Leslie C. Arends

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Leslie C. Arends
Leslie Arends.jpg
United States House of Representatives Republican Whip
In office
May 13, 1943 – December 31, 1974
Leader Joseph W. Martin
Charles Halleck
Gerald Ford
John J. Rhodes
Preceded by Harry L. Englebright
Succeeded by Robert Michel
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 17th district
In office
January 3, 1935 – January 3, 1973
Preceded by Frank Gillespie
Succeeded by George M. O'Brien
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 15th district
In office
January 3, 1973 – December 31, 1974
Preceded by Cliffard D. Carlson
Succeeded by Tim Lee Hall
Personal details
Born Leslie Cornelius Arends
(1895-09-27)September 27, 1895
Melvin, Illinois, U.S.
Died July 17, 1985(1985-07-17) (aged 89)
Naples, Florida, U.S.
Political party Republican
Profession Farmer
Banker

Leslie Cornelius Arends (September 27, 1895 – July 17, 1985) was a Republican politician from Illinois who served in the United States House of Representatives from 1935 until 1974.

A native and lifelong resident of Melvin, Illinois, Arends attended Oberlin College and served in the United States Navy during World War I. He was involved in farming and banking; in addition to renting out several farms he owned, he eventually became president of the local bank that his father had started.

A Republican, he was elected to the U.S. House in 1934. He served from 1935 until resigning on December 31, 1974. From 1943 until his retirement, Arends served as the Republican Whip, holding the post during periods of Republican majority (1947-1949, 1953-1955) and minority (1943-1947, 1949-1953, 1955-1974). In addition, Arends rose by seniority to become the ranking minority member of the House Armed Services Committee.

A party loyalist, Arends opposed much government spending, and provided strong support to the party's presidential candidates. He remained loyal to Richard M. Nixon during the Watergate scandal, and indicated that he would not vote to impeach Nixon.

After resigning from the House, Arends served on the President's Intelligence Advisory Board, and lived in retirement in Melvin, Washington, DC, and Naples, Florida. He died in Naples, and was buried in Melvin.

Early life[edit]

Born in Melvin, Illinois on September 27, 1895,[1] Arends was the youngest of 10 children (seven of whom lived to adulthood) born to George Teis Arends and Talea (née Weiss) Arends.[2] His father was born in Peoria to parents who were both natives of Germany; his mother was born in Hanover, Germany.[3]

Arends attended the local schools and from 1912 to 1913 was a student at Oberlin College in Ohio.[1] He served in the United States Navy during World War I,[1] and after his discharge he acquired and rented out several farms, and became active in banking.[4] He eventually became president of the Commercial State Bank in Melvin, which had been founded by his father.[1][4] He was a member of the Ford County Farm Bureau,[2] and a member of the board of trustees of Illinois Wesleyan University, which awarded him the honorary degree of LL.D. in 1962.[5][6]

Congressional career[edit]

In 1934, Arends was elected as a Republican to the 74th Congress.[1] He was reelected nineteen times, and served from January 3, 1935 until resigning on December 31, 1974, a few days before the end of his final term.[7] He alternately served as majority whip and minority whip for House Republicans from 1943 to 1974,[1] and was the longest-serving whip in U.S. House of Representatives history.[1] He rose through seniority to become the ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee,[4] where one of his pet projects was preventing the closure of Chanute Air Force Base in Illinois; it remained open until 1993.[4]

Arends represented a heavily Republican, largely rural downstate Illinois district. A conservative but pragmatic Republican, he opposed much of the New Deal and remained a staunch isolationist until the American entry into World War II.[1] After becoming minority whip in 1943, Arends helped create the powerful Conservative Coalition of Republicans and Southern Democrats that controlled the domestic agenda from 1937 to 1964.[8] He was reelected as whip amid Republican in-fighting following their large Congressional losses in the 1964 elections;[5] after their setback, House Republicans replaced leader Charles Halleck with Gerald Ford.[5] Ford backed Peter Frelinghuysen Jr. for Whip.[5] Arends had usually been reelected Whip without opposition, and despite a strong challenge from Frelinghuysen, Arends relied on the personal relationships forged over 30 years to provide the votes that enabled him to retain the post.[5]

He supported Robert A. Taft over Dwight D. Eisenhower for the 1952 Republican presidential nomination,[9] and was an early supporter of the party's nominees Richard M. Nixon and Barry Goldwater in the campaigns of the 1960s.[10][11][12] He organized the GOP opposition to Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society,[13] but supported some civil rights legislation.[8]

During the Watergate scandal, Arends provided unwavering loyalty to President Richard M. Nixon, and stated that he would not vote for impeachment, citing his strong personal friendship with Nixon and belief that Nixon had performed capably as president.[14] Despite the Whip challenge following the 1966 elections, Nixon's successor Gerald Ford and Arends maintained a close personal friendship, ensuring Arends a good relationship with the White House after Nixon's resignation.[15]

Post-Congressional career[edit]

After leaving Congress, Arends served on the President's Intelligence Advisory Board,[4] and spent time at homes in Melvin, Naples, Florida, and Washington, DC.[1]

Legacy[edit]

Arends' papers are part of the collections of Illinois Wesleyan University, and the university library's special collections room was named for him.[6]

Death and burial[edit]

Arends died in Naples on July 17, 1985,[1] and was buried at Melvin Cemetery in Melvin. He was survived by his wife Betty (Tychon) and daughter Leslie ("Letty").[1]

References[edit]

Sources[edit]

Newspapers[edit]

Books[edit]

Internet[edit]

Additional reading[edit]

  • Lichtenstein, Nelson et al. Political Profiles. Volume 3, "The Kennedy Years." pg 14. New York: Facts On File, Inc, 1976.
  • Schapsmeier, Edward L. and Frederick H. Schapsmeier, "Serving under Seven Presidents: Les Arends and His Forty Years in Congress." Illinois Historical Journal 1992 85(2): 105-118. ISSN 0748-8149

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
J. Frank Gillespie
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 17th congressional district

January 3, 1935 – January 3, 1973
Succeeded by
George M. O'Brien
Preceded by
Cliffard D. Carlson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 15th congressional district

January 3, 1973 – December 31, 1974
Succeeded by
Tim Lee Hall
Party political offices
Preceded by
Harry L. Englebright
Republican Whip of the U.S. House of Representatives
May 13, 1943 – December 31, 1974
Succeeded by
Bob Michel
Preceded by
Harry L. Englebright
Minority Whip of the U.S. House of Representatives
May 13, 1943 – January 3, 1947
Succeeded by
John W. McCormack
Preceded by
John Sparkman
Majority Whip of the U.S. House of Representatives
January 3, 1947 – January 3, 1949
Succeeded by
Percy Priest
Preceded by
John W. McCormack
Minority Whip of the U.S. House of Representatives
January 3, 1949 – January 3, 1953
Succeeded by
John W. McCormack
Preceded by
Percy Priest
Majority Whip of the U.S. House of Representatives
January 3, 1953 – January 3, 1955
Succeeded by
Carl Albert
Preceded by
John W. McCormack
Minority Whip of the U.S. House of Representatives
January 3, 1955 – December 31, 1974
Succeeded by
Robert H. Michel