Gillett, Frederick Huntington, 1851-1935
Frederick Huntington Gillett (October 16, 1851 – July 31, 1935) was an American politician who served in the Massachusetts state government and both houses of the U.S. Congress between 1879 and 1931, including six years as Speaker of the House.
Frederick H. Gillett was born in Westfield, Massachusetts, to Edward Bates Gillett (1817–1899) and Lucy Fowler Gillett (1830–1916). He graduated from Amherst College, where he was a member of the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity, in 1874 and Harvard Law School in 1877. He entered the practice of law in Springfield in 1877.
Gillett was the Assistant Attorney General of Massachusetts from 1879 to 1882. For two one-year terms he was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. He was elected to the Fifty-third United States Congress in 1892.
A Republican, Gillett served in the United States House of Representatives from 1893 to 1925. On January 24, 1914, he introduced legislation to initiate the adoption of an Anti-Polygamy Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Republicans won a net total of 24 seats in the 1918 elections, increasing the size of their majority in the House. Gillett was nominated by the Republican caucus for Speaker of the House in the upcoming 66th United States Congress. On May 19, 1919, Congress convened, and he was elected speaker, defeating the Democratic incumbent Champ Clark 228–172. Gillett was expected to exercise less control than his predecessor, since he was characterized by one reporter as someone who did not drink coffee in the morning "for fear it would keep him awake all day". He was reelected as speaker in 1921 and again in 1923.
He decided to run for the United States Senate in 1924. He won the Republican primary easily over two other candidates and then narrowly defeated incumbent Senator David I. Walsh in the Republican landslide of November 1924 led by President Calvin Coolidge, a former governor of Massachusetts. Time magazine chose him for its November 17, 1924, cover. He served one term in the Senate from 1925 to 1931, and decided not to seek re-election in the face of a difficult primary challenge.
On November 25, 1915, Gillett married Christine Rice Hoar, the widow of his former colleague in Congress, Rockwood Hoar. In 1934 he published a biography of George Frisbie Hoar, an earlier congressman and senator from Massachusetts, and his wife's father-in-law from her previous marriage.
During his time in Washington, Gillett spent his free time driving his 1926 Pontiac Coupe and playing golf in the morning. In retirement he wintered in Pasadena, California. He died in a hospital in Springfield, Massachusetts, on July 31, 1935.
As of 2019, Gillett is the most recent Speaker of the House to have also served in the U.S. Senate. He was also the longest-tenured incumbent congressman to have ever been elected to the Senate until June 2013, when Representative Ed Markey was elected to the same Senate seat that Gillett held.
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|Speakers of the House, U.S. Congress|
|Representatives, U.S. Congress|
|Senators, U.S. Congress|