Connecticut Governor Abraham Ribicoff delivered the 6th Jacoby Lecture on the topic “Brotherhood in Action” at the University of Bridgeport Gymnasium, at 2:00 p.m., February 19, 1957.
Ribicoff served on the prestigious House Foreign Affairs Committee (1949-1952) and proposed several significant amendments to the Marshall Plan.
The event, presided over by Vice President Henry W. Littlefield, began with and academic procession to “Pomp and Circumstance,” followed by the Star Spangled Banner, and an invocation by Rabbi Max N. Schreier. Harry A. Goldstein, Secretary of the Board of Trustees introduced the purpose of the Jacoby Lectures, and John Shenton read a statement on behalf of the Mayor of Bridgeport, Jasper McLevy. President James H. Halsey introduced the Hon. Mr. Ribicoff.
The event was rebroadcast on radio stations WICC and 1VNAB at 10:00 pm.
Ribicoff Bio from the Program
Abraham Ribicoff was born in New Britain, Connecticut, April 9, 1910 the devoted son of immigrant parents. Abe worked as a newsboy, errand boy, store clerk, caddy and road construction laborer during his youth, and saved his money for a college education at the request of his father.
He attended New York university for one year and then moved to Chicago as manager of a branch office. Although Abe did not have a college degree at that time he was permitted to enter the University of Chicago Law School. He made the Law Review staff, the honor society and graduated cum laude in 1933.
Ribicoff hung out his law shingle the same year. Subsequently he served as police court judge and hearing examiner under the State Fair Employment Practice Act. He was twice elected to the State Legislature, where newsmen voted him the most able law maker. He was twice elected to the U. S. House of Representatives (1949-1952), first defeating the Republican incumbent, and then becoming the first Democrat since the early Roosevelt era to carry his district in an off-year election.
Although freshmen Congressmen ordinarily are assigned minor committee positions, Ribicoff astonished his constituents by receiving appointment to the important House Foreign Affairs Committee. He proposed and got approval for several significant amendments to the Marshall Plan. He demonstrated such keen insight into the position of the United States in world affairs that time and again the Foreign Affairs Committee entrusted him with steering vital legislation through the House.
During Congressional recesses, Ribicoff went abroad on fact-finding tours to learn at first hand the real position of the United States in the world. He was named ‘a delegate to the San Francisco Conference that produced the Japanese Peace Treaty. He was a member of the U. S. delegation that signed the U. S. -Philippine security treaty and the U. S. – Australia – New Zealand defense pact.
He was elected Governor in 1954, the only member of the Connecticut Democratic ticket to win a statewide office in 1954.
Ribicoff has attained increasing prominence on the national and international scene for his unique approach to politics and public office. When Democratic party leaders asked him to run for election to Congress in 1948 he agreed, but only if it were to be understood that his nomination involved no obligation except to “stand for what is right.”
He speaks frankly to the people, refuses to engage in political name cal-ing, operates in a “spirit of Compromise”, and fills key jobs from the ranks of experts and career men regardless of their politics. Against overwhelming odds he launched a boom to get the Democratic vice presidential nomination for Senator John Kennedy of Massachusetts.
The risk of his political future did not deter him from imposing one of the strictest highway safety crackdowns ever undertaken in the United States. During the disastrous 1955 floods his emergency operating plans and long-range recovery program provided patterns adopted by relief agencies and states throughout the country.
Last year, along with two other New England governors, Christian A. Herter of Massachusetts and Edmund S. Muskie of Maine, Ribicoff was cited by the Massachusetts Committee of Catholics, Protestants and Jews for “exemplifying a great basic principle — brotherhood.” For these three men, it was stated, brotherhood “is more than a word. For them it is a way of life.”
Gov. Ribicoff married the former Ruth Siegel of Hartford in 1932. They have two children, Peter, 19, and June, 14.