Who is Tip O'Neill?


Quick Answer

Thomas Phillip "Tip" O'Neill was an American politician. He was the 55th speaker of the House of Representatives, serving from 1977 to 1987. He previously served as the House majority leader, House majority whip and speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

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Full Answer

Tip O'Neill was born in 1912 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He attended St. John High School in Cambridge and Boston College.

O'Neill's political career began at age 15 as a campaign worker for Al Smith's 1928 presidential bid. He worked in this role again four years later for Franklin D. Roosevelt. His first elected position was to the Massachusetts House of Representatives at age 24. He was elected speaker of the Massachusetts House in 1949 and held that position until 1952.

In 1953, O'Neill, a Democrat, was elected to the seat vacated by John F. Kennedy in the U.S. House of Representatives. He remained in the House until 1987, first representing the 11th district of Massachusetts, then the 8th district after 1963. He was the House majority whip from 1971 to 1973 and the House majority leader from 1973 to 1977, then remained speaker of the house until retiring from politics. He served during the administrations of Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.

Tip O'Neill is known for popularizing the adage that all politics are local. He died on Jan. 5, 1994.

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