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Joshua Bryan Lee (January 23, 1892 – August 10, 1967) was a United States Representative and Senator from Oklahoma.

Josh Lee
Oklahoma senator. Washington, D.C., Dec. 13. United States Senator Josh Lee, Democrat of Oklahoma. He is considered one of the best orators in the Senate. 12-13-37 LCCN2016872732 (cropped).jpg
Secretary of the Senate Democratic Conference
In office
LeaderAlben W. Barkley
Preceded byHugo Black
Succeeded byFrancis T. Maloney
United States Senator
from Oklahoma
In office
January 3, 1937 – January 3, 1943
Preceded byThomas Gore
Succeeded byEdward H. Moore
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Oklahoma's 5th district
In office
January 3, 1935 – January 3, 1937
Preceded byFletcher B. Swank
Succeeded byRobert P. Hill
Personal details
Joshua Bryan Lee

(1892-01-23)January 23, 1892
Childersburg, Alabama, U.S.
DiedAugust 10, 1967(1967-08-10) (aged 75)
Norman, Oklahoma, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
EducationOklahoma Baptist University
University of Oklahoma (BA)
Columbia University (MA)
Cumberland University (LLB)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1917–1918
Unit135th Infantry, 34th Division

Early lifeEdit

Lee was born in Childersburg, Alabama on January 23, 1892. He moved to Pauls Valley, Oklahoma (then Indian Territory), and Kiowa County, Oklahoma (near Hobart, Oklahoma) in 1901. He attended the public schools of Hobart and Rocky, Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Baptist University at Shawnee. He was a teacher in the public schools of Rocky from 1911 to 1913 and was a coach of athletics and teacher of public speaking at the Oklahoma Baptist University, 1913–1915; he graduated from the University of Oklahoma at Norman in 1917, and received a graduate degree in political science from Columbia University in 1924, and a law degree from Cumberland School of Law at Cumberland University (Tennessee) in 1925. He was initiated into the Mu chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia music fraternity in 1917.

During the First World War, Joshua Lee served overseas as a private in the One Hundred and Thirty-fifth Infantry, Thirty-fourth Division, in 1917 and 1918. From 1919 to 1934, he was head of the public speaking department of the University of Oklahoma, and was also an author and lecturer. "HOW TO HOLD AN AUDIENCE WITHOUT A ROPE" and "THE BATTLE OF COGNAC" were his most noted titles. "THE BATTLE OF COGNAC" was first published in October 1919 by "Harlow Publishing Corporation". It was republished as a hard cover in 1948 by Harlow Publishing Corporation with three more rhymes included. Besides the rhymes there is enough commentary to illuminate the circumstances in which the rhymes were written. The 1948 version was ill-trimmed and the pages were not separated in twenty four instances. It is made up of soldier rhymes, with no effort to make them poems. Josh called them "the jottings of a doughboy."

One sample of his authentic jottings is this passage contributed by a man reporting for help at sick call. "Are you sick, soldier?" And the trooper says, "No sir, I ain't sick, but I feels powful unnecessary down around my mess kit."

Illustrations for the book were contributed by Ruth Monro Augar—from sketches she did during The First World War while serving as an El Paso Herald reporter—from scenes observed on the Texas border, near Fort Bliss.

During the latter part of the war Josh Lee joined the entertainment troop and soon became a favorite of battle-sick doughboys. He knew how they felt because he had been there, slogging through the same mud.

By 1948 Josh Lee owned and operated a ranch in western Oklahoma and a farm near Norman. His reputation in the neighborhood was that of just an all around good guy. He had a pond on his farm near Norman.

Left in his personal papers were pictures of himself and FDR, about 100 copies of his "Cognac" book with the covers intact, and the pages still unopened. There were several recordings of material gleaned from his course in public speaking. There was also a picture of a painting of an early MacArthur, as well as pictures of himself at various functions.

There were three duffel bags full of correspondence and clippings of his public career that made the news. He and Will Rogers were close friends at one time. "Josh Lee never met a man he didn't like either," said Leroy Bridges, the Director of Outreach Political Communication Center, Department of Communication, at the University of Oklahoma. He is a treasure trove of information on the subject of Josh Lee and the times and people of the times.

From 1919 to 1934, Josh Lee was head of the public speaking department of the University of Oklahoma, and was also an author and lecturer; he owned and operated a ranch in western Oklahoma and a farm near Norman.

Political careerEdit

He was elected as a Democrat to the Seventy-fourth Congress (January 3, 1935 – January 3, 1937) and was not a candidate for renomination in 1936; he was then elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate and served from January 3, 1937, to January 3, 1943. He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1942, and was a member of the Civil Aeronautics Board from 1943 to 1955. He returned to Norman and practiced law; he died there in 1967 and was interred in the I. O. O. F. Cemetery.


  • United States Congress. "Joshua B. Lee (id: L000198)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  • Josh B. Lee Collection and Photograph Collection at the Carl Albert Center

External linksEdit

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Fletcher B. Swank
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Oklahoma's 5th congressional district

Succeeded by
Robert P. Hill
Party political offices
Preceded by
Thomas Gore
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Oklahoma
(Class 2)

1936, 1942
Succeeded by
Robert S. Kerr
Preceded by
Hugo Black
Secretary of the Senate Democratic Caucus
Succeeded by
Francis T. Maloney
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Thomas Gore
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Oklahoma
Served alongside: Elmer Thomas
Succeeded by
Edward H. Moore