64 Parishes

Alvin King

Alvin King served as governor of Louisiana for five months during a political power struggle between Huey P. Long and Lieutenant Governor Paul Cyr.

Alvin King

Courtesy of State Library of Louisiana

Louisiana Governor Alvin Olin King in the 1930s. Unidentified

In 1932 Democrat Alvin King served as the acting governor of Louisiana from January 25 until May 16, during a political struggle between governor Huey P. Long and Lieutenant Governor Paul Cyr.  After Long was elected to the US Senate in the middle of his term as governor, Cyr declared Long’s office vacant and proclaimed himself governor. Long successfully argued, however, that Cyr’s actions were illegal and that King, as president pro tempore of the senate, should become lieutenant governor. During King’s five months in office, however, Long continued to dominate state politics.

Alvin Olin King was born in Lioti, Kansas, on June 21, 1890, the son of George Merritt King and Bessie Brown Stirling King. His family moved to Lake Charles when King was young and he graduated from Lake Charles High School in 1908, Parsons Business College in 1911, and Tulane University’s law school in 1915. He went on to practice law in Lake Charles from 1915 to 1924. On January 29, 1916, he married Willie Lee Voris, with whom he had two children.

Active in the Democratic Party, King served two terms in the state senate, from 1924 to 1931, eventually becoming president pro tempore in May of 1930, two years after Long’s election as governor. Despite King’s lack of consistent support for the Long regime in the senate, Huey P. Long preferred him as a successor to Lieutenant Governor Paul Cyr.  When Long was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1930 Cyr, who had become associated with anti-Longism, attempted to ascend to the governorship via the judicial system. The courts ruled against Cyr, however, and King replaced him in the constitutional order of succession, eventually becoming governor when Long was sworn in as US Senator. During his brief term, King spent most of his time handling routine matters until Long’s candidate, O.K. Allen, was elected and inaugurated. King did, however, call for reduced spending on highways, contending that the state could not sell highway bonds at an acceptable interest rate because of the failing national bond market.

Following his brief stint as governor, King retired from public life and returned to his law practice. He was also a successful businessman, serving as chairman of the board at Powell Lumber Company.  He was a member and national councilor of the US Chamber of Commerce from 1947 to 1954, president of the Lake Charles Chamber of Commerce in 1948, and president of the Louisiana Bar Association from 1952 to1953. Alvin King died on February 21, 1958, and is interred in Graceland Cemetery in Lake Charles.

Adapted from Carl Brasseaux’s entry for the Dictionary of Louisiana Biography, a publication of the Louisiana Historical Association in cooperation with the Center for Louisiana Studies at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette.

Sources: Ellis Arthur Davis, ed., The Historical Encyclopedia of Louisiana(1937); T. Harry Williams, Huey Long (1969); Who Was Who in America, vol. III, 1951-1960 (1960).