The Steelman Bicentennial

If there’s one thing Texans love, it’s the great state of Texas. If there are two things Texans love, they are the great state of Texas and the United States of America. We’re big fans of freedom and liberty here in the Lone Star State, and few events inspire as much civic pride as the American Revolution. As the American bicentennial approached in the mid-1970s, patriotic flag-waving reached a fever pitch. Communities across the country organized rallies and events to celebrate our nation’s 200th anniversary. Many applied for honored status with the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration (ARBA), a federal commission that urged community events to reflect a three-fold theme: Heritage ’76 (celebrating national history), Festival U.S.A (promoting tourism and exposure), and Horizons ’76 (looking to the nation’s future).

This week’s treat (or treasure!) comes from the congressional papers of Alan W. Steelman, who represented Texas’s 5th district from 1973 to 1977. During his tenure in congress, Steelman was recognized as one of Time magazine’s “200 Emerging Young National Leaders”, as one of “the best [representatives] ever sent to Congress for Texas” by The Dallas Times Herald, and as one of the “Ten Best Congressmen” of 1973 by  the Washington-based New Times. Perhaps most notable in his rise to such great political heights was his youth: Steelman was only 29 when he first sought political office. At the time, he was the youngest member of Congress.
Steelman was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, and attended Baylor University in Waco, Texas on a baseball scholarship. He received his B.A. in Political Science in 1964 and was President of both his class and fraternity before receiving an MLA degree from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. In 1972, he won a Kennedy Fellowship to Harvard for post-graduate study. His district included the cities of Garland and Dallas, both of which were selected by the ARBA as “Bicentennial Communities” after a rigorous selection process. For the third week in our Treats & Treasures series, feast your eyes on the following documents from Congressman Steelman’s correspondence with the ARBA and the American Revolution Bicentennial Commissions of both cities. (Click to enlarge)





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