Dalip Singh Saund

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Dalip Singh Saund
Dalip Singh Saund.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 29th district
In office
January 3, 1957 – January 3, 1963
Preceded byJohn J. Phillips
Succeeded byGeorge Brown Jr.
Personal details
Born(1899-09-20)September 20, 1899
Chhajjalwaddi, Amritsar, Punjab, British India (present-day Punjab, India)
DiedApril 22, 1973(1973-04-22) (aged 73)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Marian Kosa
(m. 1928)
RelativesDaleep Singh (great-grandnephew)
EducationUniversity of the Punjab (BA)
University of California, Berkeley (MA, PhD)

Dalip Singh Saund (September 20, 1899 – April 22, 1973) was an American politician who was a member of the United States House of Representatives. He served the 29th District of California from January 3, 1957 to January 3, 1963. He was the first Asian American, the first Indian American, the first Sikh American, and the first member of a non-Abrahamic faith to be elected to the United States Congress.[1]


Photo of Dalip Singh Saund.

Saund was born in Chhajulwadi, Amritsar district, Punjab Province, British India (now Chhajjalwaddi, Punjab, India), to an Indian Punjabi Sikh family. He received his bachelor's degree in mathematics from the University of Punjab in 1919.

He immigrated to the United States (via Ellis Island) originally to study agriculture at the University of California, Berkeley. While at the university, he obtained a master's degree (1922) and a PhD (1924), both in mathematics. His studies were sponsored by Stockton Gurdwara in Stockton, California as he lived in the gurdwara-owned Guru Nanak Khalsa Hostel. Stockton Gurdwara was "the first permanent Sikh American settlement and gurdwara in the United States."[2] He thereafter remained in the United States, becoming a successful farmer. He married Marian Kosa in 1928. They had three children.[3]

In 1930, Saund was commissioned by the Khalsa Diwan Society based in California. to write a book called “My Mother India" which was written in support of the Indian independence movement. Saund wrote that his book was intended to “answer various questions that commonly arise in the minds of the American people regarding the cultural and political problems of India.” His book addressed India's caste system as one of those questions and "pleaded for the civil rights of the downtrodden in India as he compared caste in India to racism in America and elsewhere."[4]

Later, he campaigned to allow people of South Asian descent to become naturalized citizens. After the Luce-Celler Act was passed in 1946, he applied for naturalization and became an American citizen in 1949. He ran for election in 1950 as a Justice of the Peace for Westmoreland township, California, and won the election, but his election was thrown out as he had been a citizen for less than a year. He later ran again for the same post and won.[5]

In November 1955, he announced his campaign to run for the House of Representatives as a Democrat and won an election for an open seat against a famous Republican aviator, Jacqueline Cochran. He was re-elected twice, becoming the first Sikh American, the first Asian American, the first Indian American and first member of a non-Abrahamic faith to be elected to Congress.[6]

On May 1, 1962, Saund suffered a severe stroke on an airplane flight which left him unable to speak or walk without assistance. Though unable to campaign, he won the June Democratic primary (running in the newly numbered 38th district) but was defeated for reelection in the November general election by Republican Patrick M. Martin by a 56% to 44% margin.[7]

Following his defeat, his condition slightly improved, allowing him to be moved from a hospital in Bethesda, Maryland to California. He had a second stroke about 10 years later and died on April 22, 1973 at his Hollywood home.[7]

Publications authored[edit]

  • My Mother India. Stockton, California: Pacific coast Khalsa Diwan society (Sikh temple). c. 1930. p. 218. LCCN 30013748. OCLC 3401226. LCC DS421 .S25 OCLC 253315388[8]
  • Congressman From India. New York: Dutton. 1960. p. 192. LCCN 60012293. OCLC 1098264. LCC E748.S28 A3
  • Gandhi, the man and his message. n.p. n.d. p. 14. OCLC 20750572.

See also[edit]

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ Lall, Bhuvan (June 25, 2021). "THE LIFE OF DALIP SINGH SAUND: INDIAN BLOOD AND AMERICAN DREAM". The Daily Guardian. Retrieved November 5, 2021.
  2. ^ "Relative to the 100-year anniversary of the Sikh American". CA State Legislature. August 20, 2012.
  3. ^ Patterson, Tom (June 1992). "Triumph and Tragedy of Dalip Saund" (PDF). California Historian. Retrieved September 27, 2020 – via PBS.
  4. ^ "First Asian Congressman Championed Civil Rights and Denounced Imperialism". Singh of Judah. July 30, 2015.[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ "Dalip Singh Saund among Asian American trailblazers: Obama". The Times of India. May 9, 2012. Archived from the original on July 21, 2012.
  6. ^ Lall, Bhuvan (June 25, 2021). "THE LIFE OF DALIP SINGH SAUND: INDIAN BLOOD AND AMERICAN DREAM". The Daily Guardian. Retrieved November 5, 2021.
  7. ^ a b "SAUND, Dalip Singh (Judge)". United States House of Representatives: History, Art, & Archives. U.S. House of Representatives. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
  8. ^ This book was written as a critique to the sensational Mother India, by Katherine Mayo, which argued against Indian self-rule. See: Tisdale, Sara (December 19, 2008). "Breaking Barriers: Congressman Dalip Singh Saund". Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. Pew Research Center. Retrieved March 10, 2012.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 29th congressional district

Succeeded by