Fmr. Sen. Fred Harris 
makes historic delivery



Former Sen. Fred Harris (D-Okla.) visited Capitol Hill last week to drop off some documents that link President John F. Kennedy to some of the most important figures in Senate history.

The 79-year-old Harris handed Senate Historian Donald Ritchie two bulging file folders from a committee headed by then-Sen. Kennedy in 1957 that chose the first five of the eight senators whose portraits now hang in the Senate Reception Room.

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Harris, who was elected in 1964 to serve out the term of late Democrat Robert S. Kerr and won a full term in 1966 before retiring in 1972 to run for president, was given the files by then-Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (D-N.Y.), whom he sat next to in the Senate.

The documents, which include many in JFK’s handwriting, chronicle the panel’s deliberations as it chose Henry Clay of Kentucky, Daniel Webster of Massachusetts, John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, Robert LaFollette Sr. of Wisconsin and Robert Taft Sr. of Ohio as the five “most distinguished” senators whose portraits would be displayed in the ornate room.

Three other senators’ portraits have since been added — those of Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan and Robert Wagner of New York, in 2000, and of Oliver Ellsworth, a drafter of the Constitution and later senator from Connecticut and U.S. chief justice, in 2002.