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George A. Caldwell
, sometimes known as Big George Caldwell
(August 24, 1892–March 12, 1966), was a powerful Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...
contractor who supervised the construction of nine buildings on the campus of Louisiana State University
Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, most often referred to as Louisiana State University, or LSU, is a public coeducational university located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The University was founded in 1853 in what is now known as Pineville, Louisiana, under the name...
(LSU) in Baton Rouge
Baton Rouge is the capital of the U.S. state of Louisiana. It is located in East Baton Rouge Parish and is the second-largest city in the state.Baton Rouge is a major industrial, petrochemical, medical, and research center of the American South...
, including the university library and the structures housing the dairying and physics departments.
Caldwell was born in Abbeville
Abbeville is a town in and the parish seat of Vermilion Parish, Louisiana, United States, 150 miles west of New Orleans. The population was 12,257 at the 2010 census...
, the seat of Vermillion Parish in south Louisiana, to Charlie Caldwell and the former Camille LeBlanc. He married Zellie Belle Wahl. In the 1930s, he became State Superintendent of Construction; during his tenure he launched work at LSU. Investigations later revealed that Caldwell was keeping 2 percent of the funds budgeted for the LSU construction. Some of this was spent on a lavish mansion, estimated to cost $45,000, then a large amount, which he built near the university.
As both state and federal investigations into the Louisiana Hayride scandal heated up, Caldwell was asked to resign as superintendent. He and his successor were later arrested for violating the Federal Relief Act. Caldwell was later indicted on a number of other charges related to misusing Works Progress Administration
The Works Progress Administration was the largest and most ambitious New Deal agency, employing millions of unskilled workers to carry out public works projects, including the construction of public buildings and roads, and operated large arts, drama, media, and literacy projects...
funds; Caldwell and his cronies were using federal funds to pay contractors for work conducted at their own homes.
After being convicted of tax evasion and bribery, Caldwell was sentenced in 1940 to four years in a federal prison. In 1941, he was paroled and subsequently pardoned by U.S. President Harry Truman. He married for a second time in 1948, to the former Margaret Longmire.
Caldwell died in Baton Rouge at the age of seventy-three.