Scott W. Lucas

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Scott Wike Lucas
ScottWikeLucas.jpg
United States Senator
from Illinois
In office
January 3, 1939 – January 3, 1951
Preceded by William H. Dieterich
Succeeded by Everett Dirksen
Senate Majority Leader
In office
January 3, 1949 – January 3, 1951
Preceded by Wallace H. White, Jr.
Succeeded by Ernest McFarland
Personal details
Born February 19, 1892
Near Chandlerville, Illinois
Died February 22, 1968(1968-02-22) (aged 76)
Rocky Mount, North Carolina
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Alma mater Illinois Wesleyan University
Military service
Service/branch United States Army
Battles/wars World War I

Scott Wike Lucas (February 19, 1892 – February 22, 1968) was an American attorney and politician. A member of the Democratic Party, he represented Illinois in the U.S. House of Representatives (1935–1939) and the U.S. Senate (1939–1951). He was the Senate Majority Leader from 1948 to 1950.

Early life and career[edit]

Scott Lucas was born on a tenant farm near Chandlerville, in Cass County, Illinois.[1] He was the youngest of six children of William Douglas and Sarah Catherine (née Underbrink) Lucas.[2] His parents named him after Scott Wike, a Democrat who served as a U.S. Representative from Illinois (1875–1877, 1889–1893).[3] After attending public schools, he began his studies at Illinois Wesleyan University.[1] During college, he was active in athletics; he lettered in football, basketball, and baseball, and played semiprofessional baseball in the Three-I League during his summer breaks.[3]

Lucas graduated from Wesleyan with a law degree in 1914, and was admitted to the bar the following year.[1] He served as a schoolteacher before entering private practice in Havana.[3] During World War I, he served in the U.S. Army and rose to become a lieutenant.[1] Lucas returned to his law practice following his military service, and served as a state's attorney for Mason County from 1920 to 1925.[4] He also worked as a commander of the Illinois Department of the American Legion.[5] In 1932, he was defeated by William H. Dieterich for the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican incumbent Otis F. Glenn for a United States Senate seat from Illinois. Lucas was later appointed chairman of State Tax Commission by Governor Henry Horner, serving from 1933 to 1935.[1]

Congressional career[edit]

House[edit]

In 1934, following the death of Speaker of the House Henry Thomas Rainey, Lucas was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois's 20th congressional district.[1] He established himself as a strong supporter of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, working to pass the Soil Conservation Act of 1936 and the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938.[4] However, Lucas disagreed with Roosevelt over the president's court-packing plan, which Lucas denounced as "useless, selfish, and futile."[3]

Senate[edit]

In 1938, after William Dieterich declined to run for re-election, Lucas was elected to the U.S. Senate over Republican Richard J. Lyons, with a 51%-48% victory. He was re-elected in 1944. With support from Harry Truman, he was elected party whip in 1946. Lucas, a moderate, drew support from conservative and liberal wings of the party. He took over the midwest campaign for President Truman and was credited with assisting not only Truman's 1948 reelection but bringing nine Democrats into the Senate. When Alben Barkley became vice-president and resigned his Senate seat, Lucas became majority leader. However, he was unable to build a consensus as Senate majority leader with the onset of the anti-Communist era, and lost re-election in 1950 to Republican Everett Dirksen. Lucas had become a target of Republican wrath with loss of political power in the Senate and the White House. His 1950 reelection campaign featured the active intervention into Illinois politics of Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy who traveled the state with Rep. Dirksen saying that Senator Lucas was "soft on communism." Dirksen would go on to easily defeat Lucas with a 54% to 46% victory. Privately, in later years, Dirksen attributed his victory to Lucas's focus not on his state, but on his responsibilities as Senate Majority Leader, while Dirksen was free to campaign locally, often debating Lucas's Illinois Democratic Party proxies and calling attention to Lucas's prolonged absence from the state.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f "LUCAS, Scott Wike, (1892 - 1968)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. 
  2. ^ Current Biography Yearbook. New York: H.W. Wilson Company. 1948. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Senate Leaders: Scott Lucas, The "Paper Majority" Leader". United States Senate. 
  4. ^ a b Ryan, James G.; Leonard Schlup (2006). Historical Dictionary of the 1940s. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, Inc. 
  5. ^ Deason, Brian. "Scott Lucas, Everett Dirksen, and the 1950 Senate Election in Illinois". 

External links[edit]

United States Senate
Preceded by
William H. Dieterich
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Illinois
1939–1951
Served alongside: J. Hamilton Lewis, James M. Slattery
Charles W. Brooks, Paul Douglas
Succeeded by
Everett Dirksen
Party political offices
Preceded by
Alben W. Barkley
Kentucky
Senate Democratic Leader
1949–1951
Succeeded by
Ernest W. McFarland
Arizona