Southeast Louisiana Review focuses on historic sixth district campaign, Tidelands Oil Conflict

Contact: Rene Abadie


     HAMMOND – Louisiana's transition from a base of strength for the Democratic Party into a Republican stronghold are highlighted in the latest issue of Southeastern Louisiana University's "Southeast Louisiana Review."

     The winter issue of the historical review – published by the university's Center for Southeast Louisiana Studies and edited by Center Director and Leon Ford Professor of History Samuel C. Hyde Jr. – examines the changing political alliances in Louisiana's Sixth District when longtime incumbent U.S. Rep. James H. "Jimmy" Morrison was defeated for re-election to Congress by staunch conservative John R. Rarick in 1966.

     Written by Matthew C. Doolittle, a recent graduate of Southeastern's history program, the paper explores the tone of the Democratic primary election following the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

     Doolittle says the legislation permanently changed the political landscape in Louisiana as well as the South. Most Southern Democrats in the House of Representatives voted against the act. Morrison joined 30 other representatives from the 11 states of the former Confederacy in voting for the bill, an action that took "a great deal of courage," according to the author. In the racially tense Democratic primary that followed in 1966, Judge John R. Rarick of the Louisiana 20th Judicial District defeated Morrison by approximately 4,000 votes, then went on to trounce his Republican opponent.

     Other articles in the Review include an essay on the Tidelands Oil controversy of 1947 to 1960 by historian Andrew Barr of the Louisiana State Archives in Baton Rouge; "Reminiscences of the Civil War Along the Lower Pearl River" by retired Air Force Brig. Gen. John H. Napier III; and "Crown Zellerbach and Related Companies: The Importance of Forestry in Livingston Parish" by Clark Forrest Jr., an historian in the parish.

     "The Tidelands Oil article is particularly poignant in the aftermath of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico," Hyde said. "Few observers outside the oil and gas industry are familiar with the legal maneuvering that characterized the federal versus state struggle over the right to extract resources in American coastal waters."

     According to the author, the legal fight to secure petroleum dollars was significant and also served as a front in the southern states' efforts to protect segregation. The ultimate decision in the Tidelands case, he says, was an early sign of the federal government's ability and willingness to force social change in the South.

     For additional information on the journal or to secure copies, contact the Center for Southeast Louisiana Studies at 985-549-2151.


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