Philip Aloysius Hart (December 10, 1912 – December 26, 1976) was an American lawyer and politician. A Democrat, he served as a United States Senator from Michigan from 1959 until his death from cancer in Washington, D.C. in 1976. He was known as the "Conscience of the Senate".[1] The Hart Senate Office Building is named in his honor.[2]

Philip Hart
United States Senator
from Michigan
In office
January 3, 1959 – December 26, 1976
Preceded byCharles E. Potter
Succeeded byDonald Riegle
51st Lieutenant Governor of Michigan
In office
January 1, 1955 – January 1, 1959
GovernorG. Mennen Williams
Preceded byClarence A. Reid
Succeeded byJohn Swainson
Personal details
Philip Aloysius Hart

(1912-12-10)December 10, 1912
Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedDecember 26, 1976(1976-12-26) (aged 64)
Washington D.C., U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
(m. 1943)
Alma materGeorgetown University
University of Michigan Law School
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1941–1946
Rank Lieutenant colonel
Unit4th Infantry Division
Battles/warsWorld War II
AwardsPurple Heart

Early life and family edit

The grandson of Irish immigrants, Philip Hart was born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, to Philip Aloysius and Ann (née Clyde) Hart.[3] His father was a banker who served as president of the Bryn Mawr Trust Company.[4] He received his early education at Waldron Academy, and then attended West Philadelphia Catholic High School.[5]

Hart studied at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., where he was the student body president and an award-winning debater.[6] He received a Bachelor of Arts degree cum laude from Georgetown in 1934.[3] In 1937, he received a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Michigan Law School at Ann Arbor.[7]

In June 1943, Hart married Jane "Janey" Briggs, the daughter of Walter and Jane Cameron Briggs. Her father was by then a philanthropist and had owned the Detroit Tigers. Jane was an aviator who was the first female helicopter pilot in Michigan. She later qualified in the 1960s as one of the Mercury 13 group. The couple met through her brother, who was Hart's roommate at Georgetown. They have four surviving sons and four daughters.[8] Hart's namesake, Philip Jr., died as a toddler. He was buried in a family plot, followed decades later by his father nearby.

Early career edit

Hart was admitted to the State Bar of Michigan in 1938 and became an associate in the Detroit firm of Beaumont, Smith & Harris.[3] During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army as a lieutenant colonel with the 4th Infantry Division (1941–1946).[7] He was wounded during the D-Day invasion of Normandy on Utah Beach when shrapnel from an exploding artillery shell damaged the inside of his right arm.[6] Following the war, he returned to Michigan and recovered at the Percy Jones Army Hospital in Battle Creek, Michigan. There he became acquainted with fellow veterans Bob Dole and Daniel Inouye, both also future U.S. senators.[6] He was decorated with the Bronze Star Medal with clusters, Arrowhead device, Purple Heart, and Croix de guerre.[3]

In 1946, Hart returned to Detroit and entered the general law practice of Monaghan, Hart & Crawmer.[3] He became politically active in the Democratic Party and, from 1949 to 1951, he served as Michigan's Corporation Securities Commissioner, a political appointee position.[7] His duties included the approving of stock issues of corporations in the state, licensing real estate brokers and builders, and collecting real estate taxes.[3] In 1951 Hart was appointed as state director of the Office of Price Stabilization, serving for a year.[5] For his work in that office, he was named Outstanding Federal Administrator of the Year in 1952 by the Federal Business Association.[3]

In 1952, he was appointed as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, serving for one year.[7] He next served from 1953 to 1954 as legal adviser to Governor G. Mennen Williams, a former law school classmate.[5]

In 1954, Hart ran for electoral office, elected as the 51st lieutenant governor of Michigan, on a ticket with Governor Williams. He served two terms, until 1959.[7] His re-election in 1956 made him the first Democrat in Michigan to serve two terms as lieutenant governor.[3]

U.S. Senate edit

Hart (second from right) with Governor of Michigan John Swainson and President John F. Kennedy in the Oval Office, 1961

Hart was elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate in the Democratic wave election of 1958, defeating one-term incumbent Republican Charles E. Potter by a 54% to 46% margin. He was reelected by overwhelming margins in 1964 and 1970. (His 1970 opponent was former Michigan First Lady Lenore Romney.) Some conservatives in Michigan attempted to recall Hart from office for his stands on gun control and busing for racial integration, with bumper stickers reading "Recall cures Hart attacks," but the US Constitution does not authorize the recall of elected federal officials, and Hart was strongly re-elected by supporters.

Hart was the chief Senate sponsor of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, also known as the Hart-Celler Act, which ended the discriminatory quotas that restricted immigration from most of the world since 1924.

Hart died in office. He had announced his intention not to run for re-election in June 1976 and was diagnosed with cancer a month later.[9] The same year, the Senate voted to name its new Senate office building after him, the Hart Senate Office Building.[10] It would have been the first federal government building named after someone still living. The vote was 99-0, with Hart abstaining. He died of melanoma a few days later, just before his term would have expired, and he would have retired. Donald W. Riegle, Jr., who had just been elected to the seat for the next term, was named to fill Hart's seat for the remaining days of the congressional session.

Hart is interred in St. Anne's Catholic Cemetery on Mackinac Island in a family plot near his namesake son, who died as a toddler.

Honors edit

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Senator Philip A. Hart Dies at 64; Was Called 'Conscience of Senate'". The New York Times. December 27, 1976.
  2. ^ "U.S. Senate: Hart Senate Office Building". Retrieved July 30, 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Current Biography Yearbook. Vol. 6. New York: H.W. Wilson Company. 1971.
  4. ^ Madden, Richard L. (December 27, 1976). "Fighter for Civil Rights". The New York Times.
  5. ^ a b c "Philip A. Hart". West Catholic Alumni Association.
  6. ^ a b c O'Brien, Michael; Putman, Daniel (1998). Virtue and Politics: The Example of Philip Hart. Vol. 12. Public Affairs Quarterly.
  7. ^ a b c d e "HART, Philip Aloysius, (1912 - 1976)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  8. ^ "Finding aid for Jane Briggs Hart papers, ca. 1925-1996". University of Michigan.
  9. ^ a b LSSU Foundation — Senator Philip A. Hart Memorial Scholarship
  10. ^ S.Res. 525, Designation of the Philip A. Hart Office Building
  11. ^ "Philip A. Hart Visitor Center for the Sleeping Bear Dunes".
  12. ^ "Reflections on 50 years of Sleeping Bear". June 26, 2013.

Further reading edit

Party political offices
Preceded by
Noel P. Fox
Democratic nominee for Michigan Secretary of State
Succeeded by
Robert S. McAllister
Preceded by Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Michigan
1954, 1956
Succeeded by
Preceded by Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Michigan
(Class 1)

1958, 1964, 1970
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Lieutenant Governor of Michigan
Succeeded by
U.S. Senate
Preceded by U.S. senator (Class 1) from Michigan
Served alongside: Patrick V. McNamara, Robert P. Griffin
Succeeded by