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Wed, 08.09.1905

Robert Nix Sr., first Keytone State Congressman

Robert Nix Sr.

*Robert Nelson Cornelius Nix Sr., was born on this date in 1905. He was a Black politician and the first Black congressman from Pennsylvania,

From Orangeburg, S. C., after graduating from Townsend H. S. in New York City he entered Lincoln University, graduating in 1921. He received his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania and began practicing in Philadelphia.  Robert Nix became active in Democratic politics as a committeeman from the fourth ward in 1932.  In 1958 he defeated two opponents to fill a congressional vacancy, a position he held for the next twenty years. During his years in the house Robert Nix served on the Veterans Affairs Committee, Foreign Affairs Committee and the Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries.

An elected official who rarely wanted or attracted widespread publicity, he supported liberal legislation.  He worked for passage of the landmark civil rights legislation of the 1960s and privately sought to prevent the House from denying Rep. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. his seat in the Ninetieth Congress. In 1975 as chairman of the Subcommittee on International Economic Policy, he introduced an amendment to the Foreign Military Sales Act requiring the Defense Department to provide Congress with information on identities of and fees received by agents who negotiate arms sales for American firms.  In 1978, he lost to William Gray III trying to win an eleventh term. Robert Nix died in 1987.

Reference: Black Americans In Congress 1870-1989.
Bruce A. Ragsdale & Joel D. Treese
U.S. Government Printing Office
Raymond W. Smock, historian and director 1990 E185.96.R25

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