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William Boyd Allison: A Featured Biography

William Allison by Wilbur Aaron Reaser

Said to be so cautious as a politician "that he could walk on eggs from Des Moines to Washington without breaking one of them," William Boyd Allison (1829-1908) of Iowa served 35 years in the Senate and chaired the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee for 25 of those years, longer than any other senator. Allison was one of the Senate Four, a group of committee chairmen who dominated Congress at the beginning of the 20th century. Although he represented a largely agrarian state, Allison strongly supported business, industrial, and railroad interests, promoted a "hard-money" currency program, and crafted high protective tariffs. Those policies increasingly drew criticism from muckraking journalists and from the progressive wing of his party, prompting calls for the direct election of senators. This "Senate Lion" died on August 4, 1908. To honor Allison's long Senate career, his portrait has been placed at the entrance to the Senate Chamber.

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