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William E. Miller

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

William E. Miller
Miller c. 1964
44th Chair of the Republican National Committee
In office
June 2, 1961 – June 15, 1964
Preceded byThruston Morton
Succeeded byDean Burch
11th Chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee
In office
Preceded byRichard M. Simpson
Succeeded byBob Wilson
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from New York
In office
January 3, 1951 – January 3, 1965
Preceded byWilliam L. Pfeiffer
Succeeded byHenry P. Smith III
Constituency42nd district (1951–1953)
40th district (1953–1965)
District Attorney of Niagara County, New York
In office
Preceded byJohn S. Marsh
Succeeded byJack E. Gellman[1]
Personal details
William Edward Miller

(1914-03-22)March 22, 1914
Lockport, New York, U.S.
DiedJune 24, 1983(1983-06-24) (aged 69)
Buffalo, New York, U.S.
Resting placeArlington National Cemetery
Political partyRepublican
Stephanie Wagner
(m. 1943)
Children4, including Stephanie
EducationUniversity of Notre Dame (BA)
Albany Law School (LLB)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1942–1946
RankFirst Lieutenant
UnitJudge Advocate General's Corps
Battles/warsWorld War II

William Edward Miller (March 22, 1914 – June 24, 1983) was an American politician who served in the United States House of Representatives from New York as a Republican. During the 1964 presidential election, he was the Republican nominee for vice president, the first Catholic nominated for the office by the Republican Party.

A native of Lockport, New York, Miller graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1935, and from Albany Law School in 1938, afterwards becoming an attorney in Lockport. In 1942, he was appointed a commissioner for the U.S. District Court in Buffalo, New York. Miller served in the United States Army during World War II – first as a member of an intelligence unit in Richmond, Virginia, and then as a prosecutor of Nazi war criminals during the Nuremberg trials.

Miller was an assistant district attorney in Niagara County, New York, from 1946 to 1948. In January 1948, the district attorney's position became vacant, and the governor of New York appointed Miller. Miller was elected to a full term later that year, and served as district attorney until January 1951, when he resigned.

In 1950, Miller was a successful Republican candidate for the United States House of Representatives. He was re-elected six times, and served from January 1951 until January 1965. In 1960, he was selected to lead the National Republican Congressional Committee, and led Republicans to gain more than 20 seats in that year's elections. In 1961, he became chairman of the Republican National Committee, a position he used to advocate for the party to become more conservative. In 1964, Miller was selected as the Republican nominee for vice president. The ticket of Senator Barry Goldwater and Miller for vice president lost to the Democratic nominees, President Lyndon Johnson and Senator Hubert Humphrey.

After leaving Congress, Miller resumed practicing law in Lockport. He died in Buffalo on June 24, 1983, and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

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Early life and education

William Edward Miller was born in Lockport, New York on March 22, 1914, a son of Elizabeth Hinch and Edward J. Miller.[2][3] He attended the parochial schools of Lockport, and graduated from Lockport High School in 1931.[4] Miller attended the University of Notre Dame, where he graduated with a B.A. in 1935, and Albany Law School, from which he graduated with an LL.B. in 1938.[5] He was admitted to the bar in 1938, and practiced in Lockport.[6] In 1942, Miller was appointed a commissioner for the U.S. District Court in Buffalo.[5]


Military service

Miller enlisted in the United States Army on July 1, 1942, and received training in the Military Intelligence branch.[7] After serving with an Intelligence unit in Richmond, Virginia, in May 1945, Miller received his commission as a first lieutenant and was assigned to the War Criminals Branch of the War Department staff.[5] In August 1945, he was assigned as assistant prosecutor of Nazi war criminals during the Nuremberg trials.[5] Miller was discharged in March 1946, and returned to Lockport.[5]


District attorney

Miller served as an assistant district attorney of Niagara County, New York from 1946 to 1948.[6] Governor Thomas E. Dewey appointed Miller to fill a vacancy as district attorney in January 1948, and Miller won election to a full term in November.[6] He served until resigning in January 1951 as he prepared to assume his seat in Congress.[8]


In August 1950, Miller won the Republican nomination in New York's 42nd Congressional district after defeating Melvin L. Payne and James W. Heary in a primary.[9] He won the general election in November by defeating the Democratic nominee, Mary Louise Nice.[10]

After redistricting placed Miller in New York's 40th Congressional District, he was easily reelected every two years from 1952 to 1962.[11] He rose through seniority to become the second-ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, and received credit for two major pieces of legislation.[12] The first was a compromise on the development of Niagara Falls hydroelectric power, and the second was a law authorizing construction of a new Lake ErieLake Ontario canal east of the Niagara River.[7][13] Miller voted in favor of the Civil Rights Acts of 1957,[14] 1960,[15] and 1964,[16] as well as the 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.[17]

Miller became influential with respect to the internal workings of the House.[7] In 1959, he took part in the Republican caucus' action to replace Minority Leader (and former Speaker) Joseph W. Martin Jr. with Charles Halleck.[7] Republicans had lost House seats in the 1958 election, and decided to replace the moderate Martin with the more conservative Halleck.[7] In 1960, Miller won election as head of the National Republican Congressional Committee.[6] In the November election, the party gained 22 House seats, an achievement that was notable because it occurred as Republicans were losing the presidential election.[6]

Republican National Committee

Miller's success with the 1960 House elections led to his selection as head of the Republican National Committee.[7] He served from 1961 to 1964, and advocated for the party to become more conservative, including tacitly supporting Goldwater for the 1964 presidential nomination.[7]

As chairman, Miller oversaw the party's efforts during the 1962 Congressional elections.[18] Though Republicans lost five seats in the Senate, they gained four in the House.[18] In addition, Democratic candidates in several races throughout the South experienced tougher than expected races, indicating that the domination the Democrats had enjoyed regionally since the Civil War was in peril.[18] These included the moderate-to-liberal Senator J. Lister Hill of Alabama, who defeated business Republican businessman James D. Martin by just 50.9 percent to 49.1.[19] Martin's strong showing demonstrated his viability as a candidate, and in 1964 he was elected to the U.S. House.[20]

In the early 1960s, leading Republicans including Miller and Senator Barry Goldwater began advocating for a plan they called the Southern Strategy, an effort to make Republican gains in the Solid South, which had been pro-Democratic since the American Civil War.[21][22] Under the Southern Strategy, Republicans would continue an earlier effort to make inroads in the South, Operation Dixie, by ending attempts to appeal to African American voters in the Northern states, and instead appeal to white conservative voters in the South.[23] As documented by reporters and columnists including Joseph Alsop and Arthur Krock, on the surface the Southern Strategy would appeal to white voters in the South by advocating against the New Frontier programs of President John F. Kennedy and in favor of a smaller federal government and states' rights, while less publicly arguing against the Civil Rights movement and in favor of continued racial segregation.[22][24][25][26]

Miller concurred with Goldwater, and backed the Southern Strategy, including holding private meetings of the RNC and other key Republican leaders in late 1962 and early 1963 so they could decide whether to implement it.[27] Overruling the moderate and liberal wings of the party, its leadership decided to pursue the Southern Strategy for the 1964 elections and beyond.[28]

Vice presidential candidate

Miller speaking in Tallahassee in 1964.

After winning the Republican presidential nomination, Goldwater chose Miller to be his running mate.[6] In Goldwater's telling, he picked Miller because "he drives Johnson nuts" with his Republican activism.[29] But by some other accounts, Johnson "was barely aware of Miller's existence."[29] Miller's Eastern roots and Catholic faith balanced the ticket in some ways, but ideologically he was conservative like Goldwater.[29] His relative obscurity—"he was better known for snipes at President Kennedy than for anything else"—gave birth to the refrain "Here's a riddle, it's a killer / Who the hell is William Miller?"[29]

In the general election, incumbent Lyndon Johnson won a landslide victory. The Goldwater/Miller ticket carried only six states - Goldwater's home state of Arizona, plus Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and South Carolina.[30] Despite the defeat, the ticket's inroads into the previously Solid South were seen as an indication that the Southern Strategy was viable, and Republicans continued to pursue it in subsequent campaigns.[28]

Later life

Following the defeat of the Goldwater–Miller ticket, Miller returned to his hometown of Lockport, New York, where he resumed his law practice.[6] He also appeared in one of the first "Do you know me?" commercials for American Express.[31] Mark Z. Barabak later wrote in the Los Angeles Times that by the time he died, Miller was "better known for his advertising appearance than his years in Congress."[32]

He participated in an interview in 1979 in which he stated that he did not miss politics as he had "had such a saturation of it in my life".[33]

On June 5, 1983, he was admitted to Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital in Williamsville, New York, for diagnostic tests.[34] He suffered a stroke in mid-June and died in Buffalo, New York, on June 24, 1983.[34] Miller was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.[6][35] In noting Miller's passing, Goldwater stated "he was one of the greatest men I have ever known and I feel his loss very deeply".[36]

Personal life

Miller and his wife, Stephanie (Wagner) (1923–2023) were the parents of three daughters and a son.[6] Their youngest daughter, Stephanie Miller, was a stand-up comedian in the 1980s, and CNBC late night TV host in the 1990s. Since 2004 she has hosted a nationally syndicated politically liberal radio talk show based in Los Angeles.[6] Their son, William E. Miller Jr., was the unsuccessful 1992 and 1994 Republican nominee in New York's 29th congressional district.[37]

Electoral history

William E. Miller electoral history
1950 New York Forty Second Congressional District election[38]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican William E. Miller 75,377 58.57% +7.52%
Democratic Mary Louise Nice 53,310 41.43% -5.21%
Total votes '128,687' '100.00%'
1952 New York Fortieth Congressional District election[39]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican William E. Miller (incumbent) 102,565 59.64% +1.07%
Democratic E. Dent Lackey 69,087 40.17% -1.26%
American Labor John Touralchuk 329 0.19% +0.19%
Total votes '171,981' '100.00%'
1954 New York Fortieth Congressional District election[40]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican William E. Miller (incumbent) 77,016 60.92% +1.28%
Democratic Mariano A. Lucca 46,956 37.14% -3.03%
Liberal Louis Longo 2,233 1.77% +1.77%
American Labor Nick Curtis 222 0.18% -0.01%
Total votes '126,427' '100.00%'
1956 New York Fortieth Congressional District election[41]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican William E. Miller (incumbent) 117,051 64.34% +3.42%
Democratic A. Thorne Hills 64,872 35.66% -1.48%
Total votes '181,923' '100.00%'
1958 New York Fortieth Congressional District election[42]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican William E. Miller (incumbent) 90,066 60.80% -3.54%
Democratic Mariano A. Lucca 54,728 36.94% +1.28%
Liberal Helen J. Di Pota 3,354 2.26% +2.26%
Total votes '148,148' '100.00%'
1960 New York Fortieth Congressional District election[43]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican William E. Miller (incumbent) 104,752 53.62% -7.18%
Democratic Mariano A. Lucca 85,005 43.51% +6.57%
Liberal Albert J. Taylor 5,621 2.88% +0.62%
Total votes '195,378' '100.00%'
1962 New York Fortieth Congressional District Republican primary[44]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican William E. Miller (incumbent) 21,579 76.49%
Republican Donald C. Chaplin 6,633 23.51%
Total votes '28,212' '100.00%'
1962 New York Fortieth Congressional District election[45]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican William E. Miller (incumbent) 72,706 52.04% -1.58%
Democratic E. Dent Lackey 67,004 47.96% +4.45%
Total votes '139,710' '100.00%'

See also


  1. ^ "Appointed DA". The Daily Messenger. December 21, 1950. p. 1. Archived from the original on February 27, 2020 – via
  2. ^ "Fighter for His Party; William Edward Miller". The New York Times. January 22, 1960. Archived from the original on July 23, 2018. Retrieved July 23, 2018.
  3. ^ "Bill Miller: The Man Who Wanted to be Vice Presidenet by Libby Miller Fitzgerald, Notre Dame Magazine Online - University of Notre Dame". Archived from the original on December 12, 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-12.
  4. ^ U.S. Congress Joint Committee on Printing (1951). Official Congressional Directory of the 82d Congress. Washington, D. C.: US Government Printing Office. pp. 94–95 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ a b c d e U.S. House of Representatives (2006). A History of the Committee on the Judiciary, 1813-2006. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office. p. 540. ISBN 9780160845789.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j McGill, Douglas C. (25 June 1983). "Ex-Rep. William Miller, 69, Dies; Goldwater's 1964 Running Mate". The New York Times. New York, NY. p. 14. Archived from the original on 2018-09-04. Retrieved 2018-06-04.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Weaver, Warren Jr (September 6, 1964). "Miller Spurned the Usual Road to Political Advancement". The New York Times. New York, NY – via Times Machine.
  8. ^ "Appointed DA". Daily Messenger. Canandaigua, NY. Associated Press. December 21, 1950. p. 1 – via
  9. ^ "3-Way GOP Battle". Democrat and Chronicle. August 22, 1950. p. 1. Archived from the original on February 27, 2020 – via
  10. ^ Buffalo News Staff (November 16, 1993). "Mary Louise Nice, Twice Ran for Congress". The Buffalo News. Buffalo, NY.
  11. ^ United States Congress (1971). Biographical Directory of the American Congress 1774–1971. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office. p. 1413 – via Google Books.
  12. ^ US House Committee on Printing (1964). Part II, District of Columbia Code, "Judiciary and Judicial Procedure, Effective January 1, 1964. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office. p. II – via Google Books.
  13. ^ US House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Public Works Appropriations (1961). Public Works Appropriations for 1963. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office. p. 921 – via Google Books.
  14. ^ "HR 6127. CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1957". Archived from the original on 2019-10-20. Retrieved 2020-01-07.
  15. ^ "HR 8601. PASSAGE". Archived from the original on 2020-01-03. Retrieved 2020-01-07.
  16. ^ "H.R. 7152. PASSAGE". Archived from the original on 2020-02-21. Retrieved 2020-01-07.
  17. ^ "S.J. Res. 29. Constitutional Amendment to Ban the Use of Poll Tax as a Requirement for Voting in Federal Elections".
  18. ^ a b c Schwengel, Rep. Fred (May 23, 1963). "Extension of Remarks: Republicans Have the Best Candidates in Years". Congressional Record. Vol. 109, Part 7. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office. p. 9402 – via Google Books.
  19. ^ Grantham, Dewey W. (1994). The South in Modern America. Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Press. p. 245. ISBN 978-1-5572-8710-6 – via Google Books.
  20. ^ Roberts, Sam (October 31, 2017). "James Martin, Who Spurred G.O.P. Gains in the South, Dies at 99". The New York Times. New York, NY. p. B14.
  21. ^ "GOP Officials Map Southern Strategy". Alabama Journal. Montgomery, AL. United Press International. November 17, 1961. p. 9A – via
  22. ^ a b Alsop, Joseph (November 14, 1962). "'Southern Strategy': GOP Gains in Dixie May Alter Shape of Politics". The Birmingham News. Birmingham, AL. p. 10 – via
  23. ^ Bell, Jack (December 7, 1962). "G.O.P. Pledges Drive for South Congressional Seats". The Gazette. Cedar Rapids, IA. Associated Press. p. 3 – via
  24. ^ Krock, Arthur (March 27, 1963). "New York Times News Service: Go South, Young GOP Writers Advise". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Fort Worth, TX. p. 6 – via
  25. ^ Esposito, Joseph L. (2012). Pragmatism, Politics, and Perversity: Democracy and the American Party Battle. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. pp. 143–144. ISBN 978-0-7391-7363-3 – via Google Books.
  26. ^ Reinhard, David W. (1983). The Republican Right Since 1945. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky. pp. 168–170. ISBN 978-0-8131-6440-3 – via Google Books.
  27. ^ Evans, Rowland; Novak, Robert (January 14, 1964). "'Goldwater Can't Win' Battle Cry Launches Drive to Stop Senator". The Oklahoman. Oklahoma City, OK. p. 10 – via
  28. ^ a b Evans, Rowland; Novak, Robert (January 20, 1965). "'Southern Strategy' Still Swaying Republican Leaders". The Tampa Tribune. Tampa, FL. p. 4B – via
  29. ^ a b c d Perlstein, Rick (2002). Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus. p. 389. ISBN 9780786744152 – via Google Books.
  30. ^ "1964 Presidential Election". 270 to Atlanta, GA: Electoral Ventures LLC. Retrieved May 22, 2020.
  31. ^ Guess Who? Archived 2011-01-22 at the Wayback Machine, Time (Feb. 17, 1975)
  32. ^ Barabak, Mark Z. (20 June 2016). "Ticket to the White House or political oblivion? The challenge for Donald Trump as he seeks a running mate". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 20 June 2016. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  33. ^ "Goldwater to give Miller eulogy". The Journal News. June 26, 1983. p. 41. Archived from the original on February 27, 2020 – via
  34. ^ a b "'64 GOP vice-presidential candidate, William E. Miller, 69, dies in Buffalo". Poughkeepsie Journal. June 25, 1983. p. 10. Archived from the original on February 27, 2020 – via
  35. ^ Burial Detail: Miller, William E (section 5, grave 93) – ANC Explorer
  36. ^ "Veep candidate dies at 69". The Post-Star. June 25, 1983. p. 3. Archived from the original on February 27, 2020 – via
  37. ^ Lawrence Kestenbaum. "The Political Graveyard: Index to Politicians: Miller, U to Z". Archived from the original on 11 May 2016. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  38. ^ "NY District 42 1950". May 22, 2010. Archived from the original on June 3, 2016. Retrieved February 27, 2020.
  39. ^ "NY District 40 1952". December 6, 2007. Archived from the original on June 3, 2016. Retrieved February 27, 2020.
  40. ^ "NY District 40 1954". November 27, 2007. Archived from the original on June 3, 2016. Retrieved February 27, 2020.
  41. ^ "NY District 40 1956". November 16, 2007. Archived from the original on June 3, 2016. Retrieved February 27, 2020.
  42. ^ "NY District 40 1958". November 10, 2007. Archived from the original on June 3, 2016. Retrieved February 27, 2020.
  43. ^ "NY District 40 1960". March 9, 2011. Archived from the original on June 3, 2016. Retrieved February 27, 2020.
  44. ^ "NY District 40 1962 Republican primary". January 10, 2015. Archived from the original on March 13, 2016. Retrieved February 27, 2020.
  45. ^ "NY District 40 1962". March 8, 2011. Archived from the original on June 3, 2016. Retrieved February 27, 2020.

External links

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 42nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 40th congressional district

Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Chair of the Republican National Committee
Succeeded by
Preceded by Republican nominee for Vice President of the United States
Succeeded by
This page was last edited on 21 November 2023, at 16:20
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