Barber Conable
Barber Benjamin Conable, Jr. (November 2, 1922 – November 30, 2003) was a U.S. Congressman
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 from New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 and president of the World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...



Conable was born in Warsaw, New York
Warsaw, New York
Warsaw, New York is the name of two locations in Wyoming County, New York:*Warsaw , New York*Warsaw , New York...

 on November 2, 1922. Conable was an Eagle Scout
Eagle Scout (Boy Scouts of America)
Eagle Scout is the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouting program of the Boy Scouts of America . A Scout who attains this rank is called an Eagle Scout or Eagle. Since its introduction in 1911, the Eagle Scout rank has been earned by more than 2 million young men...

 and received the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award
Distinguished Eagle Scout Award
The Distinguished Eagle Scout Award is a distinguished service award of the Boy Scouts of America . It is awarded to an Eagle Scout for distinguished service in his profession and to his community for a period of at least 25 years after attaining the level of Eagle Scout...

 from the Boy Scouts of America
Boy Scouts of America
The Boy Scouts of America is one of the largest youth organizations in the United States, with over 4.5 million youth members in its age-related divisions...

. He graduated from Cornell University
Cornell University
Cornell University is an Ivy League university located in Ithaca, New York, United States. It is a private land-grant university, receiving annual funding from the State of New York for certain educational missions...

 in 1942, where he was president of the Quill and Dagger
Quill and Dagger
Quill and Dagger is a senior honor society at Cornell University. It is often recognized as one of the most prominent collegiate societies of its type, along with Skull and Bones of Yale University...

 society and a member of the Phi Delta Theta
Phi Delta Theta
Phi Delta Theta , also known as Phi Delt, is an international fraternity founded at Miami University in 1848 and headquartered in Oxford, Ohio. Phi Delta Theta, Beta Theta Pi, and Sigma Chi form the Miami Triad. The fraternity has about 169 active chapters and colonies in over 43 U.S...

 Fraternity. He then enlisted in the Marines and was sent to the Pacific front in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, where he learned to speak Japanese
Japanese language
is a language spoken by over 130 million people in Japan and in Japanese emigrant communities. It is a member of the Japonic language family, which has a number of proposed relationships with other languages, none of which has gained wide acceptance among historical linguists .Japanese is an...

 and fought in the Battle of Iwo Jima
Battle of Iwo Jima
The Battle of Iwo Jima , or Operation Detachment, was a major battle in which the United States fought for and captured the island of Iwo Jima from the Empire of Japan. The U.S...

. After the war, he received his law degree from Cornell University Law School in 1948. He later re-enlisted and fought in the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...


In 1962, Conable was elected as a Republican to the New York State Senate
New York State Senate
The New York State Senate is one of two houses in the New York State Legislature and has members each elected to two-year terms. There are no limits on the number of terms one may serve...

. After only one term, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1964 from a Rochester
Rochester, New York
Rochester is a city in Monroe County, New York, south of Lake Ontario in the United States. Known as The World's Image Centre, it was also once known as The Flour City, and more recently as The Flower City...

-based district. He was reelected nine more times. He was known on both sides of the aisle for his honesty and integrity, at one point being voted by his colleagues the "most respected" member of Congress; he refused to accept personal contributions larger than $50. As longtime ranking minority member of the House Ways and Means Committee, one of his signal legislative achievements was a provision in the U.S. tax code that made so-called 401(k) and 403(b) defined-contribution retirement plans possible, and contributions to those plans by both employers and employees tax-deferred, under federal tax law.

A long-time ally of Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

, Conable broke with him in disgust after the revelations of the Watergate scandal
Watergate scandal
The Watergate scandal was a political scandal during the 1970s in the United States resulting from the break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C., and the Nixon administration's attempted cover-up of its involvement...

. When the White House released a tape of Nixon instructing his Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman
H. R. Haldeman
Harry Robbins "Bob" Haldeman was an American political aide and businessman, best known for his service as White House Chief of Staff to President Richard Nixon and for his role in events leading to the Watergate burglaries and the Watergate scandal – for which he was found guilty of conspiracy...

 to obstruct the FBI investigation, Conable said it was a "smoking gun", a phrase which quickly entered the political folklore.

In 1980, Conable appeared in Milton Friedman
Milton Friedman
Milton Friedman was an American economist, statistician, academic, and author who taught at the University of Chicago for more than three decades...

's PBS documentary Free to Choose
Free to Choose
Free to Choose is a book and a ten-part television series broadcast on public television by economists Milton and Rose D...


Conable retired from the House in 1984. In 1986, President Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 appointed him president of the World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

. His experience as a legislator proved crucial as he persuaded his former colleagues to almost double Congress's appropriations for the Bank. He retired in 1991.

In 1952, Conable married Charlotte Williams, his wife until his death. He died from a staphylococcus infection
Staphylococcus aureus
Staphylococcus aureus is a facultative anaerobic Gram-positive coccal bacterium. It is frequently found as part of the normal skin flora on the skin and nasal passages. It is estimated that 20% of the human population are long-term carriers of S. aureus. S. aureus is the most common species of...

 in 2003, at his winter home in Sarasota, Florida
Sarasota, Florida
Sarasota is a city located in Sarasota County on the southwestern coast of the U.S. state of Florida. It is south of the Tampa Bay Area and north of Fort Myers...


Literature by and about Conable

  • Window on Congress: A Congressional Biography of Barber B. Conable, Jr., James S. Fleming, Rochester, New York: University of Rochester Press, 2004, ISBN 1-58046-128-X.

  • The Conable Years at the World Bank: Major Policy Addresses of Barber B. Conable, 1986–91, Barber B. Conable, Jr., Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 1991, ISBN 0-8213-1901-9.

  • Congress and The Income Tax, Barber B. Conable, Jr. and Arthur L. Singleton, Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1989, ISBN 0-8061-2195-5.

  • Controlling the Cost of Social Security: Held on June 25, 1981 and Sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, Barber B. Conable, Jr., John Charles, et al., Washington, D.C.: The Institute, 1981, ISBN 0-8447-2225-1.

  • Foreign Assistance in a Time of Constraints, Barber B. Conable, Jr., Richard S. Belous, S. Dahlia Stern, and Nita Christine Kent, eds., Washington, D.C.: National Planning Association, 1995, ISBN 0-89068-132-5.
  • Papers at Cornell University.

External links

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