William Moore McCulloch

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William Moore McCulloch
William Moore McCulloch 84th Congress 1955.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Ohio's 4th district
In office
November 4, 1947 – January 3, 1973
Preceded byRobert Franklin Jones
Succeeded byTennyson Guyer
Member of the Ohio House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Born(1901-11-24)November 24, 1901
Holmesville, Ohio, U.S.
DiedFebruary 22, 1980(1980-02-22) (aged 78)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Resting placeArlington National Cemetery
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Mabel Harris (m. 1927)
ChildrenNancy McCulloch
Ann McCulloch
Alma materCollege 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[edit]

McCulloch was born near Holmesville, Ohio on November 24, 1901 to James H. and Ida M. McCulloch.[1][2] 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.[1][3][4]


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.[4] 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.[4]

He served in the United States Army from December 26, 1943, to October 12, 1945.[1] During his tenure in the Army, he served as a captain in the Military Government Forces in Europe.[2]

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.[1] 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.[2][4] He was a fiscal conservative and would return the unused office allowance to the U.S. Treasury at the end of each term.[4][5]

In 1959 he became the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee until his retirement in 1973.[3] 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).[2]

Fight for civil rights[edit]

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.[6] 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.[7]

McCulloch voted in favor of the Civil Rights Acts of 1957,[8] 1960,[9] 1964,[10] and 1968,[11] the Voting Rights Act of 1965,[12] and the Open Housing Act of 1968.[3] 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.[3][4]

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.[3]

Other issues[edit]

Throughout his career, McCulloch was a conservative, as demonstrated by his low Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) scores, and was a strong supporter of civil rights. As ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, he and Democratic Chairman Emanuel Celler pushed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 through the House of Representatives. During the Great Society Congress, he opposed most Great Society legislation. After the Great Society Congress (1965–1966), he began to adopt a few liberal positions, such as supporting strong gun control legislation in 1968 as well as busing.[citation needed]

He was not a candidate for re-election in the 1972 election to the Ninety-third Congress and instead resumed the practice of law in Piqua, Ohio.[1]

Personal life[edit]

On October 17, 1927, McCulloch eloped with Mabel Harris in Covington, Kentucky.[13] They had two daughters, Nancy and Ann.[14]

Death and legacy[edit]

McCulloch died on February 22, 1980, in Washington, D.C. due to a heart attack.[15] He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery with his wife.[15] In the film All the Way, Congressman McCulloch is portrayed by Dan Desmond.[16]

In early 2010, McCulloch was proposed by the Ohio Historical Society as a finalist in a statewide vote for inclusion in Statuary Hall at the United States Capitol.


  1. ^ a b c d e "Bioguide Search". bioguide.congress.gov. Retrieved 2021-05-09.
  2. ^ a b c d "Special Collections Registry". library.osu.edu. Retrieved 2021-05-09.
  3. ^ a b c d e Smith, J. Y. (1980-02-23). "Former Rep. William McCulloch Dies". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2021-05-09.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "William M. McCulloch - Ohio History Central". ohiohistorycentral.org. Retrieved 2021-05-10.
  5. ^ Purdum, Todd S. "The Republican Who Saved Civil Rights". POLITICO Magazine. Retrieved 2021-05-10.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ "HR 6127. CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1957". GovTrack.us.
  9. ^ "HR 8601. PASSAGE".
  10. ^ "H.R. 7152. PASSAGE".
  12. ^ "TO PASS H.R. 6400, THE 1965 VOTING RIGHTS ACT".
  13. ^ Bernstein, p. 21.
  14. ^ Bernstein, p. 56.
  15. ^ a b Bernstein, p. 243.
  16. ^ "All the Way (TV)". Paley Center for Media. Retrieved July 10, 2020.


  • Bernstein, Mark (2014). McCulloch of Ohio: For the Republic. Crown Equipment Corporation. ISBN 978-0692204368.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Ohio's 4th congressional district

Succeeded by