D.F. Slaughter Dies at Age 73
By Martin Weil
Daniel French Slaughter Jr., who was elected to Congress four times as a Republican from Virginia's 7th District, which includes parts of the Washington suburbs, died Oct. 2 in a nursing home in Charlottesville. The 73-year-old lawyer, a Culpeper resident, had Alzheimer's disease.
Mr. Slaughter was elected to Congress in 1984 and announced in 1991 that he was resigning after a series of mild strokes.
The district he represented stretched from Manassas southeast to Fredericksburg and west to Charlottesville. While in Congress, Mr. Slaughter was known for providing residents of his district with a high level of constituent service.
During one of his congressional campaigns, a Democrat criticized Mr. Slaughter for maintaining a low profile on Capitol Hill. "He does what he gets paid for," a state Republican official said in his defense, "and that's why people like him."
In 1991, after his retirement was announced, another state party official praised his integrity and said that he "epitomizes what is a real Virginia gentleman."
While in Congress, Mr. Slaughter was viewed as one of the last Virginia officials who had sprung from the rural, conservative political machine founded by the late senator Harry F. Byrd (D).
While serving in the General Assembly from 1958 to 1978, Mr. Slaughter supported "massive resistance," a policy under which many Virginia localities shut down the public schools rather than integrate them.
Mr. Slaughter said later that he could not think of specific votes that he would change if he had the chance. He added that he believed "in equal opportunities for everyone."
Mr. Slaughter, who generally used his first initial and was known as French, was born in Culpeper. He attended Virginia Military Institute before serving in the Army infantry in World War II, and receiving the Purple Heart.
After the war, he graduated from the University of Virginia and its law school and practiced law in Culpeper.
While in the General Assembly, he was regarded as a key proponent of the state's community college system.
In Congress, he served on the Judiciary, Small Business, and Science, Space and Technology committees. He emphasized issues of significance to the elderly, particularly health care. A Health Care Safety Account bill he introduced would have allowed tax credits for people older than 65 who set up special savings accounts to pay health care expenses.
In 1990, he boycotted a speech given to a joint congressional session by Nelson Mandela, now South Africa's president. He said he believed that Mandela refused to rule out violence in the struggle against apartheid.
Survivors include a son, D. French Slaughter III, of Charlottesville; a daughter, Kathleen Slaughter Smith, of Gilbert, Ariz.; a brother, Johnson Slaughter, of Houston; and nine grandchildren.
© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company