Governor James V. Allred Papers
The James V. Allred Collection consists of over 200 boxes of materials dating from 1853 to 1970, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1921 to 1959. The papers consist in large part of letters received by Allred, and of carbon copies of his replies. There are many copies of letters from other individuals as enclosures in letters addressed to Allred. In addition to the correspondence there are vast numbers of documents, drafts, reports, and other working papers relating to and reflecting Allred's activities as attorney, district attorney, attorney general, governor, judge, citizen, civic leader, churchman, and interested observer and participant in the political scene in Texas.
This collection is divided into twelve series: Personal, 1922-1959; Practice of Law, 1921-30; District Attorney, 1923-25; Political Files, 1926-58; Attorney General, 1931-1935; Governor, 1935-39; Practice of Law, 1942-49; Judge U.S. District Court, 1939-1942 and 1949-1959; Clippings and Newspapers, 1923-1970; Miscellaneous Publications, 1935-1947; Appointment Books, 1930-59; Photographs and Memorabilia. With the exception of the first series, which contains primarily biographical and personal materials, the series relate to Allred's career as a politician and lawyer. Series Two and Three document the early career of a lawyer in a small Texas city and reveal the activities of a man who obviously hoped to build a political rather than a legal career. Allred was a candidate for high office in his state six times, three for the office of attorney general, twice for the governorship, and once for a seat in the United States Senate. Four of these campaigns were successful.
Comprehensive, if not complete records of these campaigns are preserved in Series Four. They reveal the nature and extent of the resources and organization necessary to conduct a state wide political campaign, and also suggest the ways in which it was financed.
Especially noteworthy is the vast number of personal contacts that Allred made during his political career. He appeared in every large city in Texas, and in an innumerable number of smaller towns and villages. He replied to literally thousands of letters of approval from every corner of the state, and to people of all walks of life.
Allred established and maintained contacts with many political leaders of his generation, not only in his state, but throughout the United States. The series relating to the years of the attorney generalship not only reflect the activities imposed by law, but also reveals the broad range of activities in which the incumbent has considerable room for initiative.
The Sixth Series, Governor, covers the administrative duties inherent in the office of governor, but more importantly the materials document the wide variety of pressures under which the governor must operate. The letters addressed to him, especially the commendations and complaints, constitute a valuable source of information on public opinion on such matters as law enforcement, crime, liquor regulation, blue laws, gambling, the location of roads, and the impact of growing industrialization on a largely rural state.
The documents in the series relating to the years 1939 to 1942 and 1949 to 1959 throw considerable light on the administration of justice on the federal level in Texas. This collection of legal papers provides insight into how the duties and activities of the federal judiciary relate to individuals, especially those who are involved in drugs, illegal entry into the United States, and other matters covered by federal statutes.
These papers will enable a student of Texas history to document many of its economic, social, and political aspects during the years 1929 to 1959. Allred's correspondents include most prominent men in Texas politics during those years, including many leading lawyers and businessmen, a considerable number of celebrities, and such people on the national scene as Franklin D. Roosevelt, James A. Farley, John N. Garner, Lyndon Johnson, Tom Connally, Sam Rayburn, Cordell Hull, Eleanor Roosevelt, and James Roosevelt.
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234.0 linear feet
James V. Allred was born in Bowie, Texas, on March 29, 1899 to Renne and Mary (Henson) Allred, Sr. He graduated from Bowie High School in 1917 and enrolled at Rice Institute (now Rice University), but withdrew for financial reasons. He served with the United States Immigration Service until his enlistment in the United States Navy during World War I. After the war Allred began the study of law as a clerk in a Wichita Falls law office. In 1921 he received an LL.B. from Cumberland University in Tennessee, and began practicing in Wichita Falls Texas. Allred married Joe Betsy Miller of Wichita Falls on June 20, 1927; they had three sons.
In 1923 Governor Pat M. Neff selected him to fill an unexpired term as district attorney for the Thirtieth Texas District, which included Wichita, Archer, and Young counties. In that office Allred earned a reputation as "the fighting district attorney" for his forthright opposition to the Ku Klux Klan. He was a candidate for the office of state attorney general in 1926 but was defeated by Claude Pollard in a close second-primary vote. In 1930 Allred won the race for the same position by defeating the incumbent, Robert Lee Bobbitt. As attorney general, Allred gained popular approval through a continuing campaign against monopolies and large businesses, and against the efforts of corporations to influence state taxation and fiscal policies.
His activities as attorney general, aided by the Depression-born distrust of large corporations, made him a logical candidate for the governorship of Texas in 1934. His principal Democratic opponents in 1934, both from Wichita Falls, were Tom F. Hunter, regarded as more liberal than the attorney general, and Charles C. McDonald, regarded as the candidate of the Ferguson faction. Allred gained a plurality in the first primary and defeated Hunter by 40,000 votes in the runoff. In addition to attempting to legislate his campaign proposals, the governor devoted this term to cooperating with federal programs designed to combat the Great Depression.
Several significant factors worked in Governor Allred's favor in the election of 1936. He had been commended highly by President Franklin D. Roosevelt for the state's cooperation and performance in the national recovery program, and that recognition had been a factor in causing the national Junior Chamber of Commerce to name Allred "Outstanding Young Man in America in 1935." Moreover, he had secured the enactment of many of his 1934 pledges to the voters of the state. As a result, he polled a majority of 52 percent in the first primary in a field of five candidates and won by a landslide in the general election of 1936.
Late in Allred's second term as governor, his nomination by President Roosevelt to a federal district judgeship was confirmed, and upon the completion of his gubernatorial term, he assumed his position on the bench. He resigned from the judgeship in 1942 to seek the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate, and after his defeat in that race by former Texas governor W. Lee O'Daniel he returned for a time to private law practice in Houston. Senator O'Daniel opposed Allred's appointment to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in 1943. In 1949 President Harry S. Truman returned Allred to the federal bench, where he remained until his death in 1959.
1890 Born, Bowie, Texas. Son of Renne and Marie Magdalone Henson Allred
1917 Graduated from Bowie High School 1918 Rice Institute, Houston, Texas (1 semester)
1918-1919 United States Navy
1921 LLB Cumberland University, Lebanon, Tennessee
1921-1926 Practiced law, Wichita Falls, Texas
1923-1925 District Attorney, Wichita Falls, Archer and Young counties
1926 Candidate for Attorney General of Texas
1926-1930 Practiced law in Wichita Falls, Texas
1927 Married Joe Betsy Miller of Wichita Falls, Texas
1931-1934 Attorney General of the state of Texas
1935-1939 Governor of Texas (2 terms)
1939-1942 Judge, United States District Court, Southern District of Texas
1942 Sought Democratic nomination to United States Senate
1942-1949 Practiced Law, Houston, Texas
1949-1959 Judge, United States District Court, Southern District of Texas
1959 Died in Laredo, Texas, and is buried in Riverside Cemetery, Wichita Falls, Texas
“Allred, James Burr V.” The Handbook of Texas Online. http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/AA/fal42.html Accessed Tue Jun 10 12:26:50 US/Central 2003
Donated by Mrs. James V. Allred, William David Allred, and Sam Houston Allred, 1968.
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In the 2021 Special Collections reparative description project, staff decided to maintain potentially harmful language from original folder descriptions or titles in this finding aid to preserve the historical context of materials.
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- 2021-12-16: As a part of the 2021 Special Collections reparative description project, Brooks Whittaker revised this finding aid’s biographical/historical note for relevance and brevity per current best practices.
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