Senator J. Allen Frear, Jr. papers

Biographical and Historical Notes

J. Allen Frear, Jr. (1903-1993) was a politician from Dover, Delaware (Kent County). A member of the Democratic Party, Frear served two terms as U.S. Senator from Delaware.

Joseph Allen Frear, Jr., was born on March 7, 1903, on Cypress Glen Farm near Rising Sun, Delaware. He was the youngest of three children born to Joseph Allen Frear and Clara Lowber Frear. Allen Frear attended Rising Sun Rural Elementary School and graduated from Caesar Rodney High School in June 1920. He attended Delaware College, which changed its name and status to the University of Delaware in the middle of his collegiate tenure. Frear was graduated from the University of Delaware in 1924 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Sciences. On February 11, 1933, Frear married Esther Viola Schauer of Hartford, Wisconsin, and settled in Dover. Their first child, Fred Frear, was born on April 19, 1934, and their second child, Clara Louise Frear, was born on November 15, 1942.

While residing in Dover, Frear owned and operated a retail store and pursued interests in banking and finance, serving on several regional committees. Frear was on the Board of Directors for the Federal Land Bank of Baltimore from 1938 to 1948, serving as chairman from 1946 to 1948. He also was a member of the boards of the Baltimore Trust Company (Camden, Maryland), the Farmers Bank of the State of Delaware, the Delaware Safety Council, the Delaware Blood Bank, and the University of Delaware. From 1947-1951, Frear served as president of the Board of Trustees of the Kent General Hospital in Dover. Additionally, Frear was a commissioner to Delaware State College from 1936 to 1941, the Old Age Welfare Board from 1937 to 1948, and Delaware State Hospital from 1946 to 1949.

J. Allen Frear, Jr., was commissioned as a captain in the Allied Military Government field, a Civil Service branch of the U.S. Army, in 1944. His military training was completed at Harvard University, after which he traveled to England for his overseas assignment. Frear entered Normandy, France, with the allied invasion forces on D-Day, and was afterwards promoted to the rank of Major. After the hostilities had come to an end in Europe in 1946, Frear was honorably discharged and returned to civilian life in Dover, Delaware.

Upon his return to Dover, Frear became an official member of the Officers' Reserve Corps, the American Legion, and Veterans of Foreign Wars. Frear, having been inducted into the Sigma Nu Fraternity and the Derelicts Society, an honorary society at the University of Delaware, maintained a strong sense of loyalty to fraternal orders throughout his life. He was a member of the Wilmington Rotary Club, the Delaware Grange, the Nur Temple, the Wilmington Order of Court Jesters, the Tall Cedars of Lebanon, the Wilmington Club, and the Order of Freemasons, in which he attained the distinguished rank of a 33 1/3 degree Mason.

Frear was also a lifelong member of the Peoples' Church, a Congregational Christian church in Dover, Delaware, and served as the President of the Church's board for several years. Additionally, Senator Frear participated in several Bible study and prayer groups.

In 1947, J. Allen Frear, Jr., applied for and was accepted to the University of Delaware's graduate program in economics. However, his 1948 senatorial election bid was successful and Frear pursued a new career in the political spectrum. Although Frear had no direct political experience other than his involvement with financial boards and state commissions, J. Allen Frear, Jr., defeated C. Douglass Buck, the incumbent Republican from Wilmington, in the U.S Senate race of 1948. Frear served as the junior Democratic Senator with Republican Senator John J. Williams (from Millsboro), and was re-elected to a second term in 1954. Frear served in Congress from January 3, 1949 until January 3, 1961.

Senator Frear's congressional work focused on issues directly affecting the state of Delaware. He was strongly endorsed by Delaware labor unions and farmers, and worked diligently throughout his career to further aid to farmers and blue collar workers. Senator Frear represented Delaware's major industries as well, and was instrumental in passing legislation which eased the burden on shareholding taxpayers who had invested in the Du Pont-General Motors merger before the onset of antitrust legislation in 1950. Additionally, in 1958 Frear was effective in preventing the Army from closing the Lenape Ordinance District Plant which was operated by Chrysler Corporation in Newark, saving hundreds of Delaware jobs. Throughout the 1950s, Frear sought federal contracts for the state and promoted development of the Air. Force Base in Dover. He was a strategic player in ending the Pennsylvania Railroad strike of September 1960, an issue of great concern to Delaware agricultural and industrial constituents whose shipping needs were affected by the strike.

Frear was dedicated to his individual constituents, assisting the citizens of Delaware with issues large and small. He hosted tours of the Capital and introduced young Delawareans to government; navigated the labyrinth of bureaucracy for veterans, civil servants, and immigrants; and secured federal disaster relief for hurricane victims.

Senator Frear's participation and organizational efforts were crucial to the success of several annual Delaware state events, such as the Pushmobile Derby, Dover Day, and the Delmarva Chicken Festival, an extremely important event in the Delaware-Maryland-Virginia poultry-producing region. He was also heavily involved with planning the New Castle Tercentenary and Independence Day celebrations.

Reflecting his pre-Congressional experience, Senator Frear's committee assignments concerned finance, banking, and fiscal responsibility. During his tenure in office, Senator Frear was third ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee, fourth ranking member on the Banking and Currency Committee, and served on the Senate Committee for the District of Columbia. During the 85th Congress (1957-1958), Senator Frear served as chairman of the Subcommittee on Federal Reserve and the Fiscal Affairs Committee. Other subcommittee participation included Banking, International Finance, Judiciary, Securities, and Production and Stabilization. Additionally, Senator Frear was appointed to the Joint Committee on Defense Production and the Joint Committee on Internal Revenue and Taxation.

Throughout his tenure in office, Senator Frear traveled extensively on congressional business, visiting Panama, Brazil, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, and many countries hosting summits and international parliamentary conferences in western Europe. Frear taped several speeches during his 1959 visit to Indonesia, which were later aired to his constituents on WDEL.

Senator Frear addressed the people of Delaware in weekly radio broadcasts called "The Week in Congress." In these brief addresses, Senator Frear communicated to his constituent audience synopses of the events, discussions, and decisions made during the previous week in Congress. He also used this forum to state positions on international affairs and foreign policy, such as the Korean War, General MacArthur's dismissal, and containment of Communism through a variety of measures.

Frear's two terms in office spanned the dynamic decade of the 1950s when Americans faced the Korean War, McCarthyism, desegregation, atomic energy, and the Cold War. He was defeated in his 1960 bid for re-election to the U.S. Senate by Delaware's member-at-large in the House, J. Caleb Boggs. Frear was appointed by his former Senate colleague, President John F. Kennedy, to the Securities and Exchange Commission in 1960 where he served until 1963. He then returned to Dover to pursue his interests in banking and finance.

Senator Frear was highly revered for his dedication to the state of Delaware and its citizens. He was a distinguished alumnus of the University of Delaware, serving its board and supporting its School of Agriculture. This archival collection of the Senator J. Allen Frear, Jr. papers reflects his profound and personal interest in the welfare of Delawareans during the 1950s. Constituent correspondence, legislation and reports found throughout the collection are testimony to Senator Frear's congressional accomplishments on behalf of the state and its citizens.


Biographical information derived from the collection.

Scope and Content Note

The Papers of Senator J. Allen Frear, Jr., are primarily those of his congressional career, when he represented Delaware in the U.S. Senate from 1949-1960, though the collection also includes personal material from pre- and post-Congressional periods. The collection spans 1917-1963, with bulk dates 1949-1961 and a lesser bulk of material dating from 1920-1924. The collection consists of correspondence, memoranda, reports, legislation, speeches, clippings, photographs, and audio-visual material. Personal material includes correspondence, class notes, travel brochures and post cards, and memorabilia.

The vast majority of the collection was compiled during Senator Frear's two terms in the U.S. Senate and reflects the full range of responsibilities of that office. As far as possible, the original order of the files has been retained to document the functions of the office. There are four sub-groups of materials in the collection: I. Delaware and Delawareans, II. Legislative files, III. Administrative and Personal office files, and IV. Personal.

The first sub-group, Delaware and Delawareans, consists of file series documenting Senator Frear's congressional activities performed in the interest of his state, or with and for Delawareans. These files document work on behalf of constituents, such as supporting Academy recommendations, nominating postal employees, securing federal aid for state disasters, or providing information for individuals needing government assistance. The series of files in this sub-group include correspondence related to all aspects of dealing with the federal government, with most access points to file contents by topic, or federal agency or department.

The sub-group of Delaware and Delawareans also documents the "politicking" nature of senatorial duties and the networks which support effective performance in the office. The work of Senator Frear's staff is evident throughout the files, as are his contacts with Senate colleagues, government offices, and federal departments. The Delaware organizations, constituent bodies, and businesses represented in these files include social, labor, religious, educational, state government, industry, and agriculture groups. A number of invitations, public relations activities, political party engagements, and campaign files also reflect the complicated schedule Senator Frear met in representing his constituents.

The second sub-group, Legislative files, includes series documenting the legislative and committee functions of Senator Frear's office. The sub-group consists of working drafts and final bills and resolutions, background research for legislation, correspondence with congressional colleagues, and correspondence from constituents supporting, denouncing, or otherwise expressing opinions on legislation. The sub-group also includes voting records for examination of Frear's position on any vote during his two terms, and a small series of files from his committee work. Official records of committees are transferred to the National Archives, but the small amount of material here does give some record of the financial, banking, and economic scope of Senator Frear's committee assignments.

The third sub-group, Administrative and Personal office files, includes resourceful visitor and telephone logs maintained by the Senator's staff which provide quick summaries of the Senator's activities and personal appointments. In addition, the sub-group includes Senate manuals and procedures which may aid understanding of how Congress works.

The fourth sub-group, Personal, includes speeches, sound recordings, and photographs related to Frear's congressional career. In addition, the sub-group includes earlier material spanning 1917-1927, primarily from Frear's student days at the University of Delaware; and post-congressional material, primarily reflecting social engagements but providing a small glimpse of his association with the Securities Exchange Commission. The post-congressional series also includes followup files for Frear's earlier support of S. 200, for the relief of Du Pont-GM stockholders.

Detailed scope and content descriptions precede contents lists for each series.