Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, ERNEST WHITWORTH MARLAND received a law degree from the University of Michigan in 1893 but gave up the legal profession in favor of the oil business. In 1908 he moved to Ponca City, Oklahoma, where he engaged in oil production, refining, and marketing. He went on to found the Marland Oil Company (which was later consolidated with Continental Oil) and subsidiary companies in the U.S. and Mexico. He served for one term in the U.S. House of Representatives before winning election as governor. To address the devastating effects of the Great Depression, Marland’s gubernatorial administration focused on economic rehabilitation and the creation of jobs through a “Little New Deal,” which called for the establishment of more than 100,000 subsistence homesteads, the development of a conservation system, an increase in hydroelectric power, an upgrade in educational levels, a reduction of the state debt, and the organization of a planning board to attract industry. Although an economy-minded state legislature failed to adopt many of Marland’s proposals, some reforms succeeded during his administration, among them an increase in the state sales tax to be used for relief, the reduction of ad valorem taxes, and an increase in school aid. In addition, the State Planning and Resources Board was created in 1937 to help bring new industry to Oklahoma. And Marland initiated the Interstate Oil Compact between petroleum producing states to encourage oil conservation and maintain a stable petroleum price. After leaving office, Marland returned to his oil interests.
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.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 34. New York: James T. White & Company.