Thomas Alan Goldsborough

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Thomas Alan Goldsborough
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia
In office
February 23, 1939 – June 16, 1951
Appointed byFranklin D. Roosevelt
Preceded bySeat established
Succeeded byLuther Youngdahl
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maryland's 1st district
In office
March 4, 1921 – April 5, 1939
Preceded byWilliam Noble Andrews
Succeeded byDavid Jenkins Ward
Personal details
Born(1877-09-16)September 16, 1877
Greensboro, Maryland
DiedJune 16, 1951(1951-06-16) (aged 73)
Washington, D.C.
Political partyDemocratic

Thomas Alan Goldsborough (September 16, 1877 – June 16, 1951) was a U.S. politician and federal judge.

Early life[edit]

Born in Greensboro, Caroline County, Maryland, Goldsborough attended the public schools and the local academy at Greensboro. He received a B.A. from Washington College of Chestertown, Maryland, in 1899. In 1901, he graduated with an LL.B. from the law department of the University of Maryland at Baltimore, was admitted to the bar the same year, and commenced practice in Denton, Maryland. He served as prosecuting attorney for Caroline County, Maryland, from 1904 to 1908, returning to private practice from 1908 to 1921.

Political offices[edit]

Goldsborough was elected as a Democrat to the Sixty-seventh Congress, beginning his Congressional service on March 4, 1921. He was reelected to the nine succeeding Congresses. He also served as regent of the Smithsonian Institution from 1932-1939. In 1932, Goldsborough introduced the so-called "Goldsborugh bill", which passed the House, and failed in the Senate. According to Robert Latham Owen, a supporter of the bill, "…the bill which he (Goldsborough) then presented, with the approval of the Committee on Banking and Currency of the House — and I believe it was practically a unanimous report. It was debated for two days in the House, a very simple bill, declaring it to be the policy of the United States to restore and maintain the value of money, and directing the Secretary of the Treasury, the officers of the Federal Reserve Board, and the Reserve banks to make effective that policy. That was all, but enough, and it passed, not by a partisan vote. There were 117 Republicans who voted for that bill (which was presented by a Democrat) and it passed by 289 to 60, and of the 60 who voted against it, only 12, by the will of the people, remain in the Congress.[1]

   "It was defeated by the Senate, because it was not really understood. There had not been sufficient discussion of it in public. There was not an organized public opinion in support of it."
On January 20, 1939, Goldsborough was nominated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to a new seat on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, created by 52 Stat. 584. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on February 16, 1939, and received his commission on February 23, 1939. He thereafter resigned his seat in Congress on April 5, 1939 to assume his judicial office. Goldsborough served in that capacity until his death, in 1951, in Washington, D.C.. He is interred in Denton Cemetery of Denton, Maryland.

Robert Goldsborough[edit]

Thomas was great-great-great-grandson of Robert Goldsborough and great-grandson of Charles Goldsborough. Goldsboro, Maryland, is named after the family.

Pushing on a string[edit]

Some sources credit him with introducing the phrase pushing on a string—a metaphor for the difficulty experienced by the Federal Reserve in trying to end an economic contraction—in a 1935 hearing.[2][3]


  • United States Congress. "Thomas Alan Goldsborough (id: G000265)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  • Thomas Alan Goldsborough at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  1. ^
  2. ^ Sandilans, Roger G. (2001), "The New Deal and 'domesticated' Keynesianism in America, in John Kenneth Galbraith and Michael Keaney (2001). Economist with a Public Purpose: Essays in Honour of John Kenneth Galbraith. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-21292-8., p. 231
  3. ^ John Harold Wood (2006). A History of Central Banking in Great Britain and the United States. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-85013-4., p. 231; it cites U. S. Congress House Banking Currency Committee, Hearings, Hearings, Banking Act of 1935, March 18, 1935, p. 377.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
William Noble Andrews
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maryland's 1st congressional district

Succeeded by
David Jenkins Ward
Legal offices
Preceded by
new seat
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia
Succeeded by
Luther Youngdahl