Everett M. Dirksen
Everett McKinley Dirksen (1896-1969) represented central Illinois in the U.S. House of Representatives, 1933-1949. He later won four elections to the U.S. Senate, beginning in 1950. He rose through the leadership ranks of the Republican Party in the Senate as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (1951-1954), Republican Whip (1957-1959), and Senate Minority Leader (1959-1969). Dirksen played key roles in passing the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (1963), the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Open Housing Act of 1968.
In his eulogy to Dirksen in September 1969, President Richard M. Nixon recalled remarks Daniel Webster had made more than a century before in testimony to a political opponent: "Our great men are the common property of the country." That described the late Senate Minority Leader as well. His public service spanned an era of enormous change, and he played a vital part in that change. Through six presidencies, as Nixon put it, "Everett Dirksen has had a hand in shaping almost every important law that affects our lives," and while he never became president, "his impact and influence on the Nation was greater than that of most Presidents in our history."