Sixty Years Ago: Tip O’Neill for Congress

Mass Moments reminds us that on this day April 16, 1952 Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill  announced his run for the 8th Congressional District seat about to be vacated by John F. Kennedy. Kennedy was elected to the U. S. Senate later in the year. The affable, lovable, Irish gentleman from Cambridge had already served as Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Beneath the wit, charm and smile, Tip O’Neill was serious and skillful – the consummate politician who later reigned for 39 years in the U. S. House of Representatives – serving ten years as one of the most powerful men to become Speaker of the U. S. House. I had occasion to meet the Speaker for the first time during a trip to DC with Bill and the boys. He was incredibily charismatic yet down-to-earth – definitely of the people as he spoke of coming up our way as a kid to Nuttings Lake… all fond memories. The boys got to sit in the Speaker’s chair.  “All politics is local” he was wont to say… he remembered where he came from. As his  North Cambridge neighbors said, “His hat still fit.”

On This Day... 1952, Thomas P. (“Tip”) O’Neill of Cambridge announced that he would run for the Congressional seat being vacated by John F. Kennedy as Kennedy began a campaign for the Senate. O’Neill had already served seven terms in the state legislature. He would serve in the U.S. Congress for the next 39 years, the last ten as Speaker of the House. An affable man who believed “all politics is local,” O’Neill played an important role in national affairs —supporting civil rights, opposing the Vietnam War, and leading the fight for liberal causes. Although one of the most powerful men in the nation, at his death in 1994, O’Neill was remembered as a man who “never forgot where he came from.”
Read more here at


In 1978.  Jim Shannon a young lawyer from Lawrence won the Democratic nomination for the 5th Congressional District in a race to replace incumbent Paul E. Tsongas who was in the U. S. Senate race against incumbent Ed Brooke. Speaker Tip O’Neill came to Lowell to support Jim’s campaign. Below he is phographed at an event for Jim at the Speare House. Pictured: Jim Shannon, Marie Sweeney, Speaker O’Neill and Dr. Bill Sweeney. (Those were the days!)

One Response to Sixty Years Ago: Tip O’Neill for Congress