Hale Boggs, United States Representative
Hale Boggs' life was a tale of adventure, intrigue, and mystery. From his younger days as a Navy midshipman to his role as member of the Warren Commission, Hale Boggs served his country with honor and dignity. But he is perhaps best known for his mysterious disappearance, and the conspiracies borne in its wake.
Thomas Hale Boggs was born February 15, 1914, in Long Beach, Mississippi. He attended Tulane University, earning a degree in journalism in 1934 and his law degree three years later. A lifelong Democrat, he used his connections at school to win a spot in the United States House of Representatives in 1940. At 26, he was the youngest member in Congress. He only served one term before being defeated. He used this opportunity to join the United States Navy.
In 1946, with World War II over, Hale decided to re-enter politics and was again elected to the House to serve Louisiana. He served there the rest of his career, eventually becoming the Democratic whip in 1960, the same year his friend and fellow Congressman John F. Kennedy was elected to the Presidency. In 1952, he ran unsuccessfully for governor of Louisiana, a campaign hilariously and tactlessly recounted in the book The Big Lie.
The Warren Commission
On November 22, 1963 a nation was forever changed, and Boggs soon became an integral part of the investigation into the Kennedy assassination when he was named to the Warren Commission. He along with 5 other political officials began reading through thousands of pages of documentation and interviewing hundreds of eyewitnesses and personnel in an attempt to discover the truth behind the murder.
Finally, in 1964 the Warren Commission was released in a full report to the citizens of the United States. Its claim that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone and that John F. Kennedy was killed by one gunman was met with much skepticism. Boggs himself is credited with the name "magic bullet theory", and he later complained that the FBI had tapped his phone after he was named to the commission. Later he called J. Edgar Hoover a "thug" in a Congressional committee meeting.
Boggs continued to work hard in Congress, becoming a major proponent of the federal interstate highway program instituted by Lyndon B. Johnson. In 1970 Boggs' Democrats finally gained the majority power in Congress, and Hale became majority leader. However, at this time he became subject to a bribery investigation involving a parking garage near Capitol Hill. Boggs avoided the press as allegations came to light.
On October 16, 1972, Boggs, Alaska Representative Nick Begich and two others were on a plane between Juneau and Anchorage, Alaska when the plane disappeared and never landed. Search crews worked for 2 months trying to find any remnants of the plane or its passengers, but no one was ever found.
On January 1, 1973, House Resolution declared the two men dead. Boggs was replaced mid-term by his wife, Lindy Boggs. He was survived by three children: Thomas Jr., Barbara, and Cokie (later Cokie Roberts, television reporter and analyst.)
The entire mystery is complicated by two FBI telegrams suggesting that all four men aboard the plane had survived the crash and that the plane's crash site had been located. The telegrams confirmed the authenticity of one sighting of the downed plane, but to this day no official findings have ever been posted. Since then, numerous conspiracies have emerged about the FBI's role in Boggs' death, and the general reasons behind his disappearance.