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John H. Overton

John H. Overton
United States Senator
from Louisiana
In office
March 4, 1933 – May 14, 1948
Preceded by Edwin S. Broussard
Succeeded by William C. Feazel
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Louisiana's 8th district
In office
May 12, 1931 – March 3, 1933
Preceded by James B. Aswell
Succeeded by Cleveland Dear
Personal details
Born John Holmes Overton
(1875-09-17)September 17, 1875
Marksville, Avoyelles Parish
Louisiana, USA
Died May 14, 1948(1948-05-14) (aged 72)
Bethesda, Maryland
Resting place Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Pineville, Louisiana
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Ada Ruth Dismukes
Children Katharine Overton
Ruth Overton
John H. Overton, Jr.
Mary Elizabeth Overton
Alma mater Louisiana State University
Tulane University

John Holmes Overton (September 17, 1875 – May 14, 1948) was an attorney and Democratic United States representative and U.S. senator from Louisiana. His nephew, Thomas Overton Brooks, was also a congressman—from the Shreveport-based Fourth District of Louisiana.

Life and career

Born in Marksville in Avoyelles Parish, Overton was the youngest son of Judge Thomas Overton and the former Laura Waddill. His great-uncle was the politician Walter Hampden Overton. He graduated from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge in 1895 and Tulane University Law School in New Orleans in 1897, where his classmates included the future state Attorney General Bolivar Edwards Kemp, Jr., and the state representative E. L. Stewart of Minden in Webster Parish. Tulane listed Overton as a resident of Opelousas in St. Landry Parish.[1]

Overton was admitted to the Louisiana bar in 1898. He established a law practice with four partners in Alexandria and was the city attorney as well. He was a member of the LSU Board of Supervisors. In 1905, he married the former Ada Ruth Dismukes of Natchitoches, and they had three daughters, Katharine (1910-1988), Ruth (1912-1973) and Mary Elizabeth (1916-1988), and a son, John H. Overton, Jr., (1914–1946).

In 1918, Overton ran for the U.S. Senate but was defeated by Edward J. Gay of Plaquemine in Iberville Parish. Overton became a staunch supporter of Huey Pierce Long, Jr., and served as Long's counsel in the impeachment proceedings against the governor in 1929.

He was elected to Congress to fill the Eighth District U.S. House seat vacated by the death of Representative James B. Aswell of Natchitoches. He served in the House for slightly less than one term: from May 12, 1931, to March 4, 1933.

In 1932, he ran successfully for the U.S. Senate. He defeated the incumbent Edwin S. Broussard of New Iberia for the Democratic senatorial nomination, then equivalent to election in Louisiana. Broussard charged fraud and voter irregularities. A Senate investigating committee held months of hearings beginning in February 1933. Overton was nevertheless seated without opposition on the then first day of the congressional session, March 4. As a senator Overton generally voted with the conservative coalition of Midwestern Republicans and Southern Democrats.

Overton was reelected in 1938 and 1944, as has been traditional with incumbent Democratic senators in Louisiana. His committee memberships included Appropriations, Manufactures, Commerce, and Irrigation and Reclamation. His chief area of interest was in flood control and river and harbor development.

Overton attempted to withdraw from reelection race in 1944. However, his Louisiana colleague, Allen J. Ellender, circulated a letter urging him to run. The letter was signed by all Democrats then in the Senate.

Overton's last term was cut short by his death at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. His remains were buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Pineville in Rapides Parish. His house in Alexandria was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. In 1998, Overton was posthumously inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield.[2]


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External links

  • Cemetery Memorial by La-Cemeteries
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
James B. Aswell
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Louisiana's 8th congressional district

Succeeded by
Cleveland Dear
United States Senate
Preceded by
Edwin S. Broussard
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Louisiana
Served alongside: Huey Long, Rose McConnell Long, Allen J. Ellender
Succeeded by
William C. Feazel
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