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Lee Metcalf

lee metcalf wildlife refuge, lee metcalf wilderness
Lee Warren Metcalf January 28, 1911 – January 12, 1978 was an American lawyer, judge, and politician A member of the Democratic Party, he served as a US Representative 1953–1961 and a US Senator 1961–1978 from Montana He was Montana's first US Senator to be born in the state He was Permanent Acting President pro tempore of the Senate, the only person to hold that position, from 1963 until his death in 1978


  • 1 Early life and education
  • 2 Early career
  • 3 US House of Representatives
  • 4 US Senate
    • 41 Permanent Acting President pro tempore of the Senate
  • 5 Death and legacy
  • 6 See also
  • 7 References
  • 8 Further reading
  • 9 External links

Early life and educationedit

Lee Metcalf was born in Stevensville, Montana, to Harold E and Rhoda née Smith Metcalf1 His father was the cashier of the First State Bank of Stevensville2 He was raised on his family's farm3 He graduated from Stevensville High School in 1928, and then studied at the University of Montana then known as, but not to be confused with the modern day Montana State University, where he played first-string tackle on the freshman football team1

After attending Montana State for one year, Metcalf moved to California and spent a year working for the Los Angeles City School Gardens2 He then enrolled at Stanford University, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and economics in 19364 During his time at Stanford, he was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity and played football under Pop Warner1 Also in 1936, he received his law degree from University of Montana Law School and was admitted to the bar5

Early careeredit

Metcalf then commenced the practice of law, opening an office in Stevensville2 In November 1936, he was elected as a Democrat to the Montana House of Representatives from Ravalli County4 As a state legislator, he introduced bills to establish a thirty-cent minimum wage and to require mining companies to pay their employees for the time they spent in the mines after their shifts2 He served as Assistant Attorney General of Montana from 1937 to 1941, after which he resumed his law practice5 In 1938, he married Donna Hoover; the couple had one son, Jerry, who also served as a state representative3

In 1942, Metcalf enlisted in the US Army, and was commissioned after attending officers' training school5 He participated in the Invasion of Normandy as a staff officer with the Fifth Corps1 He also participated in later European campaigns, such as the Battle of the Bulge, with the 1st Army, Ninth Infantry Division, and 60th Infantry Regiment3 Following the war, he served as a military government officer in Germany, where he helped draft ordinances for the first free local elections, set up a civilian court and occupation police system, and supervise repatriation camps for displaced persons4 He was discharged from the Army as a first lieutenant in April 19465

In 1946, when Justice Leif Erickson resigned to run against Burton K Wheeler for the US Senate, Metcalf was elected an associate justice of the Montana Supreme Court2 He served one six-year term in that office

US House of Representativesedit

In 1952, when Mike Mansfield decided to run for the Senate against Zales Ecton, Metcalf successfully campaigned for the US House of Representatives in Montana's 1st congressional district5 In the general election, he narrowly defeated his Republican opponent, Wellington D Rankin, by a margin of 50%-49%6 He was subsequently re-elected to three more terms in 1954, 1956, and 1958, never receiving less than 56% of the vote1

During his tenure in the House, Metcalf served on the Education and Labor Committee 1953–1959, Interior and Insular Affairs Committee 1955–1959, Select Astronautics and Space Exploration Committee 1958, and Ways and Means Committee 1959–19601 He became known as one of Congress's "Young Turks" who promoted liberal domestic social legislation and reform of congressional procedures7 He introduced legislation to provide health care to the elderly ten years before the creation of Medicare8 He earned the nickname "Mr Education" after sponsoring a comprehensive bill providing for federal aid to education2 He also voted against legislation that would have raised grazing permits on federal lands, and led the opposition to a bill that would have swapped forested public lands for cutover private lands2 He was elected chairman of the Democratic Study Group in 19592

US Senateedit

Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge, Montana

In 1960, after Democratic incumbent James E Murray decided to retire, Metcalf ran for Murray's seat in the US Senate5 He won the Democratic nomination over John W Bonner, a former Governor of Montana1 In the general election, he narrowly defeated Republican Orvin B Fjare, a conservative former US Representative, by a margin of 51%-49%9

Regarded as "a pioneer of the conservation movement",8 Metcalf worked to protect the natural environment and regulate utilities He helped pass the Wilderness Act of 1964, and supported the creation of the Great Bear Wilderness and the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness8 In 1962, he introduced a "Save Our Streams" bill to preserve natural recreation facilities and protect fish and wildlife from being destroyed by highway construction7 He was a longtime member of the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission4 He was also active on the issue of education He was a leading supporter of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the effort to extend the GI Bill's educational benefits to a new generation of veterans, and the development of legislation to improve federally aided vocational education1 The Peace Corps was established under leadership of Metcalf and Senator Mansfield8

He was reelected in 1966 and 1972 In 1977, Metcalf announced that he would not seek a fourth Senate term in 19783

Permanent Acting President pro tempore of the Senateedit

In June 1963, because of the illness of President pro tempore Carl Hayden D-AZ, Senator Metcalf was designated Permanent Acting President pro tempore of the United States Senate to carry out Hayden's duties at this time No term was imposed on this designation, so Metcalf retained it until he died in office in 1978 He was the only person to hold this title

Permanent Acting President pro tem should not be confused with the office of Deputy President pro tempore

Death and legacyedit

He died in Helena, Montana on January 12, 1978, aged 66, and was cremated; his ashes were scattered in one of his favorite areas in the wilderness of the State of Montana Metcalf's death was overshadowed by the death the next day of his colleague from Minnesota, former Vice President Hubert H Humphrey

In 1978 Montana's Ravalli National Wildlife Refuge was renamed the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge10 In 1983, by act of Congress, the Lee Metcalf Wilderness area was created in southwestern Montana in his honor

Metcalf was ranked number 15 on a list of the 100 Most Influential Montanans of the Century in the newspaper The Missoulian11

See alsoedit

  • List of United States Congress members who died in office 1950–99


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Current Biography Yearbook 24 New York: HW Wilson Company 1964 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Morrison, John; Catherine Wright Morrison 2003 Mavericks: The Lives and Battles of Montana's Political Legends Helena, MT: Montana Historical Society Press 
  3. ^ a b c d "Senator Lee Metcalf Dies at 66; Montana Democrat Had 3 Terms" The New York Times 1978-01-13 
  4. ^ a b c d "Guide to the Lee Metcalf papers 1934–1978" Northwest Digital Archives 
  5. ^ a b c d e f "METCALF, Lee Warren, 1911–1978" Biographical Directory of the United States Congress 
  6. ^ "Statistics of the Presidential and Congressional Election of November 4, 1952" Clerk of the United States House of Representatives 
  7. ^ a b Siracusa, Joseph M 2004 The Kennedy Years New York: Facts On File, Inc 
  8. ^ a b c d "125 Montana Newsmakers: Sen Lee Metcalf" Great Falls Tribune 
  9. ^ "Statistics of the Presidential and Congressional Election of November 8, 1960" PDF Clerk of the United States House of Representatives 
  10. ^ A Refuge Is Born Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge USFWS 2012
  11. ^ Burk, D The 100 Most Influential Montanans of the Century: Lee Metcalf The Missoulian 1999

Further readingedit

  • "Guide to the Lee Metcalf papers" Northwest Digital Archives Montana Historical Society Research Center Retrieved 30 October 2014 
  • "Guide to the Lee Metcalf photograph collection" Northwest Digital Archives Montana Historical Society Research Center Retrieved 30 October 2014 
  • Swanson, Frederick H Spring 2013 "Lee Metcalf and the Politics of Preservation, Part I: A Positive Program of Development" Montana the Magazine of Western History 63 1: 3–23, 89–91 
  • Swanson, Frederick H Summer 2013 "Lee Metcalf and the Politics of Preservation, Part II: Conflict, Compromise, and the Art of Leadership" Montana the Magazine of Western History 63 2: 58–75, 94–96 

External linksedit

  • President Carter's statement on the death of Metcalf
US House of Representatives
Preceded by
Mike Mansfield
Member of the US House of Representatives
from Montana's 1st congressional district

Succeeded by
Arnold Olsen
Party political offices
Preceded by
James E Murray
Democratic nominee for US Senator from Montana
Class 2

1960, 1966, 1972
Succeeded by
Max Baucus
US Senate
Preceded by
James E Murray
US Senator Class 2 from Montana
Served alongside: Mike Mansfield, John Melcher
Succeeded by
Paul G Hatfield
Political offices
Preceded by
Carl Hayden
President pro tempore of the US Senate
Permanent Acting

Succeeded by
Richard Russell Jr

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