Monday, February 25, 2013

Millicent Fenwick

“Wherever injustice occurs, we all need to be concerned.” 
—Millicent Fenwick

Fenwick is said to be the inspiration for
Doonesbury's Lacey Davenport.

Born this day in 1910: Millicent Fenwick (1910–1992), U.S. representative from New Jersey (R, 1975–1983), known for her patrician ways, fiscal conservatism, liberalism, and pipe smoking

Fenwick was born Millicent Hammond in New York City. She studied at Columbia University and with Bertrand Russell at the New School for Social Research. In 1934 she married a businessman named Hugh Fenwick. The couple had two children and were divorced in 1945. Despite coming from a wealthy family, Fenwick chose to support her family by working, first as a model and later as a writer for Vogue. She also authored a popular book of etiquette, Vogue’s Book of Etiquette.
In 1952 Fenwick inherited a large fortune. She turned her attention (and her money) to humanitarian causes and civil rights. Eventually she entered politics as well. In 1974 she was elected as a U.S. representative from New Jersey and was re-elected, with increasing popularity, for three more terms. Instead of a fifth term, she chose to run for a Senate seat. She was narrowly defeated by an opponent who greatly outspent her—Fenwick herself refused PAC money and corporate donations, not wanting to be beholden to any interst.
 Although a fiscally conservative Republican, Fenwick was nonetheless a champion of liberal causes, including civil rights, women’s rights, the Equal Rights Amendment, federal funding for abortion, consumer rights, public housing, food stamps, improved working conditions for migrant workers (earning her the nickname “Outhouse Millie”), human rights, campaign finance reform, and Congressional ethics.
Fenwick served on several committees, including the Committee on Banking, Currency, and Housing; the Committee on Small Business; the Committee on Education and Labor; the Select Committee on Aging; and the Committee on Foreign Affairs (she was fluent in three languages). She was also a constant presence at debates, a familiar patrician presence who smoked a pipe (her doctor urged her to give up her cigarettes) and always spoke her mind.

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