JFKWHP-AR6295-O (crop): Special Assistant to the President for Congressional Relations Lawrence O'Brien, 25 January 1961

Coming from a background rich with political experience, Larry O’Brien was the perfect fit for Congressman John F. Kennedy’s 1952 Senate campaign. O’Brien used his organizational skills to help mobilize an army of volunteers, which eventually helped Kennedy defeat Senator Henry Cabot Lodge by more than 70,000 votes. Mr. O’Brien went on to serve as Director of Organization for both the Kennedy for President Campaign and the Kennedy-Johnson ticket. After his election, President Kennedy appointed Mr. O’Brien Special Assistant to the President for Congressional Relations. In this capacity, Mr. O’Brien worked to win congressional support for Kennedy’s New Frontier programs. Mr. O’Brien stayed on as a congressional liaison for President Johnson. During his time as Special Assistant to both Presidents, Mr. O'Brien was largely responsible for the passage of several landmark bills including the Peace Corps, the Alliance for Progress, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, an increase in the minimum wage and many others. Later, during the Johnson Administration, O'Brien worked on the 1964 Civil Rights Act and on enabling legislation for Medicare in 1965. In 1970, Mr. O’Brien became chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He revitalized the party’s organization, and fought for equal broadcast time. Ironically, O'Brien became associated with the Watergate scandal after operatives from the 1972 Nixon Committee to Reelect the President authorized were arrested for breaking into the DNC headquarters. In 1975, he left politics to become the Commissioner of the National Basketball Association.

1917 Born, Springfield, Massachusetts

1939 President, Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union (local affiliate)

1942 L.L.B., Northwestern University

1942 Served to Sergeant, United States Army

1946 Director, Foster Furcolo congressional campaign

1948 Director, Foster Furcolo congressional campaign

1950 Congressional Aide to Representative Furcolo

1950 Staff, John F. Kennedy Campaign for Senate

1952-1958 Businessman and President of the Board, Western Massachusetts Hotel and Restaurant Health Fund

1959 Director of Organization, Kennedy for President Campaign

1960-1965 Special Assistant to the President for Congressional relations

1964 Political advisor to President Johnson

1965-1968 Postmaster General of the United States

1968 Robert F. Kennedy Campaign for President

1968 Chairman, Democratic National Committee

1969 President, McDonnell & Co.

1969 Founder, O’Brien Associates

1970-1972 Chairman, Democratic National Committee

1975-1984 Commissioner, National Basketball Association

1985-1987 President, National Basketball Hall of Fame

1990 Died


The O’Brien Campaign Manual, 1960.
No Final Victories: A Life in Politics with John F. Kennedy to Watergate, 1974.


Current Biography, 1977. The H. W. Wilson Company. 1977.