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Bertrand Wesley "Bud" Gearhart (May 31, 1890 – October 11, 1955) was an American lawyer and politician. Gearhart, a Republican, served as the United States Representative for California's 9th congressional district from 1935 to 1949.[1]

Bertrand W. Gearhart
Bertrand W. Gearhart (California Congressman).jpg
From 1942 campaign ad which appeared in the Fresno Bee and other newspapers
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 9th district
In office
January 3, 1935 – January 3, 1949
Preceded byDenver S. Church
Succeeded byCecil F. White
Personal details
Born(1890-05-31)May 31, 1890
Fresno, California
DiedOctober 11, 1955(1955-10-11) (aged 65)
San Francisco, California
Political partyRepublican


Gearhart was born the son of John Wesley Gearhart and Mary Elizabeth Johnson Gearhart in Fresno, California on May 31, 1890.[1] After attending public school in Fresno, he went on to Boone's University School in Berkeley, California and graduated from there in 1910. He then went to University of Southern California Law School to obtain his Bachelor of Laws degree, which he completed in 1914. While he was there, Gearhart was a member of Phi Delta Phi and Zeta Psi fraternities.[1] Gearhart was admitted to the California state bar the previous year, and had commenced his law practice in Fresno. During World War I, he served overseas as a second lieutenant in the 609th Aero Squadron from 1917 to 1919.[2] Gearhart was one of the founders of the American Legion, an organization of war veterans, in 1919.[1] After the war, he first served as the assistant district attorney, and later the district attorney of Fresno County until 1923. In 1932, he served as a member of the board of directors of the California Veterans' Home.


A year later, Gearhart ran for the United States House of Representatives seat in California's 9th congressional district for the 74th United States Congress. Democratic incumbent Denver S. Church was not a candidate for renomination in 1934, and so Gearhart ran unopposed in the election.[3] He captured all 77,650 votes cast in the election.[4] Gearhart ran unopposed and captured nearly 100% of the vote in 1936,[5] 1938,[6] 1940,[7] 1942[8] and 1944.[9] In Congress, he was known as being a staunch Republican conservative, and as Harry S. Truman said, Gearhart was "one of the worst obstructionists in Congress".[10] Gearhart was one of the few strong supporters of the Merchant Seamen's Bill Of Rights.[11] He faced his first Democratic challenger in the 1946 United States House elections when he was put up against Democrat Hubert Phillips. Gearhart defeated Phillips in the election,[12] capturing 53.7% of the votes cast, in comparison to Phillips' 46.3%.[13]

In a personal jab at Gearhart, President Truman said:

You have got a terrible Congressman here. He has done everything he possibly could do to cut the throats of the farmer and the laboring man.[14]

Months later, Gearhart was beaten in the 1948 House elections by a political newcomer, 47-year-old Democratic cotton rancher Cecil F. White,[14] with the seven-term representative obtaining only 46.9% of the vote while White received 51.3%.[15] After losing the election, Gearhart went back to Fresno to resume his law practice. He continued until the time of his death on October 11, 1955 in a San Francisco hospital.[2] He was then interred in Mountain View Cemetery in Fresno.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d Lawrence Kestenbaum. "Bertrand Wesley Gearhart Information". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved 2006-12-31.
  2. ^ a b c "Bertrand Wesley Gearhart Profile". United States Congress. Retrieved 2006-12-31.
  3. ^ "Denver Samuel Church Profile". United States Congress. Retrieved 2006-12-31.
  4. ^ John L. Moore, ed. (1994). Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U.S. Elections (3rd ed.). Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly. p. 1543. ISBN 0-87187-996-4. pg. 1174
  5. ^ Moore (1994), pg. 1179
  6. ^ Moore (1994), pg. 1184
  7. ^ Moore (1994), pg. 1189
  8. ^ Moore (1994), pg. 1194
  9. ^ Moore (1994), pg. 1199
  10. ^ "Dogi Cligin & the West". Time. October 4, 1948. Retrieved 2006-12-31.
  11. ^ "List Of Prominent People Who Have Endorsed The Merchant Seamen's Bill Of Rights". United States Maritime Service Veterans. October 10, 2000. Retrieved 2006-12-31.
  12. ^ Lawrence Kestenbaum. "California: U.S. Representatives, 1940s". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved 2006-12-31.
  13. ^ Moore (1994), pg. 1204
  14. ^ a b "Face of the Victor". Time. November 15, 1948. Retrieved 2006-12-31.
  15. ^ Moore (1994), pg. 1209

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