About Irving McNeil Ives
Irving McNeil Ives (January 24, 1896 – February 24, 1962) was an American politician. A member of the Republican Party, he served as a United States Senator from New York from 1947 to 1959. He was previously a member of the New York State Assembly for sixteen years, serving as Minority Leader (1935), Speaker (1936), and Majority Leader (1937-1946). A moderate Republican, he was known as a specialist in labor and civil rights legislation.
Early life and education
Irving Ives was born in Bainbridge, New York, to George Albert and Lucie Hough (née Keeler) Ives. His ancestors came from England to the United States, where they settled in Boston, Massachusetts in 1635; they later helped found Quinnipiac Colony in 1638, and lived in Vermont before moving to New York in 1795. His father worked in the coal and feed business. He received his early education at public schools in Bainbridge and Oneonta, graduating from Oneonta High School in 1914.
Ives attended Hamilton College for two years before enlisting in the U.S. Army following the entry of the United States into World War I in 1917. During the war, he served with the American Expeditionary Forces in France and Germany, participating in the Meuse-Argonne and Saint-Mihiel campaigns. He was honorably discharged as a first lieutenant of the Infantry at the war's end in 1919. He then resumed his studies at Hamilton, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1920 and graduated as a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society.
Ives worked as a bank clerk for Guaranty Trust Company in New York City from 1920 to 1923, earning $25 per week. In 1920, he married Elizabeth Minette Skinner, to whom he remained married until her death in 1947; the couple had one son, George. Joining Manufacturers Trust Company in 1923, he was placed in charge of the bank's business activity in Upstate New York and subsequently moved to Norwich. He remained with Manufacturers Trust until 1930, when he entered the general insurance business in Norwich.
In 1930, Ives was elected as a Republican to the New York State Assembly, where he represented Chenango County until 1946. He had been elected in a special election on February 18, 1930 to succeed Bert Lord, who had been elected to the State Senate. He was chosen as Minority Leader in 1935 and, after the Republican Party won control of the Assembly, became Speaker in 1936. His re-election as Speaker was opposed by his fellow liberal Republicans, who disagreed with his opposition to Governor Herbert H. Lehman's proposed social welfare program. Ives stepped aside in favor of Oswald D. Heck, who subsequently named Ives as Majority Leader. He served in that position from 1937 to 1946.
From 1938 to 1946, Ives was chairman of the State Joint Legislative Committee on Industrial and Labor Conditions. In this position, he earned nationwide attention for sponsoring the Ives-Quinn Act of 1945, which was the first state law to prohibit discrimination in employment on the basis of race, creed, color, or national origin. He also introduced legislation to create the state Department of Commerce and to establish the New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, of which he was dean from 1945 to 1947. He also served as a member of the New York State War Council (1942-1946), chairman of New York State Temporary Commission Against Discrimination (1944-1945), and chairman of the New York State Temporary Commission on Agriculture (1945-1946).
In 1946, when Democratic incumbent James M. Mead decided to run for Governor of New York, Ives successfully ran for his seat in the United States Senate. He faced former Governor Lehman in the general election, during which he became the first Republican to be endorsed by the New York American Federation of Labor. He eventually defeated Lehman by a margin of 52%-47%. He was the first Republican to represent New York in the Senate since James W. Wadsworth, Jr., who was defeated for re-election in 1927.
Despite his moderate reputation, Ives supported the Taft–Hartley Act in 1947 and voted to override President Harry S. Truman's veto of the same; he subsequently lost his longstanding support from labor unions. He served as a delegate to the 1948 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which nominated his friend and fellow liberal New Yorker Thomas E. Dewey. That same year, he married his longtime secretary, Marion Mead Crain.
Ives was re-elected to a second term in 1952, defeating Brooklyn borough president John Cashmore by 55%-36%. He received the largest number of votes hitherto ever won by a candidate in New York, carrying all but three of the state's sixty-two counties. A strong supporter of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, he served as a delegate to the 1952 Republican National Convention in Chicago, Illinois.
In 1954, Ives unsuccessfully ran to succeed Dewey as Governor of New York. In one of the closest gubernatorial elections in state history, he was narrowly defeated by Democrat W. Averell Harriman by 11,125 votes. He was a delegate to the 1956 Republican National Convention in San Francisco, California. In 1958, he co-sponsored a bill with Senator John F. Kennedy to correct abuses within organized labor as disclosed in hearings before the Rackets Committee.
Later life and death
In 1958, Ives declined to seek re-election to a third term in the Senate. He later died at Chenango Memorial Hospital in Norwich, at age 66. He is buried at Greenlawn Cemetery in his native Bainbridge.
Ives is remembered with his desk on display in the Chenango Museum where it is on display all year long.