Morris Sheppard

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Morris Sheppard
Sheppard morris.jpg
United States Senator
from Texas
In office
February 3, 1913 – April 9, 1941
Preceded by Rienzi M. Johnston
Succeeded by Andrew J. Houston
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 1st congressional district
In office
March 4, 1903 – February 3, 1913
Preceded by Thomas H. Ball
Succeeded by Horace Worth Vaughan
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 4th congressional district
In office
November 15, 1902 – March 3, 1903
Preceded by John Levi Sheppard
Succeeded by Choice B. Randell
Personal details
Born John Morris Sheppard
(1875-05-28)May 28, 1875
Morris County, Texas
Died April 9, 1941(1941-04-09) (aged 65)
Washington, D.C.
Resting place Hillcrest Cemetery
Texarkana, Texas
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Lucille Sanderson
Relations Connie Mack III (grandson)
Connie Mack IV (great-grandson)
Richard S. Arnold (grandson)
Morris S. Arnold (grandson)
Children Three daughters
Parents John Levi Sheppard
Margaret Alice Eddins
Residence Texarkana, Texas
Alma mater UT Austin Law School
Yale Law School
Profession Attorney
Religion Methodist

John Morris Sheppard (May 28, 1875 – April 9, 1941) was a Democratic United States Congressman and United States Senator from Texas. He authored the Eighteenth Amendment (Prohibition) and introduced it in the Senate, so that he is referred to as "the father of national Prohibition."[1]


John Morris Sheppard was born in Morris County in east Texas, the oldest of seven children, to lawyer and later judge and United States Representative John Levi Sheppard, and his wife, the former Margaret Alice Eddins.[2]

Through his mother Margaret, Morris was a direct descendant of Robert Morris (1734–1806) who had signed the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the United States Constitution.[2]


Sheppard enrolled at the University of Texas at Austin in 1891 and received his B.A. degree from there in 1895, as well as his LL.B. from University of Texas School of Law in 1897. It was while enrolled at UT-Austin Law School that Sheppard became a member of the Methodist Church. He was also a close friend and classmate of future Governor of Texas Pat Neff and future U. S. Senator Tom Connally while at the University of Texas School of Law.[3] In 1898, he received his LL.M. from Yale University.[4]

He began practicing law with his father in Pittsburg, Texas and later Texarkana.

Public service[edit]

In 1902, Morris Sheppard was elected as a Democrat to replace his deceased father in the United States House of Representatives. He held a seat until his resignation in 1913, when he succeeded in his bid to fill a vacancy in the Senate.[2]

Sheppard held his Senate seat until his death in Washington, D.C. in 1941, serving as Democratic whip between 1929 and 1933. Future U.S. President and then-representative Lyndon B. Johnson ran unsuccessfully for Sheppard's Senate seat in the special election in 1941 called after Sheppard's death.

Legislative agenda[edit]

As Senator, Sheppard sponsored progressive reform legislation promoting rural credit programs, child labor laws, and antitrust laws. He was also an advocate of Women's suffrage in the United States.[2]


During his tenure, he was a vocal supporter of the temperance movement. He helped write the Webb–Kenyon Act (1913) to regulate the interstate shipment of alcoholic beverages, authored the Sheppard Bone-Dry Act (1916) to impose prohibition on the District of Columbia, introduced the Senate resolution for the Eighteenth Amendment establishing national prohibition, and helped write the Volstead Act which provided for its enforcement.

However, during the Prohibition era, a still that produced 130 gallons of moonshine per day was discovered on a Texas ranch that Sheppard owned.[5]

When a resolution calling for a Twenty-first Amendment to repeal prohibition was introduced to the Senate by John J. Blaine, Sheppard filibustered it for eight-and-a-half hours. However, he was not helped by a single Dry Senator and he relented, the motion passing by 63 votes to 23.[6]

Sheppard–Towner Maternity and Infancy Protection Act of 1921[edit]

Co-sponsored by Morris Sheppard and Horace Mann Towner, the Sheppard–Towner Act of 1921 provided Federal matching funds for services aimed to reduce maternal and infant mortality. The funding included: midwife training; visiting nurses for pregnant women and new mothers; distribution of nutrition and hygiene information; health clinics, doctors and nurses, for pregnant women, mothers and children.[7]

Federal Credit Union Act of 1934[edit]

Senator Morris Sheppard and Congressman Wright Patman are considered the fathers of the Federal Credit Union Act of 1934. Sheppard was the act's author. The bill had stalled in the United States House of Representatives considerably shortening the time the Senate had to pass the final version. Rather than sending the bill to a Conference Committee, Sheppard asked the United States Senate to pass the bill unanimously without reading the bill or the amendments. The bill passed the Senate unanimously.[8] The Morris Sheppard Credit Union in Texarkana, Texas carries the Senator's name, while the institution's local credit union chapter is named after Congressman Patman.[9]

Personal life[edit]

On December 1, 1909, Sheppard married Lucille Sanderson. The couple had three daughters. Sheppard and his wife were the grandparents of Connie Mack, III, Republican U.S. Senator from Florida, and great-grandparents of Connie Mack IV, Republican U.S. Representative from Florida. Other Sheppard grandsons were Democrat Richard Sheppard Arnold (1936–2004) and Republican Morris Sheppard "Buzz" Arnold (born 1941), judges on the United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas. The federal courthouse in Little Rock is named in Judge Richard Arnold's honor. Judge Morris Arnold, a Republican, remains on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit under senior status.


Senator Sheppard died in office of a brain hemorrhage on April 9, 1941. He is interred at Hillcrest Cemetery in Texarkana, Texas.[10]

The year following Sheppard's death, Lucille Sanderson Sheppard, married United States Senator from Texas, Tom Connally.[4] Senator Connally also pre-deceased Lucille. When she died in 1980, she was buried with her first husband Morris Sheppard in Hillcrest Cemetery.[11]

Fraternal memberships[edit]


  1. ^ Brown, Norman D. (1984). Hood, bonnet, and little brown jug: Texas politics, 1921–1928. Texas A&M University Press. p. 226. ISBN 0-89096-157-3. Retrieved October 17, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d Bailey, Richard: John Morris Sheppard from the Handbook of Texas Online. Retrieved 17 July 2010. Texas State Historical Association
  3. ^ Blodgett, Dorothy, Terrell Blodgett, and David L. Scott (2007). The Land, the Law, and the Lord: The Life of Pat Neff. Home Place Publishers Publishing. p. 19. ISBN 978-0-9761152-2-9. 
  4. ^ a b Guttery, Ben (2008). Representing Texas: a Comprehensive History of U.S. and Confederate Senators and Representatives from Texas. BookSurge Publishing. p. 138. ISBN 978-1-4196-7884-4. 
  5. ^ From Ken Burns's documentary Prohibition, episode 2 ("A Nation of Scofflaws"), circa 1:16:00.
  6. ^ From Ken Burns's documentary Prohibition, episode 3 ("A Nation of Hypocrites"), circa 1:30:00.
  7. ^ "Sheppard-Towner Maternity And Infancy Protection Act – 42 Stat. 224 (1921)". Retrieved 17 July 2010. 
  8. ^ "Federal CU Act Passes: 1934". Credit Union Magazine (Credit Union National Association Inc) (18 Nov 2008). 
  9. ^ "History-Morris Sheppard Texarkana Federal Credit". Retrieved 17 July 2010. 
  10. ^ "Grave of Morris Sheppard". Find a Grave. Retrieved 17 July 2010. 
  11. ^ "Grave of Lucille Sanderson Sheppard Connally". Find a Grave. Retrieved 17 July 2010. 

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
John Levi Sheppard
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 4th congressional district

Succeeded by
Choice B. Randell
Preceded by
Thomas H. Ball
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 1st congressional district

Succeeded by
Horace Worth Vaughan
United States Senate
Preceded by
Rienzi M. Johnston
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Texas
Served alongside: Charles Allen Culberson, Earle B. Mayfield, Tom Connally
Succeeded by
Andrew J. Houston