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John Little McClellan

John Little McClellan
United States Senator
from Arkansas
In office
January 3, 1943 – November 28, 1977
Preceded by G. Lloyd Spencer
Succeeded by Kaneaster Hodges, Jr. (interim)
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arkansas's 6th district
In office
January 3, 1935 – January 3, 1939
Preceded by David D. Glover
Succeeded by William F. Norrell
Personal details
Born February 25, 1896
Sheridan, Arkansas
Died November 28, 1977(1977-11-28) (aged 81)
Little Rock, Arkansas
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Military service
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1917–1919
Rank First Lieutenant
Unit Signal Corps
Battles/wars World War I

John Little McClellan (February 25, 1896 – November 28, 1977) was an American lawyer and politician. A member of the Democratic Party, he served as a U.S. Representative (1935–1939) and a U.S. Senator (1943–1977) from Arkansas. At the time of his death, he was the second most senior member of the Senate and chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.[1] He is the longest-serving Senator in Arkansas history.[2]


  • Early life and career 1
  • U.S. House of Representatives 2
  • U.S. Senate 3
  • Personal life 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early life and career

John McClellan was born on a farm near Sheridan, in Grant County, Arkansas, to Isaac Scott and Belle (née Suddeth) McClellan.[2] His parents, who were strong Democrats, named him after John Sebastian Little, who served as a U.S. Representative (1894–1907) and Governor of Arkansas (1907).[1] His mother died only months after his birth, and he received his early education at local public schools.[3] At age 12, after graduating from Sheridan High School, he began studying law in his father's office.[4] He was admitted to the state bar association in 1913, when he was only 17, after the Arkansas General Assembly approved a special act waiving the normal age requirement for certification as a lawyer.[1] As the youngest attorney in the United States, he practiced law with his father in Sheridan.[4]

McClellan married Eula Hicks in 1913; the couple had two children, and divorced in 1921.[2] During World War I, he served in the U.S. Army as a first lieutenant in the aviation section of the Signal Corps from 1917 to 1919.[5] Following his military service, he moved to Malvern, where he opened a law office and served as city attorney (1920–1926).[1]

In 1922, he married Lucille Smith, to whom he remained married until her death in 1935; they had three children.[2] He was prosecuting attorney of the seventh judicial district of Arkansas from 1927 to 1930.[5]

U.S. House of Representatives

In 1934, McClellan was elected as a Democrat to the

United States Senate
Preceded by
G. Lloyd Spencer
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Arkansas
Served alongside: Hattie Caraway, J. William Fulbright, Dale Bumpers
Succeeded by
Kaneaster Hodges, Jr.
Political offices
Preceded by
George Aiken
Chairman of Senate Government Operations Committee
Succeeded by
Joseph McCarthy
Preceded by
Joseph McCarthy
Chairman of Senate Government Operations Committee
Succeeded by
Sam Ervin
Preceded by
Allen J. Ellender
Chairman of Senate Appropriations Committee
Succeeded by
Warren G. Magnuson
Honorary titles
Preceded by
George Aiken
Dean of the United States Senate
January 3, 1975 – November 28, 1977 with
James Eastland
Succeeded by
James Eastland
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
David Delano Glover
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arkansas's 6th congressional district

Succeeded by
William F. Norrell
  • John Little McClellan at the Internet Movie Database
  • Congressional Biographical Directory.
  • The Man Behind The Frown TIME Magazine Story Of Senator John McClellan, May 27, 1957
  •'s Episode Guide for "What's My Line" - Episode 245 with Senator John McClellan as mystery guest.
  • Fearless: John L. McClellan, United States Senator - Official biography.

External links

  1. ^ a b c d e "John L. McClellan, 35 Years in the Senate, Dead at 81; Headed Major Investigations".  
  2. ^ a b c d e "John Little McClellan (1896–1977)". The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. 
  3. ^ Thomas, David Yancey (1930). Arkansas and Its People: A History, 1541-1930 IV. The American Historical Society. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f  
  5. ^ a b c d "McCLELLAN, John Little, (1896 - 1977)".  
  6. ^ "Maud Robinson Crawford (1891-1957)". Retrieved January 14, 2011. 
  7. ^ Quoted in Osro Cobb, Osro Cobb of Arkansas: Memoirs of Historical Significance, Carol Griffee, ed. (Little Rock: Rose Publishing Company, 1989), pp. 237, 238
  8. ^ Committee on Government Operations, United States Senate (1966). Diversion of union welfare-pension funds of Allied Trades Council and Teamsters 815; report, together with individual views. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. 
  9. ^ "Pension Fund Probe: Searching Questions and Puzzling Answers". Herald Tribune. August 8, 1965. 
  10. ^ Barkdoll, Robert (October 13, 1965). "Bill to Guard Welfare, Pension Funds Offered". Los Angeles Times. p. 1. 
  11. ^ Whitten, Leslie H. (August 2, 1965). "Javits Aims to Protect Union Funds". Journal American. 
  12. ^ "Javits Bids U.S. Curb Union Pension Funds". Daily News. August 4, 1965. 
  13. ^ McMillan, III, James G. (2000). "Misclassification and Employer Discretion Under ERISA" (PDF). University of Pennsylvania Journal of Labor and Employment Law 2 (4): 837–866. 
  14. ^ Special Committee on Aging, United States Senate (August 1984). The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974: The First Decade (PDF). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 11. 
  15. ^ Arkansas Outlook, Republican Party newsletter, February and March 1975


A VA Hospital in Little Rock is named in his honor. Ouachita Baptist University is the repository for his official papers.

McClellan died in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1977 and was buried at Roselawn Memorial Park in Little Rock.

McClellan experienced many personal tragedies in his life. His second wife died of spinal meningitis in 1935 and his son Max died of the same disease in 1943 while serving in Africa during World War II. His son John L. Jr. died in 1949 in an automobile accident. His son James H. died in a plane crash in 1958.

In 1955, McClellan appeared as the "mystery guest" on the popular CBS TV game show What's My Line?, where the blindfolded celebrity panelists had to guess his identity. In 1957, his teenage grandson Steve appeared as a guest challenger on the TV game show To Tell The Truth.

Personal life

In 1974, McClellan informed President Gerald R. Ford, Jr., that he would not support the renomination of Republican Lynn A. Davis as U.S. marshal for the Eastern District of Arkansas based in Little Rock. McClellan claimed that Davis, who as the temporary head of the Arkansas state police had conducted sensational raids against mobsters in Hot Springs, was too partisan for the position. In an effort to appease the powerful McClellan, Ford moved to replace Davis with Len E. Blaylock of Perry County, the mild-mannered Republican gubernatorial nominee in the 1972 campaign against Dale Bumpers.[15]

In his last Senate election in 1972, McClellan defeated fellow Democrat David Hampton Pryor, then a U.S. representative, by a narrow 52-48 percent margin in the party runoff. He then defeated the only Republican who ever ran against him, Wayne H. Babbitt, then a North Little Rock veterinarian, by a margin of 61-39 percent. Pryor was elected to the seat in 1978, three weeks before the one-year anniversary of McClelland's death.

[14][13].Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) Provisions from all three bills ultimately evolved into the guidelines enacted in the [12][11] (R) of New York also introduced bills in 1965 and 1967 increasing regulation on welfare and pension funds to limit the control of plan trustees and administrators.Jacob K. Javits Senator [10] McClellan's notable failure to find any legal wrongdoing led to his introduction of several pieces of new legislation including McClellan's own bill on October 12, 1965 setting new fiduciary standards for plan trustees.[9][8] Although his

McClellan and fellow Senator Robert S. Kerr of Oklahoma were the sponsors of the bill that authorized construction of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers. The system transformed the once-useless Arkansas River into a major transportation route and water source.

In 1957, McClellan opposed U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower's decision to send federal troops to enforce the desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock. Prior to the sending of the troops under the command of Major General Edwin A. Walker, McClellan had expressed "regret [regarding] the ... use of force by the federal government to enforce integration. I believe it to be without authority of law. I am very apprehensive that such action may precipitate more trouble than it will prevent."[7]

Senator John Little McClellan

One of McClellan's law partners prior to his Senate service, Maud Crawford, went missing in March 1957 in Camden, Arkansas. There had been speculation that she had been kidnapped by the Mafia in an attempt to intimidate McClellan, but no ransom note was ever forthcoming. The disappearance, which remains unsolved, received international attention.[6]

In 1957, he helped form and was chair of the labor unions.

McClellan also served for eighteen years as chairman of the G. Robert Blakey until 1973 when he switched to investigating political subversion. During this period, he hired Robert F. Kennedy as chief counsel and vaulted him into the national spotlight. McClellan investigated numerous cases of government corruption including numerous defense contractors and Texas financier Billie Sol Estes.

In 1942, after G. Lloyd Spencer decided not to seek re-election, McClellan ran for the Senate again but this time won. He served as Senator from Arkansas from 1943 to 1977, when he died in office. During his tenure, he served as chairman of the Appropriations Committee and served 22 years as chairman of the Committee on Government Operations. McClellan was the longest serving United States Senator in Arkansas history. During the later part of his Senate service Arkansas had, perhaps, the most powerful Congressional delegations with McClellan as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Wilbur Mills as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Oren Harris as chairman of the House Commerce Committee, Senator J. William Fulbright as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Took Gathings as chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, and James William Trimble as a member of the powerful House Rules Committee.

U.S. Senate

In 1938, McClellan unsuccessfully challenged first-term incumbent [4] Nevertheless, he was defeated in the primary election by a margin of about 8,000 votes.[4] He subsequently resumed the practice of law in Camden, where he joined the firm Gaughan, McClellan and Gaughan.[2] He served as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1940 (Chicago), 1944 (Chicago), and 1948 (Philadelphia).

[1] In 1937, he wed for the third and final time, marrying Norma Myers Cheatham.[4]

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