By Jody Brumage
In the middle of his first term in the United States Senate in 1963, Senator Robert C. Byrd secured federal appropriations to support flood control and river navigation projects. Many of these projects were authorized through the Flood Control Act of 1962 which authorized the use of federal funding, administered through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to construct dams, levies, and other flood protection infrastructure. In West Virginia, several projects authorized under this legislation were located along the Ohio River which forms the western border of the state and has historically acted as a major industrial transportation route for coal and other goods and resources. In 1965, Senator Byrd successfully increased funding for flood control projects in West Virginia to $45 million and initiated a series of programs to take advantage of the many facets of these large infrastructure projects.
Throughout his career, Senator Byrd urged his constituents and all Americans to learn about the history of the United States. Believing that an informed electorate was essential to the continuance of representative democracy, Senator Byrd encouraged programs such as "Teaching American History" and Constitution Day which provided funding and annual observances on which to reflect on the evolution of our country. Senator Byrd also wrote extensively on the history of the United States, both in his published books and in his weekly newspaper column.
Beginning in his first term in the United States Senate, Senator Byrd wrote a weekly column entitled Byrd's-Eye View. Printed in newspapers across West Virginia, the column became one of the most direct methods of communicating between Senator Byrd and his constituents. While many of the columns offer his perspective on significant legislative efforts or updates on projects around the state, Senator Byrd occasionally used the column to speak on a broader level. As our national celebrates the anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, we are sharing some of those Byrd's-Eye View columns in which Senator Byrd reflected on the legacy this momentous occasion.
Senator Byrd delivers a speech at Independence Hall in Philadelphia in July 1987 during the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution. On the rostrum behind him are (left to right) Senate Minority Leader Robert Dole, Congresswoman Lindy Boggs, Speaker of the House Jim Wright, and House Majority Whip Tony Coelho.
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