John D. Dingell, Sr.

John Dingell, Sr.
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan's 15th district
In office
March 3, 1933 – September 19, 1955
Preceded by new district
Succeeded by John D. Dingell, Jr.
Personal details
Born February 2, 1894(1894-02-02)
Detroit, Michigan
Died September 19, 1955(1955-09-19) (aged 61)
Washington, D.C.
Political party Democratic
Residence Dearborn, Michigan
Religion Roman Catholic

John David Dingell, Sr. (February 2, 1894, Detroit, Michigan – September 19, 1955, Washington, D.C.) was an American politician who represented Michigan's 15th congressional district from 1933 to 1955.

Life and career

Dingell was born in Detroit. His original surname had been Dzieglewicz, meaning, roughly, 'blacksmith.' He changed his name for his campaign for office with the slogan 'Ring (in) with Dingell.' He worked as a newsboy, printer and newspaperman. He had also engaged in the construction of natural gas pipelines, was a wholesale dealer in beef and pork products and an organizer and trustee of Colorado Springs Labor College.

Dingell married Grace Bigler Dingell and had three children John, Jr., James, and Julè. Dingell settled his family in Detroit, where he worked as a printer at the Detroit Free Press, helping to organize a union. Dingell was 5-foot-7 and suffered from asthma and tuberculosis, a disease that took the family to Colorado for a time, in hopes of a cure. There, John Jr. was born in 1926. (Detroit Free Press, 5.16.82; Congressman John D. Dingell)

Following the 1930 U.S. Census, Michigan gained four new seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1932, Dingell was elected as a Democrat from the newly formed 15th District in western Detroit. He was reelected eleven times and served until his death at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C. at the age of 61. He is interred at the Holy Sepulchre Mausoleum in Southfield, Michigan.

At the outset of his Congressional career, Dingell was a "New Deal stalwart."[1] Reflecting the prevailing prejudices of the period, a memorable letter from Dingell to President Franklin D. Roosevelt on August 18, 1941 suggested that ten thousand Japanese-Hawaiian Americans be incarcerated in order to ensure "good behavior" from Japan.[2] Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Dingell "demanded that [Admiral Husband] Kimmel and [General Walter] Short be court-martialed."[1]

A special election called to fill the remainder of Dingell's term was won by his son, John, Jr., who took his father's place in Congress on December 13, 1955.

In January 1995, John Dingell, Jr. became the Dean, or the longest-serving member of the House and, as of 2011, the father and son together have 78 consecutive years of service in Congress.

A hallmark of their service has been a proposal for a national health insurance system, first introduced by John, Sr. in 1933 and re-introduced since at every Congress by the father and then the son.

Dingell's grandson, Christopher D. Dingell, has also taken to politics, having been elected to the Michigan State Senate in 1998.

References

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
None
United States Representative for the 15th Congressional District of Michigan
1933 – 1955
Succeeded by
John Dingell, Jr.

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