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Brooks Hays

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arkansas's 5th district
In office
1943 – 1959
Preceded by David D. Terry
Succeeded by Dale Alford

Born August 9, 1898
London, Arkansas
Died October 11, 1981
Chevy Chase, Maryland
Political party Democratic
Alma mater University of Arkansas
George Washington University Law School

Lawrence Brooks Hays (August 9, 1898–October 11, 1981) was a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives from the State of Arkansas.

Brooks Hays was born in London, Pope County, Arkansas, on August 9, 1898. He attended public schools in Russellville, Arkansas. Hays served in the United States Army in 1918. After leaving the service he earned a degree from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in 1919. He attended law school at George Washington University, becoming a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity, earning his law degree in 1922, after which he was admitted to the bar. Hays returned to Russellville and opened a private law practice.

Hays served as assistant attorney general of Arkansas from 1925 to 1927. He served as a Democratic National committeeman for Arkansas from 1932–1939. With the arrival of the New Deal, Hays was appointed as a labor compliance officer for the National Recovery Administration in Arkansas in 1934. He served as assistant to the administrator of resettlement in 1935 and held administrative and legal positions in the Farm Security Administration from 1936-1942.

Hays ran for the United States House of Representatives and was elected to the Seventy-eighth. Hays was reelected seven times and served from January 3, 1943–January 3, 1959.

In 1953, Hays sponsored House Resolution 60, to create within the Capitol building, “a place of retreat as an encouragement to prayer.” This followed a trend of religious legislation which had manifested the previous year in the establishment of the National Day of Prayer, and would continue in following years with the insertion of the words "under God" into the Pledge of Allegiance (1954), and the addition of “In God We Trust” to the national currency (1955).[1] 1953 also saw the inception of the Presidential Prayer Breakfast, later re-named the National Prayer Breakfast, an event sponsored by International Christian Leadership, also known as The Family (Christian political organization). Hays, whom the Washington Post’s Drew Pearson described in a June 20, 1954 column as "one of the foremost experts in psychological warfare against communism," used his evangelical connections to help build a Christian conservative consensus in favor of the aggressive internationalism The Family called "Militant Liberty," an approach favored by internationalist Republicans and conservative Democrats.


The 1958 election


The major issue of the day was President Dwight D. Eisenhower's sending in federal troops to integrate Central High School in Little Rock (see also Little Rock Integration Crisis). Most Arkansas politicians opposed the intervention, but Hays (D) tried to mediate the standoff between the federal government and Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus. Hays was not an integrationist, but his actions inflamed segregationists in the state, who rallied around a Citizens Council candidate in the Democratic primary. Hays prevailed by a 3–2 margin. Then, with just a week to go before the November election, Dale Alford, a member of the Little Rock school board, launched a write-in bid against Hays. Backed by Faubus' allies, Alford won in a major upset by just over 1,200 votes (51–49 percent).[2] It was one of only three times in the past half-century (this was asserted in 2006) that a write-in candidate won a Congressional election.

Post-congressional career

After leaving office, Hays was elected to serve as the president of the Southern Baptist Convention for its 1957-1958 term. From 1959 to 1961 he served on the Board of Directors of the Tennessee Valley Authority. Hays served in the Kennedy administration as Assistant Secretary of State for congressional relations in 1961 and as Special Assistant to the President of the United States from late 1961 until February 1964.

Hays became professor of political science at the Eagleton Institute at Rutgers University and a visiting professor of government at the University of Massachusetts. He served as director of the Ecumenical Institute at Wake Forest University from 1968-1970. In 1970 he was elected as co-chairman of Former Members of Congress, Inc. and served as the chairman of the Government Good Neighbor Council of North Carolina.

In 1972 Hays made an unsuccessful attempt for election to the Ninety-third Congress as a representative from North Carolina, losing to the Republican incumbent, Wilmer Mizell (also known as "Vinegar Bend" Mizell).

With his career at an end, Hays took up residence in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Brooks Hays died on 11 October 1981 in Chevy Chase and was buried at Oakland Cemetery in Russellville, Arkansas.


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External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
David D. Terry
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arkansas's 5th congressional district

Succeeded by
Dale Alford

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