TIP O'NEILL served as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives for 10 years and was the leading Democrat in Washington, D.C., for the first six years of the presidency of Ronald Reagan, a time when the Senate was controlled by Republicans. Thomas Philip O'Neill, Jr., was born on in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the son of Thomas P. and Rose Ann (Tolan) O'Neill. His father ran the water department and had served on the city council. Tip's nickname derived from James O'Neill, a player with the St. Louis Browns baseball team who was reputed for his foul “tips.” O'Neill's first foray into politics was in 1928, when at age 13, he campaigned for Democratic presidential candidate Alfred E. Smith.

O'Neill graduated from Boston College in 1936. While ...

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