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[From the Washington Post, April 21, 1991]


Morris Udall, who has represented the Second District of Arizona in the House for 30 years, announced Friday that he will give up his seat because of ill health. In this town not noted for sentimentality, dismay at this loss is bipartisan. True, he was a formidable legislator, a powerful committee chairman and a nationally respected political figure. But these qualities, shared by a number of his peers, do not explain the response to his resignation Mo Udall will be missed here because of his unflagging wit, his warm talent for friendship and his simple decency.

His leaving is a blow for Arizona, a state that once counted in its delegation powerhouses like Barry Goldwater, Carl Hayden and John Rhodes. Following in this tradition, Mr. Udall was able to use his position as chairman for the House Interior and Insular Affairs Committee to protect and forward the interests of his state. Conservation and environmental legislation were his specialties, and he remains proud of his work crafting the Alaska Lands Act and the Arizona Wilderness Act. His influence on water rights issues and on Indian affairs was unchallenged. He has been so effective in the House that one Arizona friend, urging him to remain in office, said, "There is absolutely no one who thinks a freshman Congressman can do a better job than Mo Udall in a hospital bed."

When he left the circle of those who knew him best, in Arizona and on the Hill, he did not receive the kind of recognition and support he sought. He finished second in six presidential primaries in 1976 and described the experience with his traditional selfdeprecating humor: When he introduced himself to a barber in New Hampshire as "Mo Udall, running for President," the man responded, "I know. We were laughing about that just this morning."

In fact, because of his unpretentious wit and ability to see humor in political life--his own as well as others'--no one laughed at Mo Udall, but plenty of people laughed with him. When he leaves office next month, he will be praised for his legislative accomplishments and remembered for those personal qualities that have cheered his colleagues and won him friends across the political spectrum.

[From the Washington Post, April 21, 1991]


(By Jessica Matthews)

I'm not completely clear-eyed about this, I should confess that up front. I worked for Congressman Morris K. Udall for three years and came to feel for him enormous admiration and affection.

It is unpleasant to write like this, in the past tense. But Mo's resignation from Congress due to ill health after 30 years of service marks the end of a political career that deserves to be pondered and celebrated, for it epitomizes just how good American politics can be. He believed, and proved over and over again, that despite public cynicism and apathy, instant polls, sound bites and negative advertising, a politician in the United States can succeed by appealing to the best in his constituents and his colleagues.

This wasn't just a matter of refusing to trash public debate with feel-good slogans or inflammatory red herrings. Rather it was a positive belief that elected officials could raise public understanding through their handling of even the most complex or touchy issues. A liberal from a conservative state, often the only Democrat in the Arizona delegation, he had plenty of opportunities to put these convictions to the test.

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In 1967 Mo became one of the earliest elected opponents of the Vietnam War. At the time, his brother, Stewart, was serving in Lyndon Johnson's cabinet. The speech was to be delivered in Goldwater's home state in a district to which Udall had barely won election a few years earlier. He was repudiating not only his party and a president who did not easily tolerate disloyalty, but his own prior support of the war. The political risks could hardly have been greater.

He began, "I have come here tonight to say as plainly and simply as I can that I was wrong two years ago, and I firmly believe President Johnson's advisers are wrong today." He went on to detail the reasons for his change of mind and his proposed alternative policy. The audience, which had been skeptical to openly hostile, responded with a standing ovation. The following year he was reelected with 70 percent of the vote.

The speech was published the next day in one of Mo's now famous newsletters. These had no pictures or lists of accomplishments. Each was simply an essay, distilling his understanding of a major issue and nearly always concluding with his proposed policies. In his first decade in Congress he (not his staff) wrote more than 30 of them covering everything from gun control to arms control. He wrote about the connections between economics and energy use (years before anyone else saw them), and about his ideas on tax reform, welfare, the health of the House and of the political system, trade and nuclear first use. He sought out issues on which he and his district might disagree. The newsletter was the vehicle by which he gave himself and his constituents an all-embracing education in public policy.

In an accident of history, Mo was the last member sworn in by Speaker Sam Rayburn, who could not know that Mo's arrival would mean the end of old ways in the House. Believing that there was no good reason for newcomers to spend years just learning the ropes, Udall first co-authored "The Job of the Congressman," a book that quickly became a bible for members and staff. Then he directly challenged the archaic practices that kept congressmen waiting decades before acquiring power by making a symbolic run for speaker. It was a bold, even brash move that later cost him dearly, but, in the words of his friend and frequent ally David Obey (D-WI) "it gave heart to an entire generation" and broke the back of the seniority system. Later came reforms of the committee system, a sunshine rule that opened markup sessions to public scrutiny, creation of an ethics committee and a host of other improvements.

Udall compiled what a later speaker, Carl Albert, called "one of the most remarkable legislative records of all time." It was remarkably broad, but what was most unusual was how he did it: not simply by dealing and coalition building but through his personal example. On being elected, he resigned from his law firm--not then the usual practice--and became one of the first to disclose his personal finances, long before that was required. That laid the basis for his leadership in civil service reform and the break-through campaign finance laws of the early '70s, under which the Watergate abuses were prosecuted. His civility and unfailing decency and his commitment to extracting the best from the political process proved infectious. Colleagues found themselves following his lead out of sheer respect and affection.

He was able, also, to communicate his love for the environment. "A nation that does not love and respect its land," he said over and over, "does not respect itself." The citation to one of his many environmental awards reads "lion of the wilderness, champion of champions," which does not overstate his achievement.

Here is the measure, I think, of Mo's political career. Sit back for a moment and imagine a Congress full of Morris Udalls. Not necessarily those who share his interests or his political persuasion, but 535 men and women who share his faith that voters will respond to the best that is asked of them, who exemplify the highest in personal ethics and who follow the credo Mo followed without hesitation: "The job of leaders is to lead." Where might this country be today?

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One thing is certain. One of Mo's favorite jokes, an old line of Adlai Stevenson's, would lose its laugh. It tells the story of the little girl who said in her prayers, "God bless mother and father, and sisters and brothers. And now this is goodbye, God. We're moving to Washington."

[From the Washington Post, April 24,1991]


(By David S. Broder)

The losing presidential candidates in the past generation who were most cherished by the reporters who covered them were both Arizonans -- Barry Goldwater and Morris Udall. It had nothing to do with ideology and everything to do with character and personality.

Goldwater, a conservative Republican, and Udall, a liberal Democrat, shared traits that made them great friends despite their disagreements. They both had a deep aversion to self-important phonies. And they both knew that politics, like life itself, requires the leavening gift of humor.

Goldwater went home 4 years ago, hobbled by arthritic hips. And now Udall has announced his resignation from Congress because he has been immobilized by the effects of Parkinson's disease and the injuries he suffered in a fall down the stairs at his home.

Goldwater won his party's nomination in a year when no Republican could be elected. Udall lost the nomination in a year when the Democrats could--and did--win. Both had to overcome the frustration they felt; both succeeded, but Udall's was probably the greater triumph.

In his 1976 campaign, he went through a series of agonizingly close, second-place finishes to Jimmy Carter. He was the victim of the tactical amateurism of his own organization and of the cannibalism of the Democratic left. Three other liberals, with less chance of winning, stayed in the race and drained off crucial support. Had he gained the votes of only one of them, former senator Fred Harris of Oklahoma, he would have beaten Carter in New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Michigan--and history would have been different. He also was sold out by liberal trade unions, which used the excuse of Udall's independence on labor issues to rationalize their deal-making with the favored Carter.

All this he bore with remarkable good humor, bouncing back time and again to rejoin the battle. By the end, in Ohio, he was dead-broke, all but exhausted--and adored by the reporters covering him.

In retrospect, it clearly was not the time for a Udall presidency. Two years after Watergate, America wanted an "outsider" as president, not a longtime congressman like Udall or Jerry Ford. And 2 years before Proposition 13 triggered a national tax revolt, it was not the time for a man who told voters that until America is "a just society." government's his home since 1961 and the place where his skills as a legislator, a political conciliator and a reformer were most appreciated. The legacy he left there is imposing and enduring. It ranges from strip mining and Alaskan wilderness legislation to the reform of archaic committee and floor procedures that congressional barons had used to conceal their arbitrary power. For a whole generation of congressmen, Udall became a mentor and a model--and they will miss him as much as the press galleries do.

Few of them, unfortunately, can match him as a teacher. Like his friend, former representative Barber B. Conable Jr., the Rochester, NY, Republican who is retiring now from his job as head of the World Bank, Udall wrote his own newsletters, shar-

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ing with constituents his insights into the issues in the news and the ways of government.

So candid and delightful were these Udall newsletters that they were published in book form back in 1972. The title was appropriate -- "The Education of a Congressman" -- for Udall operated on the belief that representative government really is a continuing dialogue between citizens and their leaders.

Adlai Stevenson's belief that a campaign is a time to "talk sense to the American people" sustained Udall's run for the White House. His aides worried how to "pump Mo up" and "get him mad" at the opposition. He would respond with one of his hundreds of Lincolnian stories about the ridiculousness of overweening ambition.

But it was not a joking Udall who said in the midst of his own 1976 campaign, "Beware of the presidential candidate who has no friends his own age and confidantes who can tell him to go to hell, who has no hobbies and outside interests.... God help us from presidents who can't be a little bit gentle, and who don't have a sense of humor, and who can't gather friends around and play poker and climb a mountain. You know, these intense workaholics really worry me."

Mo Udall was a westerner and a liberal and a skeptic and a man whose humor was rooted in a deep appreciation of the tragedy of human life and the futility of human life and the futility of human striving. For all those reasons--and more -- he was special and precious to many of us.

What Archibald Cox said of him in a symbolic nominating speech at the 1976 Democratic convention was true: "By the count of votes, he did come in second, but he succeeded in the larger aim ... for he proved that a public figure, even in a long and heated political contest, can exemplify the best of the American spirit, that honor need not yield to ambition, that open-mindedness and willingness to listen are not inconsistent with devotion to principle, that civility can accompany tenacity and that humility should go hand in hand with power."

And, besides, he made it much fun.

[From the Washington Post]


(By Mark Shields)

To see the prodigious legacy of Representative Morris K. Udall (D-AZ) one need only look about the nation he so passionately loved and so ably served--at American hills rescued from the strip miner's scars by his legislative leadership. His public monuments endure: more than 100 million acres protected by the Alaskan Wilderness bill; a campaign finance law which, beginning in 1976, went a long way toward freeing our presidential elections from the millionaires' auction block; civil rights laws and civil service reform.

Mo Udall has been a gentle giant with laughter in his soul and integrity in his bones. He is that rarest of political liberals, a man who loves both humankind and real people, too. Those of us lucky enough to have been part of the 1976 Udall presidential campaign (with seven second-place primary finishes behind Jimmy Carter) will always remember the joy and never forget the frustrations. The easygoing Udall led a campaign more notable for its high spirits and abrupt changes of manager than for its competence and direction. To his credit as a person, but to his detriment as a presidential candidate, Mo lacked that all-consuming conviction that the fate, fortune and future of the planet depended upon his being elected.

How else to explain that year's Wisconsin presidential primary, when, after being declared a winner over Jimmy Carter by both NBC and ABC, Udall woke up the next morning to final returns which left him one-half a percentage point behind the

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Georgian? Masking the hurt and with the kind of perspective we so desperately need in a president, Mo, pointing to a reporter's notebook, had this to say to the press: "I'd like to ask each of you to take those statements I made last night and in every instance where you find the word 'win' strike it out and insert the word 'lose'."

"Humor," according to Udall, remained "the best antidote for the politicians' occupational disease; an inflated, overweening, suffocating sense of self-importance," of which there was never so much as a trace in the rangy Arizonan.

But Mo Udall will always be more than a roster of his greatest stories or a list of his legislative victories. He was a genuine political leader. To read the congressional newsletters he wrote to his Tucson constituents is to understand just how highly he valued the instincts and the intellect of the people he represented.

To his fellow citizens in the election year of 1966, he urged this response to increased federal spending: "Let's do it by tax increase and not by inflation." In 1967 his position on Vietnam was "to say as plainly as I can that I was wrong two years ago, and I firmly believe President Johnson's advisers are wrong today." To him the political leader's first responsibility was always to lead.

That kind of politics is not much in vogue in 1991. Represenative David Obey, the Wisconsin Democrat, believes what mattered to his close friend, Udall, was "how a great democracy goes about making up its mind and how its elected political leaders help the country frame those choices." Obey finds irony in the almost simultaneous departure from the political scene of the late GOP chairman Lee Atwater and Democrat Mo Udall. "Their approach to politics was mutually exclusive," he says. "One was scorched-earth, build up your opponent's negatives, and the other said: 'Let's try and raise people's awareness, while remaining friends with our opponents and never suggesting that everybody on the other side is a threat to national security or public safety.'"

There could be no more fitting tribute to the career of Mo Udall than to ask ourselves which kind of politics best serves our children's future and which kind we as voters will reward.

[From the Washington Post, May 4, 1991]


More than 300 well-wishers stopped by Arizona Representative Mo Udall's farewell party in the Rayburn House Office Building Thursday evening. From staffers past and present to environmental lobbyists, they came to pay their respects to the 30-year veteran, who was too ill to attend but who was represented by his wife, Norma. The big surprise guest was President Bush, who arrived early and stayed for a long time, and signed a 3-by-2-foot card "with love and respect from Barbara and me, G. Bush." "He had been invited as a formality," said Udall spokesman Matt James, "but we really didn't expect him to show up. It was a very kind gesture." Once and future presidential contender George McGovern also stopped by, as did dozens of representatives and friends. "It was a real celebration for Udall's years on the Hill. It was a very upbeat occasion," James said.

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[From Roll Call, April 22,1991]


(By Karen Foerstel)

Ending 30 years of service in the House of Representatives he loved, Representative Mo Udall (D-AZ), 68, announced his resignation last Friday because of an illness that has kept him hospitalized since January.

The resignation, effective May 4, was announced in two letters hand delivered to Speaker Tom Foley's (D-WA) office, one from Udall and one from his wife Norma.

As the letters were being delivered to the Speaker at about 4 p.m., Udall's daughter Anne and his chief of staff, Matt James, held a press conference in Udall's Tucson office announcing his departure.

Arizona Governor Fife Symington (R) has ten days from the date of Udall's resignation to announce a special election to fill the seat, the only Democratic one in the delegation. According to State law, the special primary election must take place 75 to 105 days after the resignation. The general election must then occur within 40 days.

The announcement of Udall's departure follows weeks of speculation about whether the former Presidential candidate and current Interior and Insular Affairs Committee chairman would step down.

On April 5, Norma, his third wife, wrote Foley of a possible resignation (Roll Call, April 11).

In Friday's letter to Foley, Norma Udall said that following discussions with doctors, family, an staff, "Our reluctant conclusion is that any improvement in his condition will be insufficient to allow him to resume his duties and responsibilities."

Norma also included a quote form Will Rogers that Udall kept on his desk:

"We come here for just a spell and then pass on. So get a few laughs and do the best you can. Live your life so that whenever you lose, you are ahead."

Norma included her letter by saying, "I believe my husband surely is 'ahead.'"

Udall's own letter to the Speaker consisted of one sentence: "I hereby resign the office of Representative for the Second Congressional District of Arizona, effective May 4, 1991."

Udall, throughout his life faced adversity. At the age of six, he lost his right eye when he and a friend were tying together a train made of Coke bottles. The two were cutting string with a dull knife when it slipped and landed in Udall's eye.

Despite the disability, Udall went on to star on the University of Arizona Basketball team and eventually played professional ball with the Denver Nuggets.

In 1969, while still a relative newcomer to the House with only 8 years seniority under his belt, Udall decided to challenge 77-year-old Representative John McCormack (D-MA) for the post of Speaker. He was the first Congressman in this century to challenge a sitting Speaker. Two years later, Udall ran for Majority Leader. He lost both races, but Udall's gutsy leadership bids paved the way for serious reform and helped uproot the firmly planted House seniority system.

In 1976, Udall lost the Democratic Presidential nomination to Jimmy Carter. his campaign, however, brought an able legislator who was little known beyond his district and the Hill to the headlines. A year later, Udall became chairman of the Interior Committee.

But a fall down a flight of stairs in his Arlington home on January 6, was one tragedy he could not overcome.

The fall left Udall, who has suffered from Parkinson's disease since 1980, unable to walk on his own and barely able to speak.

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In late January, the House voted to hand over the duties of running Udall's beloved Interior Committee to vice chair George Miller (D-CA). For the past 3 months, Udall has been hospitalized while undergoing physical therapy.

"Mo understood that there were worse things then getting people mad say you," Representative Dave Obey (D-WI) told Roll Call Friday. "He knew that political death is not when you get beat, it's having power and not using it."

Obey and former Representative Henry Reuss (D-WI) first suggested that Udall run for the White House.

"Mo Udall has more guts than anybody else around here," Obey said in 1975. "He violated the cardinal rule of the House: 'Thou shall remain anonymous.' And we all owe him for it."

Former Representative Jim McNulty (D-AZ), who served with Udall from 1983 to 1985, described in longtime friend as a "superb legislator."

McNulty first met Udall in college when he was campaign manager for a student running against Udall for class President. "We got beat," McNulty said. "And I never made the mistake of running against him again." McNulty is one of at least six Democrats who will likely run for the open seat.

During his years on the Hill, Udall became one of the most respected and best-liked Members in Congress. But he almost never made it to the Hill at all.

When Arizona's Second district seat opened up in 1954, Udall, who was then the prosecuting attorney for Pima County, considered running.

"I very much wanted to come to Congress," he said in 1972. "My brother hadn't even been in elective political life. I was the logical candidate."

Udall, however, deferred to his older brother Stewart Udall, who won the seat and held it until 1961. "It looked to me like he would make a career here, he loved it, and that I'd never make it to Congress," Udall said later.

But when his brother was appointed Secretary of the Interior by President John Kennedy in 1961, the younger Udall got his chance.

While in office, Mo Udall was not afraid to label himself a liberal. He was one of the first legislators to speak out against the Vietnam war. In 1967, he told a shocked Tucson forum, "I firmly believe President Johnson's advisers are wrong today.... We are on a mistaken and dangerous road."

Udall was also one of the first Members to push for campaign and congressional reform, supporting spending limits and pay raises for his colleagues.

When first elected to the House, Udall resigned from his law firm to avoid any conflict of interest. He later fought for the creation of the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct.

Udall was also a champion of the environmental movement. One of his proudest achievements was the passage of the Alaska lands bill that set aside 104 million acres as national wilderness.

Along with his legislative abilities, Udall was widely known for his sharp, if not spontaneous, wit.

He was often seen at town meetings and speeches with a weathered loose-leaf note-book packed full of jokes he had collected through the years. More than once, the six-foot, five-inch Congressman with the jokes always in hand was compared to Will Rogers.

One of his favorite stories was about "this politician who went to this little town to make his speech. 'Well, ladies and gentlemen,' he concluded, 'them's my views and if you don't like 'em, well then, I'll change 'em."'

But Obey warned that those who remember Udall most for his wit don't know the real Mo. "Humor was simply a tool," Obey said last week. "It was just a gracement that added to the flight of a political eagle."

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[From Roll Call, Monday, May 6,1991]



(By Karen Foerstel)

More than 500 Members and staffers gathered last week to pay tribute to one of the most popular legislators on the Hill, Representative Mo Udall (D-AZ), whose resignation from Congress officially took effect Sunday.

During a reception organized by Udall's staff last Thursday night, current and former colleagues, including President (and former Representative) George Bush, came to reminisce and bid farewell to the 15-term Congressman.

While at the reception, Bush signed an enormous, 3-foot tall get-well card for Udall. "To Mo, With love and respect. From Barbara and Me. G. Bush," the President wrote.

Freshman Members such as Representative Bill Brewster (D-OK) shared their memories of Udall, 68, with such old-timers as former Senator George McGovern (D-SD). McGovern was first elected to the Senate in 1972, 1 year after Udall came to the House.

Udall's resignation announcement came April 19 after more than 3 months of illness that left him hospitalized and unable to walk or speak.

Udall, who is still hospitalized at the Veterans Administration Medical Center, was unable to attend, but his wife Norma stood as his representative, calling the upbeat gathering "bittersweet."

"Mo loves Congress so much," she said to the assembled crowd. "I can't imagine what the House of Representatives will be like without Mo walking in the corridors, casting his vote. When you look at the Capitol dome at night, you just say it will never be the same."

Norma, Udall's third wife, said her husband will likely remain in the hospital for "many more weeks or more" but said that doctors predict he will regain his speech over the next few months.

On January 6, Udall fell down a flight of stairs, fracturing his shoulder bone and several ribs and suffering a concussion.

The fall also exacerbated the Parkinson's disease from which he has been suffering since 1980.

Norma said that Udall, who was renowned for his sense of humor, was keeping in good spirits.

"I've never seen him depressed," she said.

Just before Thursday's reception, more than two dozen House Members took part in an emotional 2-hour special order to pay tribute to Udall.

"We serve with many giants in this House, and we look out on the marble steps we go up and down, and the footprints that have worn down those steps," Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY) said on the floor. "But no one looms larger, leaves such footprints, and leaves such a space here, and yet so fills our hearts, as Morris Udall. I miss him, and I do not hesitate to say that I love that man."

Said Representative Norm Mineta (D-CA): "We will continue to be inspired by a man who has fought the good fight all his life--for decency, for human values, and for ordinary people. And in that, Mr. Speaker, Mo Udall will hardly be allowed to retire from this Chamber."

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[From the Tucson Citizen, April 19, 1991]


(By Norma Coile)

He should have been President.

That's what Tucsonan after Tucsonan is saying on this day that the retirement of Congressman Morris King Udall is to be announced.

Udall's retirement is to be made official this afternoon and become effective early next month. Governor Fife Symington then will call a special election, probably this summer, to replace Udall.

"Mo" Udall is considered one of the two great national figures homegrown in Arizona. And now that he's joining former Senator Barry Goldwater in retirement, an era is passing--one that this lightly populated state so far out of the normal power loop never had a rightful claim to.

One liberal, one conservative, they gave that era to us through sheer force of character.

Udall's role meant that Arizona protected its federal funding for one of the largest public works projects in American history, the $3.6 billion Central Arizona Project.

It meant that wilderness and parks were preserved throughout the West.

And it meant that Tucson had one of the most respected voices in Congress.

Former Tucson Congressman Jim McNulty remembers a time in the early '80s when he and Udell needed one vote to save an Arizona energy bill.

"He sent me to find a guy from New York, and I went and got the guy. The voting had theoretically ended, but the chairman hadn't hit the gavel. So I said, 'Bob, Mo wants to talk to you right now.' He said 'Yes, Sir' and followed me.

"Mo said, 'Bob, I need a vote in the very worst way on this measure. Let me tell you why this is a good thing.' And he ran through the items, the guy said thank you, walked down and changed his no to aye."


Even at the end of Udall's 30-year career in the House, when Parkinson's disease has all but stilled his stirring voice and slowed his 6-foot-6-inch frame, he commands rare respect.

Representative Jim Kolbe, a Tucson Republican, remembers when they were trying to rescue an Arizona wilderness bill last autumn in the final minutes of the session. Senator Alan Simpson of Wyoming, whose Republican politics couldn't be further from Democrat Udall's, didn't like it:

"So we just got a little meeting together off the House floor, because Mo really couldn't walk all the way over to the Senate. Senator Simpson came over and sat down with the Arizona delegation. He just kind of patted Mo on the arm and said, 'Well, I have some real problems with this bill, but my respect for you is so great, we'll work this out.' Mo really didn't say a thing."

Says Tucson environmentalist Priscilla Robinson, "At one time I was told that Mo commanded more votes on the floor than any other congressman--that simply by his saying, 'I'm for this,' about 140 to 150 congressman immediately would go with him.

"In the whole history of the Congress, there haven't been very many people like that."

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Next Page: Newspaper Tributes (Part 2 of 6)

Section Contents: Newspaper Tributes
Previous Section: Selected Speeches and Writings | Next Section : Letters of Resignation

Main | Contents | Illustrations | Book Cover | Title Page

Addresses and Special Orders Held in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate, Presented in Honor of The Honorable Morris K. "Mo" Udall, A Representative from Arizona, One Hundred Second Congress, First Session
Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1993