JAMES HOWARD EDMONDSON was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma. He served in the U.S. Army Air Corps from 1942 to 1945. After earning a law degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1948, he opened a law practice. He was Chief Prosecutor in the Tulsa County Attorney’s Office in 1953 and Tulsa County Attorney from 1954 to 1958. One of his gubernatorial campaign promises was to achieve an early vote on the repeal of prohibition and to encourage vigorous enforcement of Oklahoma’s liquor law, which precipitated a backlash that resulted in a successful state referendum to repeal prohibition and the establishment of an Alcoholic Beverage Control Board to govern new liquor outlets. Edmondson’s administration also saw the creation of the State Industrial Finance Authority and a state merit system. Upon the death of Oklahoma U.S. Senator Robert S. Kerr, Edmondson resigned from office to accept temporary appointment to the Senate seat. However, he lost the Democratic runoff election to fill Kerr’s unexpired term and went on to open a law office in Oklahoma City.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 3. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
Oklahoma Governors Since Statehood
Who Was Who in America, Vol. V. Chicago: Marquis Who’s Who, Inc., 1973.