The fiercely independent Wayne Morse of Oregon, who set a filibuster record in 1953, was first elected to the Senate as a Republican. He broke with that party in 1952, leaving Democrats and Republicans evenly divided in the Senate. Symbolically, Morse moved a chair into the center aisle of the Senate Chamber for a day to show that he belonged to no party. Two years later, Democratic leader Lyndon Johnson persuaded Morse to join the Democratic Conference, giving Democrats a slim majority. Throughout his 24-year Senate career, Morse retained his independent spirit, often confounding leaders of both parties. In 1964, though a proponent of the legislation, he challenged the Democratic leadership's strategy for passing the Civil Rights Act. That same year, Morse cast one of only two dissenting votes against the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and subsequently became an unrelenting critic of the Vietnam War. Morse lost his reelection bid in 1968 but tried again for a Senate seat in 1972 and 1974--unsuccessfully. He was in the midst of that last campaign when he died on July 22, 1974.
Thomas H. Kuchel: A Featured Biography
California Republican Thomas H. Kuchel often played a key role in enacting legislation with far-reaching implications. Appointed to the Senate in 1953, Kuchel won a special election in 1954 and served 16 years. In 1959 he became Republican whip. The liberal Kuchel supported Medicare, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the Interstate Highway Act, and was instrumental in establishing the Redwood National Park. As Republican whip, he served as co-floor manager for the 1964 Civil Rights Act, working alongside Democratic whip Hubert Humphrey to enact that landmark bill. As the conservative movement grew in the 1960s, Kuchel became distanced from the Republican Party. He was defeated in the 1968 Republican primary by conservative educator Max Rafferty, who lost the election to Democrat Alan Cranston. “Some of the votes I have cast I know have been very costly to me politically,” Kuchel said in his 1968 farewell address to the Senate. “I think it is . . . vital that the Senate of the United States lead public opinion instead of following it.”
Hubert Humphrey: A Featured Biography
Known as the “Happy Warrior,” Hubert Humphrey represented Minnesota in the Senate from 1949 to 1964, presided over the Senate as vice president from 1965 to 1969, and then returned to the Senate again in 1971. A dedicated advocate for civil rights, Humphrey gained national attention in 1948 for his powerful Democratic convention speech calling for full equality regardless of race, class, or religion. He served as floor manager for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Working closely with his Republican counterpart, Thomas Kuchel, Humphrey skillfully maneuvered that landmark legislation to passage. He also proposed creation of a Peace Corps, pressed for a nuclear test ban treaty with the Soviet Union, and sponsored the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment bill of 1978. Following his death on January 13, 1978, Humphrey was accorded the honor of lying in state in the Capitol Rotunda. In 2011 the Senate passed a special resolution to commemorate the centennial of Humphrey’s birth.
Richard Russell: A Featured Biography
Richard Russell, Democrat from Georgia, served in the U.S. Senate for almost 40 years (1932-1971). During World War II Russell chaired a special committee, traveling extensively to observe the quality and effectiveness of war material under combat conditions. He chaired the Armed Services Committee during two major wars, from 1951 to 1953, and from 1955 to 1969, and was instrumental in boosting the defense budget. He authored the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act and promoted the development of new forms of energy. Russell became known as a “senator’s senator” due to his mastery of Senate rules and procedures. As the leader of the Senate’s “southern bloc,” Russell often used his parliamentary skills to oppose civil rights legislation, including bills to ban lynching and to abolish the poll tax. In 1956 he co-authored the “Southern Manifesto” to oppose racial desegregation, and he led southern senators in their opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Respect for Russell’s legislative skills, even among his opponents, led to the Russell Senate Office Building being named in his honor in 1972.