The death of Henry T. Rainey, Speaker of the House of Representatives, brings to an end the career of one of this country’s great present-day statesmen. Through his death, American Jewry loses a real friend. Speaker Rainey evidenced his friendship for the Jews on several important occasions, especially in extending his aid to Jewish members of the House who had certain legislation or particular problems in which they were interested.
It was through Speaker Rainey’s judgment and influence that several of the present Congress obtained their committee assignments. It was his keen knowledge of legislative procedure and kindly advice that made it possible for several of the younger members of the House to see measures which they had sponsored enacted into law.
In the number of terms of service, Speaker Rainey was dean of the House. He was a member of the House for fifteen terms, not consecutive. He was first elected to the fifty-eighth Congress and served consecutively to the sixty-sixth. He returned to the sixty-eighth Congress and was re-elected to each Congress after that.
During the last session of Congress there was considerable rivalry between Speaker Rainey and Representative Adolph J. Sabath of Illinois, as to which of the two was the dean of the House. While Speaker Rainey’s record was fifteen terms, not consecutive, Representative Sabath’s record was fourteen consecutive terms. The rivalry was finally settled when it was agreed that both men were deans of the House by virtue of the fact that each held a distinct record as to service.
Now, Representative Sabath is the unquestioned dean of the House of Representatives. Only two other representatives have service records approaching Representative Sabath’s. These are Representatives Joseph W. Byrns of Tennessee, majority leader, and Edward T. Taylor of Colorado, both with thirteen consecutive terms chalked up on their record.
Representative Sabath and Speaker Rainey were close friends. When the present Congress was organized, Representative Sabath played a leading part in obtaining the designation of Rainey as Speaker. In matters of legislation the two men worked together. Representative Sabath holds posts in the powerful Rules Committee and the important Democratic Steering Committee.
Speaker Rainey always was helpful to the Jewish members of Congress. When Representative Samuel Dickstein, of New York, was fighting for passage of his resolution for a Congressional investigation into Nazi and other subversive propaganda activities in the United States, he sought the advice of the late Speaker, which was given willingly and eventually led to the adoption of the resolution.
The outstanding committee conducting this investigation was named by Speaker Rainey. When the committee was named Representative Rainey made it clear that the investigation must be unbiased and the results based on clear facts.
Representative Herman P. Kopplemann, of Connecticut, regarded Speaker Rainey very highly. On numerous occasions the Speaker gave the Connecticut representative some fatherly advice. Speaker Rainey was of material aid to Representative Kopplemann in paving the way for House action on the Connecticut member’s resolution calling for a Federal Trade Commission investigation of the nation’s milk industry. This investigation is under way at the present time.
In a telegram of condolence sent by Representative Kopplemann to Mrs. Rainey, he said: “In the passing of Speaker Rainey the nation has lost one of her greatest statesmen. His unselfish leadership was an inspiration to all of us who worked with him. One of the busiest men in Washington, he was always ready to lend counsel and help.
“I will never forget his friendly assistance to me when as a new member of Congress I went to him with my problems. His prime interest was first and always, the welfare of the American people.”
The World’s Fair in Chicago brings back memories of exciting days to one member of Congress. It was at the first World’s Fair held in Chicago in 1893 that Representative Sol Bloom, of New York, got his start as a showman. He ran a show on the old Midway Plaisance.
Once a showman, always a showman. Sol Bloom’s gift of showmanship came along with him to Congress when he was elected to serve in the sixty-eighth Congress, which began in 1923. He has served in Congress each term since.
It was due to Representative Bloom’s showmanship that pictures and busts of George Washington are once again popular. Representative Bloom was director of the United States George Washington Bicentennial Commission. And now, in the office of every House member or Senator, there may be found a bust of the father of our country.
His gift of showmanship again came into play during the last session. Representative Bloom introduced a resolution calling for exercises in memory of General Lafayette, the Frenchman who aided this country during the Revolutionary War. The Lafayette memorial exercises held in the Capitol Building during the last weeks of the session was headed by Representative Bloom. The exercises proved to be one of the most beautiful, impressive and successful events of the kind ever given.