|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Georgia's 7th district
January 3, 1975 - September 1, 1983
Lawrence Patton McDonald
April 1, 1935
Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
near Sakhalin, Soviet Union
|Spouse(s)||Anna Tryggvadottir (Divorced)|
Kathryn Jackson (1975-1983)
Emory University (MD)
|Branch/service||United States Navy|
|Years of service||1959-1961|
Lawrence Patton McDonald (April 1, 1935 - September 1, 1983) was an American politician and a member of the United States House of Representatives, representing Georgia's 7th congressional district as a Democrat from 1975 until he was killed while a passenger on board Korean Air Lines Flight 007 when it was shot down by Soviet interceptors.
A conservative Democrat, McDonald was active in numerous civic organizations and maintained one of the most conservative voting records in Congress. He was known for his staunch opposition to communism. He was the second president of the John Birch Society.
Larry McDonald was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, more specifically in the eastern part of the city that is in DeKalb County. General George S. Patton was a distant relation. As a child, he attended several private and parochial schools before attending a non-denominational high school. He spent two years at high school before graduating in 1951. He studied at Davidson College from 1951-53, spending time studying history. He entered the Emory University School of Medicine at the age of 17, graduating in 1957. He interned at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. He trained as a urologist at the University of Michigan Hospital under Prof. Reed M. Nesbit. Following completion in 1966 he returned to Atlanta and entered practice with his father.
From 1959 to 1961, he served as a flight surgeon in the United States Navy stationed at the Keflavík naval base in Iceland. McDonald married an Icelandic national, Anna Tryggvadottir, with whom he would eventually have three children: Tryggvi Paul, Callie Grace, and Mary Elizabeth. It was in Iceland that McDonald first began to take note of communism. He felt the U.S. Embassy in Reykjavik was doing things advantageous to the Communists; therefore he went to his commanding officer, but was told he did not understand the big picture.
After his tour of service he practiced medicine at the McDonald Urology Clinic in Atlanta. He took an increasing interest in politics, reading books on political history and foreign policy. He joined the John Birch Society--a conservative, anti-communist organization -- in 1966 or 1967. His passionate preoccupation with politics led to a divorce from his first wife. McDonald made one unsuccessful run for Congress in 1972 before being elected in 1974. In 1975, he married Kathryn Jackson, whom he met while giving a speech in California. McDonald served as a member on the Georgia State Medical Education Board and as chairman from 1969 to 1974.
In 1974, McDonald ran for Congress against incumbent John W. Davis in the Democratic primary as a conservative who was opposed to mandatory federal school integration programs. McDonald criticized Davis for being one of only two Georgia congressmen to vote in favor of school busing. He also attacked Davis for receiving thousands of dollars in political donations from out-of-state groups which he said favored mandatory federal programs that used busing to achieve school integration.
McDonald won the primary election in a surprise upset and was elected in November 1974 to the 94th United States Congress, serving Georgia's 7th congressional district, which included most of Atlanta's northwestern suburbs (including Marietta), where opposition to school busing was especially high. However, during the general election, J. Quincy Collins Jr., an Air Force prisoner of war during the Vietnam War, running as a Republican, nearly defeated him, despite the poor performance of Republicans nationally that year due to the aftereffects of the Watergate scandal. However, McDonald would never face another contest nearly that close.
McDonald, who considered himself a traditional Democrat "cut from the cloth of Jefferson and Jackson", was known for his conservative views, even by Southern Democratic standards of the time. In fact, one scoring method published in the American Journal of Political Science named him the second most conservative member of either chamber of Congress between 1937 and 2002 (behind only Ron Paul). Even though many of McDonald's constituents had begun splitting their tickets and voting Republican at the federal level as early as the 1960s, the GOP was still well behind the Democrats at the local level, and conservative Democrats like McDonald continued to hold most state and local offices well into the 1990s.
The American Conservative Union gave him a perfect score of 100 every year he was in the House of Representatives, except in 1978, when he scored a 95. He also scored "perfect or near perfect ratings" on the congressional scorecards of the National Right to Life Committee, Gun Owners of America, and the American Security Council. McDonald was referred to by The New American as "the leading anti-Communist in Congress".
McDonald admired Senator Joseph McCarthy and was a member of the Joseph McCarthy Foundation. He took the communist threat seriously and considered it an international conspiracy. An admirer of Austrian economics and a member of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, he was an advocate of tight monetary policy in the late 1970s to get the economy out of stagflation, and advocated returning to the gold standard.
McDonald called the welfare state a "disaster" and favored phasing control of the Great Society programs over to the states to operate and run. He also favored cuts to foreign aid, saying, "To me, foreign aid is an area that you not only can cut but you could take a chainsaw to in terms of reductions."
McDonald co-sponsored a resolution "expressing the sense of the Congress that homosexual acts and the class of individuals who advocate such conduct shall never receive special consideration or a protected status under law".
He advocated the use of the non-approved drug laetrile to treat patients in advanced stages of cancer despite medical opinion that the promotion of laetrile to treat cancer was a canonical example of quackery. McDonald also opposed the establishment of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, saying the FBI had evidence that King "was associated with and being manipulated by communists and secret communist agents". A firearms enthusiast and game hunter, McDonald allegedly had "about 200" guns at his official district residence.
In 1979, with John Rees and Major General John K. Singlaub, McDonald founded the Western Goals Foundation. According to The Spokesman-Review, it was intended to "blunt subversion, terrorism, and communism" by filling the gap "created by the disbanding of the House Un-American Activities Committee and what [McDonald] considered to be the crippling of the FBI during the 1970s". McDonald became the second president of the John Birch Society in 1983, succeeding Robert Welch.
McDonald rarely spoke on the House floor, preferring to insert material into the Congressional Record. These insertions typically dealt with foreign policy issues relating to the Soviet Union and domestic issues centered on the growth of non-Soviet and Soviet sponsored leftist subversion. A number of McDonald's insertions relating to the Socialist Workers Party were collected into a book, Trotskyism and Terror: The Strategy of Revolution, published in 1977.
During his time in Congress, McDonald introduced over 150 bills, including legislation to:
McDonald was invited to South Korea to attend a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the United States-South Korea Mutual Defense Treaty with three fellow members of Congress, Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina, Senator Steve Symms of Idaho, and Representative Carroll Hubbard of Kentucky. Due to bad weather on Sunday, August 28, 1983, McDonald's flight from Atlanta was diverted to Baltimore and when he finally arrived at JFK Airport in New York, he had missed his connection to South Korea by two or three minutes.
McDonald could have boarded a Pan Am Boeing 747 flight to Seoul, but he preferred the lower fares of Korean Air Lines and chose to wait for the next KAL flight two days later. Simultaneously, Hubbard and Helms planned to meet with McDonald to discuss how to join McDonald on the KAL 007 flight. As the delays mounted, instead of joining McDonald, Hubbard at the last minute gave up on the trip, canceled his reservations, and accepted a Kentucky speaking engagement while Helms attempted to join McDonald but was also delayed.
McDonald occupied an aisle seat, 02B in the first class section, when KAL 007 took off on August 31 at 12:24 AM local time, on a 3,400 miles (5,500 km) trip to Anchorage, Alaska for a scheduled stopover seven hours later. The plane remained on the ground for an hour and a half during which it was refueled, reprovisioned, cleaned, and serviced. The passengers were given the option of leaving the aircraft but McDonald remained on the plane, catching up on his sleep. Helms meanwhile had managed to arrive and invited McDonald to move onto his flight, KAL 015, but McDonald did not wish to be disturbed.
With a fresh flight crew, KAL 007 took off at 4 AM local time for its scheduled non-stop flight over the Pacific to Seoul's Kimpo International Airport, a nearly 4,500 miles (7,200 km) flight that would take approximately eight hours. On September 1, 1983, McDonald and the rest of the passengers and crew of KAL 007 were killed when Soviet fighters, under the command of Gen. Anatoly Kornukov, shot down KAL 007 near Moneron Island after the plane entered Soviet airspace.
Some families of the victims of the shootdown maintain that there is reason to believe that McDonald and others of Flight 007 survived the shootdown. This viewpoint has received some coverage in the conservative news agency Accuracy in Media and also the New American, the magazine of the John Birch Society.
After McDonald's death, a special election was held to fill his seat in Congress. Former Governor Lester Maddox stated his intention to run for the seat if McDonald's widow, Kathy McDonald, did not.
Kathy McDonald did decide to run, but lost to George "Buddy" Darden.
On March 18, 1998, the Georgia House of Representatives, "to preserve the memory of the sacrifice and service of this able and outstanding Georgian and recognize his service to the people of his district", named the portion of Interstate 75, which runs from the Chattahoochee River northward to the Tennessee state line in his honor, the Larry McDonald Memorial Highway.
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