William Roth

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William Roth
Sen. William V. Roth (R-DE).jpg
United States Senator
from Delaware
In office
January 1, 1971 – January 3, 2001
Preceded by John J. Williams
Succeeded by Tom Carper
Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance
In office
October 1, 1995 – January 3, 2001
Preceded by Bob Packwood
Succeeded by Max Baucus
Chair of the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs
In office
January 3, 1995 – October 1, 1995
Preceded by John Glenn
Succeeded by Ted Stevens
In office
January 3, 1981 – January 3, 1987
Preceded by Abraham Ribicoff
Succeeded by John Glenn
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Delaware's at-large district
In office
January 3, 1967 – December 31, 1970
Preceded by Harris B. McDowell Jr.
Succeeded by Pierre S. du Pont, IV
Personal details
Born William Victor Roth Jr.
(1921-07-22)July 22, 1921
Great Falls, Montana, U.S.
Died December 13, 2003(2003-12-13) (aged 82)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Jane Richards
Residence Wilmington, Delaware
Alma mater University of Oregon
Harvard Business School
Harvard Law School
Military service
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1943–1946
Unit Intelligence
Battles/wars World War II

William Victor Roth Jr. (July 22, 1921 – December 13, 2003) was an American lawyer and politician from Wilmington, Delaware. He was a veteran of World War II and a member of the Republican Party. He served from 1966 to 1970 as the lone U.S. Representative from Delaware and from 1971 to 2001 as a U.S. Senator from Delaware.[1]

Roth was a sponsor of legislation creating the Roth IRA, an individual retirement plan that can be set up with a broker.

Early life and family[edit]

Roth was born in Great Falls, Montana, the son of Clara (née Nelson) and William Victor Roth, Sr., who ran a brewery.[2] He attended public schools in Helena, Montana, graduating from Helena High School, which is also the alma mater of Senator Max Baucus, who succeeded Roth as Senate Finance Committee Chairman in 2001. Roth started college at Montana State University before moving on to graduate from the University of Oregon in 1943, Harvard Business School in 1947, and Harvard Law School in 1949. During World War II he served in a United States Army intelligence unit from 1943 until 1946.

Professional and political career[edit]

Roth speaks on the floor of the Senate, c. 2000

After being admitted to the California Bar in 1950, he moved permanently to Delaware in 1954, and began his work as an attorney for the Hercules Corporation. He married Jane Richards in 1965 and they had two children, William III and Katharine. Jane Richards Roth is also a lawyer. She was U.S. District Court Judge, for the District of Delaware from 1985 until 1991 and since was a Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. They were members of the Episcopal Church.

After losing the election for Lieutenant Governor of Delaware in 1960, Roth was chair of the Delaware Republican Party until 1964.[3] In 1966, he defeated incumbent U.S. Representative Harris McDowell, and went on to serve two terms in the United State House of Representatives from January 3, 1967, until December 31, 1970.

He then began his five terms in the United States Senate, succeeding the retiring incumbent U.S. Senator John J. Williams. He served in the U.S. Senate from January 1, 1971, having been appointed when Williams left office 3 days early, until January 3, 2001, having been defeated in the 2000 election by the Democratic candidate, Governor Tom Carper. Many consider Roth's defeat due to his age and health, as he collapsed twice during the campaign, once in the middle of a television interview and once during a campaign event.[4][5][6]

Roth was known as a fiscal conservative. Critics blamed him for national deficits under Reagan.[7] He was a longtime member of the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs and the Senate Committee on Finance, serving as Chairman from September 12, 1995 through January 3, 2001. He was best remembered as a strong advocate of tax cuts, and he co-authored the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981, also known as the Kemp-Roth Tax Cut with Jack Kemp. Roth was also the legislative sponsor of the individual retirement account plan that bears his name, the Roth IRA. It is a popular individual retirement account that has existed since 1998.[citation needed] The Roth 401(k), which did not become available until 2006, is also named after Roth.[8] He was also one of the few Republicans to vote for the Brady Bill and the ban on semi-automatic weapons. Roth strongly supported environmental protections. Roth was also very engaged in international affairs and policy. He served as the President of NATO's parliament, the North Atlantic Assembly, from 1996 to 1998.[9]

Roth was a witty man but unnatural campaigner. To help himself, he would ease himself into public appearances by bringing along a Saint Bernard dog. His succession of St. Bernards through his 34-year political career became a trademark of sorts.[10]

Death[edit]

Roth died in Washington, D.C. of heart failure on December 13, 2003 at the age of 82. The Chesapeake & Delaware Canal Bridge carrying Delaware Route 1 was dedicated as the US Senator William V. Roth Jr. Bridge, and a celebration was held on July 9, 2007. The bridge is a cable-stayed bridge and notable landmark in northern Delaware. Roth helped secure its funding.

Almanac[edit]

Elections are held on the Tuesday immediately following the first Monday in November. U.S. Representatives take office January 3 and have a two-year term. U.S. Senators are popularly elected and also take office January 3, but have a six-year term.


Public Offices
Office Type Location Began office Ended office notes
U.S. Representative Legislature Washington January 3, 1967 January 3, 1969
U.S. Representative Legislature Washington January 3, 1969 December 31, 1970
U.S. Senator Legislature Washington January 1, 1971 January 3, 1977
U.S. Senator Legislature Washington January 3, 1977 January 3, 1983
U.S. Senator Legislature Washington January 3, 1983 January 3, 1989
U.S. Senator Legislature Washington January 3, 1989 January 3, 1995
U.S. Senator Legislature Washington January 3, 1995 January 3, 2001
United States Congressional service
Dates Congress Chamber Majority President Committees Class/District
1967–1969 90th U.S. House Democratic Lyndon B. Johnson at-large
1969–1971 91st U.S. House Democratic Richard Nixon at-large
1971–1973 92nd U.S. Senate Democratic Richard Nixon Governmental Affairs
Finance
class 1
1973–1975 93rd U.S. Senate Democratic Richard Nixon
Gerald R. Ford
Governmental Affairs
Finance
class 1
1975–1977 94th U.S. Senate Democratic Gerald Ford Governmental Affairs
Finance
class 1
1977–1979 95th U.S. Senate Democratic Jimmy Carter Governmental Affairs
Finance
class 1
1979–1981 96th U.S. Senate Democratic Jimmy Carter Governmental Affairs
Finance
class 1
1981–1983 97th U.S. Senate Republican Ronald Reagan Governmental Affairs, Chair
Finance
class 1
1983–1985 98th U.S. Senate Republican Ronald Reagan Governmental Affairs, Chair
Finance
class 1
1985–1987 99th U.S. Senate Republican Ronald Reagan Governmental Affairs, Chair
Finance
class 1
1987–1989 100th U.S. Senate Democratic Ronald Reagan Governmental Affairs
Finance
class 1
1989–1991 101st U.S. Senate Democratic George H. W. Bush Governmental Affairs
Finance
class 1
1991–1993 102nd U.S. Senate Democratic George H. W. Bush Governmental Affairs
Finance
class 1
1993–1995 103rd U.S. Senate Democratic Bill Clinton Governmental Affairs
Finance
class 1
1995–1997 104th U.S. Senate Republican Bill Clinton Governmental Affairs, Chair
Finance, Chair
class 1
1997–1999 105th U.S. Senate Republican Bill Clinton Governmental Affairs
Finance, Chair
class 1
1999–2001 106th U.S. Senate Republican Bill Clinton Governmental Affairs
Finance, Chair
class 1
Election results
Year Office Election Subject Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes %
1960 Lt. Governor General William V. Roth Jr. Republican 96,671 50% Eugene Lammot Democratic 97,826 50%
1966 U.S. Representative General William V. Roth Jr. Republican 90,961 56% Harris B. McDowell Jr. Democratic 72,142 44%
1968 U.S. Representative General William V. Roth Jr. Republican 117,827 59% Harris B. McDowell Jr. Democratic 82,993 41%
1970 U.S. Senator General William V. Roth Jr. Republican 94,979 59% Jacob W. Zimmerman Democratic 64,740 40%
1976 U.S. Senator General William V. Roth Jr. Republican 125,454 56% Thomas C. Maloney Democratic 98,042 44%
1982 U.S. Senator General William V. Roth Jr. Republican 105,357 55% David N. Levinson Democratic 84,413 44%
1988 U.S. Senator General William V. Roth Jr. Republican 151,115 62% Shien Biau Woo Democratic 92,378 38%
1994 U.S. Senator General William V. Roth Jr. Republican 111,074 56% Charles M. Oberly III Democratic 84,540 42%
2000 U.S. Senator General William V. Roth Jr. Republican 142,891 44% Thomas R. Carper Democratic 181,566 56%

Works[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Roth, William Victor Jr. (1921 - 2003)". United States Congress. Retrieved July 23, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Roth Biography". dehistory.org. Delaware Historical Society. Retrieved 8 August 2016. 
  3. ^ Miller, Beth (December 15, 2003). "Roth remembered for 'pure heart'". The News Journal. Archived from the original on December 17, 2003. Retrieved July 29, 2017. 
  4. ^ Gorenstein, Nathan. "In Delaware, Gov. Carper ousts 5-term Sen. Roth". Philadelphia Inquirer. Archived from the original on July 12, 2001. Retrieved July 29, 2017. 
  5. ^ "Delaware U.S. Race, 2000 -- Sussex County Online, Delaware". sussexcountyonline.com. Retrieved 6 December 2016. 
  6. ^ Wilkie, Curtis (October 26, 2000). "In tight race, health issues dog Delaware's Roth". Boston Globe. Archived from the original on February 12, 2001. 
  7. ^ "Sen. William Roth, 82; Created Popular Retirement Account". LA Times. 15 December 2003. Retrieved 4 October 2014. 
  8. ^ Dustin, Woodard. "About: Mutual Funds: The Roth 401k". 
  9. ^ press@nato-pa.int. "NATO PA - PRESIDENTS FROM 1955 TO 2014". Retrieved 8 August 2016. 
  10. ^ "ONLY IN DELAWARE: WILLIAM V. ROTH JR". 

References[edit]

  • Barone, Michael & Richard E. Cohen (2005). Almanac of American Politics. Washington: National Journal Group. ISBN 0-89234-112-2. 
  • Cohen, Celia (2002). Only in Delaware, Politics and Politicians in the First State. Newark, DE: Grapevine Publishing, LLC. 
  • William W. Boyer (2000). Governing Delaware. Newark: University of Delaware Press. ISBN 0-87413-721-7. 

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Harris McDowell
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Delaware's at-large congressional district

1967–1970
Succeeded by
Pierre S. du Pont IV
Party political offices
Preceded by
John J. Williams
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Delaware
(Class 1)

1970, 1976, 1982, 1988, 1994, 2000
Succeeded by
Jan Ting
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
John J. Williams
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Delaware
1971–2001
Served alongside: J. Caleb Boggs, Joe Biden
Succeeded by
Tom Carper
Preceded by
Abraham Ribicoff
Chair of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee
1981–1987
Succeeded by
John Glenn
Preceded by
John Glenn
Chair of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee
1995
Succeeded by
Ted Stevens
Preceded by
Bob Packwood
Chair of the Senate Finance Committee
1995–2001
Succeeded by
Max Baucus