Oscar K. Allen

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Oscar K. Allen
Oscar K. Allen.jpg
42nd Governor of Louisiana
In office
May 10, 1932 – January 28, 1936
Lieutenant John B. Fournet
Preceded by Alvin Olin King
Succeeded by James A. Noe
Louisiana State Senator from Caldwell, Grant, La Salle, and Winn parishes
In office
1928 – 1928[1]
Preceded by Henry E. Hardtner
Succeeded by James L. Anderson
Personal details
Born (1882-08-08)August 8, 1882
Winn Parish, Louisiana
Died January 28, 1936(1936-01-28) (aged 53)
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Resting place Winnfield City Cemetery
Political party Democratic
Alma mater Trinity University
Profession Teacher
Religion Baptist
The O.K. Allen Building at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette is shown under renovation in 2011. It is a former food service building that now houses business administration.

Oscar Kelly Allen, Sr. (August 8, 1882 – January 28, 1936), also known as O. K. Allen, was the 42nd Governor of Louisiana from 1932 to 1936. He was a key stooge in the political machine of Huey Pierce Long, Jr., that dominated the state during the first half of the 1930s.

Allen succeeded Alvin Olin King, who served briefly in the state's highest office after Long left the governorship to take a seat in the United States Senate.

Youth, early life and family[edit]

Allen was born in a log cabin in Winn Parish to Asa Levi Allen and the former Sophronia Perkins. He attended Winn Parish schools, the Springfield Normal School and Business College in Springfield, Missouri, and Trinity University, a private institution then in Waxahachie, Texas, south of Dallas in Ellis County. (Trinity is now in San Antonio.)

Allen taught school in Winn Parish in 1898 and later in Mineral Springs, Texas, and Pleasant Hill in Sabine Parish. In 1908, he was an assistant registrar at Trinity. Thereafter, he worked at times in farming, railroads, the mercantile business, and in oil drilling.

Allen married the former Florence Scott Love of Paris, the seat of Lamar County, Texas, on December 4, 1912. They had three children: Joyce Love (Mrs. Frederick J. Stare), Oscar Kelly Allen, Jr. (born 1915), and Asa Benton Allen (born 1925)

Governor of Louisiana[edit]

Allen took an early, active interest in politics and civic affairs. He was elected tax assessor in Winn Parish and served from 1916-1920. He was the clerk of the Winn Parish Police Jury (equivalent of county commission in other states) from 1924-1927. He was elected to the Louisiana state Senate in 1928 in the wake of Long's landslide victory in the gubernatorial election. He defeated the anti-Long incumbent, Henry E. Hardtner of La Salle Parish, who was also a former Republican. Allen was Long's floor leader in the Senate and was named by the governor as the chairman of the Louisiana Highway Commission from 1928 until 1930, when the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled that holding both legislative and executive positions simultaneously was unconstitutional.

Allen was elected governor in the shadow of Huey Long, who had relocated to Washington, D.C., to assume his senatorial duties. Allen was a stooge to carry through Long's wishes; there is one story, undoubtedly false but valuable for the perception of Allen that it demonstrates, that a leaf blew into Allen's office one day and that he signed it, thinking it was legislation from Long.

Elected with Allen was Huey Long's choice for lieutenant governor, John B. Fournet of Jefferson Davis Parish. Fournet actually defeated Long's younger brother, Earl Kemp Long, who had the support of most Long family members despite Huey's support for Fournet.

Allen signed into law Louisiana's popular homestead exemption, legislation pushed to passage by State Senator W. Scott Heywood of Jennings, who earlier had been the first to discover oil in his adopted Jeff Davis Parish.[2]

Death and honors[edit]

Allen died in the governor's mansion of a brain hemorrhage. At the time of his death, he was the Democratic nominee for Long's vacated seat in the United States Senate. He had won the Senate nomination with an unprecedented 200,000-vote plurality, but he did not live to assume the office, which went thereafter to Allen J. Ellender of Houma, the seat of Terrebonne Parish.

Allen is honored by the O.K. Allen Bridge across the Red River between Alexandria and Pineville.

Allen Hall on the Louisiana State University Campus, is named in his honor.

O.K. Allen Hall on the University of Louisiana (Lafayette) campus is named in his honor.

Allen is the subject of the Lead Belly blues tune, "Governor OK Allen Blues".

His younger brother, Asa Leonard Allen, represented the former Eighth Congressional District, based in central Louisiana, in the United States House of Representatives from 1937-1953.

In 1993, Allen was posthumously inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield, along with the two Long governors, Huey and Earl.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Louisiana State Senate records show Allen as a senator only in 1928, but he actually served unconstitutionally until 1930, when the Louisiana Supreme Court struck down his right to hold both legislative and executive offices simultaneously.
  2. ^ "Heywood, Walter Scott". Louisiana Historical Association, A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography. Retrieved January 30, 2011. 

External links[edit]

"Oscar K. Allen," A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography, Vol. I (1988), p. 10

Political offices
Preceded by
Alvin Olin King
Governor of Louisiana
1932–1936
Succeeded by
James A. Noe