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Joseph Tydings

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Joseph Tydings
Joseph d tydings.jpg
United States Senator
from Maryland
In office
January 3, 1965 – January 3, 1971
Preceded by James Glenn Beall
Succeeded by John Glenn Beall Jr.
United States Attorney for the District of Maryland
In office
1961 – November 21, 1963
Preceded by Leon H. A. Pierson
Succeeded by Robert H. Kernon
Member of the Maryland House of Delegates
In office
Personal details
Born (1928-05-04) May 4, 1928 (age 90)
Asheville, North Carolina, U.S.
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Children Mary Tydings Smith, Millard E. Tydings II, Emlen Tydings, Eleanor Tydings Gollob, Alexandra Tydings
Alma mater University of Maryland, College Park
University of Maryland School of Law
Military service
Service/branch United States Army
Rank Corporal
Unit 6th Constabulary Regiment

Joseph Davies Tydings (born May 4, 1928) is a retired American lawyer, politician, and former Democratic member of the United States Senate, representing the state of Maryland from 1965 to 1971.

Born in North Carolina, Tydings moved to Maryland as a youth after he was adopted by Millard Tydings, U.S. Senator from Maryland. After serving in the military, he obtained his law degree and entered into practice. He served in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1955 to 1961, and as United States Attorney from 1961 until his resignation in 1963 to run for Senate.

Tydings won election to the Senate in 1964. However, his controversial stances on gun control and crime in the District of Columbia cost him re-election in 1970. He made another attempt at his old seat in 1976, but was defeated in the Democratic primary election by Paul Sarbanes. He later served as a member of the Board of Regents of the University of Maryland, College Park and the University System of Maryland, and continues to practice law.[1]

Tydings also argued one of the most important cases in Supreme Court history, Eisenstadt v. Baird. The case legalized birth control for single persons in 1972, something prohibited in many states until that time. The case was the result of Bill Baird's challenge of Massachusetts "Crimes Against Chastity" law via an arrest when he spoke in 1967 at Boston University and was arrested for handing out a can of contraceptive foam to an unmarried female student. U.S. Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. wrote in that decision: "If the right of privacy means anything, it is the right of the individual to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as to whether to bear or beget a child." Eisenstadt v. Baird has been described as "among the most influential in the United States during the entire century by any manner or means of measurement". [2]The case, which most clearly defined the right of privacy up to that time, went on to become the cited precedent in the 1973 Roe v. Wade case legalizing abortion, the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas case the legalized sodomy, and the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges case legalizing same sex marriage.

Early life[edit]

Tydings was born in Asheville, North Carolina, but attended the public schools of Aberdeen, Maryland.[1] He was adopted as a child by his stepfather, Millard Tydings, who also was a Maryland Senator.[3] His maternal grandfather was Joseph E. Davies, who served as U.S. Ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Soviet Union.[4] Tydings went on to graduate from the McDonogh School in 1946, the University of Maryland, College Park in 1951[5] where he became a brother of Alpha Phi Omega, and the University of Maryland School of Law in 1953.[1]

Following the Second World War, Tydings served as a corporal in the Sixth Constabulary Regiment of the United States Army's European occupation. After his service, he was admitted to the bar in 1952 and was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates in 1955 from Harford County, Maryland.[1]

Tydings served as a delegate until 1961, when he was appointed United States Attorney for Maryland by President John F. Kennedy, a close friend.[6] As U.S. Attorney, Tydings oversaw the prosecution of several people in the savings and loan business. In 1963, Tydings served as the United States representative at the Interpol Conference in Helsinki, Finland, and at the International Penal Conference in Bellagio, Italy.[1]


In the 1964 elections, Tydings was frequently mentioned as a potential candidate to compete for the United States Senate seat of Republican James Glenn Beall[7] While initially hesitant, Tydings resigned as U.S. Attorney on November 21, 1963, to test his political support across the state. On January 14, 1964, Tydings officially declared his candidacy, stating he was challenging the "old guard" of the Maryland Democratic Party political machine. He also said he would work to bring a "new era of leadership into Maryland".[6]

During the primary election in May 1964, Tydings faced Maryland Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein, who had won the endorsement of both J. Millard Tawes, Governor of Maryland, and Daniel Brewster, the other U.S. Senator from Maryland.[6] Despite the support of the party leaders, Goldstein was trounced by Tydings in the primary, losing by nearly a two-to-one margin.[8]

Having secured his party's nomination, Tydings moved forward to face Beall in the general election. The final election results gave Tydings nearly 63% of 1,081,042 votes cast.[9] His large margin of victory was due at least in part to the landslide win by fellow Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson for President in the same election, which likely increased voter turnout.[10]

US Senator[edit]

Upon his election, Tydings began to lay out his legislative agenda for his upcoming term, which included water conservation, pollution and air purity, and mass transportation.[11] He also expressed interest in serving on the Senate Committee on the District of Columbia. Tydings was permitted to serve on the committee, and was eventually appointed chairman in 1969.[1]

Bid for re-election[edit]

Leading up to the elections of 1970, Tydings faced criticism from both parties for his actions as senator. In July 1970, syndicated columnist Marquis Childs noted that Tydings' problems on the left stemmed from his support of a crime bill for the District of Columbia, which was perceived as repressive against African Americans. There was also criticism directed at the bill for writing into law the practices of preventive detention and no knock warrants.[12]

Tydings' difficulties with the right stemmed from his sponsorship of the Firearms Registration and Licensing Act, which would have required the registration of firearms.[13] An avid hunter himself, his efforts agitated the gun lobby and the NRA. One Maryland activist group, Citizens Against Tydings, was formed solely because of Tydings' gun registration platform.[14] Further complicating his relations with the right were the efforts by the American Security Council Foundation, which graded him as a "zero" on national security issues and spent over $150,000 to campaign against his bid for re-election.[15]

In the Democratic primary, Tydings was challenged by perennial candidate and Dixiecrat George P. Mahoney and two others. After a divisive campaign, Tydings beat Mahoney by 53% to 37%.

For the general election, Tydings' opponent was freshman Congressman John Glenn Beall Jr. from Western Maryland, the son of James Glenn Beall, whom Tydings had defeated in 1964. Beall's campaign strategy "leaned heavily on his affable, noncontroversial personality" and avoided turning the campaign negative.[16] As a result of Tydings' unpopularity and Beall's campaign strategy, Tydings was defeated 51% to 48%.[16]

In a review of the election, The Washington Post noted one of Tydings' major problems was identifying with his constituents. Despite the 3–1 advantage of registered Democrats versus Republicans in the state, Tydings had been labeled as an "ultraliberal" by many Marylanders, and Vice President Spiro Agnew, formerly the Governor of Maryland, had called Tydings "radical" while campaigning for Beall. Tydings was also wealthy, and was seen as having an "aloof" disposition.[16]

Return to politics[edit]

Tydings resumed his legal career after he lost his Senate seat, entering into practice with a Washington law firm that included Giant Food President Joseph Danzansky.[17] After several years out of politics, he began traveling the state in 1975 to gauge his chances for winning a rematch versus Beall, who was coming up for re-election in 1976. On January 10, 1976, Tydings announced his candidacy to retake the seat, which he argued was taken unfairly in 1970 due to an undisclosed $180,000 gift to the Beall campaign.[17]

In the primary, Tydings faced a strong challenge from Congressman Paul Sarbanes, who had entered the race several months earlier.[17] This head start gave Sarbanes a considerable organizational and monetary advantage, and he had already secured influential endorsements.[18] To fend off Sarbanes, Tydings hoped his name recognition and charisma on television would compensate for Sarbanes' other advantages. He also worked to relabel himself as more fiscally conservative than Sarbanes, since both candidates were seen as liberal.[18]

For the primary election, Tydings needed a large margin of victory from precincts in the Washington, D.C. suburbs of Prince George's and Montgomery Counties, where he was most popular.[19] However, despite Tydings winning both counties, Sarbanes performed well in the rest of the state and defeated Tydings by over 100,000 votes, 61% to 39%. Sarbanes had managed to outspend Tydings two-to-one during the campaign.[19] After defeating Tydings, Sarbanes won the general election and served as senator until 2007.

Post-Senate career[edit]

After defeat, Tydings returned to his law career at Danzansky's firm.[20] He also worked as a partner in the law firm of Finley, Kumble, Wagner, Underberg, Manley, Myerson & Casey, which collapsed in 1987.[21] Later, Tydings worked at Anderson Kill Olick & Oshinsky from 1988 until his departure with Jerold Oshinsky in 1996 to join Dickstein Shapiro in Washington, D.C.[20] As of 2008, he is a senior counsel at Dickstein Shapiro.[20]

In academics, Tydings was a member of the Board of Regents of the University of Maryland from 1974 to 1984, serving as chairman from 1982 to 1984; it became University of Maryland, College Park in 1988. In 1977, Tydings called for the Board of Regents of the University of Maryland to divest its endowment from companies doing business with the apartheid regime in South Africa.[22] He later served as a member of Board of Regents of the University System of Maryland from 2000 to 2005.[1] In September 2008, he was appointed by Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley to the board of the University of Maryland Medical System.[20] As of 2016, he resides in Harford County, Maryland.[1]

Tydings is a member of the ReFormers Caucus of Issue One.[23]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Tydings, Joseph Davies". United States Congress. Retrieved 2008-07-07. 
  2. ^ Lucas, Roy (Fall 2003). ""New Historical Insight on the Curious Case of Baird v. Eisenstadt."". Roger Williams University Law Review. IX (1): 48. 
  3. ^ "Papers of Millard E. Tydings". University of Maryland, College Park. Retrieved 2008-06-29. 
  4. ^ "Miss Tydings Has Wedding". The New York Times. October 27, 1985. 
  5. ^ "Joseph D. Tydings papers > ArchivesUM". Retrieved 2018-05-13. 
  6. ^ a b c Maffre, John (January 15, 1964). "Tydings Enters Race With Rap At 'Old Guard'". The Washington Post. p. B1. 
  7. ^ Maffre, John (November 22, 1964). "Tydings Quits U.S. Post To Test Political Support". The Washington Post. p. A1. 
  8. ^ Chapman, William (May 21, 1964). "Tydings Victory Sets Up Change For Democrats". The Washington Post. p. B1. 
  9. ^ "Senate General Elections, All States, 1964 Summary". Congressional Quarterly. Retrieved 2008-06-29. 
  10. ^ Dessoff, Alan L; Willard Clopton (November 4, 1964). "Tydings Defeats Beall in Senate Race, Sickles, Mathias Keep House Seats". The Washington Post. p. A1. 
  11. ^ Eagle, George (November 8, 1964). "Tydings Ready to Serve On D.C. Unit if Asked". The Washington Post. p. B10. 
  12. ^ Childs, Marquis (July 20, 1970). "Tydings' Legislative Proposals Stir Up Both Right and Left". The Washington Post/United Feature Syndicate. p. A19. 
  13. ^ Cohen, Richard (June 21, 1970). "Tydings Is Target of U.S. Gun Lobby". The Washington Post. p. 53. 
  14. ^ Jeremy Barr, "45 Years Later, Tydings' Gun Control Bill Remains a Cautionary Tale", Southern Maryland Online, 11 Apr 2013.
  15. ^ Nossiter, Bernard D (October 26, 1970). "Group Earmarks $150,000 to Defeat Liberals". The Washington Post. p. A3. 
  16. ^ a b c Meyer, Lawrence (November 5, 1970). "History Full Circle In Tydings' Defeat". The Washington Post. p. A1. 
  17. ^ a b c Walsh, Edward (January 11, 1976). "Tydings Sets Race to Regain Old Senate Seat". The Washington Post. p. 21. 
  18. ^ a b Peterson, Bill; Harold J. Logan (May 16, 1976). "Voter Turnout Termed Key". The Washington Post. p. 1. 
  19. ^ a b McAllister, Bill; Harold J. Logan (May 19, 1976). "Sarbanes Easy Victor". The Washington Post. p. A1. 
  20. ^ a b c d "Senator Joseph D. Tydings". Dickstein Shapiro. Archived from the original on 2008-06-04. Retrieved 2009-02-06. 
  21. ^ Goldstein, Tom (March 25, 1990). "Finley Kumble Sat On A Wall". The New York Times. p. A1. 
  22. ^ Polk, Ryan. "Career Notes and Time Line: Senator Joseph Tydings". Archives of Maryland Online. Retrieved 6 October 2014. 
  23. ^ "ReFormers Caucus". Issue One. Retrieved 2017-06-02. 
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
James Glenn Beall
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Maryland
Served alongside: Daniel Brewster, Charles Mathias
Succeeded by
John Glenn Beall Jr.
Party political offices
Preceded by
Thomas D'Alesandro Jr.
Democratic nominee for United States Senator from Maryland
(Class 1)

1964, 1970
Succeeded by
Paul Sarbanes