Hale Boggs
Thomas Hale Boggs Sr. was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

A politician, political leader, or political figure is an individual who is involved in influencing public policy and decision making...

 and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New Orleans
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is a major United States port and the largest city and metropolitan area in the state of Louisiana. The New Orleans metropolitan area has a population of 1,235,650 as of 2009, the 46th largest in the USA. The New Orleans – Metairie – Bogalusa combined statistical area has a population...

, Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

. He was the House majority leader.

In 1972, while he was still Majority Leader, the twin engine airplane in which Boggs was traveling disappeared over a remote section of Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

. The airplane presumably crashed and was never found. Congressman Nick Begich
Nick Begich
Nicholas Joseph "Nick" Begich, Sr. was a Democratic Party member of the United States House of Representatives from Alaska. He disappeared in a plane crash in Alaska in 1972. His son Mark Begich is currently the junior U.S...

 was also presumed killed in the same accident.

Early start in politics

Born in Long Beach
Long Beach, Mississippi
Long Beach is a city located in Harrison County, Mississippi, USA. It is part of the Gulfport–Biloxi, Mississippi Metropolitan Statistical Area...

 in Harrison County
Harrison County, Mississippi
-National protected areas:* De Soto National Forest * Gulf Islands National Seashore - Demographics :As of the census of 2000, there were 189,601 people, 71,538 households, and 48,574 families residing in the county. The population density was 326 people per square mile . There were 79,636 housing...

 on the Mississippi
Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...

 Gulf Coast, Boggs was educated at Tulane University
Tulane University
Tulane University is a private, nonsectarian research university located in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States...

 where he received a bachelor's degree
Bachelor's degree
A bachelor's degree is usually an academic degree awarded for an undergraduate course or major that generally lasts for three or four years, but can range anywhere from two to six years depending on the region of the world...

 in journalism
Journalism is the practice of investigation and reporting of events, issues and trends to a broad audience in a timely fashion. Though there are many variations of journalism, the ideal is to inform the intended audience. Along with covering organizations and institutions such as government and...

 in 1934 and a law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

 degree in 1937. He first practiced law in New Orleans but soon became a leader in the movement to break the power of the political machine
Political machine
A political machine is a political organization in which an authoritative boss or small group commands the support of a corps of supporters and businesses , who receive rewards for their efforts...

 of U.S. Senator Huey Pierce Long, Jr., who was assassinated in 1935. Long had previously broken the power of 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
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 as an ensign
An ensign is a national flag when used at sea, in vexillology, or a distinguishing token, emblem, or badge, such as a symbol of office in heraldry...

. He served the remainder of 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...


Gubernatorial bid

After the war, Boggs began his political comeback. He was again elected to Congress in 1946 and was then re-elected thirteen times, once just after he disappeared, but before he was presumed dead. In 1951, Boggs launched an ill-fated campaign for governor of Louisiana. Leading in the polls early in the campaign, he was soon put on the defensive when another candidate, Lucille May Grace
Lucille May Grace
Lucille May Grace, a.k.a. Mrs. Fred Columbus Dent, Sr., , was the first woman to attain statewide elected office in Louisiana. A Democrat, "Miss Grace," as she preferred to be called, became Register of the State Land Office in 1931 on appointment of Governor Huey Pierce Long, Jr...

—at the urging of long-time Louisiana political boss
Political boss
A boss, in politics, is a person who wields the power over a particular political region or constituency. Bosses may dictate voting patterns, control appointments, and wield considerable influence in other political processes. They do not necessarily hold public office themselves...

 Leander Perez
Leander Perez
Leander Henry Perez, Sr. , was the Democratic political boss of Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes in southeastern Louisiana during the middle third of the 20th century. Officially, he served as a district judge, later as district attorney, and as president of the Plaquemines Parish Commission...

—questioned Boggs' membership in the American Student Union
American Student Union
The American Student Union was a national left-wing organization of college students of the 1930s, best remembered for its protest activities against militarism. Founded by a 1935 merger of Communist and Socialist student organizations, the ASU was affiliated with the American Youth Congress...

 in the 1930s. By 1951, the ASU was thought to be a Communist-front group. Boggs avoided the question and attacked both Grace and Perez for conducting a smear campaign against him. Even so, Boggs placed third in the balloting for governor in early 1952. And the Boggs candidate for lieutenant governor, C.E. "Cap" Barham of Ruston
Ruston, Louisiana
Ruston is a city in and the parish seat of Lincoln Parish, Louisiana, United States. The population was 20,546 at the 2000 census. Ruston is near the eastern border of the Ark-La-Tex and is the home of Louisiana Tech University. Its economy caters to its college population...

, prevailed in a runoff against future Governor John J. McKeithen. And the Boggs choice for register of state lands, Ellen Bryan Moore
Ellen Bryan Moore
Ellen Bryan Moore was a pioneer of women in Louisiana politics, having served in the formerly elected office of "Register of State Lands" from 1952–1956 and 1960-1976...

, won the office vacated by Lucille May Grace. Moore defeated Mary Evelyn Dickerson
Mary Evelyn Parker
Mary Evelyn Dickerson Parker is a former Democratic state treasurer of Louisiana, having served from 1968-1987. She was the first woman to have held the position. Prior to her tenure as treasurer, she held several appointed positions in state government...

, future state treasurer in the second McKeithen administration.

Boggs won the gubernatorial endorsement of the Shreveport Times, which hailed the representative for having stopped the Truman administration from "altering oil-depletion allowances in federal taxation, thus blocking . . . efforts to tie a millstone around the neck of the petroleum industry of Louisiana."The Times, in a dig at Miss Grace, also cited Boggs' fight in Congress as early as 1941 against communism and subversion in government.

U.S. Senator Russell B. Long
Russell B. Long
Russell Billiu Long was an American Democratic politician and United States Senator from Louisiana from 1948 until 1987.-Early life:...

 also endorsed Boggs though many in the Long faction had preferred Judge Carlos Spaht
Carlos Spaht
Carlos Gustave Spaht, I , was a Louisiana judge best remembered for having lost the Democratic gubernatorial runoff election in January 1952 to fellow Judge Robert F. Kennon of Minden, the seat of Webster Parish in northwestern Louisiana. Spaht's unsuccessful running mate for lieutenant governor...

 of Baton Rouge
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Baton Rouge is the capital of the U.S. state of Louisiana. It is located in East Baton Rouge Parish and is the second-largest city in the state.Baton Rouge is a major industrial, petrochemical, medical, and research center of the American South...

, who ultimately lost the runoff election to another judge, Robert F. Kennon
Robert F. Kennon
Robert Floyd Kennon, Sr., known as Bob Kennon , was the 48th Governor of Louisiana, serving from 1952-1956. He failed to win a second non-consecutive term in the 1963 Democratic primary....

 of Minden
Minden, Louisiana
Minden is a city in the American state of Louisiana. It serves as the parish seat of Webster Parish and is located twenty-eight miles east of Shreveport, the seat of Caddo Parish. The population, which has been stable since 1960, was 13,027 at the 2000 census...


Later congressional elections

In 1960, the Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 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). The Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon Baines Johnson , often referred to as LBJ, was the 36th President of the United States after his service as the 37th Vice President of the United States...

 ticket easily won in Louisiana that year.

In 1962, 1964, and 1968, David C. Treen
David C. Treen
David Conner "Dave" Treen, Sr. , was an American attorney and politician from Mandeville, St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana – the first Republican Governor of the U.S. state of Louisiana since Reconstruction. He was the first Republican in modern times to have served in the U.S...

, a Metairie
Metairie, Louisiana
Metairie is a census-designated place in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, United States and is a major part of the New Orleans Metropolitan Area. Metairie is the largest community in Jefferson Parish. It is an unincorporated area that would be larger than most of the state's cities if it were...

, lawyer who became the first Louisiana Republican governor in 1980, challenged Boggs for reelection. Treen built on Buckley’s efforts in the first contest, and Goldwater's 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
Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...

 Governor George C. Wallace Jr., who ran for president on the American Independent Party
American Independent Party
The American Independent Party is a right-wing political party of the United States that was established in 1967 by Bill and Eileen Shearer. In 1968, the American Independent Party nominated George C. Wallace as its presidential candidate and retired Air Force General Curtis E. LeMay as the vice...

 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.

During his tenure in Congress, Boggs was an influential player in the government. After Brown v. Board of Education
Brown v. Board of Education
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 , was a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court that declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students unconstitutional. The decision overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896 which...

he signed the Southern Manifesto
Southern Manifesto
The Southern Manifesto was a document written February–March 1956 by Adisen and Charles in the United States Congress opposed to racial integration in public places. The manifesto was signed by 101 politicians from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South...

 condemning desegregation in the 1950s
The 1950s or The Fifties was the decade that began on January 1, 1950 and ended on December 31, 1959. The decade was the sixth decade of the 20th century...

 and opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Civil Rights Act of 1964
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a landmark piece of legislation in the United States that outlawed major forms of discrimination against African Americans and women, including racial segregation...

. 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
Warren Commission
The President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, known unofficially as the Warren Commission, was established on November 27, 1963, by Lyndon B. Johnson to investigate the assassination of United States President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963...

 in 1963–64.

He served as Majority Whip from 1962 to 1971 and as majority leader from January 1971 until his disappearance. As the whip, he ushered much of President Johnson's Great Society
Great Society
The Great Society was a set of domestic programs in the United States promoted by President Lyndon B. Johnson and fellow Democrats in Congress in the 1960s. Two main goals of the Great Society social reforms were the elimination of poverty and racial injustice...

 legislation through Congress.

In April 1971 he made a speech on the floor of the House in which he strongly attacked FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover
J. Edgar Hoover
John Edgar Hoover was the first Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States. Appointed director of the Bureau of Investigation—predecessor to the FBI—in 1924, he was instrumental in founding the FBI in 1935, where he remained director until his death in 1972...

 and the whole of the FBI. This led to a conversation on April 6, 1971, between then-President Richard M. Nixon and the Republican minority leader, Gerald R. Ford, Jr., in which Nixon said that he could no longer take counsel from Boggs as a senior member of Congress. In the recording of this call, Nixon is heard to ask Ford to arrange for the House delegation to include an alternative to Boggs. Ford speculates that Boggs is on pills as well as alcohol.

Disappearance and search

As Majority Leader, Boggs often campaigned for others. On October 16, 1972, he was aboard a twin engine Cessna 310
Cessna 310
The Cessna 310 is an American six-seat, low-wing, twin-engined monoplane that was produced by Cessna between 1954 and 1980. It was the first twin-engined aircraft that Cessna put into production after World War II.-Development:...

 with Representative Nick Begich
Nick Begich
Nicholas Joseph "Nick" Begich, Sr. was a Democratic Party member of the United States House of Representatives from Alaska. He disappeared in a plane crash in Alaska in 1972. His son Mark Begich is currently the junior U.S...

 of Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

, who was facing a possible tight race in the November 1972 general election against the Republican candidate, Don Young
Don Young
Donald Edwin "Don" Young is the U.S. Representative for , serving since 1973. He is a member of the Republican Party.Young is the 6th most senior U.S. Representative and the 2nd most senior Republican Representative, as well as the 2nd most senior Republican in Congress as a whole...

, when it disappeared during a flight from Anchorage
Anchorage, Alaska
Anchorage is a unified home rule municipality in the southcentral part of the U.S. state of Alaska. It is the northernmost major city in the United States...

 to Juneau
Juneau, Alaska
The City and Borough of Juneau is a unified municipality located on the Gastineau Channel in the panhandle of the U.S. state of Alaska. It has been the capital of Alaska since 1906, when the government of the then-District of Alaska was moved from Sitka as dictated by the U.S. Congress in 1900...

. The only others on board were Begich’s aide Russell Brown and the pilot, Don Jonz; 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 won every election through and including 2010.)

Coast Guard, Navy
A navy is the branch of a nation's armed forces principally designated for naval and amphibious warfare; namely, lake- or ocean-borne combat operations and related functions...

, and Air Force
Air force
An air force, also known in some countries as an air army, is in the broadest sense, the national military organization that primarily conducts aerial warfare. More specifically, it is the branch of a nation's armed services that is responsible for aerial warfare as distinct from an army, navy or...

 planes searched for the party. On November 24, 1972, after thirty-nine 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 in all U.S. civil aircraft
An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to fly by gaining support from the air, or, in general, the atmosphere of a planet. An aircraft counters the force of gravity by using either static lift or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in a few cases the downward thrust from jet engines.Although...


Both Boggs and Begich were re-elected that November. House Resolution 1 of January 3, 1973, officially recognized Boggs's presumed death
Death in absentia
Death in absentia is a legal declaration that a person is deceased in the absence of remains attributable to that person...

 and opened the way for a special election.

Speculation, suspicions, and theories

The events surrounding Boggs's death have been the subject of much speculation, suspicion, and numerous conspiracy theories. These theories often center on his membership on the Warren Commission
Warren Commission
The President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, known unofficially as the Warren Commission, was established on November 27, 1963, by Lyndon B. Johnson to investigate the assassination of United States President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963...

. Boggs dissented from the Warren Commission's majority who supported the single bullet theory
Single bullet theory
The single bullet theory was introduced by the Warren Commission in its investigation of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy to explain what happened to the bullet which struck Kennedy in the back and exited through his throat...

. Regarding the single-bullet theory, Boggs commented, "I had strong doubts about it." In the 1979 novel The Matarese Circle
The Matarese Circle
-Story:US Intelligence agent Brandon Scofield and Soviet KGB agent Vasili Taleniekov make their way through the obstacles and ravages of a cabal known as the Matarese. They find out that the Matarese has infiltrated the highest ranks of the society...

, author Robert Ludlum
Robert Ludlum
Robert Ludlum was an American author of 23 thriller novels. The number of his books in print is estimated between 290–500 million copies. They have been published in 33 languages and 40 countries. Ludlum also published books under the pseudonyms Jonathan Ryder and Michael Shepherd.-Life and...

 portrayed Boggs as having been killed to stop his investigation of the Kennedy assassination.


In 1973, Boggs’s wife since 1938, Lindy Boggs
Lindy Boggs
Marie Corinne Morrison Claiborne Boggs, usually known as Lindy Boggs , is a United States political figure who served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and later as ambassador to the Vatican. She was the first woman elected to Congress from Louisiana...

, was elected as a Democrat to the 93rd Congress, by special election, to the second district seat left vacant by his death. She was reelected to the eight succeeding Congresses (March 20, 1973–January 3, 1991) where she served until 1991. In 1997, President Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

 appointed Lindy Boggs U.S. ambassador to the Holy See. She served until 2001.

Hale and Lindy Boggs had three children: U.S. TV and public radio journalist Cokie Roberts
Cokie Roberts
Mary Martha Corinne Morrison Claiborne Roberts , best known as Cokie Roberts, is an American Emmy Award-winning journalist and bestselling author. She is a contributing senior news analyst for National Public Radio as well as a regular roundtable analyst for the current This Week with Christiane...

, born December 27, 1943, and the wife of journalist Steven V. Roberts
Steven V. Roberts
Steven V. Roberts is an American journalist, writer, political commentator.Roberts grew up in Bayonne, New Jersey and graduated from Bayonne High School. He attended Harvard where he served as editor of the student newspaper, The Harvard Crimson. After graduating with a B.A...

; Thomas Hale Boggs, Jr.
Thomas Hale Boggs, Jr.
Thomas Hale Boggs, Jr. , is an American lawyer and lobbyist, based in Washington, D.C.Boggs is the son of the late Thomas Hale Boggs , a United States Representative from Louisiana from 1941–43 and again from 1947 until his death in 1972, and Lindy Boggs , a United States Representative from...

, a prominent Washington, D.C.,-based attorney
A lawyer, according to Black's Law Dictionary, is "a person learned in the law; as an attorney, counsel or solicitor; a person who is practicing law." Law is the system of rules of conduct established by the sovereign government of a society to correct wrongs, maintain the stability of political...

 and lobbyist; and the late Barbara Boggs Sigmund
Barbara Boggs Sigmund
Barbara Boggs Sigmund was a daughter of the powerful Democratic United States Representative Hale Boggs of Louisiana, and Lindy Boggs, who became a Congresswoman from Louisiana after her husband Hale died in an air crash....

, who served as mayor
In many countries, a Mayor is the highest ranking officer in the municipal government of a town or a large urban city....

 of Princeton, New Jersey
Princeton, New Jersey
Princeton is a community located in Mercer County, New Jersey, United States. It is best known as the location of Princeton University, which has been sited in the community since 1756...

. In 1982 Mrs. Sigmund lost a bid for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate to Frank Lautenberg
Frank Lautenberg
Frank Raleigh Lautenberg is the senior United States Senator from New Jersey and a member of the Democratic Party. Previously, he was the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Automatic Data Processing, Inc.-Early life, career, and family:...



The Hale Boggs Memorial Bridge, which spans the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

 in St. Charles Parish, is named in memory of the former congressman. The visitor center at Portage Glacier
Portage Glacier
Portage Glacier is a glacier on the Kenai Peninsula of the U.S. state of Alaskaand is included within the Chugach National Forest. It is located south of Portage Lake and 6 km west of Whittier....

 in Southcentral Alaska (located within Chugach National Forest
Chugach National Forest
-External links:*****...

) is named the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center. The Hale Boggs Federal Building, at 500 Poydras Street in New Orleans, is also named after him.

In 1993, Boggs was among thirteen politicians, past and present, inducted into the first class of the new Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame
Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame
The Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield, Louisiana, highlights the careers of more than a hundred of the state’s leading politicians and political journalists. Because three governors, Huey P. Long, Jr., Oscar K...

 in Winnfield
Winnfield, Louisiana
Winnfield is a city in and the parish seat of Winn Parish, Louisiana, United States. The population was 5,749 at the 2000 census. It has long been associated with the Long faction of the Louisiana Democratic Party and was home to three governors of Louisiana.-Geography:Winnfield is located at ...


External links

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