Historical Highlights

The House portrait of Armed Services Committee Chairman F. Edward Hébert

October 12, 1971
The House portrait of Armed Services Committee Chairman F. Edward Hébert Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
After working 20 years as a newspaper editor, Representative F. Edward Hébert of Louisiana won election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1940 where he served for 18 consecutive terms.
On this date, the House unveiled a portrait of Representative F. Edward Hébert of Louisiana, honoring his new chairmanship of the House Committee on Armed Services. President Richard M. Nixon spoke at the event, using the occasion to underscore his need for support in funding national defense. Nixon declared that the Dixiecrat and three-decade veteran of the House shared his views: “Strength, reasonable strength, a willingness to negotiate, that is the road to peace, not weakness. And that is what Eddie Hébert stands for. He is for strong defense. He describes it, ‘I am a Hawk.’” Since 1941, Hébert served on the committee, which had a well-known track record for increasing Pentagon spending. To honor their close friend and colleague, Speaker of the House Carl Albert of Oklahoma, former Speaker John McCormack of Massachusetts, Secretary of Defense and former Representative Melvin Laird of Wisconsin and Minority Whip Leslie Arends of Illinois attended the unveiling. Hébert’s portrait, by New Orleans artist John Clay Parker, depicts the chairman seated by his desk with a gavel, a common symbol of legislative power, and a copy of his newly published book, Creed of a Congressman: F. Edward Hébert of Louisiana, close at hand. In the background of the painting, Parker flanked the Chairman with the seal of the Department of Defense and a variation on the Hébert family coat of arms. The final emblem in the painting is a small American flag pin in Hébert’s lapel, which later became common but, as Nixon noted at the unveiling, was a first in Armed Services Committee portraits. For more than a century, the House of Representatives has collected portraits of the men and women who lead its committees. These paintings, a number of them produced by major American artists, provide a vital visual record of House history.

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