Washington, DC: Harris & Ewing, nd [ca. 1914]. Studio portrait, 9 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches, within a decorative frame and on heavy card stock. Inscribed below the image "To E[lbert] H. Gary Esq / with cordial good wishes of Robert Owen / Dec 25th 1914." Born in Lynchburg, Virginia, Owen attended schools there and in Baltimore, before graduating from Washington and Lee University in 1877. He moved to Indian Territory with his mother in 1879, following the death of his father, Robert L. Owen, Sr., a railroad executive. Owen's father was Caucasian; his mother, Narcissa Owen, was part Cherokee. Her memoirs, published in 1907, have recently been republished as A Cherokee Woman's America: Memoirs of Narcissa Owen, 1831-1907. Following periods of teaching and working for a time as secretary of the Cherokee Board of Education, Owen read law and passed the bar in the early 1880s. During his time in Indian Territory, Owen used his legal training to win generous compensation for Native American groups involved in litigation over land issues. Between 1885 and 1889, as Federal Agent for the Five Civilized Tribes, Owen settled a large backlog of civil cases through compulsory arbitration and assisted in establishing the first U.S. Court in Indian Territory. In 1890 he organized the First National Bank of Muskogee over which he presided for ten years. It was the Panic of 1893 that helped convince Owen of the need for banking reform. Elbert H. Gary (1846-1927), to whom this striking portrait is inscribed, was, with J.P. Morgan, principal founder in 1901 of United States Steel, America's first billion-dollar corporation. Two corners of the mount chipped, but a fine example of a handsome image. Item #62115
Robert L. Owen, Jr., served as a Democratic senator from 1907, the year of Oklahoma statehood, until 1925. Heading a distinguished list of accomplishments was his sponsorship, as first chairman of the newly created Senate Committee on Banking and Currency, of the Glass-Owen bill, better known as the Federal Reserve Act, passed on Dec. 13, 1913, one year before the inscription on this photograph; it was at Owen's insistence that the government, not the banks, retained control of the Federal Reserve System through its power to appoint members of the Federal Reserve Board. Owen remained involved with the Federal Reserve System well beyond his time in Congress, especially as a prophetic critic of the Fed's deflationary monetary policies during the Great Depression. He was a strong supporter of progressive legislation throughout his congressional career. (9072).