Montgomery, Robert Hargrove (1893–1978)

By: Robert J. Robertson

Type: Biography

Published: February 6, 2009

Robert H. Montgomery, University of Texas economics professor, was born January 8, 1893, in Blanco County, Texas. He was the son of Charles G. and Georgia Montgomery who lived later in Menard County. He enrolled at Southwest Texas State Teachers College (now Texas State University–San Marcos), but dropped out of college during World War I to serve as an aviator in the U.S. Army. In 1923 he commenced a life-long marriage with Gladys Rupp. He attended the University of Kansas where he earned a B.A. degree, the University of Texas where he received an M.A. degree, and the Robert Brookings Graduate School in Washington, D.C. where in 1926 he was awarded a Ph.D. In 1922 Montgomery began teaching in the Department of Economics at the University of Texas where he rose to the rank of Professor of Economics and retired as Professor Emeritus in 1963. On various occasions he took leave to teach at the University of Kansas, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Pittsburgh, and to serve in the national administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in one instance, helping carry out relief programs of the New Deal.

In his long professorial career at the University, Montgomery taught a variety of courses, such as Agricultural Economics, Public Utility Economics, Corporation Finance, and Social Control of Industry, courses that attracted thousands of students who were fascinated by his colorful lectures and amused by his anecdotes and aphorisms. His reputation as a charismatic speaker earned him invitations to speak at conventions and other professional organization meetings across the United States. A liberal Democrat, he complained about the "colonial" status of Texas where large resources and industrial operations were controlled by "foreign" corporations in New York, and he advocated governmental regulation of industry, positions that won him the admiration of Texas New Dealers and the condemnation of conservatives in the Texas legislature and the University Board of Regents. Accused of teaching communism, Montgomery was called before an investigating committee of the state legislature in 1948 and asked if he belonged to any radical organizations. He answered famously, yes, that he belonged to the two most radical organizations in existence, "the Methodist Church and the Democratic Party."

Montgomery's publications included The Cooperative Pattern in Cotton (1929) and The Brimstone Game: Monopoly in Action (1949), as well as articles about the government ownership and control of railroads and electric utilities in The Annals of the Academy of Political and Social Science. During World War II, he served with the Economic Objectives Division, Board of Economic Warfare of the Foreign Economic Administration, where he helped select bombing targets in enemy territories. When he learned that American air forces had dropped atomic bombs on Japan, he reacted swiftly and famously, saying "Since there will be no more war; or only one more, I shall resign. We now have our choice. We can have millennium or Armageddon." After his retirement from the University faculty in 1963, Montgomery and his wife, Gladys, moved to San Marcos where they lived until his death on June 6, 1978.

Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Don E. Carleton, Red Scare! Right-wing Hysteria, Fifties Fanaticism, and Their Legacy in Texas (Austin: Texas Monthly Press, 1985). Don E. Carleton, A Breed So Rare: The Life of J. R. Parten, Liberal Texas Oil Man, 1896–1992 (Austin: Texas State Historical Association and Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, 1998).


  • Education
  • Educators
  • Social Sciences

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Robert J. Robertson, “Montgomery, Robert Hargrove,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed December 05, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

February 6, 2009