Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Hale Boggs, United States Representative from the Second Congressional District of Louisiana, served most of his years in Congress as part of the Democratic leadership, eventually becoming majority leader. He was often called on to speak on behalf of Democratic policies and proposals. At the same time, he was one of the most influential and powerful southerners in the House. This study deals with Boggs attempts to bring about reconciliation and compromise between southern Democrats and other Democrats in the House of Representatives, and to bring about reconciliation and compromise between Democrats and Republicans in the House. Eight speeches are studied which provide evidence of Boggs' efforts to assume these roles on the floor of the House. Many of the ideas which motivated him are expressed as central themes in the speeches dealt with. Analysis of the speeches centers on the situation in which they were delivered. Characteristics such as the nature of the speech (organization, themes, supporting material, etc.) and the use of language in the speech are viewed in context of the specific speech occasion. This analysis produced several conclusions. First, Boggs really did serve as reconciler and compromiser in many instances. He was in tune with the mood and make-up of the House, and was able to find common chords among members of disparate groups. Second, Boggs' attempt to develop the image of reconciler and compromiser was at least partly fostered by personal ambition. Third, Boggs was especially adept at using a speech which appeared to be for a particular purpose as a vehicle for achieving another, less explicit purpose. Fourth, Boggs' speeches are especially useful as examples of attitudes and ideas which reflect the political and social times in which they occurred. Boggs appears to have seen his involvement with the national Democratic party always as uniquely southern, and his view of southern politics always as uniquely Democratic. He was not willing to give up his southerness or his national perspective. Essentially, this study reveals how Boggs used these attitudes in speeches to influence fellow congressmen in the House of Representatives.