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Home North Carolina Johnston County City of Smithfeld Historical Markers Edward W. Pou

Edward W. Pou

Market Street at South First Street, Smithfeld, NC, USA

Latitude & Longitude: 35° 30' 44.676", -78° 20' 56.13"
  North Carolina State Historical Marker
    North Carolina State
Historical Marker
    Marker Text:
"Congressman, 1901-1934, Chairman House Rules Committee during parts of administrations of Wilson, F. D. Roosevelt. Grave is 200 yds. south."
     Congressman Edward William Pou was born in Tuskegee, Alabama, on September 9, 1863. In 1867, he moved with his parents, Edward William and Anna Maria Smith Pou, to Johnston County where his father opened a law firm. He attended the University of North Carolina from 1882 to 1884. In 1885, he completed the university’s law course and was admitted to the bar. At age 23, Pou became chairman of Johnston County’s Democratic executive committee. From 1890 to 1901, he served as solicitor of the Fourth Judicial District and received recognition for his skills as a prosecutor. Pou joined Furnifold M. Simmons as a law partner in 1898. At that time, Simmons was the North Carolina Democratic Party chairman. Pou worked with Simmons as he led the party in an effort to oust African Americans from public office and take back control of the state from the Republicans and Populists.

     Edward Pou entered national politics in 1900 when he was elected as 4th Congressional District Representative to the 57th Congress. A major accomplishment of his first term in Congress was extending rural free delivery mail routes throughout his district. Some say that “Pou’s Finest Hour” came during the administration of President Woodrow Wilson while he served as second in command of the House Rules Committee, which oversaw the course of legislation moving through the due process. President Woodrow Wilson turned to Pou for assistance with moving his legislative programs through the house. By the time the United States entered World War I, Pou had become chairman of the Rules Committee. In the position, he helped President Wilson pass war-related legislation. Pou lost his chairmanship in 1918 when the Republicans gained control of the House, but regained it with the Roosevelt Administration in 1933. Congressman Pou quickly moved Roosevelt’s legislation through the House during the president’s first “Hundred Days.”

     While in office, Pou supported stricter regulations of trusts, railroads, and banks; the reorganization of departmental government; and improved rural mail service. He also backed bonuses for World War I veterans and was an advocate of state prohibition, as opposed to federal. When Congress reconvened in January of 1934, Congressman Pou’s health kept him returning to office. He died of heart failure on April 1, 1934. After funeral services in the Capitol, a rare honor, he was buried in Riverside Cemetery in Smithfield.

Biographical Dictionary of the United States Congress website: http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=P000474
Smithfield Herald, July 27, 1993
The North Carolina Election of 1898: http://www.lib.unc.edu/ncc/1898/history.html
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, V, 135—sketch by William S. Powell
Edward W. Pou Historical Marker Location Map, Smithfeld, North Carolina