Longworth, Nicholas, 1869-1931
Nicholas "Nick" Longworth III (November 5, 1869 – April 9, 1931) was an American Republican politician who became Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.
A lawyer by training, he was elected to the Ohio Senate, where he initiated the successful Longworth Act of 1902, regulating the issuance of municipal bonds. As congressman for Ohio's 1st congressional district, he soon became a popular social figure of Washington, and married President Theodore Roosevelt's daughter Alice Lee Roosevelt. But their relationship cooled when he opposed her father in the Republican Party split of 1912. Longworth became Majority Leader of the House in 1923, and Speaker from 1925 to 1931. In this post, he exercised powerful leadership, tempered by charm and tact.
Longworth was the son of Nicholas Longworth II and Susan Walker. The Longworths were an old, prominent, and wealthy family which dominated Cincinnati. He had two younger sisters, Anna and Clara. Nicholas Longworth II was the son of Joseph Longworth and grandson of winemaker Nicholas Longworth I, both distinguished citizens of Cincinnati.
Nicholas Longworth III attended the Franklin School, a school for boys in Cincinnati, and then went on to attend Harvard College (Class of 1891), where he was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon (Alpha chapter) and the Porcellian Club. He was a talented, but not necessarily an industrious student; one friend wrote about him: "His good head made it easy for him to get perfectly respectable marks without doing much of any work." After receiving his bachelor's degree from Harvard, he attended Harvard Law School for one year, but transferred to and received his law degree from Cincinnati Law School in 1894.
Longworth began a law practice in Cincinnati after being admitted to the Ohio bar in 1894. His political career began with a position on the city's Board of Education in 1898.
As the protégé of Republican boss George B. Cox, Longworth was elected to the Ohio General Assembly, serving in the Ohio House of Representatives in 1899 and 1900, then in the State Senate from 1901 to 1903. In 1902 he was instrumental in writing and passing the Longworth Act, a bill regulating the issuance of municipal bonds, which has been labeled "one of the most successful laws in Ohio's history," Longworth was elected to the United States House of Representatives from the First Congressional District of Ohio which included the city of Cincinnati and the surrounding counties.
As the progressive Republicans pulled apart from the conservatives in 1910–12, Longworth sided with the conservatives. When they bolted from the party in the 1912 election to support Theodore Roosevelt and establish their own party, Longworth, along with many of Roosevelt's closest political allies, remained firmly behind Republican standard-bearer President William Howard Taft. Longworth agreed more with Taft than Roosevelt on critical issues like an independent judiciary and support for business.
As a result of the Republican Party rift, Longworth and his wife Alice found themselves on opposite sides of the divide in the fall campaign. She actively supported her father's third-party presidential candidacy, even though her husband was running for reelection on the Republican ticket. Longworth narrowly lost his House seat to Democratic challenger Stanley E. Bowdle.
Longworth returned to Congress in 1915, after defeating Bowdle in an election rematch, and served until his death in 1931. He became House Majority Leader in 1923, and rose to speaker in 1925, succeeding Frederick Gillett, who had been elected to the Senate.
Soon after becoming speaker, he set out to restore to the speakership many of the powers that had been stripped away during the revolt against Joseph Cannon. He also punished 13 progressives, who supported Robert M. La Follette instead of Calvin Coolidge in the 1924 election. He expelled the rebels from the GOP caucus, and stripped even the committee chairmen among them of all seniority. Additionally, Longworth took control of the Steering Committee and Committee on Committees and placed his own men on the Rules Committee, guaranteeing that he controlled the work of the House.
Ignoring the progressive wing of the party, Longworth pursued legislation that aimed for balanced budgets and major tax reductions, resisting any new programs that would expand the role of government. However, Longworth defied President Herbert Hoover in 1931 by supporting the long-stalled veterans bonus bill; it passed but Hoover vetoed it, setting up the Bonus March of 1932.
Longworth reached across the aisle to Democrats, forging a productive relationship with John Nance Garner, that party's House minority leader, who relied upon informal methods to strengthen his party's influence. He enjoyed a close rapport with Garner, who said of Longworth, "I was the heathen and Nick was the aristocrat." Together they hosted a daily gathering of Democratic and Republican congressmen in a secluded room in the Capitol, which became known as the "Bureau of Education." This unofficial club provided a place for politicians to relax with a drink and get to know and work with one another across party lines.
Longworth served as speaker until the end of the 71st Congress on March 4, 1931, and was speaker-presumptive for the upcoming 72nd Congress at the time of his death (as he had won reelection in November 1930 and as at the time Republicans retained a narrow 3-seat House majority). He died unexpectedly on April 9, from pneumonia while visiting his friend Dwight Filley Davis (of Davis Cup fame), and Daniel J. Duckett in Aiken, South Carolina. His body was subsequently interred at Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati. At a memorial service held at the Library of Congress on May 3, 1931, his old friends Efrem Zimbalist and Harold Bauer played Brahms's D minor sonata.
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|Representatives, U.S. Congress--Ohio|
|Speakers of the House, U.S. Congress|