Boggs, Corinne Claiborne

Author:Jeffrey Lehman, Shirelle Phelps

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Corinne Claiborne ("Lindy") Boggs was a Democratic representative from New Orleans, the first woman from Louisiana elected to the U.S. Congress. During her 17 years in Congress her political acumen and experience made her a popular and effective politician.

Boggs was born March 13, 1916, on Brunswick Plantation, in Louisiana. Her father owned a successful sugar plantation. She received her bachelor's degree in 1935 from Sophie Newcomb College at Tulane University and taught

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history in Romeville, Louisiana. Her 1938 marriage to Hale Boggs marked the beginning of an enduring and formidable political dynasty.

Boggs and her husband first went to Washington in 1940 when he was a first-year representative from New Orleans. Then only 24 and 26 years old, respectively, the young couple devoted themselves to the DEMOCRATIC PARTY. Boggs's husband lost his bid for reelection in 1942 but regained his seat in 1946, beginning a string of 22 consecutive victories by him or Boggs. During the years that her husband was in Congress, Boggs, in addition to raising their three children, worked as his campaign manager, did community work in New Orleans, organized social events, and devised an innovative bill-tracking system for her husband at a time when no such system existed. When her husband was killed in an airplane crash in 1972 Boggs ran in the special election to fill his seat. She won easily, becoming Louisiana's first woman?and one of only 14 women?in Congress.

Although Boggs took her seat in 1973 as a first-year representative, her three decades as a congressional wife had given her the types of contacts enjoyed only by senior members. The friendships and alliances she had developed with prominent Democrats helped her gain an appointment to the House Appropriations Committee. There she used her influence to deliver many important appropriations to her home district, including money for colleges, hospitals, housing projects; a $10 million energy research center at the University of New Orleans; and numerous navigational and hurricane protection projects.

Boggs built a reputation as a compassionate, even-tempered lawmaker who quietly worked long hours in the nitty-gritty, behind-the-scenes operation of the Appropriations Committee.

Boggs's other "firsts" included being the first woman to chair the Democratic National Convention, in 1976, and the first female regent of the Smithsonian Institution. At the time of...

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