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Joseph T. Robinson: A Featured Biography


Joseph T. Robinson by Nicholas Richard Brewer

Joseph T. Robinson (1872-1937), Democrat of Arkansas, became a U.S. senator in 1913. Elected Democratic leader in 1923, he became Senate majority leader a decade later. In that position, Robinson proved remarkably adept at passing legislation through a usually slow-moving Senate. In one amazing feat of legislative action, he pushed through President Franklin Roosevelt's emergency banking bill in a single afternoon--exhibiting what one reporter termed "brute animal strength." Robinson remained Roosevelt's strongest ally on Capitol Hill, but the president's controversial Supreme Court packing plan proved too much for the leader. Strong opposition to the plan from both political parties required Robinson to work long and hard to build even the slimmest majority vote in favor of the bill. Before a final vote came to pass in 1937, Robinson suffered a fatal heart attack. Roosevelt's Court packing plan suffered a similar fate.

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