Wednesday, August 19, 2009


1954 - on this date LESTER HUNT, the senator from Wyoming, committed suicide in the U.S. Senate Office building in Washington, DC. He wasn't Gay. But his son was and this was enough to force Hunt to kill himself. Such was the stigma in 1950s America. Here's the rest of the story:
Hunt was a Democratic politician and dentist from Wyoming. He served as governor of Wyoming from 1943 to 1949 and as United States Senator from January 3, 1949 until his suicide on June 19, 1954.

In July 1953, Hunt's twenty-year- old son was arrested for soliciting prostitution from a male undercover police officer in DC's Lafayette Square. Republicans learned of this, and in early 1954, Senator Styles Bridges of New Hampshire delivered a blackmail demand. Hunt was to retire from the Senate, and not run for re-election. Furthermore, he was to resign from the Senate immediately, so the Republican governor could appoint a Republican to run as an incumbent. If Hunt refused, Wyoming voters would be informed of the arrest of Hunt's son. After some vacillation, Hunt announced on June 8, 1954, that he would not seek reelection. Eleven days later, he shot himself in his Senate office.

This blackmail and eventual suicide in a Senator's office was fictionalized by Allen Drury in his best-selling and Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Advise and Consent. Drury transferred the Gay incident from a Senator's son to a Senator, with the blackmailing Senator, Fred Van Ackerman, in Wyoming, not the victim, who was Senator Brigham Anderson from Utah.

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