Legislative Interests

Two key pieces of legislation—Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the debate on the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)—forged a unique bond of cooperation between women Members during this period. The emphasis on gender-based equality in these measures was echoed in a number of other legislative efforts, particularly in those aimed at creating opportunities for women in education and the workplace. Women Members continued to play a prominent part in legislation on diverse national concerns, ranging from Cold War defense strategy to internal congressional reforms. Central to this period was a group of federal reform programs known collectively as the Great Society. Initiated by President Lyndon Johnson in the mid-1960s, these measures were in many ways an extension of the social programs created during the New Deal. Great Society legislation marked the zenith of federal activism—addressing civil rights, urban development, the environment, health care, education, housing, consumer protection, and poverty. This legislation ranged from the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which ended racial segregation in America, to the enactment of a Medicare program for the elderly and a Medicaid program for the poor that provided access to hospitalization, optional medical insurance, and other health care benefits.13 Women participated in these efforts, decisively shaping some of them, often with a conscious eye toward improving the welfare of all American women.

Lera Thomas of Texas meets with President Lyndon B. Johnson/tiles/non-collection/w/wic_cont3_5_thomas_lbj_lbjlib.xml Image courtesy of the Lyndon B. Johnson Library/National Archives and Records Administration Lera Thomas of Texas, who succeeded her late husband, Albert Thomas, for the remainder of his term in the 89th Congress (1965–1967), meets with President Lyndon B. Johnson in this White House photo. Albert Thomas was one of President Johnson’s close political allies. Lera Thomas continued many of her husband’s legislative programs and inspected U.S. efforts in Vietnam during a six-week tour.
Representative Martha Griffiths was the prototype for many young activists of the 1970s. One of the first career women elected to Congress, Griffiths had practiced law, served in the state legislature, and presided as a judge in her home state of Michigan. In the U.S. House, she honed in on sexual discrimination in the workplace. While Griffiths believed initially that taking cases to the Supreme Court could result in equality for women, she became so disillusioned with the high court’s rulings, she decided only gender-specific legislation could give women access to education, job security, and comparable pay for comparable work.14

As the Civil Rights Act of 1964 moved through committee and onto the House Floor for debate, Griffiths, joined by Catherine May, Edna Kelly, Frances Bolton of Ohio, and Katharine St. George of New York, resolved that Title VII, which contained language banning employers from discrimination in hiring on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin, should also contain language banning discrimination in hiring on the basis of sex. The Congresswomen believed this language was necessary to protect women, reasoning that without it, they would be especially vulnerable to discrimination in hiring on the basis of their gender.15

In a parliamentary maneuver designed to derail the entire Civil Rights Act, powerful Rules Committee chairman Howard W. Smith of Virginia freighted the bill with controversial provisions and then proposed to extend protection against discrimination to women. Realizing that Smith could get more than 100 southern votes behind the amendment, Griffiths decided to let him introduce it. When he did, on February 8, 1964, the men on the House Floor erupted into guffaws that grew louder as the women Members rose to speak on behalf of the bill.

Debate on the amendment forged strange alliances; conservatives and segregationists lined up with progressive women. Opposing these unlikely allies were moderate and liberal northern Representatives who were fearful that the entire bill would be defeated. Griffiths stood in the well of the House and scolded the raucous Members, saying, “I suppose that if there had been any necessity to have pointed out that women were a second-class sex, the laughter would have proved it.” She touched on the history of enfranchisement for African-American men in the 19th century, noting that women—white and black—were denied the basic rights of citizenship guaranteed under the 14th and 15th Amendments. “A vote against this amendment” by a male Representative, she warned, “is a vote against his wife, or his widow, or his daughter, or his sister.” Other Congresswomen followed her lead. Only Edith Green objected to the amendment, noting that it was more important to first secure African-American civil rights: “For every discrimination I have suffered, I firmly believe that the Negro woman has suffered 10 times that amount of discrimination,” Green said. “She has a double discrimination. She was born as a woman and she was born as a Negro.”16

Congresswoman Martha Griffiths of Michigan stands outside the House wing of the Capitol shortly after the House passed the Equal Rights Amendment in August 1970. Griffiths used a long-shot parliamentary maneuver to dislodge ERA from the Judiciary Committee, where it had languished for years. Eventually, ERA passed the Senate and went to the states for ratification in 1972, where it failed to muster the necessary support to become a constitutional amendment./tiles/non-collection/w/wic_cont3_6_griffiths_lc.xml Image courtesy of the Library of Congress Congresswoman Martha Griffiths of Michigan stands outside the House wing of the Capitol shortly after the House passed the Equal Rights Amendment in August 1970. Griffiths used a long-shot parliamentary maneuver to dislodge ERA from the Judiciary Committee, where it had languished for years. Eventually, ERA passed the Senate and went to the states for ratification in 1972, where it failed to muster the necessary support to become a constitutional amendment.

The debates were followed by a teller vote, in which Members filed down the aisles of the chamber to cast their votes. Smith chose Griffiths to count the “yes” votes. With many Members absenting themselves from the vote, the amendment passed 168 to 133. When this result was announced, a woman in the House Gallery cried out, “We made it! We are human!”17 Eventually, Smith’s tactic backfired, as the House and the Senate voted the full civil rights measure into law later that summer. Griffiths worked feverishly behind the scenes to ensure that the amended version of Title VII was left intact. Years later, after Smith had retired and was visiting the House Chamber, Griffiths greeted him with a hug, saying, “We will always be known for our amendment!” Smith replied, “Well, of course, you know, I offered it as a joke.”18

Griffiths also played a key role in the passage of another piece of landmark legislation—the Equal Rights Amendment. The ERA, drafted by suffragist Alice Paul and supported by the National Woman’s Party, was introduced to Congress in 1923 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention.19 The original language of the ERA stated that “men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and in every place subject to its jurisdiction.”

For decades the ERA languished in the House Judiciary Committee and was a deeply divisive issue for many former suffragists and feminists. Advocates believed it would equalize conditions for women. Opponents insisted it would negate an accumulation of laws that protected working women. Earlier Congresswomen, such as Mary Norton of New Jersey and Caroline O’Day of New York, refused to endorse the ERA on the grounds that it would adversely affect labor laws. In 1940 the GOP adopted the ERA as part of its platform, and Winifred Stanley of New York and Margaret Chase Smith sponsored measures to bring it up for a vote on the 20th anniversary of the introduction of the original amendment. But passing the ERA out of committee was especially difficult, since the longtime chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Emanuel Celler of New York (1949–1953 and 1955–1973), opposed the measure on the traditional grounds that it would undermine labor protections. During this period, the language of the ERA was modified, making it less a crusade for change than an affirmation of existing constitutional guarantees. The new wording stipulated that “equal rights under the law shall not be abridged or denied . . . on account of sex.”

In 1970, Griffiths changed parliamentary tactics, using a discharge petition that required her to get a majority (218 of the 435 House Members) to support her effort to bring the bill out of committee and onto the floor for general debate and a vote. Griffiths obtained the 218 signatures and on August 10, 1970, opened debate on the bill on the House Floor, where it passed by a wide margin.20 Later that fall the Senate voted to amend the ERA with a clause exempting women from the draft. However, the House and the Senate failed to work out their differences in conference committee before Congress adjourned for the year, forcing Griffiths to begin anew. Throughout this legislative battle, Griffiths received the nearly unanimous backing of liberal and conservative women Members. Congresswoman Louise Hicks of Massachusetts dismissed critics who suggested the law would force women into direct combat roles in places like Vietnam.21 “There is no reason why women should not carry equally the burdens as well as the rights of full citizenship,” she responded. “Indeed, most are willing or eager to do so.” The ERA was necessary, Hicks argued, because, “discrimination against women—on the job, in education, in civil and criminal law—is a disgrace to a nation which has longproclaimed its belief in equality before the law and individual dignity for allcitizens.”22 After Representative Griffiths again successfully maneuvered the ERA onto the House Floor, it won wide approval. The Senate accepted it withoutrevisions in March 1972.

However, the battle over the ERA had just begun and would continue into the early 1980s. By law, the constitutional amendment required the approval of three-quarters of the state legislatures within seven years. By the end of 1973, 30 states had ratified it. Five more states approved the amendment between 1974 and 1976, but “Stop ERA,” a grass-roots movement led by conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly, organized opposition, and several signatory states considered rescinding their support. Schlafly portrayed herself as a defender of women’s traditional roles as mothers and homemakers. During the 1970s, Schlafly (who ran for Congress as a Republican, unsuccessfully, in 1952 and 1970) declared that the small number of women in Congress “does not prove discrimination at all.” Rather, she said, it “proves only that most women do not want to do the things that must be done to win elections.”23 Schlafly argued that the ERA would destroy protections for women in divorce law and child custody law, weaken laws for sex crimes against women, lead to women being drafted into the military, and undermine the institution of marriage. In a televised debate in 1976, Millicent Fenwick argued with Schlafly and her allies, who wanted the ERA stripped from the Republican Party platform.24 Fenwick’s frustration was palpable: “I think it is sad and a little comic . . . in the Bicentennial year to be wondering about whether we ought to admit that 51 percent [to] 52 percent of the citizens of America are really citizens.”25 By 1977, the ERA was still three states shy of the 38 it needed for ratification. The debate continued and later provided the crucial momentum Congresswomen needed to organize themselves as a formal group.

Economic Equality

The efforts associated with Title VII and the ERA were only the tip of the iceberg; legislation affecting women extended into virtually every facet of American life. A major goal was to achieve economic equality. Since World War II, Congresswomen had been promoting legislation to require equity in pay for men and women in similar jobs. Winifred Stanley introduced such a measure in 1943, but it failed to pass the House. Later, Edna Kelly, Florence Dwyer, Katharine St. George, and Katherine Granahan introduced equal-pay bills, which met with similar outcomes despite support from Presidents Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower, largely because of opposition from big business and its congressional allies. Congresswoman Granahan had introduced a measure to end gender-based wage discrimination in the 85th Congress (1957–1959). “When two workers, side by side, performing the same sort of work are doing it equally well, there is no justification under law or moral justice that they should not be accorded an equal opportunity for equal pay,” she said in a floor speech.26 Women Members persisted. With Edith Green of Oregon shepherding it through Congress, the legislation passed the House in 1962 and eventually became law in 1963 when the House and the Senate agreed on a revised bill. The Equal Pay Act, which built on the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, decreed that no employer could pay a woman “at a rate less than the rate at which he pays wages to employees of the opposite sex . . . on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions.” The law allowed wage differences based on factors such as seniority and merit.27  

Judiciary Committee member Barbara Jordan of Texas was a freshman when the House began impeachment inquiries against President Richard M. Nixon in 1974, at the height of the Watergate Scandal. Television coverage of committee proceedings—which included her statements about the constitutional gravity of the crisis—instantly made Representative Jordan a national figure. Here, she is shown during Judiciary Committee proceedings./tiles/non-collection/w/wic_cont3_7_jordan_impeachment_lc.xml Image courtesy of Texas Southern University, Barbara Jordan Collection Judiciary Committee member Barbara Jordan of Texas was a freshman when the House began impeachment inquiries against President Richard M. Nixon in 1974, at the height of the Watergate Scandal. Television coverage of committee proceedings—which included her statements about the constitutional gravity of the crisis—instantly made Representative Jordan a national figure. Here, she is shown during Judiciary Committee proceedings.

Economic opportunity had a racial component as well. Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to investigate unlawful employment practices and to report findings to Congress and the President. It also authorized the Attorney General to file a civil suit when employers showed a pattern of discrimination.28 The EEOC became an important recourse for women and racial minorities. Yvonne Burke, who represented a large constituency of African Americans in the Los Angeles area, insisted that civil rights include economic equality as well as political equality. “True dignity, true freedom, are economic in 1974,” she said.29 Congresswoman Burke championed the cause of minority women, eventually authoring the Displaced Homemakers Act to provide financial assistance and job training for divorced women and single mothers entering the job market.

Because they often managed the household budget and did most of the household shopping, women took a special interest in consumer affairs. Representative Leonor Sullivan was the leading advocate for consumer protection in the House. Sullivan’s signal piece of legislation was the 1968 Consumer Credit Protection Act, which established truth in lending provisions, requiring financial institutions to fully disclose the conditions and costs of borrowing. In the Senate, Maurine Neuberger advocated honest labeling on consumer items. She challenged the meat packing industry regarding its additives and criticized bedding manufacturers that sold flammable blankets. Neuberger also led the fight to regulate tobacco advertising and to require health warning labels on cigarette packaging.


Education was another area in which women, long considered authorities, wrote and shepherded major measures through Congress. Coya Knutson of Minnesota and Edith Green were instrumental in developing the National Defense Education Act (NDEA) of 1958, which passed just one year after Russia’s successful launch of the Sputnik satellite sparked concern that American students lagged behind those in communist countries in critical subject areas. The NDEA provided $1 billion in federal loans and grants to subsidize science, mathematics, and foreign language study in U.S. universities and created the first federal college loans based on student need.

Federal aid for education was expanded dramatically during the Great Society, and two women played prominent legislative roles in the process. Patsy Mink helped shape Head Start legislation, which provided federal money to help communities meet the needs of disadvantaged preschool-aged children. Administered by the Department of Health and Human Services, Head Start provided comprehensive child development programs for children up to age five and their families. Mink’s Women’s Education Equity Act, which passed as part of a 1974 education bill, mandated the removal of gender stereotypes from school textbooks and provided federal incentives to educational programs that promoted gender equity. Edith Green, a former teacher, became known as the Mother of Higher Education for her leadership on school issues during her two decades in the U.S. House. Among Green’s landmark legislative achievements was the Higher Education Act of 1965, which created the first federal program providing financial assistance to undergraduates. In 1972, Congresswoman Green held the first hearings on discrimination against women in college sports programs. Both Green and Mink sponsored Title IX, one of the 1972 federal education amendments, which provided that “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

Foreign Policy

The Cold War dominated U.S. foreign policy throughout the period from 1955 to 1976. During the Eisenhower administration, the United States stockpiled nuclear weapons and enhanced its missile and aircraft delivery systems to deter Soviet leaders from carrying out aggressive military actions around the globe. The Soviets, too, developed nuclear capabilities and engaged Washington in a game of strategic brinksmanship. This policy nearly resulted in a nuclear exchange in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the John F. Kennedy administration instituted a naval “quarantine” of Cuba after discovering that the Soviet government, under Nikita Khrushchev, had secretly placed intermediate-range nuclear missiles on the communist-controlled island. After backing away from nuclear apocalypse, the two superpowers tacitly agreed to avoid direct confrontations.

However, the Cold War had moved into a new phase in the developing world, as the Soviets and Americans vied for the support of postcolonial governments in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Though careful not to challenge one another directly, Washington and Moscow poured economic and military aid into these regions and underwrote “proxy wars” fought by indigenous peoples. Beginning in 1954, America became the primary benefactor of the Ngo Dinh Diem regime in South Vietnam in a civil war against the communist-controlled government of Ho Chi Minh in North Vietnam. A decade later, in July 1965, after it became clear that the South could not win alone, the United States intervened directly against North Vietnamese forces and communist rebels. By late 1967, more than 485,000 U.S. troops were stationed in Vietnam. Eventually, some 2 million Americans served in Vietnam, and more than 58,000 of them died. Vietnamese losses were staggering; during the civil war from 1954 to 1975, more than 1.1 million North Vietnamese soldiers and Viet Cong rebels were killed and nearly 2 million North and South Vietnamese civilians perished. U.S. intervention spurred a massive antiwar protest movement that had spread by the late 1960s from college campuses to large cities, drawing Americans from all walks of life.30  

Judiciary Committee member Barbara Jordan of Texas was a freshman when the House began impeachment inquiries against President Richard M. Nixon in 1974, at the height of the Watergate Scandal. Television coverage of committee proceedings—which included her statements about the constitutional gravity of the crisis—instantly made Representative Jordan a national figure. Here, she is shown during Judiciary Committee proceedings./tiles/non-collection/w/wic_cont3_8_ jordan_impeachment2_tx_christian.xml Image courtesy of Texas Southern University, Barbara Jordan Collection Judiciary Committee member Barbara Jordan of Texas was a freshman when the House began impeachment inquiries against President Richard M. Nixon in 1974, at the height of the Watergate Scandal. Television coverage of committee proceedings—which included her statements about the constitutional gravity of the crisis—instantly made Representative Jordan a national figure. Here, she is shown during Judiciary Committee proceedings.
The Vietnam War divided women Members. Charlotte Reid and Edna Kelly were ardent supporters of military intervention. Edith Green was one of a handful to oppose her party and the President when the Johnson administration sought funding for the initial American intervention. A number of women who entered Congress during this period, including Mink, Chisholm, Abzug, and Schroeder, won election as antiwar candidates. With much fanfare, Abzug introduced legislation to withdraw U.S. troops from South Vietnam and to impeach President Richard Nixon for his prosecution of the war. Schroeder, who became in 1973 only the third woman ever to sit on the House Armed Services Committee, was in the 1970s and 1980s a particularly vocal advocate of reining in defense spending and securing new arms control accords. She was determined to bring women’s perspectives to a debate from which they had been largely excluded. “When men talk about defense, they always claim to be protecting women and children,” Schroeder said, “but they never ask the women and children what they think.”31 Other Congresswomen advocated more vigorous U.S. support for international human rights. Two New Jersey Representatives emerged as critics of authoritarian governments allied with America in the Cold War against the Soviets. Helen Meyner criticized human rights abuses by Ferdinand Marcos’s government in the Philippines, seeking to cut U.S. aid to the regime. Millicent Fenwick helped craft the Helsinki Accords on Human Rights, which investigated abuses behind the communist iron curtain, and openly challenged American support for dictatorial regimes in the Middle East and Africa.

Reform and Congressional Accountability

Women also participated in several efforts to make congressional operations more transparent and accountable and to circumvent procedural attempts to block legislation. For example, in 1961, Representative Florence Dwyer of New Jersey was one of about two dozen northern Republicans from urban districts who sided with Speaker Sam Rayburn and liberal Democrats as the House pushed through a measure to expand the membership of the Rules Committee, which controlled the flow of legislation to the House Floor. Chairman Howard Smith, a conservative Democrat from Virginia, had used his power to block social legislation. By assigning more liberal Members to the committee, the House paved the way for the consideration in subsequent years of major bills like the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Later in the 1960s, the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct (commonly known as the Ethics Committee) was formed to provide Members with ethics guidelines and to investigate violations of House practice. Like many other Members, Congresswoman Edna Kelly had financed her campaigns out of her own pocketbook. She recalled that that practice changed in the 1960s as an increasing number of her colleagues relied on fundraising events to pay for the costs of biannual elections. Believing this new system could be abused, Kelly became a founding member of the Ethics Committee in 1967 and helped draft the committee’s operating procedures.32 Representative Millicent Fenwick earned the epithet Conscience of Congress for her repeated appeals to colleagues to reform the campaign finance system. Elected in 1974, Fenwick had a tendency to speak out on the House Floor that prompted Wayne Hays of Ohio, the powerful chairman of the House Administration Committee, to threaten to withhold her staff’s paychecks “if that woman doesn’t sit down and keep quiet.”33 Undeterred, Fenwick directly challenged Hays, who shortly afterward fell victim to scandal and left the House.

The Watergate Scandal was one of the defining political events of the 20th century and a moment of constitutional crisis. It grew out of the culture of suspicion within the Nixon administration, the obsession with secrecy that characterized Cold War national security imperatives, and the related expansion of presidential power.34 Clandestine Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation surveillance operations had been authorized by President Nixon in 1970 against domestic opponents, antiwar protestors, and government officials suspected of leaking classified material about the planning for the Vietnam War. In 1972, the Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP), headed by former Attorney General John Mitchell, approved a plan to wiretap the phones of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. The June 17, 1972, break-in was botched, and the perpetrators were arrested. The ensuing cover-up involved senior administration officials and even the President himself.

Over a period of nearly two years, the details of the story gradually came to light through a combination of investigative journalism, judicial action, and legislative inquiries. In February 1973, the Senate created the Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities (widely known as the Ervin Committee, after its chairman, Sam Ervin of North Carolina) to investigate the break-in. By 1974, after a series of indictments and resignations involving top officials in the Nixon administration, the House Judiciary Committee initiated formal proceedings to impeach the President. When the committee voted to support articles of impeachment, President Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974. Two first-term Congresswomen, Barbara Jordan and Liz Holtzman, served on the Judiciary Committee during the impeachment process. A large television audience was mesmerized by Jordan’s eloquence on the immense constitutional questions that hung in the balance. Her work on the committee transformed her into a national figure. Holtzman, too, earned a reputation as an erudite member of the panel, particularly for her sharp questioning of President Gerald Ford, who later testified before the committee to explain his pardon of Nixon in September 1974.

Watergate and mounting concerns over the abuse of power in federal agencies spurred Congresswomen like Bella Abzug to make government more accountable to the public. As chair of a Government Affairs subcommittee, Abzug shepherded through the House the Privacy Act of 1974, which expanded “sunshine laws,” making government records more available for public scrutiny. A companion to the Freedom of Information Act of 1966, which allowed private citizens access to government records, the Privacy Act permitted individuals to view federal records about themselves and to amend inaccuracies. The Privacy Act also required government agencies to publish descriptions of their record-keeping systems and prohibited the disclosure of personal information to third parties.35

President Gerald R. Ford signs a proclamation marking Women’s Equality Day on August 26, 1974. Present are a group of Congresswomen: (from left) Yvonne Burke of California, Barbara Jordan of Texas, Elizabeth Holtzman of New York, Marjorie Holt of Maryland, Martha Keys of Kansas, Patricia Schroeder of Colorado, Cardiss Collins of Illinois, and Lindy Boggs of Louisiana./tiles/non-collection/w/wic_cont3_9_women_ford_nara.xml Image courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration President Gerald R. Ford signs a proclamation marking Women’s Equality Day on August 26, 1974. Present are a group of Congresswomen: (from left) Yvonne Burke of California, Barbara Jordan of Texas, Elizabeth Holtzman of New York, Marjorie Holt of Maryland, Martha Keys of Kansas, Margaret Heckler of Massachusetts, Cardiss Collins of Illinois, and Lindy Boggs of Louisiana.

Much of the effort to reform government during this era was focused on Capitol Hill itself. One of the most important attempts to reform House practices and procedures was undertaken by the Democratic Caucus’s Committee on Organization, Study, and Review, later known as the Hansen Committee for its chair, Representative Julia Hansen. The Hansen Committee was part of a larger effort to overhaul internal congressional procedures, a task begun by liberal reformers as far back as the 1930s. For several decades, most of these efforts were consistently blunted by conservative southern Democrats, who held the most powerful committee posts and perceived reform as a threat to their autonomy. Reformers sought to centralize the Democratic Party’s decision-making process, to diminish the power of autocratic committee chairs, to provide better resources for subcommittees and, generally, to make the system more responsive to rank-and-file Members and the public.36 By the early 1970s, junior Members like Ella Grasso argued that the tenure-based committee system had to be reformed so that chairs would be chosen “on the basis of intelligence and leadership.” Grasso explained that the party would be best served by permitting “all the qualities of intelligence and vigor in the House Democratic membership to have full effect.”37

Members’ respect for Hansen and her moderate approach made her a logical choice to head the panel, which reviewed radical proposals put forward by a select committee led by Representative Richard Bolling of Missouri in 1973–1974. The Bolling Committee recommended altering committee jurisdictions, abolishing some panels entirely, and expanding resources for subcommittees. But the House approved the recommendations of the Hansen Committee in the fall of 1974, leaving jurisdictions intact but weakening chairmen by further curbing the power of the Rules Committee and expanding the membership and the resources of subcommittees.38 Reform efforts during this period resulted in better committee assignments for new Members and allowed them to participate more directly in the formulation of party strategy and legislation. Gladys Spellman of Maryland, one of the early leaders of the House freshman class of 1974, the so-called “Watergate Babies,” helped conduct a review of entrenched committee chairmen. Several of the most powerful—W.R. Poage of Texas of the Agriculture Committee, Felix Edward Hébert of Louisiana of the Armed Services Committee, and Wright Patman of Texas of the Committee on Banking and Currency—were forced from their positions in rapid succession.

Next Section


13For more on the origins and history of the Great Society, see James T. Patterson, Grand Expectations: The United States, 1945–1970 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996): 524–592; Robert Dallek, Flawed Giant: Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 1961–1973 (New York: Oxford University Press: 1998).

14Congressional Record, House, 91st Cong., 2nd sess. (10 August 1970): 28005; see also Martha Griffiths, Oral History Interview, 29 October 1979, USAFMOC, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.: 82–83.

15This effort is explained in detail in Griffiths’s USAFMOC oral history.

16All quotes from the Congressional Record, House, 88th Cong., 2nd sess. (8 February 1964): 2578–2583.

17Unpublished article by Martha Griffiths on sex in the Civil Rights Act, Appendix I, Griffiths USAFMOC Oral History Interview; see also 73–76.

18Griffiths, USAFMOC, Oral History Interview: 73–76.

19See Joan Hoff-Wilson, Rights of Passage: The Past and the Future of the ERA (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986).

20Congressional Record, House, 91st Cong., 2nd sess. (10 August 1970): 28004–28005; Martha Griffiths’s letter to House colleagues, 2 September 1970, included in her USAFMOC interview.

21Quoted in Current Biography, 1974 (New York: H.W. Wilson and Company, 1974); also available at http://vweb.hwwilsonweb.com; Mark Feeney, “Louise Hicks, Icon of Tumult, Dies,” 22 October 2003, Boston Globe.

22Congressional Record, House, 92nd Cong., 1st sess. (6 October 1971): 35324–35325.

23Karen Foerstel and Herbert N. Foerstel, Climbing the Hill: Gender Conflict in Congress (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1996): 186; for Schlafly’s election results in 1952 and 1970, see “Election Statistics, 1920 to Present,” http://clerk.house.gov/members/electionInfo/elections.html.

24Shirley Washington, Outstanding Women Members of Congress (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Capitol Historical Society, 1995): 29.

25Amy Schapiro, Millicent Fenwick: Her Way (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2003): 177.

26Congressional Record, House, 85th Cong., 1st sess. (25 July 1957): 12780.

27Congress and the Nation, 1945–1964, Volume IA (Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly, 1965): 640; see also Stephen Stathis, Landmark Legislation: 1774–2002 (Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Press, 2003): 261.

28Congress and the Nation, 1945–1964, Volume IB (Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly, 1965): 1640.

29David Winder, “Jobs, Pay Become Blacks’ Top Priority,” 31 July 1974, Christian Science Monitor: 3.

30For a useful overview of the Vietnam War, see George C. Herring, America’s Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950–1975, 4th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill Inc., 2002); for a recent treatment of early dissent against the war and the crucial series of decisions by the Johnson administration to “Americanize” the war, see Fredrik Logevall, Choosing War: The Lost Chance for Peace and the Escalation of War in Vietnam (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999).

31“Patricia Schroeder,” Current Biography, 1978 (New York: H.W. Wilson and Company, 1978): 368.

32Edna Kelly, Oral History Interview, USAFMOC, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.: 50–52.

33Bruce Lambert, “Millicent Fenwick, 82, Dies; Gave Character to Congress,” 17 September 1992, New York Times: D25.

34For an overview of Watergate and its origins in the political culture of the Cold War, see Keith W. Olson, Watergate: The Presidential Scandal That Shook America (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2003). A standard history of the episode is Stanley Kutler’s The Wars of Watergate: The Last Crisis of Richard Nixon (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1992).

35See House Report 108–172, Committee on Government Reform, “A Citizen’s Guide on Using the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act of 1974 To Request Government Records,” http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/cpquery/T?&report=hr172&dbname=cp108&.

36Julian Zelizer, On Capitol Hill: The Struggle to Reform Congress and Its Consequences, 1948–2000 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004): for example, 125–155.

37Susan Bysiewicz, Ella: A Biography of Governor Ella Grasso (The Connecticut Consortium for Law and Citizenship Education, Inc., 1984): 56.

38See Zelizer, On Capitol Hill: 139–151.