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Collection John M. Ashbrook collection
Title John M. Ashbrook collection
Admin/Biographical History John M. Ashbrook
Congressman 17th Ohio district
308 record storage boxes
John Milan Ashbrook (21 Sep. 1928-24 Apr. 1982), congressman, was born in Johnstown, Ohio, the son of Congressman William A. Ashbrook and Marie (Swank) Ashbrook.

He joined the U.S. Navy in 1946 after graduating from high school, and served until 1948. He was a member of Admiral Richard E. Byrd's final Antarctic expedition. He received an M.S. with Honors from Harvard University in 1952, and a J.D. from Ohio State University Law School in 1955.

He became publisher of the Johnstown Independent in1953, a weekly newspaper founded by his father in 1884. Even after he had been in Congress for many years, he still considered himself first and foremost a publisher. When asked about his often precarious political existence, he claimed not to worry because he said he" would rather be a printer" anyway.

In 1956 he was elected to the Ohio General Assembly, serving two terms. In 1960 he was elected to Congress from the 17th District. During that campaign he warned his constitutents against "unbridled national power with a resultant loss of individual freedom and local autonomy." He won and served without interruption for 22 years. He served on the House Internal Security Committee, and on the Education and Labor committee. He became one of the most articulate anti-Communists in Congress, as well as a great opponent of federal aid to education and other New Deal and Great Society programs. Throughout his political life he was known as an intelligent, candid, and persuasive champion of the conservative cause. By the end of Richard Nixon's first term he had establishd himself as a national political leader with impeccable conservative credentials, and he contributed energetically to the national conservative movement. He had been Chairman of the Young Republican National Federation (1957-59), one of the founders of the American Conservative Union, serving as Chairman (1966-71), and on the steering committee of the Committee of One Million Againist the Admission of Red China.

Although he had been one of the founders of the draft Goldwater movement in 1963, he supported Nixon in 1968 and tried to persuade conservative not to bolt to George Wallace, thinking that there was a unique opportunity to build a conservative coalition. By December 1971 he made his displeasure with the Nixon administration public. He criticized "the presentation of liberal policies in the verbal trappings of conservatism." He opposed budget deficits, wage and price controls, rapprochment with China, and other Nixon policies he deemed liberal. He claimed that the New Deal policies "have not been changed but extended and refined" under the Nixon presidency.

He announced at the end of 1971 that he would oppose Richard Nixon in a number of Republican primaries. He thought that Nixon had an opportrunity to build a conservative coalition to govern the country: "The result of such leadership could well have been a period of conservative and Republican ascendancy to match the Democratic era that followed upon the victory of Franklin Roosevelt. Instead, the net result of this administration may be to frustrate for years to come the emergence of the conservative majority."

Many have argured the Ashbrook's conservative challenge to an incumbent Republican paved the way for Ronald Reagan's challenge in 1976. Although that challenge fell short, it cleared the way for Reagan's election in 1980 and possibly the conservative majority that Ashbrook had helped create.

In 1982 he announced that he would seek the Republican nomination to oppose Ohio Senator Howard Metzenbaum. Most politcal observers thought that he would almost certainly recive the GOP nomination. On April 24th, while campaigning, he collapsed and died within a few hours of massive internal hemorrhaging. He was 53 years old.
Caption John M. Ashbrook (1928-1982)
Catalog Number 01
Creator Ashbrook, John M.
Dates of Accumulation 1960-1982
Dates of Creation 1967
Exhibit# 0
Imagefile 001\Ashbrook1967box.JPG
Object Name Fonds
Scope & Content John Ashbrook's congressional office records (legislative, executive, general files and greens) were placed first in the collection since they are almost a complete record (1968-1982) of his service to the 17th congressional district. Contained in approximately 153 boxes, most of the files are arranged alphabetically according to year and consist primarily of correspondence from constituents.

The legislative files focus on Ashbrook's activities as a legislator. They contain original correspondence from constituents to the congressman voicing their support or opposition to particular legislation. To these original letters are attached copies of Ashbrook's responses.

The executive files or departmental files consist of original constituent correspondence, a copy or copies (if a request required lengthy attention) of Ashbrook's replies, and the correspondence from the cooperating governmental department or agency contacted by the congressman on the constituent's behalf. They are stapled together by individual cases.

The general files contain primarily Ashbrook office procedure correspondence such as handling government publications' requests, thank you's, golden anniversaries, and other services to constituents. Files for travel and telephone allowances, stationery accounts, Ashbrook supporters, and other information can be found in the general files. Photographs of Ashbrook with constituents, interns and pages are included as well.

The greens serve as an index to a particular year of Ashbrook's congressional office record. These are carbon copies of all Ashbrook's outgoing correspondence and are arranged alphabetically by the name of the addressee.

After the Ashbrook congressional office records were placed copies of his bills and newsreleases /newsletters. These were sorted and arranged chronically. Within the folders of the five boxes of bills (1961-1981) are government printed copies of primarily Ashbrook bills, House resolutions, House joint resolutions, and House concurrent resolutions. Newsreleases/ newsletters (Washington Reports 1961-1981) are contained in three boxes. Also included in these files are Ashbrook Congressional Record reprints, Ashbrook tape transcripts, radio scripts, letters to colleagues, and various grants.

Following the bills and newsreleases are fifty-one boxes of Ashbrook congressional/committee activity files. Each box contains overlapping dates. More than twenty years of files (1960-1982) are present. Some of the materials pre-date 1960.

Twenty-three boxes of Ashbrook campaign files (1959-1982) followed the congressional/committee activity files. Congressional and Senate campaign files focus on Ashbrook's congressional victories and his bid for the U. S. Senate against Howard Metzenbaum.

The twenty-two miscellaneous files (1959-1982) following the campaign files contain a variety of material not easily placed under any of the previous record group headings.

The last record group following the miscellaneous files were 48 boxes of closed case files (1968-1982).

Search Terms Ashbrook, John M.
Subjects Congressmen
17th Congressional District Ohio