Twenty-four represents the number of years Millard Tydings served in the United States Senate
Millard Tydings (1890-1961) was a native of Havre de Grace, Maryland, a 1910 alumnus of the Maryland Agricultural College, and one of just two Terps to serve in the upper house of the federal legislature, a surprisingly low total given all of the Maryland grads that have graced the House of Representatives.
Tydings began his public service shortly after leaving school; he was elected to the Maryland General Assembly in 1916 and became speaker of the House of Delegates in 1920. By 1922, he had moved up to the state senate, but that same year, he was elected to Congress as the Representative of Maryland’s 2nd District. He remained in the House of Representatives until 1927, when he became one of Maryland’s senators, a job he would hold for the next quarter century.
Tydings arrived in the Senate just before the Great Depression swept the Republicans from power and inaugurated an unprecedented four-term presidency for Franklin Roosevelt of Tydings’ Democratic Party. Tydings frequently sparred with the administration, however, because his fiscal conservatism led him to reject FDR’s New Deal. His independent thoughtfulness and willingness to buck the party line made Tydings an influential, if somewhat controversial, figure within the Capitol, where he was known as a “Titan” of the Senate. In 1934, he co-sponsored the Tydings-McDuffie Act, which laid the groundwork for the eventual independence of the Philippine Islands. A similar effort he undertook to grant Puerto Rico independence in 1936 was not successful.
As a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, Tydings was called to chair an investigatory subcommittee to substantiate the claims of Senator Joseph McCarthy that Communists loyal to the Soviet Union had infiltrated all levels of the State Department. Despite his famed opposition to the liberals in his own party, Senator Tydings took a principled stand against the Red Scare and McCarthy’s Communist witch hunt, a position that would ultimately prove his undoing. During his 1950 reelection campaign, Tydings’ opponents (assisted by McCarthy himself) smeared the Maryland senator as a red agent and a friend to the American Communist Party. His apparent softness on Communism did not fit the mood of Tydings’ constituents in 1950, and he lost the election to his Republican opponent.
When his old Senate seat was next up for reelection in 1956, Tydings initially entered the fray before withdrawing from the race due to poor health. He died in 1961 at his Oakington home, near Havre de Grace. Millard Tydings was survived by his wife Eleanor and his adopted son Joseph from his wife’s first marriage. Joseph Tydings followed in his father’s footsteps, graduating from the University of Maryland in 1951 and becoming the only other Terrapin to serve in the U.S. Senate when he won a single six-year term in office from 1965 to 1971.
In 1969, Millard Tydings was immortalized by his alma mater when the University of Maryland named its Business and Public Administration building after him. Appropriately enough, today Tydings Hall is home to the Government and Politics department, among others, and you can see some memorabilia relating to the university’s only two U.S. senators within its walls.
For more information about Millard and Joseph Tydings, visit the Maryland Room at Hornbake Library to request materials from the Special Collections and University Archives! You can preview the collections via their respective findings aids: here (for Millard) and here (for Joseph).
(The featured image for this post shows Senator Millard Tydings standing over the left shoulder of President Franklin Roosevelt as he signs the 1934 Tydings-McDuffie Act).
This is a post in our series on Terrapin Tales called UMD123! Similar to our “ABC’s of UMD” series in fall 2015, posts in this series will take a look at the university’s history “by the numbers.” New posts will come out twice a month throughout the summer; on the Terrapin Tales blog, search “UMD123” or use the UMD123 tag. You can also check out Twitter#UMD123. If you want to learn more about campus history, you can also visit our encyclopedia University of Maryland A to Z: MAC to Millennium for more UMD facts.