LaHistory: When The Majority Leader Vanished

Today marks the 45th anniversary of the strange disappearance of U.S. House Majority Leader Hale Boggs, a proud son of Louisiana.

Boggs was last seen on Oct. 16, 1972, boarding a twin‐engine Cessna 310 that was making its way from Anchorage to Juneau. He was joined by the pilot, Alaska Congressman Nick Begich and Begich’s aide. Boggs, for his part, was on his way to speak to a group of Democrats at a fundraising dinner.

The New York Times reported this the following day:

Mr. Boggs was first elected to Congress in 1941 and, at 26, was the youngest Democrat in the 77th Congress. He was defeated for re‐election two years later and joined the Navy, serving for four years. He returned and was elected to the House in 1946. He became the House whip in 1956 and majority leader in 1971. Throughout his 14 terms in Congress, Representative Boggs has tended to support liberal domestic legislation and voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a move that did not increase his popularity with some constituents.

Boggs, 58, had served 28 years in Congress and was expected to move up to House speaker around the time that his plane disappeared. Many forget, but Boggs was also a member of the Warren Commission, which President Lyndon B. Johnson charged to investigate the JFK assassination. (Related video can be viewed above.)

Boggs was still re-elected the next month, even though he was presumed dead. A few months later, his wife Lindy Boggs, who was previously featured in The Tracker’s history feature, took over his seat in Congress.

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