George Caldwell (Louisiana)
|George A. Caldwell|
August 24, 1892|
Abbeville, Vermilion Parish
|Died||March 12, 1966
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
|Residence||Baton Rouge, Louisiana|
|Religion||Roman Catholic|
(1) Zellie Belle Wahl Caldwell
|Parents||Charlie and Camille LeBlanc Caldwell|
George A. Caldwell, sometimes known as Big George Caldwell (August 24, 1892–March 12, 1966), was a powerful Louisiana contractor who supervised the construction of nine buildings on the campus of Louisiana State University (LSU) in Baton Rouge, including the university library and the structures housing the dairying and physics departments.
Caldwell was born in Abbeville, the seat of Vermillion Parish in south Louisiana, to Charlie Caldwell and the former Camille LeBlanc. He married Zellie Belle Wahl. In the 1930s, he became State Superintendent of Construction; during his tenure he launched work at LSU. Investigations later revealed that Caldwell was keeping 2 percent of the funds budgeted for the LSU construction. Some of this was spent on a lavish mansion, estimated to cost $45,000, then a large amount, which he built near the university.
As both state and federal investigations into the Louisiana Hayride scandal heated up, Caldwell was asked to resign as superintendent. He and his successor were later arrested for violating the Federal Relief Act. Caldwell was later indicted on a number of other charges related to misusing Works Progress Administration funds; Caldwell and his cronies were using federal funds to pay contractors for work conducted at their own homes.
After being convicted of tax evasion and bribery, Caldwell was sentenced in 1940 to four years in a federal prison. In 1941, he was paroled and subsequently pardoned by U.S. President Harry Truman. He married for a second time in 1948, to the former Margaret Longmire.
Caldwell died in Baton Rouge at the age of seventy-three.
- Kane, Harnett Thomas (1971), Huey Long's Louisiana Hayride: The American Rehearsal for Dictatorship 1928-1940, Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Pelican Publishing