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Carl Vinson

Carl Vinson
38th Dean of the United States House of Representatives
In office
November 16, 1961 – January 3, 1965
Preceded by Sam Rayburn
Succeeded by Emanuel Celler
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from 6th district
In office
November 3, 1914 – January 3, 1965
Preceded by Thomas W. Hardwick (10th)
W. Carlton Mobley (6th)
Succeeded by Charles H. Brand (10th)
John J. Flynt, Jr. (6th)
Personal details
Born November 18, 1883
Baldwin County, Georgia
Died June 1, 1981 (aged 97)
Milledgeville, Georgia
Political party Democratic
Alma mater Mercer University

Carl Vinson (November 18, 1883 – June 1, 1981) was a Democrat and the first person to serve for more than 50 years in the United States House of Representatives. He was known as "The Father of the Two-Ocean Navy".


  • Early years 1
  • Service in Congress 2
  • Personal 3
  • External links 4
  • References 5

Early years

Vinson was born in

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Thomas W. Hardwick
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Charles H. Brand
Succeeded by
Preceded by
W. Carlton Mobley
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from John J. Flynt, Jr.
Succeeded by
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Sam Rayburn
Dean of the House
Succeeded by
Emanuel Celler
Preceded by
James B. Conant
Sylvanus Thayer Award recipient
Succeeded by
Francis Spellman
  1. ^
  2. ^ Admiral Raymond Spruance: The Hit-First Warrior, May 2008, Mike Coppock


  • University of Georgia brief biography
  • University of Georgia Profile of Carl Vinson
  • Congressional Biography
  • entry in the New Georgia Encyclopedia
  • United States Navy website: USS CARL VINSON
  • Mercer University Press, "Carl Vinson Patriarch of the Armed Forces," 2004
  • Vinson Institute Press, "Carl Vinson: A Legacy of Public Service," 2002
External links Vinson did not have children, but his grandnephew,

The Georgia, is named for Vinson.

For his commitment, Vinson was awarded the prestigious Sylvanus Thayer Award by the United States Military Academy. In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson awarded Vinson the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Special Distinction, the highest award the President can give to a civilian. During his own tenure in the House, Johnson had served for years as a junior member of the House Naval Affairs Committee under Vinson.

Carl Vinson served 26 consecutive terms in the U.S. House, rarely running against significant opposition. He served for 50 years and one month, a record that stood until 1992, when the mark was surpassed by Jamie L. Whitten of Mississippi.

Vinson Massif, Antarctica's highest mountain, is also named after him, together with the related Mount Vinson and Vinson Plateau.

In recognition of his efforts on behalf of the U.S. Navy, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier was named the USS Carl Vinson, an honor rarely given to a person while living. On March 15, 1980, at age 96, he attended the ship's launching.


Vinson did not seek re-election in 1964 and retired from Congress in January 1965. He returned to Milledgeville, Georgia.

A staunch segregationist, in 1956, Vinson signed "The Southern Manifesto".

Following World War II, the House Naval Affairs Committee was merged with the Military Affairs Committee to become the House Armed Services Committee (this consolidation mirrored the creation of the Department of Defense when the old Departments of War and of the Navy were consolidated). With Republicans winning control of Congress in the 1946 election, Vinson served as ranking minority member of the committee for two years before becoming Chairman in early 1949. He held this position, with the exception of another two-year Republican interregnum in the early 1950s, until his retirement in 1965. In this role, Vinson adopted a committee rule that came to be known as the "Vinson rule". Accordingly, each year junior members of the committee could ask only one question per year of service on the committee. As chairman, Vinson oversaw the modernization of the military as its focus shifted to the Cold War. He was also committee chair, when Congress authorized the procurement of the first nuclear-powered aircraft carriers starting with USS Enterprise (CVN-65) in the late 1950s.

Portrait of Vinson, 1943.

At the end of the war, Congress had authorized four Naval four-star officers to be promoted to Fleet Admiral. A staunch partisan of Admiral William Halsey, Jr., Vinson blocked the nomination of Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, thought to be more deserving by the majority, multiple times to ensure that Halsey got the fourth billet. Congress eventually responded by passing an unprecedented act which specified that Spruance would remain on a full admiral's pay once retired until death.[1][2]

Vinson served as a Representative from November 3, 1914, to January 3, 1965. During his tenure in the U.S. House, Vinson was a champion for national defense and especially the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps. He joined the House Naval Affairs Committee shortly after World War I and became the ranking Democratic member in the early 1920s. He was the only Democrat appointed to the Morrow Board, which reviewed the status of aviation in America in the mid-1920s. In 1931, Vinson became chairman of the House Naval Affairs Committee. In 1934, he helped push the Vinson-Trammell Act, along with Senator Park Trammell of Florida. The bill authorized the replacement of obsolete vessels by new construction and a gradual increase of ships within the limits of the Washington Naval Treaty, 1922 and London Naval Treaty, 1930. Initial funding for the Vinson-Trammell Navy Act was provided by the Emergency Appropriations Act of 1934. This was necessary as during the previous administration, not a single major warship was laid down and the US Navy was both aging and losing ground to the Japanese Navy, which would repudiate the Treaties in late 1934. He later was primarily responsible for additional naval expansion legislation, the Naval Act of 1938 ("Second Vinson Act") and the Third Vinson Act of 1940, as well as the Two-Ocean Navy Act of 1940. The ambitious program called for by this series of laws helped the U.S. Navy as the country entered World War II, as new ships were able to match the latest ships from Japan.

Carl Vinson became a Representative at age 30. He served until age 81.
Service in Congress
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