The Consequences of Northern Republican Opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964

The 1964 election was in many ways a watershed event in American politics. Although it was a landslide win for President Lyndon B. Johnson, 1964 itself was a year of some monumental changes in policy. The Economic Opportunity Act was passed that year, launching the War on Poverty, and the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, setting the United States on the policy of tackling employment discrimination as well as ending segregation. As it might be predicted, the vote was largely regional, with most of the North voting for and most of the South against. There was strong pressure to vote against the bill in the South, but there was strong pressure to vote for the bill in the North. In the House, the Civil Rights Act on final vote passed 289-126. The Republican vote on it was 136-35, with 14 of the “nay” votes coming from the South (the former Confederacy plus Kentucky and Oklahoma). There were also two Northern Republicans who cast a “pair” against.

August E. Johansen - Wikipedia
Rep. August Johansen of Michigan, one of the most consistent Northern Republican foes of civil rights legislation. He was defeated in 1964 after ten years in Congress.

Of the 23 Northern House Republicans who voted or paired against on the final vote, this is what happened to them:

H. Allen Smith, California – Reelected.

Del Clawson, California – Reelected.

Glen Lipscomb, California – Reelected.

James B. Utt, California – Reelected.

Bob Wilson, California – Reelected.

Patrick Martin, California – Defeated.

Charlotte Reid, Illinois – Reelected.

Earl Wilson, Indiana – Defeated.

H.R. Gross, Iowa – Reelected.

Ben F. Jensen, Iowa – Defeated.

George Meader, Michigan – Defeated.

August Johansen, Michigan – Defeated.

Victor Knox, Michigan – Defeated.

Durward G. Hall, Missouri – Reelected.

James F. Battin, Montana – Reelected.

Ralph Beerman, Nebraska – Defeated.

Louis Wyman, New Hampshire – Defeated.

Clarence E. Kilburn, New York – Retired.

Don Short, North Dakota – Defeated.

John Ashbrook, Ohio – Reelected.

E.Y. Berry, South Dakota – Reelected.

William Van Pelt, Wisconsin – Defeated.

William Henry Harrison, Wyoming – Defeated.

Of the 22 who were up for reelection in the North, half were defeated! In the Senate, the only Republican who had voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and was seeking to be elected was Edwin Mechem of New Mexico, who lost. This is, of course, on top of Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona being the Republican nominee, who voted against the Civil Rights Act and only won his home state and the Deep South. Incidentally, nearly everywhere Republicans gained in this election in the House was in the Deep South.

26 Northern Republicans who had voted for the act lost, and three Southern Republicans who had voted against lost. 21% of Northern Republicans who had voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and were up for reelection lost reelection as opposed to 50% of Northern Republicans who had voted against and were up for reelection. I’d say that’s a significant difference.


H.R. 7152. CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1964.

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William S. Mailliard: San Francisco’s Last Republican Congressman

William S. Mailliard.jpg

San Francisco today is known as a hotbed of left-wing politics and it seems to only continue to be moving that direction. The election of Chesa Boudin, a far leftist who once worked for Hugo Chavez as District Attorney as well as the renaming of schools named after Abraham Lincoln and Dianne Feinstein of all people stand as some of the latest far left advancements in the city. However, San Francisco was not always such a lefty place. In the 1950s, their assemblyman was none other than Ronald Reagan’s future Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, and one of their two representatives was William S. Mailliard (1917-1992), who had defeated liberal Democrat Franck Havenner in 1952 through anti-communist campaigning.

Mailliard’s district didn’t entirely consist of San Francisco, rather it consisted of the areas that connected the Golden Gate Bridge. The suburbs of Marin County and the western middle-class areas of San Francisco made up his district, making it the type of district that would elect Republicans back in the day. Despite his anti-communist campaigning, Mailliard was a moderate: his lifetime MC-Index score stands at a 54%, lifetime ACA score is also a 54%, while his adjusted lifetime ADA score stands at 45%. He was socially liberal, fiscally conservative, and a through-and-through internationalist. This translated to him being a strong supporter of civil rights legislation, voting frequently for domestic budget cuts, opposing a school prayer amendment, and voting against the Economic Opportunity Act in 1964. Another apt descriptor of him is “Eisenhower Republican”.

Although Mailliard won reelection easily in 1968, the Nixon Administration was not proving popular in San Francisco. In 1970, for the first time, he won reelection by eight points, the first time in his Congressional career he won by single digits. In 1972, Mailliard won by only four points in a good year for the GOP. His support for Nixon’s approach to the Vietnam War may have contributed to his declining popularity in the district and by 1974, a court-ordered redistricting added black and university neighborhoods, making reelection unlikely for him. He resigned his post to be ambassador to the Organization of American States, before the “smoking gun” evidence was released in the Watergate scandal. Mailliard left the post with the end of the Ford Administration in 1977. He suffered a heart attack on his 75th birthday at Dulles International Airport in 1992 and died at the hospital. Mailliard served in a different time, in which San Francisco had a vibrant middle class who could vote Republican. However, even the areas he represented in San Francisco are now about as liberal as anywhere else in the city and even those voters at that time, like Mailliard, possessed socially liberal sensibilities.


Lydon, C. (1974, June 3). Democrat Favored to Win House Seat in San Francisco Area in Special Election Tuesday. The New York Times.

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William Mailliard Dies. (1992, June 12). The Washington Post.

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Paul Findley: Ideological Changeling and Israel Critic

In 1960, a number of significant freshmen from the Republican side of the aisle were elected to Congress: Bob Dole of Kansas, John Anderson of Illinois, Charles Mathias of Maryland, John Ashbrook of Ohio, William Scranton of Pennsylvania, and Robert Stafford of Vermont. Of these, Mathias, Scranton, and Stafford represented the moderate to liberal wing of the party while Dole, Anderson, and Ashbrook were of the conservative wing. Anderson would shift to the former camp by the Nixon Administration. One of the most interesting ones, however, was Paul Findley (1921-2019) of Illinois.

In his first four years of Congress, Findley was almost indistinguishable from the most conservative of Republicans. In 1962, he managed to put a major dent in the Kennedy program when he successfully killed the administration’s feed grain proposal, which was recommitted by ten votes. In 1963, Findley pushed against the Kennedy Administration giving food for peace funds to Yugoslavia while it was providing food aid to North Vietnam. He opposed the space program on cost grounds, voted against the Peace Corps, and voted against Medicare. Findley even voted against educational television, which got the vote of the notorious penny-pincher H.R. Gross of Iowa. As he noted in 2013 about his record back then, “I believe I voted against everything. My voting record the first two years in the House showed…Well, one of the professors at Illinois College, Joe Patterson Smith, said to his friends that I was a Neanderthal, and I was. I was; there’s no doubt about it” (DePue, 81). Findley’s Americans for Constitutional Action (ACA) score for 1961-1962 was a 100%, the same as John Birch Society members John Rousselot and Edgar Hiestand of California and exceeding that of Orange County’s resident arch-conservative James B. Utt, who scored a 96%. His first vote in which he diverged from conservatism by ACA was his vote for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Race never seemed to be an issue for Findley, as he noted, “I shared a desk with a black girl in first grade. It didn’t strike me as strange that we had blacks. I accepted them” (DePue, 13). In 1965, he appointed Frank Mitchell, the first black House page, with the cooperation of Minority Leader Gerald Ford and Minority Whip Leslie Arends.

Findley’s support for civil rights extended to fair housing legislation and by the 1970s he was opposing many proposals to curb busing. Although his conservatism persisted throughout the Johnson Administration, his record took a turn for the moderate during the Nixon Administration and there it stayed. Findley backed Nixon’s proposal for guaranteed minimum income for working families and at times he was critical of the Nixon Administration’s approach on Vietnam. In 1973, he was the central author of the War Powers Resolution, which was an attempt by Congress to reassert power over the use of the military. Findley also proved to be pro-choice and regularly voted against abortion restrictions. His position on the minimum wage also underwent a change as he backed a minimum wage increase over President Nixon’s veto in 1973 while he had opposed significant minimum wage increases in 1961 and 1966. Although by the 1970s he was a moderate, he still did push some conservative proposals, such as work requirements for food stamps and limiting Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration coverage. Findley met Yasser Arafat on a trip to Damascus, Syria as a member of the Foreign Relations Committee in 1978 and he walked away so impressed by what he thought was his commitment to peace in the region that he became a critic of Israel on the Israel-Palestine conflict. His criticisms grew with time, including calling for stopping aid to Israel. Findley even called himself “Arafat’s best friend in Congress” (Schnazer).

He was not particularly gung-ho about President Ronald Reagan and he was one of the last Republican representatives to be persuaded to vote for the Reagan tax cuts. Findley’s MC-Index score in the 97th Congress was a 42%, a stark contrast to his first term score of 100%. In 1982, he faced a strong challenger in Democrat Dick Durbin, who hit him on his support for the Palestinian side of the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict, stating “He is totally out of step on the issue. What President Reagan recognizes–what everybody but Paul Findley recognizes–is that the PLO is a force for instability in that region, not a liberation group” (Bohlen). Findley indeed thought differently. He stated before a class of college students that year, “Arafat is, I think, a very practical man who can adjust to reality if it is the only way to get a Palestinian homeland under way” (Bohlen). Redistricting wasn’t helpful for him nor was the recession, and he lost reelection by less than a point. Durbin today serves as Senate Majority Whip. Findley subsequently wrote They Dare to Speak Out (1985), in which he critiqued what he saw as the excessive influence of Israel on U.S. foreign policy and blamed Israel’s lobby for his 1982 defeat. A second edition was published in 1989 and a third in 2003. Much of Findley’s post-Congressional political activities centered on criticism of Israel. In 2002, he came out against the Iraq War and attributed 9/11 to the US’s continued support of Israel in the Israel-Palestine conflict, stating “Nine-eleven would not have occurred if the U.S. government had refused to help Israel humiliate and destroy Palestinian society” (Schnazer). Findley also attributed the invasion of Iraq to Israel’s influence. He died on August 9, 2019 at the age of 98. Findley’s overall MC-Index score was a 69%, with his average score for his first four terms being a 93% and for his subsequent terms the average was a 56%. Former Representative John Napier (R-S.C.) said of him, “We did not always agree. But he was a thoughtful person, and I admired his independence. When we disagreed, we did so agreeably, never in a disagreeable way. That, I believe, is the hallmark of statesmanship. He was a wonderful congressman who represented his constituency in an honorable manner” (Gizzi).


Bohlen, C. (1982, October 31). The 1982 Elections: The Illinois 20th District Race. The Washington Post.

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DePue, M. (2013, January 15). Interview with Paul Findley. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library.

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Click to access Findley_Pau_4FNL.pdf

Gizzi, J. (2019, August 16). Remembering Ex-GOP Rep. Paul Findley, Friend of Arafat. Newsmax.

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Remembering Ex-GOP Rep. Paul Findley, Friend of Arafat |

Schnazer, J. (2019, September). The Congressman Who Hated Israel. Commentary Magazine.

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The Congressman Who Hated Israel

Seelye, K.Q. (2019, August 14). Paul Findley, Congressman Behind War Powers Act, Dies at 98. The New York Times.

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Walter Baring: Nevada’s Dissident Democrat

See the source image

In 1936, 25-year old Walter Baring (1911-1975) was elected to the Nevada Assembly as a New Deal Democrat. Despite his support for President Franklin D. Roosevelt, he would in the very next year speak out against his “court packing plan” early, which initially landed him in some hot water. Although this would be his first significant dissent from liberal Democrats, it would portend his antagonism towards the ideology of his own party later in life.

Baring’s first election to Congress was in 1948, riding President Truman’s shock election wave and defeating Republican incumbent Charles Russell by 761 votes. He was for the most part a supporter of President Truman and the Fair Deal during this time. However, once again there were some signs of future trouble for his adherence to liberalism. In 1952, Baring began to oppose foreign aid and that year he voted to override President Truman’s veto of the McCarran-Walter Immigration Act. That year, he narrowly lost reelection to Republican Cliff Young as Dwight Eisenhower won the presidency in a landslide. Baring was not one to give up though, in 1954 he tried again only to lose by a greater margin. But after Young decided to give up his House seat to run for the Senate, Baring tried once again and won, and this time he would stay.

Baring remained a staunch anti-communist domestic liberal but had taken to consistently voting against foreign aid. He appealed greatly to rural Nevadans who saw no direct benefits of foreign aid and appreciated his frankness as well as his commitment to constituent service. Although Baring initially supported President Kennedy and his New Frontier programs, by 1962 he was having second thoughts and by the next year he was a full-fledged opponent of him and liberal Democrats generally. Baring’s shift also appeared in his words when he said before the Reno Chamber of Commerce in 1962, “I am seriously concerned over the foreign aid give-away programs and the constant spirit of defeatism which has existed over the last 10 years…The constantly increasing federal controls through centralization of government activities are extremely detrimental to the American way of life” (Evans). Nevada’s delegation was all-Democratic in the 1960s, with Senators Alan Bible and Howard Cannon, while not being rubber stamps for Democratic presidents, backing them on many significant issues, but with Baring his hostility to the national Democratic platform was all too apparent. His shift also came about on civil rights. Baring had previously backed a mandatory Fair Employment Practices Committee during the Truman Administration and had supported the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960, but he became a foe of most such measures, voting against the comprehensive Civil Rights Act of 1964 and opposing other measures to combat racial discrimination in employment and housing. That vote nearly cost him renomination. Baring was not above using racial appeals in his campaigning, and in the 1964 primary, he distributed leaflets of his opponent, Ralph Denton, pictured next to Dr. Charles I. West, a black physician and civil rights activist. His campaign also distributed a flyer in white neighborhoods that read, “The colored people are calling for the defeat of your congressman, Walter Baring, because he has the courage to stand up and vote against the unconstitutional civil rights bill. He warned that if the bill were passed, there would be riots and unrest in this country. Congressman Baring stood up for us, now let’s stand up for him” (Nevada Public Radio). Baring even opposed a measure protecting minorities from violent interference in the exercise of their civil rights in 1967 and hinted his support for George Wallace’s candidacy in 1968 when he stated, “Wallace is the only candidate on the presidential level who is talking Americanism” (Evans). Although he believed that the civil rights movement had been inspired by communism and thought Martin Luther King Jr. was in league with subversives, he made exceptions to this opposition to civil rights in his support for the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Jury Selection and Service Act of 1968. In 1965, Baring voted against the Immigration and Nationality Act, which ended the national origins quota system.

Baring clashed with both the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations as well as Senators Bible and Cannon. In 1962, he fought a proposed establishment of the Great Basin National Park as it would reduce land for grazing for Nevada’s ranchers and seemingly because of an announced increase in grazing fees by Interior Secretary Stewart Udall. Baring supported his own plan which gave much more leeway to ranchers as well as mining interests and would be inconsistent with standards for national parks. According to Gary Elliott (254), as a consequence of Baring’s antagonism as well as the subsequent Sagebrush Rebellion, “In 1985 Nevada was the only state that had failed to pass a wilderness bill as provided for in the national Wilderness Act of 1964. In 1986, more than a decade after Baring’s death and Bible’s retirement, Nevada finally secured the Great Basin National Park. It consists of 72,000 acres with guaranteed mining and grazing rights”. Baring’s antagonism of President Johnson also caused a delay in the southern Nevada water project in 1965 and although Johnson made it seem like he might kill the project the truth was that Senators Bible and Cannon remained his supporters so he signed it. His antagonism wasn’t limited to political figures, calling east coast liberals “egg-headed atheists” and denouncing left-wing anti-war activists, supporting the idea that “beatniks, pacifists, and draft-dodgers be sent to Moscow” (Elliott, 248). However, Baring would keep winning renomination and reelection by appealing to rural areas and gaining significant Republican crossover support. His personal motto was, “Nobody likes Walter Baring but the voters” (Evans). He also backed federal money for Nevada and was a consistent supporter of increased funding for highways.

By 1972, Baring had become increasingly vulnerable. Majorities in Clark (Las Vegas) and Washoe (Reno) County would vote against him in his primary elections and those areas were growing. Worse yet for him, his health problems were growing too. Baring weighed 250 pounds and he was a heavy smoker. Rumors of his ill health sprung from a hospitalization during the campaign and contributed to his primary defeat by James Bilbray, who was considerably more liberal. Baring, however, had the last laugh. He endorsed Bilbray’s Republican opponent, David Towell, who went on to win a single term. He had ideas to run for governor in 1974, but these were dashed with his emphysema diagnosis and his weakening heart. On July 13, 1975, Walter Baring died during an operation for surgery on his hip as his heart and lungs gave out under the stress. His lifetime MC-Index score is 55%, with his score before 1963 being 22%, while 1963 until his renomination loss is 88%.


1964 Election, Part 1. (2015, January 17). Nevada Public Radio.

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Elliott, G.E. (1991). Whose Land Is It? The Battle For the Great Basin National Park, 1957-1967. Nevada Historical Society Quarterly, 34(1).

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Evans, K.J. (1999, February 7). Walter Baring. Las Vegas Review-Journal.

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Walter Baring

The Speech That Delayed Free Trade Between the US and Canada for a Lifetime

Speaker of the House Champ Clark, D-Mo.

The idea of reciprocal trade between the US and Canada was nothing new: the nations had it with the Reciprocity Treaty between 1855 and 1866, when the US Congress voted to cancel it. After the Canadian confederation in 1867, Prime Minister John A. Macdonald tried to resurrect the agreement to no avail, and Canadian politics in turn grew more protectionist.

Although President William Howard Taft was a Republican and Republicans were the protectionist party that had successfully with the Payne-Aldrich Tariff only slightly reduced tariffs, he thought that free trade between America’s neighbor to the north would be good for both nations, thus he and his administration tried to negotiate an agreement with Canada. This proposal was well-received at the time, and in the House the proposal passed by a commanding margin of 268-89 on April 21, 1911. The vote split Republicans and received all but ten Democratic votes. The Senate passed the bill 53-27 on July 22, 1911 again splitting Republicans and all but three Democratic senators voted for. Despite overwhelming Democratic support, it was the speech of the Democratic Speaker of the House, Champ Clark of Missouri, which brought this proposal’s doom. Speaking in support before the House, Clark rejoiced, “I look forward to the time when the American flag will fly over every square foot of British North America up to the North Pole. The people of Canada are of our blood and language” (Allan, 17). Clark proceeded to suggest that this measure was the first step to the eventual annexation of Canada, which met with applause in the House. This didn’t sit well with Canadians, who had no wish to be subject to Manifest Destiny and in the 1911 election voted to oust the government of Liberal Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier, widely regarded as Canada’s greatest, for Conservative Robert Borden, who had used Clark’s speech to great effect during his campaign and pulled Canada out of the agreement. Canada in that day and age had a patriotism that was tied with sticking with Britain rather than independent identity. Clark would remain speaker until 1919, helping President Woodrow Wilson pass his New Freedom policies but opposing American entry into World War I. He would after losing reelection in 1920 die two days before he was to leave office in 1921.

Despite Democratic emphasis on lower tariffs during the Roosevelt and Truman Administrations and Eisenhower’s support of continuing presidential powers under the Reciprocal Trade Act, an agreement between the US and Canada remained dead. However, trade barriers did start to lower between the nations starting in 1935 with a number of bilateral agreements. It would be up to an American born in 1911 to at last fulfill reciprocal trade with Canada: Ronald Reagan.

In 1982, Canada ended the power of British parliament to amend the Constitution, making Canada a sovereign nation. Patriotism was no longer tied to affinity with Britain yet was tied to an independent Canadian identity. This time, both governments were run by conservative politicians: in Canada Brian Mulroney and in America Ronald Reagan. In May 1986, Canada initiated negotiations with the United States and this time it was Liberal politicians who brought up the specter of American domination. Liberal leader John Turner strongly opposed the agreement and New Democratic Party leader Ed Broadbent held that Canada would become in all but name the “51st state” of the US (Blake, 22).
In the US, the debate was far less controversial than in 1911, and on October 4, 1987, the US and Canada reached an agreement and on January 2, 1988 it was signed. In the House the proposal passed 366-40 on August 9, 1988 and in the Senate 83-9 on September 19, 1988, with the votes not breaking along liberal-conservative lines. This agreement would stick until it was replaced with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), negotiated by George Bush, Mulroney, and Carlos Salinas de Gortari of Mexico.


Allan, C. (2009). Bomb Canada: And other unkind remarks in the American media. Athabasca, AB: Athabasca University Press.

Blake, R.B. (2007). Transforming the nation: Canada and Brian Mulroney. Montreal, QC: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

The Radical Singing Cowboy: Senator Glen H. Taylor

What if I told you the most radical left senator in American history came from the state of Idaho? By one measurement, this is true.

In 1944, Democratic Senator D. Worth Clark of Idaho was having political problems. He was not satisfactory to many of the state’s Democrats as he had been a strong opponent of FDR’s foreign policy before World War II and he was increasingly unreliable in supporting him on domestic issues. That year, a challenger stepped forth against him: Glen H. Taylor (1904-1984).

Taylor was, among other things, a country singer who had twice before tried for the Senate, but both times lost to incumbent Republican John W. Thomas. One thing that harmed him on the campaign trail was his premature baldness, which made him appear significantly older than he was. What convinced him that he needed to wear a toupee was when a man mistook him for his wife’s father. Taylor was also often characterized as a socialist or communist by his detractors. In his 1944 run, Taylor not only wore the toupee but opted to talk about issues that related to the common voter. He beat Clark despite him having a political machine to help him and he narrowly won the Senate election itself. Taylor became known at the beginning of his term for singing on the steps of the Capitol about his difficulties finding lodging giving the housing shortage, “Oh give me a home, near the Capitol dome, with a yard where little children can play / Just one room or two, any old thing will do / Oh we can’t find a pla-a-a-ce to stay!” (Langeveld) This actually worked, and Taylor was contacted with multiple offers.

As he assumed his Senate duties, he quickly gained a reputation as both a disruptor and an eccentric. In 1946, Taylor joined Progressive Citizens of America, an organization which included prominent progressives, socialists, and communists. In 1946, he got into an altercation with Idaho Republican chair Ray McKaig, in which he broke his jaw. McKaig claimed that Taylor had blindsided him and proceeded to kick him in the face when he was down. Taylor denied that he kicked him and claimed that McKaig had insulted him and he had thrown a punch but pulled back before he could harm him but then McKaig bloodied his nose, and then he threw the jaw-breaking punch. The following year, he was prominent in the push to exclude Theodore Bilbo of Mississippi from the Senate for inciting voter intimidation of blacks. He also was arrested in 1948 in Birmingham, Alabama for using the “colored” entrance to a hall in defiance of segregation laws. Taylor was sentenced to pay a $50 fine and had a 180-day suspended jail sentence.

On domestic issues, he had a flawless left-wing record, defending strong price controls and supporting continuing and expanding New Deal measures. Taylor was opposed to anti-communist politicking and in 1950 voted against the McCarran Internal Security Act. Taylor declined to criticize the USSR strongly and rationalized that ninety senators already did so. He became a strong critic, however, of President Truman’s anti-communist foreign policies, voting against the Greek-Turkish Aid Act and the Marshall Plan. Taylor toured the country, part of the way riding his horses Nugget and Chuck, speaking out against Truman’s foreign policies as he thought them too antagonistic to the USSR. This combined with his hard-left stances on domestic policy put him in alliance with the Progressive Party and in 1948 he was nominated for vice president on the ticket. Taylor’s presence in the Senate, it could be argued, was part of the rationale for the creation of Americans for Democratic Action, a lobbying organization which both fought for New Deal liberalism and opposed communism.

In 1950, Clark capitalized on Taylor’s reputation as a radical against him and defeated him for renomination. However, Clark himself would lose the election badly to Republican Herman Welker, who would become one of Joseph McCarthy’s most loyal allies. Taylor was subsequently head of the Coryell Construction Company but in 1952 he was forced to resign as apparently the government didn’t want to make contracts with the company given his political past. Taylor, however, didn’t give up easily on politics and tried twice to regain his seat in the Senate. In 1954, he was trounced by Republican incumbent Henry Dworshak and in 1956 he lost the Democratic nomination to 32-year old Frank Church, who went on to unseat Welker, whose reputation had sunk with McCarthy’s. Taylor quit politics after this and moved to Millbrae, California, where he lived the rest of his life and founded the Taylor Topper Company, the purpose of which was to provide quality toupees. The business still exists today, now known as Taylormade. He died of Alzheimer’s disease in 1984.

Taylor’s MC-Index score is a 5% on account of his votes against the Greek-Turkish Act and the Marshall Plan while his DW-Nominate score is a ludicrously low -0.999, making him the most left-wing senator in American history by that standard.


Collier, P. (April 1977). Remembering Glen Taylor: The Singing Cowboy Who Went to the Senate and Came Home to Sell Toupees… Mother Jones. 42-53.

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Flint, P.B. (1984, May 5). Glen H. Taylor of Idaho Dies; Wallace Running Mate in ’48. The New York Times.

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Langeveld, D. (2016, December 29). Glen H. Taylor: Civil Rights Cowboy. The Downfall Dictionary.  

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Simkin, J. (1997). Glen H. Taylor. Spartacus Educational.

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The Hartford Convention…Or the Death of America’s First Party

George Washington was the nation’s first and only president without a party affiliation. Although he officially eschewed parties and warned of the dangers of them, on policy he frequently sided with the Federalist Party, which had been formed in 1789. Among the members of the Federalist Party were Vice President John Adams and Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton. In 1796, Adams ran for president with Washington’s support and won decisively. However, the Alien and Sedition Acts as well as the administration’s pro-British policies proved unpopular and he was both the first president to lose reelection and the last Federalist president.

Thomas Jefferson proved a popular president for most of his time in office despite Federalist Party propaganda claiming he was a radical. After all, Jefferson had engaged in the most dramatic purchase of land in American history, the Louisiana Purchase. The voters happily elected James Madison, or the Father of the Constitution, to the presidency in 1808 with 64.7% of the vote, with Federalist Charles Pinckney only winning New England states and Delaware. The Federalist Party seemed to continue to decline and its members made the fateful decision to oppose the War of 1812. This time, the Federalist Party did better on the popular vote, albeit not through the Federalist candidate, but rather DeWitt Clinton, a Democratic-Republican who had courted the support of Federalists and came within three points of defeating Madison. Although the Federalists were at a distinct disadvantage, it was still possible for them to have a chance and some relevance, that is until December 1814.

On December 15, 1814, twenty-six Federalists met in Hartford, Connecticut to discuss their concerns with the current state of the United States. It was presided over by George Cabot, who had been a senator from Massachusetts. At the start of the convention it wasn’t necessarily clear that the War of 1812 was coming to an end and what’s more, the New England Federalists didn’t want to be taxed for a war they didn’t support to pay off war debt. Thus far, only one president had not been from Virginia (John Adams) and this New England centered party thought their region’s interests were not being best served. Worse yet, the system at this time seemed to benefit the South and Jeffersonian Republicans as the 12th Amendment had prevented the possibility of the candidate with the most votes being elected president while the one with the second was vice president and made it less likely Congress would decide who was president. Gouverneur Morris, the author of the final draft of the Constitution, was now calling for the creation of a New England Confederacy to avoid taxes from war debt. Timothy Pickering of Massachusetts, who had served as Secretary of State and Secretary of War under Washington, called for secession in order to negotiate New England’s reentry into the union under more favorable terms. However, cooler heads prevailed and the convention rejected secession. By the end of the convention on January 5, 1815, they had written seven constitutional amendments designed to further states’ rights. Despite the secrecy of the meeting, which itself was regarded as suspicious, the press got wind that Morris, Pickering, and other Federalists had voiced support for secession. This brought terrible press on the Federalists and led many people who might otherwise vote for them to move to the Democratic-Republicans out of a sense of patriotism.  The convention was also the victim of bad timing as the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812, had been ratified during the convention.
Cartoon lambasting the Hartford Convention as disloyal to the United States and favorable to Britain.

In 1816, the Federalist Party tried one last time to run a presidential candidate, but the reputation of the party had largely been wrecked nationwide due to the entertaining of secession by the Hartford Convention. The Federalist Party candidate, Senator Rufus King of New York, only won 30.9% of the vote and the states of Delaware, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. From that point the party’s presence in Congress shrank until 1825, when the Federalist Party was no longer a presence. The party lingered on until 1834. At the time of its demise it was irrelevant and overshadowed by other opposition parties that could fulfill the aims of the Federalists minus the baggage of a convention that entertained secession.


Bailey, J.D. The Hartford Convention. Bill of Rights Institute.

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Hartford Convention. Encyclopaedia Britannica.

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Janis, M. (2014, December 14). The Hartford Convention and the Specter of Secession. UConn Today.

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Silvio Conte: The Last of the Massachusetts Republican Legacy

Silvio O. Conte - Wikipedia

Massachusetts was getting more and more liberal and Democratic after World War II and this helped propel John F. Kennedy to the national scene. The Bay State had a long history of Republican leadership, including abolitionist Senator Charles Sumner, Senators George Frisbie Hoar, Henry Cabot Lodge Sr., and Henry Cabot Lodge Jr., as well as Speakers of the House Frederick Gillett and Joe Martin. Calvin Coolidge had been Governor of Massachusetts when tapped for the vice presidency in 1920. Democrats used to mostly be elected from Boston in the state. In 1936, Massachusetts had been FDR’s worst performing state that still voted for him. However, as the politics of the state grew more liberal, so did the Republicans in turn. Lodge Jr. was far more moderate than his grandfather Lodge Sr., Martin’s voting record began to shift to the center in the 1950s and starting in the 1940s Republicans who succeeded previous Republican incumbents were as a rule more liberal. Massachusetts’ 1st district, for instance, had been represented by the anti-New Deal Allen Treadway during the Roosevelt Administration, but his successor was the Rockefeller Republican John W. Heselton. His successor, Silvio Ottavio Conte (1921-1991), would prove even more liberal and would ultimately be the last Republican representative from a district that had been represented by them since 1857. In his first run in 1958, he was elected by over ten points over historian James MacGregor Burns, who would later write a Pulitzer prize winning biography of FDR, Roosevelt: The Soldier of Freedom (1971).

Although Conte initially was an Eisenhower Republican as he often voted to uphold his vetoes based on spending concerns while supporting increases in foreign aid, his record shifted more to liberalism in the 1960s and he backed many Great Society programs, including the Social Security bill that included Medicare and Medicaid and the War on Poverty’s flagship legislation, the Economic Opportunity Act. He was also a strong supporter of civil rights legislation, federal aid to education, and a strong minimum wage. Conte also differed from President Richard Nixon and the Republicans on their Vietnam War policies. One issue, however, that he was distinctly conservative on was abortion. As a devout Catholic Conte routinely voted to restrict it.

At the start of the Reagan Administration, he decided to back Reagan’s budget and tax cuts but he would later clash with him on many issues, including budget cuts. This was troublesome for the Reagan Administration as Conte was the ranking Republican on the Appropriations Committee, and he came to call Reagan’s budget director, David Stockman, “The Young Slasher” (Hunter). On September 9, 1982, Conte played a central role in persuading 80 Republicans to vote to override President Reagan’s veto of the supplemental appropriations bill, which had included aid to the Caribbean that Reagan had pushed him to include. His MC-Index (Mike’s Conservative Index) average score during the Reagan years was a mere 18%, indicating solid liberalism in this period. On October 6, 1983, Conte made headlines by wearing a pig mask in Congress in protest of pork barrel spending, his reaction to the House approving $119 million for 43 new water development projects. Although he often fought pork barrel spending, Conte brought home a good deal of federal money to his district. As Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill said of him, he was opposed to such projects “unless Massachusetts gets 50 percent” (Diamond). And O’Neill knew Conte better than anybody in the House, as he was his best friend in Congress and they and their wives would have a weekly bridge game. As his time in Congress continued, his district changed from a Republican stronghold to a solidly Democratic area, but Conte could always count on reelection.

On January 12, 1991, a dying Silvio Conte cast one of his last votes against the use of military force in Iraq, being one of only three House Republicans to do so. He died of complications of prostate cancer on February 8th at the age of 69. His lifetime MC-Index score was a 28%, with him having scored the highest in his first session at a 63% with his lowest being during the 99th Congress with a 10%. Conte’s DW-Nominate score is a -0.023, indicating a centrist record by that standard but quite liberal for a Republican. The district on the Cook Partisan Voter Index is D+12, which happens to be the same as the state of Massachusetts itself. This final departure you might say was the true end of the old Republican legacy in the state, as when Conte first took office in 1959, the state had one Republican senator and Republicans held six of fourteen House seats. By his death, he had for eight years been the only Republican representing the Bay State, making this the first time since 1857 that no Republicans represented the state. Since Conte’s death thirty years ago, Massachusetts’ delegation to Congress has been entirely Democratic for all but seven years.


Diamond, J. (1991, February 8). Long-Time Congressman Silvio Conte Dies. Associated Press.

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Hunter, M. (1982, September 29). Bay State Republican With an Independent Streak. The New York Times.


Kenworthy, T. (1991, February 10). Popular Massachusetts Rep. Silvio Conte Dies. The Washington Post.

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Photos: Today in History, October 6. (2018, October 6). The Metro West News.

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Rating Congress in the Age of “Camelot”

87th United States Congress - Wikipedia

Today I am posting the MC-Index for the 87th Congress, or the Congress of sixty years ago. At this time, John F. Kennedy was the new president and the image of Camelot for that administration was at its height and this was the very last Congress of the legendary Speaker Sam Rayburn of Texas, who would die of pancreatic cancer on November 16, 1961. In this session we see efforts at programs much in the vein of the Great Society, in this case known as the “New Frontier”. Some proposals were quite controversial like an accelerated public works program and an increased minimum wage while others like college aid and educational TV got far more consensus. President Kennedy rather unusually took a stance on the organization of the legislative branch as Rules Committee Chairman Howard W. Smith of Virginia, who scored a 93% in this session, was against the liberal agenda of the Kennedy Administration. Foreign aid was passed on a bipartisan basis as usual and in this day and age it was possible for Democrats to score a 100% on the MC-Index, including Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, who would in 1964 switch to Republican. The lowest scoring Republicans were Senator Jacob Javits of New York and Representative Seymour Halpern of Queens, New York, who got a mere 15%. With the exception of a single vote in the Senate, civil rights didn’t figure on the ideological scale in this session. The largest issue, the constitutional amendment banning the poll tax, doesn’t figure as a liberal/conservative issue. Neither the ADA (Americans for Democratic Action) nor the ACA (Americans for Constitutional Action) regarded it as a telling vote for ideology and neither do I.

The following legislators scored a 100%:


Smith, R-Calif., Hiestand, R-Calif., Lipscomb, R-Calif., Rousselot, R-Calif., Hoffman, R-Ill., Findley, R-Ill., Bruce, R-Ind., Waggonner, D-La., Johansen, R-Mich., Williams, D-Miss., Beermann, R-Neb., Ray, R-N.Y., Scherer, R-Ohio, Ashbrook, R-Ohio, and Alger, R-Tex.


Goldwater, R-Ariz., Thurmond, D-S.C., Bottum, R-S.D., Tower, R-Tex., Byrd, D-Va., and Robertson, D-Va.

Click on the first link below for the grades of Congress and the second link below for descriptions of the 54 votes, 27 for the House and 27 for the Senate, that were used as the basis for these ratings.