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Carl Albert

Carl Albert (May 10, 1908 - February 4, 2000) was a lawyer and American politician from Oklahoma. He is most well-known for his service as Speaker of the House from 1971 to 1977.

He represented the western portion of Oklahoma as a Democrat for thirty years, starting in 1947. He was a Cold War liberal, supporting President Harry S. Truman's containment of Soviet expansionism, as well as such domestic measures as public housing, federal aid to education, and farm price supports.

As Speaker of the House, Albert was next in line to assume the presidency following the resignation of Vice President Spiro Agnew. As the Watergate crisis began to unfold, President Richard Nixon was widely expected to resign before Congress could appoint a replacement, which would have made Albert his successor.

Albert was confronted with the question of whether it was appropriate for a Democrat to assume the highest office when it was held by a member of the opposing party. Albert considered that he had no right to a White House that the American people had entrusted to a Republican. He therefore announced that should he need to assume the presidency, he would do so only in an acting capacity, and would resign immediately after Congress appointed a Republican Vice President. Though the scenario never panned out, Albert nevertheless established an important precedent.

Early History

He was born Carl Bert Albert in McAlester, Oklahoma, the son of a coal miner and farmer. At high school he excelled in debate and was student body president. He entered the University of Oklahoma in 1927, where he majored in political science and won the National Oratorical Championship in 1928. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1931, then studied at the University of Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship. He returned to the U.S. and in 1935 practiced law in Oklahoma City.

Albert joined the Army Air Force in 1941, winning a Bronze Star.