Lee Slater Overman

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Lee Slater Overman
Lee salter overman.jpg
Lee Slater Overman
United States Senator
from North Carolina
In office
1903–1930
Preceded by Jeter Connelly Pritchard
Succeeded by Cameron A. Morrison
Personal details
Born (1854-01-03)January 3, 1854
Salisbury, North Carolina
Died December 12, 1930(1930-12-12) (aged 76)
Washington, D.C.
Resting place Chestnut Hill Cemetery
Political party Democratic

Lee Slater Overman (January 3, 1854 – December 12, 1930) was a Democratic U.S. senator from the state of North Carolina between 1903 and 1930. He was the first US Senator to be elected by popular vote in the state, as the legislature had appointed senators prior to passage of the 17th Amendment to the US Constitution authorizing popular elections of senators. He served the state of North Carolina until 1930 when he died when he was two years into his fifth term of being a senator.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Overman was born in Salisbury, N.C., the son of William H. and Mary E. Slater Overman. He attendd Trinity College (now Duke University), Class of 1874, where he was a member of the Chi Phi Fraternity. After he graduated Trinity College, he taught at Winston-Salem School for two years and then finally earned a Masters of Art from Trinity College.[2]

Career[edit]

He became very close with Zebulon Baird Vance who was a leading opponent of Reconstruction in the State of North Carolina He became one of his personal secretary when Vance was elected governor, which led him into his life in politics.[3] Overman became involved in politics and was first elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives.

In 1914, Overman became the first U.S. Senator from North Carolina to be elected by popular vote, after passage of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution in 1913 standardized popular election of senators. This was the beginning of his time when he was elected for a second term after his first term of six years had expired. In 1902 and 1909, Overman had been appointed to the Senate seat by the state legislature..The biggest reforms that Overman was in favor for was corporate interests and labor reform. Overman’s economic policies made him to lean toward the progressive side.[4]

After the war the senator was active in the investigation of German and Bolshevik propaganda and played a role in bringing on the first Red-Scare that plagued American politics in 1919 and 1920. He was always focused on what was going on inside of the country and how to make peoples lives worry free, meaning that he did not want mass chaos to go on in the United States.This was after the first World War when many innocent men and women were being called in and taken away from their jobs and lives and brought in for questioning and even jailed at some points.[5] He wanted to keep the red-scare contained so people would not catch wind of it and live in fear. He wrote and sponsored the Overman Act of 1918, which gave President Woodrow Wilson extraordinary powers to coordinate government agencies in wartime. Overman chaired a Senate committee after World War I to investigate activities during the first Red Scare, which many see as a precursor to the House Un-American Activities Committee.

In 1922, Overman was one of the leaders of a 1 hour, 45 minute filibuster that helped defeat the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill. In his lengthy speech, he said that the bill was a partisan attempt to solidify the Republican hold on the northern black vote, that the bill had been written by a black person, and that ignorant black people in the South would interpret the bill as permission to "commit the foulest of outrages."[6]

In World War II, the United States liberty ship SS Lee S. Overman was named in his honor.

Overman Committee[edit]

Main article: Overman Committee

Overman chaired the Overman Committee, a subcommittee that investigated foreign propaganda and Bolshevism in the United States during the first Red Scare from 1919 to 1921.He was chosen to head the commission called the Overman Committee by President Woodrow Wilson. After the war the senator was active in the investigation of German and Bolshevik propaganda and played a role in bringing on the so-called Red Scare that plagued American politics in 1919 and 1920 (Beaver). He was always focused on what is going on inside of the country and how to make peoples lives worry free, meaning that he did not want mass chaos to go on in the United States. He wanted to keep the red-scare contained so people would not catch wind of it and live in fear.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Daniel R. Beaver. "Overman, Lee Slater"; http://www.anb.org/articles/06/06-00489.html; American National Biography Online Feb. 2000. Access Date: Wed Mar 19 2014 16:02:12 GMT-0400 (EDT) Copyright © 2000 American Council of Learned Societies. Published by Oxford University Press.
  2. ^ http://www.northcarolinahistory.org/encyclopedia/747/entry
  3. ^ Daniel R. Beaver. "Overman, Lee Slater"; http://www.anb.org/articles/06/06-00489.html; American National Biography Online Feb. 2000. Access Date: Wed Mar 19 2014 16:02:12 GMT-0400 (EDT) Copyright © 2000 American Council of Learned Societies. Published by Oxford University Press.
  4. ^ Daniel R. Beaver. "Overman, Lee Slater"; http://www.anb.org/articles/06/06-00489.html; American National Biography Online Feb. 2000. Access Date: Wed Mar 19 2014 16:02:12 GMT-0400 (EDT) Copyright © 2000 American Council of Learned Societies. Published by Oxford University Press.
  5. ^ Daniel R. Beaver. "Overman, Lee Slater"; http://www.anb.org/articles/06/06-00489.html; American National Biography Online Feb. 2000. Access Date: Wed Mar 19 2014 16:02:12 GMT-0400 (EDT) Copyright © 2000 American Council of Learned Societies. Published by Oxford University Press.
  6. ^ "Filibuster Kills Anti-Lynching Bill", New York Times, December 3, 1922
  7. ^ Daniel R. Beaver. "Overman, Lee Slater"; http://www.anb.org/articles/06/06-00489.html; American National Biography Online Feb. 2000. Access Date: Wed Mar 19 2014 16:02:12 GMT-0400 (EDT) Copyright © 2000 American Council of Learned Societies. Published by Oxford University Press

Further reading[edit]

  • Watson, Jr., Richard L. (July 1959). "Principle, Party, and Constituency: The North Carolina Congressional Delegation, 1917-1919". North Carolina Historical Review 56: 298–323. 

External links[edit]

United States Senate
Preceded by
Jeter Connelly Pritchard
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from North Carolina
1903–1930
Served alongside: Furnifold McLendel Simmons
Succeeded by
Cameron A. Morrison