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Charles Abraham Halleck

(b. 1900)


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(b. Demotte, Jasper County, Indiana, 22 Aug. 1900; d. Lafayette, Indiana, 3 Mar. 1986)

US; member of the US House of Representatives 1935–68 The son of an Indiana lawyer and state politician, Halleck was first elected to Congress in 1935 and rapidly became one of its key leaders in the House of Representatives. In 1943 he was chairman of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee and became majority leader of the House in 1947. When the Republicans again won control of the House in 1952 Halleck was once more made majority leader. However, when the Republicans became a minority in 1955, Halleck was given the unofficial post of deputy leader under Joseph Martin's leadership. This device gave Halleck continuing influence and access within the Republican hierarchy.

In 1959 Halleck ousted Martin in a move that suggested there would be new and more dynamic leadership for the House Republicans. In fact, Halleck's period as leader saw substantial Republican unhappiness about the party's electoral and legislative impact. Halleck had originally been an isolationist but after the Second World War he became a supporter of interventionism. He was an adroit legislative tactician but frequently gave more weight to cutting deals with the President than to keeping the party united. He proved a useful ally of Republican President Eisenhower but also of Democratic Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. Thus, for example, in 1963 he played a key role in the passage of civil rights legislation against the wishes of the ‘conservative coalition’.

In tandem with Everett Dirksen he gained wide publicity in the 1960s as a result of their popular television news conferences dubbed the ‘Ev and Charlie’ show in which contemporary issues and personalities were subjected to partisan analysis.

Although considered vice-presidential material, Halleck was bypassed in 1948 and 1952 when he came closest to being selected by the Republican presidential nominee. Increasingly criticized for his lacklustre performance in the House and for his part in the GOP's electoral disaster of 1964, Halleck was replaced as Republican leader by Gerald Ford in 1965. Halleck retired from Congress in 1968.

Subjects: Politics.


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