John Elliott Rankin (March 29, 1882 – November 26, 1960) was a congressman from the U.S. State of Mississippi.
Rankin was born near Bolanda
in Itawamba County, Mississippi
and he graduated from the University of Mississippi
law school in 1910. He began practicing in Clay County
before becoming prosecuting attorney
of Lee County
, a position he held to 1915.
Rankin served in the United States Army
during World War I
Election to Congress
In 1920, he was elected to the House as a Democrat
. He served sixteen consecutive terms (March 4
- January 3
) as Mississippi's First District Representative.
Rankin co-authored the bill to create the Tennessee Valley Authority and was a supporter of the Rural Electrification Administration. He was a sponsor of Edith Nourse Rogers' Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 (also known as the G. I. Bill of Rights). He was a strong supporter of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal and advocated economic intervention in poor rural communities. He opposed the creation of the UN, stating "The United Nations is the greatest fraud in all History. Its purpose is to destroy the United States." He supported racial segregation and opposed civil rights legislation.. During World War II, Rankin claimed the US Armys loss in a battle was due to the cowardice of black soldiers. Fellow Representative Helen Gahagan Douglas rebutted African American soldiers had been decorated for bravery despite serving in a segregated Army. When African American Adam Clayton Powell Jr. was elected to Congress in 1945, Rankin vowed to never sit next to him.
Rankin chaired the Committee on World War Veterans’ Legislation (Seventy-second through Seventy-ninth Congresses) and the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs (Eighty-first and Eighty-second Congresses).
House Un-American Activities Committee
Rankin was a prominent member of the House Un-American Activities Committee
(HUAC). He was criticized for failure to investigate the Ku Klux Klan
. When HUAC's chief counsel Ernest Adamson announced: "The committee has decided that it lacks sufficient data on which to base a probe," Rankin added: "After all, the KKK is an old American institution. HUAC then concentrated on investigating the American Communist Party
infiltration of the Federal Writers' Project
Opinions on Judaism
Rankin believed the Immigration and Nationality Act
was solely opposed by American Jews:
"They whine about discrimination. Do you know who is being discriminated against? The white Christian people of America, the ones who created this nation.... I am talking about the white Christian people of the North as well as the South.... Communism is racial. A racial minority seized control in Russia and in all her satellite countries, such as Poland, Czechoslovakia, and many other countries I could name. They have been run out of practically every country in Europe in the years gone by, and if they keep stirring race trouble in this country and trying to force their communistic program on the Christian people of America, there is no telling what will happen to them here." (Cong. Rec., April 23, 1952, p. 4320).
An article in the ADL Bulletin
entitled The Plot Against Anna Rosenberg
attributed the attacks on Rosenberg's loyalty to 'professional anti-Semites and lunatic nationalists,' including the 'Jew-baiting cabal of John Rankin
, Benjamin H. Freedman
and Gerald Smith
.' . During the Rosenberg
trial, he gained a considerable degree of infamy among Jewish
communities for calling them "communist kikes
Unsuccessful bid for Senate
Rankin ran for the Democratic nomination on the death of Theodore G. Bilbo
, finishing last among the five major candidates with over 24,000 votes and 13% of the vote.
Rankin was defeated for re-election to the House in 1952 by Congressman Thomas G. Abernethy
after their districts were joined together through Redistricting
John Rankin died in at his home in Tupelo
on November 26
. He is interred in Greenwood Cemetery in West Point, Mississippi