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Carl Albert, Speaker of the House (1908-2000)

Carl Albert was born in McAlester, Oklahoma on May 10, 1908. His father was a coal miner and farmer. In high school, Albert became the student body president and won a national high school oratory contest. He enrolled in the University of Oklahoma in 1927. In 1931, he earned a Rhodes Scholarship to study at the University of Oxford. After completing his studies abroad, he opened a law practice in Oklahoma City in 1935, where he worked for several oil companies until the beginning of World War II. Albert served in the Judge Advocate General Corps during World War II. He earned the Bronze Star for his work in the Pacific Theater and left the military with the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1946. During the war he also married Mary Harmon, with whom he had two children: Mary Frances and David. In 1946, Albert won his first election to Congress. He became House Majority Whip in 1955 and House Majority Leader in 1961. As Majority Leader, he helped advance the Democratic Party’s legislative agenda during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, in particular the latter’s Great Society legislation of 1964 and 1965. When Speaker John W. McCormack retired in 1971, Albert was elected Speaker of the House of the Representatives. When the Watergate scandal developed in 1973, Albert played a key role in the impeachment proceedings against President Richard M. Nixon. Albert retired from the Congress in 1977 and died on February 4, 2000.