Hale Boggs

Hale Boggs

name= Hale Boggs

state= Louisiana
district= 2nd
term= 1941–1943 (1st) 1947–1972 (2nd)
preceded= Paul H. Maloney (1st) Paul H. Maloney (2nd)
succeeded= Paul H. Maloney (1st) Lindy Boggs (2nd)
date of birth= birth date|1914|2|15|mf=y
place of birth= Long Beach, Mississippi, U.S.
date of death= presumably death date and age|1972|10|16|1914|2|15|mf=y
place of death= Alaska, United States
spouse= Lindy Boggs
profession= lawyer, politician
alma_mater= Tulane University
party= Democrat

Thomas Hale Boggs, Sr. (February 15, 1914 – Undetermined; presumably October 16, 1972) was an American Democratic politician and a member of the United States House of Representatives for Louisiana. He was the House Majority Leader.

In 1972, while he was still Majority Leader, the twin engine airplane in which Boggs was traveling over a remote section of Alaska disappeared. The airplane presumably crashed and was never found. Congressman Nick Begich was also presumed killed in the same accident.

Early start in politics

Born in Long Beach, Mississippi, Boggs was educated at Tulane University where he received a bachelor's degree in journalism in 1934 and a law degree in 1937. He first practiced law in New Orleans, but soon became a leader in the movement to break the power of the Long Machine, the political machine of late US Senator Huey Long, who died in 1935. Long had previously broken the power of local New Orleans politicians in 1929. A Democrat, Boggs was elected to the U.S. House for the Second District and served from 1941 to 1943. At the time he was elected he was, at twenty-six, the youngest member of Congress. After an unsuccessful re-election bid in 1942, Boggs joined the United States Navy as an ensign. He served the remainder of World War II.

Political career

After the war, Boggs began his political comeback. He was again elected to Congress in 1946 and was then re-elected 13 times, once just after he disappeared, but before he was presumed dead. In 1960, the Republican Elliot Ross Buckley, a cousin of William F. Buckley, Jr., challenged Boggs but drew only 22,818 votes (22 percent) to the incumbent's 81,034 ballots (78 percent).

David C. Treen, a Metairie lawyer who became the first Louisiana Republican governor in 1980, challenged Boggs in 1962, 1964, and 1968. Treen built on Buckley's efforts in the first contest, and Goldwater momentum in Louisiana helped in the second race. It was in the 1968 election, however, that Treen fared the best: 77,633 votes (48.8 percent) to Boggs's 81,537 ballots (51.2 percent). Treen attributed Boggs's victory to the supporters of former Alabama Governor George C. Wallace, Jr., who ran for president on the American Independent Party ticket. Treen said that Wallace supporters "became very cool to my candidacy. We couldn't really believe they would support Boggs, but several Democratic organizations did come out for Wallace and Boggs, and he received just enough Wallace votes to give him the election." Republican officials seemed convinced that fraudulent votes in some Orleans Parish precincts benefited Boggs and that Treen may have actually won the election. There were rumors of election officials who cast votes for people who did not show up at the polls and signed for them in the precinct registers.

Boggs unsuccessfully sought the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 1951–1952. He lost out to a field of opponents, including the eventual winner, Judge Robert F. Kennon of Minden, whom Boggs supported in the runoff. Kennon "adopted" Boggs's intraparty choice for lieutenant governor, C. E. "Cap" Barham of Ruston in Lincoln Parish. In that race, one of the candidates, "Miss" Lucille May Grace, filed suit in an unsuccessful attempt to remove Boggs from the ballot on the grounds that he was either a "communist" or had been a "communist sympathizer" in his earlier years. As it turned out, Miss Grace's maneuver was arranged by Boggs's long-term political rival, Judge Leander H. Perez, the political "boss" of Plaquemines Parish.

During his tenure in Congress, Boggs was an influential player in the government. After "Brown v. Board of Education" he signed the Southern Manifesto condemning desegregation in the 1950s and opposed the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Yet unlike most Southern Congressmen of his era, he supported the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Open Housing Act of 1968. He was instrumental in passage of the interstate highway program in 1956 and was a member of the Warren Commission in 1963–1964.

He served as Majority Whip from 1961 to 1970 and as majority leader (from January 1971). As majority whip, he ushered much of President Johnson's Great Society legislation through Congress. Boggs is one of numerous public officials known to have drinking problems during the time.cite web|url=http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1316/is_n12_v19/ai_6306545
title=Governing under the influence; Washington alcoholics: their aides protect them, the media shields them |work=Washington Monthly |date=January 1988 |author=Steven Waldman

His influence also led to charges of corruption. Controversy surrounded him, when a contractor who remodeled his home in Bethesda, Maryland, at a reduced cost sought his help for obtaining a $5 million extra payment for building a garage adjacent to the United States Capitol building.fact|date=April 2007

Disappearance in Alaska

Disappearance and search

As Majority Leader, Boggs often campaigned for others. On October 16, 1972, he was aboard a twin engine Cessna 310 with Representative Nick Begich of Alaska, who was facing a possible tight race in the November 1972 general election against the Republican candidate Don Young, when it disappeared during a flight from Anchorage to Juneau. The only others on board were Begich's aide, Russell Brown, and the pilot, Don Jonz;cite web|accessdate=2007-04-15
title=Hale Boggs — Missing in Alaska |work=Famous Missing Aircraft
] the four were heading to a campaign fundraiser for Begich. (Begich won the 1972 election posthumously with 56 percent to Young's 44 percent, though Young would win the special election to replace Begich and has won every election to the seat since then.)

In the largest search ever mounted by the U.S. military,fact|date=May 2007 Coast Guard, Navy, and Air Force planes searched for the party. On November 24, 1972, after 39 days, the search was abandoned. Neither the wreckage of the plane nor the pilot's and passengers' remains were ever found. The accident prompted Congress to pass a law mandating Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELT's) in all U.S. civil aircraft. Then Coast Guard Lt. Herbert Claiborne "Bertie" Pell, a distant cousin of Boggs' wife and successor, helped direct the search effort while based in Alaska. [http://www.princeton67.com/obit/pell.htm]

Both Boggs and Begich were re-elected that November. House Resolution 1 of January 3, 1973 officially recognized Boggs's presumed death and opened the way for a special election.

peculation, suspicions, and theories

The events surrounding Boggs' death have been the subject of much speculation, suspicion, and numerous conspiracy theories. These theories often center on his membership on the Warren Commission. Boggs dissented from the Warren Commission's majority who supported the single bullet theory. Regarding the single bullet theory, Boggs commented, "I had strong doubts about it." [ Epstein, Edward J. "Inquest", (New York: Viking Press, 1966), p. 148.] In the Robert Ludlum novel, The Matarese Circle, Boggs was killed to stop his investigation of the Kennedy assassination.

Some tie Boggs' death to alleged corruption charges, or to his outspoken opposition to powerful Federal Bureau of Investigation director J. Edgar Hoover. Some people, including several of Begich's children, have suggested that Richard Nixon had a hand in Boggs' death in order to thwart the Watergate investigation. However, none of these theories has ever been proved, and one of Boggs' children -- journalist Cokie Roberts -- has publicly stated that the rumors about Boggs' wanting to reopen the Kennedy assassination case are completely false.fact|date=July 2008-


In 1973, Boggs' wife since 1938, Lindy Boggs, was elected to the second district seat left vacant by his death, where she served until 1991.

Hale and Lindy Boggs had three children: TV journalist Cokie Roberts, born December 27, 1943, and the wife of journalist Steven V. Roberts; Tommy Boggs, a prominent Washington, D.C.-based attorney and lobbyist; and the late Barbara Boggs Sigmund, who served as mayor of Princeton, New Jersey. In 1982, Mrs. Sigmund lost a bid for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate to Frank Lautenberg.


The Hale Boggs Memorial Bridge, which spans the Mississippi River in St. Charles Parish, is named in memory of the former congressman.The Portage Glacier visitor center, located at Portage Glacier in South Central Alaska is named the Begich-Boggs Visitor Center. The Hale Boggs Federal Building at 500 Poydras Street in New Orleans is also named after him.

ee also

*List of people who have disappeared



* Maney, Patrick J. "Hale Boggs: The Southerner as National Democrat" in Raymond W Smock and Susan W Hammond, eds. "Masters of the House: Congressional Leadership Over Two Centuries" (1998) pp 33–62.
* Strahan, Randall. "Thomas Brackett Reed and the Rise of Party Government" in Raymond W Smock and Susan W Hammond, eds. "Masters of the House: Congressional Leadership Over Two Centuries" (1998) pp 223–259.
*cite web|accessdate=2007-04-15|url=http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=b000594
title=Boggs, Thomas Hale, Sr., (1914–1972)
work=Biographical Directory of the United States Congress

External links

* [http://www.lbjlib.utexas.edu/johnson/archives.hom/oralhistory.hom/boggsh/boggsh.asp Transcript, Hale Boggs Oral History Interview] , 3/13/69, by T. H. Baker, Internet Copy, LBJ Library. Accessed April 3, 2005.
*cite web|url=http://foia.fbi.gov/foiaindex/boggs.htm
title=Hale Boggs — Freedom of Information Privacy Act page
publisher=Federal Bureau of Investigation

* [http://www.check-six.com/lib/Famous_Missing/Boggs.htm Hale Boggs Telex — Debunked]

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