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Allen Ellender: A Featured Biography

Allen J. Ellender

First elected to the Senate in 1936, Allen Ellender of Louisiana dedicated his 35-year career to helping the American farmer. He supported New Deal programs, including President Franklin Roosevelt’s innovative agricultural programs. During the Cold War, Ellender supported wheat sales to the Soviet Union. While Ellender remained a staunch segregationist, opposing all civil rights measures, his greatest legislative influence came as chairman of the Agriculture Committee. Holding that position for 18 years, he sought to protect farmers and modernize agricultural programs. Rivaling his influence on the Agricultural Committee was Ellender’s mastery of Cajun cuisine. Ellender often hosted senators and presidents of both parties in his Senate hideaway office where he would serve his famous Cajun shrimp gumbo. In 1971 the Senate elected Ellender president pro tempore. He died suddenly a year later, just hours after voting on an agriculture appropriations bill.