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Lee H. Hamilton

Lee Hamilton
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 9th district
In office
January 3, 1965 – January 3, 1999
Preceded by Earl Wilson
Succeeded by Baron Hill
Chairman of
House Foreign Affairs Committee
In office
January 3, 1993 – January 3, 1995
Preceded by Dante Fascell
Succeeded by Benjamin A. Gilman
Chairman of House Intelligence Committee
In office
January 3, 1985 – January 3, 1987
Preceded by Edward Boland
Succeeded by Louis Stokes
Personal details
Born (1931-04-20) April 20, 1931
Daytona Beach, Florida
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Nancy Ann Nelson Hamilton

Lee Herbert Hamilton (born April 20, 1931) is a former member of the United States House of Representatives and currently a member of the U.S. Homeland Security Advisory Council. A member of the Democratic Party, Hamilton represented the 9th congressional district of Indiana from 1965 to 1999. Following his departure from Congress he has served on a number of governmental advisory boards, most notably as the vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission.


  • Early life and education 1
  • Congress 2
  • Life after Congress 3
    • Honors 3.1
    • 2008 Election 3.2
    • World Justice Project 3.3
  • Bibliography 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early life and education

Born in Daytona Beach, Florida, Lee Hamilton graduated from DePauw University in 1952, where he was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity, and from the Indiana University School of Law - Bloomington in 1956. He worked as a lawyer in private practice for the next ten years in Columbus, Indiana.


Lee Hamilton (left) and George W. Bush on December 6, 2006.

Hamilton was elected to the House of Representatives as a Democrat as part of the national Democratic landslide of 1964. He chaired many committees during his tenure in office, including the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, the U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the Joint Committee on Printing, and others.

As chairman of the House October Surprise Task Force (1992).

He remained in Congress until 1999; at the time he was one of two surviving members of the large Democratic freshman class of 1965 (the other being John Conyers). He was viewed as a potential Democratic vice-presidential running mate in 1984, 1988, and 1992, due to his foreign policy credentials and Indiana's potential to turn into a blue state due to economic concerns.

Life after Congress

On March 15, 2006, Congress announced the formation of the James A. Baker III. Hamilton, like Baker, is considered a master negotiator.

Since leaving Congress, Mr. Hamilton has served as a member of the Hart-Rudman Commission, and was co-chairman of the Commission to Investigate Certain Security Issues at Los Alamos. He sits on many advisory boards, including those to the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and was appointed to serve as the vice chair of the 9/11 Commission. In 2000-2001, he served as the American member of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, which prepared the U.N policy of Responsibility to Protect, adopted in 2005. He is also a member of the Board of Advisors of Albright Stonebridge Group.

Hamilton serves as a co-chair of the National Security Preparedness Group (NSPG) at the Bipartisan Policy Center.[1] Hamilton is a co-chair with Sandra Day O'Connor of the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools.[2] He also serves as an Advisory Board member for the Partnership for a Secure America and for America Abroad Media.[3]

On February 25, 2011 Mr. Hamilton wrote a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to commute Jonathan Pollard's sentence to time served. Jonathan Pollard is serving an unprecedented life sentence for providing Israel with classified information, without the intent to harm the United States, a crime which normally carries a sentence of 2 – 4 years. In his letter, he states, "I do believe that he has served a disproportionately severe sentence." He also states, "I have been acquainted for many years with members of his family, especially his parents, and I know how much pain and anguish they have suffered because of their son's incarceration." He concludes that,"commuting his sentence is a matter of basic compassion and justice.[4]

On August 11, 2012, Hamilton's wife Nancy died in an auto-related accident; no one else was injured. Prior to her death, Mrs. Hamilton was an accomplished artist. In 1981 her oil paintings and watercolors were featured in an exhibit at The Commons and in 1984 she had a one-woman show at a Seymour art gallery.[5] Mrs. Hamilton also contributed thousands of hours at the INOVA Alexandria Virginia Hospital.[6] [7]


A nine-mile stretch of I-265 and Indiana 265 in Floyd and Clark counties, part of Hamilton's former House district, was designated the "Lee H. Hamilton Highway" shortly after his retirement from the House in 1999. The moniker is largely symbolic, as locals generally do not refer to the road by that name, although the name is used frequently by the traffic reporter for the area's largest radio station, WHAS 840-AM in nearby Louisville, Kentucky.

In 1982, Hamilton was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, in honor of his outstanding prep basketball career; he led the Evansville Central Bears to three deep runs in the IHSAA tournament. In 1946, the Bears made the State Semi-finals, in 1947, they made the State Quarter-finals; as a Senior, he led them to the Championship game. He was selected All-State his senior season and was awarded the Trestor Award for mental attitude. He later starred for the DePauw Tigers.

In 2005, Hamilton received the U.S. Senator John Heinz Award for Greatest Public Service by an Elected or Appointed Official, an award given out annually by Jefferson Awards.[8]

2008 Election

Hamilton endorsed Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election.[9]

World Justice Project

Lee H. Hamilton serves as an Honorary Co-Chair for the World Justice Project. The World Justice Project works to lead a global, multidisciplinary effort to strengthen the Rule of Law for the development of communities of opportunity and equity.



  1. ^ "National Security Preparedness Group"
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  9. ^ Julianna Goldman, "Obama Wins Backing of 9/11 Commission Co-Chairman Lee Hamilton," Bloomberg 1 April 2008.[2]

External links

  • Lee H. Hamilton at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  • Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
  • Lee Hamilton Biography and Resources
  • Iraq Study Group
  • Voting record maintained by the Washington Post
  • Stonewalled by the C.I.A. Op-Ed piece co-authored with Thomas Kean in the January 2, 2008 edition of the New York Times (accessed January 2, 2008)
  • Hamilton, Lee H. How Congress Works and Why You Should Care. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004.
  • Hamilton, Lee H. Strengthening Congress. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009.
  • Appearances on C-SPAN
    • interview with Hamilton, January 8, 2006Q&AC-SPAN
  • A Legacy of Honor:The Congressional Papers of Lee H. Hamilton. Lilly Library, Bloomington, IN
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Earl Wilson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 9th congressional district

Succeeded by
Baron Hill
Political offices
Preceded by
Edward Boland
Chairman of House Intelligence Committee
Succeeded by
Louis Stokes
Preceded by
Dante Fascell
Chairman of House Foreign Affairs Committee
Succeeded by
Benjamin A. Gilman
New York
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