F. Edward Hébert

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For the U.S. Senator from Rhode Island, see Felix Hebert.
F. Edward Hébert
F. Edward Hebert (D–LA).jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Louisiana's 1st district
In office
January 3, 1941 – January 3, 1977
Preceded by Joachim O. Fernández
Succeeded by Richard Alvin Tonry
Chair of the
House Armed Services Committee
In office
January 3, 1971 – January 3, 1975
Preceded by Philip J. Philbin
Succeeded by Charles Melvin Price
Personal details
Born (1901-10-12)October 12, 1901
New Orleans, Louisiana
Died December 29, 1979(1979-12-29) (aged 78)
New Orleans, Louisiana
Resting place Lake Lawn Park Mausoleum, New Orleans, Louisiana
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s)
Gladys Bofill (m. 1934)
Relations John M. Duhé Jr. (Son-in-law)
Children Dawn Marie Hébert
Alma mater Tulane University
Profession Journalist
Hébert holds the Louisiana record for longest-serving member of the House. He served 18 successive terms, from the 77th Congress to the end of the 95th.
Representative Hébert and other members of the House Committee on Science and Astronautics visited the Marshall Space Flight Center on January 3, 1962, to gather firsthand information of the nation’s space exploration program

Felix Edward Hébert (October 12, 1901 – December 29, 1979), known as F. Edward Hébert, was an American congressman from Louisiana. He represented the New Orleans-based 1st congressional district as a Democrat for 18 consecutive terms, from 1941 until his retirement in 1977. He remains Louisiana's longest-serving U.S. representative.

Early life and education[edit]

Hébert was born in New Orleans to Felix Joseph Hébert, a streetcar conductor, and the former Lea Naquin, a teacher. As a boy he loved sports, but after a shooting accident left him blind in his left eye at the age of nine,[1] he could not play. However, at Jesuit High School he compensated by becoming manager of all the athletic teams.[2] He reported on prep-school sports for The Times-Picayune, becoming the paper's assistant sports editor before he was out of high school,[3] and at Tulane University he was the first sports editor of the Hullabaloo. At Tulane he was a member of Delta Sigma Phi and the Young Men's Business Club of New Orleans.

Journalism career[edit]

Hébert graduated from Tulane in 1924. He pursued a career in public relations for Loyola University in New Orleans and journalism for the Times-Picayune and the New Orleans States, a paper purchased by The Times-Picayune while Hébert worked there. As a front-page columnist and political editor, he covered the candidacy and election of Governor Huey Long, who was eventually elected to the United States Senate. Hébert's coverage of the Louisiana Hayride scandals of 1939 — which put a spotlight on corruption among followers of the Long political family — contributed to the eventual convictions of Governor Richard W. Leche and James Monroe Smith, president of Louisiana State University. The Times-Picayune won the Sigma Delta Chi plaque for "courage in journalism", largely as a result of Hébert's work.

In later life, Hébert said he never considered himself a politician. He described himself as "an old reporter on a long sabbatical".[4] In 1969 he said, "I had no political ambition whatsoever. I never intended to enter public office; I had never been in public office. In this time, it looked to me like a pretty good chance to be a better reporter if I came to Washington. They got me on sabbatical leave for two years because I knew I would never be re-elected."[3]

Political career[edit]

Hébert's work also led to his election in 1940 to the 77th United States Congress. He quickly developed a lock on his district. In 1946, he polled 91.8 percent of the vote against Republican Dennis Suarez in what was otherwise a heavily Republican year at the national level.[5] Hébert served in the United States House of Representatives until the end of the 94th United States Congress, having chosen not to seek a nineteenth term in 1976. That longevity set a Louisiana record for the service in the United States House of Representatives. Hébert was temporarily succeeded by the Democrat Richard Alvin Tonry, who in turn was quickly replaced by Bob Livingston, the first Republican to represent the district since the Reconstruction Era. The seat has remained in Republican hands ever since, passing from Livingston to David Vitter to Bobby Jindal to Steve Scalise.

Hébert rarely had serious opposition. In 1952, the Republican George W. Reese Jr., a lawyer from New Orleans, challenged him and drew a third of the general election vote. In 1954, Reese tried again, but in the low turnout off-year election, he polled only a sixth of the vote. In 1960, Reese, then the Republican national committeeman from Louisiana, was also the Republican standard bearer in the United States Senate election against Allen J. Ellender but secured only a fifth of the ballots cast, as John F. Kennedy won Louisiana's then ten electoral votes.

Hébert opposed school desegregation and signed the Southern Manifesto in opposition to the United States Supreme Court's 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision.

House Committee on Armed Services, 1948-1975[edit]

He joined the United States House Committee on Armed Services and was named chairman of the committee's Special Investigations subcommittee.

Chairmanship, 1971-1975[edit]

Hébert was the chairman of the Committee on Armed Services from 1971 to 1975. When Chairman L. Mendel Rivers died, on December 29, 1970, lame duck committee member Philip J. Philbin took his place; Philbin's term ran out three and a half days later, and Hébert took the post.[6]

Hébert brought millions of dollars in military investment to his district in Louisiana.[7]

He was removed from the chairmanship in a revolt of the increasingly young and liberal House Democratic Caucus against the seniority system. Many of the younger Democrats were not pleased when he addressed the new members from the Watergate Class of 1974 as "boys and girls". Governor Edwin Edwards, New Orleans Mayor Moon Landrieu and the Louisiana House delegation chided the caucus for ousting Hebert as his years of political experience had generated thousands of jobs and brought millions of dollars into the state.[7]

Personal life and family[edit]

On August 1, 1934, Hébert married Gladys Bofill. The couple had one daughter, Dawn Marie, who married a future judge of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, John Malcolm Duhé Jr., of Iberia Parish. Dawn Hébert was the first woman president of the Greater Iberia Chamber of Commerce.[8]

In 1975 he slipped on a piece of ice at a cocktail party and broke his arm.[9] In 1979 he began to suffer congestive heart failure, and he died on December 29 in New Orleans at Hôtel-Dieu Hospital.[4] A requiem mass was said for him at St. Louis Cathedral by Archbishop Philip Hannan. Hébert is entombed beside his wife in Lake Lawn Park Mausoleum in New Orleans.

Legacy[edit]

Hébert is responsible for founding the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland.

On January 28, 2012, Hébert was posthumously inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield.[10][11]

F. Edward Hébert Hall, Building 7 at Hébert's alma mater, Tulane University, houses Tulane's Center for Academic Equity, its Africana Studies Department and its History Department. In 2017 Tulane's Undergraduate Student Government resolved to request the board of administrators to allow Hébert Hall to be renamed. A student senator said, "What does it say about what side of history Tulane is on when its History Department is housed in a building named after a segregationist?" The students suggested "Guillory and Elloie Hall" for its new name, after Barbara Marie Guillory and Pearlie Hardin Elloie, the first two students of color to attend Tulane.[12]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Air Force Magazine. July 1966. p. 95. Retrieved January 24, 2018. 
  2. ^ Hébert, Felix Edward; Burguières, Virginea R. (1970). Creed of a congressman: F. Edward Hébert of Louisiana. The USL History Series, University of Southwestern Louisiana. p. 4. Retrieved January 24, 2018. 
  3. ^ a b McSweeny, Dorothy Pierce (July 15, 1969). "Transcript, F. Edward Hebert Oral History Interview I, 7/15/69" (PDF). lbjlibrary.net. Retrieved January 24, 2018. 
  4. ^ a b Weil, Martin (December 30, 1979). "Former Rep. F. Edward Hébert Dies". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 24, 2018. 
  5. ^ Billy Hathorn, The Republican Party in Louisiana, 1920-1980, (Natchitoches: Northwestern State University, 1980), p. 41
  6. ^ "Ex‐Rep. Philip J. Philbin Dead; Served Massachusetts 28 Years". The New York Times. June 15, 1972. Retrieved January 24, 2018. 
  7. ^ a b "Hebert's tenure aided home town". The New York Times. January 26, 1975. Retrieved January 24, 2018. 
  8. ^ Branton, Vicky (March 24, 2015). "Making History". The Daily Iberian. Retrieved January 24, 2018. 
  9. ^ Hunter, Marjorie (October 22, 1975). "4 Ousted House Chairmen Just Watch Parade". The New York Times. Retrieved January 24, 2018. 
  10. ^ Avoyelles Today, January 4, 2012
  11. ^ "La. Political Hall inducts former Pineville mayor, 5 others," Alexandria Daily Town Talk, January 29, 2012. Also inducted were Fred Baden, former mayor of Pineville, and Adras LaBorde, former managing editor of the Alexandria Daily Town Talk.
  12. ^ Underwood, Adrienne (November 29, 2017). "USG confronts racism, resolves to rename Hebert Hall". Tulane Hullabaloo. Retrieved January 24, 2018. 

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Joachim O. Fernández
United States Representative for Louisiana's 1st congressional district
1941 – 1977
Succeeded by
Richard Alvin Tonry
Political offices
Preceded by
Philip J. Philbin
Massachusetts
Chairman of United States House Committee on Armed Services
1970–1975
Succeeded by
Charles Melvin Price
Illinois