Gillett, Frederick Hunting

Gillett, Frederick Hunting

(1851–1935) U.S. representative/senator; born in Westfield, Mass. A graduate of Amherst College and Harvard University law school, he began practicing law in Springfield, Mass., in 1877. An assistant state attorney general and state senator, he went to the U.S. House of Representatives (Rep., 1893–1925) where he championed the freedman's civil rights and denounced Tammany Hall's election practices. Chairman of the committee on civil service (1900–11), he initiated merit-based reforms with Civil Service Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt. Appalled by slipshod economic planning while on the Appropriations Committee (1902–18), he lobbied for an independent bureau of the budget, succeeding with the Budget Act of 1921. Elected Speaker of the House (1919–25), he won praise for his impartiality from both Democrats and Republicans, and he reluctantly gave up the position to run for the Senate (1925–35), where he supported the World Court. In 1934 he published George Frisbie Hoar, a biography of that senator, but died before completing his own memoirs.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.