Pat Harrison

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Pat Harrison
President pro tempore of the United States Senate
In office
January 6, 1941 June 22, 1941
Preceded by William H. King
Succeeded by Carter Glass
United States Senator
from Mississippi
In office
March 4, 1919 June 22, 1941
Preceded by James K. Vardaman
Succeeded by James Eastland
Member of the U.S.HouseofRepresentatives
from Mississippi's 6th district
In office
March 4, 1911 March 4, 1919
Preceded by Eaton J. Bowers
Succeeded by Paul B. Johnson Sr.
Personal details
Byron Patton Harrison

(1881-08-29)August 29, 1881
Crystal Springs, Mississippi, U.S.
DiedJune 22, 1941(1941-06-22) (aged 59)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political party Democratic
Education Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge

Byron Patton "Pat" Harrison (August 29, 1881 June 22, 1941) was a Mississippi politician who served as a Democrat in the United States House of Representatives from 1911 to 1919 and in the United States Senate from 1919 until his death.

Mississippi U.S. state in the United States

Mississippi is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. Mississippi is the 32nd largest and 34th-most populous of the 50 United States. Mississippi is bordered to the north by Tennessee, to the east by Alabama, to the south by the Gulf of Mexico, to the southwest by Louisiana, and to the northwest by Arkansas. Mississippi's western boundary is largely defined by the Mississippi River. Jackson is both the state's capital and largest city. Greater Jackson, with an estimated population of 580,166 in 2018, is the most populous metropolitan area in Mississippi and the 95th-most populous in the United States.

Democratic Party (United States) Major political party in the United States

The Democratic Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with its rival, the Republican Party. Tracing its heritage back to Thomas Jefferson and James Madison's Democratic-Republican Party, the modern-day Democratic Party was founded around 1828 by supporters of Andrew Jackson, making it the world's oldest active political party.

United States House of Representatives Lower house of the United States Congress

The United States House of Representatives is the lower house of the United States Congress, the Senate being the upper house. Together they compose the national legislature of the United States.


Early life and education

Pat Harrison was born at Crystal Springs, Mississippi. His father was a Confederate veteran of the Civil War and died in 1885. [1] As a child, Harrison sold newspapers to supplement his family's income. [1] After graduating as class valedictorian from Crystal Springs High School in 1899, he attended a summer term at the University of Mississippi before transferring to Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge on a baseball scholarship. [2]

Crystal Springs, Mississippi City in Mississippi, United States

Crystal Springs is a city in Copiah County, Mississippi, United States. The population was 5,044 as of the 2010 census, down from 5,873 in 2000. It is part of the Jackson Metropolitan Statistical Area.

University of Mississippi university

The University of Mississippi is a public research university in Oxford, Mississippi. Including the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, it is the state's largest university by enrollment and is the state’s flagship university. The university was chartered by the Mississippi Legislature on February 24, 1844, and four years later admitted its first enrollment of 80 students. The university is classified as an "R1: Doctoral University—Very High Research Activity" by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education and has an annual research and development budget of $121.6 million.

Louisiana State University United States historic place

Louisiana State University is a public research university in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The university was founded in 1853 in what is now known as Pineville, Louisiana, under the name Louisiana State Seminary of Learning & Military Academy. The current LSU main campus was dedicated in 1926, consists of more than 250 buildings constructed in the style of Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio, and the main campus historic district occupies a 650-acre (2.6 km²) plateau on the banks of the Mississippi River.

He dropped out after two years due to a lack of funds but was brought on to pitch for the Pickens, Mississippi, semi-professional baseball team in the 'Old Tomato League' summer circuit. [2] After his stint in semi-professional baseball, Harrison moved to Leakesville, Mississippi. He taught and later became principal of the local high school. [2] While supporting himself as an educator, Harrison studied law. He passed the Mississippi State Bar and opened a law practice in 1902. [1] [2]

Leakesville, Mississippi Town in Mississippi, United States

Leakesville is a town located along the Chickasawhay River in Greene County, Mississippi, United States, around the junction of Mississippi routes 57 and 63. As of the 2010 census, the town population was 898, down from 1,026 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Greene County.

In 1906, Harrison was elected district attorney to the Second Judicial District, and in 1908, moved to Gulfport, Mississippi. [2] [3] He served as district attorney until being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1910. [1] The 1910 election introduced Harrison as a skilled orator and witty debater, a reputation he maintained throughout his political career. Newspaper editor Clayton Rand described his longtime friend's oratory style as "an eloquence that flowed like a babbling brook through a field of flowers." [2]

Gulfport, Mississippi City in Mississippi, United States

Gulfport is the second-largest city in Mississippi after the state capital, Jackson. Along with Biloxi, Gulfport is the other county seat of Harrison County and the larger of the two principal cities of the Gulfport-Biloxi, Mississippi Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula, Mississippi Combined Statistical Area. As of the 2010 census, the city of Gulfport had a total population of 67,793, with nearly 400,000 in the metro area as of 2018. It is also home to the US Navy Atlantic Fleet Seabees.

Political career

After four years as district attorney on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Harrison won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1911 and was re-elected three times. [3] One of the youngest members of the House, Harrison made his mark as an effective debater against Republican tariff and tax policies and soon became a favored aide to Democratic President Woodrow Wilson. [2] In particular, Harrison supported Wilson's New Freedom policies and those concerning Mexico and Germany at the onset of America's involvement in World War I. [2] In 1918, he ran against incumbent U.S. Senator James K. Vardaman, an enemy of President Wilson. [2] In return for Harrison's past support, President Wilson personally endorsed him for Senator. [2] Already popular among his constituents, Harrison emphasized his differences with Vardaman and won over a majority of Mississippi voters, who were effectively limited to white Democrats, following the state legislature's disenfranchisement of most black voters by a new constitution and discriminatory practices dating from 1890. After winning Vardaman's Senate seat in 1918, Harrison was re-elected for another three terms, as Mississippi was a one-party state dominated by Democrats. He ran unopposed in 1930 for his third term in the U.S. Senate. [2]

Woodrow Wilson 28th president of the United States

Thomas Woodrow Wilson was an American statesman, lawyer, and academic who served as the 28th president of the United States from 1913 to 1921, and was the leading architect of the League of Nations. A member of the Democratic Party, Wilson served as the president of Princeton University and as the 34th governor of New Jersey before winning the 1912 presidential election. As president, he oversaw the passage of progressive legislative policies unparalleled until the New Deal in 1933. He also led the United States into World War I in 1917, establishing an activist foreign policy known as "Wilsonianism."

The New Freedom

The New Freedom was Woodrow Wilson's campaign platform in the 1912 presidential election in which he called for limited government, and is also used to refer to the progressive programs enacted by Wilson during his first term as president from 1913 to 1916 while the Democrats controlled Congress. First expressed in his campaign speeches and promises, Wilson later wrote a 1913 book of the same name. In terms of legislation, wartime policies are generally not considered part of the New Freedom; additionally, after the 1918 midterm elections, Republicans took control of Congress and were mostly hostile to the New Freedom. As president, Wilson focused on three types of reform:

  1. Tariff reform: This came through the passage of the Underwood Tariff Act of 1913, which lowered tariffs for the first time since 1857 and went against the protectionist lobby.
  2. Business reform: This was established through the passage of the Federal Trade Commission Act of 1914, which established the Federal Trade Commission to investigate and halt unfair and illegal business practices by issuing "cease and desist" orders, and the Clayton Antitrust Act.
  3. Banking reform: This came in 1913 through the creation of the Federal Reserve System and in 1916 through the passage of the Federal Farm Loan Act, which set up Farm Loan Banks to support farmers.
World War I 1914–1918 global war starting in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the resulting 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

A supporter and former law partner of Theodore G. Bilbo, Stewart C. "Sweep Clean" Broom surprisingly aided Harrison's 1936 reelection campaign by giving a well-received speech encouraging "Bilbo folks" to save Bilbo "from his own blunder." [4] Despite having received past help from Harrison, Bilbo actively supported Martin Sennett Conner for Harrison's Senate seat, presumably as a self-serving political maneuver. [5]

Theodore G. Bilbo American politician

Theodore Gilmore Bilbo was an American politician who twice served as governor of Mississippi and later was elected a U.S. Senator (1935–47). A filibusterer whose name was synonymous with white supremacy, like many Southern Democrats of his era, Bilbo believed that black people were inferior; he defended segregation, and was a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

President Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act into law, August 14, 1935. (Harrison second from right) Signing Of The Social Security Act.jpg
President Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act into law, August 14, 1935. (Harrison second from right)

As chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, Harrison was one of the three or four key people behind the creation of the Social Security system in 1935. He also promoted low tariffs and reciprocal trade agreements. When the Senate majority leader's job opened up in 1937, Harrison was expected to win the position, [2] but nose counts put him in a near tie with Kentucky's Alben Barkley. [6] Harrison's campaign manager asked Bilbo, the junior member from Mississippi, to consider voting for his fellow Mississippian. Bilbo, a race-baiting Democratic demagogue whose base was among tenant farmers, hated the upper-class Harrison, who represented the rich planters. The rivalry between the two had deepened over years of disagreement over aspects of the New Deal and how federal money should be distributed throughout Mississippi. [2] Bilbo said he would vote for Harrison only if he were personally asked. Harrison replied, "Tell the son of a bitch I wouldn't speak to him even if it meant the presidency of the United States." [7] Despite Harrison's support for Roosevelt and his policies, shortly before the vote, the president wrote a letter of support for Barkley. [2] When the ballots were in, Pat Harrison lost by one vote, 37-to-38.

Harrison served on the Senate Finance Committee and was chairman of that body from 1933 to 1941 (Seventy-third through Seventy-seventh Congresses), and served as President pro tempore of the Senate during the Seventy-seventh Congress, in 1941 until his death that year. He was also a supporter of the Conservative coalition.

Political reputation

Harrison was a highly effective politician and a brilliant orator. He listened to his district and provided information, services, and patronage. Due to his ability to maneuver through the political landscape and because he was well-liked by many of his fellow politicians, Harrison became rather influential in both legislation and political endorsement. In 1928, he supported New York Governor Al Smith for President and campaigned for him across the South, where there was opposition and superstition among Democrats because Smith was Catholic.

Harrison became known as the "Gadfly of the Senate" due to his oratory rebuking Republican policies.

At the 1932 Democratic convention, he swung the Mississippi delegation to Franklin D. Roosevelt on the crucial third ballot and became welcome at the White House.


See also

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  1. 1 2 3 4 Department of Archives and Special Collections (1883–1943). "Pat Harrison Collection". University of Mississippi. Retrieved September 21, 2011.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Swain, Martha H. (September 2011). "Senator Pat Harrison: New Deal Workhorse (1933-1941) Suspicious of His Load". Mississippi History Now. Mississippi Historical Society. Retrieved September 21, 2011.
  3. 1 2 "Harrison, Byron Patton (Pat)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. United States Congress. Retrieved September 21, 2011.
  4. "Broom or Bilbo". Time . August 24, 1936.
  5. "Mississippi: Indestructible Man". Time. September 9, 1940. Retrieved September 21, 2011.
  6. "Bitter Fight in Progress Over New Leader of Senate". The Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune. July 20, 1937. p. 6. Retrieved September 21, 2011. In the fight for the leadership today's session until Thursday which will be devoted to considering over of the Senate, however, neither Harrison or Barkley forces would express more than a hopeful optimism. An impartial check of votes claimed showed that not more than three or four separated the two candidates.
  7. "Mississippi Spurning". U.S. News & World Report. 120: 122. 1996. Retrieved September 21, 2011.
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Eaton J. Bowers
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Mississippi's 6th congressional district

Succeeded by
Paul B. Johnson Sr.
Party political offices
First Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Mississippi
(Class 2)

1918, 1924, 1930, 1936
Succeeded by
Wall Doxey
Preceded by
Homer Cummings
Keynote Speaker of the Democratic National Convention
Succeeded by
Claude Bowers
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
James K. Vardaman
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Mississippi
Served alongside: John Sharp Williams, Hubert D. Stephens, Theodore Bilbo
Succeeded by
James Eastland
Preceded by
Reed Smoot
Chair of the Senate Finance Committee
Succeeded by
Walter F. George
Political offices
Preceded by
William H. King
President pro tempore of the U.S. Senate
Succeeded by
Carter Glass