Joseph William Jr. Martin

(b. 1884)

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(b. North Attleboro, Massachusetts, 3 Nov. 1884; d. Hollywood, Florida, 6 Mar. 1968)

US; member of the US House of Representatives 1925–67 The son of a blacksmith, Martin worked as a journalist after attending high school. In 1908 he bought the North Attleboro Evening Chronicle and in 1912 was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives, where he served until 1914, when he was elected to the state Senate. In 1917 he became chairman of the Massachusetts Legislative Campaign Committee and was from 1922 to 1925 executive secretary of the Republican State Committee. Elected to the US House of Representatives in 1925, Martin became minority leader in 1939, a position he held until 1959. From 1940 to 1942 Martin combined the role of minority leader of the House with the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee. With the Republican congressional victory of 1946, he served as Speaker in the ‘do-nothing Eightieth Congress’ (1947–49), a role he occupied again when Republicans enjoyed a majority in the House from 1953 to 1955.

Martin played a key part in the ‘conservative coalition’. He was able to unite Republicans and conservative southern Democrats to curb the expansion of federal government and to limit the impact of liberal legislative initiatives. In 1946 he helped to pass the Taft-Hartley Act, limiting the power of organized labour, over President Truman's veto. For many on his own side his leadership style was too autocratic and there were suspicions that his friendly relationship with Democratic Speaker Sam Rayburn limited Republican effectiveness in Congress. Discontent with the Republican electoral and legislative performance combined with concern about the neglect of the party's Policy Committee to remove him from the leadership in 1959. In 1966 Martin failed to be renominated and he died two years later.

Subjects: Politics.

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