|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arkansas's 5th district
January 3, 1943 – January 3, 1959
|Preceded by||David D. Terry|
|Succeeded by||Dale Alford|
|Born||August 9, 1898
|Died||October 11, 1981
Chevy Chase, Maryland
|Alma mater||University of Arkansas
George Washington University Law School
Brooks Hays was born in London, Pope County, Arkansas, on August 9, 1898. He attended public schools in Russellville, Arkansas. Hays served in the United States Army in 1918. After leaving the service he earned a degree from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in 1919. He attended law school at George Washington University, becoming a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity, earning his law degree in 1922, after which he was admitted to the bar. Hays returned to Russellville and opened a private law practice.
Hays served as assistant attorney general of Arkansas from 1925 to 1927. He served as a Democratic National committeeman for Arkansas from 1932–1939. With the arrival of the New Deal, Hays was appointed as a labor compliance officer for the National Recovery Administration in Arkansas in 1934. He served as assistant to the administrator of resettlement in 1935 and held administrative and legal positions in the Farm Security Administration from 1936-1942.
In 1953, Hays sponsored House Resolution 60, to create within the Capitol building, “a place of retreat as an encouragement to prayer.” This followed a trend of religious legislation which had manifested the previous year in the establishment of the National Day of Prayer, and would continue in following years with the insertion of the words "under God" into the Pledge of Allegiance (1954), and the addition of “In God We Trust” to the national currency (1955). 1953 also saw the inception of the Presidential Prayer Breakfast, later renamed the National Prayer Breakfast, an event sponsored by International Christian Leadership, also known as The Family (Christian political organization). Hays, whom the Washington Post’s Drew Pearson described in a June 20, 1954 column as "one of the foremost experts in psychological warfare against communism," used his evangelical connections to help build a Christian conservative consensus in favor of the aggressive internationalism The Family called "Militant Liberty," an approach favored by internationalist Republicans and conservative Democrats.
The 1958 election
The major issue of the day was President Dwight D. Eisenhower's sending in federal troops to integrate Central High School in Little Rock (see also Little Rock Integration Crisis). Most Arkansas politicians opposed the intervention, but Hays (D) tried to mediate the standoff between the federal government and Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus. Hays was not an integrationist, but his actions inflamed segregationists in the state, who rallied around Amis Guthridge the attorney for several segregationist groups in the Democratic primary. Guthridge was backed by the White Citizens Council and ran on a pro-segregation platform. Hays prevailed by a 3–2 margin in the primary. Then, with just a week to go before the November election, Dale Alford, a member of the Little Rock school board, launched a write-in bid against Hays. Backed by Faubus' allies, Alford won in a major upset by just over 1,200 votes (51–49 percent). It was one of only three times in the past half-century (this was asserted in 2006) that a write-in candidate won a Congressional election.
During his last term in Congress, Hays was elected to serve as the president of the Southern Baptist Convention for its 1957-1958 term; he was nominated for the position by J. D. Grey, long-term pastor of the First Baptist Church of New Orleans. In that capacity, Hays traveled with Rev. Dr. Clarence Cranford, his pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. and President of the American Baptist Convention, to Moscow for a joint peace mission.
From 1959 to 1961, after his congressional tenure had ended, Hays served on the Board of Directors of the Tennessee Valley Authority. Hays served in the Kennedy administration as Assistant Secretary of State for congressional relations in 1961 and as Special Assistant to the President of the United States from late 1961 until February 1964.
Hays became professor of political science at the Eagleton Institute at Rutgers University and a visiting professor of government at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He served as director of the Ecumenical Institute at Wake Forest University from 1968-1970. In 1970 he was elected as co-chairman of Former Members of Congress, Inc. and served as the chairman of the Government Good Neighbor Council of North Carolina.
He also served on the Board of Directors of the National Conference on Citizenship in 1960.
In 1966, Hays ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Arkansas. The eventual party nominee, James D. Johnson, a former Arkansas Supreme Court justice from Conway, and an avowed segregationist, was defeated in the November general election by the Republican Winthrop Rockefeller of Morrilton.
In 1972 Hays made an unsuccessful attempt for election to the Ninety-third Congress as a representative from North Carolina, losing to the Republican incumbent, Wilmer Mizell (also known as "Vinegar Bend" Mizell).
With his career at an end, Hays took up residence in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Brooks Hays died on 11 October 1981 in Chevy Chase and was buried at Oakland Cemetery in Russellville, Arkansas.
- "Baptist Leaders plan Baptist Peace Mission". Miami News. March 1, 1958.
- Cornell, George (July 26, 1957). "Closer cooperation noted by North, South Baptists". Milwaukee Sentinel (AP).
- Atto, William J., “Brooks Hays and the New Deal,” Arkansas Historical Quarterly, 67 (Summer 2008), 168–86.
- Caner, Emir, and Ergun Caner. The Sacred Trust: Sketches of the Southern Baptist Convention Presidents (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2003) pp 114–117.
- Brooks Hays at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Finding aid for the Brooks Hays Oral History, Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library
- Audio recording of Brooks Hays' lecture for the Marshall-Wythe Symposium at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, 20 March 1959.
|United States House of Representatives|
David D. Terry
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arkansas's 5th congressional district
William B. Macomber, Jr.
|Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs
February 28, 1961 – December 3, 1961