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John Paul Hammerschmidt (born May 4, 1922) is an American politician from the U.S. state of Arkansasmarker. A Republican, Hammerschmidt served for thirteen terms in the U.S. House of Representatives from the northwestern Arkansas district before he retired in 1993. In 1974, a nationally Democratic year, he secured his fifth term by defeating the then 28-year-old future President Bill Clinton.

Early life and business career

Hammerschmidt was born in Harrison, Arkansasmarker. He graduated from Harrison High School in 1938. He attended The Citadelmarker in Charlestonmarker, South Carolinamarker from 1938 to 1939 and the University of Arkansasmarker in Fayettevillemarker from 1940 to 1941. He served in the United States Army Air Corps during World War II. In 1942, Hammerschmidt joined the Third Combat Cargo Group of the U.S. Army Air Corps and served in the China-Burma-India theater until the end of the war in 1945.

Hammerschmidt returned to the United Statesmarker and attended Oklahoma State Universitymarker in Stillwatermarker from 1945 to 1946, having received a bachelor of science degree. He then entered the lumber industry, founding the Hammerschmidt Lumber Company and becoming its president. Hammerschmidt also was president of the Construction Products Company and the president of the Arkansas Lumber Dealers Association and Southwestern Lumberman's Association.

Political career

Hammerschmidt was a delegate to the Republican National Conventions in 1964, 1968, 1972, 1976, 1980, and 1984. He was twice the state chairman of the Arkansas Republican State Central Committee, having served from 1964 to 1966 and again from 2002-2004. One of the young persons that Hammerschmidt placed on his starting staff was Jerry Climer, who later founded two Washington, D.C.marker, "think-tanks" and was the Republican candidate for Arkansas secretary of state in 1972.

In the 1966 election, Hammerschmidt won the Republican nomination for , located in the northwestern portion of the state. He defeated incumbent James William Trimble by over 9,000 votes and became the first Republican to represent Arkansas in Congress since Reconstruction. Hammerschmidt was elected twelve more times, having served twenty-six years from January 3, 1967 to January 3, 1993, from the 90th Congress to the 102nd Congress. He became very popular in his district, even though most of its residents had never been represented by a Republican before. The 3rd has always been a rather conservative district; it has only supported a Democrat for president twice since 1952.

His closest campaign was in the 1974 election, when he defeated Bill Clinton (then a University of Arkansasmarker law professor) by only a few thousand votes. Clinton had harshly criticized Hammerschmidt for being one of the few Republicans to stand by Richard Nixon in the wake of the Watergate scandal. This election was one of only two in which opponents receive more than one-third of the vote against Hammerschmidt (the other being James McDougal in 1982).

Hammerschmidt was a member of the President's Commission on Aviation Security and Terrorism (PCAST) which was set up in September 1989 to review and report on aviation security policy in the light of the sabotage of Pan Am Flight 103 on December 21, 1988.

Hammerschmidt had a conservative voting record on foreign policy and social issues, but a slightly more moderate record on economic issues. Hammerschmidt received bachelor of science and master of arts degrees from Canbourne University, which has been described as an"unaccredited online degree mill".

Hammerschmidt was in the Air Force Reserve from 1945 to 1960 and the Army Reserve from 1977 to 1981. He is a Presbyterian and member of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Freemasons, Shriners, Elks, and Rotary Internationalmarker.


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