THEODORE G. BILBO, the thirty-ninth and forty-third governor to serve Mississippi, was born at Juniper Grove, Pearl River County, Mississippi on October 13, 1877. His education was attained at Peabody College and at Vanderbilt University, where he studied law. After establishing his legal career in Poplarville, Mississippi, Bilbo entered into politics. He served as a member of the Mississippi State Senate from 1908 to 1912 and was the lieutenant governor of Mississippi from 1912 to 1916. Bilbo next secured the Democratic gubernatorial nomination and was elected governor by a popular vote on November 2, 1915. During his tenure, a tuberculosis sanatorium was established; the state’s highway system was advanced; public hangings were eliminated; and a state board of embalming was founded, as well as a state tax commission and a game and fish commission. Bilbo left office on January 18, 1920. He ran unsuccessfully for a congressional seat in 1920 and was defeated in his 1923 gubernatorial bid. However, four years later he won reelection to a second term in the governor’s office. During his final tenure, educational reform measures were endorsed; economic policies that benefited white farmers was supported; and financial setbacks depleted the state treasury. After completing his term, Bilbo left office on January 19, 1932. He continued to stay politically active, serving as a member of the U.S. Senate, a position he held from 1934 until 1947. Governor Theodore G. Bilbo passed away on August 21, 1947 and was buried in the Juniper Grove Cemetery near Poplarville, Mississippi.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 2, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4vols.