Historical Highlights

Representative Thomas McMillan of South Carolina

September 29, 1939
Representative Thomas McMillan of South Carolina Image courtesy of Library of Congress Eight-term Member of the House, Thomas McMillan of South Carolina does the Charleston dance on the steps of the Cannon House Office Building.
On this date, Representative Thomas McMillan of South Carolina died in Charleston, South Carolina. As a professional baseball player, McMillan once led the South Atlantic League in batting average and stolen bases in 1913. While playing baseball, McMillan ran a successful law practice but eventually left his baseball dreams behind to focus on the legal profession and politics. A member of the South Carolina state house from 1917 to 1924, he served as speaker from 1923 to 1924. First elected to the U.S. House for the 69th Congress (1925–1927), McMillan was immediately named captain of the 1926 Democratic Congressional Baseball team, a position he held for most of his eight terms in the House. McMillan traded in his lesser committee posts for a seat on the Appropriations Committee where he eventually chaired the Subcommittee on Appropriations for the Department of Commerce. In 1937, McMillan was selected to serve on the executive committee of the Interparliamentary Union. In 1939, just prior to the outbreak of the Second World War, he traveled to Oslo, Norway, for the annual meeting of the Interparliamentary Union. Upon returning, McMillan urged the United States to remain neutral and stay out of the war which erupted in Europe in early September. Just several weeks later, the Congressman died suddenly at the age of 50. His wife and long time political confidante, Clara McMillan, sought and won the special election for his vacant seat in the 76th Congress (1939–1941). In contrast to her husband’s isolationism, Congresswoman McMillan supported the peace time draft legislation which prepared the United States for World War II.

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