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Oral History Project

John W. Warner U.S. Senator from Virginia (1979–2009)

John W. Warner (R-VA)

John W. Warner dedicated his life to public service. In 1945, at age 17, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy, serving until 1946. Four years later, he again volunteered for military service, this time in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Korean War. Returning to civilian life in 1952, Warner obtained his J.D. and became assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia. A growing interest in politics led to roles in Richard Nixon’s 1960 and 1968 presidential campaigns. In 1969 President Richard Nixon appointed him as undersecretary of the navy. He was promoted to secretary of the navy in 1972. In 1975 he became director of the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration. Elected to the U.S. Senate in 1978, Warner took office on January 2, 1979, and served until his retirement in 2009. He served on numerous committees, including the Select Committee on Intelligence, the Committee on Rules and Administration, and the Armed Services Committee. This oral history covers the scope of Warner’s career, from his earliest campaigns to his role as elder statesman, and highlights the important bipartisan coalitions he built and his collaborative work with presidents ranging from Nixon to George W. Bush. Of particular note are interviews focusing on his influential service on the Armed Services Committee. Seasoned with anecdotes of personal and family life, this oral history reflects the richness of a senator’s service as well as the evolution of an institution over the course of three decades.


Scholarly citation: "John W. Warner: United States Senator from Virginia, 1979–2009," Oral History Interviews, December 10, 2014, to November 9, 2017, Senate Historical Office, Washington, D.C.

Disclaimer: The Senate Historical Office has a strong commitment to oral history as an important part of its efforts to document institutional change over time. Oral histories are a natural component to historical research and enhance the archival holdings of the Senate and its members. Oral histories represent the personal recollections and opinions of the interviewees, however, and should not be considered as the official views or opinions of the U.S. Senate, of the Senate Historical Office, or of other senators and/or staff members. The transcripts of these oral histories are made available by the Senate Historical Office as a public service.