Thomas N. Downing

Thomas N. Downing served as Democratic Congressman from Newport News (First District), first winning election in 1958. Downing was graduated from the Virginia Military Institute, served in World War II in Gen. George S. Patton's Third Army, where he became the first American officer to step on German soil. Downing, a lawyer, served until 1977 in the U.S. House. He backed Harry Byrd and Willis Robertson for the U.S. Senate and was closely connected to Sidney Kellam, one of the top Democratic Party organizers in the 1960s. As early as 1967, Downing began criticizing the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, calling the conflict "that miserable war." Downing said Virginians were sick and tired of the war and became one of the first in the state's Congressional delegation to call for a pause in bombing North Vietnam.