Author: Bruce Dierenfield

a professor of history at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York
ENTRY

Smith, Howard Worth (1883–1976)

Howard W. Smith, a Virginia Democratic congressman, was one of America’s most powerful politicians from the New Deal to the Great Society. A master obstructionist who chaired the House Rules Committee, he used his power to fight the liberal agendas of presidential administrations from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Lyndon B. Johnson. He was particularly concerned about the influence of Communists and wrote the Alien Registration Act of 1940, legislation that eventually paved the way for government targeting of radicals during the Cold War. He also saw Communism at the heart of the civil rights movement and attempted to kill the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by introducing an amendment to include women under its provisions. Ironically, this helped the measure pass and stands as an important part of Smith’s legacy.

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