J. Oscar Humphrey

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
J. Oscar Humphrey
Arkansas State Auditor
In office
1937–1956
GovernorCarl Edward Bailey
Homer Martin Adkins
Benjamin Travis Laney
Sid McMath
Francis Cherry
Orval Faubus
Preceded byCharles E. Parker
Succeeded byCarleton Harris
Arkansas State Auditor
In office
1929–1935
GovernorHarvey Parnell
Junius Marion Futrell
Preceded byJ. Carrol Cone
Succeeded byCharles E. Parker
Personal details
Political partyDemocrat
Children1
ResidenceDeQueen, Arkansas

J. Oscar Humphrey was a politician from Southwest Arkansas. He served as the Arkansas State Auditor from 1929–1935 and 1937–1956, despite having both arms amputated above the elbow due to a sawmill accident as a child.[1]

Early life[edit]

Humphrey was raised in DeQueen, Arkansas on his father's farm. When he was six, a farm accident mangled Humphrey's arms, requiring amputation above the elbow. He learned to write by placing a pen between his stub arm and his cheek, and was an avid hunter and fisherman despite his disability.[2] His father died when he was fifteen, leaving Humphrey to provide for his mother and sibling. He completed two years of college while teaching school to pay for tuition.

He taught school for twelve years before winning election as Sevier County Assessor and later Sevier County Treasurer.[3]

Auditor[edit]

Humphrey defeated Ralph Thomas of Little Rock and Roy Hand of Yellville in the Democratic primary in August 1928. During the Solid South period, winning the Democratic primary was tantamount to election for almost every office in Arkansas.[4]

The Auditor had a staff of eleven in 1928, ten of which were new appointments by Humphrey.[5]

In his role as Auditor, Humphrey also had an ex-officio board seat on the Confederate Pension Board. Much of Humphrey's first term in office involved devising and implementing a plan to remove undeserving Confederate pensioners from the rolls "plainly not entitled to" benefits following a bill in the 47th Arkansas General Assembly.[6] State Senator Brewer claimed the bill's real purpose was retaliation against Humphrey for failing to reappoint State Senator Walter W. Raney's niece to the Auditor's Office.[7]

In 1929, the Auditor's office was drawn into controversy regarding the Hall Net Income Tax Law. Two members of the Arkansas House of Representatives were listed by Revenue Commissioner David A. Gates as employees of his department. Arkansas Attorney General Hal L. Norwood issued decisions that the representatives were barred from collecting salary from state government service outside their constitutional office. Though initially seeking to remain neutral,[8] Humphrey later refused to certify the representatives' paychecks,[9] and the issue was sent to the Arkansas Supreme Court.[10]

Act 298 of 1929 required poll taxes to be paid by any adult citizen before obtaining state licenses or state funds, requiring the Auditor's Office to coordinate with county clerks extensively.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Staff of the Journal-Advance (September 2, 1927). "Armless Man Asks No Odds". [Gentry] Journal-Advance. 33 (51). Gentry. p. 1 – via NewspaperARCHIVE.
  2. ^ Staff of the Blytheville Courier News (September 1, 1928). "Arkansans Conquer Physical Afflictions to Rise in Politics". Blytheville Courier News. 25 (142). Blytheville. p. 3 – via NewspaperARCHIVE.
  3. ^ Oscar Humphrey (August 7, 1928). "Promote a Man With a Record for Public Service [Campaign Advertisement]". Blytheville Courier News. 25 (121). Blytheville. p. 4 – via NewspaperARCHIVE.
  4. ^ Staff of the Blytheville Courier News (September 1, 1928). "Arkansans Conquer Physical Afflictions to Rise in Politics". Blytheville Courier News. 25 (142). Blytheville. p. 3 – via NewspaperARCHIVE. Both won their nominations at the last primaries over a large field of veteran candidates; and since the democratic nomination in Arkansas is almost invariably equivalent to election, their friends are taking it as a foregone conclusion that the men will take office next winter.
  5. ^ Staff of the Fayetteville Daily Democrat (December 6, 1928). "Many Office Changes Booked for January 1". Fayetteville Democrat. 35 (13). Fayetteville: Democrat Publishing Company. p. 1 – via NewspaperARCHIVE.
  6. ^ Staff of the Fayetteville Daily Democrat (June 14, 1929). "Few Names to Be Dropped from Confederate List; Board in Session Today". Fayetteville Democrat. 35 (175). Fayetteville: Democrat Publishing Company. p. 1 – via NewspaperARCHIVE.
  7. ^ Staff of the Associated Press (March 1, 1929). "State Building Program Comes Before House". Blytheville Courier News. 25 (293). Blytheville. p. 1 – via NewspaperARCHIVE.
  8. ^ Staff of the Associated Press (August 6, 1929). ""Quit Meddling," Gates to Norwood". Blytheville Courier News. 26 (116). Blytheville: The Courier News Company. p. 1 – via NewspaperARCHIVE.
  9. ^ Myers, Arnold (September 6, 1929). "Litigation may Solve Eligibility of Solons for Other State Jobs". Fayetteville Daily Democrat (Evening Edition). 35 (219). Little Rock: Democrat Publishing Company. p. 4 – via NewspaperARCHIVE.
  10. ^ Staff of the Fayetteville Daily Democrat (April 1, 1930). "Income Suit is Heard in High Court". Fayetteville Daily Democrat (Evening Edition). 36 (116). Little Rock: Democrat Publishing Company. p. 5 – via NewspaperARCHIVE.