Edward E. Cox

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For other people of the same name, see Edward Cox (disambiguation).
Edward E. Cox.

Edward Eugene "Eugene" or "Goober" Cox (April 3, 1880 - December 24, 1952) served as a U.S. Representative from Georgia for nearly twenty-eight years. A conservative Democrat who supported segregation[1] and opposed President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's "New Deal,"[2] Cox became the most senior Democrat on the House Committee on Rules. Two special investigative committees that he chaired were heavily criticized as result-oriented persecutions of those Cox did not like. A failed attempt to create another such committee would turn out to have far-reaching consequences: in 1941, with American entry into World War II seeming inevitable, Cox proposed an investigative committee, similar to the Civil War-era Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War, to deal with matters of national defense. When Roosevelt learned of Cox's intentions, he pre-empted them by agreeing to a similar proposal from Missouri Senator Harry S. Truman; the Truman Committee would come to be seen as a significant asset to the war effort, and its chairman - a little-known "backbencher" at the time of its founding - would become Roosevelt's Vice President and, after his death in 1945, President of the United States.

Born near Camilla, Georgia, Cox attended Camilla High School and Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, before graduating from the law department of that university in 1902. The same year, he was admitted to the bar and commenced practice in Camilla. In 1904, he was elected mayor of Camilla and held the position for two years.

He served as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1908.

Cox was appointed and subsequently elected judge of the superior court of the Albany circuit and served from 1912 until 1916. That year, he resigned to challenge incumbent Frank Park for the Democratic nomination to represent Georgia's 2nd congressional district in the Sixty-fifth Congress. Park defeated Cox. It took until 1924, when Cox finally won the Democratic nomination from Park, and was elected to the 69th United States Congress. Once in office, Cox was re-elected thirteen times. In all, he served from March 4, 1925, until his death in 1952. Cox died of a heart attack on December 24, 1952, between his victory in the 1952 general election and the start of the 83rd United States Congress.

Although Cox was a frequent critic of the administrations of Roosevelt and Truman, their coattails often provided Democratic majorities in the House that allowed Cox to chair powerful committees, particularly in his later years. He was part of a series of conservative Democrats and Republicans who held the chairmanship of the U.S. House Committee on Rules from 1935 until 1961, which provided a major obstacle to the progress of civil rights and social justice legislation during that period.[3] In 1950, Cox made an unsuccessful attempt to forge a coalition of Dixiecrat Democrats and leaders of the House's Republican minority, in support of a bill that would "restore to the House Rules Committee its old power to bury any bill safely in a deep committee pigeonhole."[4]

In 1943, Cox sponsored and chaired a select committee whose mission was to investigate the Federal Communications Commission.[5] Cox clashed strongly with FCC chairman James Lawrence Fly, who regularly released press statements attacking Cox and the committee. However, it was revealed that, shortly before the investigation began, Cox had been paid to represent a private party seeking favorable action from the FCC. Commissioner Clifford Durr petitioned Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn to remove Cox from the committee for conflict of interest, but Rayburn, a personal friend of Cox's, referred the issue to the Judiciary Committee, which concluded it had no authority in the matter. The original conflict of interest led to a criminal inquiry of Cox by the U.S. Department of Justice,[6] and destroyed the credibility of his investigation of the agency to such a degree that Cox was forced to give up his committee seat.[7]

In June 1949, during debate on the Housing Act of 1949, Cox (then 69) started a fist fight on the floor of the House with that chamber's Dean, Representative Adolph J. Sabath (then 83). The combatants, each a longstanding Democratic member of the Rules Committee, soon apologized and expressed their admiration for the other.[8]

In the Eighty-second Congress (his final term), Cox was chairman of the United States House Select Committee to Investigate Tax-Exempt Foundations and Comparable Organizations. The Committee's focus was on whether the organizations and persons receiving funding from foundations included subversives.[9] The Committee's report was not issued until after Cox's death.

After his death in Bethesda, Maryland, Cox was interred in Oakview Cemetery, Camilla, Georgia.

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Frank Park
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Georgia's 2nd congressional district

March 4, 1925 – December 24, 1952
Succeeded by
J.L. Pilcher

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Milestones, Jan. 5, 1953". Time. 1953-01-05. Retrieved 2010-07-06. 
  2. ^ "National Affairs: Roast Chicken". Time. 1937-08-23. Retrieved 2010-07-06. 
  3. ^ Donald R. Wolfensberger. "Committee on Rules - a History". U.S. House Committee on Rules. Retrieved 2010-07-09. 
  4. ^ "The Revolt that Failed". Time. 1950-01-30. Retrieved 2010-07-06. 
  5. ^ "U.S. at War: Work, Opinions, Feuds". Time. 1943-02-01. Retrieved 2010-07-06. 
  6. ^ Pearson, Drew (1943-07-15). "Washington Merry-Go-Round: Cox the Fox". Kingsport (TN) Times. p. 4. 
  7. ^ "FCC Investigating Committee Loses its Chairman; Cox Resigns Under Pressure". Billboard. 1943-10-09. p. 6. Retrieved 2010-07-07. 
  8. ^ "Aged Fighters Bury Hatchet". The Statesville (NC) Landmark. 1949-06-23. p. 3. 
  9. ^ "Education: The Grubstakers". Time. 1952-12-22. Retrieved 2010-07-06. 


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.