Robert L. Owen

Robert L. Owen

Robert Latham Owen was a United States Senator from Oklahoma.

He was born in Lynchburg, Virginia on February 2, 1856. He attended private schools in Lynchburg and in Baltimore, Maryland, and graduated from Washington and Lee University in 1877. Owen, who was of part-Cherokee descent through his mother, Narcissa Chisholm Owen, moved to Salina, Oklahoma, and taught school among the Cherokee Indians. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1880. He was a federal Indian agent for the Five Civilized Tribes 1885-1889, member of the Democratic National Committee 1892-1896, organized the First National Bank of Muskogee in 1890 and was its president for ten years.

Upon the admission of Oklahoma as a State into the Union in 1907, Owen was elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate for the term ending March 3, 1913; reelected in 1912 and 1918 and served from December 11, 1907, to March 3, 1925. Before leaving for Washington, Owen was one of the few people present as Governor of Oklahoma Charles N. Haskell accepted his oath of office in Haskell's hotel room in Oklahoma City.

Reflecting his position as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency, Owen was the chief sponsor in the Senate of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, known at the time of its passage as the Glass-Owen Bill, which created the Federal Reserve System. His role in the creation of the Federal Reserve is commemorated by the Robert Latham Owen Park, on the grounds of the Federal Reserve building in Washington DC.

However, most Americans have no idea that Robert L. Owen, one of the major legislative forces behind the creation of the Federal Reserve (he was half of the Owen-Glass Federal Reserve Act of 1913) later realized that he’d been scammed and spent the rest of his life fighting the monster he’d helped to create. He even wrote the foreword to Gertrude Coogan’s 1934 book “The Mysterious Moneychangers” reproduced below:

“It gives me special pleasure to have the opportunity to explain the principles and purposes of this book, written by Miss Gertrude M. Coogan of Chicago.

The facts that Miss Coogan was awarded a Master’s Degree in Economics and Finance by Northwestern University; was for eight years a Security Analyst for The Northern Trust Company of Chicago; that from the beginning she had a deep desire to understand the fancied enigma of money, have given her great insight into monetary science.

The basic principles of monetary science are simple. Knowledge of the science has been made difficult by those who have converted these simple principles into an enigma. They have done so with ponderous volumes written on prices and on the processes of production, transportation, distribution and allied topics; weaving into the subject matter deceptive terms so that the public has been grossly misled by the use of words which contain accepted false premises.

The purpose of this book is to bring before the American people the knowledge that they must have regarding the nature and manipulations of their money system. In my opinion, America faces a crisis which may result in the loss of our Representative Constitutional Government unless every man and woman, rich or poor, young or old; doctor, lawyer, merchant laborer, educator, clergyman, social worker, society leader; will bestir himself or herself toward the problem of bringing the fundamental truths of monetary science to every fireside.

It is time for intelligent Americans to examine their money system …. Those who own insurance policies and savings accounts must bestir themselves to protect those accumulations. …

… The truths themselves are very simple, but many of the newspapers and publishing companies allow themselves to be used to carry misinformation to the American public, while neglecting to print the truths. Honest money principles are understandable to every one when the money subject is presented in its true light.

The solution of the problem to protect our homes does not rest with a few leaders in a distant city. "It is necessary that every man and woman appoint himself and herself a leader." Honest Money Groups must be formed in every block, in every precinct throughout the United States, and in every rural community. The rural community centers and schoolhouses can be most profitably employed this winter in showing the American farmers how simply they can solve all of their own problems. Their grave troubles have been caused not by overproduction, but by money manipulations frequently executed upon foreign advice and to harmonize with foreign “policies.” The result has been the extraction of dollars of a distorted purchasing power from the American farmer. Collecting dollars of such unfair purchasing power has deprived many American farmers of their homes, and all farmers of their share in the industrial products which this nation is so well equipped to manufacture and distribute.

The principal reason for endorsing this book is that I feel it is an intelligent vehicle for the dissemination of the truths which must be understood in every home ….

When these truths are known, and the American people demand their constitutional right of an honest money system, this country will enter upon an era of material and physical prosperity; of opportunity, and spiritual and cultural advancement that will not only charm and delight its own people but will become a model for the rest of the human race.”

Robert L. OwenNew York CityOctober 29, 1934

While still a Senator, Owen accompanied his friend Governor Haskell to the 1920 Democratic National Convention in San Francisco. There Governor Haskell labored to have Owen named as the Democratic nominee for President of the United States. But the Democrats selected Governor of Ohio James M. Cox to face Republican Warren G. Harding in the United States presidential election, 1920. Owen declined to be a candidate for renomination in 1924. He was the chairman of the Senate Committees on Indian Depredations, the Mississippi River and Its Tributaries, Pacific Railroads, Banking and Currency, and the Five Civilized Tribes.

Owen resumed the practice of law in Washington, D.C.. He organized and served as chairman of the National Popular Government League from 1913 until his death in Washington, D.C., July 19, 1947. His body was buried in Spring Hill Cemetery, Lynchburg, Virginia.


* Dictionary of American Biography
* Brown, Kenny. “A Progressive From Oklahoma: Senator Robert Latham Owen, Jr.” Chronicles of Oklahoma 62 (Fall 1984): 232-65
* Keso, Edward. The Senatorial Career of Robert Latham Owen. Gardenvale, Canada: Garden City Press, 1938

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