Cecil M. Harden

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Cecil Murray Harden
Cecil Harden.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 6 district
In office
January 3, 1949 – January 3, 1959
Preceded byNoble J. Johnson
Succeeded byFred Wampler
Personal details
Born( 1894 -11-21)November 21, 1894
Covington[Fountain County, U.S.
DiedDecember 5, 1984(1984-12-05) (aged 90)
Lafayette, Tippecanoe County, Indiana U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Frost Revere Harden
ChildrenMurray Harden
Alma materIndiana University

Cecil Murray Harden (November 21, 1894 – December 5, 1984) was an educator who became a Republican politician and early advocate of women's rights.[1] She served five terms U.S. Representative from Indiana's 6th congressional district. She became the only Republican woman to represent the state of Indiana in the U.S. Congress until Susan Brooks and Jackie Walorski took seat in the 113th United States Congress in January 2013.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Covington, Fountain County, Indiana to the former Jennie Clotfelter and her real estate broker husband, Timothy J. Murray, a longtime leader of the local Democratic party, Harden was educated in the local public schools. She graduated from Covington High School in 1912, then attended Indiana University Bloomington, Indiana, and became a teacher, first in the Troy township schools, then in her native Covington. On December 22, 1914, Cecil Murray married Frost Revere Harden (1889-1965), who eventually became an automobile dealer in Covington. They had one son, Dr. Murray Harden (1915-1989).

Political career[edit]

Despite her father's Democratic ties, Harden became active in the local Republican party after President Herbert Hoover appointed her husband as Covington's postmaster. She then became active in national Republican politics after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt replaced her husband with a Democrat. Hardin became the Republican precinct vice chairman in 1932, and continued in that position until 1940, two years after she became the vice chairman of the Fountain County GOP (which position she held until 1950), then the vice chair of her Indiana congressional district. She became a Republican speaker in 1940 and Indiana's Republican National committeewoman Indiana in 1944 (a post that continued until 1959, and again from 1964 to 1972). Harden also served as delegate at large to the Republican National Conventions in 1948, 1952, 1956, and 1968.

When Noble J. Johnson announced his resignation from the U.S. Congress from the western Indiana district, Harden ran for elective office in her own right for the first time, and was elected (and re-elected four times). She first narrowly defeated Democrat army veteran Jack J. O'Grady, who had represented Vigo County, Indiana in both houses of the Indiana legislature.[3] Harden served in the Eighty-first and the four succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1949 – January 3, 1959). However, Democrat and popular high school football coach Fred Wampler defeated her reelection attempt in 1958 (but only served one term). She became one of seven Indiana Republican Congressman defeated in that election, in part because a recession that year particularly hurt industry in Terra Haute. While in Congress, Harden was initially assigned to the Veterans' Affairs Committee, but transferred to the Committee on Expenditures in Executive Departments (later Government Operations) the next term, and also served on the Committee on the Post Office and Civil Service. She also advocated women's rights, and with Maine's U.S. Senator Margaret Chase Smith and Ohio U.S. Representative Frances Bolton urged her party to adopt platform planks of interest to women. In 1957, she and New Jersey U.S. Representative Florence Dwyer offered a bill to provide equal pay for women.[4] She also served her constituents by promoting flood control in the Wabash valley.

Harden remained in Washington, D.C. after her defeat, becoming the special assistant for women's affairs for Postmaster General, Washington, D.C., from March 1959 until the Republican administration was replaced by a Democratic one in March 1961. Later, under President Richard M. Nixon, Hardin became a member of the National Advisory Committee for the White House Conference on Aging from 1972 to 1973.

Death and legacy[edit]

Harden survived her husband by nearly two decades, although she spent her final years in an assisted living facility. She died on December 5, 1984, in Lafayette, Indiana, survived by her son and grandchildren.[5] She is buried in the family plat at Mount Hope Cemetery in Fountain County.[6] In 1974, President Gerald Ford renamed a lake that had been created in 1956 by damning Big Raccoon Creek for flood control in Parke County after Hardin, who had succeeded in securing funds for the project that had been planned since 1938.[7][8] Indiana's Department of Natural Resources administers recreational uses of the lake in the Raccoon State Recreational Area.[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

  • United States Congress. "Cecil M. Harden (id: H000182)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress website http://bioguide.congress.gov.

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Noble J. Johnson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 6th congressional district

1949-1959
Succeeded by
Fred Wampler