Katzenbach, Nicholas Debelleville

Author:Jeffrey Lehman, Shirelle Phelps

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Nicholas deBelleville Katzenbach served as U.S. attorney general from 1965 to 1966, during the administration of President LYNDON B. JOHNSON. A distinguished lawyer and law professor before joining the JUSTICE DEPARTMENT in 1961, Katzenbach played a key role in federal efforts to end racial SEGREGATION in the South.

Katzenbach was born January 17, 1922, in Philadelphia and was raised in New Jersey. His father, Edward L. Katzenbach, was a lawyer who served as attorney general of New Jersey and ran unsuccessfully for governor of New Jersey. Katzenbach graduated from a private high school and in 1941 enlisted in the Army Air Force. During WORLD WAR II, his bomber was shot down over north Africa, and he became a prisoner of war. He read so many books while a prisoner that following his repatriation in 1944, Princeton University allowed him to graduate two years early. After graduating in 1945, he earned a law degree at Yale Law School. In 1947, Katzenbach was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University in England.

Katzenbach returned to the United States in 1949 and was admitted to the New Jersey bar in 1950. He was briefly an associate in his father's law firm before becoming in 1950 an attorney-adviser in the Office of General Counsel to the Secretary of the Air Force. During this period, Katzenbach first became acquainted with Johnson, then a senator from Texas. In 1952, Katzenbach left Washington, D.C., to teach law at Yale. In 1956, he moved to the University of Chicago Law School as a professor of law.

Attorney General ROBERT F. KENNEDY appointed Katzenbach as assistant attorney general of the Office of Legal Counsel in 1961 and promoted him to deputy attorney general in 1962. Katzenbach soon became a national figure, playing a prominent role in federal desegregation efforts in the South. In October 1962, JAMES H. MEREDITH, an African?American,

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attempted to register for classes at the all-white University of Mississippi, in Oxford. Governor Ross Barnett pledged defiance of a federal court order mandating that Meredith be allowed to register. Katzenbach went to Oxford and directed U.S. MARSHALS to protect Meredith as he registered. Riots erupted, and before federal troops arrived to restore order, Katzenbach ordered the marshals to fire tear gas into the unruly crowds.

In 1963, Alabama Governor GEORGE WALLACE pledged to resist the INTEGRATION of the University of Alabama. Wallace confronted Katzenbach...

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