Edith Nourse Rogers

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Edith Nourse Rogers
Edith Nourse Rogers (portrait).jpg
Former U.S. Representative from Massachusetts's 5th Congressional District
From: June 30, 1925 – September 10, 1960
Predecessor John Jacob Rogers
Successor F. Bradford Morse
Party Republican
Spouse(s) John Jacob Rogers
(died 1925)
Religion Episcopalian (previously Congregationalist)[1]

Edith Nourse Rogers (March 19, 1881 – September 10, 1960), known as the First Lady of the Republican Party,[2] was an activist and Republican from Massachusetts who served for over three decades in the United States House of Representatives, representing the state's 5th congressional district. She was first elected in a special race to fill the seat of her late husband John Jacob Rogers, who died in 1925.[2]

Early life

Nourse was born March 19 1881 in Maine to Franklin Nourse and Edith France Riversmith.

U.S. House of Representatives

In late March 1925, incumbent congressman John Jacob Rogers died of appendicitis at the age of forty-three. His widow Edith Nourse Rogers subsequently ran for the House seat as a supporter of Prohibition and in addition appealed to textile workers, stating:[2]

I am a Republican by inheritance and by conviction.

Rogers overwhelmingly won the Republican nomination[3] and handily defeated Democrat opponent Eugene Foss in the special general election to succeed her late husband.[4] In her early tenure, she was an adamant conservative, beginning her political career as a Coolidge Republican.[5]

In 1932 amidst the Great Depression, 25 year-old gunman Marlin Kemmerer of Allentown, Pennsylvania barged into the House visitor's gallery demanding to be given twenty minutes for a speech on the chamber's floor.[6] Rogers and fellow Republican Melvin Maas of Minnesota proved successful in disarming Kemmerer, with the Massachusetts congresswomen telling the intruder:

You won't do anything.
Rogers in the 1950s.

Following the disastrous air mail policies of the Roosevelt in 1934, Rogers condemned the presidential administration:[7]

The story of the air mail will be written in blood on the record of the Roosevelt Administration.

During the 1930s, Rogers was among the earliest steadfast opponents of fascism, denouncing Nazi racial bigotry.[2] She co-sponsored the Wagner-Rogers bill along with New York senator Robert F. Wagner in 1939 to help Jewish children in Nazi Germany flee to the United States for safety; the legislation failed to pass the Senate due to being blocked by anti-Semitic North Carolina senator Robert R. Reynolds.

Rogers voted for anti-lynching legislation in 1937 and 1940, the Gavagan–Wagner Act and Gavagan–Fish Act respectively.[8][9]

In the post-World War II years, Rogers emerged as a fierce anti-communist, publicly giving support to the House Un-American Activities Committee (known as the HUAC).[2] She backed the investigations conducted by Wisconsin senator Joseph McCarthy, and called for expelling United Nations headquarters from New York City if communist China was admitted to the international organization.[2]

During the 1950s under the presidency of Moderate Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower, Rogers' conservatism began to wane significantly, evident in supporting public housing as well as the Tennessee Valley Authority, programs she previously opposed.[5] However, in her last months in Congress, she voted with the conservative side 89% of the time.

On September 10, 1960, Rogers died in a Boston hospital of pneumonia at the age of seventy-nine.[2] Throughout her long tenure, she voted with the conservative side 72% of the time.[10]


  1. Rogers, E to F. The Political Graveyard. Retrieved September 25, 2021.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 ROGERS, Edith Nourse. US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives. Retrieved September 25, 2021.
  3. MA District 5 - Special R Primary Race - Jun 16, 1925. Our Campaigns. Retrieved September 25, 2021.
  4. MA District 5 - Special Election Race - Jun 30, 1925. Our Campaigns. Retrieved September 25, 2021.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Fascinating Politics (September 2, 2020). When Do Politicians Surrender Their Opinion to Voter Will?. Mad Politics: The Bizarre, Fascinating, and Unknown of American Political History. Retrieved September 25, 2021.
  6. Fascinating Politics (January 10, 2021). The Gunman in the Capitol and the Man Who Disarmed Him. Mad Politics: The Bizarre, Fascinating, and Unknown of American Political History. Retrieved September 25, 2021.
  7. Fascinating Politics (September 8, 2021). FDR’s Air Mail Fiasco. Mad Politics: The Bizarre, Fascinating, and Unknown of American Political History. Retrieved September 25, 2021.
  8. TO PASS H. R. 1507, AN ANTI-LYNCHING BILL.. GovTrack.us. Retrieved September 25, 2021.
  9. TO PASS H.R. 801, A BILL TO MAKE LYNCHING A FEDERAL CRIME.. GovTrack.us. Retrieved September 25, 2021.
  10. Fascinating Politics (April 15, 2020). MC-Index Scores of People I Have Profiled. Mad Politics: The Bizarre, Fascinating, and Unknown of American Political History. Retrieved September 25, 2021.

External links

  • Profile at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  • Profile at Find a Grave