Thursday, January 15, 2015



Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Fifty-five years ago today, January 15, 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy, candidate for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States, met with Wisconsin Congressman Clement Zablocki* and then flew to Louisville, Kentucky before going to Palm Beach, Florida for the weekend.

According to a JFK 1960 campaign brochure, Congressman Zablocki had co-sponsored a bill with Senator Kennedy which proposed to "widen cracks in the Iron Curtain through loans, food and other peaceful means."

Also in a campaign speech, JFK spoke about the "Zablocki-Kennedy Bill as (Congressman Zablocki) calls it, or the Kennedy-Zablocki Bill as I sometimes refer to it."

Senator Kennedy said the bill was defeated because President Dwight D. Eisenhower withdrew his support.  JFK used this as an example to illustrate the power held by the President of the United States.

In another campaign speech in Milwaukee, JFK said...

"We pay tribute to Casimir Pulaski tonight by honoring a great American of Polish descent, Clem Zablocki, for he has...the same courage and conscience, the same zeal for liberty, the same tireless patience and determination..."

As a legislator, Congressman Zablocki was described as "a conciliator...who preferred consensus to confrontation" and "an unassuming figure who stood a head shorter than many of his colleagues."  

The Congressman was very proud of the people he represented in his blue-collar district in South Milwaukee.

As Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the House of Representatives, Zablocki helped negotiate with the Reagan Administration to allow United States Marines to remain in Beirut, Lebanon through March 1985.

Clement J. Zablocki
Collection of the House of Representatives

*Clement John Zablocki (1912-1983) was born in Milwaukee, WI to Polish-American immigrants and graduated from Marquette University.  He was elected to the Wisconsin State Senate in 1942 and the US Congress in 1948.  CJZ served in Congress until his death in 1983.  He served as Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee from 1977 to 1983.

CJZ died at the age of 71 of complications of a heart attack.   The Congressman is buried in St. Adalbert's Cemetery in Milwaukee.


"Clement J. Zablocki of Foreign Affairs Panel Dies," by Steven V. Roberts, New York Times Obituaries,  December 4, 1983,

"JFK Speeches:  Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Pulaski Day Dinner, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, October 17, 1959,