Sidney R. Yates

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Sidney R. Yates
Sidney R. Yates.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 9th district
In office
January 3, 1965 – January 3, 1999
Preceded by Edward R. Finnegan
Succeeded by Jan Schakowsky
In office
January 3, 1949 – January 3, 1963
Preceded by Robert Twyman
Succeeded by Edward R. Finnegan
Personal details
Born Sidney Richard Yates
August 27, 1909
Chicago, Illinois
Died October 5, 2000(2000-10-05) (aged 91)
Washington, D.C.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Adeline Holleb (1914–2002)
Children Stephen R. Yates (1940–2000)
Alma mater University of Chicago (BA, JD)
Profession Attorney
Military service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1944–1946
Rank Lieutenant
Unit Judge Advocate General's Corps
Battles/wars World War II

Sidney Richard Yates (August 27, 1909 – October 5, 2000) was a politician from the state of Illinois. A Democrat, he is most notable for his long service as a member of the United States House of Representatives.

A native of Chicago, Yates graduated from Lake View High School in 1928. He received bachelor's (1931) and law (1933) degrees from the University of Chicago, was admitted to the bar, and practiced law in Chicago. In addition to working as an attorney, in the 1930s Yates also played semiprofessional basketball. He gained his initial experience in government as an attorney for the state bank receiver (1935-1937), and an assistant state attorney general specializing in traction railroads for the Illinois Commerce Commission (1937-1940). During World War II, Yates served in the United States Navy for two years (1944-1946) as an attorney based in Washington, D.C

In 1948, Yates was elected to Congress, and he served from 1949 to 1963. After an unsuccessful run against Everett Dirksen for the United States Senate in 1962, in 1964 Yates was again elected to Congress. he served from 1965 to 1999, and did not run for reelection in 1998. He was a longtime member of the House Appropriations Committee, where he became known for staunch U.S. support of Israel, and federal funding for parks, historical conservation, and the arts. Yates was also an advocate for several liberal causes, including opposition to discrimination based on age. At the time he concluded his service, he was the oldest person to ever serve in the House (age 89), and one of the longest-tenured members in the history of Congress (total House service of 48 years).

Yates died in Washington in 2000. He was buried at Memorial Park Cemetery in Skokie, Illinois.

Early life

Yates was born in Chicago, Illinois, the youngest of six children of Lithuanian immigrants Louis and Ida Yates.[1] Yates grew up in Chicago and he graduated from the University of Chicago in 1931 with a degree in philosophy and a law degree in 1933. While in college, Yates joined the Pi Lambda Phi fraternity. He also played basketball, and was selected for All Big Ten honors. In the mid-1930s, he played semiprofessional basketball and practiced law. He also worked for Illinois state agencies overseeing railroads and commerce. He served in the United States Navy during World War II. He is the longest-serving member ever of the United States House of Representatives from the state of Illinois.

Career in Congress

From 1949 to 1963 and 1965 to 1999, Yates served in the House of Representatives as a Democrat. Although the boundaries of his district changed over the years, it was invariably centered on the lakefront wards of Chicago. Yates was one of the first congressmen to speak out against age discrimination, arguing in 1951 that mandatory retirement of workers was wrong and deprived older people of their right to lead a proud, productive and independent life.

During the late 1950s, after a series of lurid magazine articles and Hollywood films helped to sensationalize youth gangs and violence, Yates called for legislation to ban automatic-opening or switchblade knives, proclaiming that "Vicious fantasies of omnipotence, idolatry...barbaric and sadistic atrocities, and monstrous violations of accepted values spring from the cult of the weapon, and the switchblade knife is included in this. Minus switchblade knives and the distorted feeling of power they beget—power that is swaggering, reckless, and itching to express itself in violence—our delinquent adolescents would be shorn of one of their most potent means of incitement to crime."[2][3][4] The ban on switchblade knives was eventually enacted into law as the Switchblade Knife Act of 1958.[4] Rep. Yates and other congressmen supporting the Switchblade Knife Act believed that by stopping the importation and interstate sales of automatic knives (effectively halting sales of new switchblades), the law would reduce youth gang violence by blocking access to what had become a symbolic weapon.[2][4][5] However, while switchblade imports, domestic production, and sales to lawful owners soon ended, later legislative research demonstrated that youth gang violence rates had in fact rapidly increased, as gang members began using firearms instead of knives.[6]

Yates was an unsuccessful candidate for the United States Senate in 1962 against Republican incumbent and Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen. He briefly served at the United Nations before returning to the House after the 1964 election. Fellow Democrat Edward Finnegan won Yates' old seat after his former district was merged with the 9th, but Chicago machine bosses persuaded him to accept a circuit judgeship in return for letting Yates take his old seat back. Yates served on the Appropriations Committee throughout his career and chaired the Interior Subcommittee from 1975 to 1995. On this committee he supported environmental programs and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Yates remained on good terms with liberal reformers and machine politicians in Chicago throughout his career. He also served on the Foreign Operations subcommittee and was a strong advocate of American support for Israel. He worked hand-in-hand with his chief of staff, Mary Bain, to preserve federal funding for the arts and for Natural Heritage Preservation programs, and to establish the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

In 1993, he was presented with the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Clinton and in 1997 he received the Four Freedoms Award for Freedom of Speech[7] In 1999, the Auditors Building in Washington, DC, was renamed the Sidney Yates Building in his honor.[8]

In his closing months of service, he surpassed Robert L. Doughton as the oldest person ever to serve in the House (Yates was surpassed in this record by Ralph Hall (R-Texas) in 2012). He holds the record as the 10th longest-serving member in the history of the US Congress, and also has the longest tenure of all members whose time in Congress included a break in service.

Family

Yates was married to Adeline Holleb (1914–2002) for 65 years. They were the parents Stephen R. Yates (1940-2000), who served as an Illinois circuit court.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ "United States Census, 1930", FamilySearch, retrieved March 24, 2018 
  2. ^ a b Levine, Bernard R., The Switchblade Menace, OKCA Newsletter (1993)
  3. ^ Knife World (August 1990)
  4. ^ a b c Switchblade Knives: Hearing, House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, Eighty-fifth Congress, Minutes of the Second Session, April 17, 1958
  5. ^ Knife World Magazine (August 1990)
  6. ^ Clark, Charles S., Youth Gangs Worsening Violence Prompts Crackdowns and Community Mobilization, Congressional Quarterly 1, 11 October 1991, pp. 753–776
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-03-25. Retrieved 2015-05-13. 
  8. ^ Histories of the USDA Headquarters Complex Buildings Archived 2011-07-21 at the Wayback Machine., U.S. Department of Agriculture Departmental Management website, accessed July 28, 2011

References

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Robert J. Twyman
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 9th congressional district

January 3, 1949 – January 3, 1963
Succeeded by
Edward R. Finnegan
Preceded by
Edward R. Finnegan
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 9th congressional district

January 3, 1965 – January 3, 1999
Succeeded by
Jan Schakowsky
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