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Everett McKinley Dirksen

Basic Information

Key Dates in Dirksen's Life

Dirksen Biography
On-line version of the 40-page introduction to Everett Dirksen's memoir, The Education of a Senator.

Dirksen's Last Days
A description of the circumstances surrounding Dirksen's death on September 7, 1969.

Sources of Information about Dirksen
Citations to books, articles, and news reports about Everett Dirksen.

Dirksen Quotations
Excerpts from historical documents on such topics as government spending.

Dirksen Video Segments

Dirksen in Pictures
Selected photographs through the years.

Christmas Cards by Dirksen
Sampling of holiday cards drawn by Everett or Louella Dirksen.

Dirksen Interviewed: Transcripts, 1940-69
interview transcripts featuring Everett Dirksen from 1940 through 1969, largely the period of his service in the U.S. Senate.

Dirksen Interviewed: Recordings, 1964 and 1967
C-SPAN Radio's congressional leaders series includes two programs with Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen, Republican from Illinois. The first program contains portions of two interviews conducted in 1964 and 1967where Sen. Dirksen talks about his childhood, the 1952 Republican National Convention, his work on the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and his relationships with President John Kennedy and President Lyndon Johnson. The second program features a 1964 interview with NBC's Len O'Connor during which the Senate Minority Leader discusses his family, his start in public service, his relationships with President John Kennedy and President Lyndon Johnson, his role at the 1952 Republican National Convention, and the 1964 presidential race (audio courtesy of the Chicago Historical Society).

Dirksen in Cartoons
A special website devoted to editorial cartoons featuring Dirksen

On the Issues

"A billion here, a billion there . . ."
Did Everett Dirksen ever say the phrase popularly attributed to him?

Abraham Lincoln and the Illinois Congressional District
As part of the Bicentennial Celebration of Abraham Lincoln, the Dirksen Congressional Center is pleased to present a version of the Lincoln legacy through the eyes of two members of Congress, Everett McKinley Dirksen and Robert H. Michel, who later represented the central Illinois congressional district that once sent Lincoln to the House of Representatives.

Legislative Record
Scanned images of a staff-prepared compilation of legislative measures.

Dirksen: Master Legislator
Analysis by Dirksen scholar Byron Hulsey who focuses on six aspects of Dirksen's personality and character that made it possible for him to shape some of the most important laws of his generation.

Dirksen:  An Early Advocate for Civil Rights
Everett McKinley Dirksen enjoys a well-deserved reputation for his effectiveness in passing civil rights legislation. He led Senate Republicans in the successful effort to enact President Dwight Eisenhower’s civil rights program in 1957. Dirksen provided crucial support for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. His leadership proved indispensable in passing the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Senate Minority Leader’s presence loomed large on the national stage.

Less well known, however, is Dirksen’s performance in a smaller theater of civil rights politics where progress came incrementally, often only for the benefit of a few. The senator’s efforts on behalf of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs in the mid-1950s to establish a National Negro History Week, to obtain a national charter for the organization, and to exempt it from a variety of taxes demonstrate his doggedness in supporting the NACWC’s civil rights agenda.

Dirksen on Civil Rights: June 10, 1964
Description of perhaps Dirksen's most famous speech delivered immediately before the successful cloture vote was taken in the Senate on what became the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

NAACP Honors Dirksen, 2009
The late U.S. Sen. Everett Dirksen, R-Pekin, was honored for his role in passing the 1964 Civil Rights Act at the annual banquet of the local NAACP chapter. Featured speakers were the Rev. Phillip Cousin, retired bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and Frank Mackaman, director of the Dirksen Congressional Leadership Center.

Dirksen on Education
"The Voices of Your Classroom are the Voices of Our Future," by Everett Dirksen [The Instructor, March 1967]

Dirksen on Politics as a Career
His recommendations for preparing for a career in administrative or elective politics.

Dirksen on Vietnam
Selections from Dirksen's public statements, 1954-69, on the war in Southeast Asia. Topics include the role of the commander-in-chief, the relationship between Congress and the President, the role of the minority party in a two-party system, among others.

Joint Senate-House Republican Leadership Press Statements
Scanned copies of Senate documents which contain the texts of the leaders' press statements following weekly Republican congressional leadership meetings, 1961-68. These statements were the basis for the "Ev and Charlie" and "Ev and Jerry" shows.

The 1960s:  A Multi-Media View from  Capitol Hill
The 1960s:  A Multi-Media View from Capitol Hill documents the public policy challenges resulting from those tumultuous times using a unique body of records housed in The Center's historical collections-the minutes and press conferences (both print and audio) of the Joint Senate-House Republican Leadership, 1961-69.

Newsletters: Congressional Front, 1933-46
From his first week in office in the House of Representatives through 1946, Congressman Everett Dirksen personally composed and typed weekly newsletters (while Congress was in session) to his constituents in central Illinois. Congressional Front, as it was called, covered the personalities, politics, and policies of Congress and the federal government.  By the end of the run, Dirksen had written 474 of these newsy reports.

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