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04-065

Everett M. Dirksen

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Everett McKinley Dirksen, 1896-1969.  Representative and Senator from Illinois.  Typed Letter Signed, Everett M. Dirksen, one page, 8” x 10½”, July 28, 1961, on stationery of the United States Senate, Minority Leader.

Dirksen thanks Arthur Clarendon Smith, Jr., president of the Washington, D.C., Democratic Club, for his letter.  In full:  “You would remember that I came to Washington over twenty years ago.  The fact is, I came twenty-eight years ago and I have always welcomed your kindness and your generous expressions.  Thanks a million for the tonic in your good note.”

Dirksen, a highly influential Republican, served some 34 years in Congress.  He served in the House of Representatives for 16 years, 1933-1949.  He defeated the powerful Democrat Scott Lucas to win election to the Senate in 1950, where he served another 18 years, from 1951 until his death in 1969.  During his last ten years in the Senate, he served as the Senate Minority Leader. 

Dirksen was an eloquent, persuasive leader, with a seemingly endless supply of anecdotes, who demonstrated great tactical skills.  His contemporaries deemed him the most powerful member of the Senate.  His influence was most keenly felt in 1964.  Declaring that racial integration was “an idea whose time has come,” Dirksen supported cloture to end the filibuster against the Civil Rights Act, allowing the bill to pass. 

Dirksen was among the first to offer televised opposition speeches to the president’s State of the Union message.  “A billion here, a billion there,” he quipped, “pretty soon it adds up to real money.”

This letter has two normal mailing folds, neither of which affects the signature.  It also has cellophane tape across the corners and some stains from prior mounting.  Overall it is in fine condition, a nice example from a powerful Republican legislator.

Unframed.

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