From Ohio History Central
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William Moore McCulloch was a civil rights activist and member of the United States House of Representatives from Ohio in the mid-twentieth century. He was instrumental in crafting and passing several key pieces of legislation in the 1960s to ensure equal rights for all Americans, including the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and the 1968 Fair Housing Act.
William McCulloch was born near Holmesville, Ohio, in Holmes County, on November 24, 1901. After attending public schools in the area, he enrolled at the College of Wooster, where he received an undergraduate degree. In 1925, McCulloch earned a law degree from The Ohio State University and was admitted to the Ohio bar. After graduation, McCulloch practiced law for a period in Jacksonville, Florida, where he saw firsthand the unconstitutionality of segregation practices in the region. In 1928, McCulloch moved back to his home state and established a law practice with George Barry in Piqua, Ohio.
While residing in Piqua, McCulloch became active in politics. A member of the Republican Party, McCulloch was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives in 1932. During his tenure, McCulloch rose to important leadership positions, serving as House Minority Leader from 1936-1939, and as Speaker of the House from 1939-1944. He was the first House member to serve three consecutive terms as Speaker.
McCulloch was a constitutional lawyer. He showed his passion for equal rights early in his career and supported the local NAACP Chapter in its drive to end segregated seating in local restaurants. One of the earliest sit-ins in the area was held at the Union Bus Terminal lunch counter and marked the beginning of the end for segregated accommodations in the Piqua area. This was bold stance to take in a rural, white, middle-class, and conservative stronghold where the black population was a mere 2.7 percent at the time.
During World War II, McCulloch served in the U.S. military from December 26, 1943 to October 12, 1945. Although already 40 years old at the time, he resigned as Speaker of the House and enlisted in the U.S. Army serving overseas in Europe. Following the war, he resumed his political career.
In a special election held on November 4, 1947, voters of Ohio's 4th District elected McCulloch to represent them in the United States House of Representatives, filling a vacancy created by the resignation of Robert F. Jones. McCulloch went on to represent western Ohio in the House in twelve succeeding Congresses through January 3, 1973. He was popular and respected within his district, and his constituents reelected him by margins of 65 to 70 percent throughout his tenure. McCulloch was one of the few Congressmen who never used his entire office allowance, and every year returned the unused funds to the U.S. Treasury.
Although a political conservative, McCulloch is remembered as a champion of civil rights. Early in his tenure as Representative of Ohio