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The Original Rush Limbaugh

Lawyer, Legislator, and Civil Libertarian

Dennis K. Boman

Publication Year: 2012


            Born at the end of the nineteenth century into a farming family of modest means in southeastern Missouri, Rush Hudson Limbaugh Sr. led a distinguished professional life as an attorney, legislator, and special ambassadorial representative of the United States. Today his descendants benefit from his reputation for integrity and public-spiritedness as a lawyer and member of his community, a legacy that lives on in his family in the careers of two federal district court judges, Stephen Limbaugh Sr. and Jr., and David Limbaugh, a practicing attorney and a nationally known author and political commentator. Moreover, Limbaugh’s character and life has gained wider renown on the radio talk show of his grandson and namesake.


            In this biography, Dennis K. Boman recounts Limbaugh’s legal career, which spanned most of the twentieth century and included a number of important events in Missouri history. His legal prowess first came to wider public notice when he managed the impeachment trial of state treasurer Larry Brunk, who was accused of misconduct in office. Among his later achievements was presiding over the infamous 1935 case Ware vs. Muench, in which a young woman sued for the return of her infant son. The case gained widespread attention, and the daily courtroom proceedings were reported in detail by newspapers across the United States. His legal opinion in the case was widely quoted and upheld by the Supreme Court of Missouri.


            In the midst of the Great Depression, as a state legislator, although a member of the minority party, Limbaugh led the effort to pass significant legislation, including the more fair distribution of the state tax burden, the founding of the Missouri state highway patrol, and the construction of state roads. In the late 1950s, President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed Limbaugh to represent the United States as a goodwill ambassador to India.


            As a respected lawyer, Limbaugh was selected to serve on different civil rights commissions. First a member of the American Bar Association’s Special Committee on the Bill of Rights, he later was appointed its chair. This committee investigated the circumstances of African Americans, especially in the South, and sought to find practical ways to end racial discrimination and segregation. Moreover, he served as a member of the Special Committee on Civil Rights and Social Unrest in 1964 and 1965, as well as a commissioner on the Missouri Commission on Human Rights and Responsibilities, which examined violations of civil rights and led to legislation to protect non-whites from discrimination.


            Boman conducted personal interviews with many members of the Limbaugh family, whose candid answers add invaluable insights into Limbaugh’s character and career. Boman delves into Limbaugh’s memoirs, family correspondence, and personal papers, as well as newspaper accounts, to chronicle the life of a man who served his state and country until his death at the age of 104.


Published by: University of Missouri Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Frontispiece

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

Rush Hudson Limbaugh Sr. was in Kansas City, Missouri for the 1991 annual meeting of the Missouri Bar. He had served a term as president of the bar some thirty-five years before. Although now advanced in years, he still practiced law in the Cape Girardeau firm he had founded in the 1920s. With him in Kansas City were a number of family members, including his grandson and...


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pp. xiii-xvi

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Chapter One - Farm Boy

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pp. 1-13

During the nineteenth century, many advancements in technology, energy, and communications revolutionized the production of goods and transportation. These innovations, however, scarcely affected the lives of Americans living in isolated rural communities throughout the country. During the last decade of the 1800s, the georgic rhythms and methods of cultivation continued...

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Chapter Two - Intellectual Development and Courtship

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pp. 14-29

By the end of 1902, the Limbaugh family had been reduced by death from nine to six members. Despite the loss of her two oldest daughters, Jennie and Hattie, within a few months of each other, Rush’s mother Susan had little time to grieve. The continuing struggle of holding her family together and meeting...

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Chapter Three - Student at the University of Missouri

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pp. 30-41

Rush H. Limbaugh spent the summer of 1912 working on the family farm and assisting his mother and brothers as needed. On Sundays, holidays, and whenever he could get away, Rush spent time with his fiancée, Bee Seabaugh, as they began making plans for their life together. With the summer’s end, however...

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Chapter Four - The Great War and Growing Law Practice

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pp. 42-64

As he pursued his legal career in southeast Missouri, Rush H. Limbaugh also kept himself informed about political and international affairs and occasionally addressed the public. During the presidential campaign of 1916, Limbaugh spoke at Republican rallies and undoubtedly was disappointed when the...

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Chapter Five - State Legislator

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pp. 65-82

In the months following Marguerite’s death, Rush H. Limbaugh and Bee struggled with their sorrow and comforted their surviving sons, Rush Jr. and Manley. Apparently, the family found solace in various activities including evening readings of literature such as The Swiss Family Robinson. This book, Limbaugh believed, had provided the family with relief from their loss in the...


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pp. 83-97

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Chapter Six - The Brunk Impeachment

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pp. 98-126

While serving in the Missouri House of Representatives in 1931, Rush H. Limbaugh was chosen to serve on the special committee to investigate State Treasurer Larry Brunk’s conduct in office. Soon after his appointment, Limbaugh met with other members of the committee composed of four Democrats, Stanley P. Clay, Nick B. Bradley, Willis H. Meredith, and Don C. Carter...

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Chapter Seven - The Muench Kidnapping Trial

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pp. 127-154

After serving as a state representative for the first six months of 1931, during which his compensation did not cover his expenses, Rush H. Limbaugh returned to Cape Girardeau and redoubled his efforts to provide for his family. Even before his service in the legislature, the Limbaughs’ financial circumstances were poor because of the failure of the Cape Exchange Bank. Indeed...

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Chapter Eight - The Second World War

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pp. 155-172

In late 1935, while serving as special commissioner in the Muench kidnapping case, Rush H. Limbaugh was surprised to learn that he was being considered as a possible candidate for governor among some circles within Missouri’s Republican leadership. As 1936 was a presidential election year and Franklin D. Roosevelt would head his party’s ticket, many thought the prospects poor...

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Chapter Nine - Limbaugh & Limbaugh

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pp. 173-189

On the morning of January 1, 1946, Rush H. Limbaugh, then fifty-four years of age, walked with his oldest son downtown to his office where they drafted an agreement establishing a law partnership. Rush Jr., who before joining the military had taken and passed the bar examinations, had returned home only the day before. For the next forty years he would work with his father. To this...

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Chapter Ten - Civil Libertarian

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pp. 190-218

As a representative of the United States government in India, Rush H. Limbaugh had learned firsthand how others perceived the US in light of discrimination against nonwhite persons. The Cold War arms race and propaganda war between the East and West was then fully engaged and the United States presented itself to the rest of the world as a bulwark against the tyranny of...

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Chapter Eleven - Twilight Years

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pp. 219-230

Despite his age, from all appearances, Rush H. Limbaugh’s health remained good despite earlier setbacks. In 1965, the year before his appointment to the Missouri Commission on Human Rights, Limbaugh’s personal doctor had warned him that he was in danger of becoming diabetic and advised him to lose weight and reduce his consumption of sugar. This diagnosis seemed particularly...


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pp. 231-268


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pp. 269-278


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pp. 279-295

E-ISBN-13: 9780826272812
E-ISBN-10: 0826272819
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826219800
Print-ISBN-10: 0826219802

Page Count: 311
Illustrations: 10
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: 1