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Clifford Ragsdale Hope, Sr.

Clifford Ragsdale Hope, Sr.

Politician. Republican. Born: June 9, 1893, Birmingham, Iowa. Died: May 16, 1970, Garden City, Kansas. Served in U.S. House of Representatives, 7th and 5th Districts: March 4, 1927, to January 3, 1957.

Born at Birmingham, Iowa in 1893, Clifford Ragsdale Hope was 13 years old when he moved to Garden City with his parents. He received a degree from Washburn Law School in 1917 and was admitted to the bar. The United States had just entered the war in Europe. Instead of started his law practice, Hope volunteered for military service. After his discharge in 1919, Hope returned to Garden City to practice law. The following year, he was elected to the state legislature and in 1925 became the youngest man ever chosen to serve as Speaker of the House of Representatives. In 1926 Hope was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. During the next thirty years, he became a recognized leader of the Republican Party in Congress and was very influential (as Republican Minority leader and chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture) in the passage of much farm legislation, especially during the post-World War II era.

Although he cooperated with and was supportive of much of Franklin D. Roosevelt's domestic policy, he was an early backer of Governor Alf Landon for president. "It seems to me in the end the biggest issue next year is going to be the matter of wasteful spending on the part of the presen[t] administration," wrote Hope on November 20, 1935. "If that is true, Landon is a candidate made to order, because his record in Kansas shows what can be done in the way of economy, even in times like these. . .Just now thoughtful people all over the country are beginning to wonder where we are going with this unlimited spending." Subsequently Hope was an important player in the Eisenhower for president organization, be he never was obsessed with the desire for "higher" office for himself; twice (1948 and 1952) he seemed close to an appointment to the office of secretary of agriculture, a job he surely would have taken but it was not to be.

Congressman Hope chose not to seek reelection in 1956, retiring to Garden City where he died on May 16, 1970. During these last years of life, Hope devoted much time to issues pertaining to western Kansas agricultural and to writing a weekly column for publication in the Hutchinson News and the Salina Journal. The editor of the former on September 6, 1964, introduced the former congressman to the News' readers saying that "Over a span of 37 years, he [Hope] carved out one of the most distinguished careers of public service in the history of Kansas politics." He also served as president of the Kansas Historical Society.

A biography of this extraordinary man,his life and times, has been published by the Sunflower University Press and titled Quiet Courage. Its author, Clifford R. Hope Jr., is also a past president of the Society. Look for more information about the purchasing the book through the Museum Store.

Entry: Hope, Clifford Ragsdale Sr.

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: March 2009

Date Modified: February 2013

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.