John Ralph McDowell (November 6, 1902 – December 11, 1957) was a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania.


McDowell was born in Pitcairn, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Randolph-Macon Military Academy in Front Royal, Virginia, in 1923.


He was employed as a reporter on the Pitcairn Express in 1923 and worked on various newspapers until 1929. He was magistrate of Pitcairn from 1925 to 1928. He became editor of the Wilkinsburg Gazette in 1929 and president of the Wilkinsburg Gazette Publishing Co. in 1933.

Federal service

McDowell was elected as a Republican to the Seventy-sixth Congress, but was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1940 and 1942.

He was again elected in 1946 to the Eightieth Congress. During that session, he served on the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).

On March 16, 1948, McDowell introduced a bill to grant the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives or the President of the United States Senate the power to obtain secret documents from any government agency.[1][2] McDowell stated:

The President, in an election year, is pulling down an iron curtain between Congress and information on the Government ... There would be protection in two ways–against some official who might attempt to suppress for political or personal reasons information Congress should have, and against some weird committee chairman who might go haywire and demand and make public all kinds of secret documents.[2]

The day before, U.S. President Harry S. Truman issued an executive directive, which barred Congress from just that.[1] The Washington Post praised the President in an editorial, arguing "Every consideration of common sense backs it up as well, of course. The loyalty program would be meaningless if suspect employees were to be tried in newspapers and before congressional committees."[3]

McDowell was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1948.

Personal and death

McDowell committed suicide in 1957.

See also


  1. ^ a b Leviero, Anthony (16 March 1948). "President Orders Agencies to Bar Data on Loyalty: Issues Directive to Officials to Disregard Congressional and Court Subpoenas". New York Times. pp. 1, 30 (McDowell). Retrieved 31 December 2017.
  2. ^ a b Friendly, Alfred (16 March 1948). "Truman Tells U.S. Officials To Withhold Loyalty Files: Orders Rejection of Congressional Court Subpenas for Security Reasons". Washington Post. pp. 1, 6.
  3. ^ "Loyalty Reports". Washington Post. 16 March 1948. p. 10.

External sources

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
James L. Quinn
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 31st congressional district

Succeeded by
Samuel A. Weiss
Preceded by
Howard E. Campbell
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 29th congressional district

Succeeded by
Harry J. Davenport