Dalip Singh Saund

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Dalip Singh Saund
Dalip Singh Saund.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 29th district
In office
January 3, 1957 – January 3, 1963
Preceded by John J. Phillips
Succeeded by George Brown Jr.
Personal details
Born (1899-09-20)September 20, 1899
Chhajulwadi, Punjab, India
Died April 22, 1973(1973-04-22) (aged 73)
Hollywood, California
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Marian Rekha Kaur Saund
Children Dalip Singh Saund Jr., Julie Kaur Saund, Ellie Kaur Saund
Alma mater University of California, Berkeley

Dalip Singh Saund (September 20, 1899 – April 22, 1973) was an American politician who was a member of the United States House of Representatives. He served the 29th District of California from January 3, 1957 to January 3, 1963. He was the first Sikh American, the first Asian American, the first Indian American and the first member of a non-Abrahamic faith to be elected to Congress.


Born in Chhajulwadi, Punjab, India, to a Sikh family, he received his bachelor's degree in mathematics from the University of Punjab in 1919.

He immigrated to the United States (via Ellis Island) originally to study agriculture at the University of California, Berkeley. While at the university, he obtained a master's degree (1922) and a PhD (1924), both in mathematics. His studies were sponsored by Stockton Gurdwara in Stockton, California as he lived in the gurdwara-owned Guru Nanak Khalsa Hostel. Stockton Gurdwara was "the first permanent Sikh American settlement and gurdwara in the United States." [1] He thereafter remained in the United States, becoming a successful farmer.

In 1930, Saund was commissioned by Stockton Gurdwara to write a book called “My Mother India" which pled for an end to the British Empire's occupation of the Indian subcontinent. Saund wrote that his book was intended to “answer various questions that commonly arise in the minds of the American people regarding the cultural and political problems of India.” His book addressed India's caste system as one of those questions and "pleaded for the civil rights of the downtrodden in India as he compared caste in India to racism in America and elsewhere." [2]

Later, he campaigned to allow "Hindus", as all people of South Asian descent were called at that time, to become naturalized citizens. After the Luce-Celler Act was passed in 1946, he applied for naturalization and became an American citizen in 1949. He ran for election in 1950 as a Justice of the Peace for Westmoreland township, California, and won the election, but his election was thrown out as he had been a citizen for less than a year. He later ran again for the same post and won.[3]

In November 1955, he announced his campaign to run for the House of Representatives as a Democrat and won an election for an open seat against a famous Republican aviator, Jacqueline Cochran. He was re-elected twice, becoming the first Sikh American, the first Asian American, the first Indian American and first member of a non-Abrahamic faith to be elected to Congress.[4]

In May 1962, Saund suffered a severe stroke which left him unable to speak or walk without assistance. He was defeated for reelection in November 1962 by Republican Patrick Martin by a 56% to 44% margin.

Publications authored[edit]

See also[edit]

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Relative to the 100-year anniversary of the Sikh American". CA State Legislature. August 20, 2012. 
  2. ^ "First Asian Congressman Championed Civil Rights and Denounced Imperialism". Singh of Judah. July 30, 2015. 
  3. ^ "Dalip Singh Saund among Asian American trailblazers: Obama". The Times Of India. May 9, 2012. 
  4. ^ He is to date the only member with Sikh heritage to have served in Congress, though Congressman Martin Hoke (R-OH) lived as a Sikh for a period of time in the 1970s.
  5. ^ This book was written as a critique to the sensational Mother India, by Katherine Mayo, which argued against Indian self-rule. See: Tisdale, Sara (December 19, 2008). "Breaking Barriers: Congressman Dalip Singh Saund". Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. Pew Research Center. Retrieved March 10, 2012. 

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
John J. Phillips
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 29th congressional district

Succeeded by
George Brown Jr.