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Joseph Taylor Robinson
Joseph Taylor Robinson
(August 26, 1872 – July 14, 1937), also known as Joe T. Robinson, was an American politician from Arkansas. A member of the Democratic Party, he served as the 23rd Governor of Arkansas and as the Majority Leader of the United States
United States
Senate. He was also the Democratic vice presidential nominee in the 1928 presidential election. After studying law at the University of Virginia, Robinson returned to Arkansas, winning election to the Arkansas
Arkansas
General Assembly. He won election to the United States
United States
House of Representatives, serving from 1903 to 1913. He won election as Governor of Arkansas
Arkansas
in 1912, but resigned from that position in 1913 to take a seat in the Senate. In the Senate, Robinson established himself as a progressive and strong supporter of President Woodrow Wilson. Robinson served as the chairman of the 1920 Democratic National Convention
1920 Democratic National Convention
and won election as the Senate Minority Leader
Senate Minority Leader
in 1923. He sought the Democratic presidential nomination in the 1924 election and was nominated as the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 1928. The Democratic ticket of Al Smith and Robinson lost in a landslide to the Republican ticket of Herbert Hoover and Charles Curtis. The Democrats took control of the Senate after the 1932 Senate elections and elected Robinson as Senate Majority Leader. He passed Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal
New Deal
programs through the Senate, alienating some of his colleagues with his autocratic style. In the midst of debate over the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937, Robinson died of heart failure.

Contents

1 Early life 2 Senate career

2.1 Court-packing proposal and death

3 Legacy 4 Electoral history 5 See also 6 References 7 Bibliography 8 External links

Early life[edit] Robinson was born in Lonoke, Arkansas, the son of Matilda Jane (Swaim) and James Madison Robinson. He attended the University of Arkansas
Arkansas
and studied law at the University of Virginia. In 1894 Robinson was elected to the Arkansas
Arkansas
Legislature and served one term. He was elected to the United States
United States
House of Representatives in 1902 from the Sixth District of Arkansas, and was re-elected to four subsequent terms, serving until 1913. In 1912 Robinson was elected Governor of Arkansas. He resigned his U.S. House seat on January 14, 1913 and took office as governor on January 16. However, U.S. Senator Jefferson Davis had died on January 3, after the legislature had re-elected him to a new term beginning March 4, 1913; his seat was now open. On January 27, 1913, only 12 days after Robinson took office as governor, the legislature elected him to the U.S. Senate to replace Davis. Robinson became the very last U.S. Senator elected by a state legislature rather than by direct popular vote. The Seventeenth Amendment, which required direct election, took effect on April 8, 1913. All the other Senators elected to terms starting in 1913 had been elected earlier; Senator James H. Brady of Idaho
Idaho
was elected to fill a vacancy on January 24; he was next to last. Robinson resigned as governor on March 8, 1913. Although he served as governor for only 55 days, he worked to provide funds to complete the new state capitol building, create a labor statistics board, adopt an official state flag, and create a highway commission. Senate career[edit] From the outset, Robinson impressed other Senators with carefully crafted speeches. He mastered the Senate's complex rules and practices; he possessed tenacious loyalty to friends and party, a passion for detail, and a killer's instinct in debate. Wedded to his job, he arrived early each day, stayed late, and studied legislation at home.[1] He staunchly supported the policies of President Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
even as other Democrats faltered. He championed the Keating-Owen Child Labor Act and worked to enact bills to regulate railroads and other key industries. He led the Senate to arm merchant ships and voted to declare war on Germany.[2] He also led the unsuccessful effort in the Senate to ratify the Treaty of Versailles.[3] Robinson was regarded as a progressive in Woodrow Wilson's image.[4][5] Robinson gained influence in the Senate and later served as Chairman of the 1920 Democratic National Convention.[3] Robinson was re-elected to the Senate in 1918, 1924, 1930, and 1936. In 1923, the Senate Democratic floor leader Oscar Underwood, who served as the Senate Minority Leader, resigned due to illness.[3] Senior Democratic Senator Furnifold Simmons was expected to take Underwood's place, but withdrew his name from consideration after Robinson challenged him for the position.[3] By unanimous acclamation, Robinson became the Democratic leader, a position he would hold until his death in 1937.[3] As minority leader, Robinson took over the distribution of patronage appointments and reformed the committee assignment process, decreeing that no senator would hold the top Democratic position in more than one important committee.[3] A Capitol Hill resident, he never strayed far from the Senate chamber, but kept a constant watch over the proceedings in order to capitalize on any dissension within the Republican ranks.[3] Known as a "horse trader," he made deals on both sides of the aisle and helped facilitate negotiations with the era's GOP presidents.[3]

Official Senate portrait of Joseph Taylor Robinson

Robinson had presidential aspirations of his own.[3] In 1924, he was a minor contender for the Democratic nomination. A "favorite son" candidate, he drew the support of his Arkansas
Arkansas
constituents and the southern conservative members of his party.[3] That year, however, his performance on a golf course brought him more attention than his short-lived race for the presidency.[3] At the Chevy Chase Country Club (a favorite haunt for Washington politicians), a fellow golfer asked to move ahead of the senator's slow-playing foursome.[3] Robinson refused to extend the courtesy to the local surgeon.[3] After a few angry words, he hit the doctor, knocking him to the ground.[3] The club expelled Robinson from its membership, and the press gave him a new title; he was now the "pugilist" senator.[3] Robinson was the Democratic candidate for Vice President in 1928, as the running mate of Alfred E. Smith
Alfred E. Smith
(see: U.S. presidential election, 1928). Early in 1928, Robinson clashed with Senator James Thomas Heflin, a Democrat from Alabama, who frequently inserted anti-Catholic sentiments into many of his speeches.[3] When New York's Catholic governor, Alfred E. Smith, announced his candidacy for president, Heflin made Smith the target of his criticism.[3] Robinson admonished his views, stating that religious affiliation had no bearing on a person's credentials for higher office.[3] On one famous occasion, he declared, "I have heard [the senator] denounce the Catholic Church and the Pope of Rome and the cardinal and the bishop and the priest and the nun until I am sick and tired of it, as a Democrat."[3] Helfin retorted, "The Senator from Arkansas
Arkansas
can not remain leader of the Democrats and fight the Roman Catholics' battle every time the issue is raised in this body."[3] Interpreting the remark as a challenge to his authority, Robinson held a vote of confidence to gauge his colleagues' loyalty.[3] By a near unanimous vote (Heflin was absent), the senators pledged their support to their leader and his stance against bigotry.[3] After Smith lost to Republican candidate Herbert Hoover,[3] Robinson emerged from the campaign a national figure, now known for the impassioned speeches he had made around the country on behalf of Smith and the Democratic platform.[3] He continued to score victories as the Senate's minority leader, but his cooperative relationship with Hoover riled the members of his party.[3] They understood that no other senator possessed Robinson's tenacity and influence, however, so they accepted his leadership, infuriating as it could be.[3] Robinson became Senate Majority Leader
Senate Majority Leader
by a unanimous vote in 1933 when the Democrats became the majority.[3] He was the first Democrat to serve as formally designated Majority Leader.[3] He took his duties seriously, refusing to delegate his numerous responsibilities.[3] Some Senators resented his autocratic style. In debate he could be terrifying. He would grow red in the face, pound his desk, gesture wildly, and stamp his feet.[1] As Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal "marshal," he ensured the passage of countless bills relating to the Depression and social policy, his most impressive victory being the Emergency Banking Act, which he pushed through both houses of Congress in seven hours.[3] Richard L. Riedel, a Senate press gallery attendant in the 1920s and 1930s, recalled, "When [Robinson] would go into one of his rages, it took little imagination to see fire and smoke rolling out of his mouth like some fierce dragon. Even when he kidded me, he spoke in loud gasps while puffing his cigar. Robinson could make Senators and everyone in his presence quake by the burning fire of his eyes, the baring of his teeth as he ground out the words, and the clenching of his mighty fists as he beat on the desk before him."[6]

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt
Eleanor Roosevelt
and Joseph Robinson in Washington D.C, 1933

The press referred to him as "scrappy Joe",[3] and he nearly came to blows with Senate colleagues Robert La Follette, Porter McCumber, Thomas Heflin, and Huey Long. Once the United States
United States
entered World War I, Robinson denounced those senators who opposed the war effort.[3] After La Follette opposed it, Robinson questioned his patriotism on the Senate floor and La Follette almost got into a brawl with Robinson and had to be restrained.[3] His response to a guard who questioned his credentials at the 1920 Democratic National Convention
1920 Democratic National Convention
was a punch in the face.[3] Despite this temper, he maintained strong friendships across party lines.[7] Court-packing proposal and death[edit] In 1937, Robinson supported Roosevelt's proposal to restructure the United States
United States
Supreme Court (the "court-packing plan").[3] This support may have occurred in part due to Roosevelt promising Robinson the next appointment to the Supreme Court.[8] Robinson had a much more difficult time with the president's Court Reorganization Act, designed to add liberal justices to the Supreme Court.[3] For weeks in 1937, he spoke, fought, and cajoled for the bill, but he could not stifle the criticism of scores of Republicans and Democrats.[3] The constant strain showed on his face and in the stoop of his shoulders, and his friends began to worry about his health.[3] On July 14, just as the legislation seemed likely to split his party into two warring factions, Robinson's housekeeper found his pajama-clad body lying face down on the floor of his apartment in the United Methodist building on Maryland Ave, NE.[3] He died of heart failure.[3] Two days after Robinson's sudden death, stunned colleagues, friends, and family attended his funeral in the Senate chamber.[3] His casket, blanketed with flowers, rested in the green-carpeted pit, the site of his greatest speeches.[3] The Senate chaplain gave a brief sermon, and the Capitol Police escorted his body to a funeral train headed to Little Rock.[3] Thousands of mourners traveled to the Arkansas
Arkansas
capitol to witness Robinson's lying-in-state ceremony and to express their grief and their enormous admiration for the majority leader: the "fightingest" man in the U.S. Senate.[3] He is buried at the Roselawn Cemetery in Little Rock, Arkansas. His home in Little Rock, the Joseph Taylor Robinson
Joseph Taylor Robinson
House, was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1994. Legacy[edit] Robinson is the namesake of Camp Joseph T. Robinson, Arkansas's primary National Guard base; Robinson Center in downtown Little Rock; and elementary, middle and high schools on the northwestern edge of Little Rock. Robinson's face appears on the obverse of a United States
United States
half dollar produced for the 1936 Arkansas
Arkansas
Centennial; he was one of only four men to appear on a U.S. coin while living. This was a commemorative issue not intended for regular circulation. A total of 25,265 coins were minted.[9] Robinson is mentioned in True Grit, a novel by Arkansas
Arkansas
writer Charles Portis. In an aside that illustrates the complexities of Southern political allegiances during the relevant period, Portis's narrator Mattie Ross says: "[ Grover Cleveland
Grover Cleveland
] brought a good deal of misery to the land in the Panic of ’93 but I am not ashamed to own that my family supported him and has stayed with the Democrats right on through, up to and including Governor Alfred Smith, and not only because of Joe Robinson." Electoral history[edit]

U.S. Congressional Election – Arkansas
Arkansas
6th District Results 1902 – 1910

Year

Democratic PCT

Challenger Party Pct

1902

Joseph Taylor Robinson 89.3%

W. H. Carpenter Republican 10.7%[10]

1904

Joseph Taylor Robinson 62.0%

R. C. Thompson Republican 38.1%[11]

1906

Joseph Taylor Robinson 84.4%

R. C. Thompson Republican 15.6%[12]

1908

Joseph Taylor Robinson

Unopposed

[13]

1910

Joseph Taylor Robinson 81.6%

B. C. Thompson Republican 18.4%[14]

Arkansas
Arkansas
Gubernatorial Election Results

Year

Democratic PCT

Challenger Party Pct

1912

Joseph Taylor Robinson 64.7%

Andrew I. Roland Republican 27.4%

Arkansas
Arkansas
U.S. Senatorial Election (Class 2) Results 1918 – 1936

Year

Democratic PCT

Challenger Party Pct

1918

Joseph Taylor Robinson

Unopposed

[15]

1924

Joseph Taylor Robinson 73.5%

Charles F. Cole Republican 26.5%[16]

1930

Joseph Taylor Robinson

Unopposed

[17]

1936

Joseph Taylor Robinson 81.8%

G.C. Ledbetter Republican 16.4%[18]

See also[edit]

List of United States
United States
Congress members who died in office (1900–49)

Arkansas
Arkansas
portal Biography portal Politics portal

References[edit]

^ a b Bacon, 64. ^ Bacon, 69. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar "U.S. Senate: Art & History Home > Senate Leaders". Senate.gov. Retrieved October 12, 2011.  ^ " Joseph Taylor Robinson
Joseph Taylor Robinson
(1872–1937)". Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Retrieved October 12, 2011.  ^ "Joseph Taylor Robinson » Biographies of Arkansas's Governors » Exhibits". Old State House. Archived from the original on January 19, 2012. Retrieved October 12, 2011.  ^ Riedel, 142. ^ Bacon, 65, 68. ^ Noah Feldman
Noah Feldman
(2010). Scorpions: The Battles and Triumphs of FDR's Great Supreme Court Justices. 12/Hachette. p. 120.  ^ Silver Commemoratives 1936 ROBINSON 50C MS ^ "Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives" (PDF). Clerk.house.gov. Retrieved 2017-08-18.  ^ "Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives" (PDF). Clerk.house.gov. Retrieved 2017-08-18.  ^ "Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives" (PDF). Clerk.house.gov. Retrieved 2017-08-18.  ^ "Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives" (PDF). Clerk.house.gov. Retrieved 2017-08-18.  ^ "Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives" (PDF). Clerk.house.gov. Retrieved 2017-08-18.  ^ "Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives" (PDF). Clerk.house.gov. Retrieved 2017-08-18.  ^ http://clerk.house.gov/member_info/electionInfo/1924election.pdf ^ http://clerk.house.gov/member_info/electionInfo/1930election.pdf ^ http://clerk.house.gov/member_info/electionInfo/1936election.pdf

Bibliography[edit]

Donald C. Bacon, "Joseph Taylor Robinson: The Good Soldier", in Davidson, Roger H.; Baker, Richard D. (1991). First among equals: outstanding Senate leaders of the twentieth century. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Inc. pp. 63–97. ISBN 0-87187-581-0. . Riedel, Richard L. (1969). Halls of the Mighty: My 47 Years at the Senate. Washington and New York: Robert B. Luce. 

External links[edit]

Joseph Taylor Robinson
Joseph Taylor Robinson
in the Encyclopedia of Arkansas
Arkansas
History & Culture

U.S. Congressional Election – Arkansas
Arkansas
6th District Results 1902–1910

Year

Democratic PCT

Challenger Party Pct

1902

Joseph Taylor Robinson 89.3%

W. H. Carpenter Republican 10.7%

1904

Joseph Taylor Robinson 62.0%

R. C. Thompson Republican 38.1%

1906

Joseph Taylor Robinson 84.4%

R. C. Thompson Republican 15.6%

1908

Joseph Taylor Robinson

Unopposed

1910

Joseph Taylor Robinson 81.6%

B. C. Thompson Republican 18.4%

Arkansas
Arkansas
Gubernatorial Election Results

Year

Democratic PCT

Challenger Party Pct

1912

Joseph Taylor Robinson 64.7%

Andrew I. Roland Republican 27.4%

Arkansas
Arkansas
U.S. Senatorial Election (Class 2) Results 1918–1936

Year

Democratic PCT

Challenger Party Pct

1918

Joseph Taylor Robinson

Unopposed

1924

Joseph Taylor Robinson 73.5%

Charles F. Cole Republican 26.5%

1930

Joseph Taylor Robinson

Unopposed

1936

Joseph Taylor Robinson 81.8%

G.C. Ledbetter Republican 16.4%

U.S. House of Representatives

Preceded by Stephen Brundidge Jr. Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Arkansas's 6th congressional district 1903–1913 Succeeded by Samuel M. Taylor

Party political offices

Preceded by George Washington Donaghey Democratic nominee for Governor of Arkansas 1912 Succeeded by George Washington Hays

First Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Arkansas (Class 2) 1918, 1924, 1930, 1936 Succeeded by Carl Edward Bailey

Preceded by Ollie M. James Permanent Chair of the Democratic National Convention 1920 Succeeded by Thomas J. Walsh

Preceded by Oscar Underwood Senate Democratic Leader 1923–1937 Succeeded by Alben Barkley

Preceded by Thomas J. Walsh Permanent Chair of the Democratic National Convention 1928 Succeeded by Thomas J. Walsh

Preceded by Charles W. Bryan Democratic nominee for Vice President of the United States 1928 Succeeded by John N. Garner

Preceded by Thomas J. Walsh Permanent Chair of the Democratic National Convention 1936 Succeeded by Alben Barkley

Preceded by Alben Barkley Keynote Speaker of the Democratic National Convention 1936 Served alongside: Alben Barkley Succeeded by William B. Bankhead

Political offices

Preceded by George Washington Donaghey Governor of Arkansas 1913 Succeeded by William Kavanaugh Oldham Acting

U.S. Senate

Preceded by William M. Kavanaugh U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Arkansas 1913–1937 Served alongside: James Paul Clarke, William F. Kirby, Thaddeus H. Caraway, Hattie Caraway Succeeded by John E. Miller

Preceded by Oscar Underwood Senate Minority Leader 1923–1933 Succeeded by Charles L. McNary

Preceded by George H. Moses Chair of the Joint Inaugural Ceremonies Committee 1932–1933 Succeeded by Matthew M. Neely

Preceded by James Eli Watson Senate Majority Leader 1933–1937 Succeeded by Alben Barkley

v t e

United States
United States
Senators from Arkansas

Class 2

Fulton Ashley Sebastian McDonald Clayton Garland Berry Davis Heiskell Kavanaugh Robinson Miller Spencer McClellan Hodges D. Pryor Hutchinson M. Pryor Cotton

Class 3

Sevier Borland Johnson Mitchel Rice Dorsey Walker Jones Clarke Kirby T. Caraway H. Caraway Fulbright Bumpers Lincoln Boozman

v t e

United States Senate
United States Senate
Majority Leaders

Lodge Curtis Watson Robinson Barkley White Lucas McFarland Taft Knowland Johnson Mansfield Byrd Baker Stevens (Acting) Baker Dole Byrd Mitchell Dole Lott Daschle Lott Daschle Frist Reid McConnell

v t e

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v t e

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United States
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v t e

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives from Arkansas

Territory

Bates Conway Sevier

At-large

Yell Cross Yell Newton Johnson Hynes Breckinridge

1st district

Greenwood Hindman Roots Hanks Hodges Gause Dunn Cate Featherstone Cate McCulloch Macon Caraway Driver Gathings Alexander Lincoln Berry Crawford

2nd district

Warren Rust Warren Rust Hinds Elliott A. Rogers O. Snyder Slemons Jones Breckinridge Little Brundidge W. Oldfield P. Oldfield Miller Mills Tucker Bethune T. Robinson Thornton V. Snyder Griffin Hill

3rd district

Boles Edwards Boles Wilshire Gunter Wilshire J. Cravens J. Rogers McRae Dinsmore Floyd Tillman Fuller Ellis Fulbright Trimble Hammerschmidt T. Hutchinson A. Hutchinson Boozman Womack

4th district

Gunter Peel J. Rogers Terry Reid Little W. B. Cravens O. Wingo E. Wingo W. B. Cravens W. F. Cravens Tackett Harris Pryor Thornton Anthony Dickey Ross Cotton Westerman

5th district

Peel Dinsmore Reid Jacoway Ragon Terry Hays Alford

6th district

Neill Brundidge J. Robinson S. Taylor C. Taylor Sawyer Reed Glover McClellan W. Norrell C. Norrell

7th district

Wallace Goodwin Parks Kitchens Harris

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United States
House Committee on Natural Resources

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v t e

Governors of Arkansas

Territory (1819–1836)

J. Miller Izard Crittenden Pope Fulton

State (since 1836)

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Italics indicates acting governor * Disputed; see Brooks-Baxter War

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Chairmen of the United States
United States
Congress Joint Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies

Hanna (1901) Spooner (1905) Knox (1909) Crane (1913) Overman (1917) Knox (1921) Curtis (1925) Moses (1929) Robinson (1933) Neely (1937) Neely (1941) Byrd (1945) Hayden (1949) Bridges (1953) Bridges (1957) Sparkman (1961) Jordan (1965) Dirksen (1969) Cannon (1973) Cannon (1977) Hatfield (1981) Mathias (1985) Ford (1989) Ford (1993) Warner (1997) McConnell (2001) Lott (2005) Feinstein (2009) Schumer (2013) Blunt (2017)

v t e

(1924 ←) United States
United States
presidential election, 1928 (→ 1932)

Republican Party Convention

Nominee

Herbert Hoover

VP nominee

Charles Curtis

Candidates:

Charles Curtis Guy D. Goff Frank O. Lowden George W. Norris Frank B. Willis

Democratic Party Convention

Nominee

Al Smith

VP nominee

Joseph Taylor Robinson

Candidates

Cordell Hull Atlee Pomerene James A. Reed Evans Woollen

Third party and independent candidates

Communist Party

Nominee

William Z. Foster

VP nominee

Benjamin Gitlow

Prohibition Party

Nominee

William F. Varney

Socialist Party

Nominee

Norman Thomas

VP nominee

James H. Maurer

Socialist Labor Party

Nominee

Frank T. Johns

VP nominee

Verne L. Reynolds

Independents and other candidates

William Dudley Pelley

Other 1928 elections: House Senate

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 47601457 LCCN: n88070981 GND: 120800977 US Congress: R000

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