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Thomas J. Dodd

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Title: Thomas J. Dodd  
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Subject: United States Senate election in Connecticut, 1964, United States Senate election in Connecticut, 1958, United States Senate election in Connecticut, 1970, Abraham A. Ribicoff, William Benton (senator)
Collection: 1907 Births, 1971 Deaths, American Anti-Communists, American People of Irish Descent, Censured or Reprimanded United States Senators, Connecticut Democrats, Connecticut Lawyers, Deaths from Myocardial Infarction, Democratic Party Members of the United States House of Representatives, Democratic Party United States Senators, Dodd Family, Members of the United States House of Representatives from Connecticut, People from Norwich, Connecticut, Providence College Alumni, United States Senators from Connecticut, Yale Law School Alumni
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Thomas J. Dodd

Thomas J. Dodd
United States Senator
from Connecticut
In office
January 3, 1959 – January 2, 1971
Preceded by William A. Purtell
Succeeded by Lowell P. Weicker, Jr.
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Connecticut's 1st district
In office
January 3, 1953 – January 3, 1957
Preceded by Abraham A. Ribicoff
Succeeded by Edwin H. May, Jr.
Personal details
Born Thomas Joseph Dodd
(1907-05-15)May 15, 1907
Norwich, Connecticut
Died May 24, 1971(1971-05-24) (aged 64)
Old Lyme, Connecticut
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Grace Murphy Dodd
Alma mater Saint Anselm College
Providence College
Yale Law School

Thomas Joseph Dodd (May 15, 1907 – May 24, 1971) was a United States Senator and Representative from Connecticut, He is the father of former U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd and Thomas J. Dodd, Jr., who served as the United States Ambassador to Uruguay from 1993–1997 and to Costa Rica from 1997–2001 .


  • Early life 1
  • Nuremberg Trials 2
  • Congress 3
  • Senate censure and loss of office 4
  • Death and legacy 5
  • Portrayal in popular culture 6
  • Footnotes 7
  • External links 8

Early life

Dodd was born in Norwich, New London County, to Abigail Margaret (née O'Sullivan) and Thomas Joseph Dodd, a building contractor; all four of his grandparents were immigrants from Ireland. His paternal grandparents were farmers in the Housatonic river valley with large commercial tobacco leaf farms located near Kent and New Milford.[1] He graduated from Saint Anselm College's preparatory school, run by Benedictine monks in Goffstown, New Hampshire, in 1926.[2] He graduated from Providence College in 1930 with a degree in philosophy, and from Yale Law School in 1933. In 1934, Dodd married Grace Murphy of Westerly, Rhode Island. They had six children.[3]

He served as a special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1933 and 1934, the highlight of his career there being his participation in an unsuccessful attempt to capture John Dillinger at Little Bohemia Lodge.[4] He was then Connecticut director of the National Youth Administration from 1935 to 1938. He was assistant to five successive United States Attorneys General (Homer Cummings, Frank Murphy, Robert Jackson, Francis Biddle and Tom Clark) from 1938 to 1945.[5]

As a special agent for the Attorney General, Dodd was basically a trial-level federal prosecutor. He worked primarily on criminal and civil liberties cases, including the prosecution of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1930s.[5] In 1942, he was sent to Hartford to prosecute a major spy ring case in which five men (Anastasy Vonsyatsky, Wilhelm Kunze, and others) were accused of violating the Espionage Act of 1917 by conspiring to gather and deliver US Army, Navy, and defense information to Germany or Japan. Four of the five pled guilty; Dodd tried and won the conviction of the fifth man, Reverend Kurt Emil Bruno Molzahn.[6]

Dodd became vice chairman of the Board of Review and later executive trial counsel for the Office of the United States Chief of Counsel for the Prosecution of Axis Criminality at Nuremberg, Germany, in 1945 and 1946. He practiced law privately in Hartford, Connecticut, from 1947 to 1953.

Nuremberg Trials

Both Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, chief prosecutor for the U.S., and Dodd insisted upon a fair and legal trial to prosecute the Nazi war criminals. Dodd accepted Jackson's offer to join him in Germany. Dodd expected the position to last only several months, but he wound up spending 15 months there. Dodd suggested Heidelberg as the location for the International Military Tribunal, since it had survived the war almost completely unscathed, but Nuremberg was eventually chosen.[7] In October 1945, Jackson named Dodd to his senior Trial Board for the Nuremberg Trials, and later in 1946, named him Executive Trial Counsel, putting him in the number-two position at the trials. In the summer of 1946, Jackson appointed Dodd as the acting Chief of Counsel while he returned to DC. Dodd finally returned to the U.S. in October 1946.[5] He described the delegation as "an autopsy on history's most horrible catalogue of human crime."[8]

Dodd cross-examined defendants Wilhelm Keitel, Alfred Rosenberg, Hans Frank, Walther Funk, Baldur von Schirach, Fritz Sauckel and Arthur Seyss-Inquart. In addition to cross-examining, Dodd drafted indictments against the defendants, showed films of concentration camps, provided evidence of slave labor programs, and presented evidence of economic preparations by the Nazis for an aggressive war.[5]

Dodd showed through his evidence that Ukrainian Overlord Erich Koch and defendant Polish Overlord Hans Frank were responsible for the plan to deport one million Poles for slave labor.[9] Dodd also showed evidence that defendant Walther Funk turned the Reichsbank into a depository for gold teeth and other valuables seized from the concentration camp victims. Dodd showed a motion picture of the vaults in Frankfurt where Allied troops found cases of these valuables, containing dentures, earrings, silverware and candelabra.[10] Dodd showed many gruesome items of evidence, such as a shrunken, stuffed and preserved human head of one of the concentration camp victims that had been used as a paperweight by the commandant of Buchenwald Concentration Camp.[11]

Final pleas were made on August 31, 1946, and the Tribunal announced its judgment in September 1946. Dodd assisted the Allied prosecuting team of convicting all but three of the defendants.[5] All but one of the defendants had claimed innocence, including

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Abraham A. Ribicoff
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Connecticut's 1st congressional district

January 3, 1953 – January 3, 1957
Succeeded by
Edwin H. May, Jr.
United States Senate
Preceded by
William A. Purtell
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Connecticut
Served alongside: Prescott S. Bush, Abraham A. Ribicoff
Succeeded by
Lowell P. Weicker, Jr.
Party political offices
Preceded by
William Benton
Democratic Party nominee for United States Senator from Connecticut
(Class 1)

1958, 1964
Succeeded by
Joseph Duffey

External links

  1. ^ Battle, Robert. "The Ancestors of Chris Dodd". Retrieved 2007-09-04. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b "Thomas J. Dodd, 1907-1971". Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.  
  4. ^ Dodd, Thomas in American National Biography, American Council of Learned Societies, 2000.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Barrett, John Q. (March 2005). "From Justice Jackson to Thomas J. Dodd to Nuremberg" (PDF). Archived from the original (pdf) on 2007-10-24. Retrieved 2007-09-04. 
  6. ^  
  7. ^  
  8. ^ Boyd, James (1968). Above the Law. The Rise and Fall of Senator Thomas J. Dodd. New York: The New American Library. p. 12.  
  9. ^ "Ukraine Murder Chief Still Hunted by Allies".  
  10. ^ "Funk Claims Aides Handled ‘Stained’ Gold".  
  11. ^ "[Nuremberg Trials]".  
  12. ^ McLaughlin, Kathleen (1946-09-01). "20 of 21 Nazis Claim Innocence As Nuremberg Trial Is Concluded".  
  13. ^ "Convictions Asked for 6 Nazi Groups".  
  14. ^ "Rejects Polish Badge of Honor as a Dishonor".  
  15. ^ "Nazi Trial Prosecutor Rejects Polish Medal".  
  16. ^ Gerassi, John (1966) [1965]. The Great Fear in Latin America. New York: Collier Books. p. 183.  
  17. ^ a b North American Congress on Latin America. "Guatemala", North American Congress on Latin America, Berkeley, 1974, p. 84-85.
  18. ^ Ocala Star Banner, April 5 1967,828072&hl=en
  19. ^ Sterling, Christopher Hastings., and John Michael. Kittross. Stay Tuned: a Concise History of American Broadcasting. Belmont, Calif: Wadsworth, 1990. Print.
  20. ^ Zimring, Franklin E. (1975). "Firearms and Federal Law: The Gun Control Act of 1968".  
  21. ^ Digital Scholarship Lab. "History Engine: Tools for Collaborative Education and Research - Episodes". Retrieved August 3, 2015. 
  22. ^
  23. ^ Statement from Senator Chris Dodd
  24. ^ "DODD, Thomas Joseph - Biographical Information". Retrieved August 3, 2015. 
  25. ^ "Elections". UPI. Retrieved August 3, 2015. 
  26. ^ a b Martin, Douglas (April 17, 2009). "Michael O’Hare, Figure in Ethics Case, Dies at 73".  .
  27. ^ Pearson, Drew & Anderson, Jack (1968). "The Case against Congress: A Compelling Indictment of Corruption on Capitol Hill". New York: Simon and Schuster. .
  28. ^ Pearson v. Dodd. 11 Prosser, Wade and Schwartz's Torts Cases and Materials 81-84. United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit. 1969. Print.
  29. ^ Dodd Center Website,
  30. ^ Dodd Prize website,
  31. ^
  32. ^ "Nuremberg (2000) (TV)".  
  33. ^ "Nuremberg: Nazis on Trial (2006) (TV)".  


Thomas J. Dodd has been portrayed by the following actors in film, television and theater productions;

Portrayal in popular culture

In 2008, Saint Anselm College in Goffstown, New Hampshire established the Senator Thomas J. Dodd Center for the Study of International Affairs and Law. The center seeks to promote understanding of the forces that drive politics and the political economy in the global world; to sensitize students to the cultures of other countries, and to spur interest in the needs and problems of other nations and countries.[31]

In 2003, the University of Connecticut established the Thomas J. Dodd Prize in International Justice and Human Rights.[30]

In 1995, The Thomas J. Dodd Research Center was established at the University of Connecticut. The Thomas J. Dodd Research Center or Dodd Research Center houses the Human Rights Institute, Archives & Special Collections for the University of Connecticut Libraries, and the Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Connecticut.[29]

Thomas J. Dodd Memorial Stadium in Norwich was named in his honor.

Months after his defeat, Dodd died from a heart attack at his home. His son Christopher Dodd was elected to the Senate as a Connecticut Democrat in 1980.

Death and legacy

In 1967 Dodd became the first Senator censured by the US Senate since Joseph McCarthy in 1954,[22] and was one of only six people censured by the Senate in the 20th century. After pursuing gun restrictions, the outraged firearms industry, which Dodd represented, investigated Dodd for any mishaps.[23] The resulting censure was a condemnation and finding that he had converted campaign funds to his personal accounts and spent the money.[24][25] Beyond the Senate Ethics Committee's formal disciplinary action, other sources (such as investigative journalist Drew Pearson and Jack Anderson's Congress in Crisis) suggest[26] Dodd's corruption was far broader in scope, and there were accusations of alcoholism.[26][27] In response to these accusations, Dodd filed a lawsuit against Pearson claiming that Pearson had illegally interfered with his private property. Although the district court granted a partial judgment to Dodd, the appellate court ruled in favor of Pearson on the grounds that Dodd's property had not been physically abused.[28] In 1970, the Democrats endorsed for his seat Joseph Duffey, who won the nomination in the primary. Dodd then entered the race as an independent, taking just under a quarter of the vote, in a three-way race which he and Duffey lost to Lowell Weicker.

Senate censure and loss of office

Dodd played an instrumental role in the prohibition of LSD in the United States, presiding over subcommittee hearings purportedly investigating the drug's effects on youth. Notably, Harvard psychologist and LSD proponent Timothy Leary was called to testify. Despite that Leary urged lawmakers to enact a strictly regulated framework where LSD would remain legal, Dodd and his colleagues drafted a ban which was later adopted. This event was one episode in the prelude towards an all-out "War on Drugs" in the 1970s.[21]

As chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency, Dodd worked to restrict the purchase of mail order handguns, and later shotguns and rifles. These efforts culminated in the Gun Control Act of 1968, which Dodd introduced, including certain registration requirements.[20]

In addition to his work in the Congo Senator Dodd opened what became nearly three years of intermittent hearings. The results of the three committee staff monitoring reports of television content in 1954, 1961, and 1964 showed incidents of violence. Senator Dodd and Estes Kefauver are the two men responsible for informing the public of the effects of violence on juveniles.[19]

In 1961, Dodd visited the Congo to investigate the civil war caused by the secession of the province of Katanga.

Before becoming a U.S. senator, Dodd was hired to lobby for [18]

Dodd was elected as a Democrat to the House of Representatives in 1952, and served two terms. He lost a Senate election in 1956 to Prescott S. Bush, but was elected in 1958 to Connecticut's other Senate seat and then re-elected in 1964.


Dodd was given several awards in recognition of his work at the Nuremberg trials. Jackson awarded him the Medal of Freedom in July 1946 and President Harry Truman awarded him the Certificate of Merit, which Jackson personally delivered to him in Hartford in the fall of 1946.[5] Dodd also received the Czechoslovak Order of the White Lion.[3] In 1949, the Polish government had intended to award Dodd with a badge of honor called the Officer's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta, but Dodd rejected the medal due to his commitment to human rights and views that the Polish government was imposing a tyranny similar to that imposed by the Nazis, and accepting an honor from the President of Poland would be like accepting one from the Nazis.[14][15]


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