by David W. Cash, Dean
John W. McCormack, a Massachusetts congressman for four decades and speaker of the US House of Representatives from 1962 to 1971, was born 125 years ago today. And while his long life ended 36 years ago, we are all still beneficiaries of its fruits.
Modest and soft-spoken, McCormack never sought the limelight. No biography has yet been published, though one is expected next year. But it is fair to say that no member of Congress in the 20th century accomplished more that affects the everyday lives of nearly every American today.
McCormack would doubtless take pride in the continuing effectiveness of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to provide people with a real safety net. He would have reveled in the fact that Barack Obama, a beneficiary of civil and voting rights legislation of the 1960s, became president; he would have supported the many education, housing and aid programs that continue to promote economic opportunity and social justice.
All these policies owe a debt to McCormack — a doer if there ever was one. McCormack was the seventh of eight U.S. House speakers to come from Massachusetts—no other state has sent more than four (Kentucky and Virginia). Continue Reading →