About Everett M. Dirksen
Everett McKinley Dirksen - An American politician of the Republican Party who represented Illinois in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate.
Dirksen (1896-1969), represented central Illinois in the U.S. House of Representatives, 1933-1949. He later won four elections to the U.S. Senate, beginning in 1950. He rose through the leadership ranks of the Republican party in the Senate as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (1951-1954), Republican whip (1957-1959), and Senate Minority Leader (1959-1969). Dirksen played key roles in passing the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (1963), the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Open Housing Act of 1968.
Introduction to the Dirksen Memoir
On-line version of the 40-page introduction to Everett Dirksen's memoir, The Education of a Senator.
A brief summary of Dirksen's life and career, 1896-1969.
Dirksen Video Segments.
Selected photographs through the years.
Sampling of holiday cards drawn by Everett or Louella Dirksen.
Dirksen at the Mike
During more than four decades in politics, Everett Dirksen earned a reputation as a masterful speaker. By the time of his death in September 1969, the Republican senator from Illinois had reached the stature of a folk hero, recognizable everywhere in the country.
In large part, Dirksen made his mark at the microphone. We have selected 75 still photographs from his collection that capture him in full glory—at the mike.
A description of the circumstances surrounding Dirksen's death on September 7, 1969.
Honored by the NAACP, 2009
The late U.S. Sen. Everett Dirksen, R-Pekin, was honored for his role in passing the 1964 Civil Rights Act at the annual banquet of the local NAACP chapter. Featured speakers were the Rev. Phillip Cousin, retired bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and Frank Mackaman, director of the Dirksen Congressional Leadership Center.
Sources of Information about Dirksen
Citations to books, articles, and news reports about Everett Dirksen.
Everett Dirksen on Record
“A Billion Here, a Billion There”
Did Everett Dirksen ever say the phrase popularly attributed to him?
Dirksen: Master Legislator
Analysis by Dirksen scholar Byron Hulsey who focuses on six aspects of Dirksen's personality and character that made it possible for him to shape some of the most important laws of his generation.
Scanned images of a staff-prepared compilation of legislative measures.
An Early Advocate for Civil Rights
Everett McKinley Dirksen enjoys a well-deserved reputation for his effectiveness in passing civil rights legislation. He led Senate Republicans in the successful effort to enact President Dwight Eisenhower's civil rights program in 1957. Dirksen provided crucial support for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. His leadership proved indispensable in passing the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Senate Minority Leader's presence loomed large on the national stage.
Less well known, however, is Dirksen's performance in a smaller theater of civil rights politics where progress came incrementally, often only for the benefit of a few. The senator's efforts on behalf of the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs in the mid-1950s to establish a National Negro History Week, to obtain a national charter for the organization, and to exempt it from a variety of taxes demonstrate his doggedness in supporting the NACWC's civil rights agenda.
On Civil Rights: June 10, 1964
Description of perhaps Dirksen's most famous speech delivered immediately before the successful cloture vote was taken in the Senate on what became the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Selections from Dirksen's public statements, 1954-69, on the war in Southeast Asia. Topics include the role of the commander-in-chief, the relationship between Congress and the President, the role of the minority party in a two-party system, among others.
On Politics as a Career
His recommendations for preparing for a career in administrative or elective politics.
Excerpts from historical documents on such topics as government spending.
Interview Transcripts, 1940-69
Interview transcripts featuring Everett Dirksen from 1940 through 1969, largely the period of his service in the U.S. Senate.
Everett McKinley Dirksen Collection
The Everett McKinley Dirksen Collection consists of five major groups of material: reference volumes, still photographs, audiovisual items, memorabilia, and papers. Each group is described individually in finding aids housed at The Center. Arrangement varies according to type of record.
Although The Center has never conducted a formal oral history project, many such personal recollections appear in The Center’s historical collections.
In addition to the papers of Everett M. Dirksen and Robert H. Michel, The Center houses small collections of papers, artifacts, oral histories, and miscellany donated by others. Most of these materials related to Dirksen.
The papers of Harold H. Velde number among The Center's additional collections. Velde served in the House seat vacated by Dirksen in 1947 and then assumed by Michel after Velde's retirement in 1956. The 10.5 linear feet Velde collection documents Harold Velde's career in the House of Representatives and as a special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Although the collection is fragmentary, it contains insightful documents on the House Un-American Activities Committee, which Velde chaired in 1953.
Special Projects Related to Dirksen
Abraham Lincoln and the Illinois Congressional District
As part of the Bicentennial Celebration of Abraham Lincoln, the Dirksen Congressional Center is pleased to present a version of the Lincoln legacy through the eyes of two members of Congress, Everett McKinley Dirksen and Robert H. Michel, who later represented the central Illinois congressional district that once sent Lincoln to the House of Representatives.
Civil Rights Documentation Project
As valuable as the emphasis on the civil rights movement has been, an equally vital chapter has been neglected -- the story of the legislative process itself. The Civil Rights Documentation Project provides a fuller accounting of law-making based on the unique archival resources housed at The Dirksen Congressional Center, including the collection of then-Senate Minority Leader Everett McKinley Dirksen (R-IL), widely credited with securing the passage of the bills.
Everett Dirksen: A Favorite of Editorial Cartoonists
Editorial cartoonists loved Everett Dirksen (1896-1969)—his position of influence as Minority Leader in the Senate (1959-69), his way with words, and, of course, his distinctive appearance. Over the years, Senator Dirksen’s staff compiled a scrapbook containing more than 300 editorial cartoons. Topics covered include Vietnam, civil rights, Republican Party politics, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, reapportionment, Taft-Hartley 14(b), school prayer, Dirksen’s recording career, Senate procedures, congressional pay, presidential appointments, and Dirksen’s legacy. Naturally, cartoonists also used these topics to depict Dirksen’s relationship with President Lyndon Johnson, with his Democratic colleagues in the Senate, and with the Supreme Court. In addition, cartoonists sent Dirksen between 50 and 60 original sketches on equally diverse topics.
Everett M. Dirksen as Candidate, 1926-1968
Everett McKinley Dirksen’s name appeared on the ballot in 26 elections beginning with his election to Pekin’s City Council in 1926. There followed nine primary and eight general elections to the U.S. House of Representatives as well as four primary and four general elections to the U.S. Senate. The purpose of “Everett Dirksen as Candidate” is to present an overview of his electoral record, something historians have neglected. The brief narratives for each election include links to a small set of illustrations drawn from the campaigns.
Everett Dirksen’s Opponent in 1950: Scott W. Lucas, The Nation’s Number One Senator
The 1950 campaign for the U.S. Senate in Illinois pitted Republican challenger Everett M. Dirksen against incumbent Democrat Scott Lucas, Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate. The Illinois Democratic State Central Committee produced a 16-page, professionally illustrated, full-color, cartoon-style brochure on Lucas's behalf. Even today, it is an amazing piece of campaign literature complete with headings set apart from cartoon frames filled with action scenes and dialogue presented in bubbles. The span of subjects is equally impressive. They include depictions of Lucas's ancestors; his early years of a hard-scrabble existence; his education, law practice, and public service; his election first to House, then to Senate, and finally to his leadership position; and his stance on issues.
Facing the Post-War World: Everett M. Dirksen Abroad, 1945
On February 21, 1945, then Congressman Dirksen set out on a world trip that would take him to twenty-one countries, logging 32,000 miles. This was not an ordinary junket. Dirksen traveled on behalf of the House Committee on Appropriations to inspect American embassies, reconstruction agencies, intelligence services, and the armed forces. He had a bird’s-eye view of Europe and the Middle East as World War II neared its end.
Joint Senate-House Republican Leadership Minutes, 1961-68
The minutes of the Republican leadership during the presidential administrations of John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. In their original state, each session’s minutes generally include attendance, brief summaries of topics discussed, and background “fact sheets” for statements at press conferences following the meetings. The digitized document presented here include only the formal minutes. The press conferences following the leadership meetings achieved fame as the “Ev and Charlie” and “Ev and Jerry” shows. For audio samples and curricular materials associated with a small sample of these minutes, please visit “The 1960s: A Multi-Media View from Capitol Hill” at http://www.dirksencenter.org/emd_audio/index.htm.
Promoting the Marigold as the National Floral Emblem
Everett Dirksen’s well known fondness for the marigold took root in 1959 as a result of David Burpee’s persistent efforts to persuade the senator to sponsor legislation naming it the national floral emblem. As CEO of the W. Atlee Burpee Co., seed growers extraordinaire, Burpee used the full range of lobbying techniques in his ultimately unsuccessful campaign.
Republican Congressional Leadership Press Statements
Scanned images of a staff-prepared compilation of legislative measures.
As Senate Minority Leader: Assessment by His Colleagues
Read how 27 Republican senators evaluated Dirksen's leadership.
The 1960s: A Multi-Media View from Capitol Hill
The 1960s: A Multi-Media View from Capitol Hill is a rich online environment that supports the learning and teaching of the public policy challenges resulting from those tumultuous times using a unique body of records housed in The Center’s historical collections—the minutes and press conferences (both print and audio) of the Joint Senate-House Republican Leadership, 1961-69.