John McClellan

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John Little McClellan

United States Senator
for Arkansas
In office
January 3, 1943 – November 28, 1977
Preceded by Lloyd Spencer
Succeeded by Kaneaster Hodges, Jr.

(Interim for David Pryor)

United States Representative for Arkansas' since defunct 6th congressional district
In office
January 3, 1935 – January 3, 1939
Preceded by David D. Glover
Succeeded by William F. Norrell

Born February 25, 1896
Sheridan, Grant County, Arkansas
Died November 28, 1977 (aged 81)
Little Rock, Arkansas
Nationality American
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) (1) Eula Hicks McClellan (married 1913-1921, divorced)

(2) Lucille Smith (married 1922-1935, her death)

Children Two children from first marriage

Three children from second marriage

Military Service
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1917–1919
Rank First Lieutenant
Unit Army Signal Corps
Battles/wars World War I

John Little McClellan (February 25, 1896 – November 28, 1977) was a Democratic member of the United States Senate from Arkansas, with service extending from 1943 until his death, He was generally considered a conservative member of his party though he voted to censure his colleague, Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin, in 1954 in opposition to the investigations of communist infiltration of the U.S. government. Nearly thirty-five years in office, McClellan is thus far the longest-serving senator in Arkansas history.[1]

A native of Sheridan in Grant County, McClellan was named for former Arkansas Governor John Sebastian Little. He graduated from high school at the age of twelve and studied law in his father's office and was admitted to the Arkansas bar when he was only seventeen. He served during World War I and thereafter practice law in Malvern in Hot Spring County. From 1935 to 1939, McClellan was a member of the United States House of Representatives for Arkansas' since disbanded 6th congressional district. As a House member, he voted against U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's attempt in 1937 to enlarge the composition of the United States Supreme Court. In 1938, he challenged incumbent Senator Hattie Caraway, but he lost by some eight thousand votes in the Democratic primary.[2] From 1939 to 1943, he practiced law in Camden in Ouachita County, Arkansas. He rebounded politically in 1942 to win his state's other Senate seat, which he held until his death. For much of his tenure, his senatorial colleague was J. William Fulbright of Fayetteville. In 1956, he and Fulbright joined other southern colleagues in signing the Southern Manifesto, which opposed racial integration.

McClellan served as chairman of the Senate Committee on Government Operations for twenty-two years and as chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations for eighteen years. When he became chair in 1955, he hired Robert F. Kennedy as the Committee's chief counsel. McClellan conducted more investigations than any other Senator including in areas such as organized crime, labor racketeering, fraudulent defense contracting, and campus unrest in the 1960s.[1] McClellan's investigation of entrepreneur Billie Sol Estes drew national headlines.[1]

McClellan was the co-author of the 1976 Copyright Act, which was the first revision to that law in many decades.[1]

McClellan rarely faced a serious challengers. He and two other colleagues, Allen J. Ellender of Louisiana and Richard Brevard Russell, Jr., of Georgia ran unopposed in 1966 general electionn. In his last election in 1972, he defeated U.S. Representative David Pryor, also of Camden, in a closely-contested party primary. McClellan then dispatched a rare Republican challenge from the veterinarian and businessman Wayne Babbitt.

In 1955, McClellan was a "mystery guest" on the CBS game program What's My Line?.

McClellan suffered many personal tragedies in his life, having lost to death his second wife and his three sons. He is interred at Roselawn Memorial Park in Little Rock.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 John Little McClellan (1896–1977). Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Retrieved on October 2, 2012.
  2. AR US Senate Race - D Primary Race - Aug 09, 1938. Our Campaigns. Retrieved June 8, 2021.