#ThrowbackThursday: Joseph E. Ransdell

(Courtesy of The Library of Congress) Potrait of Joseph E. Ransdell, a seven-term United States representative from Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District and three-term senator.

The popularity of the Socialist-Democrat Bernie Sanders is sweeping across the nation.

As Sanders calls for free higher-education and attacks the wealthy, many are drawing similarities between the Vermont Senator and the former Governor of Louisiana, Huey Long.

Long dominated political life of Louisiana beginning in 1928 after being elected the 40th Governor of Louisiana.

Long’s famous “Share the Wealth” plan sought to provide a decent standard of living to all and to individual wealth for the betterment of all.

While Long and Sanders share many political ideas, their moral views differ greatly. Long’s career was filled with scandal, corruption and ended with his assassination in 1935.

Serving as senator in the early 1930s, Long was primed to be Roosevelt’s biggest competition for presidency.

The seat filled by Long in the Senate belonged to Joseph E. Ransdell from 1913 to 1931.

Ransdell graduated from Union 49 years earlier.

Ransdell’s career in politics can be seen as a success; in seven short years after graduating from Union, he was elected as a member of the United States House of Representatives.

The young Ransdell’s time in the House was filled with little excitement.

In 1913 Ransdell was elected to the Senate.

During his time in Congress Ransdell served as chairman of the Committee on Public Health and National Quarantine and sat on the Committee on Mississippi River and Its Tributaries.

It was then in 1930 that Ransdell sponsored an act that sought to, as its title described, “to establish and operate a National Institute of Health, to create a system of fellowships in said institute, and to authorize the Government to accept donations for use in ascertaining the cause, prevention and cure of disease affecting human beings, and for other purposes.”

Nicknamed the ‘Ransdell Act,’ it gave birth to the National Institute of Health, which a certain current Republican presidential candidate plans to change.

Ransdell lost his seat in 1931 to the Louisiana authoritarian governor, Huey Long.

While Ransdell may be best known as the man who lost to Huey Long, the legacy of the Ransdell Act is still very much with us today.


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