Later known as the" Little Giant in Politics" and the "Pride of Red Bluff", Clair Engle was born in Bakersfield, California. Both encomiums fit this outstanding man. His political career started in high school where he was elected student body president and served on several important committees. He was a prominent member of the debating team and boasted of never losing a contest.
Clair was District Attorney of Tehama County at age twenty-three, California State Senator at thirty-one, Congressman at thirty-two, and a United States Senator at forty-seven. Such accomplishments come to few men.
A few of the highlights of his career are as follows:
- Sponsor of Federal legislation authorizing all major expansions of the Central Valley Project, including the Trinity River Project, Folsom Dam, Sacramento Valley Canals Project, and the San Luis Unit.
- Sponsor of supplements to the Reclamation Act, authorizing interest-free loans for small reclamation and irrigation projects.
- Author of the Saline Water Conversion Research Program.
- Author of several pieces of legislation to assist the domestic mining industry.
- Author of a law requiring Congressional approval of military land withdrawals exceeding 5000 acres from the public domain.
These few items point always to his concern for the West, and most particularly, Northern California.
A significant political measure of the man was his vote in favor of the Taft-Hartley Labor Law at a time when many politicians believed that this would be equivalent to political suicide in the ranks of labor. Not only did Clair Engle vote for the Law, he took his views into the labor spots of his nineteen-county Congressional District and carried such labor towns as Roseville and Redding by a bigger margin than ever before. It was the victory of a Statesman rather than of a Politician.