My father's career in Congress was impressive. He played a major role in three legislative achievements: passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938, the establishment of the School Lunch Program as an ongoing regularly funded activity, and the creation of a civilian controlled Atomic Energy Commission. His Elk Hills crusade preserved for posterity a very important oil resource. During the Arab oil boycott of 1973, the United States might have gone to war with the Arab world if it did not have the Elk Hills Petroleum Reserve to fall back upon. My father's conscientious concern for the needs of his constituents was legendary. This sense of duty to the voters of his district undoubtedly led to the honors which the Washington Press Corps heaped upon him when they described him as the hardest working member of the House of Representatives. He read and answered virtually all of his mail. He saw to it that if his constituents had trouble with any federal agency the difficulty would be cleared up. This also applied to political opponents like John Henry Hoeppel. Finally, my father supported what became a series of dams and channels that served as a comprehensive system of water management and flood control for the entire San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys in Southern California by the end of World War II.
Even when he differed with the voters of the district and his fellow Californians, my father did so for reasons of conscience and out of a sense of justice. This especially applied to his votes on the Tidelands Oil Bill and his support for mandatory joint tax returns.
Finally, my father was far ahead of his time on issues like race relations. His was a voice of reason in a world gone mad during the years between 1942 and 1945. At great personal and political risk to himself, he opposed massive interment of Japanese-Americans when at least 80% of white California favored it.
Shortly after he left Congress, my father completed and published his third book, Confessions of a Congressman, detailing his experiences in the House of Representatives. Despite the heated and contentious nature of the 12th District's 1946 campaign, my father described and fully quoted in the book a congratulatory letter which he sent to Richard Nixon immediately after the future President's victory over him. ~ father concluded the chapter by stating that Nixon came to visit him in his office. The two men had an amiable chat lasting approximately an hour. They parted cordially, and my father promised Nixon all the help he might need during his transition to office.
My father never lost his sense of fair play and his enormous respect for democratic and parliamentary government. This, probably more than anything else during his long tenure in Congress, epitomized his true sense of morality and his deeply rooted religious beliefs.
Jerry Voorhis: Mr. Integrity. One of a kind.
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