Scott W. Lucas

Scott Lucas
Senate Majority Leader
In office
January 3, 1949  January 3, 1951
Deputy Francis J. Myers
Preceded by Wallace H. White Jr.
Succeeded by Ernest McFarland
Senate Minority Whip
In office
January 3, 1947  January 3, 1949
Leader Alben W. Barkley
Preceded by Kenneth S. Wherry
Succeeded by Leverett Saltonstall
United States Senator
from Illinois
In office
January 3, 1939  January 3, 1951
Preceded by William H. Dieterich
Succeeded by Everett Dirksen
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 20th district
In office
January 3, 1935  January 3, 1939
Preceded by Henry T. Rainey
Succeeded by James Barnes
Personal details
Born Scott Wike Lucas
(1892-02-19)February 19, 1892
Chandlerville, Illinois, U.S.
Died February 22, 1968(1968-02-22) (aged 76)
Rocky Mount, North Carolina, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Education Illinois Wesleyan University (LLB)
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Battles/wars World War I

Scott Wike Lucas (February 19, 1892 February 22, 1968) was an American attorney and politician. A member of the Democratic Party, he represented Illinois in the U.S. House of Representatives (1935–1939) and the U.S. Senate (1939–1951). He was the Senate Majority Leader from 1948 to 1950.

Early life

Lucas was born on a tenant farm near Chandlerville, in Cass County, Illinois.[1] He was the youngest of six children of William Douglas and Sarah Catherine (née Underbrink) Lucas.[2] His parents named him after Scott Wike, a Democrat who served a representative from Illinois (1875–1877, 1889–1893).[3] After attending public schools, he began his studies at Illinois Wesleyan University.[1] During college, he was active in athletics. He lettered in football, basketball, and baseball and played semiprofessional baseball in the Three-I League during his summer breaks.[3]

Lucas graduated from Wesleyan with a law degree in 1914 and was admitted to the bar the following year.[1] He served as a schoolteacher before entering private practice in Havana.[3] During World War I, he served in the US Army and rose to become a lieutenant.[1]

Lucas returned to his law practice following his military service and served as a state's attorney for Mason County from 1920 to 1925.[4] He also worked as a commander of the Illinois Department of the American Legion.[5] In 1932, he was defeated by William H. Dieterich for the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican incumbent Otis F. Glenn for a United States Senate seat from Illinois.

Lucas was later appointed chairman of State Tax Commission by Governor Henry Horner, serving from 1933 to 1935.[1]


In 1934, following the death of Speaker of the House Henry Thomas Rainey, Lucas was elected to the House of Representatives from Illinois's 20th congressional district.[1] He established himself as a strong supporter of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, working to pass the Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act of 1936 and the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938.[4] However, Lucas disagreed with Roosevelt over the president's court-packing plan, which Lucas denounced as "useless, selfish, and futile."[3]


In 1938, after William Dieterich declined to run for re-election, Lucas was elected to the U.S. Senate over Republican Richard J. Lyons, with a 51%48% victory. He was re-elected in 1944. Lucas was a favorite son candidate and among twelve nominated at the 1944 Democratic National Convention to serve as Franklin D. Roosevelt's running mate in the presidential election that year.[6] With support from Harry Truman, he was elected party whip in 1946. Lucas, a moderate, drew support from both conservative and liberal wings of the party. He took over the Midwest campaign for Truman and was credited with assisting Truman's 1948 re-election and bringing nine Democrats into the Senate. When Alben Barkley became vice-president and resigned his seat, Lucas became majority leader. However, he was unable to build a consensus as Senate Majority Leader with the onset of the anticommunist era, and lost in 1950, to Republican Everett Dirksen. Lucas had become a target of Republican wrath with loss of political power in the Senate and the White House. His 1950 reelection campaign featured the active intervention into Illinois politics of Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy, who traveled the state with Dirksen saying that Senator Lucas was "soft on communism." Dirksen would go on to easily defeat Lucas with a 54% to 46% victory. Privately, in later years, Dirksen attributed his victory to Lucas's focus on not his state but his responsibilities as Senate Majority Leader, and Dirksen was free to campaign locally, often debating Lucas's Illinois Democratic Party proxies and calling attention to Lucas's prolonged absence from the state.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "LUCAS, Scott Wike, (1892 - 1968)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  2. Current Biography Yearbook. New York: H.W. Wilson Company. 1948.
  3. 1 2 3 4 "Senate Leaders: Scott Lucas, The "Paper Majority" Leader". United States Senate.
  4. 1 2 Ryan, James G.; Leonard Schlup (2006). Historical Dictionary of the 1940s. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, Inc.
  5. Deason, Brian. "Scott Wike Lucas, Everett Dirksen, and the 1950 Senate Election in Illinois" (PDF).
  6. Catledge, Turner (1944-07-22). "Truman Nominated for Vice Presidency". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017-10-25.
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Henry T. Rainey
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 20th congressional district

Succeeded by
James Barnes
Party political offices
Preceded by
William H. Dieterich
Democratic nominee for
U.S. Senator from Illinois (Class 3)

1938, 1944, 1950
Succeeded by
Richard Stengel
Preceded by
J. Lister Hill
Senate Democratic Whip
Succeeded by
Francis J. Myers
Preceded by
Alben W. Barkley
Senate Democratic Leader
Succeeded by
Ernest McFarland
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
William H. Dieterich
United States Senator from Illinois (Class 3)
Served alongside: J. Hamilton Lewis, James M. Slattery, Charles W. Brooks, Paul Douglas
Succeeded by
Everett Dirksen
Preceded by
James F. Byrnes
South Carolina
Chair of the Senate Contingent Expenses Committee
Position abolished
Preceded by
Kenneth S. Wherry
Senate Minority Whip
Succeeded by
Leverett Saltonstall
Preceded by
Wallace H. White, Jr.
Senate Majority Leader
Succeeded by
Ernest McFarland
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