Clarence Dill

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Clarence Cleveland Dill
DILL, CLARENCE CLEVELAND, REP. FROM WASHINGTON, 1915-1919; SENATOR, 1923-1935 LOC hec.06421 (cropped).jpg
United States Senator
from Washington
In office
March 4, 1923 – January 3, 1935
Preceded by Miles Poindexter
Succeeded by Lewis B. Schwellenbach
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Washington's 5th[1] district
In office
March 4, 1915 – March 3, 1919
Preceded by none - (Jacob Falconer)
Succeeded by J. Stanley Webster
Personal details
Born (1884-09-21)September 21, 1884
Fredericktown, Ohio[2]
Died January 14, 1978(1978-01-14) (aged 93)
Spokane, Washington
Resting place Fairmount Memorial Park, Spokane, Washington
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Mabel A. Dickson
(m. 1939–1969, her death)[3]
Rosalie Gardiner Jones
(m. 1927–1936, divorce)[4]
Residence W1812 Riverside (1969–1978)
W708 Cliff (1941–1969)[5]
W508 Seventh, Spokane[6]
Alma mater University of Delaware, 1907[6]
Ohio Wesleyan University (attended)
Profession Lawyer, educator, reporter

Clarence Cleveland Dill (September 21, 1884 – January 14, 1978) was an American politician from the state of Washington. A Democrat, he was elected to two terms each in both houses of Congress.[6]

Early years[edit]

Dill was born in Fredericktown, Ohio, and attended Ohio Wesleyan University, where he was a member of the social fraternity Phi Kappa Psi.[7] He completed his undergraduate work at the University of Delaware in 1907.[6]

As a young man, Dill was a teacher, and moved west to Spokane, Washington, in 1908. He taught English at South Central High School and was a newspaper reporter at The Spokesman-Review in the summer.[6]

Political career[edit]

Dill became a lawyer in 1910, and soon entered politics.[3] He was elected to the U.S. House in 1914 and 1916 from the newly created fifth district, but was defeated for re-election in 1918 by state supreme court justice J. Stanley Webster. On April 5, 1917, Dill was one of 50 representatives who voted against declaring war on Germany.[8] Dill was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1922 and re-elected in 1928, but did not seek a third term in 1934. In the Senate, he was the chief sponsor of both the 1927 Radio Act and the 1934 Communications Act, and was a staunch proponent of the Grand Coulee Dam.[3] His election in 1928 marked the last time a candidate from Eastern Washington was elected U.S. Senator.[9]

In June 1934 Congress amended the Watson-Parker Railway Labor Act so it explicitly included non-operating train personnel and sleeping car companies. Senator Dill sponsored the new act since he thought Pullman porters and maids should be black. A jurisdictional dispute between the Order of Sleeping Car Conductors and the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters had to be first settled in the American Federation of Labor, but the effect was to quadruple membership in the Brotherhood. Blacks could now join the union without fear of losing their jobs.[10]

Dill ran for governor in 1940 but was narrowly defeated by Republican Arthur B. Langlie. His last attempt at elective office was for the open seat in Congress from Spokane's fifth district in 1942, but was easily defeated by Walt Horan, the first Republican to win that district in twenty years.[11] Horan had lost to Charles Leavy by eleven points in the previous race in 1940.

Dill then served as a member of the Columbia Basin Commission from 1945 to 1948, and as a special assistant to the U.S. Attorney General from 1946 to 1953. In between all of these jobs, he usually practiced law. He died in 1978 in Spokane at the age of 93, the last living U.S. Senator elected before the Great Depression.[3]


After he left the Senate, Dill sought a divorce from his wife in 1936, the feminist suffragist and author Rosalie Gardiner Jones of New York. Dill claimed that Jones told his friends that he was "a political coward" for not seeking re-election in 1934, and that she buried dogs and garbage in the backyard.[12] Separated while he was still in office,[13] the well-publicized divorce proceedings began in late June 1936 in Spokane.[14][15][16] The court found in his favor,[4] he kept the house, she got the furniture.[17]

Dill met home economics educator Mabel Aileen Dickson (1905–1969) in November 1936 in Washington, DC, and they were married in May 1939.[18] Born in Crystal, North Dakota, she was raised in Canada; Dickson graduated from the University of Alberta in Edmonton[19] and earned a master's degree at Washington State College in Pullman.[20][21][22] They were married for thirty years, until her death from a heart ailment.[6][23][24] Their 12,000 sq ft (1,100 m2) home, Cliff Aerie, built in 1941 at 708 W. Cliff Drive, is a Spokane landmark.[5]

Electoral history[edit]

  • 1914 Congress 5
    • C C Dill (D), 24,410
    • Harry Rosenhaupt (R), 20,063
    • Thomas Corkery (Prog), 15,509
    • J O Harkness (S), 4,502
    • F H Flanders (Proh), 2,270
  • 1916 Congress 5
    • C C Dill (D), 37,479
    • Thomas Corkery (R), 32,298
    • John M Powers (S), 2,952
  • 1918 Congress 5
  • 1922 US Senate
    • C C Clarence Dill (D), 130,375
    • Miles Poindexter (R), 126,556
    • James Duncan (FL), 35,352
    • David Burgess (SL), 1,905
    • Frans Bostrom (Com), 489
  • 1928 US Senate
    • C C Clarence Dill (D), 261,524
    • Kenneth Mackintosh (R), 227,415
    • Alex Noral (Com), 666
  • 1940 Governor
  • 1942 Congress 5


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress website

  1. ^ "Washington". Official Congressional Directory. 1915. 
  2. ^ Baby senator is old timer in experience
  3. ^ a b c d "Ex-Senator Dill succumbs at 93". Spokane Daily Chronicle. January 15, 1978. p. 1. 
  4. ^ a b "Divorce is granted to ex-Senator Dill". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. July 10, 1936. p. 33. 
  5. ^ a b "For sale: House with a view, history". Spokesman-Review. January 21, 1988. p. 1V. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Ex-Sen. Dill dies at age 93". Spokesman-Review. January 15, 1978. p. 1. 
  7. ^ Grand Catalogue of the Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity: February 1, 1910, page 124
  8. ^ "Anti-War Men Reelected". The Nation. November 29, 1922. 
  9. ^ Brunner, Jim (14 May 2004). "Nethercutt launches longshot U.S. Senate campaign". Seattle Times. Retrieved 3 August 2017. 
  10. ^ Chateauvert, Melinda (1997-01-01). Marching Together: Women of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. University of Illinois Press. p. 68. ISBN 978-0-252-06636-8. Retrieved 2013-08-08. 
  11. ^ "Walt Horan is elected Congressman from the fifth district by big margin". Spokane Daily Chronicle. November 4, 1942. p. 1. 
  12. ^ "Milestones". Time. April 13, 1936. Retrieved October 20, 2011. 
  13. ^ "Dill divorce, Eastern rumor". Spokesman-Review. January 15, 1936. p. 1. 
  14. ^ "Dill divorce trial gets underway with both principals in the courtroom". Spokane Daily Chronicle. June 25, 1936. p. 1. 
  15. ^ "Dill complains lack of companionship and romance parted him and Rosalie". Spokane Daily Chronicle. June 30, 1936. p. 1. 
  16. ^ "Judge peruses testimony in Dill divorce". The Telegraph. Hashua, NH. Associated Press. July 8, 1936. p. 2. 
  17. ^ "Dill divorce findings signed". Spokesman-Review. July 28, 1936. p. 7. 
  18. ^ "Miss Dickson wed Clarence Dill". Spokesman-Review. May 14, 1939. p. 6. 
  19. ^ "Personals". Edmonton Bulletin. October 1, 1946. p. 11. 
  20. ^ "Clarence C. Dill to marry today". Spokane Daily Chronicle. May 13, 1936. p. 1. 
  21. ^ "Clarence Dill to wed". St. Joseph News-Press. St. Joseph, MO. Associated Press. May 13, 1939. p. 6. 
  22. ^ Cleavinger, H.C. (May 17, 1939). "Mrs. Dill quits world's worst game to learn fishing art". Spokane Daily Chronicle. p. 3. 
  23. ^ "Death claims Mrs. C.C. Dill, civic leader". Spokane Daily Chronicle. March 21, 1969. p. 1. 
  24. ^ "Mrs. Mabel A. Dill". Spokane Daily Chronicle. March 22, 1969. p. 9. 

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Jacob Falconer
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Washington's 5th congressional district

March 4, 1915 – March 3, 1919
Succeeded by
J. Stanley Webster
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Miles Poindexter
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Washington
March 4, 1923 – January 3, 1935
Served alongside: Wesley Jones, Elijah Grammer, Homer Bone
Succeeded by
Lewis Schwellenbach
Honorary titles
Preceded by
John Heiskell
Most Senior Living U.S. Senator
(Sitting or Former)

with Burton K. Wheeler until 1975

December 28, 1972 – January 14, 1978
Succeeded by
F. Ryan Duffy