Howard W. Smith

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Howard W. Smith
Howard Worth Smith.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 8th district
In office
March 4, 1931 – March 3, 1933
Preceded by R. Walton Moore
Succeeded by District abolished
Himself after district re-established in 1935
In office
January 3, 1935 – January 3, 1967
Preceded by District re-established
Himself before district abolished in 1933
Succeeded by William L. Scott
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's At-large district
In office
March 4, 1933 – January 3, 1935
Preceded by District re-established
John S. Wise before district abolished in 1885
Succeeded by District abolished
Chairman of the House Committee on Rules
In office
January 3, 1955 – January 3, 1966
Preceded by Leo E. Allen
Succeeded by William M. Colmer
Personal details
Born Howard Worth Smith
(1883-02-02)February 2, 1883
Broad Run, Virginia
Died October 3, 1976(1976-10-03) (aged 93)
Alexandria, Virginia
Resting place Little Georgetown Cemetery
Broad Run (Fauquier County)
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Lillian Proctor (m. 1913–19) d. flu pandemic
Ann Corcoran (m. 1923)
Children Howard Worth Smith, Jr. (d. 2003)
Violett (both by Lillian)
Alma mater University of Virginia (LL.B.)
Profession Attorney
Religion Episcopalian
[1][2]

Howard Worth Smith (February 2, 1883 – October 3, 1976), Democratic U.S. Representative from Virginia, was a leader of the conservative coalition who supported both racial segregation and women's rights.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Broad Run, Virginia, on February 2, 1883, he attended public schools and graduated from Bethel Military Academy, Warrenton, Virginia, in 1901. He took his LLB at the law department of the University of Virginia at Charlottesville in 1903, was admitted to the bar in 1904 and practiced in Alexandria, Virginia.

During World War I, he was assistant general counsel to the Federal Alien Property Custodian. From 1918 to 1922 he was Commonwealth's Attorney of Alexandria. He served as a judge 1922 to 1930 (he was often referred to as "Judge Smith" even while in Congress), and also engaged in banking, farming, and dairying.

Congressional career[edit]

He was elected in 1930 to Congress. He initially supported New Deal measures such as the Tennessee Valley Authority Act and the National Industrial Recovery Act. A leader of the conservative coalition, Smith led the opposition to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) established by the Wagner Act of 1935. Conservatives created a special House committee to investigate the NLRB, headed by Smith and dominated by opponents of the New Deal. The committee conducted a sensationalist investigation that undermined public support for the NLRB and, more broadly, for the New Deal. In June 1940, amendments proposed by the Smith Committee passed by a large margin in the House, due in part to Smith's new alliance with William Green, president of the American Federation of Labor. The AFL was convinced the NLRB was controlled by leftists who supported the Congress of Industrial Organizations not the AFL in organizing drives. New Dealers stopped the Smith amendments, but Roosevelt replaced the CIO-oriented members on the NLRB with men acceptable to Smith and the AFL.[3]

Smith proposed the anti-Communist Alien Registration Act of 1940 18 U.S.C. § 2385, which became known as the Smith Act. It required resident aliens to register. It also banned advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government or its political subdivisions. CPUSA chairman Gus Hall, among others, was later convicted of violating its provisions. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Yates v. United States (1957) that the First Amendment protected much radical speech, which halted Smith Act prosecutions under the Act.

Civil rights[edit]

As chairman of the all-powerful United States House Committee on Rules after 1955, Smith controlled the flow of legislation in the House. An opponent of racial integration, Smith used his power as chairman of the Rules Committee to keep much civil rights legislation from coming to a vote on the House floor. When the Civil Rights Act of 1957 came before Smith's committee, Smith said "The Southern people have never accepted the colored race as a race of people who had equal intelligence ... as the white people of the South." Speaker Sam Rayburn tried to reduce his power in 1961 with only limited success. Smith delayed passage the Civil Rights Act of 1964. One of Rayburn's reforms was the "Twenty-One Day Rule" requiring a bill to be sent to the floor within 21 days. Under pressure, Smith released the bill.

Two days before the vote, Smith offered an amendment to insert "sex" after the word "religion", adding gender as a protected class of Title VII of the Act. The Congressional Record shows Smith made serious arguments, voicing concerns that white women would suffer greater discrimination without a protection for gender.[4] Liberals—who knew Smith was hostile to civil rights for blacks—assumed that he was hostile to rights for women, unaware of his long connection with white feminists.[5][6]

House Rules Committee clerk's record of markup session adding "sex" to bill.

In 1964 the burning national issue was civil rights for blacks. Liberals argued that it was the Negro's hour, and that women should wait their turn, but the National Woman's Party (NWP) found a way to include sex as a protected category, and thus achieved one of the main goals of the movement.[7]

The prohibition of sex discrimination was added on the floor by Smith. While Smith was a conservative who strongly opposed civil rights laws for blacks, he supported such laws for women. Smith's amendment passed by a vote of 168 to 133. Historians debate whether Smith's motivation was a cynical attempt to defeat the bill by someone opposed to both civil rights for blacks and women or an attempt to improve the bill by broadening it to include women.[6][8][9] Smith expected that Republicans, who had included equal rights for women in their party's platform since 1940, would probably vote for the amendment. Historians speculate that Smith was trying to embarrass northern Democrats who opposed civil rights for women because labor unions opposed the clause.[4]

Smith asserted that he sincerely supported the amendment and along with Rep. Martha Griffiths[10] was the chief spokesperson for the amendment.[4] For twenty years Smith had sponsored the Equal Rights Amendment—with no linkage to racial issues—in the House. He for decades had been close to the NWP and its leader, Alice Paul, one of the leaders in winning the vote for women in 1920 and the chief supporter of equal rights proposals since then. She and other feminists had worked with Smith since 1945 trying to find a way to include sex as a protected civil rights category.[11] Griffith argued that the new law would protect black women but not white women, and that was unfair to white women. Furthermore, she argued that the laws "protecting" women from unpleasant jobs were actually designed to enable men to monopolize those jobs, and that was unfair to women who were not allowed to try out for those jobs.[12] The amendment passed with the votes of Republicans and Southern Democrats. Republicans and Northern Democrats voted for the bill's final passage.

Smith had a part in temporarily blocking the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 because “Job Corps provision would allow coeducational and interracial job camps.”[13]

Defeat[edit]

After U.S. Senator Carter Glass died in 1946, Smith sought the nomination to succeed him. The Byrd Organization, of which Smith was a member, instead nominated A. Willis Robertson, who was elected to the Senate.[2]

Smith was defeated in the 1966 primary by a considerably more liberal Democrat, State Delegate George Rawlings, Jr. after the 8th district was redistricted to include part of the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington. Although Smith remained neutral in the general election, many of his supporters defected to Republican William L. Scott, who soundly defeated Rawlings in November.

Post-congressional career[edit]

Smith resumed the practice of law in Alexandria, where he died at age 93 on October 3, 1976. He was interred in Georgetown Cemetery, Broad Run, Virginia.

Portrait controversy[edit]

In January 1995, the House Rules Committee chairman, Republican Congressman Gerald B. H. Solomon, had a portrait of Smith hung in the Committee hearing room. The Congressional Black Caucus requested that it be removed. Georgia Congressman John Lewis said:[14]

It is an affront to all of us ...[Smith is] perhaps best remembered for his obstruction in passing this country's civil rights laws. A man who in his own words never accepted the colored race as a race of people who had equal intelligence and education and social attainments as the White people of the South...

Solomon said he displayed the portrait to acknowledge Smith's cooperative work with Republicans when he was chairman but that he was unaware of his segregationist views. The portrait was later removed.[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ticer, Patsy; Saslaw, Richard L.; Ebbin, Adam; Moran, Brian; Van Landingham, Marian (February 13, 2004). "SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 186 On the death of Howard Worth Smith, Jr.". Virginia General Assembly. Retrieved 2011-11-28. 
  2. ^ a b Dierenfield, Bruce (7 April 2011). Brendan Wolfe, ed. "Smith, Howard Worth (1883–1976)". Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Retrieved 2011-11-28. 
  3. ^ Storrs, p. 212.
  4. ^ a b c Gold, Michael Evan (1 January 1981). "A Tale of Two Amendments: The Reasons Congress Added Sex to Title VII and Their Implication for the Issue of Comparable Worth". Faculty Publications — Collective Bargaining, Labor Law, and Labor History (Cornell). Retrieved 2011-11-28.  from Duquesne Law Review.
  5. ^ Clinton Jacob Woods, "Strange Bedfellows: Congressman Howard W. Smith and the Inclusion of Sex Discrimination in the 1964 Civil Rights Act," Southern Studies, 16 (Spring–Summer 2009), 1–32.
  6. ^ a b Freeman, Jo (March 1991). "How 'Sex' Got Into Title VII: Persistent Opportunism as a Maker of Public Policy". Law and Inequality: A Journal of Theory and Practice 9 (2): 163–184.  online version.
  7. ^ Harrison, Cynthia (1989). On Account of Sex: The Politics of Women's Issues, 1945-1968. pp. 178–79. 
  8. ^ Rosenberg, Rosalind (2008). Divided Lives: American Women in the Twentieth Century. pp. 187–188. 
  9. ^ Frum, David (2000). How We Got Here: The '70s. New York, New York: Basic Books. pp. 245–246, 249. ISBN 0-465-04195-7. 
  10. ^ Olson, Lynne (2001). Freedom's Daughters: The Unsung Heroines of the Civil Rights Movement. p. 360. 
  11. ^ Rosenberg (2008). p. 187.  Missing or empty |title= (help) notes that Smith had been working for years with two Virginia feminists on the issue.
  12. ^ Harrison. p. 179.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  13. ^ Vinovskis, M. A. (2008). Preschool education policies in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations (pp. 48). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
  14. ^ "CBC members get portrait removed from House Rules Committee meeting room - Congressional Black Caucus". Jet. February 13, 1995. Retrieved 2007-03-24. 
  15. ^ Rosenbaum, David E. (January 25, 1995). "Offending Portrait Succumbs To Black Lawmakers' Protest". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-11-28. 

Sources[edit]

  • Brauer, Carl M. "Women Activists, Southern Conservatives, and the Prohibition of Sex Discrimination in Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act", 49 Journal of Southern History, February 1983 online via JSTOR
  • Dierenfield, Bruce J. Keeper of the Rules: Congressman Howard W. Smith of Virginia (1987)
  • Dierenfield, Bruce J. "Conservative Outrage: the Defeat in 1966 of Representative Howard W. Smith of Virginia." Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 1981 89 (2): 181-205.
  • Freeman, Jo. "How 'Sex' Got Into Title VII: Persistent Opportunism as a Maker of Public Policy," Law and Inequality: A Journal of Theory and Practice, Vol. 9, No. 2, March 1991, pp. 163–184. online version
  • Gold, Michael Evan. A Tale of Two Amendments: The Reasons Congress Added Sex to Title VII and Their Implication for the Issue of Comparable Worth. Faculty Publications - Collective Bargaining, Labor Law, and Labor History. Cornell, 1981 [1]
  • Jones, Charles O. "Joseph G. Cannon and Howard W. Smith: an Essay on the Limits of Leadership in the House of Representatives" Journal of Politics 1968 30(3): 617-646.
  • Robinson, Donald Allen. "Two Movements in Pursuit of Equal Employment Opportunity." Signs 1979 4(3): 413-433. on alliance between Smith and Griffiths.
  • Storrs, Landon R. Y. Civilizing Capitalism: The National Consumers' League, Women's Activism, and Labor Standards in the New Deal Era University of North Carolina Press. 2000.
  • Woods, Clinton Jacob, “Strange Bedfellows: Congressman Howard W. Smith and the Inclusion of Sex Discrimination in the 1964 Civil Rights Act,” Southern Studies, 16 (Spring–Summer 2009), 1–32.

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
R. Walton Moore
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 8th congressional district

1931–1933
Succeeded by
District abolished
Himself after district re-established in 1935
Preceded by
District re-established
John S. Wise before district eliminated in 1885
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's at-large congressional seat

1933 – 1935
Succeeded by
District abolished
Preceded by
District re-established
Himself before district abolished in 1933
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 8th congressional district

1935–1967
Succeeded by
William L. Scott
Political offices
Preceded by
Leo E. Allen
Chairman of the United States House Committee on Rules
1955–1966
Succeeded by
William M. Colmer