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Sam Rayburn Museum - Biography Page 2

Sam Rayburn at desk DI01971

Congressman Rayburn was elected majority leader of the 75th Congress in 1937. In 1940, Rayburn was selected to replace the deceased William Bankhead as Speaker of the House, a position he held for a record number seventeen and half years. He also served as minority leader during the 80th and 83rd Congresses, the two periods of Republican majorities in the House of Representatives. Rayburn served with eight different presidents and helped to pass several pieces of key legislation throughout his career, including the extension of the Selective Service Act in 1941. Rayburn was Speaker during both wars and was instrumental in garnering support to fund the Manhattan Project.

In 1948, Collier's Magazine recognized Rayburn for his outstanding congressional service to the country, honoring him with a $10,000 award. Twelve years later, Rayburn was presented with the Cordell Hull Award in recognition of his "long vigilance over foreign trade and support of liberal policy." Later that same year the Speaker received the "Award for Outstanding Republican Public Service." Given by an independent, non-partisan organization, the award cited Rayburn's continued adherence to the principles of representative government. In presenting the award, the organization specifically referred to Rayburn's "championing democracy and support of strong national defense," as well as his "half century of support for sound legislation for that serves as a tribute to his faith in God, country, fellowman, and self." Rayburn was declared as being the epitome of "all that makes America great."

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