Window on Congress

Window on Congress

A Congressional Biography of Barber B. Conable, Jr.

James S. Fleming


University of Rochester Press



An analysis of the congressional career of Barber B. Conable, Jr., one of the most-respected legislators of modern times.
Barber B. Conable Jr. served as a Republican congressman from western New York from 1965 to 1985. He is recognized as one of the most respected members of the House of Representatives in recent years. This biography explores his twenty-year congressional career, focusing on his remarkable educational abilities as a gifted teacher-legislator. Using excerpts from Conable's private journal, his newsletters and news columns, and from personal interviews, James S. Fleming has crafted a book that enables readers to appreciate why Conable was held in high regard by his constituents, his colleagues, the press, and congressional scholars. Political scientist Charles O. Jones expressed the opinion of many when he observed that "Barber Conable was just about everybody's idea of what a congressman should be."
Recognizing the importance of Conable's western New York heritage, James Fleming traces Conable's story from his childhood in Warsaw, New York, to his election to the historic Eighty-ninth Congress of 1965-1966. Fleming's chronicle of Conable's subsequent legislative career offers a window on Congress and on an historic period in American history. As the fourth-ranking Republican leader in the House, Conable played a critical role in the Watergate investigation that led to the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon. As the ranking Republican leader of the Ways and Means Committee, he was a key contributor to the tax legislation passed during the Ford, Carter, and Reagan administrations. The highlight of his legislative career was his crucial work in solving the 1983 Social Security crisis. Fleming concludes the biography with a look at Conable's service as World Bank President and his retirement to his beloved western New York home.

In his foreword the renowned congressional scholar, Richard F. Fenno Jr. writes, "Barber Conable was an especially admirable United States Representative; and Jim Fleming has written an especially admirable congressional biography. This book is, therefore, a special gift."


May 2004
20 black and white illustrations
448 pages
9x6 in
ISBN: 9781580461283
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
University of Rochester Press
BISAC BIO010000, POL006000, HIS036000
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Table of Contents

Roots in Western New York
Becoming a Lawyer and Politician
Mr. Conable Goes to Albany
A Freshman in the Eighty-Ninth Congress
Appointment to the Ways and Means Committee
Support for Richard Nixon
The Watergate Betrayal
Toughest Reelection
A Friend in the White House
Republican Leader of Ways and Means
Cutting Taxes
Saving Social Security
Concluding a Congressional Career
Life After Congress


With his fascinating portrait of one of the ablest legislators on Capitol Hill, Barber Conable of New York, James Fleming has illuminated our understanding of the crucial role of Congress in shaping national policy. --John Brademas, President Emeritus, New York University; Member of Congress (Dem-Ind.), 1959-1981

Barber Conable is one of those rare politicians worthy of a book-length biography by an expert in his field. And Professor Fleming's biography is worthy of Barber Conable. --Theodore J. Lowi, John L. Senior Professor of American Institutions, Cornell University

A great member of Congress has found a wonderful biographer. --Burdett Loomis, Department of Political Science, University of Kansas