William E. Miller

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William Miller
Representative William E. Miller.png
44th Chair of the Republican National Committee
In office
June 2, 1961 – June 15, 1964
Preceded byThruston Morton
Succeeded byDean Burch
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from New York
In office
January 3, 1951 – January 3, 1965
Preceded byWilliam L. Pfeiffer
Succeeded byHenry P. Smith III
Constituency42nd district (1951–53)
40th district (1953–65)
District Attorney of Niagara County, New York
In office
1948–1951
Preceded byJohn S. Marsh
Succeeded byJack E. Gellman[1]
Personal details
Born
William Edward Miller

(1914-03-22)March 22, 1914
Lockport, New York, U.S.
DiedJune 24, 1983(1983-06-24) (aged 69)
Buffalo, New York, U.S.
Resting placeArlington National Cemetery
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)
Stephanie Wagner (m. 1943)
Children4, including Stephanie
EducationUniversity of Notre Dame (BA)
Union University, New York (LLB)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1942–1946
RankFirst Lieutenant
UnitJudge Advocate General's Corps
Battles/warsWorld War II
Nuremberg trials

William Edward Miller (March 22, 1914 – June 24, 1983) was an American politician who served in the United States House of Representatives from New York as a Republican. During the 1964 presidential election he was given the Republican vice presidential nomination becoming the first Catholic vice presidential nominee of the Republican Party.

Early life and education[edit]

William Edward Miller was born on March 22, 1914, in Lockport, New York, to Elizabeth Hinch and Edward J. Miller.[2][3] Miller attended the University of Notre Dame where he graduated with a B.A. in 1935 and Albany Law School of Union University, New York where he graduated with an LL.B. in 1938.[4] He was admitted to the bar in 1938, and practiced in Lockport.[5] In 1942, Miller was appointed a commissioner for the U.S. District Court in Buffalo.[4]

Career[edit]

Military service[edit]

Miller enlisted in the United States Army on July 1, 1942 and received training in the Military Intelligence branch.[6] After serving with an Intelligence unit in Richmond, Virginia, in May 1945, Miller received his commission as a first lieutenant and was assigned to the War Criminals Branch of the War Department staff.[4] In August 1945, he was assigned as assistant prosecutor of Nazi war criminals during the Nuremberg trials.[4] Miller was discharged in March 1946, and returned to Lockport.[4]

Politics[edit]

District attorney[edit]

Miller served as an assistant district attorney of Niagara County, New York from 1946 to 1948.[5] Governor Thomas E. Dewey appointed Miller district attorney in January 1948, and Miller won election to a full term in November.[5] He served until resigning in January 1951 as he prepared to assume his seat in Congress.[7]

Congressman[edit]

In August 1950, Miller won the Republican nomination in New York's 42nd Congressional district after defeating Melvin L. Payne and James W. Heary in a primary.[8] He won the general election in November by defeating the Democratic nominee, Mary Louise Nice.[9]

After redistricting placed Miller in New York's 40th Congressional District, he was easily reelected every two years from 1952 to 1962.[10] He rose through seniority to become the second-ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, and received credit for two major pieces of legislation.[11] The first was a compromise on the development of Niagara Falls hydroelectric power, and the second was a law authorizing construction of a new Lake ErieLake Ontario canal east of the Niagara River.[6][12]

Miller became influential with respect to the internal workings of the House.[6] In 1959, he took part in the Republican caucus' action to replace Minority Leader (and former Speaker) Joseph W. Martin Jr. with Charles Halleck.[6] Republicans had lost House seats in the 1958 election, and decided to replace the moderate Martin with the more conservative Halleck.[6] Miller voted in favor of the Civil Rights Acts of 1957,[13] 1960,[14] and 1964.[15]

In 1960, Miller won election as head of the National Republican Congressional Committee.[5] In the November election, the party gained 22 House seats, an achievement that was notable because it occurred as Republicans were losing the presidential election.[5]

Republican National Committee[edit]

Miller's success with the 1960 House elections led to his selection as head of the Republican National Committee.[6] He served from 1961 to 1964, and advocated for the party to become more conservative, including tacitly supporting Goldwater for the 1964 presidential nomination.[6]

As chairman, Miller oversaw the party's efforts during the 1962 Congressional elections.[16] Though Republicans lost five seats in the Senate, they gained four in the House.[16] In addition, Democratic candidates in several races throughout the South experienced tougher than expected races, indicating that the domination the Democrats had enjoyed regionally since the Civil War was in peril.[16] These included the moderate-to-liberal Senator J. Lister Hill of Alabama, who defeated business Republican businessman James D. Martin by just 50.9 percent to 49.1.[17] Martin's strong showing demonstrated his viability as a candidate, and in 1964 he was elected to the U.S. House.[18]

In the early 1960s, leading Republicans including Senator Barry Goldwater began advocating for a plan that they called the Southern Strategy, an effort to make Republicans gains in the Solid South, which had been pro-Democratic since the American Civil War.[19][20] Under the Southern Strategy, Republicans would continue an earlier effort to make inroads in the south, Operation Dixie, by ending attempts to appeal to African American voters in the northern states, and instead appeal to white conservative voters in the south.[21] As documented by reporters and columnists including Joseph Alsop and Arthur Krock, on the surface the Southern Strategy would appeal to white voters in the south by advocating against the New Frontier programs of President John F. Kennedy and in favor of a smaller federal government and states' rights, while less publicly arguing against the Civil rights movement and in favor of continued racial segregation.

Miller concurred with Goldwater, and backed the Southern Strategy, including holding private meetings of the RNC and other key Republican leaders in late 1962 and early 1963 so they could decide whether to implement it.[22] Overruling the moderate and liberal wings of the party, its leadership decided to pursue the Southern Strategy for the 1964 elections and beyond.[23]

Vice presidential candidate[edit]

After winning the Republican presidential nomination, Goldwater chose Miller to be his running mate.[5] In Goldwater's telling, he picked Miller because "he drives Johnson nuts" with his Republican activism. But by some other accounts, Johnson "was barely aware of Miller's existence." Miller's Eastern roots and Catholic faith balanced the ticket in some ways, but ideologically he was conservative like Goldwater. His relative obscurity—"he was better known for snipes at President Kennedy than for anything else"—gave birth to the refrain "Here's a riddle, it's a killer / Who the hell is William Miller?"[24]

In the general election, incumbent Lyndon Johnson won a landslide victory. The Goldwater/Miller ticket carried only six states - Goldwater's home state of Arizona, plus Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and South Carolina. Despite the defeat, the ticket's inroads into the previously Solid South were seen as an indication that the Southern Strategy was viable, and Republicans continued to pursue it in subsequent campaigns.

Later life[edit]

Following the defeat of the Goldwater–Miller ticket, Miller returned to his hometown of Lockport, New York, where he resumed his law practice.[5] He also appeared in one of the first "Do you know me?" commercials for American Express.[25] Mark Z. Barabak later wrote in the Los Angeles Times that by the time he died, Miller was "better known for his advertising appearance than his years in Congress."[26]

He participated in an interview in 1979 where he stated that he did not miss politics as it "had such a saturation of it in my life".[27]

On June 5, 1983, he was admitted into Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital in Erie County, New York for diagnostic tests and suffered a stroke in mid-June before dying on June 24, 1983 in Buffalo, New York.[28] He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.[5] Senator Goldwater later stated that "he was one of the greatest men I have ever known and I feel his loss very deeply" after hearing of his death.[29]

Personal life[edit]

He and his wife, Stephanie (Wagner), had three daughters and one son.[5] His youngest daughter, Stephanie Miller, was a stand-up comedian in the 1980s, CNBC and late night TV host in the 1990s and is now a nationally-syndicated liberal radio talk show host based in Los Angeles.[5] His son, William E. Miller Jr., ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for the House of Representatives in 1992 and 1994 to represent New York's 29th district.[30]

Electoral history[edit]

William E. Miller electoral history
1950 New York Forty Second Congressional District election[31]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican William E. Miller 75,377 58.57% +7.52%
Democratic Mary Louise Nice 53,310 41.43% -5.21%
Total votes 128,687 100.00%
1952 New York Fortieth Congressional District election[32]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican William E. Miller (incumbent) 102,565 59.64% +1.07%
Democratic E. Dent Lackey 69,087 40.17% -1.26%
American Labor John Touralchuk 329 0.19% +0.19%
Total votes 171,981 100.00%
1954 New York Fortieth Congressional District election[33]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican William E. Miller (incumbent) 77,016 60.92% +1.28%
Democratic Mariano A. Lucca 46,956 37.14% -3.03%
Liberal Louis Longo 2,233 1.77% +1.77%
American Labor Nick Curtis 222 0.18% -0.01%
Total votes 126,427 100.00%
1956 New York Fortieth Congressional District election[34]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican William E. Miller (incumbent) 117,051 64.34% +3.42%
Democratic A. Thorne Hills 64,872 35.66% -1.48%
Total votes 181,923 100.00%
1958 New York Fortieth Congressional District election[35]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican William E. Miller (incumbent) 90,066 60.80% -3.54%
Democratic Mariano A. Lucca 54,728 36.94% +1.28%
Liberal Helen J. Di Pota 3,354 2.26% +2.26%
Total votes 148,148 100.00%
1960 New York Fortieth Congressional District election[36]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican William E. Miller (incumbent) 104,752 53.62% -7.18%
Democratic Mariano A. Lucca 85,005 43.51% +6.57%
Liberal Albert J. Taylor 5,621 2.88% +0.62%
Total votes 195,378 100.00%
1962 New York Fortieth Congressional District Republican primary[37]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican William E. Miller (incumbent) 21,579 76.49%
Republican Donald C. Chaplin 6,633 23.51%
Total votes 28,212 100.00%
1962 New York Fortieth Congressional District election[38]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican William E. Miller (incumbent) 72,706 52.04% -1.58%
Democratic E. Dent Lackey 67,004 47.96% +4.45%
Total votes 139,710 100.00%


See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Appointed DA". The Daily Messenger. December 21, 1950. p. 1. Archived from the original on February 27, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  2. ^ "Fighter for His Party; William Edward Miller". The New York Times. January 22, 1960. Archived from the original on July 23, 2018. Retrieved July 23, 2018.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 12, 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-12.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ a b c d e U.S. House of Representatives (2006). A History of the Committee on the Judiciary, 1813-2006. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office. p. 540.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j McGill, Douglas C. "Ex-Rep. William Miller, 69, Dies; Goldwater's 1964 Running Mate". The New York Times. New York, NY. p. 14. Archived from the original on 2018-09-04. Retrieved 2018-06-04.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Weaver, Warren Jr (September 6, 1964). "Miller Spurned the Usual Road to Political Advancement". The New York Times. New York, NY – via Times Machine.
  7. ^ "Appointed DA". Daily Messenger. Canandaigua, NY. Associated Press. December 21, 1950. p. 1 – via Newspapers.com.
  8. ^ "3-Way GOP Battle". Democrat and Chronicle. August 22, 1950. p. 1. Archived from the original on February 27, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  9. ^ Buffalo News Staff (November 16, 1993). "Mary Louise Nice, Twice Ran for Congress". The Buffalo News. Buffalo, NY.
  10. ^ United States Congress (1971). Biographical Directory of the American Congress 1774-1971. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office. p. 1413 – via Google Books.
  11. ^ US House Committee on Printing (1964). Part II, District of Columbia Code, "Judiciary and Judical Procedure, Effective January 1, 1964. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office. p. II – via Google Books.
  12. ^ US House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Public Works Appropriations (1961). Public Works Appropriations for 1963. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office. p. 921 – via Google Books.
  13. ^ "HR 6127. CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1957". GovTrack.us. Archived from the original on 2019-10-20. Retrieved 2020-01-07.
  14. ^ "HR 8601. PASSAGE". Archived from the original on 2020-01-03. Retrieved 2020-01-07.
  15. ^ "H.R. 7152. PASSAGE". Archived from the original on 2020-02-21. Retrieved 2020-01-07.
  16. ^ a b c Schwengel, Rep. Fred (May 23, 1963). "Extension of Remarks: Republicans Have the Best Candidates in Years". Congressional Record. Vol. 109, Part 7. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office. p. 9402 – via Google Books.
  17. ^ Grantham, Dewey W. (1994). The South in Modern America. Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Press. p. 245. ISBN 978-1-5572-8710-6 – via Google Books.
  18. ^ Roberts, Sam (October 31, 2017). "James Martin, Who Spurred G.O.P. Gains in the South, Dies at 99". The New York Times. New York, NY. p. B14.
  19. ^ "GOP Officials Map Southern Strategy". Alabama Journal. Montgomery, AL. United Press International. November 17, 1961. p. 9A – via Newspapers.com.
  20. ^ Alsop, Joseph (November 14, 1962). "'Southern Strategy': GOP Gains in Dixie May Alter Shape of Politics". The Birmingham News. Birmingham, AL. p. 10 – via Newspapers.com.
  21. ^ Bell, Jack (December 7, 1962). "G.O.P. Pledges Drive for South Congressional Seats". The Gazette. Cedar rapids, IA. Associated Press. p. 3 – via Newspapers.com.
  22. ^ Evans, Rowland; Novak, Robert (January 14, 1964). "'Goldwater Can't Win' Battle Cry Launches Drive to Stop Senator". The Oklahoman. Oklahoma City, OK. p. 10 – via Newspapers.com.
  23. ^ Evans, Rowland; Novak, Robert (January 20, 1965). "'Southern Strategy' Still Swaying Republican Leaders". The Tampa Tribune. Tampa, FL. p. 4B – via Newspapers.com.
  24. ^ Perlstein, Rick (2002). Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus. p. 389.
  25. ^ Guess Who? Archived 2011-01-22 at the Wayback Machine, Time (Feb. 17, 1975)
  26. ^ Barabak, Mark Z. (20 June 2016). "Ticket to the White House or political oblivion? The challenge for Donald Trump as he seeks a running mate". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 20 June 2016. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  27. ^ "Goldwater to give Miller eulogy". The Journal News. June 26, 1983. p. 41. Archived from the original on February 27, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  28. ^ "'64 GOP vice-presidential candidate, William E. Miller, 69, dies in Buffalo". Poughkeepsie Journal. June 25, 1983. p. 10. Archived from the original on February 27, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  29. ^ "Veep candidate dies at 69". The Post-Star. June 25, 1983. p. 3. Archived from the original on February 27, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  30. ^ Lawrence Kestenbaum. "The Political Graveyard: Index to Politicians: Miller, U to Z". Archived from the original on 11 May 2016. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  31. ^ "NY District 42 1950". May 22, 2010. Archived from the original on June 3, 2016. Retrieved February 27, 2020.
  32. ^ "NY District 40 1952". December 6, 2007. Archived from the original on June 3, 2016. Retrieved February 27, 2020.
  33. ^ "NY District 40 1954". November 27, 2007. Archived from the original on June 3, 2016. Retrieved February 27, 2020.
  34. ^ "NY District 40 1956". November 16, 2007. Archived from the original on June 3, 2016. Retrieved February 27, 2020.
  35. ^ "NY District 40 1958". November 10, 2007. Archived from the original on June 3, 2016. Retrieved February 27, 2020.
  36. ^ "NY District 40 1960". March 9, 2011. Archived from the original on June 3, 2016. Retrieved February 27, 2020.
  37. ^ "NY District 40 1962 Republican primary". January 10, 2015. Archived from the original on March 13, 2016. Retrieved February 27, 2020.
  38. ^ "NY District 40 1962". March 8, 2011. Archived from the original on June 3, 2016. Retrieved February 27, 2020.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
William L. Pfeiffer
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 42nd congressional district

1951–1953
Succeeded by
John R. Pillion
Preceded by
Kenneth Keating
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 40th congressional district

1953–1965
Succeeded by
Henry P. Smith III
Party political offices
Preceded by
Thruston Morton
Chair of the Republican National Committee
1961–1964
Succeeded by
Dean Burch
Preceded by
Henry Cabot Lodge Jr.
Republican nominee for Vice President of the United States
1964
Succeeded by
Spiro Agnew