John William McCormack A Political Biography

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2017-03-09
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic

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Before the house had Tip O'Neill, there was John McCormack. How did this man, with an eighth grade education and a false family history, become Speaker of the House of Representatives, and later next in line to be President of the United States? In this exhaustive political biography, Garrison Nelson lays out every detail of the life and work of an incredibly forceful and important American politician.

The book details the roles McCormack played in the creation of Social Security and the passage of Lend-Lease, Medicare and Medicaid as well as the secret funding of the atomic bomb. The book ties together relationships, showing how this suave and secretive politician contributed to the selection of his “poker pal” Harry Truman as vice president in 1944 and in 1960, as JFK's named “floor manager,” helped orchestrate Lyndon Johnson acceptance of JFK's vice presidential invitation. This groundbreaking research examines the machinations of congress, and also takes a close look at a critical time in US history, as American erupted with conflicts over civil rights and the Vietnam War. The lessons learned in McCormack's life in office still resonate with today's political leadership, and have an impact on the legacy of the JFK Presidency, the role of congress, the shape of the Democratic party, and a powerful generation of politicians.

Author Biography

Garrison Nelson is Professor of Political Science at The University of Vermont, USA. He is the author of more than 150 articles and professional papers on national politics with a major focus on the U.S. Congress and elections in Vermont and is a regular media commentator on those topics. He is co-author of The Austin-Boston Connection: Five Decades of House Democratic Leadership, 1937-1989 (2009).

Table of Contents


November 25, 1963: The Troubling Introduction

Irish Emigration and the Cauldron of Yankee Boston

The Reinvention of John McCormack

Entering Political Life: Models, Mentors, and Harriet

The Crash, the Depression and the New Deal

FDR's Second Term: Congressional Resistance and Foreign Policy Anxieties

The AustinBoston

Connection Created to Preserve FDR's Agenda

Preparedness, World War II and the Atomic Bomb

Harry Truman: A Poker Pal in the White House

The Unhealed Early Wounds: McCormack and Kennedy in the US House

The Eisenhower Interlude and the McCormack-Kennedy Rivalry

The Kennedy Nomination and Election and Speaker Rayburn's Last Year

Speaker McCormack and President Kennedy

The Kennedy Assassination: Next in Line to LBJ

The Great Society Congress: The Liberal Apex and Its Demise

The Unraveling Begins as the Democratic Edifice Cracks

John McCormack's Last Congress

It's Time Mr. Speaker as the AustinBoston

Connection Survives for a While


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