Chep Morrison

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deLesseps Story
"Chep" Morrison, Sr.​


In office
April 4, 1946​ – July 17, 1961​
Preceded by Robert Sidney aestri​
Succeeded by Victor H. Schiro

Louisiana State Representative
for Orleans Parish​
In office
1940​ – 1946
Preceded by James A. Lindsay
Succeeded by Joseph L. Paizza

Born January 18, 1912​
New Roads, Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana​
Died May 22, 1964 (aged 52) ​
Ciudad Victoria, Mexico
Resting place Metairie Cemetery in New Orleans
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) Corinne Adele Waterman Morrison (married 1942-1959, her death)​
Relations Jacob Haight Morrison, IV (half-brother)​
Children deLesseps "Toni" Morrison, Jr. (1944–1996)

Corinne Ann Morrison
(born 1947)
Randolph Waterman "Randy" Morrison (1956–1964)​
Parents:
Jacob Haight, III, and Anita Oliver Morrison

Alma mater Poydras Academy

(New Roads) Louisiana State University
​ LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center​ (Baton Rouge)

Occupation Attorney

United States Army
Major General
in World War II

Religion Roman Catholic

DeLesseps Story Morrison, Sr., known as Chep Morrison (January 12, 1912 – May 22, 1964),[1] was the mayor of New Orleans, Louisiana from 1946 to 1961 who made three unsuccessful Democratic campaigns for governor, losing in 1956 to Earl Kemp Long, in 1960 to Jimmie Davis, and in 1964 to John J. McKeithen.

Background

Morrison was born in New Roads in Pointe Coupee Parish in east Louisiana, a son of Jacob Haight Morrison, III (1975-1929), the district attorney for the 18th Judicial District,[2] and the former Anita Oliver.[3][4] whose years of birth and death are unavailable. He graduated from Poydras Academy in New Roads and in 1932 from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Two years later he received his law degree from the LSU Law Center. In the Great Depression, Morrison became a trial attorney with the New Deal agency, the National Recovery Administration.[5]

In 1936, Morrison began a legal partnership with his half-brother Jacob Haight Morrison, IV, and Hale Boggs, later the long-term U.S. Representative for Louisiana's 2nd congressional district. Boggs' wife and successor in the House, Corinne Claiborne "Lindy" Boggs (1916-2013), was a cousin of Chep Morrison.[5][6]

On October 3, 1942, the 30-year-old Morrison married Corinne Adele Waterman (1921-1959) of New Orleans. She died a few months before he launched his 1959 gubernatorial campaign. The couple had three children: deLesseps Story “Toni” Morrison , Jr. (1944-1996), who like his father died at the age of fifty-two, Corinne Ann Morrison (born 1947) and John Randolph "Randy" Waterman Morrison (1956-1964)[5]

Political life

In 1939, Morrison helped in the organization of the People’s League of Independent Voters, New Orleans. He represented District 12 in the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1940 to 1946, when he resigned to become mayor, having unseated the pro-Long Robert Sidney Maestri (1899-1974).[7] He was aligned with the anti-Long political faction. He served in the United States Army while officially a state legislator and rose to the rank of first, a colonel. He was a recipient of the Bronze Star, served in England, France, Belgium, and Germany. In 1944, he won legislative reelection in absentia while in the Army.[5]

After the war, Morrison remained in the U. S. Army Reserve and attained the rank of major general. He founded the Crescent City Democratic Association which push him to victory in the 1946 mayoral election. The Crescent City organization sparred with the Long-backed "Old Regulars." Morrison pushed for street construction, improved drainage, creation of city recreation department, a modern civic center complex, completed in 1957 and named for later Mayor Ernest Nathan "Dutch" Morial (1929-1989), the first of New Orleans' string of African-American mayors. he encouragement of new trade and industry, establishment of municipal office of international relations, implementation of home rule charter that created the current mayor-council form of government and enactment of a comprehensive zoning ordinance. On his watch, Morrison also had police scandals, the spoils system, inadequate planning, and weak leadership during the 1959-1960 public school desegregation crisis.[5]

In 1950, Morrison was named national president of the American Municipal Association. In 1953, he won the La Guardia Award, named for former New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia. He was a strong supporter of John F. Kennedy in the 1960 presidential election in which Kennedy easily won the electoral vote in Louisiana over Republican Vice President Richard M. Nixon. In 1961, Morrison resigned as mayor to become the United States Ambassador to the Organization of American States under appointment from President Kennedy. He left that post in 1963 to make his third bid for governor was a Roman Catholic.[5]Some speculated this urban Catholic background worked against him the gubernatorial campaigns; not until 1972 did a Catholic, Edwin Edwards, win the governorship. When Morrison ran for mayor, the south Louisiana vote was not as large or as organized as were the voters in north Louisiana, where many parishes since declined in population over the past decades.

Death at 52

Morrison and his younger son, "Randy," died near Cuidad Victoria, Mexico in the spring of 1964, five months after he lost the third race for governor to John McKeithen. Morrison and his wife and sons are interred at Metairie Cemetery in New Orleans.[8]

References

  1. Morrison's first name is only capitalized if it is the first word of a sentence.
  2. JacobJaight Morrison, III, died in office after twenty years as 18th Judicial Court district attorney and was succeeded in the post by former Lieutenant Governor Hewitt Bouanchaud, a member of another old family in New Roads.
  3. Jacob Haight Morrison, III. Findagrave.com. Retrieved on May 14, 2020.
  4. A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography indicates that Morrison's mother was Anita Olivier (not Oliver) Morrison.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Morrison, DeLesseps Story. A Dictionary of Louisiana Politics: Louisiana Historical Association. Retrieved on May 14, 2020.
  6. A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography uses the sources for its article on Mayor Morrison: Edward F. Haas, DeLesseps S. Morrison and the Image of Reform: New Orleans Politics, 1946-1961 (1974); Edward Haas, “DeLesseps S. Morrison and the Governorship: A Reassessment,” Louisiana Studies, XV (1976); Michael L. Kurtz, “deLesseps S. Morrison: Political Reformer,” Louisiana History, XVII (1976), and Joseph B. Parker, The Morrison Era: Reform Politics in New Orleans (1974).
  7. Membership of the Louisiana House of Representatives, 1812-2024 (Orleans Parish). Louisiana House of Representatives. Retrieved on May 14, 2020.
  8. deLesseps Story Morrison. Findagrave.com. Retrieved on May 14, 2020.