Biographical Sketch of the Creator of the Collection
Born in Clarksville, Arkansas, on February 27, 1892, Paul Stewart moved with his family to Indian Territory in 1897. Despite having only four years of formal education, he commenced work at the age of thirteen as a newspaper printer and reporter. In 1910 he moved his mercantile business to Haworth, where he studied law by correspondence and was admitted to the Oklahoma Bar in 1915. One year earlier, he had become postmaster of the town. In 1929 he moved to Antlers and became owner and editor of the Antlers American.
Stewart's 1922 election as a Democrat to the Oklahoma State House of Representatives initiated his rise in politics. He made a name for himself as chair of the committee investigating a controversy surrounding the liquidation of failed state banks. In 1926 he won a seat in the state senate, where he became the powerful chair of the Committee on Roads and Highways (1927), the Democratic floor leader (1929-1930), chair of the Committee on Education (1931), president pro tempore (1933-1935), and, briefly, the acting governor. During this time he earned the title "Sage of the Kiamichis." In the late 1930s and early 1940s, he focused on anti-strike legislation and served as a member of a state legislative committee investigating supposed communist subversives at the University of Oklahoma.
In 1942, Stewart defeated sixteen-year incumbent Wilburn Cartwright in the Democratic primary for the Oklahoma's Third District congressional seat and later won the general election. He became a member of the House Military Affairs Committee but concentrated more on introducing social security reform and anti-strike bills during and just following World War II. Stewart was reelected in 1944.
Claiming ill health, Stewart withdrew from the 1946 race and retired from Congress. He returned to Antlers where he continued to publish the Antlers American. He died on November 13, 1950.
Scope and Content of the Collection
The Paul Stewart Collection contains approximately 1.5 cubic feet of material which dates primarily from 1922 to 1946, the years Stewart served in the state and national legislatures. There are a few financial documents from 1947 and 1948 concerning Stewart's ranch. Several scrapbooks contain newspaper clippings concerning the 1923 state bank probe, 1920s and 1930s state politics, the 1928 national election, state education, state highways and highway commission, labor, the investigation of communists at the state's universities, and other state and personal topics from 1922-1940. Information from Stewart's years in Congress is mainly contained in correspondence. Most of this correspondence consists of outgoing letters. Topics include Wilburn Cartwright's career and Stewart's bid to oust him, labor and anti-strike legislation, complaints against the Office of Price Administration, the Fair Employment Practices Act of 1945, flood control, and the Social Security Bill of 1943. These letters have been arranged by topic, but there are several folders labeled "Correspondence-General."
The length and depth of Paul Stewart's elected career, coupled with the brevity of this material, suggests that the Paul Stewart Collection is only a partial record. Stewart's family donated these materials to the University of Oklahoma after the congressman's death.
A folder-level inventory is available for this collection. For more information on the archival holdings, please contact the
Carl Albert Center.