Homer Earl Capehart (June 6, 1897–September 3, 1979), American business innovator and politician, was born in Algiers, Indiana, in Pike County. During the First World War, he served as a Sergeant in the United States Army Supply Corps, but was never sent overseas.
Capehart attained fame as the father of the jukebox industry. He worked for the company Holcomb and Hoke, which made record players, until 1928. He started his own company in 1928, and was forced out of the company by investors in 1931. The company folded in 1939. In 1932 Capehart formed a new company called Packard. Packard developed the Simplex mechanism for automatic record changing, and sold the device to Wurlitzer. The entire company was eventually bought by Wurlitzer.
Being the center-point for a GOP revolution in Indiana and the Midwest, mainly by sponsoring a huge "Cornfield-Conference" on one of his farms in 1938, Capehart was first elected to the United States Senate in 1944, narrowly defeating Henry Schricker, going on to win subsequent victories in 1950 and 1956 against token opposition. Throughout the 1950s, Capehart was constantly at odds with his Senate colleague William E. Jenner. Jenner was a staunch isolationist Republican who consistently opposed President Eisenhower's "modern-Republicanism." Capehart, although an isolationist himself during his first term in the Senate, became increasingly more internationalist during his later years in the Senate and this eventually lead to the split with Jenner.
By 1959, Jenner had retired and Democrat Vance Hartke had taken his place. Capehart was extremely critical of President John Kennedy and his New Frontier programs such as Medicare and the Peace Corps. In 1962, Capehart attained his greatest popularity and what would ultimately become his lasting legacy as one of the key figures in the Cuban Missile Crisis by calling for a "crack-down on Cuba" and warning of a missile build-up on the Island. Kennedy, before receiving the famous spy-plane photos, thought Capehart was "inventing an issue." This was not the case and Capehart, although not appreciated at the time, has come to be seen in a more positive light because of his early and aggressive stances on Cuba.
Capehart was an expert on Latin-American affairs in the US Senate. During the 1962 election, Capehart was narrowly defeated by 34 year-old Birch Bayh and subsequently, he retired to his farming and business interests in Indiana, occasionally returning to Washington to provide both foreign policy and domestic-issue advice. Jaded by the Watergate affair, Capehart later in life became increasingly critical of President Richard Nixon.
During WWII, when first elected to the Senate, Capehart supported efforts to compromise with the Japanese on terms of surrender in the Summer of 1945 when Senate Minority Leader Wallace H. White, Jr. stated that the war might end sooner if President Truman would state specifically in the upper chamber just what unconditional surrender meant for the Japanese.
He was critical of the Truman administration and the military for their postwar policies in Germany, accusing Truman and General Dwight D. Eisenhower of a conspiracy to starve the remains of the German nation.
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