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New Jersey Legislature (1942-1944)

1942 Election

Republican primary election flyer, 1942.

Clifford Case’s long career in elected office began in 1937 with his service on the Rahway Common Council.  In 1941, he unsuccessfully sought nomination for the New Jersey Assembly in Union County.  It was the only electoral defeat he experienced until his loss in the New Jersey Republican primary in 1978.  He ran again in 1942 for the same position and won.


Letter, William S. Carpenter to Case, March 31, 1944.

In 1944 Case won a seat in the New Jersey Senate.  His major initiative in the state legislature was his sponsorship of legislative reform regarding civil service compensation.  As Vice-Chairman of the Joint Commission on State Personnel, he advocated the reclassification of state civil service jobs, and improvements in pay.  Dr. William S. Carpenter of Princeton University, the Commission’s primary consultant, produced a report that served as the foundation for new legislation.  This letter from Carpenter highlights Case’s role.

U.S. House of Representatives (1945-1953)

First Speech 1945

Case’s first speech on the floor of the U. S. House of Representatives, June 12, 1945 reprinted from the Congressional Record.

In 1945 Case won a seat in the U. S. House of Representatives.  His first speech challenged the attacks by segregationist Congressman John Rankin of Mississippi on the character of Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter.  Case’s defense of Frankfurter rested on his profound concern for the rights of minorities and exemplified his lifelong commitment to fighting racism.

Lynching 1947

Legislation proposed by Case to make lynching a federal crime, May 15, 1947.

Despite their crucial contributions to Allied victory in World War II, African Americans remained second-class citizens in the post-war United States.  Mob violence directed against African American veterans perpetuated the abominable tradition of lynching, which the federal government had done little to stop since Reconstruction.  The Federal Anti-Lynching Act proposed by Case provided for the direct involvement of the U. S. Attorney General in investigations of mob violence and lynching, along with imprisonment and civil penalties for perpetrators.  Case’s bill was the last major effort to make lynching a federal crime before the enactment of landmark civil rights legislation in the 1960s.  Although passed in the House of Representatives, the bill died in the Senate due to opposition from Southern senators and their allies.


Mary McLeod Bethune to Clifford P. Case, December 6, 1947.

In this letter, civil rights advocate and educator Mary McLeod Bethune describes the appalling record of federal indifference to mob violence against African Americans. Bethune points out the contradictions between American ideals and the persistence of racial discrimination in the United States.  With the defeat of the bill in the Senate, the threat of violence against African Americans remained a potent weapon of segregationists and racists until the direct intervention of the federal government in the 1960s.

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W. Averell Harriman to Congressman Case, May 29, 1953  Fund for the Republic Archives. Public Policy Papers Division. Princeton University Library.

Following his withdrawal from the Republican primary campaign for governor of New Jersey in March 1953, Case was approached by the newly formed Fund for the Republic to serve as its first president.  The Fund was impressed with Case’s strong record on defending civil liberties and his willingness to take a public stand in defense of constitutional rights, as this letter from diplomat and future governor of New York Averell Harriman illustrates.

US Senator (1954-1978)

Campaign flyer, The Truth About the Cliff Case Labor Record

Campaign flyer, “The Truth About the Cliff Case Labor Record,” 1954.

During his thirty-four years in Congress, Clifford Case was a reliable advocate of organized labor.  He was a moderate Republican who supported workers’ rights, the strengthening of workplace safety and health regulations, and efforts to promote full employment.  In the hotly contested 1954 U.S. Senate campaign, organized labor’s backing of Case was crucial in his victory over Democrat Charles Howell by only 3,507 votes.

Adelaide WNET

Excerpts from Clifford P. Case’s remarks delivered on WNBT-TV, October 17, 1954.

The appearance in the Star-Ledger of an article attacking Clifford Case’s sister Adelaide for having pro-communist sympathies was one of a number of efforts by Case opponents to undermine his campaign for the Senate.  Case appeared on WNBT-TV in Newark, N.J., to rebut the newspaper’s claims.  Case’s forthright defense of his sister and his commitment to running an open, honest, and clean campaign illustrate his deep love for his family and his adherence to the highest standards of ethics for public figures.

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TIME magazine cover, “New Jersey’s Case:  Volleys from Left and Right,” October 18, 1954.

Case’s campaign received national attention with his appearance on the cover of TIME magazine on October 18, 1954, the day after his WNET-TV speech rebutting the Star-Ledger article about his sister.  A strong supporter of President Eisenhower, Case was a committed internationalist and an outspoken critic of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s tactics in identifying alleged communists.  Criticized from the Left for not being liberal enough and from the Right for his open-minded views, Case appeared an unlikely winner when this issue of TIME appeared less than three weeks before the election.

Honorary Degree RU

Case receiving an honorary doctorate, Rutgers University commencement, June 8, 1955. (F.J. Higgins, Photographer)

The senator was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws by his alma mater at Rutgers’ 189th commencement. At the ceremony, Rutgers president Lewis Webster Jones lauded Case’s contributions to civic life with words of warm regard for his commitment to Rutgers:  “But deep as our pride in these accomplishments may be, even deeper is our affection for you as a devoted alumnus, able trustee and loyal son of Rutgers.”  Case’s unswerving dedication to Rutgers was capped by his service as an unpaid professor of public affairs at the university from 1979 until his death in 1982.

NY Herald Hungarian Demonstration

Clipping from the New York Herald Tribune, November 6, 1956, regarding a mass demonstration supporting Hungarian refugees.

The Soviet crushing of the 1956 Hungarian revolution inspired many efforts in the U.S. on behalf of Hungarian refugees.  At a Madison Square Garden rally organized by the International Rescue Committee, Senator Case stressed the need for substantial, immediate aid to Hungary, where thousands were desperate for relief supplies.

NY Times Republican

Clifford P. Case, “A Republican Prescribes for his Party,” New York Times Magazine, February 17, 1957.

Case was a vigorous advocate of a Republican party which was progressive regarding social issues, committed to a decidedly internationalist foreign policy, and fiscally prudent.  Case believed that the Republicans had the potential to create a national party “for the people,” which the Democrats had achieved under Roosevelt during the New Deal.  In this article, Case challenges his fellow Republican legislators to realize President Eisenhower’s vision for America by demonstrating “progressive and prudent” leadership.

Clarence Marshall

Case with Clarence Mitchell, September 6, 1960.

Case worked closely with NAACP leader Clarence Mitchell on legislation to expand civil rights protections.  Mitchell and other civil rights leaders could count on the senator’s courageous stands on the legislative floor and in public appearances.  Writing in the Baltimore Sun following Case’s death in 1982, Mitchell remarked, “He cared deeply for his fellow men and worked for their well being, as I know from first-hand contact that began when he was a young member of the House.”


Clifford P. Case, March 2, 1960.

Following the successful passage of the 1957 Civil Rights Act, the first major civil rights legislation since Reconstruction, the Senate considered a bill to strengthen voting rights in 1960.  Despite efforts in the Senate to limit the use of the filibuster, opponents used the tactic to slow the progress of civil rights legislation.  In this image, Case appears weary but determined as he enters his office with a pillow, having slept there the previous two nights to respond to frequent roll call votes.


Case with astronaut Walter M. Schirra of New Jersey, May 28, 1959.

From 1959 to 1965, Case served on the Aeronautics and Space Sciences Committee of the Senate.  His service on this committee coincided with the growth of NASA and the rapid expansion of the United States’ manned space flight programs.  Pictured with the senator is Walter M. Schirra, a 1940 graduate of Dwight Morrow High School in Englewood and one of the first seven astronauts named in April 1959 to participate in the Mercury series of NASA manned space flights. Schirra was the only astronaut to fly in the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo space flight programs.

Case Staff Members

Clifford Case with staff members, August 8, 1958.

Seated at his Senate office desk, Case is surrounded by Administrative Assistant Sam Zagoria (on the Senator’s left), Deputy Administrative Assistant Frances Henderson (directly behind the Senator), Executive Secretary Albert Abrahams (standing to the Senator’s immediate right) and Jim Toscano, a student intern from Rutgers (seated next to the Senator).  Case was a firm believer in hiring the most talented staff, paying them well, and giving them substantial autonomy.  Following Sam Zagoria’s appointment to the National Labor Relations Board in 1965, Frances Henderson became Case’s administrative assistant, one of the few women to hold this position at that time in the Senate.

Case Family 1960

The Case family, November 8, 1960.  (Newark News Photo)

Pictured at Newark’s Robert Treat Hotel on election night 1960 are, left to right: son-in-law and daughter William and Mary Jane Weaver, Case’s sister Jeannette, daughter and son-in-law Ann and Jack Holt, his son Clifford III, Senator Case and his wife Ruth, his mother Jeannette McAlpin Case, and granddaughter Christina Weaver.  Clifford and Ruth Case’s devotion to their family was never compromised by his service in Congress, nor during election campaigns.  Soon after this photograph was taken, Case learned he had won a landslide victory for the Senate over Democratic challenger Thorn Lord.

Reformed Church

Address, Six Mile Run Reformed Church 250th anniversary, November 15, 1960.

One week after his 1960 re-election victory, Case returned to New Jersey to speak at the 250th anniversary celebration of the Six Mile Run Reformed Church in Franklin Park, where his father had been pastor and where Case had played the organ during his Rutgers days.  Case reflects nostalgically on the support he received from the church community, particularly the expansive dinners with congregation members every Sunday.  Clifford Case was a deeply spiritual man whose values were shaped by his religious education.  In his speech, he addresses the universal yearning for peace during the Cold War, which, he suggests, can be achieved through a balance of strength and conciliation.

Civil Rights (1961-1966)

Marchon Washinton Program

Program for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, August 28, 1963  Ruth Case Papers.

Despite dogged resistance in the South to the expansion of civil rights protections, momentum built for a massive rally in Washington, D.C.  In this photograph, Senator Case, his wife Ruth, and son Cliff greeted marchers arriving at Union Station.  They later attended the Lincoln Memorial Program where noted civil rights leaders and supporters, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., addressed the crowd of 250,000.


Excerpt from Case’s statement on the Bobby Baker investigation, July 7, 1964.  Ruth Case Papers.

Journalists’ accounts of influence peddling by Senate aide Bobby Baker of Texas became front-page news in spring 1964, sparking calls for an investigation.  In May, Case proposed that the Senate Rules Committee question each member of the Senate about his dealings with Baker.  Rebuffed by the Rules Committee chair, Case delivered these remarks on the floor of the Senate July 7, 1964.  The incident strengthened Case’s campaign to pass legislation requiring full public disclosure of personal finances and assets by members of Congress and the executive branch.

Jim Mitchell 1961

Clifford P. Case with New Jersey Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Mitchell in April 1961. (Mel-Art Photographers).

One of Clifford Case’s few electoral miscalculations was his advocacy of former U. S. Secretary of Labor Jim Mitchell as the Republican nominee for governor of New Jersey. Despite the misgivings of a number of leading New Jersey Republicans, Mitchell won the Republican primary and opposed Democrat Richard J. Hughes for the governorship.  Case is shown here with Mitchell at a rally prior to the April 18, 1961 Republican primary election.  Despite Case’s support, Hughes defeated Mitchell by a wide margin, thus commencing eight years of Democratic control in the governor’s mansion.

Readington Picnic

Clifford P. Case with three attendees at the Readington Township Republican picnic, April 26, 1962

Senator Case was always attentive to maintaining close ties with his New Jersey constituents.  As former administrative assistant Sam Zagoria recalled, the senator traveled regularly to New Jersey from Washington, attending functions both large and small to remain in touch with the needs and concerns of New Jerseyans, as well as to sustain his support from the New Jersey Republican party organization.

Iron Age

“Can Influence Be Curbed in Defense Awards?” Iron Age Magazine, April 11, 1963.

Senator Case used the media consistently in his efforts to improve the transparency of government operations and to maintain high ethical standards for public officials.  In this article in a leading metalworking industry publication, Case discusses his proposed legislation to strengthen congressional oversight in the awarding of defense contracts.

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Bill Canfield, “Barry, Something Tells Me He’s Not Gonna Stop,” Newark Evening News, September 22, 1964.

In 1964, conservative Barry Goldwater won the Republican nomination for president.  Deeply troubled by Goldwater’s lack of support for minorities, Case, Senator Jacob Javits of New York, and others crafted amendments to the Republican platform supporting civil rights protections.  They were defeated at the San Francisco convention, but, as this cartoon suggests, Case’s support for civil rights legislation remained unwavering despite the threat of a “white backlash” among voters.  Case’s popularity and influence in New Jersey was undiminished by his stand, particularly given Goldwater’s crushing defeat in November 1964.

Double Standard

Clifford P. Case, “The Congress and Its Double Standard,” Federal Bar Journal, Summer 1964.

Persistence was a cardinal virtue for Clifford Case, as illustrated in this article concerning the public disclosure of financial interests by members of Congress and their top staff members.  Although he had proposed this same legislation in three prior Congresses, by 1964 only thirty members of Congress had joined Case and publicly disclosed their financial assets and liabilities.  Arguing that “through the years, Congress has shown it cannot, will not, police itself,” Case continued to propose financial disclosure legislation for members of Congress and the executive branch.

Vietnam Era (1967-1972)

Buddhist Monk

Clifford P. Case and a Buddhist monk during Case’s tour of South Vietnam, May 1967 Ruth Case Papers

Senator Case was initially a supporter of the U. S. policy in Vietnam to stem the advance of Communist influence. In May 1967 he visited South Vietnam and seven other Asian nations as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  Following this visit, he recognized that the Republic of Vietnam was either unwilling or incapable of assuming control of the war effort, and became an outspoken critic of U. S. policy in Vietnam, eventually advocating U. S. withdrawal during the first Nixon administration.

Hugh Scott

Senators Hugh Scott, Clifford P. Case and John Sherman Cooper, October 8, 1969.

By the mid-1960s, Case was a member of an influential group of centrist Republicans in the Senate who favored a bipartisan foreign policy and supported many of Johnson’s Great Society social reform initiatives.  Pictured next to Senators Scott and Case is John Sherman Cooper of Kentucky, for whom Case had provided expert support by “loaning” his administrative assistant, Sam Zagoria, to help Cooper win a re-election campaign.


Clifford P. Case chatting with Conductor I. T. McLaughlin of Amtrak, September 19, 1972.

Case supported public transit, particularly rail service.  As the ranking minority member on the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, he worked hard to place Amtrak on a firmer financial footing.

All electric car

Clifford P. Case behind the wheel of the “Allectric” prototype car, showcased at hearings of the Senate Commerce Committee, March 13, 1967.

Case took a considerable interest in promoting efficient alternatives that would reduce America’s reliance on fossil fuels.  Here, the Senator is photographed behind the wheel of the “Allectric” prototype electric car developed by a Pennsylvania power company.  Less than a decade before Americans sat in lengthy lines at gas pumps, Case joined in sponsoring bills submitted to the Senate Commerce Committee to promote the development of electric cars or other alternatives to the internal combustion engine.  The parking meter at the right has been modified to serve as a potential source of “plug-in” power for parked electric vehicles.

Great Swamp

Clifford P. Case and Harrison Williams examining a map of the Great Swamp in Morris County, April 1968.

Senator Case worked closely with his colleague Harrison Williams of New Jersey on many bills, including the creation of the Great Swamp Wilderness in Morris County.  This legislation made permanent the wilderness designation of 3,750 acres in the Great Swamp so that no further development would be permitted.  Case described the area “as an island of beauty in the midst of a sea of increasing urban ugliness.”

Washington Post Rosenfeld

Stephen S. Rosenfeld, “A Challenge of a Sort to Executive Secrecy,” Washington Post, January 14, 1972.  Ruth Case Papers.

In the early 1970s, Case sponsored legislation dubbed the “Case Act,” which required the president to inform Congress within sixty days of any new executive agreement made with a foreign country.  This legislation gave the executive branch sufficient leeway to conduct foreign policy, while sustaining a strong role for Congressional oversight.  The Case Act also sought to make the operations of government more transparent and open to public scrutiny during an era when covert operations and abuses of executive power were becoming more prevalent.  The bill was signed into law by President Nixon in 1972.

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Bill Canfield, “Welcome--In this club, three’s a crowd!” Newark Evening News, April 11, 1967.

This 1967 cartoon illustrates the challenges faced by Case and a handful of supporters in overcoming the resistance to financial disclosure by federal officials in Congress and the executive branch.

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Herblock, “Hello--Is this my good old friend and fellow Democrat Bill Fulbright?” Washington Post, September 28, 1967.

On September 26, 1967, Case spoke eloquently on the floor of the Senate, leveling criticisms against the Johnson administration’s conduct of the war.  Case was particularly dismayed by what he considered the loss of trust between the executive branch and Congress regarding the intent and implementation of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which had authorized the expansion of U.S. involvement in Vietnam.  Two days later, this editorial cartoon appeared in the Washington Post, depicting a wounded President Johnson seeking to recover from Case’s criticisms.

Ethics at Home and Abroad (1973-1978)

Ruth Case Serene Home

Winifred I. Cook, “Senator’s wife maintains serene home,” The Home News, December 8, 1974 . Ruth Case Papers.

Ruth Case’s devotion to Clifford Case, whom she affectionately called “Buddy,” is detailed in this feature article from the New Brunswick Home News.  Mrs. Case maintained the couple’s Georgetown home, where they pursued their mutual interests in reading, the arts, and travel.  Senator and Mrs. Case took little interest in the social life of Washington, preferring to spend time with their family, participate in Rutgers and Columbia alumni programs, and do volunteer work.  Mrs. Case remained in Washington following the Senator’s death in 1982.  She relocated to Rahway to be near her family only a few years before her death in 2003 at the age of ninety-eight.

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“Food for thought-Keep it coming,” The Daily Observer, Toms River, New Jersey, March 21, 1975.

This cartoon depicts the senator assisting children by opposing cuts in federal school lunch programs during the Ford administration.  Case’s independence of mind and strong commitment to strengthening public education at all levels was highly regarded by both Democratic and Republican colleagues, as well as the New Jersey electorate.

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“A Clean Sweep,” Newark Star-Ledger, May 28, 1972.

Clifford Case considered one of his most significant accomplishments to be the appointment of U.S. attorneys for New Jersey who vigorously prosecuted cases dealing with organized crime and political corruption.  In this cartoon, Frederick B. Lacey and Herbert Stern, two Case appointees who later were elevated to the federal bench, are shown hard at work to “clean up” New Jersey while an appreciative Case applauds their efforts.

Go Rutgers

Door to Clifford P. Case’s Senate office with “Go Rutgers” bumper sticker

Clifford Case’s affection for Rutgers was a touchstone throughout his career. Having served as a University trustee in the 1950s and as a professor of public affairs from 1979 to 1982, Case was truly a “loyal son,” regularly attending his class reunions and supporting Rutgers projects being considered by Congress.  On March 17, 1976, Case congratulated the undefeated Rutgers men’s basketball team on the Senate floor.  “I am gratified to join the ranks of my colleagues who have been lucky enough to be able to adorn their offices with truly nonpartisan bumper stickers.  The front door of my office has for some weeks now proudly proclaimed, ‘Go Rutgers.’”

Ford Fenwick

Clifford P. Case and New Jersey Congresswoman Millicent Fenwick with President Gerald Ford, June 3, 1976.

Senator Case fought to expand human rights protections throughout his career.  In this photograph he is pictured with co-sponsor Millicent Fenwick and President Ford at the signing of the legislation authorizing the U.S. Commission for Monitoring the Human Rights Provisions of the Helsinki Accords in 1976.  After leaving the Senate in 1979, Case was named chairman of the board of Freedom House, a non-governmental organization committed to strengthening free institutions worldwide.

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President Jimmy Carter signing the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 with Senator Case and other legislators present, October 26, 1978.

Two decades after he began publishing his annual financial statement in the Congressional Record, Senator Case was present in October 1978 when President Jimmy Carter signed a government ethics bill containing much of what Case had long advocated. At the bill signing, Senator Case remarked, “Twenty years ago Dick Neuberger and I introduced the first disclosure bill in the Congress. And it’s kind of nice to have it come to fruition before I leave….I’m grateful indeed for all the Members of the House and Senate who came to see the light.  Thank you.”

Begin small

Clifford P. Case and Menachem Begin, Prime Minister of Israel, at a meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 21, 1978.

As the ranking minority member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Clifford Case was both a reliable supporter of U.S. aid to Israel, as well as an outspoken critic of policies that he viewed as threats to Israel’s security.  In May 1978, Case opposed the sale of U.S. F-15 jet fighters to Saudi Arabia, and later in the same year he was openly critical of the Carter administration’s efforts to pressure Israel to quickly conclude a peace treaty with Egypt.  A November 1978 article in the Israeli newspaper, Ma’ariv, stated that throughout all the controversies in Congress dealing with Israel since its founding, “only Clifford Case continued to stand alone as a solid rock in support of Israel.”

Jackson Helms

Senator Clifford P. Case, Senator Henry Jackson, Senator Jesse Helms, and Alexander Solzhenitsyn during the Soviet author’s visit to the U.S. Senate on July 15, 1975.  Ruth Case Papers.

During the Cold War, Clifford Case was a persistent voice opposing the expansion of Communist influence in Europe and other areas of the world.  By the 1970s, Case had worked closely with other Senate colleagues to raise awareness of human rights violations, particularly those directed against dissidents in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.  Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the world-renowned Russian novelist and dissident, is greeted here by Senators Case, Jackson, Helms, and one unidentified colleague during a visit in July 1975. 

Targum Article

Jim Testa, “Jersey ’s favorite son: ‘Gregarious as Hell’,” Rutgers Daily Targum, September 18, 1973.  Ruth Case Papers.

Clifford Case always found time to meet with journalists and that included reporters from the Rutgers Targum.  In this September 1973 interview, Case spoke candidly about Congress’ role in foreign policy and in limiting the powers of the president, issues that within a year contributed to Richard Nixon’s downfall.  Testa closed his article by paraphrasing Mark Twain, stating that despite skepticism about members of Congress, “if America has a worthwhile native son, it is Clifford Case.”

Final Years (1978-1982)

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Bill Canfield, “Why not all the way across?” Newark Evening News, August 30, 1963

This editorial cartoon summarizes Clifford Case’s lifelong struggle to advance civil rights protections for all Americans.  Beginning with his sponsorship of federal anti-lynching legislation in the late 1940s, and continuing through his four terms in the Senate, Clifford Case was a staunch advocate of expanding civil rights, particularly during the tumultuous late 1950s and 1960s.

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Bill Canfield, “No money, no machine-All he’s got is a great record!” Newark Evening News, October 23, 1966

This cartoon summarizes much of what appealed to New Jersey voters about Clifford P. Case.  The senator was viewed as a public official who was incorruptible, and as an elected official whose independence of thought and principled positions on public policy rose above the narrow interests of party loyalty.  Case’s strong record on issues such as environmental protection, civil rights, federal aid to education, health care for the aged, and worker protections led to his election for four consecutive terms, the longest tenure of any New Jerseyan in the U.S. Senate during the twentieth century.