. Overton
John Overton.jpg
United States Senator
from Louisiana
In office
March 4, 1933 – May 14, 1948
Preceded by Edwin S. Broussard
Succeeded by William C. Feazel
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Louisiana's 8th district
In office
May 12, 1931 – March 3, 1933
Preceded by James B. Aswell
Succeeded by Cleveland Dear
Personal details
Born John Holmes Overton
(1875-09-17)September 17, 1875
Marksville, Avoyelles Parish
Louisiana
, U.S.
Died May 14, 1948(1948-05-14) (aged 72)
Bethesda, Maryland
Resting place Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Pineville, Louisiana
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Ada Ruth Dismukes Overton
Relations Overton Brooks (nephew)
Children Katharine Overton
Ruth Overton
John H. Overton Jr.
Mary Elizabeth Overton
Alma mater Louisiana State University
Tulane University

John Holmes Overton Sr. (September 17, 1875 – May 14, 1948), was an attorney and Democratic United States representative and U.S. senator from Louisiana. His nephew, Thomas Overton Brooks, was also a congressman—from the Shreveport-based fourth district of Louisiana.

Early and family life[edit]

Born in Marksville in Avoyelles Parish, Overton was the youngest son of Judge Thomas Overton and the former Laura Waddill. His great-uncle was General and U.S. Representative Walter Hampden Overton. Another distant relative was Thomas Overton Moore, the governor of Louisiana during the American Civil War.

Overton graduated in 1895 from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and in 1897 from Tulane University Law School in New Orleans, where his classmates included the future state Attorney General Bolivar Edwards Kemp Jr., and the state representative E. L. Stewart of Minden in Webster Parish. Tulane listed Overton as a resident of Opelousas in St. Landry Parish.[1]

In 1905, Overton married the former Ada Ruth Dismukes of Natchitoches, they had three daughters, Katharine (1910–1988), Ruth (1912–1973), and Mary Elizabeth (1916–1988), and a son, John H. Overton Jr. (1914–1946).

Career[edit]

Overton was admitted to the Louisiana bar in 1898, he established a law practice with four partners in Alexandria and was the city attorney as well. He was a member of the LSU Board of Supervisors.

In 1918, Overton ran for the U.S. Senate but was defeated by Edward J. Gay of Plaquemine in Iberville Parish near Baton Rouge.

Overton became a staunch supporter of Huey Long, and served as Long's counsel in the impeachment proceedings against the governor in the spring of 1929.

I've supported every governor that has been elected in Louisiana for twenty-five yeas, all on promises that they have made to the people. Not one of them has been able or, if able, willing to carry out what was expected of him, the present governor is throwing out of office the clique that all other governors promised to throw out. He is backed to the wall in his efforts to redeem his campaign pledges.[2]

In 1931, Overton was elected to fill the since defunct Louisiana's 8th congressional district seat in the United States House of Representatives which had been vacated by the death of Representative James B. Aswell of Natchitoches. Overton served in the House for just under one term: from May 12, 1931, to March 4, 1933. Overton failed inhis first bid for the U.S. Senate in 1918.

In 1932, Overton unseated the two-term U.S. Senator Edwin S. Broussard of New Iberia for the Democratic nomination, then equivalent to election in Louisiana. Overton was warmly endorsed by Huey Long, who then became his Senate colleague. Six years earlier, Long had helped Broussard turn back a challenge from the conservative former Governor Jared Y. Sanders Sr., but the two had long since parted political alliances. In his autobiography, Every Man a King, Long notes that Overton won all sixty-four parishes against Broussard, including the incumbent's on Iberia Parish. Long said that Overton had "always been very kind to me. [He] let me speak in his meetings every time he ran for the Senate."[3]

Despite his lopsided loss, Broussard alleged fraud and voter irregularities. A Senate investigating committee held months of hearings beginning in February 1933, but Overton was nevertheless seated without opposition on the then first day of the congressional session on March 4, as a senator Overton generally voted with the Conservative coalition of Midwestern Republicans and Southern Democrats, much as Broussard had done.

Overton was reelected in 1938 and 1944, as has been traditional with incumbent Democratic senators in Louisiana, his committee memberships included Appropriations, Manufactures, Commerce, and Irrigation and Reclamation. His chief area of interest was in flood control and river and harbor development.

Overton attempted to withdraw from reelection race in 1944. However, his Louisiana colleague, Allen J. Ellender, circulated a letter urging him to run. The letter was signed by all of the then Senate Democrats.

Death and legacy[edit]

Overton's last term was cut short by his death at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, his remains were buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Pineville in Rapides Parish. In 1985, his house in Alexandria was added to the National Register of Historic Places . In 1998, Overton was posthumously inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield.[4]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ May 17, 1897. The Register of Tulane University. p. 28. Retrieved March 13, 2015. 
  2. ^ Huey Long, Every Man a King: The Autobiography of Huey P. Long (New Orleans: National Book Club, Inc., 1933), p. 149.
  3. ^ Huey Long, Every Man a King: The Autobiography of Huey P. Long (New Orleans: National Book Club, Inc., 1933), p. 314.
  4. ^ "Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame". cityofwinnfield.com. Archived from the original on July 3, 2009. Retrieved August 22, 2009. 

External links[edit]


U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
James B. Aswell
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Louisiana's 8th congressional district

1931–1933
Succeeded by
Cleveland Dear
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Edwin S. Broussard
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Louisiana
1933–1948
Served alongside: Huey Long, Rose McConnell Long, Allen J. Ellender
Succeeded by
William C. Feazel