Date of Award

1989

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

History

First Advisor

Mark T. Carleton

Abstract

This dissertation is a study of Robert Floyd Kennon, reform governor of Louisiana, from 1952-1956. Kennon was born on August 21, 1902, near Minden, Louisiana. He received his bachelor's degrees from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge in Liberal Arts and Law in 1923 and 1925, respectively. In 1925, he began the practice of law in Minden, and was elected as mayor of the town at age twenty-three. Five years later, he sought and won, the office of District Attorney, for the Twenty-Sixth Judicial District, a position he held for ten years. He was a staff officer in Europe during World War II, then returned home, where he served as a judge on the state Court of Appeal, Second Circuit, and on the Louisiana Supreme Court. In 1948, Kennon ran for the coveted spot of governor, but lost. Undaunted, he next sought a seat in the United State Senate, but lost again. In 1952, he finally won the governor's seat, after waging a brilliantly orchestrated campaign. Kennon promised good-government reforms which would redistribute power and resources for societal benefit. He pledged efficiency in the management of state government. The conservative reformer Kennon carried out his campaign pledges of reorganizing the Budget Office by consolidating the offices of Auditor and Supervisor of Public Funds. He secured constitutional status for the statewide civil service system. His administration established citizen boards to control and supervise the spending of the departments of welfare, highways, and institutions. All voting precincts received voting machines. Kennon helped to create a legislative council for bill drafting and analysis. He instituted prison reforms and closed statewide organized gambling and slot machine operations. The governor assured more independence to laborers by signing the "Right-to-Work" law. Governor Kennon reduced taxes and encouraged new industry. He left a surplus of over $61 million.

Pages

393

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