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Carter Glass Papers

Identifier: MSS 2913

Scope and Contents

The Carter Glass papers, 1820-1946, 141 cubic feet, consist of correspondence, manuscripts, newspaper articles, photographs, speeches, and printed materials from his work in the Banking and Currency Committee, the Secretary of the Treasury (1918-1920), and the United States Senate (1920-1946). Subjects include: The Federal Reserve Banking Act of 1913, the Federal Reserve system, and the Banking Act of 1933 (1932 Glass-Steagall Act).

Other topics include international, national and state issues reflected in the politics of this time period including opposition to the National Industrial Recovery Act; National Labor Relations Act; Bank Holding Company Bill; Office of Price Administration; World Wars I and II; League of Nations; World Court; Democratic Party platforms and policies; presidential elections of 1912, 1920, 1924, 1928, and 1940; Senator Huey P. Long; Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal; attempted packing of the Supreme Court; neutrality legislation; disarmament; regulation of the coal industry; (business) products and services; child labor; anti-lynching law; immigration restriction (especially Chinese in Hawaii); Muscle Shoals; trade with Russia; diplomatic relations with the Vatican; Four-Power Treaty; soldiers' bonus bill; tariffs and protectionism; and national defense.

Virginia topics of concern to Glass or his constituents include poll tax elimination; African American suffrage; women's suffrage; highways; intrastate commerce; University of Virginia Board of Visitors; Woodrow Wilson Foundation; national Patrick Henry shrine at "Red Hill"; gubernatorial election of 1924; Bishop James Cannon, Jr., prohibition and the Anti-saloon League; Skyline Drive; Spotsylvania Battlefield Park; Virginia Fight For Freedom Committee; operation of the Lynchburg News and Advance; and patronage requests from Lynchburg, Roanoke, and Bedford, Campbell, Floyd, Montgomery, and Roanoke Counties, Va.

Miscellaneous items of interest include a letter describing the early life of Booker T. Washington, election tickets for 1848, a 1906 recipe book, and letters concerning Glass' belief in the Baconian theory of Shakespeare authorship.

Among the many correspondents are Edwin A. Alderman, Newton Baker, Ray Stannard Baker, Alben Barkley, Bernard Baruch, William E. Borah, Chester Bowles, John Stewart Bryan, William Jennings Bryan, Harry F. Byrd, Richard E. Byrd, Calvin Coolidge, John W. Daniel, Josephus Daniels, Colgate W. Darden, Westmoreland Davis, Frederic A. Delano, the Democratic National Committee, Marriner S. Eccles, James A. Farley, Henry Ford, Douglas Southall Freeman, James A. Garfield, Samuel Gompers, Cary T. Grayson, Charles S. Hamlin, William P.G. Harding, Warren G. Harding, George L. Harrison, J. Edgar Hoover,Herbert Hoover, Edwin M. House, Cordell Hull, Harold Ickes, Hugh S. Johnson, Jesse Jones, Joseph P. Kennedy, Russell C. Leffingwell, Walter Lippmann, Huey Long, William Gibbs McAdoo, George Walter Mapp, Andrew Mellon, Eugene and Agnes Meyer, Andrew J. Montague, R. Walton Moore, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., Robert L. Owen, George C. Peery, Edmund Platt, John Garland Pollard, A. Willis Robertson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Dave E. Satterfield, C. Bascom Slemp, Rixey Smith, Billy Sunday, Claude A. Swanson, Harry S. Truman, Joseph P. Tumulty, Oscar W. Underwood, Samuel Untermeyer, Arthur H. Vandenberg, Robert F. Wagner, Henry A. Wallace, Paul Moritz Warburg, Richard S. Whaley, William Allen White, John Skelton Williams, Henry Parker Willis, , Edith Bolling Wilson, Woodrow Wilson, Clifton A. Woodrum, and Walter Wyatt.


  • Creation: 1820-1946

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research. Restrictions apply to veterans claims.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions in this collection except for veterans claims.

Biographical / Historical

Carter Glass (January 4, 1858 – May 28, 1946) was born on January 4, 1858, in Lynchburg, Virginia, to Robert Henry Glass and Augusta Elizabeth Christian. He became a newspaper publisher (like his father)and after hearing a speech by William Jenning Bryan in 1896, entered politics in 1902 as a Democrat in the United States House of Representatives and was re-elected to eight terms. He was a United States Senator from Lynchburg, Virginia from 1920 until his death in 1946. In 1913, he became Chairman of the House Committee on Banking and Currency, where he worked with President Woodrow Wilson to pass the Glass-Owen Federal Reserve Act and he went on to pass the Glass-Steagall Act in 1932 and the Banking Act in 1933 that made banking more stable in the United States. In 1918, President Wilson appointed him Secretary of the Treasury, where he marketed Victory Liberty Loans for World War I debts. At the 1920 Democratic National Convention Glass was nominated for President of the United States. Many of his supporters have said that at 5'4 inches tall, his speeches and political prowess made him seem larger than life.

Carter Glass became an apprentice printer to his father when he was 13 years old, and continued his education through reading literature in his father's library. At the age of 22, Glass became a reporter, a job he had long sought, for the "Lynchburg News". He rose to become the morning newspaper's editor by 1887. After acquiring the afternoon "Daily Advance", the competing "Daily Republican", he became Lynchburg's sole newspaper publisher. The "Lynchburg News and Advance" is the successor publication to his newspapers.

Carter Glass played a major role in the establishment of the U.S. financial regulatory system, helping to establish the Federal Reserve System and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. He co-sponsored the 1933 Banking Act, also known as the Glass–Steagall Act, which created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and enforced the separation of investment banking firms and commercial banks. His banking reforms (Banking Act of 1913, Glass Steagall Act 1932, Banking Act of 1933) earned him gratitude across the country, landing him on the cover of Time Magazine twice, and honoring him with many degrees from universities. Prior to Glass’s reforms, the country’s banking system was chaotic and regulated by bankers. The Glass-Steagall bill restricted banks from engaging in invesment banking. The country had suffered eight recessions between 1890 and 1914. Portions of the Glass-Steagall bill were repealed in 1999, allowing banks to combine their own investment activity with commercial banking and possibly contributing to the recession in 2008.

Not as well-publicized was Carter Glass’s lifelong opposition to voting rights for African Americans. One of Glass’s first political exploits was helping craft the revised 1902 Virginia Constitution to bar [African American] citizens from voting. The 1902 Constitution instituted a poll tax and required bulk payment after a voter missed elections, making voting a luxury. The Constitution also required that voters pass a literacy test with their performance graded by the registrar. When questioned as to whether these measures were potentially discriminatory, Glass exclaimed, "Discrimination! Why that is exactly what we propose. To remove every [African American] voter who can be gotten rid of, legally, without materially impairing the numerical strength of the white electorate." Indeed, the number of African Americans qualified to vote dropped from 147,000 to 21,000 immediately. More than 50 years after it was ratified, the Lynchburg senator remained opposed to the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which granted African Americans the right to vote. He said in the 1920's it “constituted an attempt to destroy white civilization in nearly one-third of the nation and to erect on its ruins an Ethiopian state ignorant, profligate, corrupt, controlled by manumitted slaves.” Glass was in step with his white constituents in Virginia, where African Americans did not receive equal voting rights until the 1960s. In 1928, during a debate involving prohibition, Glass said, “people of the original thirteen Southern States curse and deride and spit upon the Fifteenth Amendment — and have no intention of letting the [African American] vote” all the while maintaining Virginia was complying with the law.

Carter Glass remained one of the strongest advocates of segregation and continued to dedicate much of his political career to the perpetuation of Jim Crow laws in the South. He sponsored massive resistance legislation along with Virginia Senator Harry F. Byrd of Winchester, another Virginia newspaperman who shared many of Glass's political views. Both Glass and Byrd were opposed to Roosevelt's New Deal policies. Each was a strong supporter of fiscal conservatism and states' rights. Carter Glass supported President Roosevelt but later criticized his policies, including the New Deal, attempts to pack the Supreme Court, third term presidency, and nominations for Federal Judgeships.

Glass had suffered from ill health throughout his life, and usually walked on tip toes because he believed that would help with his indigestion. He kept his seat in his final term in the Senate even though he was not able to be in attendance. He died in his hotel apartment in Washington, D.C., on May 28, 1946. His funeral in Lynchburg was attended by the Chief Justice, the Secretary of State, 11 Senators, 11 House members, and other notables. History remembers Carter Glass as the Father of the Federal Reserve Act but today history also considers his role in the 1902 Constitution that disenfranchised virtually every black voter in the state. The reduction in African American votes helped him politically and put him in a postion to create the banking reform legislation. Nationally, Glass might have been the architect of financial reform that stabilized the nation’s banking system, but at home, historian J. Douglas Smith calls him, “the architect of disenfranchisement in the Old Dominion.” Harvard University named their business school, Glass House, after Carter Glass achievements in banking, but they have now changed the name to Cash House, for James Cash, the first African American tenured professor at Harvard.

Sources: Wikipedia Joe Stinnett, retired editor of The News & Advance and The Roanoke Times. The Roanoke Times


141 Cubic Feet (285 document boxes, 3 oversize flat boxes)

Language of Materials



The collection is arranged into four series: Series 1. Banking: Subseries banking correspondence, banking printed, Series 2. Correspondence: Subseries legislative, military, political, topical, greeting cards, business and related cards, honors, constituent (patronage, praise),veterans claim (restricted), and veterinary (farming), Series 3. Manuscripts and miscellaneous, Series 4. Printed and miscellaneous: Subseries newspaper clippings, articles, bills, reports and photographs, speeches, and election tickets.

Due to the large size of this collection these categories are meant as general guidelines and some cross over of subjects can be expected throughout the series. Similarly,further searching may be necessary if an area of research is not found in the identified series of the guide, for example military correspondence is located chronologically throughout the collection and as a subseries.

Series 1 Banking Correspondence is in boxes 1-43, 171-177; Banking Printed is in boxes 44-47; Series 2 Correspondence: Legislative Correspondence is in boxes 47-105, 178-180; Military Correspondence is in boxes 105-109; Political Correspondence is in boxes 109-143, 180-183; Topical Correspondence is in boxes 143-169; 183-193; Greeting Cards are in boxes 169-170; Honors are in box 170; Constituent Correspondence is in boxes 194-220; Patronage Correspondence is in boxes 220-249; Praise for Carter Glass is in boxes 250-258; Invitations are in boxes 259-264; Veteran's Claims (restricted) are in boxes 265-268; Veterinarian and farming (cows) are in box 269; Series 3 Manuscripts and Miscellaneous are in box 270; Series 4 Printed(including newspaper articles, photographs, and speeches) are in boxes 271-279; Letterbooks for 1918-1919 are in boxes 281-282.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was a gift from the Glass family to the Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia in 1948.

Carter Glass Papers
Ellen Welch
26 September 2016
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library Repository

Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library
P.O. Box 400110
University of Virginia
Charlottesville Virginia 22904-4110 United States