Friday, September 22, 2006
Some historical US Congressmen with disabilities
A commenter on my July post titled An incomplete list of disabled MPs asked about historical US legislators with disabilities. I said I'd look into that. Now we're heading into a midterm election season with at least one disabled Iraq War veteran (Tammy Duckworth in Illinois, pictured at right) running for Congress, and it seems a good time to revisit the question.
We've already discussed General Daniel Sickles (1819-1914) in an earlier blog entry: he lost a leg in the Civil War, and served in Congress afterwards. He wasn't alone. Here's a short list of those I could find in the Dictionary of American National Biography online:
David Bremner Henderson (1840-1906), Scottish born, lost a leg while serving in the Union Army; served in the House of Representatives, 1883-1903, and as Speaker of the House 1899-1903
Matthew Calbraith Butler (1836-1909), lost his leg while serving in the Confederate Army; served in the Senate 1876-1890
Wade Hampton (1818-1902), another Confederate Army general, lost a leg in 1878 in a hunting accident; served in the Senate 1878-1891
Into the twentieth century, Ira Clifton Copley (1864-1947) was blind from an early childhood case of scarlet fever; he was elected to the House of Representatives in 1910, and remained in Congress until 1923. Eugene Millikin (1891-1958) was a WWI veteran with arthritis, who used a wheelchair during some of his years in the Senate from 1941 to 1956). Olin Earl Teague (1910-1981), whose leg was permanently damaged in WWII, served in the House of Representatives 1946-1978; before Teague retired from Congress, his foot was amputated as part of his continuing treatment from war wounds. John Bell Williams (1918-1983), lost an arm and part of a leg in WWII, and served in the House of Representatives from 1946-1967 (and was later an anti-civil-rights Governor of Mississippi).
There are surely more. A number of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam-era disabled veterans in Congress are still alive, so they're not listed in the Dictionary of American National Biography --yet.
UPDATE 12-15-07: Just found another blind Congressman: Thomas D. Schall (1878-1935); he was a Minnesota lawyer when he lost his vision in an 1907 electrical accident; he served in the House of Representatives from 1915-1925, then in the Senate from 1925 until his death in 1935.