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J. William Fulbright: A Featured Biography


Elected to the Senate in 1944, J. William Fulbright of Arkansas is perhaps best known for the Fulbright Scholars Act of 1946, which created scholarships for Americans to study abroad and for foreign scholars to study in the United States. A long-time opponent of civil rights measures, in 1956 Fulbright signed the Southern Manifesto, a statement that called for resistance to forced integration of public schools in the wake of the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decisions. He voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Fulbright, who holds the record as the longest-serving chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (1959-1974), managed the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that gave President Lyndon Johnson sweeping powers to respond to military provocation in South Vietnam. Later, troubled over the gradual escalation of the war in Vietnam, Fulbright held televised "educational" hearings on the crisis, which brought him national attention. In those hearings, Fulbright publicly challenged the "old myths and new realities" of American foreign policy and warned against "the arrogance of power."

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