|United States Senator
January 3, 1961 – January 12, 1978
|Preceded by||James Edward Murray|
|Succeeded by||Paul G. Hatfield|
|Permanent Acting President pro tempore of the United States Senate|
June 15, 1963 – January 12, 1978
Richard Russell, Jr.
Allen J. Ellender
|Preceded by||None - title created|
|Succeeded by||None - title abolished|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Montana's 1st district
January 3, 1953 – January 3, 1961
|Preceded by||Mike Mansfield|
|Succeeded by||Arnold Olsen|
January 28, 1911|
|Died||January 12, 1978
|Alma mater||Stanford University
University of Montana
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1942–1946|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
Lee Warren Metcalf (January 28, 1911 – January 12, 1978) was an American lawyer, judge, and politician. A member of the Democratic Party, he served as a U.S. Representative (1953–1961) and a U.S. Senator (1961–1978) from Montana. He was permanent acting President pro tempore of the Senate, the only person to hold that position, from 1963 until his death in 1978.
Early life and education
Lee Metcalf was born in Stevensville, Montana, to Harold E. and Rhoda (née Smith) Metcalf. His father was the cashier of the First State Bank of Stevensville. He was raised on his family's farm. He graduated from Stevensville High School in 1928, and then studied at Montana State University later known as the University of Montana, where he played first-string tackle on the freshman football team.
After attending Montana State for one year, Metcalf moved to California and spent a year working for the Los Angeles City School Gardens. He then enrolled at Stanford University, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and economics in 1936. During his time at Stanford, he was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity and played football under Pop Warner. Also in 1936, he received his law degree from University of Montana Law School and was admitted to the bar.
Metcalf then commenced the practice of law, opening an office in Stevensville. In November 1936, he was elected as a Democrat to the Montana House of Representatives from Ravalli County. As a state legislator, he introduced bills to establish a thirty-cent minimum wage and to require mining companies to pay their employees for the time they spent in the mines after their shifts. He served as Assistant Attorney General of Montana from 1937 to 1941, after which he resumed his law practice. In 1938, he married Donna Hoover; the couple had one son, Jerry, who also served as a state representative.
In 1942, Metcalf enlisted in the U.S. Army, and was commissioned after attending officers' training school. He participated in the Invasion of Normandy as a staff officer with the Fifth Corps. He also participated in later European campaigns, such as the Battle of the Bulge, with the 1st Army, Ninth Infantry Division, and 60th Infantry Regiment. Following the war, he served as a military government officer in Germany, where he helped draft ordinances for the first free local elections, set up a civilian court and occupation police system, and supervise repatriation camps for displaced persons. He was discharged from the Army as a first lieutenant in April 1946.
In 1946, when Justice Leif Erickson resigned to run against Burton K. Wheeler for the U.S. Senate, Metcalf was elected an associate justice of the Montana Supreme Court. He served one six-year term in that office.
U.S. House of Representatives
In 1952, when Mike Mansfield decided to run for the Senate against Zales Ecton, Metcalf successfully campaigned for the U.S. House of Representatives in Montana's 1st congressional district. In the general election, he narrowly defeated his Republican opponent, Wellington D. Rankin, by a margin of 50%-49%. He was subsequently re-elected to three more terms in 1954, 1956, and 1958, never receiving less than 56% of the vote.
During his tenure in the House, Metcalf served on the Education and Labor Committee (1953–1959), Interior and Insular Affairs Committee (1955–1959), Select Astronautics and Space Exploration Committee (1958), and Ways and Means Committee (1959–1960). He became known as one of Congress's "Young Turks" who promoted liberal domestic social legislation and reform of congressional procedures. He introduced legislation to provide health care to the elderly ten years before the creation of Medicare. He earned the nickname "Mr. Education" after sponsoring a comprehensive bill providing for federal aid to education. He also voted against legislation that would have raised grazing permits on federal lands, and led the opposition to a bill that would have swapped forested public lands for cutover private lands. He was elected chairman of the Democratic Study Group in 1959.
In 1960, after Democratic incumbent James E. Murray decided to retire, Metcalf ran for Murray's seat in the U.S. Senate. He won the Democratic nomination over John W. Bonner, a former Governor of Montana. In the general election, he narrowly defeated Republican Orvin B. Fjare, a conservative former U.S. Representative, by a margin of 51%-49%.
Regarded as "a pioneer of the conservation movement", Metcalf worked to protect the natural environment and regulate utilities. He helped pass the Wilderness Act of 1964, and supported the creation of the Great Bear Wilderness and the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness. In 1962, he introduced a "Save Our Streams" bill to preserve natural recreation facilities and protect fish and wildlife from being destroyed by highway construction. He was a longtime member of the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission. He was also active on the issue of education. He was a leading supporter of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the effort to extend the G.I. Bill's educational benefits to a new generation of veterans, and the development of legislation to improve federally aided vocational education. The Peace Corps was established under leadership of Metcalf and Senator Mansfield.
He was reelected in 1966 and 1972. In 1977, Metcalf announced that he would not seek a fourth Senate term in 1978.
Permanent Acting President pro tempore of the Senate
In June 1963, because of the illness of President pro tempore Carl Hayden (D-AZ), Senator Metcalf was designated Permanent Acting President pro tempore of the United States Senate to carry out Hayden's duties at this time. No term was imposed on this designation, so Metcalf retained it until he died in office in 1978. He was the only person to hold this title.
Permanent Acting President pro tem should not be confused with the office of Deputy President pro tempore.
Death and legacy
He died in Helena, Montana on January 12, 1978, aged 66, and was cremated; his ashes were scattered in one of his favorite areas in the wilderness of the State of Montana. Metcalf's passing was overshadowed by the death the next day of his colleague from Minnesota, former Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey.
In 1978 Montana's Ravalli National Wildlife Refuge was renamed the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge. In 1983, by act of Congress, the Lee Metcalf Wilderness area was created in southwestern Montana in his honor.
- Current Biography Yearbook 24. New York: H.W. Wilson Company. 1964.
- Morrison, John; Catherine Wright Morrison (2003). Mavericks: The Lives and Battles of Montana's Political Legends. Helena, MT: Montana Historical Society Press.
- "Senator Lee Metcalf Dies at 66; Montana Democrat Had 3 Terms". The New York Times. 1978-01-13.
- "Guide to the Lee Metcalf papers (1934–1978)". Northwest Digital Archives.
- "METCALF, Lee Warren, (1911–1978)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
- "Statistics of the Presidential and Congressional Election of November 4, 1952". Clerk of the United States House of Representatives.
- Siracusa, Joseph M. (2004). The Kennedy Years. New York: Facts On File, Inc.
- "Sen. Lee Metcalf". Great Falls Tribune.
- "Statistics of the Presidential and Congressional Election of November 8, 1960". Clerk of the United States House of Representatives.
- A Refuge Is Born. Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge. USFWS. 2012.
- Burk, D. The 100 Most Influential Montanans of the Century: Lee Metcalf. The Missoulian 1999.
- Swanson, F. H., “Lee Metcalf and the Politics of Preservation, Part 1: A Positive Program of Development,” Montana: The Magazine of Western History, (Spring 2013), 63#1 pp 3–23.
|United States Senate|
James Edward Murray
|U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Montana
Served alongside: Mike Mansfield, John Melcher
Paul G. Hatfield