Harrison A. Williams

Infobox Senator
name = Harrison A. Williams


width =
jr/sr = United States Senator
state = New Jersey
party = Democrat
term = January 3, 1959March 11, 1982
preceded = Howard A. Smith (R)
succeeded = Nicholas F. Brady (R)
office2 = ushr|New Jersey|6
term2 = November 3, 1953January 3, 1957
preceded2 = Clifford P. Case (R)
succeeded2 = Florence P. Dwyer (R)
date of birth = birth date|1919|12|10|mf=y
place of birth = Plainfield, New Jersey
date of death = death date and age|2001|11|17|1919|12|10|mf=y
place of death = Denville, New Jersey
spouse =
religion =Presbyterian
footnotes =

Harrison Arlington "Pete" Williams, Jr. (December 10, 1919 – November 17, 2001) was a Democrat who represented New Jersey in both the United States House of Representatives (1953-1957) and the United States Senate (1959-1982). Williams was convicted in 1980 for taking bribes in the Abscam sting operation, and resigned from the U.S. Senate in 1982 before a planned expulsion vote. Williams is one of numerous public officials known to have acknowledged drinking problems during the time. [ [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1316/is_n12_v19/ai_6306545 Governing under the influence; Washington alcoholics: their aides protect them, the media shields them] , "Washington Monthly", June 1988. "Former senators who have acknowledged alcoholism included the chairman of the Agriculture Committee (Herman Talmadge); the chairman of the Finance Committee (Russell Long), who went on the wagon in the 1970s; and a senior liberal (Harrison Williams), who later went to prison after an Abscam sting caught him taking bribes.]

Williams was born in Plainfield, New Jersey and graduated from Oberlin College in 1941. He engaged in newspaper work in Washington, D.C., and studied at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service of Georgetown University until called to active duty as a seaman in the United States Naval Reserve in 1941. He became a naval aviator and was discharged as a Lieutenant, junior grade in 1945. After being employed in the steel industry for a short time, he graduated from Columbia Law School in 1948, and was admitted to the bar and commenced practice in New Hampshire. He returned to Plainfield in 1949 and continued to practice law, and was an unsuccessful candidate for the New Jersey General Assembly in 1951 and for city councilman in 1952.

Williams was elected to the House of Representatives in a special election in 1953, and was re-elected in 1954 but defeated for re-election in 1956. He was elected to the Senate in 1958 and re-elected in 1964, 1970, and 1976. In 1976, he defeated David A. Norcross, who went on to serve the Republican Party in state and national leadership roles.

He became the first Democratic senator in the history of New Jersey to ever be elected to four terms. Known as "Pete," Williams fought for a range of social welfare laws and urban transit programs. He was instrumental in passage of such landmark laws as the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, which protects worker pensions, and the 1969 Coal Mine Safety and Health Act.

He also helped pass legislation that created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and had a major role in passage of the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964, the first federal law to provide mass transportation assistance to states and cities. He also was the first chairman of the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging .

Williams was the sponsor of the 1968 Williams Act (named after him), which regulates tender offers.

In 1980, Williams was convicted of bribery and conspiracy in the Abscam scandal for taking bribes in a sting operation by the FBI. The Senate Committee on Ethics recommended that Williams be expelled because of his "ethically repugnant" conduct. Prior to a Senate vote on his expulsion, Williams resigned on March 11, 1982. He served time in Federal prison as Inmate #06089-050, the first time in over 80 years that a senator had spent time in prison. He was released on January 31, 1986.

Williams died of heart disease at St. Clare's Hospital in Denville, New Jersey on November 17, 2001. He was a resident of Bedminster Township, New Jersey. [Martin, Douglas. [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C04E2DA1E3BF933A15752C1A9679C8B63 "Ex-Senator Harrison A. Williams Jr., 81, Dies; Went to Prison Over Abscam Scandal"] , "The New York Times", November 20, 2001. Accessed November 4, 2007. "Harrison A. Williams Jr., the Democratic senator from New Jersey who used his considerable power to further the interests of labor and education before being convicted of bribery and conspiracy in the Abscam scandal, died on Saturday. He was 81 and lived in Bedminster"]

References


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