Estes Kefauver, photograph, ca. 1951
Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress
Gambling and Racketeering
Facing a crime surge after World War II, local officials requested help from Congress. The Senate’s Judiciary and Commerce committees vied to tackle the issue. Finally a vice-presidential, tie-breaking vote passed an amended resolution by Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee to create a Special Committee to Investigate Crime in Interstate Commerce. In 1950 and 1951 the five-member committee investigated gambling and organized crime in fourteen cities. Its televised hearings raised public awareness of crime syndicates, led to more effective local law enforcement, and enhanced the political profile of committee chairman Kefauver.