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John Milan Ashbrook (September 21, 1928 – April 24, 1982) was an American politician of the Republican Party who served in the United States House of Representatives from Ohio from 1961 until his death from peptic ulcer in Johnstown, Ohio in 1982.[1] His father was William A. Ashbrook, a newspaper editor, businessman, and U.S. representative.

John M. Ashbrook
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Ohio's 17th district
In office
January 3, 1961 – April 24, 1982
Preceded byRobert W. Levering
Succeeded byJean Spencer Ashbrook
Member of the Ohio House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
John Milan Ashbrook

(1928-09-21)September 21, 1928
Johnstown, Ohio
DiedApril 24, 1982(1982-04-24) (aged 53)
Johnstown, Ohio
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Jean Spencer
ProfessionLawyer, Newspaper Editor



Early lifeEdit

After graduating from Harvard University in 1952 and from Ohio State University's law school in 1955, Ashbrook became publisher of his late father's newspaper, the Johnstown Independent. He was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives in 1956 and served two terms. In 1960 his father's old seat in the U.S. House of Representatives was vacated; Ashbrook ran for and won it.

1964 presidential electionEdit

With William Rusher and F. Clifton White, associates from the Young Republicans in the 1950s, Ashbrook was involved in the start-up of the Draft Goldwater movement in 1961.[2]

In 1966, journalist Drew Pearson reported that Ashbrook was one of a group of Congressman who had received the "Statesman of the Republic" award from Liberty Lobby for his "right-wing activities".[3]

1972 presidential electionEdit

Presidential campaign logo

In the 1972 presidential election, Ashbrook ran against incumbent Richard Nixon in some state primaries as an alternative conservative candidate.[4] His slogan "No Left Turns" was illustrated by a mock traffic symbol of a left-turn arrow with a superimposed No symbol. It was meant to symbolize the frustration of some conservatives with Nixon, whom they saw as having abandoned conservative principles and "turned left" on issues such as budget deficits, affirmative action, the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, wage and price controls, and most of all, improving relations with the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China with his policy of détente.

Ashbrook competed in the New Hampshire (9.8% of the vote), Florida (9%), and California (10%) primaries. He withdrew from the race after the California primary and "with great reluctance" supported Nixon. To this day, his campaign, although of minimal immediate impact, is remembered fondly by conservatives who admire Ashbrook for having stood for their principles. Ashbrook said in criticism of the Nixon administration,"I still believe it in the best American tradition to speak out even when it is in criticism of your party's actions." [5]

When Nixon became mired in the Watergate scandal, Ashbrook became the first House Republican to call for the President's resignation.[6]

Sudden death and legacyEdit

In 1982, after announcing his intention to seek the Republican nomination to challenge incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Howard Metzenbaum, Ashbrook died suddenly and unexpectedly of a massive gastric hemorrhage.[2]

His wife, Jean Spencer Ashbrook, was chosen in a special election to serve the remaining seven months of his congressional term.[7]

The Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs at Ashland University is named for Ashbrook. A periodic John M. Ashbrook Memorial Dinner at the center features leading conservative speakers from President Ronald Reagan (first dinner; dedication of the Center, in 1983)[8] and Margaret Thatcher (1993) to Mitt Romney (April, 2010) and John Boehner (June, 2011).[9]

Reagan tributeEdit

Ronald Reagan was president at the time of Ashbrook's death. He honored him with these words: "John Ashbrook was a man of courage and principle. He served his constituents and his country with dedication and devotion, always working towards the betterment of his fellow man. His patriotism and deep belief in the greatness of America never wavered and his articulate and passionate calls for a return to old-fashioned American values earned him the respect of all who knew him."[1]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "John M. Ashbrook", Ashbrook Center biography. The Reagan quote came from "a statement released upon learning of the passing of John Ashbrook"; On Principle, Special Edition, 15th Anniversary of the Ashbrook Center (c. 1998), p. 15.
  2. ^ a b Rusher, William A., "John Ashbrook: The Happy Loner", On Principle, v7n1, February 1999; archived at website of the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University. Retrieved 2011-04-19.
  3. ^ Pearson, Drew (November 2, 1966). "Judge Rules Against Liberty Lobby". The Free Lance-Star. Fredericksburg, Virginia. p. 6. Retrieved December 14, 2014.
  4. ^ Gillian Peele, 'American Conservatism in Historical Perspective', in Crisis of Conservatism? The Republican Party, the Conservative Movement, & American Politics After Bush, Gillian Peele, Joel D. Aberbach (eds.), Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011, p. 25
  5. ^ "Ashbrook, John M(ilan)." Current Biography 1973. The H. W. Wilson Company. 1973.P.20.
  6. ^ "A Remembrance of John M. Ashbrook". Ashbrook. Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  7. ^ "ASHBROOK, Jean Spencer | US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives". Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  8. ^ "About the Ashbrook Center", website of the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University. Retrieved 2011-04-19.
  9. ^ "John M. Ashbrook Memorial Dinner", website of the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University. Retrieved 2011-07-20.

External linksEdit