LEE CRUCE was born near Marion, Kentucky. Forced to leave Vanderbilt University because of ill health, he studied law privately and began practicing before moving to Ardmore, Oklahoma in 1891. He also engaged in banking, rising to the presidency of the Ardmore National Bank, and over a period of years he served as President of the Oklahoma Federated Clubs and Industrial Organization, as a Trustee of Hargrove College, and as a member of the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents. Prior to his election as governor, he was an Ardmore City Alderman. During his gubernatorial administration, the State Highway Department was created, as were two new counties. Cruce opposed capital punishment and refused to allow any executions during his governorship. He also supported Blue Laws and declared martial law to prevent prize fighting, gambling, bootlegging, and horse racing. Cruce and the state legislature clashed over a number of policy issues, including higher education and congressional reapportionment. These differences, along with Cruce’s interference with local interest projects and gerrymandering, resulted in his break with the Democratic Party, and he was the subject of an investigation by the legislature and an impeachment resolution that was defeated by a single vote. Leaving office after one term as required by the state Constitution, Cruce went on to mount an unsuccessful bid to win nomination for a U.S. Senate seat and later invested in oil and real estate.
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. 16. New York: James T. White & Company.