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The Archivist: Oklahoman became house speaker amid turmoil, too

President Richard M. Nixon delivers his State of the Union message to a joint session of Congress on Jan. 22, 1971. Behind the president are Vice President Spiro Agnew, left, and House Speaker Carl Albert. [AP FILE PHOTO]

President Richard M. Nixon delivers his State of the Union message to a joint session of Congress on Jan. 22, 1971. Behind the president are Vice President Spiro Agnew, left, and House Speaker Carl Albert. [AP FILE PHOTO]

On Jan. 3, Nancy Pelosi was sworn in as speaker of the House of Representatives. She assumed the leadership as the national political scene is in turmoil.

Oklahoma's own Rep. Carl Albert (D-McAlester) was elected speaker 48 years ago in 1971. His three terms were filled with turmoil, too.

On March 26, 2006, The Oklahoman describes Albert's tenure as speaker:

Known as the "Little Giant from Little Dixie," Albert served as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1971-77, during the tumultuous days of the Vietnam War and Watergate. White House crises twice put him one heartbeat away from the presidency.

Albert would see the resignation of both the president and vice president, the appointment of Gerald Ford as vice president succeeding Spiro Agnew and Ford's succession to the presidency with the resignation of Richard Nixon.

After 30 years serving the people of Oklahoma in Congress, Albert retired in 1977 and returned to his birthplace in Bugtussle near McAlester.

Historian Kevin Baker's New York Times Jan. 5, 2019, opinion piece about newly elected Speaker of the House Pelosi, offered this quote from Albert that we wish our political leaders would emulate:

... he said on becoming speaker, "I hope we will get together, and work for the country, and not work for the two political parties."

If you would like to contact Mary Phillips about The Archivist, email her at gapnmary@gmail.com.

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