The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes
Sunday, April 11, 2004
Queer Congress - and other lacunae filled
A visit to Geitner Simmons is always rewarded by some nugget or other from the annals of American history. And, right now, he has several Plawg readers will appreciate.
Simmons explains the role of Kenneth Wherry, Republican Senator from Nebraska, in a change in the early 1950s in the regime  enabling Federal employees to be purged on the grounds - real or spurious - of homosexual tendencies .
The cast includes some stellar names (ie, names I have heard of), such as Sumner Welles :
Welles had first come under quiet attack in 1941 after Republican leaders threatened to publicize reports of his drunken propositions to Negro taxi drivers and train porters...
Wherry's associate in his witch-hunt was Jim Crow liberal Lister Hill of Alabama, who, as Senator, survived the passage of various civil rights acts and the Summer of Love.
There's also the real story that inspired Allen Drury's door-stop, Advise and Consent.
That very far from exhausts the good stuff: we get a Byrd I'd never heard of - not Virginia's Harry or West Virginia's (and, once, the KKK's) Robert, but Texas' Colonel D Harold Byrd - supporter of Lyndon Johnson and owner of the Texas School Book Depository building in Dallas.
And he notes Michael Klarman  arguing the counterfactual on Brown: wouldn't it have been better if old Fred Vinson had still been there to render a minimalist decision, instead of Earl Warren's reverse Dred Scott?
It's a thought which attracts me considerably - though an insufficiency of actual knowledge prevents me from taking a view on the matter. Klarman would labour under no such difficulty.
The Vinson element of the counterfactual I mentioned on December 7 2002 - as a suggestion from Samuel Lubell, made in the first (1952) edition of his The Future of American Politics - when Vinson was still Chief Justice and what became Brown v Board of Education had yet to reach the Supremes for final decision.
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