Biographical Sketch of the Creator of the Collection
William Bliss Pine was born in Scott County, Illinois, on December 30, 1877. After graduating from the public schools, he taught for three years before selling farm equipment. Relocating to Chanute, Kansas, he became involved in the oil business. In that capacity, he came to Oklahoma in 1904, settling in Okmulgee in 1909. The William B. Pine Oil Company grew to be a major independent oil producer. By the 1930s, its assets were valued at more than $6 million.
Pine received the Republican Party's U.S. Senate nomination in 1924. John W. Harreld then occupied the state's other Senate seat as a Republican, but his 1920 victory had been regarded as a fluke. Harreld had been the first Republican to carry Oklahoma in a statewide race, but he had faced a badly wounded Democratic opponent during the Warren G. Harding presidential landslide. Pine's luck was even greater. His opponent was the recently deposed governor, John C. Walton. Though impeached and removed by the 1923 legislature, Walton had eked out a plurality to take the Democratic Party Senate nomination. Under those circumstances, Pine won the seat with support from nearly all Republicans and many Democrats, as well.
His political luck proved to be short-lived. After service on the Senate's Appropriations, Banking and Currency, and Indian Affairs committees, Pine had to seek reelection as the shadow of the Great Depression darkened every Republicans' prospects. He lost the 1930 election to Thomas Pryor Gore and returned to Okmulgee and his oil interests. The oil business occupied most of his energies for the remainder of his life. He did bravely carry the GOP's gubernatorial banner in 1934, losing to E. W. Marland. With little more chance for success, he was his party's U.S. Senate nominee at the time of his death, August 25, 1942.
Scope and Content of the Collection
The Pine Collection occupies only 0.5 cubic feet and contains little related to his Senate career. There are a few reprints of Senate speeches and copies of printed materials that he made available to constituents. There also is limited correspondence regarding his opposition to the Federal Reserve System, which he blamed for causing the Depression. Otherwise, the political materials are few and relate to his 1934 and 1942 campaigns.
Most of the collection involves Pine's oil business. The largest and most important materials relate to attempts to unionize the company. In 1937, employees organized by the Oil Workers International Union engaged in a "sit-down" strike that lasted several months. Part of larger efforts by the unions associated with the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), the strike centered on his company's leases in the Seminole oil field. The collection contains legal briefs, newspaper clippings, and National Labor Relations Board materials regarding that strike.