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Alben Barkley: A Featured Biography


Photo of Alben Barkley of Kentucky

Born to tenant tobacco farmers in 1877, Alben Barkley's political views were shaped in part by his impoverished upbringing. As a member of the House of Representatives, he established a reputation as a Wilson Democrat with strong party loyalties. In the Senate, he became a skilled orator with an endless repertoire of anecdotes. As Senate majority leader, he gained the reputation for being President Franklin Roosevelt's spokesman on Capitol Hill. When he criticized FDR's veto of a tax bill in 1944, however, and resigned as majority leader in protest, the temporary break with Roosevelt earned him greater respect among his colleagues who unanimously reelected him as leader. Becoming vice president in 1948, Barkley would be the last vice president to routinely preside over the Senate.