Louis C. Rabaut

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Louis Charles Rabaut (December 5, 1886 – November 12, 1961) was politician from the U.S. state of Michigan. He was a Democratic congressman representing Michigan's 14th congressional district from 1935 to 1947, and from 1949 to 1961. He is best known for introducing legislation that added the words "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance.

Family and early life[edit]

Louis Charles Rabaut, the grandson of immigrants from West Flanders, was born in Detroit, Michigan to Louis Aloysius and Clara Lenau Reid Rabaut, who operated a wholesale toy and fireworks store. In 1911, he married Stella Marie Petz, with whom he had nine children. In 1912, Rabaut graduated from Detroit College in 1909 and from the Detroit College of Law in 1912. He was admitted to the bar in 1912 and commenced practice in Detroit.

Political career[edit]

In 1934, Rabaut defeated incumbent Carl M. Weideman in the Democratic primary elections for the Michigan's 14th district to the U.S. House of Representatives. He went on to be elected to the 74th Congress and to the five succeeding Congresses, serving from January 3, 1935 to January 3, 1947. In 1946, he was defeated by Republican Harold F. Youngblood. He successfully regained his seat from Youngblood in 1948 to be elected to the 81st Congress and the six succeeding Congresses, serving from January 3, 1949 until his death on November 12, 1961.

In 1951, he argued for price controls, stating:

"This Eighty-second Congress stands at the threshold of immortality. We have an opportunity that few Congresses have to insure our place in history. If we deny to the Government the authority to roll back prices and maintain firm economic controls, we are sure to be remembered. We will be remembered by the American people as 'the horse-meat Congress' -- the Congress that put the old gray mare on the family dinner table." [1]

Amending the Pledge of Allegiance[edit]

On April 20, 1953, prompted by a letter from Brooklyn resident H. Joseph Mahoney, Rabaut submitted a resolution to amend the Pledge of Allegiance with the words "under God". The practice had been adopted several years earlier by the Knights of Columbus. Rabaut's bill was the first of many similar efforts, culminating in Representative Charles Oakman and Senator Homer Ferguson's joint resolution in 1954. Speaking in support of the bill, Rabaut said:

You may argue from dawn to dusk about differing political, economic, and social systems, but the fundamental issue which is the unbridgeable gap between America and Communist Russia is a belief in Almighty God. From the root of atheism stems the evil weed of communism and its branches of materialism and political dictatorship. Unless we are willing to affirm our belief in the existence of God and His creator-creature relation to man, we drop man himself to the significance of a grain of sand and open the floodgates to tyranny and oppression.[2]

The bill passed and was signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on June 14, Flag Day.

Final years[edit]

Reflecting on his time in Congress, Rabaut told an interviewer in 1959:

Why, we're the guinea pigs of the country. We have to go back to the country every two years and face the people. The senators can stay down here and do what they want for four years, and then get awful nice the last two years and rely on the short memory of the people. [3]

Rabaut died in Hamtramck, Michigan and in interred in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Detroit. He was succeeded in office by Democrat Harold M. Ryan, who was elected in a special election on February 13, 1962.

Memorials[edit]

A park in the District of Columbia is named After Rabaut. Rabaut Park is located on Mt. Pleasant Street between 16th and Harvard Streets, NW.[1] [2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Reservation List: The Parks of the National Park System, Washington, DC". www.nps.gov. National Park Service; Land Resources Program Center; National Capital Region. Retrieved 1 August 2014. 
  2. ^ "Louis Rabaut "Rat" Park". The42bus. The 42. Retrieved 2 August 2014. 

References[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Carl M. Weideman
United States Representative for the 14th Congressional District of Michigan
1935–1947
Succeeded by
Harold F. Youngblood
Preceded by
Harold F. Youngblood
United States Representative for the 14th Congressional District of Michigan
1949–1961
Succeeded by
Harold M. Ryan