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DIRKSEN, Everett McKinley (1896-1969)

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DIRKSEN, Everett McKinley (1896-1969), American political leader, born in Pekin, Ill. Dirksen left the law school of the University of Minnesota in 1917 to join the U. S. Army. After his discharge in 1919, he returned to Pekin and entered business. In 1932 he was elected as a Republican to the U.S. House of Representatives, the first of his eight terms in the House. As a congressman Dirksen frequently favored legislation that opposed New Deal monetary and fiscal programs, and he maintained a generally isolationist stance in foreign affairs until 1941, when the U.S. entered World War II. After a 2-year period out of public office Dirksen was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1950. In 1959 he became Republican minority leader. As party leader in the Senate, Dirksen was most noted for his sudden, dramatic shifts from opposition to support of various measures, including the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty of 1963 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. His talent for compromise facilitated passage of much legislation that otherwise might have been defeated in the Senate.

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