November 3 is Joseph Martin Day in North Attleboro. 

If you're thinking, "Joseph who?" that's precisely why selectmen have declared this special day.

Joseph Martin, born on this date in 1884, was a congressman - a Massachusetts Republican who served 21 consecutive terms, from 1925 until 1966, in a district that stretched from Wellesley to Fall River.

Peter Ubertaccio is former director of the Joseph W. Martin Center for Law and Society at Stonehill College, where the Martin archives are stored. He says that unfortunately Joseph Martin has been somewhat lost to history, but he was an important part of our history and Congressional history.

Martin served as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives not once, but twice, from 1947 to 1949, during the Truman administration, and from 1953 to 1955, when Dwight Eisenhower was president. Martin was a strong conservative voice in the House and influential in debates about some big liberal issues — like FDR's new deal and building America's infrastructure after WWII. But he also knew, like Tip O'Neill, how to play both sides of the aisle to get things done. 

Ubertaccio says Martin, like O’Neill, was truly a “man of the house,” who cared deeply about preserving the institution’s integrity and decorum. And it’s worth noting that Martin was the last Republican House speaker until Newt Gingrich 40 years later in 1994.

North Attleboro Town Clerk Kevin Poirier wants to revive Joseph Martin's memory because of his own: as a boy he remembers seeing Martin walking down the streets of North Attleboro.

“He was God to all of us," says Poirier. He remembers that Martin used to greet everyone on the street and was especially kind to the children in town.

Martin's kindness would serve him well and it was key to his popularity and his success in Congress And then there was that time Martin almost became president after President Roosevelt died leaving Harry Truman to lead and Martin next in line for the presidency.

From this day forward, November 3 will be Joseph Martin Day in his home town of North Attleboro. To mark the occasion, students in North Attleboro schools will hear the story of how a local kid, the son of a blacksmith, rose to become one of the nation’s most powerful politicians.

Professor Ubertaccio says Martin should also be remembered as being someone who was “fiercely partisan, but also fiercely civil” — something we could use more of on Capitol Hill today.