Dalip Singh Saund
Saund, c. 1961
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 29th district
In office
January 3, 1957 – January 3, 1963
Preceded byJohn J. Phillips
Succeeded byGeorge Brown Jr.
Personal details
Born(1899-09-20)September 20, 1899
Chhajulwadi, Amritsar district, Punjab Province, British India (present-day Punjab, India)
DiedApril 22, 1973(1973-04-22) (aged 73)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
CitizenshipBritish India (1899–1947)
India (1947–1949)
United States (1949–1973)
Political partyDemocratic
SpouseMarian Kosa
RelativesDaleep Singh (Great-grandnephew)
EducationUniversity of the Punjab (BS)
University of California, Berkeley (MA, PhD)

Dalip Singh Saund (September 20, 1899 – April 22, 1973) was an Indian-American politician who served three terms (1957 to 1963) in the United States House of Representatives from California's 29th congressional district as a member of the Democratic Party.

He was the first Sikh, Indian American, and Asian American elected to the United States Congress. Prior to his tenure in Congress he was active in local politics in Imperial County, California.

Early life

Family portrait photograph of the Saund family in 1957

Dalip Singh Saund was born in Chhajulwadi, British India, on September 20, 1899, to Natha Singh and Jeoni Kaur. His father died when he was ten years old. He attended Prince of Wales College.[1][2] Saund supported the Indian independence movement while studying at the University of the Punjab. In 1919, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in mathematics from the University of Punjab.[3][4]

In 1920, Saund immigrated to the United States using money from his brother to study food preservation at the University of California, Berkeley and arrived on September 27.[3][4][5] He did not return to India until 1957.[6] He graduated with a Master of Arts in 1922, and Ph.D. in 1924. He married Marian Z. Kosa, with whom he had three children, on July 21, 1928.[4][5]

Saund became a farmer in the Imperial Valley in 1925. His book My Mother India, a response to Katherine Mayo's Mother India, was published by Stockton, California's Sikh temple in 1930. He organized the Indian Association of America and served as its first president in 1942. He and the organization lobbied for legislation to allow Indians to be eligible for naturalization. The Luce–Celler Act was passed in 1946, and Saund gained American citizenship on December 16, 1949.[7][8][4]

Career

Early politics

Saund supported Franklin D. Roosevelt during the 1932 presidential election. He worked for Glen Killingsworth, the Justice of the Peace of Westmoreland. Saund was elected to the Imperial County Democratic Central Committee without opposition in 1950, with the aid of Killingsworth, who died shortly afterwards. He was later elected as head of the committee in 1954.[4][9] He served as a delegate to the 1952, 1956, and 1960 Democratic National Conventions.[10]

Saund ran for Justice of the Peace in the 1950 election, but was not allowed to take the position as he had not been a citizen for long enough.[11] In 1951, Saund attempted to be appointed by the Imperial County Board of Supervisors, but they selected Frank Lyall instead. Saund defeated Lyall in the 1952 election to become Justice of the Peace of Westmoreland.[3][12][2] He claimed to be the only native Indian holding office in the United States at the time.[13]

United States House of Representatives

Elections

Portrait of Saund during his tenure in the United States House of Representatives

During the 1956 election Saund ran to replace John R. Phillips, who was retiring, as the United States representative from California's 29th congressional district.[14] On April 16, a legal challenge was filed against Saund claiming that he had not been a United States citizen long enough to run in the election, but the challenge was dismissed by the 4th California Courts of Appeal.[15][16] He won the Democratic nomination and later defeated Republican nominee Jacqueline Cochran in the general election despite Dwight D. Eisenhower winning the area in the presidential election.[17][18][2] He became the first and only Sikh elected to the United States Congress as well as the first Indian and Asian American elected to Congress.[3][19]

Saund defeated John Babbage, a former member of the California State Legislature, in the 1958 election and Charles H. Jameson in the 1960 election.[20][21][2] He won renomination against Rya E. Hiller during the 1962 election, despite being hospitalized for a stroke he had on May 1, but was defeated by Republican nominee Patrick M. Martin after being hospitalized at the National Naval Medical Center for the entire campaign.[22][23][24][25]

Tenure

Following his election to the United States House of Representatives, Saund stated that he wanted a seat on the House Interior Committee to make sure that his district received a fair share of the Colorado River's water.[26] In 1957, he was appointed to serve on a sub-committee in the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs.[27]

Saund stated during the 1956 election that he would travel to Asia if elected.[9] He conducted a tour of multiple eastern Asian countries which included visits to Japan, Taiwan, British Hong Kong, Philippines, South Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Burma, India, and Pakistan in 1957. He also visited Israel, where he met with Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, on his way returning to the United States.[28][29] In Indonesia he met with President Sukarno and in India he met with Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.[30][31]

Death

Saund was moved to UC San Diego Health in 1963.[32] He died on April 22, 1973, following a second stroke in Hollywood, California.[33] Twenty-four members of the United States House of Representatives paid tribute to Saund on the House floor and a memorial service was held.[34]

Political positions

In 1957, Saund criticized the United States for its policy of "buying kings and protecting oil" in the Middle East while ignoring the people. He stated that the British had done a similar policy in India and were "tossed out of India". He stated that the same thing would happen to the United States if it continued the policy.[35] He praised President Dwight D. Eisenhower for his stand against the United Kingdom, France, and Israel during the Suez Crisis.[36] He criticized the United States Department of State for giving a more elaborate welcome to Queen Elizabeth II than any Asian leader.[37] He defended the United States during the Little Rock Crisis while on tour in Japan stating that in "thirty-five out of the forty-eight states of the Union there was no discrimination against Negroes in schools or public places".[9]

Electoral history

1956 United States House of Representatives California's 29th congressional district election[38]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Dalip Singh Saund 54,989 51.55%
Republican Jacqueline Cochran 51,690 48.45%
Total votes 106,679 100.00%
1958 United States House of Representatives California's 29th congressional district election[20]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Dalip Singh Saund (incumbent) 64,518 62.39% +10.84%
Republican John Babbage 38,899 37.61% -10.84%
Total votes 103,417 100.00%
1960 United States House of Representatives California's 29th congressional district election[21]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Dalip Singh Saund (incumbent) 76,139 57.05% -5.34%
Republican Charles H. Jameson 57,319 42.95% +5.34%
Total votes 133,458 100.00%
1962 United States House of Representatives California's 38th congressional district election[25]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Patrick M. Martin 68,583 55.94% +12.99%
Democratic Dalip Singh Saund (incumbent) 54,022 44.06% -12.99%
Total votes 122,605 100.00%

See also

References

  1. ^ Pradhan 1996, pp. 240.
  2. ^ a b c d Mackaye, Milton (August 2, 1958). "U.S. Congressman from Asia". The Saturday Evening Post.
  3. ^ a b c d "Breaking Barriers: Congressman Dalip Singh Saund". Pew Research Center. December 19, 2008. Archived from the original on August 24, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d e "SAUND, Dalip Singh (Judge)". United States House of Representatives. Archived from the original on August 24, 2020.
  5. ^ a b Pradhan 1996, pp. 241.
  6. ^ "Congressman Finds Indians Like U.S." The Olympian. January 3, 1958. p. 3. Archived from the original on December 11, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  7. ^ Pradhan 1996, pp. 241–242.
  8. ^ "Dalip Saund, 73; Former Congressman". Los Angeles Times. April 24, 1973. p. 46. Archived from the original on August 24, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  9. ^ a b c Saund 1960.
  10. ^ "SAUND, Dalip Singh (Judge) (1899-1973)". United States House of Representatives. Archived from the original on August 24, 2020.
  11. ^ "Dalip Singh Saund - First Asian in Congress". Clevland.com. May 11, 2012. Archived from the original on August 24, 2020.
  12. ^ "Justice Race Decided". Los Angeles Times. November 22, 1952. p. 7. Archived from the original on August 24, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  13. ^ "India-Born Man In Congress Bid". Des Moines Tribune. November 22, 1952. p. 26. Archived from the original on August 24, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  14. ^ "Area Voters Face Loss of Judgeship". The Pomona Progress Bulletin. January 20, 1956. p. 7. Archived from the original on September 3, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  15. ^ "Judge's Status As Citizen Challenged". Oakland Tribune. April 17, 1956. p. 9. Archived from the original on September 3, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  16. ^ "Challenge of Judge Saund's Candidacy Taken to High Court". The San Bernardino Sun. April 21, 1956. p. 25. Archived from the original on September 3, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  17. ^ "1956 Democratic primary". The Pomona Progress Bulletin. June 6, 1956. p. 1. Archived from the original on September 3, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  18. ^ "1956 election results". United States House of Representatives. September 15, 1958. p. 5. Archived (PDF) from the original on July 24, 2020.
  19. ^ "Dalip Singh Saund Collection". South Asian American Digital Archive. Archived from the original on September 4, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  20. ^ a b Moore, Preimesberger & Tarr 2001, pp. 1117.
  21. ^ a b Moore, Preimesberger & Tarr 2001, pp. 1122.
  22. ^ "Rep. Saund Wins Renomination". Press-Telegram. June 6, 1962. p. 5. Archived from the original on December 14, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  23. ^ "Secrecy Hides Saund Illness". Napa Valley Register. August 10, 1962. p. 6. Archived from the original on December 14, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  24. ^ "Ailing Saund Loses Race". Daily Times-Advocate. November 7, 1962. p. 2. Archived from the original on December 14, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  25. ^ a b Moore, Preimesberger & Tarr 2001, pp. 1127.
  26. ^ "Saund Seeks Appointment To House Interior Committee". The Desert Sun. December 19, 1956. p. 1. Archived from the original on September 5, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  27. ^ "Congressman Born in India to Visit There". Los Angeles Times. May 3, 1957. p. 7. Archived from the original on September 5, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  28. ^ "Representative Will Tour Asia". Appeal-Democrat. October 24, 1957. p. 12. Archived from the original on September 5, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  29. ^ "Saund Visits Israel Chief". Independent. December 27, 1957. p. 5. Archived from the original on September 5, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  30. ^ "Saund In Indonesia". Daily Independent Journal. November 14, 1957. p. 2. Archived from the original on September 5, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  31. ^ "Saund, Family Arrive In India For 3 Week Visit". The Sacramento Bee. November 26, 1957. p. 29. Archived from the original on September 5, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  32. ^ "Saund Moved to UCLA". The San Bernardino Sun. January 13, 1963. p. 6. Archived from the original on December 14, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  33. ^ "Ex-lawmaker dies". The Minneapolis Star. April 24, 1973. p. 9. Archived from the original on August 24, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  34. ^ "Veysey Issues Saund Tribute". The Desert Sun. May 19, 1973. p. 5. Archived from the original on August 24, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  35. ^ "US Congressman Warns Of Stakes In Red Cold War". Appeal-Democrat. October 23, 1957. p. 11. Archived from the original on September 5, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  36. ^ "Saund Lauds Eisenhower on Suez Stand". Los Angeles Times. December 2, 1957. p. 87. Archived from the original on September 5, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  37. ^ "Greater U.S. Courtesy To Asians Urged". Daily Independent Journal. October 29, 1957. p. 2. Archived from the original on September 5, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  38. ^ Moore, Preimesberger & Tarr 2001, pp. 1112.

Works cited