Lithuanian American Leonardas Šimutis: a Member of the 3rd Lithuanian Seimas in 1926-1927
Keywords:Lithuanian Americans, Christiann-Democrats, affairs of the emigration, Seimas
During the period of the first Republic of Lithuania, two representatives of Lithuanian Americans were known in parliament activities (1920-1940): Julius Kaupas and Leonardas Šimutis. This fact shall be treated as a certain political concession of Lithuanian Government and political parties to the emigration for the latter’s support at the time when the statehood of Lithuania was being created. In 1926, Leonardas Šimutis (1892-1975), a well-known and influential player of Catholic Lithuanian Americans and editor, was elected to the 3rd Seimas of Lithuania. Being a member of the Christian-Democrat block of the Seimas, he was an excellent symbol of close relations between Lithuanian and Lithuanian American Catholic players. His key task was to defend affairs of the emigration in Seimas, keep informing Lithuanian Americans on the situation in Lithuanian Government and the country, investment opportunities in the country’s economy, and publish articles on the emigration in Lithuanian press. Though L. Šimutis was rather passive in Seimas, and his activities were limited to critique of the opposition and support to the Government of populists-democrats, his exceptional, essential and critical speeches and questions addressed to the Prime Minister M. Sleževičius on the punishment of meeting students by the authorities on the 21st of November in Kaunas showed his concern about the inability of the left authority to secure order. Being a democrat, L. Šimutis was not a supporter of the upheaval yet supported it as a temporary mean intended to tame left powers in the country and establish order in the state. Sensing that contradictions between Christian-democrats and nationalists are getting deeper, and having got an interesting offer from Catholic Lithuanian Americans, in March 1927 he returned to the USA and started editing the most important Lithuanian Catholic daily Draugas.