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Senator Theodore Green (D-RI) and RI history

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  • Ram Lau
    http://www.tfgreenparking.com/ T.F. Green Airport History THEODORE FRANCIS GREEN By 1930, the Republican Party had dominated the Rhode Island General Assembly
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 19, 2007
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      T.F. Green Airport History


      By 1930, the Republican Party had dominated the Rhode Island General
      Assembly for decades.

      A majority of the general population were Democrats. But the old state
      constitution allowed each town just one legislative delegate.

      In 1934, a close election gave the Democrats a golden opportunity.
      They challenged the election of two Republicans, thereby leaving a
      balance of both parties in the Senate.

      That meant that the lieutenant governor, a Democrat, would cast any
      tie-breaking votes.

      In a matter of hours, the Legislature passed dozens of bills that
      abolished commissions and agencies, re-organized state government and
      replaced all five justices of the state Supreme Court.

      "Because these people would be the ones who would have to rule upon
      the legitimacy of all of these things, and if it was a Republican
      Supreme Court, they would then declare all the things the Democrats
      were doing unconstitutional. But because the Rhode Island state
      constitution said that the justices serve at the pleasure of the
      General Assembly, they just wiped them out and replaced them," J.
      Stanley Lemons, a history professor, explained.

      A record of these events, written by an eyewitness and only recently
      made available to the public, captures the mood of the times.

      "The five Republican judges had received special invitations to attend
      the inaugural exercises. Aware of their execution on the political
      guillotine, they begged to be excused from attendance," the account read.

      "I would call it a revolution. I suppose some Republicans would call
      it a coup d'etat," Lemons said. "It's a revolution. It actually shifts
      the power in the state clearly from the Republicans to the Democrats."

      The central figure in what became known as "The Bloodless Revolution"
      of 1935 was Gov. Theodore Francis Green.

      Gov. Green seemed destined to make history in Rhode Island.

      Born in 1867 to a family with roots deep in the American Revolution,
      he taught Roman law at his alma mater, Brown University.

      In the Spanish-American War, Green received a lieutenant's commission
      and commanded a provisional company of infantry.

      Careful investment and a frugal lifestyle made him a wealthy man.

      Green made several unsuccessful runs for public office before being
      elected governor of Rhode Island in 1932 at the age of 65.

      He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1936, where he began a long and
      distinguished career.

      "He was a real nice man to work for. He never got upset. He was very
      appreciative of everything you did for him. If you went down at
      lunchtime and brought him back a cup of tea or something like that, he
      was very appreciative," recalled Helen Maroney, Green's secretary.

      Green was a staunch supporter of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the
      programs known as "The New Deal" that he championed.

      Green, who spoke five languages, was a member of the Foreign Relations
      Committee, serving as its chairman in 1957.

      He was appointed to special missions for both the United Nations and NATO.

      A millionaire and a descendent of one of the state's oldest
      established Yankee families, he was a staunch supporter of the working

      And the senator wasn't afraid to voice criticism of what he thought
      was a conservative bias in the nation's newspapers.

      "Ninety-five percent, it's been estimated, of the newspapers of the
      country are Republican, anti-Democrat, anti-administration," Green
      once said.

      In 1956, he became the oldest Senator to hold office in the history of
      the nation.

      Constituents, friends and relatives were always impressed with his
      grace, kindness and dignity.

      "I knew him until I was about 14. I remember him as someone who hosted
      our Christmas dinners every year. He showed interest in all of us.
      There was always three generations there," Theodore Francis Green II,
      a grand nephew, said. "My earliest memories of him are of his gold
      pocket watch, which I would consistently ask him to remove from his
      pocket and chime off the hours and quarter hours. He was nice enough
      to remember me in his estate by willing that watch to me."

      Committed to maintaining his health, Green felt that walking was the
      best exercise.

      Maroney remembers him walking five miles a day to work.

      Green was always the consummate gentleman. But he knew how to handle
      the rough and tumble of politics.

      Those who underestimated this tireless public servant did so at their
      own peril.

      Eventually, time caught up with this remarkable man. In 1961, Sen.
      Green announced that he would not seek another term.

      He remained active after he returned to Rhode Island. Drawing on his
      years of experience, he volunteered to help the state celebrate its
      325th anniversary.

      His long record of public service had made him a beloved figure to the
      people of the state.

      It was a sad day in Rhode Island when the news broke that this gentle,
      intelligent and gifted statesman had passed away.

      Theodore Francis Green died at the age of 98. His funeral was attended
      by hundreds of mourners from all walks of life.
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