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Congressman Charles E. Bennett and Eartha Mary Magdalene White on her 89th birthday. The party was held in the Clara White Mission auditorium on November 8, 1965.

Charles E. Bennett: Florida’s longest-serving member of Congress

Charles Edward Bennett was a member of the United States House of Representatives from Jacksonville from 1949 to 1993. He was a Democrat.

He was born December 2, 1910 in Canton, New York and moved to Jacksonville by the end of his childhood. Bennett was an Eagle Scout and recipient of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award from the Boy Scouts of America. He was a lawyer and a member of the United States Army during World War II before being elected to Congress from what was then the 2nd District. He was reelected 21 more times from this Jacksonville-based district. He rarely faced serious opposition even as Jacksonville fell under increasing Republican influence.

In 1951, he began proposing a code of ethics for government employees, nicknamed The Ten Commandments. After the Sherman-Adams Affair, the code was adopted as the first Code of ethics for Government Service in 1958. In 1954, he sponsored the bill that added the words “In God We Trust” to both the nation’s coins and currency.

Bennett died in Jacksonville on September 6, 2003 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. He is still the longest-serving member of either house of Congress in Florida’s history. The Charles E. Bennett Federal Building is named after him.

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