Cecil Morgan

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Cecil Morgan, Sr.


Louisiana State Senator
for Caddo Parish
In office
1932–1934
Preceded by William Pike Hall, Sr.

John M. Wynn

Succeeded by Roscoe C. Cranor

Louisiana State Representative
for Caddo Parish
In office
1928–1932
Preceded by Reuben T. Douglas

Perry Keith
Marion K. Smith
John M. Wynn

Succeeded by P. T. Alexander

William J. B. Chandler
Joseph B. Hamiter
Rupert Peyton


Born August 20, 1898
Omaha Indian Reservation in Nebraska
Died June 14, 1999 (aged 100)
New Orleans, Louisiana.
Resting place Magnolia Cemetery in Baton Rouge
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) Margaret Gettes Morgan
Children Cecil Morgan, Jr.

Margaret Morgan Harbison
Parents:
Howell and Thisba Hutson Morgan

Alma mater Louisiana State University Law Center
Religion Episcopalian

Cecil Morgan, Sr. (August 20, 1898 – June 14, 1999), was a Standard Oil Company executive who served in both houses of the Louisiana state legislature. He was the leader of the state representatives who in 1929 impeached Governor Huey Pierce Long, Jr.

Morgan was born on the Omaha-Winnebago Indian Reservation in northeastern Nebraska. His father, Howell Morgan (1863-1952), was at the time an employee of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and a great-grandfather was Richard Howell, a governor of New Jersey. When Cecil was about six years of age, Howell Morgan purchased the family home, Linwood Plantation, located approximately twenty miles north of the capital city of Baton Rouge and proceeded to renovate it. Howell Morgan, meanwhile, became involved in politics and was elected state treasurer in 1920 on the Democratic ticket of successful gubernatorial candidate John Milliken "Gravel Roads" Parker (1863-1939),[1] a former member of Theodore Roosevelt's Progressive Party.

Morgan graduated from Louisiana State University Law School in Baton Rouge in 1919 and moved to Shreveport in northwestern Louisiana, to engage in the area petroleum boom. He wanted to succeed on his own without his father's assistance. In 1921, Huey Long, also practicing law in Shreveport, asked Morgan to become his law partner. Morgan declined on the grounds that "I didn't think he was ethical." While attending Louisiana, he also joined Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity. Morgan was elected as a Democrat in 1928 to the Louisiana House of Representatives for Caddo Parish. In the same election, Long was chosen governor. Morgan soon found himself at odds with the self-designated "Kingfish" of Louisiana politics. The attempt to impeach Long touched off fistfights on the state House floor. Anti-Long elements were horrified when Long seized power and spent state funds in questionable ways. For Morgan, Long's plan to impose a nickel per barrel tax on oil refined in Louisiana was the breaking point. A legislative group known as the "Dynamite Squad," whose members were from old aristocratic families and friendly with the Old Regulars faction in New Orleans, drafted nineteen allegations against Long.[1]

Among other infractions, Long was accused of attempting to arrange the murder of state Representative Jared Young Sanders, Jr. (1892-1960) , the son of a former governor, Jared Sanders, Sr. (1869-1944), whom Long grappled with earlier in the lobby of the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans; bribing lawmakers to get bills approved; carrying concealed weapons; demolishing the previous governor's mansion without proper authorization, and; attending a drunken party in which a stripper entertained.

Morgan was assigned by the "Dynamite Squad" to read the charges before the House. When word of the plan leaked out, pro-Long forces tried to adjourn the House for the day. Speaker John B. Fournet of St. Martinville in south Louisiana, selected for the post by Long himself, ruled that the motion for adjournment had majority support. Morgan and others in the anti-Long faction loudly objected. They claimed that the voting machine was rigged. To his death, Fournet denied any involvement in a plot to rig the machines. Then a brawl known thereafter as "Bloody Monday" broke out on the House floor. Some lawmakers reportedly used brass knuckles in the scuffle. Morgan rounded up witnesses for a hearing on the charges against Long. The House voted to impeach the Kingfish on eight counts.[1]

However, Long persuaded fifteen of the thirty-nine state senators (one more than one-third of the membership needed to defeat an impeachment) to sign a "Round Robin" document declaring that under no circumstances would they ever vote to convict Long of any violation. The so-named "Round Robin" sealed the fate of the anti-Long forces, and Long finished his term as governor.[1] In 1930, he even unseated U.S. Senator Joseph Eugene Ransdell (1858-1954) of Lake Providence in East Carroll Parish, but Long did not take the senatorial oath until 1932, having preferred to finish out his gubernatorial term.

In an interview years later the Public Broadcasting Service, Morgan said that he did not consider Long to be "thoroughly evil" and should be commended for his free-textbooks program. But he recalled "'Everything he did cost more than it should have. … it was necessary for the state for somebody with his qualities to come forward, and I think he muffed it. … He left us with a heritage from which we have not recovered."[1]

Another Long legacy is the current state capitol, which was dedicated in 1932. But the castle-like Old State Capitol held greater emotional ties to Morgan because it was the site of the impeachment and because Hickey House, his family's ancestral home was located on the site. It was sold in 1845 and donated to the state.[1]

Morgan was elected at-large in 1927 to the Louisiana House of Representatives for Caddo Parish. He was elected in 1931 to the state Senate, but he left the legislature for good in 1934 to become a judge. He soon left the judgeship and he became general counsel for Standard Oil in the Shreveport office. In 1943, he was named a vic e president of the company board of directors. Thereafter, he was named associate general counsel and vice president of Esso Standard Oil Co (now Exxon). In 1952, he became the chairman of the Standard Oil board for public affairs and head of the company government relations department.

From 1944 to 1948, Morgan served on the Louisiana Civil Service Commission. He received the Monte E. Lemann Award from the Louisiana State Civil Service League. Morgan retired from Standard Oil in 1963, when he turned sixty-five. For five years thereafter, he was the dean of the Tulane University Law School. Tulane later honored Morgan with an honorary doctorate. He was instrumental in the organization of the Public Affairs Research Council, headed by the conservative figure Edward J. Steimel. He was a member of the American Law Institute, the American Legion, International House and the Boston, Metropolitan and Economic clubs. [1]

Morgan died in New Orleans at the age of one hundred. His funeral was held in the chapel of Trinity Episcopal Church at 1329 Jackson Avenue in New Orleans. He and his wife are interred at Magnolia Cemetery in Baton Rouge[2]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Joel Manuel. Cecil Morgan. Findagrave.com. Retrieved on October 27, 2020.
  2. The New Orleans Times-Picayune, June 17, 1999.