Wright Patman

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Wright Patman
John William Wright Patman.jpg
40th Dean of the United States House of Representatives
In office
January 1973 – March 1976
Preceded by Emanuel Celler
Succeeded by George H. Mahon
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 1st district
In office
March 4, 1929 – March 7, 1976
Preceded by Eugene Black
Succeeded by Sam B. Hall
Personal details
Born John William Wright Patman
(1893-08-06)August 6, 1893
Hughes Springs, Texas
Died March 7, 1976(1976-03-07) (aged 82)
Bethesda, Maryland
Political party Democratic
Religion Baptist

John William Wright Patman (August 6, 1893 – March 7, 1976) was a U.S. Congressman from Texas in Texas's 1st congressional district and chair of the United States House Committee on Banking and Currency (1965–75).

Early life[edit]

Patman was the son of John N. and Emma (Spurlin) Patman, was born near Hughes Springs in Cass County, Texas, on August 6, 1893. After graduating from Hughes Springs High School in 1912, he enrolled in Cumberland University Law School in Lebanon, Tennessee. Receiving his law degree in 1916 he was admitted to the Texas bar the same year.[1] During World War I Patman served as a private and a machine gun officer.

Political career[edit]

Patman was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1920. He left the House in 1924 when he was appointed district attorney of the fifth judicial district of Texas.

In 1928, Patman was elected to the House of Representatives in Texas's 1st congressional district. In 1932, Patman introduced a bill that would have mandated the immediate payment of the bonus to World War I veterans.[2] It was during the consideration of this bill that the Bonus Army came to Washington. Patman was a supporter of the Landmark New Deal.[citation needed]

In January 1932, Patman spearheaded a movement to impeach Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon,[3] which forced the latter's resignation the following month.

He was the author of the landmark Robinson-Patman Act in 1936.

In 2011 Rick Perry condemned the monetary policies of Ben Bernanke in populist-like language, earning him criticism from some mainstream Republicans, including Karl Rove. One observer, Alexander Cockburn, recalled that it used to be Texas Democrats like Patman who were regarded as the populists. According to Cockburn, Patman, sitting as chair of the House Banking Committee in the early 1970s, "snarl[ed] at then Fed chairman Arthur Burns, before him to give testimony, 'Can you give me any reason why you should not be in the penitentiary?'”[4]

In 1975, Patman was voted out of his position as Chairman of the Banking committee by younger Congressmen, in a revolt against the 'Seniority system' which also removed Felix Edward Hébert and William R. Poage from their positions as chairmen. Patman was replaced by Henry S. Reuss by a caucus vote of 152–117. The main reason given for the caucus removing Patman was concern about his age and effectiveness.[5][6] Fourteen months later, Patman died at the age of 82 in Bethesda, Maryland.

In the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, the Wright Patman Congressional Federal Credit Union is named after him. This credit union serves the banking needs of elected and former members of the House and their staff. In addition, Wright Patman Lake in Northeast Texas is also named for him.

Watergate inquiry[edit]

Wright Patman's eponymous committee played an important role in the early days of the Watergate scandal that eventually brought down President Richard Nixon.

The Patman Committee investigated the hundred dollar bills found on the Watergate "plumbers" upon their arrest, suspecting they could directly link them to CREEP, the president's re-election committee. The Patman Committee's 1972 investigation was stymied by pressure from the White House, in part aided by Congressman Gerald R. Ford.[7] Despite these efforts to stop Patman, his investigative course ultimately proved to be Nixon's undoing in the sense that the money trail, as reported on in the Washington Post, helped lead to the establishment of the Ervin Senate Select Committee on Watergate in April, 1973.

Publications[edit]

  • Tax Exempt Foundations and Charitable Trusts: Their Impact on Our Economy (December 1962) 87th Congress, 2nd Session
  • Commercial Banks and Their Trust Activities: Emerging Influence on the American Economy (Washington DC 1968) 90th Congress, 2nd Session, volumes I and II

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Handbook of Texas Online - PATMAN, JOHN WILLIAM WRIGHT
  2. ^ "World War I Veterans Bonus Bill". United States House of Representatives. 
  3. ^ "National Affairs: Texan, Texan & Texan", Time Magazine, January 25, 1932 
  4. ^ Cockburn, Alexander, "Rick Perry: One Lucky Son-of-a-B*", CounterPunch, August 19–21, 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-20.
  5. ^ Alexander Cockburn, James Ridgeway, The Village Voice, Why They Sacked the Bane of the Banks, February 3, 1975
  6. ^ Beverly Deepe, Enterprise Washington Service, Harlan Daily Enterprise, Demos Reluctant to Reveal Committee Chairmen Votes, January 21, 1975
  7. ^ Hersh, Seymour (August 1983), "The Pardon", The Atlantic Monthly 

References[edit]

  • Owens, John E. (1985), "Extreme Advocacy Committee Leadership in the Pre-Reform House: Wright Patman and the House Banking and Currency Committee", British Journal of Political Science (Cambridge University Press) 15 (2): 149–168, ISSN 0007-1234, JSTOR 193800 

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Eugene Black
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 1st congressional district

1929–1976
Succeeded by
Sam B. Hall
Texas House of Representatives
Preceded by
J. D. Newton
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from District 2 (Linden)

1921–1925
Succeeded by
George W. Coody
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Emanuel Celler
Dean of the House
1973–1976
Succeeded by
George H. Mahon