Remembering Lee Metcalf

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Montana's Lee Metcalf was an extraordinary Montana leader with an unbelievable record of accomplishment fighting for the little people against the forces of economic and political power. The public memory is so short that this film will serve to help reacquaint Lee & Donna Metcalf to most of those who were around during their time. But it will also provide an opportunity for new generations to receive a perspective of an important leader from an important time. (Language from YouTube version of the film, written and provided by Executive Producer Evan Barrett)

Lee Warren Metcalf (January 28, 1911 – January 12, 1978) was an American lawyer, judge, and politician. A member of the Democratic Party, he served as a U.S. Representative (1953–1961) and a U.S. Senator (1961–1978) from Montana. He was permanent acting President pro tempore of the Senate, the only person to hold that position, from 1963 until his death in 1978.

U.S. House of Representatives

During his tenure in the House, Metcalf served on the Education and Labor Committee (1953–1959), Interior and Insular Affairs Committee (1955–1959), Select Astronautics and Space Exploration Committee (1958), and Ways and Means Committee (1959–1960). He became known as one of Congress's "Young Turks" who promoted liberal domestic social legislation and reform of congressional procedures. He introduced legislation to provide health care to the elderly ten years before the creation of Medicare. He earned the nickname "Mr. Education" after sponsoring a comprehensive bill providing for federal aid to education. He also voted against legislation that would have raised grazing permits on federal lands, and led the opposition to a bill that would have swapped forested public lands for cutover private lands. He was elected chairman of the Democratic Study Group in 1959.

U. S. Senate

Regarded as "a pioneer of the conservation movement", Metcalf worked to protect the natural environment and regulate utilities. He helped pass the Wilderness Act of 1964, and supported the creation of the Great Bear Wilderness and the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness. In 1962, he introduced a "Save Our Streams" bill to preserve natural recreation facilities and protect fish and wildlife from being destroyed by highway construction. He was a longtime member of the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission. He was also active on the issue of education. He was a leading supporter of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the effort to extend the G.I. Bill's educational benefits to a new generation of veterans, and the development of legislation to improve federally-aided vocational education.[1] The Peace Corps was established under leadership of Metcalf and Senator Mansfield. In 1983, by act of Congress, the Lee Metcalf Wilderness area was created in southwestern Montana in honor of the late Congressman. The Great Bear Wilderness and Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness areas were also created as a result of Metcalf's efforts in Congress, in addition to the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge in Montana. Metcalf was ranked number 15 on a list of the 100 Most Influential Montanans of the Century by the Missoulian newspaper.

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Copyright by Evan Barrett, Daphne Weisbart, and Michael Fenebock, 1996.

Mp4 version of video available in Montana Tech Library. Contact (406) 496-4668