John Paul Hammerschmidt

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John Paul Hammerschmidt
U.S. Representative from Arkansas's 3rd Congressional District
From: January 3, 1967 – January 3, 1993
Predecessor James William Trimble
Successor Tim Hutchinson
Party Republican
Spouse(s) Virginia "Ginny" Ann Sharp
Military Service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch Army Air Corps
Air Force Reserves
District of Columbia Army Reserves
Service Years 1942-1945 (Army Air Corps)
1945-1960 (Air Force Reserves)
1977-1981 (D.C. Army Reserves)
Rank Major (1960)
Unit Third Combat Cargo Group
Battles/wars World War II (China-Burma-India Theater)
Awards Distinguished Flying Cross (three oak leaf clusters)
Air Medal (four oak leaf clusters)
Three Battle Stars
Meritorious Service Award
China War Memorial Medal

John Paul Hammerschmidt (May 4, 1922 – April 1, 2015) was a politician from the U.S. state of Arkansas who is most notable for serving thirteen terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. In addition to this, he served in the U.S. military during World War II and was actively involved in the Republican Party.

Hammerschmidt is also known for being one of only two people to defeat Bill Clinton in an election, the other being Frank D. White in 1980 for Arkansas governor.

Early life

Hammerschmidt was born on May 4, 1922 in Harrison, Arkansas.[1] Both sides of his family were of German descent, and both set of his grandparents had settled in Boone County, Arkansas in the early 20th Century.[1]

Hammerschmidt graduated from Harrison High School in 1938.[2] He attended The Citadel from 1938 to 1939, when he received an appointment to the Naval Academy at Annapolis.[1] A year later he changed that appointment so he coult attend West Point.[1] Hemmerschmidt enrolled at the University of Arkansas for the 1940–41 school year.[1] He happened to be in California when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and he decided to work in a shipyard to help in the war effort.[1]

Military career

Hammerschmidt quit West Point and joined the Army Air Corps, training to be a pilot.[1] He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and applied to serve oversees.[1] From 1942–45, he served in the China-Burma-India Theater with the Third Combat Cargo Group, flying 217 missions across the section of the Himalayas[2] called the "hump".[1][3]

Hammerschmidt was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with three oak leaf clusters, the Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters, three Battle Stars, and the Meritorious Service Award.[3] In addition, the Republic of China awarded him the China War Memorial Medal.[3] After his service, Hammerschmidt served in Air Force Reserves from 1945–60,[2] retiring as a Major,[3] and then serving in the District of Columbia Army Reserves from 1977–81.[2]

Post-military career and entry to politics

After his military service, Hammerschmidt attended Oklahoma A&M College, but he left to take over the family lumber business in Harrison, the Hammerschmidt Lumber Co., due to an illness in his family.[1][2] He married his wife on October 11, 1948.[1]

Hammerschmidt came from a Democrat family, but he started attending Republican meetings "because the local Democratic Party was a closed group".[4] He served as a Harrison city councilman from 1948–54 and 1961–62.[1] He also served as the chairman of the Arkansas Republican Party from 1964–66.[2] Hammerschmidt was very active in the Republican Party, serving as a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1964, 1968, 1972, 1976, 1980, and 1984.[2]

U.S. House of Representatives

The Republican Party asked Hammerschmidt to run for 3rd congressional district.[1] He won the election with 53 percent of the vote, defeating 22-year incumbent Jim Trimble[1] and becoming the first Republican member of Congress since Reconstruction.[3][5] In that same election, Winthrop Rockefeller was elected as the first Republican governor of Arkansas since Reconstruction.

Hammerschmidt faced Democrat Bill Clinton in the 1974 election. It was a close election due to the Watergate scandal and Clinton's charisma.[1][6] Hammerschmidt won the election with 52 percent of the vote, a narrower margin than usual for him.[6]

His arguably most well-known accomplishment in Washington was successfully sponsoring a bill making the Buffalo River the first national river in the U.S.[1][3]

Hammerschmidt served until 1993, when he declined to run for re-election.[2]

Post-congressional career

Hammerschmidt earned a B.S. from Canbourne University, in London, England, in 1993 and M.A. from the same university in 1997.[2] Among the numerous organizations that he served on after his tenure in Congress was the board of trustees of Arkansas State University from 1999–2004.[1] He served again as the chairman of the Arkansas Republican Party from 2002–04.[4]

Personal life

Hammerschmidt married his wife, Virginia "Ginny" Ann Sharp, on October 11, 1948, and they remained married for 58 years, until she died on January 2, 2006.[1] They had one son.[1]

Hammerschmidt died on April 1, 2015 in Springdale, Arkansas.[1] When he was first elected in 1966, no other Republican had been elected to a federal or statewide office in Arkansas since Reconstruction, but less than fifty years later when he died, the Republican Party held every federal and statewide office in the state and held majorities in the state legislature.[7]


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 Thomas, Felicia. John Paul Hammerschmidt (1922–2015). The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 HAMMERSCHMIDT, John Paul, (1922 - 2015). Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 John Paul Hammerschmidt, Strong Advocate for Western Arkansas, Dies at 92. April 1, 2015. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Lauer, Claudia (April 3, 2015). John Paul Hammerschmidt, Arkansas congressman, dies at 92. The Washinton Post. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  5. Former Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt Dies At 92. (from AP). April 1, 2015. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Roberts, Sam (April 2, 2015). John Paul Hammerschmidt, 92, Dies; Congressman Defeated Clinton. The New York Times. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  7. Brantley, Max (November 4, 2014). Arkansas's new day; a historic Republican victory. Arkansas Times. Retrieved November 4, 2016.

External links

  • Profile at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress