Clarence Dill: the life of a western politician
Irish, Kerry E., 1954-
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Clarence Dill was a Democratic congressman and senator from Washington in the early twentieth century. This work's primary thesis is that Dill was a typical Westerner in that he valued progress which he defined as the building of the West and the improvement of life for its inhabitants. Moreover, this dissertation, following Bernard Devoto rather than Frederick Turner, develops the argument that the building of the West is best explained as a result of cooperation rather than individualism.Dill was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1914. While there he was instrumental in opening the Colville Indian Reservation to white settlement. He voted against American entry into W.W.I and was defeated for reelection in 1918.Dill made a political comeback in 1922 when he defeated Senator Miles Poindexter's bid for reelection. In the twenties Dill became the Senate's expert on radio legislation and guided the development of American communication's law along a middle course: government regulation of communications as opposed to government ownership or private monopoly.The senator had long been an advocate of public power and dreamed of building Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River. Believing Franklin Roosevelt would support such a project, Dill campaigned for FDR in 1932. As it turned out Dill was the key figure in persuading Roosevelt to build the dam in 1933.In 1934 Dill spearheaded FDR's effort at a comprehensive communications bill along with Representative Sam Rayburn. Radio's business leaders considered Dill's version of the bill to be an unacceptable extension of government regulation into private business and thus strenuously opposed it. Ultimately Dill was forced to accept the more passive House version.Dill retired from the Senate in 1935 primarily due to marital difficulties. From 1935 into the 1960's he supported himself as a Spokane attorney specializing in radio law and public power disputes. He also agitated for construction of Columbia River storage dams in Canada which would maximize the power production of the dams downstream. The dams, approved in 1964, collect flood waters for use in the dry season. Clarence Dill died in Spokane in 1978.
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