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Benjamin Gilman

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Benjamin Gilman
Chair of the House International Relations Committee
In office
January 3, 1995 – January 3, 2001
Preceded byLee H. Hamilton
Succeeded byHenry Hyde
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York
In office
January 3, 1973 – January 3, 2003
Preceded byOgden Reid
Succeeded byJohn E. Sweeney
Constituency26th district (1973–1983)
22nd district (1983–1993)
20th district (1993–2003)
Member of the New York State Assembly from the 95th district
In office
January 1, 1967 – December 31, 1972
Preceded byBenjamin Altman
Succeeded byEugene Levy
Personal details
Benjamin Arthur Gilman

(1922-12-06)December 6, 1922
Poughkeepsie, New York
DiedDecember 17, 2016(2016-12-17) (aged 94)
Wappingers Falls, New York
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Jane Prizant (divorced, 1954–1978; 5 children)
Rita Kelhofer (divorced; 1984–1997)
Georgia Tingus (1997-2016; his death)
Alma materUniversity of Pennsylvania (BS)
New York Law School (LLB)

Benjamin Arthur Gilman (December 6, 1922 – December 17, 2016) was a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from Middletown, New York, from January 3, 1973, to January 3, 2003.

Early life

Gilman was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, the son of Esther (Gold) and Harry Gilman. His parents were Austrian Jewish immigrants.[citation needed] Gilman graduated from Middletown High School in Middletown, New York, in 1941 and received a B.S. from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania in 1946. He also earned an LL.B. from New York Law School. Gilman served in the United States Army Air Corps from 1942 until 1945 during World War II. During that conflict, he flew 35 missions over Japan, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Clusters.[1]

Early career

After graduating New York Law School in 1950, Gilman served as assistant attorney general to the Attorney General of New York from 1953 until 1955. Following this, he practiced law privately in his hometown of Middletown, New York.

Gilman was a member of the New York State Assembly from 1967 to 1972, sitting in the 177th, 178th and 179th New York State Legislatures. He was a member of the New York State Southeastern Water Commission.


Gilman first won election to Congress in 1972 to represent New York's 26th congressional district. New York’s congressional districts had been redrawn in reapportionment, and in the general election Gilman defeated incumbent congressman John G. Dow, a Democrat who had been serving in New York's 27th congressional district, (which included most of the territory and population of the new 26th district). Gilman subsequently served in Congress from January 3, 1973, until January 3, 2003. During his time in Congress, he was chair of the House Committee on International Relations (104th through 106th Congresses).

He was widely regarded as a moderate Republican in the mold of New York’s Nelson Rockefeller[2] He was active on foreign affairs issues, serving as a Congressional delegate to the United Nations, serving under Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick in 1981. He was a Member of the Ukraine Famine Commission, a member of the U.S., European, Canadian and Mexican Interparliamentary conferences, and a Congressional Advisor to the U.N. Law of the Sea Conference. He was co-chair of the Committee on Irish Affairs and participated on the International Task Force on Narcotics. He was a recipient of the Secretary's Distinguished Service Award, a gold medal and certificate which represents the highest civilian honor bestowed by the State Department.

Throughout his years in Congress, he was a member of the House Post Office and Civil Service Committee, the name of which evolved into the Government Reform and Oversight Committee in the 1990s. As a co-founder of the House Select Committee on Narcotics, he served as a senior member on that Committee (1977–1989) and continued to serve as a member until the Committee was abolished in 1993.

During the 1970s, Gilman became closely identified with the issue of Prisoners of War and Missing in Action in Southeast Asia. He served on the Select Congressional Committee on that problem, and was one of only two Members of Congress to vote in opposition to closing the book on the POW/MIA situation.

He also became involved with World hunger in the 1970s, authoring the legislation creating a presidential Commission Against Hunger, to which he was subsequently appointed by President Jimmy Carter.

As the chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, from 1995 to 2002, Congressman Gilman consistently advocated stronger ties with India[3][4] , as a counterweight against Chinese influence in the region, particularly in Pakistan. During the Kargil War against Pakistan, he urged American lawmakers to pressure the Pakistani government to withdraw from the conflict, stating that he held Pakistan solely responsible for the conflict.[5] During a Hearing on the Status of Negotiations between China and Tibet in April 2000, Congressman Gilman said, “The Tibetan cause enjoys the global support that it does because it is a courageous attempt by a Nation and a people who are trying to regain what is rightfully theirs by throwing off the repression of colonization. It is in the interest of international stability to have Tibet once again serve as it had for 2000 years as a buffer zone strategically placed between India and China.”[6] In recognition of his contribution to furthering U.S. ties with India, he was awarded that country's second highest civilian honor, the Padma Vibhushan, in 2001.[7] He is one of only 12 foreigners, and one of only 3 Americans not of Indian origin, to have received the award. In his later years in Congress, Gilman was a vociferous and frequent critic of President Bill Clinton, particularly on matters related to American foreign policy.[8]

Congressman Gilman helped gain passage of the International Academic Opportunity Act of 2000, establishing exchange programs for American students to study abroad. Named after Gilman is the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, a program for Pell Grant eligible American college students to study or intern abroad administered by the United States Department of State.[9]

Study abroad is a special experience for every student who participates. Living and learning in a vastly different environment of another nation not only exposes our students to alternate views, but also adds an enriching social and cultural experience. It also provides our students with the opportunity to return home with a deeper understanding of their place in the world, encouraging them to be a contributor, rather than a spectator in the international community.

— Benjamin A. Gilman


Congressman Gilman retired from Congress in 2003 after New York's 20th congressional district, which he had represented, was broken up and dispersed among the 17th, 18th, 19th and 22nd Congressional Districts in the redistricting that followed the 2000 census and reapportionment. At the time of his retirement, Gilman was the oldest sitting representative in the U.S. House (in all of Congress, only Senators Strom Thurmond and Robert Byrd were older). He was the senior Republican representing New York, and the second-most senior Member from New York overall behind only Charles B. Rangel. In 2003, following his retirement from Congress, the Dalai Lama bestowed upon Congressman Gilman the International Campaign for Tibet's Light of Truth Award.[11]

On March 28, 2008, Gilman participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Gilman Center for International Education in his hometown of Middletown, New York, on the campus of SUNY Orange, also known as Orange County Community College. This modern new facility for international studies is expected to attract students from throughout the world, and houses Gilman's public papers from throughout his 36 years in elective office. Various photographs and memorabilia from throughout his career are on display.

On Jun 14, 2011, Gilman was awarded the Top Honor Prize, and recognized by the World Peace Prize Awarding Council for being a lifelong champion of human rights: fighting world hunger, narcotic abuse and trafficking.[12]

Personal life

Gilman was married three times: to the former Jane Prizant (1927–2000), a lawyer and daughter of a well-known actor of the Yiddish theater (Hyman Prizant), to Rita Kelhofer, and to Georgia Tingus. His children (from the first marriage) were Jonathan Gilman, Susan Gilman-Harts, Harrison Gilman, David Gilman (deceased) and Ellen Gilman (deceased). Subsequent to his retirement, he continued to live in Middletown, his home in the Hudson Valley district that he represented.


Gilman died on December 17, 2016, at the Castle Point Veteran's Hospital in Fishkill (town), New York from surgical complications, eleven days after his 94th birthday.[13] He was survived by his third wife, Georgia, by three of his five children: sons Jonathan and Harrison, and daughter Susan. He is also survived by a stepdaughter, Nicole Pappas, and a stepson, Peter Tingus. He was survived by eleven grandchildren. A daughter, Ellen, and a son, David, both predeceased him.[14]

See also


  1. ^ Beloved Former Congressman Benjamin Gilman Dies at 94, by Jane Anderson. Hudson Valley Magazine.
  2. ^ "Gilman obituary in New York Times".
  3. ^ "Congressman Benjamin Gilman, friend of Tibet passes away | International Campaign for Tibet". 2017-04-18. Archived from the original on 2017-04-18. Retrieved 2017-07-04.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  4. ^ Haniffa, Aziz (2001-07-18). "Lawmaker Slams Pak, China". Archived from the original on 2008-07-26. Retrieved 2009-02-02.
  5. ^ Gilman, Benjamin; Gejdenson, Sam (1999-06-21). "Letter on Kargil Situation". Archived from the original on 2000-12-13. Retrieved 2009-02-03.
  6. ^ "Congressman Benjamin Gilman, friend of Tibet passes away | International Campaign for Tibet". 2017-04-18. Archived from the original on 2017-04-18. Retrieved 2017-07-04.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  7. ^ "Ministry of Home Affairs: Padma Awards". Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2001-01-26. Archived from the original on 2012-02-14. Retrieved 2009-02-02.
  8. ^ "Gilman obituary in New York Times".
  9. ^ "Program Overview". Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  10. ^ "Program Overview". Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  11. ^ "Congressman Benjamin Gilman, friend of Tibet passes away | International Campaign for Tibet". 2017-04-18. Archived from the original on 2017-04-18. Retrieved 2017-07-04.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  12. ^ "World Peace Prize". Archived from the original on 2015-01-03. Retrieved 2017-11-19.
  13. ^ "Former Congressman Gilman dies". Mid-Hudson News Network. December 17, 2016. Archived from the original on 29 December 2016. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
  14. ^ Fried, Joseph P. (December 18, 2016). "Benjamin Gilman, a New York Congressman for 30 Years, Dies at 94". New York Times. p. A29. Archived from the original on 26 January 2018. Retrieved 18 December 2016.

External links

New York State Assembly
Preceded by
Benjamin Altman
New York State Assembly
95th District

Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by
Chairman of the House International Relations Committee
Succeeded by
Henry Hyde
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 26th congressional district

Succeeded by
Preceded by
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 22nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Preceded by
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 20th congressional district

Succeeded by
This page was last edited on 12 October 2021, at 08:37
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