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“Politics and Principles: Documenting the Career of Congressman Brooks Hays” covers Hays' seven-decade career, early life and subsequent work in public service and education. Hays worked in five presidential administrations, from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Lyndon B. Johnson, and he personally knew seven presidents, from Harry Truman to Jimmy Carter.

Politics and Principles:
Documenting the Career of Congressman Brooks Hays

Brooks Hays with JFKBrooks Hays with JFKBrooks Hays speaking at Dardanelle Dam dedication, June 1958.Brooks Hays speaking at Dardanelle Dam dedication, June 1958.Brooks Hays at his Tennessee Valley Authority swearing-in ceremony, July 1959. Brooks Hays at his Tennessee Valley Authority swearing-in ceremony, July 1959.Brooks Hays with President Lyndon Johnson, 1964. Brooks Hays with President Lyndon Johnson, 1964.Brooks Hays in front of Little Rock Central High School with unidentified schoolboy, 1963-1964.Brooks Hays in front of Little Rock Central High School with unidentified schoolboy, 1963-1964.Marion and Brooks Hays, 1965.Marion and Brooks Hays, 1965.

Browse the Collection | About Brooks Hays | Chronology | Bibliography | Image Credits

The Brooks Hays Papers are a substantial collection, covering Hays’ seven-decade career, early life and subsequent work in public service and education. Hays worked in five presidential administrations, from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Lyndon B. Johnson, and he personally knew seven presidents, from Harry Truman to Jimmy Carter.

This digital collection contains more than 150 items including articles, campaign materials, cartoons and drawings, correspondence, diaries, photographs, poems, prayers, speeches and tributes. These selected materials represent only a fraction of the Brooks Hays Papers, comprising three separate accessions, held by the University of Arkansas Libraries.

In order to place these materials in their historical context, a detailed chronology and bibliography have been included. Researchers of Brooks Hays are urged to consult the full manuscript collection. The finding aids to the entire collection may be accessed at

Brooks Hays Papers (MS H334p)
http://libinfo.uark.edu/specialcollections/findingaids/hays/hays.asp

Brooks Hays Supplementary Papers, 1894-1981 (MS H334s)
http://libinfo.uark.edu/specialcollections/findingaids/hays/hayssup.asp

Brooks Hays Papers Addenda, 1916-1991 (MC 1164)
http://libinfo.uark.edu/specialcollections/findingaids/hays/haysadd.asp

Tom W. Dillard
Head of Special Collections
Annie M. Dowling
Digitization Coordinator
Vera Ekechukwu
Research Assistant
Deb Kulczak 
Metadata Coordinator
Timothy G. Nutt, CA
Project Advisor
Janet Parsch
Project Advisor

About Brooks Hays

“Brooks Hays has been a tower of strength in Congress, 
a friend and valued advisor, a great public servant."

—President John F. Kennedy
(Brooks Hays for Congress brochure, 1972)

This collection of digital resources documents the life and times of Lawrence Brooks Hays, who represented Arkansas in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1943 to 1959. Hays was a man of diverse interests, a deep intellect, and strong moral and ethical beliefs. Hays gained international stature during the 1957 integration crisis at Little Rock Central High School when he was a voice for calm and reason. Indeed, Hays’ moderate stand caused him to be targeted by segregationists and he was voted out of office in 1958. Hays’ contributions to Arkansas and the nation go well beyond elective politics.

Brooks Hays was born August 9, 1898, in London, Arkansas. He was educated in the Russellville, Arkansas, public schools; the University of Arkansas; and the George Washington University School of Law in Washington, D.C., receiving a J.D. degree in 1922. He served briefly in the military during World War I.

Hays had a long and varied career. He was assistant attorney general of Arkansas, 1925-27; Democratic National Committeeman for Arkansas, 1932-39; a compliance officer for the Department of Labor and assistant to the New Deal’s Resettlement Administration. He also held several administrative and legal positions in the Farm Security Administration, 1936-42.

In 1942 Hays was elected as a Democrat to represent Arkansas’ Fifth Congressional District. Serving eight terms, he was a political moderate. Hays alienated powerful governor Orval E. Faubus during the 1957 integration crisis when he refused to support Faubus’ effort to keep the Little Rock public schools racially segregated. As a result, Faubus recruited a segregationist candidate, Dr. Dale Alford, to oppose Hays, and the incumbent was defeated after a last-minute write-in campaign. Hays chose not to contest the controversial election results. Hays later made two unsuccessful political comeback attempts in Arkansas and North Carolina. Hays co-founded the Former Members of Congress organization.

During the presidency of John F. Kennedy, Hays accepted a position as Assistant Secretary of State and later served as the president’s special assistant. Hays and Kennedy shared a close personal friendship.  (The Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston contains a substantial amount of material on Hays.)

Hays led a full and active life in addition to his political involvement. He was a devout Southern Baptist, and in 1957-58 served two years as president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Later he was director of the Ecumenical Institute at Wake Forest University, 1968-70. He was also chairman of the North Carolina Human Relations Council and maintained a career-long involvement in the National Conference of Christians and Jews organization promoting interfaith relations.  Hays also served as a member of the board of the Tennessee Valley Authority, and he was a visiting professor of political science at both Rutgers University and the University of Massachusetts.

Brooks Hays was a man of great intellect and abiding compassion, and had a legendary sense of humor. He published four books: This World: A Christian’s Workshop (1958), A Southern Moderate Speaks (1959), A Hotbed of Tranquility (1968), and Politics is My Parish (1981). Hays was also an accomplished artist, having drawn cartoons from his University of Arkansas days onward.

In 1922 Hays married Marion Prather, whom he had met at the University of Arkansas in 1915. They had two children: a daughter, Betty Brooks, born in 1923, and a son, Marion Steele, born in 1925. Hays died at his home in Chevy Chase, Maryland, on October 12, 1981. He was buried at Oakland Cemetery in Russellville, Arkansas.

Brooks Hays and his family donated his papers to the University of Arkansas Libraries in several increments between 1975 and 1992. The collection is rich in both political and social history, and it has been used by students, faculty, and the general public to research many aspects of Arkansas and American history. In 2008, Hays’ children donated funds to the University of Arkansas Libraries Special Collections Department to undertake a project to share Hays’ life of service with the state and nation.

Brooks Hays: Chronology

1898

Born August 9 in London, Arkansas (Pope County), the only child of Sarah Tabitha (Sallie) Butler Hays and Adelbert Steele Hays

1918

Military training at summer officer candidate school at Ft. Sheridan, Illinois; through University of Arkansas Student Army Training Corps, sent to Camp Pike (Arkansas) Infantry Officers’ School

1919

Graduated with a B.A. degree from the University of Arkansas

1922

Married Marion Prather on February 2

1922

Graduated from George Washington University Law School

1922

Involved in father’s unsuccessful campaign for Democratic nomination for Arkansas’s Fifth District Congressional seat

1922-25

Practiced law in Russellville with his father and A.B. Priddy

1923

Daughter, Betty Brooks, born October 23

1925

Son, Marion Steele, born March 25

1925-27

Appointed and served two years as Arkansas Assistant State Attorney General

1928

Ran second in Democratic primary for Arkansas governor

1928-33

Practiced law in Little Rock with partner Bolon B. Turner

1930

Ran second in Democratic primary for Arkansas governor

1932-35

President of the Arkansas State Conference of Social Work

1932-39

Democratic National Committeeman for Arkansas

1933

As candidate to fill unexpired term of Congressman Heartsill Ragon, lost in run-off in Democratic primary to D.D. Terry

1934

National Recovery Administration Labor Compliance Officer for Arkansas

1935

Special Assistant to the Administrator of the Resettlement Administration

1935-37

Assistant Director of Rural Resettlement for the Farm Security Administration

1937-42

Regional attorney for the Farm Security Administration

1942-58

Elected and served eight consecutive terms as U.S. Congressman for the Fifth District of Arkansas

1943

Member of the U.S. House Banking and Currencies Committee

1950

Member of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee

1953-55 Member of the Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (Kestnbaum Commission)

1955

U.S. Delegate to the United Nations

1957-58

President of the Southern Baptist Convention

1958

This World: A Christian’s Workshop published by Broadman Press, Nashville, Tennessee

1958

Lost Congressional election to “write-in” candidate Dr. Dale Alford

1958

Testimonial dinner on December 18 in honor of Hays

1959

A Southern Moderate Speaks published by University of North Carolina Press

1959

Appointed Director of the Tennessee Valley Authority by President Dwight D. Eisenhower

1961

Appointed Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations by President John F. Kennedy

1961-63

Special Assistant to President Kennedy

1964-65

Arthur T. Vanderbilt Professor of Public Affairs, Eagleton Institute, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey

1965-66

Retained as Counsel to the President Lyndon B. Johnson

1966

Ran third in Democratic primary for Arkansas governor

1966-67

Visiting Professor of Government, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

1968

Hotbed of Tranquility: My Life in Five Worlds published by Macmillan Co.

1969-72

Director of the Ecumenical Institute, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

1970

Co-founder of Former Members of Congress, Inc.

1970-74

Chairman of the North Carolina Human Relations Council (formerly the Good Neighbor Council)

1972

Ran as Democratic candidate in the North Carolina Fifth District Congressional election. Lost to Republican incumbent, Wilmer Mizell

1976

Received Honorary Doctorate of Laws degree from University of Arkansas

1981

Politics is my Parish published by Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge

1981 Died on October 12 at his home in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Buried in Oakland Cemetery in Russellville, Arkansas.

Brooks Hays: Bibliography

Atto, William J.  “Brooks Hays and the New Deal.”  Arkansas Historical Quarterly 67.2 (2008): 168-186.  Print.

Badger, Tony.  “’The Forerunner of Our Opposition’: Arkansas and the Southern Manifesto of 1956.” Arkansas Historical Quarterly 56.3 (1997): 353-360.  Print.

Baker, James T.  Brooks Hays.  Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1989.  Print.

Barnhill, John Herschel.  “Politician, social reformer, and religious leader: the public career of Brooks Hays.”  PhD diss., Oklahoma State University, 1981.  Print.

Bynum, John.  “Brooks Hays and the Southern Manifesto: Why Did He Sign It, and What Did It Mean?”  Pope County Historical Association Quarterly 30.4 (1996): 5-12.  Print.

Coulter, D. Nathan.  “A political martyr for racial progress in the South: Brooks Hays and the electoral consequences of the Little Rock crisis.”  Thesis (B.A.), Harvard University, 1982.  Print.

Day, John Kyle.  “The Fall of a Southern Moderate: Congressman Brooks Hays and the Election of 1958.” Arkansas Historical Quarterly 59.3 (2000): 240-264.  Print.

—.  “The Fall of southern moderation: the defeat of Brooks Hays in the 1958 congressional election for the Fifth District of Arkansas.”  Thesis (M.A.), University of Arkansas, 1999.  Print.

Goddard, Terry D.  “Southern Social Justice: Brooks Hays and the Little Rock School Crisis.”  Baptist History & Heritage. 38.2 (2003): 68-86.  Print.

Hastey, Stan L.  “Baptist Laymen in Politics in Historical Perspective.”  Baptist History & Heritage. 13.1 (1978): 45-54.  Print.

Hays, Brooks.  A Hotbed of Tranquility: My Life in Five Worlds. New York: Macmillan, 1968.  Print.

—.  “A political fantasy.”  Arkansas Historical Quarterly 34.3 (1975): 268-274.  Print.

—.  Politics Is My Parish: An Autobiography.  Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1981.   Print.

—.  A Southern Moderate Speaks. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1959.  Print.

—.  This World: A Christian’s Workshop. Nashville: Broadman, 1958.  Print.

Hays, Marion.  “From the Political Diary of an Unpolitical Person.”  Arkansas Historical Quarterly 36.2 (1977): 158-191.  Print.

Williams, C. Fred.  “Principles over Popularity: The Political Career of Congressman Brooks Hays.” Baptist History & Heritage. 41.3 (2006): 89-98.  Print.

Brooks Hays: Image Credits

Photographic portrait of Brooks Hays, 1960 (inset).

Brooks Hays being sworn in by Bolon Turner as Special Assistant to President Kennedy, December 1961.

Brooks Hays speaking at Dardanelle Dam dedication, June 1958.

Brooks Hays at his Tennessee Valley Authority swearing-in ceremony, July 1959.

Brooks Hays with President Lyndon Johnson, 1964.

Brooks Hays in front of Little Rock Central High School with unidentified schoolboy, 1963-1964.

Marion and Brooks Hays, 1965.

 
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