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Philip Aloysius Hart (December 10, 1912–December 26, 1976) was a Democratic United States Senator from Michiganmarker from 1959 until 1976. He was nicknamed the Conscience of the Senate.

Early Years

He was born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvaniamarker, and attended Waldron Academy and West Philadelphia Catholic High School for Boys, also known as West Catholic. He graduated from Georgetown Universitymarker in 1934 and from the University of Michigan Law Schoolmarker in 1937. He was admitted to the Michigan bar in 1938 and practiced law in Detroitmarker. During the Second World War, he served in the U.S. Army from 1941 until discharged in 1946 as a lieutenant colonel of Infantry. He was wounded during the D-Day assault on Utah Beachmarker in Normandy, Francemarker.

After the war, he was the Michigan Corporation Securities Commissioner from 1949 until his resignation in 1951. He was the State director of the Office of Price Stabilization, 1951-1952, and the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, 1952-1953. He was legal advisor to the Governor of Michigan, 1953-1954, and Lieutenant Governor of Michigan, 1955-1958 under Soapy Williams.

U.S. Senate Career

He was elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate in 1958, defeating two-term incumbent Republican Charles E. Potter by a 54% to 46% margin. He was reelected by overwhelming margins in 1964 and 1970. There had been a call from conservatives in Michigan to recall Hart due to his stand on gun control and busing, with bumper stickers reading "Recall cures Hart attacks." The recall effort never got off the ground, and Hart remained in office. After deciding not to run for reelection to a fourth term in 1976, the Senate voted to name the new Congressional Building after him. It would have been the first federal government building named after someone still living. The vote was 99 to 0, with Hart abstaining. Just a few days later, though, he was dead. He died of cancer in 1976, a few days before his term would have expired and he would have retired. Donald W. Riegle, Jr., who had just been elected to the seat for the next term, was named to fill Hart's seat for the remaining days of the congressional session.

He was married to Jane "Janey" Hart, an airplane and helicopter pilot, (of Mercury 13 fame) and they had eight children. In 1959 Janey Hart appeared as a guest challenger on the TV panel show "To Tell The Truth".


The third of the United States Senate Office Buildings, the Hart Senate Office Buildingmarker, was officially dedicated and named for Senator Hart in 1987.

The Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center in Battle Creek, Michiganmarker also bears his name, as does Detroit's Hart Plaza park and the Hart-Kennedy House, headquarters of the Michigan Democratic Party in Lansingmarker. He is interred in St. Anne’s Catholic Cemetery on Mackinac Islandmarker.

The Philip Hart Memorial Scholarship at Lake Superior State University in Slt. Ste. Marie, MI is a "full ride" scholarship established to carry on the ideals and goals of the Senator.

The moot court room at Georgetown University Law Centermarker is named in his honor.


 Retrieved on 2008-01-25

Further reading

  • O’Brien, Michael. Philip Hart: The Conscience of the Senate. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1995. ISBN 978-0870134074

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