RICHLAND -- The current crop of Washingtonians are missing out on a heck of a story if they don't know about Harry Cain, says a Richland author.
Cain was mayor of Tacoma in the early 1940s, served in World War II under then-Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, was a U.S. Senator representing Washington, and was appointed by President Eisenhower to an anti-Communist board in the mid-1950s.
He was, at times, a Democrat and at other times, a Republican. But he always was a man of integrity who stuck to his principles, even when that meant going against his party and close friend Sen. Joseph McCarthy, Smith said.
C. Mark Smith of Richland, a one-time city economic development manager, spent more than two years researching, writing and ultimately, self-publishing a book about the life of the man he said inspired his own 40-year career in public service.
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He expects Raising Cain: The Life and Politics of Senator Harry P. Cain to hit local bookstore shelves and Amazon.com in a few weeks.
He wrote the book for people interested in Washington history and politics, or people interested in the history of civil liberties in the United States, or those who just like a good story.
In some ways, Cain's story is the story of mid-20th Century America. He started in Tacoma -- a town starting to boom when he became mayor in 1940 and World War II was looming, and bringing business to the local shipyards.
Smith said that as mayor, Cain modernized Tacoma, tackled sanitation and prostitution, and was the first of the city's mayors to use radio broadcasts to talk to citizens.
But by 1943, the war was in full swing, and Cain was recruited into the Army's newly formed military government branch.
His military service took him to Algiers, Italy and France for the Battle of the Bulge before being assigned to work under Eisenhower in London, where he was in charge of public relations and worked with the likes of Edward R. Murrow and Ernest Hemingway, who were covering the war.
Despite having been a longtime Democrat and a strong supporter of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the state GOP recruited Cain to run for an open Senate seat while he still was stationed in London. He lost that race, but ran again in 1946 and won.
Smith said Cain had become disillusioned with Roosevelt and the Democrats over the Second New Deal in the mid- to late-1930s.
To use current political terms, Cain was a conservative libertarian who believed in fiscally conservative policies, small government and individual liberties, Smith said.
"I think he would like and support some of the positions of the tea party," he said. "Certainly he would be opposed to some of the spending."
It was Cain's passion for individual liberties that led him to clash with Eisenhower and McCarthy -- whom Smith described as Cain's "best friend in the Senate" -- after failing to secure a second Senate term and being appointed to the Subversive Activities Control Board.
While on the board, a number of federal employees came to Cain and told him they were being fired or threatened with firing because of secret accusations, and no one would tell them what the accusations were, Smith said.
This was at the height of McCarthy's anti-Communist "witch hunts," and Cain learned that thousands of federal employees were losing their jobs because of having relatives who were Communists or came from Russia.
"That didn't sit well with Harry, so he made a speech in Spokane," Smith said.
That speech was followed by others until he was called on the carpet by Eisenhower and told to stop making trouble, Smith said. Cain refused to back down and lost his appointment to the board -- but his activism led to an end of some of the practices he fought against.
Cain also took a stand for gay rights while a Miami-Dade County commissioner in southern Florida in the 1970s, Smith said.
Although Cain was a family friend and a personal influence on Smith, the author said he approached the book like a professional historian and brought a dispassionate eye to Cain's life and career.
"He had plenty of faults, and they're all in there," he said.
* On the net: raising-cain-book.com