About John Morris Sheppard
John Morris Sheppard (May 28, 1875 – April 9, 1941) was a Democratic United States Congressman and United States Senator from Texas. He authored the Eighteenth Amendment (Prohibition) and introduced it in the Senate, so that he is referred to as "the father of national Prohibition."
John Morris Sheppard was born in Morris County in east Texas, the oldest of seven children, to lawyer and later judge and United States Representative John Levi Sheppard and his wife the former Margaret Alice Eddins.
Through his mother Margaret, Morris was a direct descendent of Robert Morris (1734–1806) who had signed the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the United States Constitution.
Sheppard enrolled at the University of Texas at Austin in 1891 and received his B.A. degree from there in 1895, as well as his LL.B. from University of Texas School of Law in 1897. It was while enrolled at UT-Austin Law School that Sheppard became a member of the Methodist Church. He was also a close friend and classmate of future Governor of Texas Pat Neff and future U. S. Senator Tom Connally while at the University of Texas School of Law. In 1898, he received his LL.M. from Yale University.
He began practicing law with his father in Pittsburg, Texas and later Texarkana.
In 1902, Morris Sheppard was elected as a Democrat to replace his deceased father in the United States House of Representatives. He held a seat until his resignation in 1913, when he succeeded in his bid to fill a vacancy in the Senate.
Sheppard held his Senate seat until his death in Washington, D.C. in 1941, serving as Democratic whip between 1929 and 1933. Future U.S. President and then-representative Lyndon B. Johnson ran unsuccessfully for Sheppard's Senate seat in the special election called after Sheppard's death.
As Senator, Sheppard sponsored progressive reform legislation promoting rural credit programs, child labor laws, and antitrust laws. He was also an advocate of the Women's suffrage in the United States.
During his tenure, he was a vocal supporter of the temperance movement. He helped write the Webb-Kenyon Act (1913) to regulate the interstate shipment of alcoholic beverages, authored the Sheppard Bone-Dry Act (1916) to impose prohibition on the District of Columbia, introduced the Senate resolution for the Eighteenth Amendment establishing national prohibition, and helped write the Volstead Act which provided for its enforcement.
However, during the Prohibition era, a still that produced 130 gallons of moonshine per day was discovered on a Texas ranch that Sheppard owned.
Sheppard-Towner Maternity and Infancy Protection Act of 1921
Co-sponsored by Morris Sheppard and Horace Mann Towner, the Sheppard-Towner Act of 1921 provided Federal matching funds for services aimed to reduce maternal and infant mortality. The funding included: midwife training; visiting nurses for pregnant women and new mothers; distribution of nutrition and hygiene information; health clinics, doctors and nurses, for pregnant women, mothers and children.
Federal Credit Union Act of 1934
Senator Morris Sheppard and Congressman Wright Patman are considered the fathers of the Federal Credit Union Act of 1934. Sheppard was the act's author. The bill had stalled in the United States House of Representatives considerably shortening the time the Senate had to pass the final version. Rather than sending the bill to a Conference Committee, Sheppard asked the United States Senate to pass the bill unanimously without reading the bill or the amendments. The bill passed the Senate unanimously. The Morris Sheppard Credit Union in Texarkana, Texas carries the Senator's name, while the institution's local credit union chapter is named after Congressman Patman.
On December 1, 1909, Sheppard married Lucille Sanderson. The couple had three daughters. Sheppard and his wife were the grandparents of Connie Mack, III, Republican U.S. Senator from Florida, and great-grandparents of Connie Mack IV, Republican U.S. Representative from Florida. Other Sheppard grandsons were Democrat Richard Sheppard Arnold (1936–2004) and Republican Morris Sheppard "Buzz" Arnold (born 1941), federal appeals court judges in Arkansas. The federal courthouse in Little Rock is named in Judge Richard Arnold's honor. Judge Morris Arnold, a Republican, remains on the Eighth Circuit court under senior status.
Senator Morris died in office of a brain hemorrhage on April 9, 1941. He is interred at Hillcrest Cemetery in Texarkana, Texas.
The year following Sheppard's death, Lucille Sanderson Sheppard, married United States Senator from Texas, Tom Connally. Senator Connally also pre-deceased Lucille. When she died in 1980, she was buried with her first husband Morris Sheppard in Hillcrest Cemetery.