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Everett McKinley Dirksen: A Featured Biography

Everett McKinley Dirksen by Richard Hood Harryman

Everett McKinley Dirksen (1896-1969), after eight terms in the House of Representatives, upset the powerful incumbent, Scott Lucas, and won election to the Senate in 1950. Dirksen became minority leader in 1959, a post he held until his death in 1969. Senators regarded him as an eloquent, persuasive leader, with a seemingly endless supply of anecdotes, who demonstrated great tactical skills. Dirksen's 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, thereby allowing passage of the bill. For such reasons, Dirksen's contemporaries deemed him "the most powerful member of the Senate." Dirksen was among the first to offer televised opposition speeches to the president's State of the Union message.



Historical information provided by the Senate Historical Office.

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