Lindy Boggs was elected as a Democrat to the Ninety-third Congress, by special election, to fill the vacancy left by the presumed death of her husband, Rep. Thomas Hale Boggs, Sr., whose small plane disappeared over the mountains of Alaska in 1972.
Mrs. Boggs was reelected to the eight succeeding terms in Congress. She served from March 20, 1973-January 3, 1991, when she retired to be with her ailing daughter, Barbara Boggs Sigmund, Mayor of Princeton, NJ. Mrs. Boggs was appointed Ambassador to the Vatican by President Bill Clinton in 1997, and she served that diplomatic post until 2001.
Her life and career are the subject of the documentary called Lindy Boggs: Steel and Velvet.
The wife of former House Majority Leader Hale Boggs and mother of three took over his seat in Congress after his small plane disappeared over the mountains in Alaska in 1972.
After winning a special election to fill the seat, the Pointe Coupee Parish native became the first woman to ever be elected to Congress from Louisiana. She went on to serve nine terms in Congress with seats on the powerful House Appropriations Committee and the Select Committee on Children, Youth and Families. During her tenure, Mrs. Boggs spearheaded legislation on everything from civil rights to equal pay for women and helped found the Women’s Congressional Caucus. Mrs. Boggs still holds the distinction of being the only women with a room named for her at the U.S. Capitol Building.
Her tenaciousness in getting legislation through Congress was legendary as she persistently applied pressure on legislators until she got what she wanted. Former Louisiana Senator J. Bennett Johnson likened dealing with Mrs. Boggs to the Chinese Water Torture because of her persistent, persuasive and effective methods.
Thomas Hale Boggs, Sr.
While in Congress, she also had the honor of being the first women to chair the Democratic National Convention and to serve as a Regent on the Smithsonian Board. Mrs. Boggs was also selected to preside over the Bicentennial of American Constitution in 1987 and the commission commemorating the 200th anniversary of Congress.
After ending her congressional career, the devout Catholic accepted President Bill Clinton’s offer to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See in Vatican City. She served in that post from 1997-2001.
The political legacy of the Boggs family has continued to grow over the years. Daughter Cokie Roberts and her husband Steve Roberts write a syndicated newspaper political column and Cokie is a Washington Correspondent for National Public Radio and ABC. Thomas Hale Boggs, Jr. is a successful Washington attorney and lobbyist while the late Barbara Boggs Sigmund was mayor of Princeton, New Jersey before succumbing to cancer in 1990. Cokie’s daughter and Lindy’s granddaughter Rebecca Roberts is the narrator for the documentary.