Philip A. Hart Papers
 


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Philip A. Hart Papers

The materials in this online repository form part of a larger Philip A. Hart manuscript collection held by the Bentley Historical Library. For a more complete index to the materials, please consult the collection's online finding aid.

For questions or more information, please contact the Bentley Historical Library's Division of Reference and Access Services

Abstract:
U. S. Senator from Michigan, 1959-1976, a conscientious supporter of civil rights, consumer protection and environmentalism, Hart served as floor manager of the 1965 civil rights act and 1968 Open Housing Act, introduced legislation to create Sleeping Bear Dunes and Pictured Rock National Lakeshores and sponsored important consumer legislation. This online collection contains audio recordings.

Biography:
Philip A. Hart was United States Senator from Michigan, serving from 1959 until his death in December of 1976. Born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania on December 10, 1912, Hart graduated from Georgetown University in 1934 and the University of Michigan Law School in 1937. He practiced law in Detroit for four years until the outbreak of war when he enlisted in the United States Army. He served until 1946, and was wounded during the D-Day assault on Utah Beach during the Normandy invasion.

Following the war, Hart returned to the law and embarked on a career in public service. His law school classmate Governor G. Mennen Williams appointed him to the Michigan Corporation Securities Commission (1949-1951); he served as state director of the Office of Price Stabilization (1951-1952), and as United States district attorney of the Eastern Michigan District (1952-1953). As Williams established himself as governor, he relied increasingly on the demonstrated abilities of Hart, serving as his legal advisor (1953-1954), and as lieutenant governor (1955-1958).

In 1958 Hart was elected to the United States Senate where he served for eighteen years, winning decisive reelections in 1964 and again in 1970. Poor health decided Hart against running for reelection in 1976. He died December 26, 1976, a few weeks from completing his third full term.

As Senator, Hart earned the reputation of being an honest, hard-working, and conscientious spokesman for the policies and programs of the Democratic party and for liberal Democratic causes in general. When he first came to the Senate, Hart was appointed to two committees: Agriculture and Forestry, and Judiciary. He remained a member of the Judiciary throughout his three terms in the Senate, serving as chairman of its subcommittees on antitrust and monopoly and refugees and escapees in addition to being a member of various other subcommittees relating to immigration, juvenile delinquency, and patents and copyrights. With less interest in matters of agriculture, Hart in 1963 shifted over to the Commerce Committee, where he came to serve as chairman of its subcommittee on energy, natural resources and environment (name later changed to environment) and vice chairman of its consumer affairs subcommittee. Beyond responsibilities associated with these two committees, Hart was member at various times of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, the Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, and the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities among others.

Although he was a sponsor or key sponsor of many pieces of legislation, Hart himself was proudest of his work as floor manager of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the 1968 Open Housing-Civil Rights Bill, his championing of the legislation to make Michigan's Sleeping Bear Dunes and Pictured Rocks national lakeshores, and his sponsorship of consumer-related legislation (e.g. truth-in-packaging, truth-in-lending, and truth-in-spending).

Please note:

Copyright has been transferred to the Regents of the University of Michigan.

Access to digitized sound recordings may be limited to the reading room of the Bentley Historical Library, located on the Ann Arbor campus of the University of Michigan.



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