William Moore McCulloch
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Ohio's 4th district
November 4, 1947 – January 3, 1973
|Preceded by||Robert Franklin Jones|
|Succeeded by||Tennyson Guyer|
|Member of the Ohio House of Representatives|
|Born||November 24, 1901|
Holmesville, Ohio, U.S.
|Died||February 22, 1980 (aged 78)|
Washington, D.C., U.S.
|Resting place||Arlington National Cemetery|
|Spouse||Mabel Harris (m. 1927)|
|Alma mater||College of Wooster |
Ohio State University
William Moore McCulloch (November 24, 1901 – February 22, 1980) was an American lawyer and politician who served as a Republican U.S. Representative for Ohio's 4th congressional district from 1947 to 1973.
Early life and education
McCulloch was born near Holmesville, Ohio on November 24, 1901 to James H. and Ida M. McCulloch. He graduated from the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio in 1923. He graduated from the college of law of Ohio State University at Columbus, Ohio, in 1925. He was admitted to the bar the same year and commenced practice in Piqua, Ohio with George Barry.
He was a member of the Ohio House of Representatives from 1933 to 1944, serving as minority leader from 1936 to 1939 and as speaker from 1939 to 1944. During his tenure in the House of Representatives, the black population in Piqua was 2.7% and a majority of his constituents were white conservatives, yet he began supporting equal rights and the NCAAP identifying the Civil Rights movement with its goals of Constitutional rights.
McCulloch was elected as a Republican to the Eightieth Congress, by special election, on November 4, 1947, to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Robert Franklin Jones. He was re-elected to twelve consecutive Congresses. During his time in office, the 4th Ohio Congressional District included the counties of Allen, Hardin, Mercer, Auglaize, Darke, Shelby, Miami, Preble and a part of Montgomery and he won 65-70 percent of the votes in each election. He was a fiscal conservative and would return the unused office allowance to the U.S. Treasury at the end of each term.
In 1959 he became the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee until his retirement in 1973. He also held seats on the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, the Joint Committee on Immigration and National Policy, and the Select Committee on Small Business. In 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed him to the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders and in 1968 the Presidential Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence (Eisenhower Commission).
Fight for civil rights
As the ranking member of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, William McCulloch took a leading role in the civil rights movement. His introduction of a comprehensive civil rights bill in 1963, for example, together with representatives John Lindsay of New York and Charles Mathias of Maryland, put pressure on President John F. Kennedy to present his own act to Congress several months later. He had few African-American constituents and so had few votes to gain from introducing or supporting civil rights legislation. McCulloch's influence with the Civil Rights Act led President John F. Kennedy to declare, "Without him it can't be done." McCulloch was recognized by Kennedy's successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, under whom the act was passed, as "the most important and powerful political force" in passing the Act.
Todd Purdum, in his history of the Civil Rights Era, An Idea Whose Time Has Come, said in an interview:
[McCullough] had been distressed when then Senate Majority Leader Johnson watered down civil rights bills in 1957 and 1960 to make them practically unenforceable. McCulloch was the ranking minority member of the House judiciary committee, and he told the Kennedy Administration that he would back a strong bill in the House – and urge his fellow Republicans to follow suit – but only if the White House agreed not to trade away the bill's strongest provisions in the Senate, and also agreed to give Republicans equal credit for passing it.
McCulloch voted in favor of the Civil Rights Acts of 1957, 1960, 1964, and 1968, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Open Housing Act of 1968. In 1970, he opposed the Nixon administration's efforts to weaken temporary provisions in the 1965 Voting Rights Act regarding voting rights of Black southerners.
Despite his leadership to pass the civil rights acts, McCulloch did not have many votes to gain from his constituents but rather felt that it was his obligation to implement Constitutional rights. In 1971, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis wrote a letter to McCulloch, crediting him as being one of the most important people for the civil rights legislation in the 60s.
Throughout his career, McCulloch was a conservative, as demonstrated by his low Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) scores, notably receiving a 0% from the organization in 1961, and a 100% rating from the Americans for Constitutional Action. With time, McCulloch moderated his views, being one of six Republican representatives from Ohio to support the Medicare program for the elderly. He also was supportive of the Gun Control Act of 1968 and the Comprehensive Child Development Act of 1971 that was vetoed by Nixon. Much like his friend and collaborator in civil rights legislation, New York Democrat Emmanuel Celler, McCulloch opposed the Equal Rights Amendment.
Death and legacy
McCulloch died on February 22, 1980, in Washington, D.C. due to a heart attack. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery with his wife. In the film All the Way, Congressman McCulloch is portrayed by Dan Desmond.
McCulloch was the subject of the JFK Profiles in Courage 2017 winning essay by student Daud Shad.
Representative Richard Walker Bolling (D-MO) said of McCulloch upon his passing: "This country will always owe a major debt to Bill McCulloch. If it had not been for Bill McCulloch, there would have been no civil rights legislation." Representative Thomas Railsback (R-IL) credited McCulloch as doing more for civil rights than any other member of the House, along with his friend Emmanuel Celler.
- "Bioguide Search". bioguide.congress.gov. Retrieved 2021-05-09.
- "Special Collections Registry". library.osu.edu. Retrieved 2021-05-09.
- Smith, J. Y. (1980-02-23). "Former Rep. William McCulloch Dies". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2021-05-09.
- "William M. McCulloch - Ohio History Central". ohiohistorycentral.org. Retrieved 2021-05-10.
- Purdum, Todd S. (31 March 2014). "The Republican Who Saved Civil Rights". POLITICO Magazine. Retrieved 2021-05-10.
- Todd S. Purdum, An Idea Whose Time Has Come: Two Presidents, Two Parties, and the Battle for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (New York: Henry Holt & Company, 2014):118-120.
- Purdum, Todd S., and Cullen Murphy, "The Battle to Pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964", Vanity Fair, March 31, 2014. Retrieved 2014-06-19.
- "HR 6127. CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1957". GovTrack.us.
- "HR 8601. PASSAGE".
- "H.R. 7152. PASSAGE".
- "TO PASS H.R. 2516, A BILL TO ESTABLISH PENALTIES FOR INTERFERENCE WITH CIVIL RIGHTS. INTERFERENCE WITH A PERSON ENGAGED IN ONE OF THE 8 ACTIVITIES PROTECTED UNDER THIS BILL MUST BE RACIALLY MOTIVATED TO INCUR THE BILL'S PENALTIES".
- "TO PASS H.R. 6400, THE 1965 VOTING RIGHTS ACT".
- Letter from Jacquelyn Kennedy Onassis to Congressman William McCulloch, National Museum of African-American History and Culture
- "TO PASS H.R. 6675, A BILL TO PROVIDE A HOSPITAL INSURANCE PROGRAM FOR THE AGED UNDER THE SOCIAL SECURITY ACT".
- "TO ADOPT THE CONFERENCE REPORT ON H.R. 17735, THE STATE FIREARMS CONTROL ASSISTANCE ACT".
- "TO ADOPT THE CONFERENCE REPORT ON S. 2007, ECONOMIC OPPOR- TUNITY AMENDMENTS OF 1971 (CLEARING THE MEASURE FOR THE PRESIDENT.)".
- "TO PASS H.J. RES. 208".
- Bernstein, p. 21.
- Bernstein, p. 56.
- Bernstein, p. 243.
- "All the Way (TV)". Paley Center for Media. Retrieved July 10, 2020.
- Former Rep. William McCulloch; J.Y. Smith, The Washington Post, February 23, 1980
- Bernstein, Mark (2014). McCulloch of Ohio: For the Republic. Crown Equipment Corporation. ISBN 978-0692204368.