Adolph J. Sabath
35th Dean of the United States House of Representatives
In office
April 1, 1934 – November 6, 1952
Preceded byEdward W. Pou
Succeeded byRobert L. Doughton
Chair of the House Rules Committee
In office
January 3, 1949 – November 6, 1952
SpeakerSam Rayburn
Preceded byLeo E. Allen
Succeeded byLeo E. Allen
In office
January 3, 1939 – January 3, 1947
SpeakerJoseph W. Byrns Sr.
William B. Bankhead
Sam Rayburn
Preceded byJohn J. O'Connor
Succeeded byLeo E. Allen
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois
In office
March 4, 1907 – November 6, 1952
Preceded byAnthony Michalek
Succeeded byJames Bowler
Constituency5th district (1907-49)
7th district (1949-52)
Personal details
Adolph Joachim Sabath

(1866-04-04)April 4, 1866
Zabori, Kingdom of Bohemia, Austrian Empire
DiedNovember 6, 1952(1952-11-06) (aged 86)
Bethesda, Maryland, United States
Political partyDemocratic
Alma materChicago College of Law
ProfessionBusiness (real estate), lawyer

Adolph Joachim Sabath (April 4, 1866 – November 6, 1952) was a Czech-born American politician. He served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Chicago, Illinois, from 1907 until his death in Bethesda, Maryland on November 6, 1952.

Life and career

Born in Záboří, Austrian Empire (now Czech Republic) into a Jewish family,[1] he immigrated to America at age 15, became active in real estate, and received his LL.B. degree in 1891 from the Chicago College of Law (now Chicago-Kent College of Law). He served in local offices including justice of the peace (1895-1897) and police magistrate (1897-1906) until election to Congress from the Jewish West Side in 1907. He was active in state and national Democratic party affairs, attending many conventions. In 1911, he received much positive attention in the Czech community in Chicago for his fundraising efforts in the search for Elsie Paroubek,[2] and paid for the child's funeral when her body was discovered.[3]

He was a leading opponent of prohibition in the 1920s. He denounced the prohibition factions, the Anti-Saloon League "and their allied forces and co-workers, the Ku Klux Klan fanatics." Every year from 1925 to 1933, he consistently submitted bills in the House of Representatives, to amend the Eighteenth Amendment and the Volstead Act to allow commerce in beer and wine. In 1929, he came to the defense of his large immigrant constituency by countering claims that they were responsible for the surge in criminal activity during the 1920s. "The bootlegging and gang killings...are not the by-product but the direct product of the Volstead Act, and the supporters of this crime breeding legislation must claim the new cult of American criminals entirely as their own."[4]

As a leading Democrat he chaired the powerful House Rules Committee after 1937. He was an ineffective chairman, with a small weak staff, who proved unable to lead his committee, was frequently at odds with the House leadership, and was inclined to write the President little letters "informing" on House Speakers William B. Bankhead and Sam Rayburn.[5]

Beginning on April 1, 1934, he was the Dean (longest-serving member) of the House and he served as Dean for 18 years, 7 months, and 5 days: the longest time any person had served as Dean until John Dingell passed him on August 8, 2013.

Sabath was an avid New Dealer and an interventionist who strongly supported war against Nazi Germany. It was Sabath who nominated a teenage (later Admiral) Hyman G. Rickover to the United States Naval Academy.

He died of liver disease on November 6, 1952 and was buried at Forest Home Cemetery in Forest Park, Illinois, near Chicago.[6]

See also


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2018-12-26. Retrieved 2019-11-01.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "Canal Yields Up Body of Missing Elsie Paroubek: Descriptions Tally Exactly, But Father Awaits Mother's Full Identification.", Chicago Tribune, p. 1, May 9, 1911.
  3. ^ "Reward For Slayer $1000: Deneen Adds $200 to Aid in Capture of Paroubek Murderer.", Chicago Tribune, p. 2, May 11, 1911.
  4. ^ Davis, Marni, "Jews And Booze: Becoming American In The Age Of Prohibition," New York University Press, 2012, p. 191, ISBN 978-0-8147-2028-8
  5. ^ Robinson, p. 81
  6. ^ "Adolph Sabath Dies; In House for 23 Terms". Chicago Tribune. November 6, 1952.


U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Anthony Michalek
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 5th congressional district

March 4, 1907 - January 3, 1949
Succeeded by
Martin Gorski
Preceded by
Thomas Leonard Owens
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 7th congressional district

January 3, 1949 – November 6, 1952
Succeeded by
James Bernard Bowler