A WITNESS TO HISTORY
George H. Mahon,
West Texas Congressman
By Janet M. Neugebauer
Foreword by Kent Hance
Genre: Texas History / Politics / Biography
Date of Publication: June 30 2017
Number of Pages: 576
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This is the story of George H. Mahon, a man who went to Congress in 1935, when the House Committee on Appropriations still allocated a small amount of money to buy military horses. Forty-four years later, when Mahon retired as Chairman of that same committee, the committee was debating funds to purchase a bomber capable of traveling at 2,000 miles an hour. With a career spanning nearly a half century—spanning almost the entire Cold War—Mahon grew from a West Texas country lawyer to one of the most powerful men in the US House of Representatives, serving twenty-two consecutive terms from 1935–1978.
During his time in Congress, Mahon worked easily with the giants of government, enjoying the friendship and confidence of seven of the eight presidents with whom he served. He worked just as comfortably with his constituents in the Nineteenth Congressional District of Texas. Mahon served on several Congressional committees, but it is through his service on the House Appropriations Committee and the Subcommittee on Defense Appropriations that he had the greatest national impact. He often bragged that under his leadership the Subcommittee on Defense Appropriations was the most non-partisan committee in Congress. Mahon led the subcommittee with a strong but gentle hand that earned him the respect of all who served with him.
Inspection trip to Panama Canal Zone. Left to right: Albert J. Engel; General Ray E. Porter, Deputy Commander Panama Canal Department; General Willis D. Crittenberger, Commanding General, Caribbean Defense Command and Panama Canal Department; George H. Mahon, Harve Tibbott, 1946
Meeting with James Forrestal, first Secretary of Defense. Left to right seated: Rep. Clarence Cannon, Chairman of House Committee on Appropriations, Rep. George H. Mahon, Chairman of Defense Subcommittee, Secretary Forrestal, Rep. Albert J. Engel. Standing: Robert E. Lambert, executive secretary, Rep. Robert L. Sikes, Rep. Harry R. Sheppard, and Rep. Charles A. Plumley, 1949.
Images Courtesy of US Army, Georg Herman Mahon, Box 584
Janet M. Neugebauer is deputy director of the Southwest Collection at Texas Tech University. Her many works include Lambshead Legacy and Plains Farmer.
Kent Hance is a former Chancellor of the Texas Tech University System and a former member of the US House of Representatives.
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