JAMES BROOKS AYERS ROBERTSON was born in Keokuk County, Iowa. He taught school first in Iowa and then in Oklahoma, where he relocated at the age of twenty-two. He went on to study law and was admitted to the Oklahoma Bar in 1898. He served as Lincoln County Attorney from 1900 to 1902, was a member of the State Democratic Committee in 1905, and was a delegate to the Democratic National Conventions of 1908 and 1920. He was a Judge for the Tenth Judicial District of Oklahoma in 1909 and 1910, a member of the Oklahoma Capitol Commission in 1911, and a member of the Oklahoma Supreme Court Commission from 1911 to 1914. Robertson lost the nomination for governor in the Democratic primary of 1914 but came back to win the primary and the general election of 1918. His gubernatorial administration saw the construction of 1,300 miles of highways, the appointment of independent regents for state colleges, and legislative approval for the 18th and 19th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. During the economic depression that followed World War I, Ku Klux Klan activity resurfaced, a race riot occurred in Tulsa, and a coal miners’ strike was crushed by the National Guard. In 1922, Robertson was indicted for bribery but was not convicted. After leaving office, he returned to the practice of law. His candidacy to win the Democratic nomination for governor once again in 1930 failed. He was a Democratic Presidential Elector-at-Large in 1932 and served as Chief Council for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission from 1935 to 1938.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 51. New York: James T. White & Company.
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.