|Leslie C. “Les” Arends|
|Former House Republican Whip|
From: May 13, 1943 – December 31, 1974
|Predecessor||Harry L. Englebright|
|Former U.S. Representative from Illinois's 15th Congressional District|
From: January 3, 1973 – December 31, 1974
|Predecessor||Cliffard D. Carlson|
|Successor||Tim Lee Hall|
|Former U.S. Representative from Illinois's 17th Congressional District|
From: January 3, 1935 – January 3, 1973
|Successor||George M. O'Brien|
|Service/branch||United States Navy|
|Service Years|| 1918–1919|
|Battles/wars||World War I|
Leslie Cornelius “Les” Arends (September 27, 1895 – July 17, 1985) represented a rural downstate Illinois district in the United States House of Representatives from 1935 to 1975. A conservative though pragmatic Republican, he opposed much of the New Deal and remained a staunch isolationist until the American entry into World War II.
Arends was born in Melvin, Illinois (located in Ford County) to Talea and George Teis Arends. The youngest of ten children, he was reared on his family's farm and graduated from the local high school in 1912. After attending Oberlin College, Arends joined the United States Navy during World War I.
After being discharged from the military, Arends worked in agriculture and banking. He married Betty Tychon in 1946 and they had a daughter, Letty.
U.S. House of Representatives
Arends was first elected to the House in the 1934 midterms, defeating Democrat incumbent Frank Gillespie narrowly. He was re-elected in a rematch the following election cycle, and hardly faced any serious challengers in his following eighteen re-elections.
During World War II, Arends opposed the Lend-Lease Act, relaxing neutrality laws, as well as naval construction projects. He also opposed organized labor and supported agricultural projects. Becoming the Minority Whip in 1943, Arends helped lead the powerful Conservative Coalition of Republicans and Boll Weevils which controlled the domestic agenda from 1937 to 1964. He supported Robert A. Taft over Dwight D. Eisenhower for the 1952 Republican presidential nomination,[Citation Needed] and was an early supporter of the party's nominees Richard M. Nixon and Barry Goldwater in the campaigns of the 1960s. In the 1964 presidential election, Arends particularly denounced smears against Goldwater, describing those who spread the attacks as "hate-peddlers" employing a "big lie".
Arends organized the GOP opposition to Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society and campaigned in the 1960s with fellow conservatives Charles A. Halleck and Charlotte T. Reid. He also supported civil rights legislation, voting for the Civil Rights Acts of 1957, 1960, 1964, 1968, as well as the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
In a March 1963 interview, Arends remarked:
|“||I wouldn't say party regularity enters into it so much on the Appropriations Committee. On some other committees it might. But we're the no-spend party. I like to say we have more fiscal responsibility than the other party, so the people on our side are all that way. Usually we have no way of knowing whether he [a candidate for the Committee] would be a spender. Of course, if we knew that someone was inclined to spend money and was opposed to everything the Republican Party stood for in that way, why we wouldn't put him on the Appropriations Committee.||”|
In early 1965, Arends was targeted for defeat for his post as the House Republican Whip by New Jersey Moderate Republican colleague Peter Frelinghuysen, the father of Rodney Frelinghuysen. His fellow conservative colleague Charles Halleck had just been unseated by Moderate Republican then-representative Gerald Ford from the House Republican Leader position, which was attributed to backlash against Halleck's leadership following significant defeats in the 1964 elections. However, Arends had enough support within the House GOP and maintained his position by eleven votes.
Arends defended Richard Nixon throughout the Watergate affair, differing with his fellow Illinois liberal Republican colleague John Anderson. He maintained a close personal friendship with Vice President Ford, who was Nixon's successor. Arends retired from the House in the 1974 midterm elections; President Ford stated in a speech in late October that year:
|Les, I can't thank you enough for those years that we worked in tandem trying to lead the minority to do a responsible and constructive job with the help of many, many others. But, I think we developed a close, warm, deep, personal relationship that has not been matched by any that I have ever had in the Congress, or almost anyplace. And for that experience, Les--a very personal one--I thank you very much.|
Death and legacy
Arends died in mid-July 1985; after suffering from an accident two months prior, an operation he underwent that was, according to his wife, "just too much for an old heart." His former Republican colleague Paul Findley remarked:
|“||He was very considerate, helpful in a hundred ways, always a gentle, decent person, loyal to his party, always seeking what was best for his country. He has to be rated as one of the most personally popular members who ever served and also a man of fine personal habits and character. There was never a breath of scandal about him.||”|
He is interred at Melvin Cemetery.
|“||I was brought up right, as a Republican.||”|
- U.S. "Party-switch" myth
- Everett Dirksen, former Republican U.S. senator from Illinois
- Bourke Hickenlooper, former Republican U.S. senator from Iowa
- Remarks at Ceremonies Honoring Representative Leslie C. Arends in Melvin, Illinois.. The American Presidency Project. Retrieved June 13, 2021.
- Cook, Joan (July 17, 1985). LESLIE ARENDS, 40-YEAR HOUSE MEMBER, DIES. The New York Times. Retrieved February 15, 2021.
- Babbs, Derrick (May 10, 2017). Remembering Ford County's native son, Les Arends. Ford County Record. Retrieved June 13, 2021.
- IL District 17 Race - Nov 06, 1934. Our Campaigns. Retrieved June 13, 2021.
- IL District 17 Race - Nov 03, 1936. Our Campaigns. Retrieved June 13, 2021.
- Candidate - Leslie C. Arends. Our Campaigns. Retrieved June 13, 2021.
- TO PASS H. R. 1507, AN ANTI-LYNCHING BILL.. GovTrack.us. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
- TO PASS H.R. 801, A BILL TO MAKE LYNCHING A FEDERAL CRIME.. GovTrack.us. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
- On Ideology and Anti-Lynching Legislation. Mad Politics: The Bizarre, Fascinating, and Unknown of American Political History. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
- Pierson, Richard (July 17, 1985). Leslie C. Arends, 89, Dies. The Washington Post. Retrieved June 13, 2021.
- LAT Archives (July 17, 1985). 30-Year House GOP Whip Leslie Arends Dies at Age 89 . Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 13, 2021.
- GOLDWATER PLANS DELEGATE WATCH; Senator's Aides Will Keep Track at Convention. The New York Times. Retrieved June 13, 2021.
- GOLDW ATER BACKER SCORES ‘HATE’ DRIVE. The New York Times. Retrieved June 13, 2021.
- Reid, Charlotte Thompson. US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives. Retrieved June 13, 2021.
- HR 6127. CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1957.. GovTrack.us. Retrieved June 13, 2021.
- HR 8601. CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1960. APPROVAL BY THE HOUSE OF THE SENATE'S AMENDMENTS.. GovTrack.us. Retrieved June 13, 2021.
- H.R. 7152. CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1964. ADOPTION OF A RESOLUTION (H. RES. 789) PROVIDING FOR HOUSE APPROVAL OF THE BILL AS AMENDED BY THE SENATE.. GovTrack.us. Retrieved June 13, 2021.
- TO PASS H.R. 2516, A BILL TO ESTABLISH PENALTIES FOR INTERFERENCE WITH CIVIL RIGHTS. INTERFERENCE WITH A PERSON ENGAGED IN ONE OF THE 8 ACTIVITIES PROTECTED UNDER THIS BILL MUST BE RACIALLY MOTIVATED TO INCUR THE BILL'S PENALTIES.. GovTrack.us. Retrieved June 13, 2021.
- TO PASS H.R. 6400, THE 1965 VOTING RIGHTS ACT.. GovTrack.us. Retrieved June 13, 2021.
- Leslie Arends. National Archives. Retrieved June 13, 2021.
- Charles Abraham Halleck. Maurer School of Law. Retrieved June 13, 2021.
- Arends Defends C.I.A. Against Critics. The New York Times. Retrieved June 13, 2021.
- United Press International (July 17, 1985). EX-REP. LESLIE ARENDS, 89, HOUSE GOP WHIP FOR 30 YEARS. UPI via Chicago Tribune. Retrieved June 13, 2021.
- Schapsmeier, Edward L. and Frederick H. Schapsmeier, "Serving under Seven Presidents: Les Arends and His Forty Years in Congress." Illinois Historical Journal 1992 85(2): 105-118. Issn: 0748-8149
- Profile at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Profile at GovTrack.us
- Profile at Find A Grave
- Leslie Arends Collection via Illinois Wesleyan University