Fred A. Hartley Jr.

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Fred A. Hartley Jr.
Fred A. Hartley, Jr..jpeg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 8th and 10th district
In office
March 4, 1929 – January 3, 1949
Preceded by Paul J. Moore and Frederick R. Lehlbach
Succeeded by George N. Seger and Peter W. Rodino Jr.
Personal details
Born Fred Allan Hartley Jr.
(1902-02-22)February 22, 1902
Harrison, New Jersey
Died May 11, 1969(1969-05-11) (aged 67)
Linwood, New Jersey
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Hazel Lorraine Roemer
Children Al Hartley, Jack Hartley, Lorraine Hermann

Fred Allan Hartley Jr. (February 22, 1902 – May 11, 1969) was an American Republican Party politician from New Jersey. Hartley served ten terms in the United States House of Representatives where he represented the New Jersey's 8th and New Jersey's 10th congressional districts.[1] He is by far best known for being the House of Representatives sponsor of the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947.[2]


Hartley was born in Harrison, New Jersey on February 22, 1902. After going through the Harrison public schools and Rutgers Preparatory School for high school, Hartley went on to attend Rutgers University. Following his studies in 1923, he successfully ran for the position of library commissioner for Kearny, New Jersey.[3] After holding that position for two years, Hartley was named as the police and fire commissioner for Kearny, a position he held until 1928. In that same year, he was nominated as a Republican to run for the United States House of Representatives seat for New Jersey's 8th congressional district. Hartley defeated the incumbent Paul J. Moore in a close election on November 6, 1928.[4] The final vote count in the election was 64,915 votes for Hartley and 64,594 for Moore, making the margin of defeat a slim 0.2%.[5]


Hartley was sworn in at age twenty-seven as the youngest member of the 71st United States Congress on March 4, 1929.[2] Hartley was again challenged by Paul J. Moore in the 1930 House elections for the seat in New Jersey's 8th district. In another close race, Hartley beat out Moore, capturing 44,038 votes, or 50.4% of the vote, in comparison to 43,195 votes (or 49.4%) of the vote for Moore.[6]

He was one of a relatively small number of Republicans to hold their seats throughout the Great Depression and World War II. In the 1932 election, he defeated William W. Harrison for the House seat in New Jersey's 10th congressional district.[7] and in the 1934 he beat William Herda Smith.[8] Hartley had another close race in 1936, in which he beat out Democratic challenger Lindsay H. Rudd in a close 50.2%-49.6% race.[9] Hartley soundly defeated Rudd again in 1938,[10] and won re-election in 1940 against William W. Holmwood,[11] in 1942 against Frederic Bigelow,[12] in 1944 against Luke A. Kiernan Jr.,[13] and in 1946 against his future successor Peter W. Rodino Jr.[14]


Hartley found the level of postwar labor unrest to be very disturbing, and felt that it threatened both economic and political stability. In 1946, the Republicans returned their first majority in both houses of Congress since the 1928 election in which Hartley was first elected.[15]

With his party in the majority, Hartley served as the chairman of the Committee on Education and Labor in the 80th United States Congress.[2] Along with United States Senator Robert A. Taft who was Chairman of the Labor and Public Welfare Committee,[16] the next year he introduced legislation to curb what he felt were the worst of labor's excesses. The resultant Taft-Hartley Act was a major revision of the 1935 Wagner Act (officially known as the National Labor Relations Act) and represented the first major revision of a New Deal act passed by the post-war Congress.[17] The act placed limits on labor tactics such as the secondary boycott,[17] and gave each state the option to enact right-to-work laws if it so chose (24 states have done so[18]). This provision, known as Section 14 (b), was one of the most controversial of the entire act.[19]

President Harry S. Truman vetoed the Act, but enough Democrats joined with the Republicans to override the Presidential veto on June 23, 1947.[20] It is in the platform of all major U.S. labor unions to call for the repeal of the Act, especially Section 14 (b), and at times this has been reflected in the platform of the Democratic Party. However, the only time this has ever seemed likely was when the Democrats had a huge majority in both houses of Congress following the Republican electoral disaster of 1964. Even then, the repeal bill passed 221–203 in the House, but the two-thirds majority it needed in the Senate was never attained, partly because of long filibustering by Republicans such as Minority leader Everett Dirksen.[21][22] Labor allies failed to break the filibuster, and the repeal bill was finally put to rest by the Montana Democrat Majority leader, Mike Mansfield, on February 10, 1966.[22]

Hartley did not seek any further election to Congress following the term in which the Act which bears his name was passed, and his service concluded on January 3, 1949.

Later life[edit]

Hartley ran unsuccessfully for one of the two New Jersey senatorial seats in 1954 and he returned to New Jersey and lived for fifteen more years as a business consultant,[2] seeing the Act withstand its toughest test and remain intact.

He died in Linwood, New Jersey, and was buried in Fairmount Cemetery, in Newark.[1] His son, Al Hartley, was a cartoonist best known for his work on Archie Comics.[23]


  1. ^ a b Lawrence Kestenbaum. "Fred A. Hartley Jr. Profile". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved 2006-12-27. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Fred Allen Hartley Jr. Profile". United States Congress. Retrieved 2006-12-27. 
  3. ^ Peter Kennedy (2001). "Fred A. Hartley Biography". Retrieved 2006-12-27. 
  4. ^ Lawrence Kestenbaum. "1920s New Jersey House of Representatives Elections". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved 2006-12-27. 
  5. ^ John L. Moore, ed. (1994). Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U.S. Elections (3rd ed.). Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly. p. 1543. ISBN 0-87187-996-4.  pg. 1161
  6. ^ Moore (1994), pg. 1166
  7. ^ Moore (1994), pg. 1171
  8. ^ Moore (1994), pg. 1176
  9. ^ Moore (1994), pg. 1181
  10. ^ Moore (1994), pg. 1186
  11. ^ Moore (1994), pg. 1191
  12. ^ Moore (1994), pg. 1196
  13. ^ Moore (1994), pg. 1201
  14. ^ Moore (1994), pg. 1206
  15. ^ Andrew E. Busch (June 2006). "1946 Midterm Gives GOP First Majority Since 1928 Elections". Ashland University. Retrieved 2006-12-27. 
  16. ^ "Robert Alphonso Taft Biography". United States Congress. Retrieved 2006-12-27. 
  17. ^ a b Steven Wagner (October 14, 2002). "How Did the Taft-Hartley Act Come About?". Retrieved 2006-12-27. 
  18. ^ "National Right To Work Committee State Map". The National Right To Work Committee. Retrieved 2006-12-27. 
  19. ^ "Right-to-work law". The Gale Group, Inc. 1998. Retrieved 2006-12-27. 
  20. ^ Alexander Cockburn (September 6, 2004). "How Many Democrats Voted for Taft-Hartley?". Counterpunch. Archived from the original on February 8, 2007. Retrieved 2006-12-27. 
  21. ^ "Squaring Off Over 14(b)". Time Magazine. October 1, 1965. Retrieved 2006-12-27. 
  22. ^ a b "Right to Work: A Winning Issue". National Institute for Labor Relations Research. Archived from the original on 2006-10-10. Retrieved 2006-12-27. 
  23. ^ Staff. "Al Hartley, 81; Illustrated 'Archie' Comic Strips", Los Angeles Times, May 29, 2003. Accessed September 1, 2014. "His father, Republican Rep. Fred Hartley, co-sponsored the Taft-Hartley Act of 1946, which allows a president to force striking or locked-out workers back to their jobs if the labor impasse is seen as endangering the national security or economy."

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Paul J. Moore
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 8th congressional district

Succeeded by
George N. Seger
Preceded by
Frederick R. Lehlbach
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 10th congressional district

Succeeded by
Peter W. Rodino