HomeBrowseAdvanced SearchAboutHelpContact

Aime J. Forand papers

Biographical note

Aime Joseph Forand served as a congressional member from the 1st Congressional District of Rhode Island to the United States House of Representative for twenty-two years, and was an important advocate for senior citizens, the disabled, and the unemployed. Forand’s monumental work to provide Social Security and health insurance benefits to the elderly and disabled, culminated in the Forand Bill. This legislation passed in 1965 under the Social Security Act and was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Forand was born May 23, 1895 in Fall River, Massachusetts, to Francois Xavier and Meli-Luce Ruest Forand. After attending public and parochial schools, he studied at the Magnus Commercial School in Providence, Rhode Island, and at Columbia University. In May 1918, Forand went to France as a sergeant, first class, in the Motor Transport Corps of the American Expeditionary Force. In July, 1919 he was honorably discharged from the service.

Returning to his home town of Central Falls, Forand became a member of the City Commission in 1922. Forand soon became a Charter member of Rhode Island Young Men’s Democratic League, and served as the branch’s president from 1923 until 1926. Forand continued his political career with his election as a Democratic member of the House of Representatives of the Rhode Island General Assembly for two terms, 1923-1927. In 1924, Forand also began working as a reporter for the Providence News and News-Tribune, working at the Pawtucket and Woonsocket offices until 1930.

Aime J. Forand continued to pursue a political future throughout the 1930s. Beginning in 1929 as Secretary to United States Representative Jeremiah E. O’Connell, Forand also served in this role to O’Connell’s successor, Francis B. Condon, from 1930-1935. In 1935, Forand took a leading role in promoting the rights and welfare of veterans with his appointment to Chief of the Rhode Island State Division of Soldiers’ Relief and as Commandant of the Rhode Island Soldier's Home.

His political career continued to expand with his 1936 election to the Seventy-Fifth Congress from the 1st Congressional District. Although he lost the 1938 election, he in won his seat back in 1940 and remained in office until retiring in 1961, after the completion of the Eighty-Sixth Congress. It was during this tenure that Forand achieved his most significant and noteworthy accomplishments.

Staring in 1941, Forand served in a number of prominent roles, including speaker for the Democratic National Congressional Committee (1941), and as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee (1943), Chairman to both the United States House of Representatives Democratic Caucus (1947) and the Board of Visitors to the United States Coast Guard Academy (1948), as well as being named National Chairman of the Senior Citizens-for-Kennedy Committee. Additionally, he received an honorary Doctor of Laws Degree by Providence College (1951).

Apart from these many achievements, Forand was instrumental in advocating for the elderly, unemployed and disabled. As a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, he championed jobless benefits for federal, state, and municipal employees, and promoted legislation designed to increase Social Security benefits for dependents. These aims were coupled with his sponsorship of tax legislation that would aid persons dependent on charitable and non-profit organizations due to their level of low-income.

Aime J. Forand’s most important work focused on socialized medicine for senior citizens and disabled persons. Forand proposed that medical insurance be guaranteed to these people, in addition to increasing their Social Security benefits by ten percent. The legislation was first drawn up in 1957 and despite facing opposition, Forand’s “Ten-Point Bill of Rights for Older Citizens” speech to Congress helped with the bill’s adoption by Congress in 1958. His initial demands for a ten percent increase of Social Security benefits were decreased to seven percent, but the legislation was reintroduced in 1959, and finally passed in 1964. In July 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed H.R. 3708 and H.R 6675, or the “Older Americans Act,” into law under the Social Security Act. The final version of the legislation provided hospital insurance and an increase in benefits for the elderly and disabled.

Although Forand retired from Congress in 1961, he remained active in public service. Forand established, and headed as president, the National Council of Senior Citizens, Inc., (1961), and was also a member of the Advisory Committee on Housing for Senior Citizens, under Hon. Robert C. Weaver the Administrator of Housing and Home Finance. Forand resigned from this post due to ill health in 1963, and retired to Boca Raton, Florida. Forand was honored in 1970 with his induction into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame.

After his retirement, Forand remained actively involved in a number of public service organizations, such as the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign War, Elks, and Knights of Columbus. After suffering a heart attack at his retirement home in Florida, Forand passed away on January 18, 1972. He was survived by his wife of forty-one years, Gertrude B. Bedard Forand.

Chronology

DateEvent
1895 May 23Born in Fall River, Massachusetts, to Francois Xavier and Meli-Luce Ruest Forand.
1918 -1919Served in France with the Motor Transport Corps of the American Expeditionary Force, as sergeant, first class.
1922Member of the City Commission of Central Falls, Rhode Island.
1923Charter member of Rhode Island Young Men’s Democratic League.
1923 -1926President of Central Falls Branch of Rhode Island Young Men’s Democratic League.
1923 -1927Democratic member of the House of Representatives of the Rhode Island General Assembly for two terms.
1924 -1930Reporter for the Providence News and News-Tribune.
1929Secretary to Jeremiah E. O’Connell, United States Representative from the First Congressional District of Rhode Island.
1930Secretary to O’Connell’s successor, Francis B. Condon.
1931Marries Gertrude B. Bedard.
1935Chief of the Rhode Island State Division of Soldiers’ Relief. Commandant of the Rhode Island Soldiers’ Home.
1936Elected to the 75th Congress from the First Congressional District.
1938Loses reelection to the 76th Congress.
1940 - 1960Reelected to the 77th Congress and remains in office until retirement after the 86th Congress.
1941Member of the Democratic National Congressional Committee.
1943Speaker of the Democratic National Congressional Committee. Member of the House Ways and Means Committee.
1947Chairman, United States House of Representatives Democratic Caucus.
1948Chairman, Board of Visitors, United States Coast Guard Academy.
1951Receives an honorary Doctor of Laws Degree by Providence College.
1957Introduces H.R. 9467, a bill to provide federal health insurance to the elderly and disabled in addition to a ten percent Social Securities benefit increase.
1959Re-introduces the Forand Bill.
1960National Chairman of the Senior Citizens-for-Kennedy Committee.
1961Retires from Congress. Organized the National Council of Senior Citizens, Inc., and serves as first president of the Council.
1962 - 1963Member of the Advisory Committee on Housing for Senior Citizens, under Hon. Robert C. Weaver, Administrator of Housing and Home Finance.
1965 Jul 14, Jul 30President Lyndon B. Johnson signs H.R. 3708, the “Older Americans Act. President Lyndon B. Johnson signs H.R. 6675.
1966Receives an honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from Rhode Island College.
1970Inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame.
1972 Jan 18Dies of a heart attack at retirement home in Boca Raton, Florida.