February 15, 2010 at 12:45 am | Posted in Historical | Leave a comment
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Senatorial huddle. Washington, D.C., February 24, 1938. Like Moslems in prayer these two Senators, Robert J. Bulkley of Ohio, and John H. Bankhead, of Alabama, huddled during a lull at Senate Banking and Currency Subcommittee on the Bulkley Bill providing for $6,000,000,000 system of superhighways in the U.S., financed by tolls. (Library of Congress)

I doubt very much you will find very many Moslems huddling like senators when going about their prayers. Perhaps the caption writer was trying to inject a sense of the exotic into an otherwise boring photograph.

While President Eisenhower gets credit for the nation’s highway system, it was in fact a Democratic initiative during the second administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

On February 15, 1938, President Roosevelt announced his approval of a “proposal of Senator Robert J. Bulkley, of Ohio, that the Federal Government set up a public corporation to build 10 self-sustaining transcontinental highways as a national-defense and business pump-priming measure.

This proposal was Robert Bulkley‘s claim to fame. His fellow senator, John H. Bankhead II, has the unfortunate legacy of having been “instrumental in preventing black voters in Alabama from registering, through a series of tests and poll taxes.” Bankhead came close to being nominated as the Democratic vice presidential candidate instead of Harry Truman in 1945.


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