In January of 1921, 'Sophomore' State Representative, Geeorge Schwabe, of Nowata, became the first Republican Speaker of the Oklahoma House. He and his fellow Republicans swept into office in the biggest shift of legislative seats that Oklahoma has ever had. A total of 40 seats moved from Democrat to Republican, including the delegation from the newly booming city called Tulsa,
In 1919, Oklahoma's State House had 79 Democrats and just 30 Republicans. A very unpopular Democrat president named Woodrow Wilson was in the White House, but rumored to be under his wife's control after a major stroke. Wilson's bid for a 3rd presidential term was terminated.
The Kansas Flu (referred to as the 'Spanish Flu') had devastated the world. Oklahoma historian, John Dwyer, details the pandemic, here.
In Oklahoma, farmers were devastated by market changes and lowered demand after the Great War. While oil wealth was concentrated in the few, in the cities, Oklahoma was a very rural state. Democrats in Oklahoma opposed extending voting rights to women & minorities. While suffrage was granted on paper, county election boards imposed reading competency tests and other barriers.
The old Democrat guard had no answers for the bad state of affairs, and Republicans actively demanded accountability.
Schwabe clearly showed his skills in political science. He saw political opportunity and he helped lead a statewide growth in the Oklahoma Republican Party. But he failed to sustain in power. Oklahoma's Democrat powerhouse retooled in 1922. No longer having to give excuses for Woodrow Wilson, the Dems in Oklahoma now blamed Oklahoma Republicans for the change of social order. Within months, Tulsa's 'Black Wall Street' was torched by people associated with the Democrat-led KKK. The era of intimidation continued in the 1920s.
The tribal & Democrat leaders in eastern & southern Oklahoma doubled down and took on every Republican, in 1922. Even Speaker Schwabe, himself, became a casualty of the 1922 Oklahoma Democrat Landslide. A net of 63 House seats switched to the Democrat party.
In 1923, Schwabe left Nowata and set up a prominent law practice in Tulsa.
In 1928, Schwabe became the Chairman of the Tulsa County Republican Committee. His leadership was part of an effort which resulted in a doubling of the Republican Caucus of the Oklahoma House. At 47 members, they were a mere 5 seats short of taking over the chamber.
In 1930, the ravages of the Great Depression led to a new populist move toward socialism, and the Oklahoma Democrats increased their margin to more than 85% of the House. It would remain heavily Democrat for another 70 years, until the 21st century.
The 1940 census results led to a new congressional seat in the Tulsa area. In 1944, Schwabe became a congressman. His brother was serving in congress as a member of the Missouri delegation, a unique notoriety at the time. After 2 terms, he was defeated by a democrat, Dixie Gilmer; but won the seat back in 1950. He served for 3 terms, and died in office, of a heart attack, in 1952.