Harry P. Cain

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Harry Pulliam Cain, Sr.

In office
December 26, 1946 – January 3, 1953
Preceded by Hugh Mitchell
Succeeded by Henry Jackson

23rd Mayor of Tacoma, Washington
In office
Preceded by J. J. Kaufman
Succeeded by C. Val Fawcett

Commissioner of Dade County, Florida
In office
April 13, 1972 – November 16, 1976

Born January 10, 1906
Nashville, Tennessee
Died March 3, 1979 (aged 73)
Miami Lakes, Dade County,
Resting place Cremation
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) (1) Marjorie Eloise Dils Cain (married 1934-1958, divorced)

LaVonne Kneisley "Bonnie" Cain (married 1958-1979, his death)

Children From first marriage:

Harry"Buzzy" Cain, Jr. (1937-1963)
Candy Cain (full name unavailable)

Alma mater Hill Military Academy

(Portland, Oregon)
Sewanee: The University of the South
(Bachelor of Arts)

Military Service
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1943-1945
Rank Colonel
Battles/wars World War II

Pacific Theater of Operations

Harry Pulliam Cain, Sr. (January 10, 1906 – March 3, 1979), was a banker and Republican politician who served as a United States Senator for Washington State from 1946 to 1953. He was defeated for reelection in 1952 by the Democrat U.S. Representative Henry M. "Scoop" Jackson, a pro-defense liberal who held the seat until his death in office in 1983 and failed in a 1976 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.


Cain was born in the capital city of Nashville, Tennessee, but moved with his family in 1911 to Tacoma in Pierce County, a city thirty-two miles southwest of Seattle, Washington. Both of his parents were writers.[1]

He attended the Hill Military Academy in Portland, Oregon, and from 1924 to 1925, he was a teen-aged reporter for the former Portland News Telegram. He graduated from Sewanee: The University of the South, a highly ranked private institution in Sewanee, Tennessee. He then did graduate studies in England and Germany.[1]

Political life

From 1940 to 1943 and 1945 to 1946, Cain was the mayor of Tacoma. In May 1943, he took a leave of absence from his mayoral duties for service in the United States Army. He fought in the Pacific Theater of Operations in World War II. He reached the rank of major and then colonel.[1]

In the 1946 general election, Cain unseated Democrat Senator Hugh Burnton Mitchell (1907-1996), a strong proponent of the New Deal. Cain polled 358,847 votes (54.3 percent) to 298,683 (45.2 percent).

Senator Cain supported the Taft-Hartley Labor Relations Act of 1947,enacted over the veto of U.S. President Harry Truman. The law allows states to require that workers cannot be coerced into joining the union. Cain opposed public power projects and the expansion in Social Security benefits. He was considered the strongest supporter in Congress of the real estate industry.[2]

In 1952, Senator Hugh Mitchell ran unsuccessfully for governor, and Cain himself was unseated in the Senate race by Henry Jackson, a Democrat who polled 595,288 votes (56.2 percent) to Cain's 460,884 (43.5 percent).

After his Senate defeat, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was elected the same day that Cain lost his Senate seat, appointed Cain to the Subversive Activities Control Board, on which he sat from 1953 to 1956. Though he had been a supporter of Senator Joseph McCarthy's investigations into potential communist infiltration of the U.S. government and the U.S. Army. Cain supported reforms in the SACB intended to protect civil liberties of those under investigation for communist infiltration. But conservatives pressured Eisenhower not to re-nominate Cain to the board.[3] The SACB was eliminated in 1972.

In 1957, Cain moved to Florida. He was divorced after twenty-four years of marriage the following year from the former The 1908-1994), later Marjorie Powers, the mother of his two children, Harry, Jr. (1937-1963)[4][5] and Candy Cain. In 1958, Cain wed a family friend, the former LaVonne "Bonnie" Kneisley,[6] to whom he was married at the time of his death.

The Florida years

In 1962 , Cain managed the unsuccessful U.S. House campaign of Republican newcomer Robert A. Peterson against former U.S. Senator Claude Pepper, who had been a colleague of Cain in the Senate. Cain considered running for the U.S. Senate in 1964, when later Governor Claude Kirk lost to Democrat Spessard Holland. He chaired with Moderate Republican former Mayor Herman Goldner of St. Petersburg the Florida Citizens for Johnson-Humphrey in 1964, but he supported Nelson Rockefeller and then Richard M. Nixon in 1968 because he opposed the Vietnam War. In 1976, he campaigned with his Senate successor, Henry Jackson, who was running for the Democrat presidential nomination that was won by Georgia's Jimmy Carter, who unseated Gerald Ford.[7]

From 1972 to 1976, Cain served on the Dade County Commission, based in Miami Lakes, [8]where he subsequently died at the age of seventy-three. His remains were cremated, with ashes spread at an undisclosed golf course in Bethesda, Maryland.[1]

In a 1972 interview, Cain described himself as being, "...basically a political pragmatist – from time to time and for different reasons a conservative, militant, liberal, moderate, purist, radical and now and again what some call a populist." Cain described his record as "doing the best I could when confronted by any situation demanding action."[9]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Harry Pulliam Cain (1906-1979) - Find A Grave Memorial, accessed August 25, 2021.
  2. C. Mark Smith, Raising Cain: The Life and Politics of Senator Harry P. Cain (Book Publishers Network, 2011, p. 16.
  3. Robert Justin Goldstein, "Raising Cain: Senator Harry Cain and his attack on the Attorney General's List of Subveriuve Organizations," Pacific Northwest Quarterly Vol. 98 (2007), pp. 64–77.
  4. Harry Pulliam CAIN 1937-1963 - Ancestry®, accessed August 25, 2021.
  5. The New York Times in its article on Senator Cain's death, said that his son was still living in 1979; however, Ancestry.com says that the junior Cain died in 1963 at the age of twenty-six.
  6. HARRY P. CAIN WEDS; Former Senator Marries Mrs. LaVonne Kneisley - The New York Times (nytimes.com), accessed August 25, 2021.
  7. Smith Raising Cain, p. 269-272.
  8. Ex-senator runs for county post. The New York Times (September 10, 1972). Retrieved on August 25, 2021.
  9. Rod Cardwell, "He's Back in Politics, Tacoma News Tribune, July 16, 1972.