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Edward J. Higgins papers

Biographical note

Born in 1894 the son of Irish catholic immigrants and a high school graduate of his hometown of Warren, RI, Edward J. “Rip” Higgins for years in the mid-20th century was known as the administrative assistant to U.S. Senator Theodore Francis Green and Warren’s political boss.

But his early fame came in baseball. At the age of 8 Higgins organized a team known as the North End Gang and in 1915 he served as assistant manager of the Warren Shoe team that won the Manufacturers League title. In the early 1920s, the Little World Series between Warren and Bristol was in its heyday, with both towns bringing in out-of-town stars — even major-leaguers — to buttress their chances. Rip and his cousin Jigger Higgins boosted the talent levels of Warren’s teams to win three of four series from 1920-23.

In 1925 Rip organized a Warren/Bristol team that competed against other “fast” teams in New England. And when Warren High School won championships in the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s, Rip always ensured they were properly honored — in 1946 he donated silver baseballs for the team members who won the Class C and state baseball championships.

As a young man, Higgins was a volunteer fireman and served during World War II as a Navy pharmacist mate on a troop ship. It was while Rip was in the Navy his brother, Johnny Higgins, who also was in the Navy succumbed to the flu. After the war Higgins took a job at Smith’s Drug Store in Warren that was a popular meeting place for Warren democrats.

However, in 1922 Higgins went to work for the Providence News, a Democratic paper owned by RI Senator Peter G. Gerry. In the meantime Higgins became a member of the Democratic State Committee, a position he held for forty-two years.

In 1930 Higgins’ passion for and involvement in state politics brought him in contact with Theodore Francis Green who when running for governor. Higgins correctly gauged the mood of the voters and predicted Green’s loss at the ballot box. Green was so impressed by Higgins’ political savvy that he asked Higgins to be his campaign manager for the 1932 election. Green won that election by more than 30,000 votes and offered Eddie the job of executive secretary. Eddie eventually accepted the position and when Green ran for the U.S. Senate in 1936 and won, he took Higgins with him to Washington.

For the next 25 years, from 1936 until 1960 when Green retired, Eddie Higgins remained a loyal confidant, advisor, and right-hand man to Green. During this time, Higgins, while remaining in the background working tirelessly for his boss, became friends with many influential politicians such as Lyndon Johnson and John O. Pastore.

Senator Sparkman of Alabama, paying one of the highest complements possible, spoke of the relationship between Green & Higgins saying "Higgins played the ideal role. He was loyal as any Senator could ask and a good deal smarter than most of us." When Senator Green retired in 1960, Higgins returned home to Rhode Island and remained active in local Warren politics until his death in 1979.