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Senator John Holmes Overton

John Holmes Overton was an American politician, U.S. Congressman (1931-1933), and 3-term U.S. Senator representing the state of Louisiana (1933-48).

Biographical fast facts

Date and place of birth: September 17, 1875, Marksville, Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana, U.S.A.

Date and place of death: May 14, 1948, Bethesda Naval Hospital, Bethesda, Maryland, U.S.A.

Wife: Ada Ruth Dismukes (m. 1905)
Wedding took place in Natchitoches, Louisiana, U.S.A.

Children *
Son: John Holmes Overton, Jr. (b. February 7, 1914 - d. October 23, 1946)

Daughters: Katharine Overton (b. December 1, 1910 - d. October 31, 1988)
Ruth Overton (b. December 31, 1912 - d. August 27, 1973)
Mary Elizabeth Overton (b. December 19, 1916 - d. September 6, 1988)

Father: Judge Thomas Overton (b. March 26, 1835 - August 14, 1913)
Mother: Laura Elizabeth (Waddill) Overton (b. March 17, 1845 - d. October 27, 1937)

Burial site: Mount Olivet Cemetery, Pineville, Rapides Parish, Louisiana, U.S.A.

Error corrections or clarifications

* Note that some sources erroneously report Senator Overton had only three children. As noted above, he actually had four.
Also, some sources erroneously spell his daughter's name "Katherine" instead of Katharine.


John H. Overton's name first appeared in U.S. census records on the June 15th, 1880, census in the household of his parents, Thomas Overton and Laura Elizabeth Waddill, at Marksville, Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana. He graduated from Louisiana State University (LSU) at Baton Rouge in 1895, received his law degree from Tulane University in 1897, and was admitted to the Louisiana bar in 1898. He then commenced the practice of law in Alexandria, Louisiana. In 1929, he was engaged to serve as chief counsel for Governor Huey P. Long's successful defense against impeachment. Overton even served as a member of the board of supervisors of his alma mater, Louisiana State University.

His service in the U.S. Congress resulted from the need to fill a vacancy caused by the death of James B. Aswell. This led to his serving as the representative from Louisiana's 8th District from May 12th, 1931, to March 3rd, 1933. Overton then set his sights on the United States Senate. He won the Senate seat in 1932, but election irregularities caused the Senate Committee on Elections to investigate. They returned a report which condemned the political conditions in Louisiana but made no specific recommendations in regard to Senator Overton's victory. Regardless, he went on to serve from March 4th, 1933, until his death on May 14th, 1948. After his reelection in 1938, he announced he would retire at the end of his second term. He later reconsidered his decision when he was asked to run again by the Louisiana state Democratic party and dozens of his fellow Senators.

Senator Overton was a Mason, and a traditional Southern segregationist, who was once quoted as saying, "the Democratic South stands for White supremacy." Over the course of his senate career, he served as chairman of the Appropriations Committee's subcommittee on the District of Columbia, and the Appropriations Committee's subcommittee on Navy Appropriations. During his final term in office he served on the Committee on Commerce, Committee on Irrigation and Reclamation, and was chairman of the Committee on Manufactures.

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