James A. Haley

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James A. Haley
James A. Haley.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 8th district
In office
January 3, 1973 – January 3, 1977
Preceded byBill Young
Succeeded byAndy Ireland
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 7th district
In office
January 3, 1953 – January 3, 1973
Preceded bydistrict created
Succeeded bySam Gibbons
Personal details
Born(1899-01-04)January 4, 1899
Jacksonville, Alabama, U.S.
DiedAugust 6, 1981(1981-08-06) (aged 82)
Sarasota, Florida, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Aubrey Barlow Ringling (née Black)

James Andrew Haley (January 4, 1899 – August 6, 1981) was a U.S. Representative from Florida.

Born in Jacksonville, Alabama, Haley attended the public schools and the University of Alabama. During World War I, Haley enlisted in the United States Army serving with Troop A, Second Cavalry where he saw combat in France, in April 1917 and served overseas. He was an accountant in Sarasota, Florida, from 1920 to 1933. He served as general manager of John Ringling estate 1933–1943.

On December 4, 1942, Haley married Aubrey Ringling (née Aubrey Barlow Black), the widow of Richard T. Ringling who had died in 1931. Richard Ringling was the son of Alf T. Ringling one of the original Ringling brothers.[1]

From 1943 to 1945, he was the first vice president of Ringling Circus and president and director of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey. In 1944, a fire broke out at a Ringling Circus show in Hartford, Connecticut that killed 169 people. On the day of the fire Haley was the highest ranking executive traveling with the circus.[2] During the subsequent trial, he and five other circus officials pleaded no contest to charges of involuntary manslaughter and were sentenced to prison. He served eight months[3] and in 1945 was returned to Florida, where he received a pardon from Governor Millard F. Caldwell.[4]

Haley worked for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey from 1946 to 1948. He later engaged in newspaper publishing and later in general printing business. He served as chairman of the Democratic executive committee of Sarasota County 1935–1952. He served as member of the Florida House of Representatives from 1949 to 1952. He was a delegate to the 1952, 1956, and 1960 Democratic National Conventions.

Haley was elected as a Democrat to the Eighty-third and to the eleven succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1953 – January 3, 1977), during which time he was a signatory to the 1956 Southern Manifesto that opposed the desegregation of public schools ordered by the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education.. He served as chairman of the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs (Ninety-third and Ninety-fourth Congresses). In the high-profile 1970 election for the United States Senate from Florida to choose a successor to Spessard L. Holland, Haley strongly supported his fellow Democrat Lawton Chiles, a state senator from Lakeland, who scored an easy victory over the Republican nominee, William C. Cramer of St. Petersburg. Haley called Cramer "little in stature and big in mouth" and suggested that the Republican candidate should "talk less and work more."[5]

Haley was not a candidate for reelection to the Ninety-fifth Congress in 1976.

Haley died in Sarasota on August 6, 1981, and was interred in Boca Raton Cemetery in Boca Raton. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs located in Tampa is named James A. Haley VA Medical Center after him.


  1. ^ "Richard T. Ringling (1895-1931) - Find A Grave..." www.findagrave.com.
  2. ^ "Haley volunteer pushing for rename of hospital | tbo.com". www.tbo.com. Archived from the original on 2017-10-09.
  3. ^ "Ringling V.P. Released After Serving 8 Mos. of Fire Penalty". Variety. 1945-12-26. p. 39. Retrieved 2017-01-15.
  4. ^ "Congressman James A. Haley - Florida Southern College in Lakeland, FL".
  5. ^ Billy Hathorn, "Cramer v. Kirk: The Florida Republican Schism of 1970", Florida Historical Quarterly (April 1990), p. 413

Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress website http://bioguide.congress.gov.

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
District created
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 7th congressional district

Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 8th congressional district

Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Chairman of House Interior and Insular Affairs Committee
Succeeded by
Mo Udall