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Allen Ellender: A Featured Biography

Photo of Allen J. Ellender

Elected to the Senate in 1936, Allen Ellender of Louisiana devoted most of his time to agricultural issues, including supporting the agricultural policies of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal program. He chaired the Agriculture Committee for 18 years, shaping national policy, promoting modern practices, and providing federal support to many farmers. Not all farmers benefitted from Ellender’s efforts, however, which routinely excluded African Americans. Throughout his Senate career, Ellender remained a staunch segregationist and opposed all civil rights measures. He signed the Southern Manifesto in 1956 that called for resistance to desegregation in public education in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decisions. Among his colleagues on Capitol Hill, Ellender was popular and well liked, often hosting senators and presidents of both parties in his Senate hideaway office where he served his famous Cajun shrimp gumbo. In 1971 the Senate elected Ellender as president pro tempore, but his service was cut short when he died suddenly a year later.

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