Henry B. González
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Texas's 20th district
November 4, 1961 – January 3, 1999
|Preceded by||Paul J. Kilday|
|Succeeded by||Charlie Gonzalez|
Enrique Barbosa González
May 3, 1916
San Antonio, Texas, U.S.
|Died||November 28, 2000 (aged 84)|
San Antonio, Texas, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Bertha Cuellar (married 1940)|
|Children||8, including Charlie|
|Education||San Antonio College|
University of Texas, Austin (BA)
St. Mary's University, Texas (JD)
Henry Barbosa González (born Enrique Barbosa González; May 3, 1916 – November 28, 2000) was a Democratic politician from the U.S. state of Texas, who represented Texas's 20th congressional district from 1961 to 1999.
Life and career
González was born in San Antonio, Texas, the son of Mexican-born parents Genoveva (née Barbosa) and Leonides Gonzalez (from Mapimi, Durango), who had immigrated during the Mexican Revolution. After he received an associate's degree from San Antonio College, he earned his undergraduate credentials from the University of Texas at Austin. Later, he received a Juris Doctorate from St. Mary's University School of Law, also in San Antonio. Upon graduation, he became a probation officer, and was quickly promoted to the chief office of Bexar County, Texas. in 1945, he quit after a judge refused to allow him to add an African-American probation officer to his staff. In 1950, he was scoutmaster of Troop 90 in San Antonio, of which his son was a member.
González served on the San Antonio City Council from 1953 to 1956. As a city councilmember, González helped desegregate swimming pools and other public accommodations in San Antonio. In 1956, he defeated Republican candidate Jesse Oppenheimer for a seat in the Texas Senate.
In 1960, he defeated another Republican, Ika "Ike" Simpson Kampmann, Jr. (1918-2006), to hold his state Senate seat. He remained in the Senate until 1961 and set the filibuster record in the chamber at the time by speaking for thirty-six straight hours against a set of bills on segregation. Most of the bills were abandoned (eight out of ten). He ran for governor in 1958 and finished second in the Democratic primary (the real contest for governor in what was then a solidly Democratic state) to Price Daniel. In May 1961, González ran in the special election for the Senate seat that Lyndon B. Johnson vacated to become U.S. Vice President. he finished in sixth place in part because he split the liberal and Hispanic vote with Maury Maverick, Jr., of San Antonio.
In September 1961, however, President John F. Kennedy appointed Rep. Paul J. Kilday of Texas's 20th congressional district to the Court of Military Appeals. González entered the special election for the San Antonio-based district in November 1961 and defeated a strong Republican candidate, attorney John W. Goode, for whom former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower flew to San Antonio to endorse. Mexican film star Cantinflas appeared with Vice President Johnson at shopping centers and supermarkets in San Antonio to support González, who would never face another contest nearly that close. He was unopposed for a full term in 1962 and was reelected seventeen times thereafter. He never faced truly serious or well-funded opposition, having been unopposed in 1970, 1974, 1976, 1978, 1982, and 1984. In fact, the 20th was (and remains) so heavily Democratic that González faced Republican opposition only five times and handily prevailed whenever challenged.
González became known for his staunchly liberal views. In 1963, Republican U.S. Representative Ed Foreman called González a "communist" and a "pinko" and González confronted him. González was again referred to as a "communist" in 1986 by a man at Earl Abel's restaurant, a popular San Antonio eatery. The 70-year-old representative responded by punching him in the face. González was acquitted of assault for this incident when the restaurant patron dropped the charge.
González was in President Kennedy's motorcade through Dallas on November 22, 1963. He recalled rolling down the window as his car neared the Texas School Book Depository, then hearing three distinct shots during the assassination. González's car proceeded to Parkland Memorial Hospital where upon seeing a blood-caked bouquet of roses in the rear of presidential limousine he initially believed Jackie Kennedy had been shot. There, he saw Lyndon Johnson, Lady Bird Johnson, Mrs. Kennedy, and President Kennedy's sheet covered body. González helped place Kennedy's casket in the hearse that transported Kennedy to Air Force One.
Reported to be unsettled by the effect that the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr. had on the nation, González pushed in 1975 for a House committee study. In 1976, the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) was created to investigate the deaths of President Kennedy and King, and González succeeded Thomas N. Downing as its chairman in January 1977. After a power struggle with the HSCA's counsel, he resigned as the committee's chairman that same year. Shortly before González chaired the HSCA, Robert P. Gemberling, head of the FBI's investigation of the Kennedy assassination for thirteen years after the release of the Warren Commission's report, said González, as well as Downing, had "preconceived conspiracy theories". According to a 1992 report, González did not rule out the possibility of shots other than the three he heard were fired from a silencer.
Following the United States invasion of Grenada in 1983 and Iran–Contra scandal in 1987, González introduced legislation calling for the impeachment of President Ronald Reagan. González later called for the impeachment of President George H. W. Bush for not obtaining Congressional approval before the 1991 Gulf War. Early in the presidency of Bill Clinton, González also blocked hearings into the Whitewater controversy until finally agreeing to hold hearings in 1994.
In 1997, González fell ill and was unable to return to the House for over a year. Finally, he decided not to run for a 19th full term in 1998. He had long groomed his son, Charlie, to succeed him. Charlie Gonzalez won easily in 1998 and served through January 2013; between them, father and son served 52 consecutive years in Congress.
He was an outspoken critic of the Federal Reserve System and in 1993 proposed an audit of the central bank.
- On October 24, 2006, it was announced that González's personal notes, correspondence and mementos would become part of the Congressional History Collection at the University of Texas at Austin's Center for American History.
- The Henry B. González Convention Center in San Antonio is named for him.
- There are Henry B. González elementary schools in Edgewood Independent School District, Eagle Pass Independent School District, La Joya Independent School District, and Dallas Independent School District.
- On May 1, 2016, two days before the 100th anniversary of González's birthday, the San Antonio Express-News ran a series of articles reminiscing on his career and legacy.
- "Henry B. Gonzalez: Early Life and Entry into Politics". Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. 26 November 2008. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
- Official Congressional Biography
- Henry Gonzalez, House of Representatives History. Retrieved July 1, 2018.
- "San Antonio, Troop 90". Archived from the original on 2011-07-27. Retrieved 2010-06-30.
- Gonzalez, Charlie; Charlie Gonzalez (2010-06-30). 2010 Hispanic Leadership Awards (Speech). Washington, D.C.
- Gonzalez, John W. (March 19, 2015). "Henry B. Gonzalez: Always the fighter". San Antonio Express-News. Archived from the original on July 21, 2018. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
- "Bexar County Republican History". bexargop.org. Archived from the original on February 14, 2015. Retrieved May 19, 2012.
- The record was surpassed in 1977 by Senator Bill Meier of Tarrant County.
- Gilbert Garcia, "Castro unlike O'Rourke has much to lose," San Antonio Express-News, March 31, 2017, p. A2.
- Gonzalez, John W. (May 1, 2016). "Centennial tributes set for Henry B. Gonzalez". San Antonio Express-News. Archived from the original on July 21, 2018. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
- Mittelstadt, Michelle (January 26, 1992). "Assassination questions: Texas congressman in JFK's motorcade wants records opened". The Victoria Advocate. 146 (263). Victoria, Texas. AP. pp. 1A, 10A. Retrieved August 30, 2015.
- "Chief of Kennedy Probe Convinced No Conspiracy". The Middlesboro Daily News. Middlesboro, Kentucky. UPI. December 22, 1976. Retrieved March 28, 2015.
- Danini, Carmina (November 29, 2000). "Henry B. dies". San Antonio Express-News. p. 1A.
- Associated Press (March 6, 1987). "Texan acts for impeachment". The New York Times. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
- Wines, Michael (March 24, 1994). "A Populist From Texas Who Bows to No One". The New York Times. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
- Rosenbaum, David E. (July 27, 1994). "As So Often in the Past, A Sideshow in the Offing". The New York Times. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
- Carmina Danini (January 18, 2017). "Henry B. Gonzalez's widow dies at 99". San Antonio Express-News. Retrieved April 27, 2018.
- "History". Henry B. González Convention Center. Retrieved 6 September 2012.
- United States Congress. "Henry B. González (id: G000272)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
- Official Page by the Historian of the House of Representatives
- Story on Rep. Gonzalez's collection at UT Austin[dead link]
- Henry B. Gonzalez Feature at the Center for American History, includes biography, video, gallery, timeline, and lesson plans.
- Column by Molly Ivins shortly after Rep. Gonzalez's death
- Appearances on C-SPAN
| Member of the Texas Senate
from the 26th district
|U.S. House of Representatives|
Paul J. Kilday
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 20th congressional district
Fernand St. Germain
| Chair of the House Financial Services Committee