Leslie Arends (Leslie Cornelius Arends)

Leslie Arends

Born in Melvin, Illinois, Leslie Arends was the youngest of 10 children born to George Teis Arends and Talea (née Weiss) Arends. His father was born in Peoria to parents who were both natives of Germany; his mother was born in Hanover, Germany. Arends served in the United States Navy during World War I and earned a law degree while attending Oberlin College in Ohio and Illinois Wesleyan University. Arends was the longest-serving whip in U.S. House of Representatives history, ranking second in the party in the House. He alternately served as majority whip and minority whip for House Republicans from 1943 to 1974. Arends was noted for his generally conservative voting record, his successful re-election as whip amid Republican in-fighting after the 1964 election, and his unwavering loyalty to President Richard M. Nixon at all stages of the Watergate scandal. Leslie Arends represented a heavily Republican, largely rural downstate Illinois district in the US Congress from 1935 to 1974. A conservative but pragmatic Republican, he opposed much of the New Deal and remained a staunch isolationist until the American entry into World War II. Becoming minority whip in 1943, Arends helped create the powerful Conservative Coalition of Republicans and Southern Democrats that controlled the domestic agenda from 1937 to 1964. He supported Robert A. Taft over Dwight D. Eisenhower for the 1952 Republican presidential nomination, and was an early supporter of the party’s nominees Richard M. Nixon and Barry Goldwater in the campaigns of the 1960s. He organized the GOP opposition to Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society. Arends, however, supported civil rights legislation. He defended Richard Nixon throughout the Watergate affair; his close personal friendship with Gerald R. Ford ensured a good relationship with Nixon’s successor.

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  • September, 27, 1895
  • USA
  • Melvin, Illinois


  • July, 17, 1985
  • USA
  • Naples, Florida


  • Melvin Cemetery
  • Melvin, Illinois
  • USA

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