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Joseph Eugene Ransdell (October 7, 1858 - July 27, 1954) was a United States Representative and Senator from Louisiana. Born in Alexandria, the seat of Rapides Parish in central Louisiana, Ransdell attended public schools. In 1882, he graduated from Union College in Schenectady, New York. He studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1883 and practiced in Lake Providence, the seat of East Carroll Parish in far northeastern Louisiana, from 1883-1889. He was district attorney for the 8th Judicial District of Louisiana from 1884-1896. He was a planter of cotton and pecan groves. From 1896-1899, he served on the Fifth Levee District Board. He was a member of the state constitutional convention in 1898.

In 1899, Ransdell was elected as a Democrat to the Fifty-sixth Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Samuel T. Baird. He won his first full term in Congress in 1900, having defeated the Republican Henry E. Hardtner, 6,172 votes (90.8 percent) to 628 (9.2 percent). Hardtner was the last Republican to contest the seat until 1976, when Frank Spooner of Monroe waged a strong challenge to the Democrat Jerry Huckaby of Ringgold in Bienville Parish.

Ransdell served in the House from August 29, 1899, to March 3, 1913. He was not a candidate for renomination in 1912, having instead been elected by the Louisiana State Legislature to the United States Senate. In 1918, he defeated future Senator John H. Overton of Alexandria in a disputed outcome. Ransdell won his third term in the Democratic primary in 1924, having defeated Lee E. Thomas, 104,312 (54.9 percent) to 85,547 (45.1 percent).

He served from March 4, 1913, to March 3, 1931, having been denied renomination in 1930 by then Governor Huey Pierce Long, Jr. Long received 149,640 votes (57.3 percent) to Ransdell's 111,451 (42.7 percent). Long was then elected without Republican opposition in the general election.

While in Congress he was chairman of the Committee on Public Health and National Quarantine (Sixty-third through Sixty-fifth Congresses) and a member of the Committee on Mississippi River and Its Tributaries (Sixty-sixth Congress). It was in this capacity that Randsell sponsored the Ransdell Act, which created the National Institutes of Health.

In 1920, he founded a printing firm in Washington, D.C. He returned to Lake Providence in 1931 and engaged in the real estate business, cotton planting, and pecan growing and was a member of the board of supervisors of Louisiana State University and Agricultural College at Baton Rouge from 1940- 1944. He died in Lake Providence and is interred in Lake Providence Cemetery.

The definitive biography of Ransdell was written in 1951 by Adras LaBorde, (1912-1993), long-time managing editor of the Alexandria Daily Town Talk.

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United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Samuel Baird
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Louisiana's 5th congressional district

August 29, 1899–March 3, 1913
Succeeded by
James Elder
United States Senate
Preceded by
Murphy Foster
United States Senator (Class 2) from Louisiana
March 4, 1913–March 3, 1931
Served alongside: John Thornton, Robert F. Broussard, Walter Guion, Edward Gay, Edwin Broussard
Succeeded by
Huey Long
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Robert Owen
Oldest living U.S. Senator
July 19, 1947-July 27, 1954
Succeeded by
Lawrence Phipps


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