James V. Allred (March 29, 1899 – September 24, 1959) was a United States politician who served as the 33rd Governor of Texas during the New Deal era. He was thereafter a United States federal judge. He is remembered for his unwavering support of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Christened James Burr V Allred, Allred was born in Bowie in Montague County in north central Texas. Burr and V were the names of his uncles. He was known as "Vee" until he enlisted in the United States Navy in 1918. The Navy clerks had no intention of typing his full name on forms, so he was listed as "Allred, James V," the Roman numeral "V" being mistaken for the letter "V." Allred had no problem with the change, and used the altered form of his name the rest of his life.
Allred had enrolled in Rice Institute in 1917 but left school soon thereafter because of financial problems. He served in the U.S. Immigration Service for a short while before enlisting in the Navy World War I.
After the war he clerked in a law office in Wichita Falls, Texas, obtained a law degree in 1921 from Cumberland School of Law at Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee, and began a private law practice in Wichita Falls.
Allred's public-service career began in 1923, when Governor Pat Neff appointed him assistant district attorney in Wichita Falls to complete an unexpired term. He was elected to a full term in 1924. In 1926 he ran for Attorney General of Texas as a Democrat but was defeated in the primary and returned to private practice. In his next try for office, in 1930, he was elected attorney general at the age of thirty-one, having defeated the incumbent, Robert L. Bobbitt of Laredo. Allred became the youngest man to hold that office. He was reelected in 1932. He then served two terms as governor, from 1935 to 1939.
On leaving the governorship, he was nominated by President Roosevelt on January 5, 1939, to newly created seat for a district judge in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. Allred was confirmed by the United States Senate on February 16, 1939, and received his commission on February 23, 1939. He served in that office until May 15, 1942, when he resigned to run against an incumbent senator, W. Lee O'Daniel, for his seat in the U.S. Senate. Allred failed to unseat O'Daniel, and Roosevelt then nominated him on February 18, 1943 to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, but the Senate Judiciary Committee would not approve his nomination.
In 1944, Allred, as a private attorney, and his ally, Alvin Wirtz, a former undersecretary of the interior, led the protracted but successful fight against the conservative Texas Regulars, who opposed a fourth term for President Roosevelt and desired the nomination of another Democratic candidate more to their philosophical bearing. The Texas Regulars also opposed the 1949 Smith v. Allwright decision of the United States Supreme Court, which struck down the white primary. The fight centered on the lack of specifics in Texas law in regard to the selection of presidential electors. The courts ruled that political parties have wide discretion in choosing electors so long as an existing law is not violated. In the dispute, Allred ran afoul not only of Senator O'Daniel but the appointed Texas Secretary of State Sidney Latham. Allred still won through the suit, Seay v. Latham, in which the U.S. District Court ruled that a party could withdraw the names of elector candidates previously approved (Texas Regulars) and replace those persons with other elector candidates (Allred's Loyalist slate). Allred felt particularly vindicated when FDR won Texas with some 75 percent of the ballots cast in his easy race against the Republican nominee, Thomas E. Dewey, and the Old Regulars, who did not specify what presidential candidate their slate would support if it had been victorious.
On September 23, 1949, he was again nominated to the Southern District of Texas, to another newly created judgeship, by President Harry S. Truman. Allred was again confirmed by the Senate, on October 12, 1949 and received his commission the next day. He served in that position until he died of a seizure in Laredo, the seat of Webb County in south Texas, only a few hours after having recessed court because he was feeling "a little under the weather." His last residence had been in Corpus Christi during this judicial tenure. He is interred at Riverside Cemetery, Wichita Falls, Texas.
He has been described as a "talented and fiery" lawyer. As attorney general he filed an unprecedented number of suits, including many anti-trust cases, and recovered millions of dollars for the state. As governor he embraced Roosevelt's New Deal, and during his administrations the legislature passed social security measures that included old-age assistance and teacher retirement programs. He opposed the Ku Klux Klan and repeal of prohibition.
He married Joe Betsy Miller of Wichita Falls on June 20, 1927. She was born on October 15, 1905, in Altus, Oklahoma, and died on June 7, 1993, in Wichita Falls.
James and Betsy Allred had three sons: James V., Jr., William David, and Sam Houston, who was born in the Sam Houston bed in the Sam Houston bedroom of the Texas Governor's Mansion. Allred Prison, in Iowa Park, Texas, is named for him.