History of John W. McCormack
Born in South Boston, John W. McCormack's life paralleled the lives of the heroic young boys portrayed in Horatio Alger novels who overcame poverty and adversity to achieve prominence and wealth. Guided by a strong belief that hard work and integrity would be rewarded, McCormack pursued his own American dream, becoming one of the most influential and powerful figures in US history.
McCormack attended Boston public schools and later studied law in a private law office. After serving in the US Army, McCormack pursued politics and was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1928, where he served until 1971. McCormack was elected Speaker of the US House in 1962.
During his extraordinary tenure, McCormack presided over sweeping legislation — FDR's New Deal, including the Social Security Act of 1935, the Voting Rights Act and LBJ's Great Society acts creating Medicare and Medicaid — that forever altered American social policy. In a 1935 Boston Globe interview, McCormack said "I have no hesitancy in insisting that Government in an emergency do everything that can be reasonably done to relieve human suffering and distress."
Despite his legacy of championing such transformative legislation, McCormack himself kept a low profile. His accomplishments were held in high esteem by many, however, including President Lyndon B. Johnson, who said of McCormack: "From the first time I entered the House of Representatives as a young Congressman to this very hour, I have known few men whose courage and compassion, decency of character and honorable objectives match that of Speaker McCormack."