Chester E. Holifield

Chester Earl "Chet" Holifield (December 3, 1903 – February 6, 1995) was a businessman and politician, a United States Representative from California's 19th congressional district. He was known for his work on issues of atomic energy.

Chester E. Holifield
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 19th district
In office
January 3, 1943 – December 31, 1974
Preceded byHarry R. Sheppard
Succeeded byRobert J. Lagomarsino
Personal details
Chester Earl Holifield

(1903-12-03)December 3, 1903
Mayfield, Kentucky
DiedFebruary 6, 1995(1995-02-06) (aged 91)
Redlands, California
Political partyDemocratic
Truman re-election rally at Gilmore Stadium, Los Angeles, 1948. Left to right: Ronald Reagan, Lauren Bacall, (unidentified man), Harry S. Truman, Helen Gahagan Douglas, (unidentified man), (unidentified man), Ned R. Healy, Chester E. Holifield, Ellis E. Patterson, (unidentified woman).

He was born in Mayfield, Graves County, Kentucky. He moved with his family to Springdale, Arkansas in 1912. After attending public schools, he moved to Montebello, California in 1920. There he worked in the manufacture and selling of men's apparel from 1920 to 1943.

Becoming active in Democratic Party politics, Holifield was chair of the Los Angeles County Democratic Central committee of the 51st District from 1934 to 1938. He was chair of the California State Central committee of the 12th congressional district from 1938 to 1940. He was also a delegate to each Democratic National Convention from 1940 to 1964.

Holifield was elected as a Democrat representing the 19th congressional district to the 78th and to the fifteen succeeding Congresses. He served from January 3, 1943 until his resignation on December 31, 1974. He was not a candidate for reelection in 1974 to the 94th Congress.

Holifield resumed the manufacture and selling of men's apparel after leaving Congress. He died on February 6, 1995.

Nuclear policyEdit

While in Congress, he was chair of the U.S. House Committee on Government Operations (91st through 93rd Congresses) and the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy (87th, 89th, and 91st Congresses). He was a member of the President's Special Evaluation Commission on Atomic Bomb Tests at Bikini Atoll, 1946.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, as a member of the House Military Operations Subcommittee, he was a strong advocate of fallout shelters and said that the United States should "build a nationwide system of underground shelters".[1] Holifield was also a congressional adviser to international conferences on uses of atomic energy, nuclear weapons testing, water desalinization, and disarmament.

Alvin M. Weinberg, who advocated inherent safety in reactor design, recounted an incident from 1972, where Holifield said: "if you are concerned about the safety of reactors, then I think it may be time for you to leave nuclear energy."[2]

Legacy and honorsEdit


  1. ^ Fortune magazine, November 1961, p. 114
  2. ^ Weinberg, Alvin (1994). The first nuclear era: the life and times of a technological fixer. Springer. p. 199. ISBN 9781563963582. Retrieved 25 March 2012.
  3. ^ "Honorary Degrees | Whittier College". Retrieved 2019-12-06.
  4. ^ "Chet Holifield Library - County of Los Angeles Public Library".


  • Dyke, Richard Wayne. Mr. Atomic Energy: Congressman Chet Holifield and Atomic Energy Affairs from 1945 to 1974. New York: Greenwood Press, 1989; Dyke, Richard Wayne and Francis X. Gannon.
  • Chet Holifield: Master Legislator and Nuclear Statesman. With a foreword by Gerald R. Ford and an afterword by Carl Albert. Lanham, [Md.]: University Press of America, 1996.

External linksEdit

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Harry R. Sheppard
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 19th congressional district

January 3, 1943–December 31, 1974
Succeeded by
Robert J. Lagomarsino