Biography and History

Born in Trenton, New Jersey on July 26, 1918, Frank Thompson, Jr. was the son of newspaperman Frank Thompson and the former Beatrice Jamieson. His maternal uncles were Frank Jamieson, an advisor to New York's Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller, and Crawford Jamieson, state senator and Mercer County Democratic leader. Thompson was educated in public and private schools in the Trenton area and entered Wake Forest College and Law School in North Carolina, receiving his LL.B. in 1941.

After leaving Wake Forest, Thompson served in the Navy for seven years, which included service in World War II. He was elected to the New Jersey House of Assembly in November 1949 and served until war broke out in Korea. During the war, he served for 17 months as commanding officer of Naval Reserve Battalion 4-22.

Thompson was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1954 and initially assigned to the committees on Education, Labor, and Administration. Over the course of his Congressional career, he chaired the House Administration Committee, the Subcommittee on Labor and Management Relations, the Joint Committee on Printing, as well as the National Voters Registration Committee. Thompson placed an emphasis on education, music and the arts. Among legislation he introduced or cosponsored were bills to grant federal aid to college students, to support historic preservation, and to ease the tariff laws on art, among others. Thompson also fought to uphold and expand civil rights. He voted for the civil rights bills of 1956 and 1957. In 1956, he defended the right of a Princeton University campus society to invite Alger Hiss for a speaking engagement. In addition, Thompson took an active interest in matters of international relations. He favored a three-year reciprocal trade renewal bill, the Eisenhower Middle East Doctrine, and increasing of United States subscriptions to the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. On military matters he supported the Dept. of Defense Reorganization Act and an extension of the draft. A close political ally of the Kennedy family, Thompson ran John F. Kennedy's voter registration drive in 1960.

He voted against the Powell amendment to the school construction bill which prohibited federal funds to any state that does not comply with Supreme Court decisions. He was also opposed to killing the school construction bill of July 1957. Other domestic issues which he supported include policies to increase Congressional salaries to $25,000, restore rigid farm price supports, liberalize the Social Security Act, raise the minimum wage to $1 an hour, build 45,000 public housing units, construct the Colorado River storage project, grant statehood to Alaska and Hawaii, and authorize the Tennessee Valley Authority to issue $750 billion of revenue bonds to finance new power facilities.

Thompson's political career came to an end following his 1980 Abscam indictment and conviction. He served two years in prison near Lexington, Kentucky and moved to his home in Alexandria, VA . Thompson died in Johns Hopkins Hospital after an operation for throat cancer on July 23, 1989 at the age of 71.

Source: From the finding aid for MC132


  • Legislators -- New Jersey -- 20th century..
  • Frank Thompson Papers. 1955-1980 (inclusive), 1955-1970 (bulk).

    Call Number: MC132

    Frank Thompson was a New Jersey politician. He was elected congressman from the Fourth Congressional District of New Jersey in 1955 and was assigned to the Education, Labor, and Administration committees. The papers in this collection reflect his special interests in federal aid to education and the arts.