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William Knowland: A Featured Biography


Photo of Senator William Knowland of California

William Knowland of California was introduced to politics at a young age by his father, congressman and newspaper publisher Joseph Knowland. Elected to the California state assembly in 1932, Knowland quickly rose through party ranks to gain a leadership position in the Republican National Committee. While serving in the army he was appointed by Governor Earl Warren to fill a vacancy in the U.S. Senate, where he again rose to leadership. He became chair of the Republican Policy Committee in 1953 and was elected Republican floor leader following the death of Senator Robert Taft later that year. A fierce anti-communist, Knowland strongly supported Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist China. But his most notable accomplishment came with floor management of the Civil Rights Act of 1957. Knowland did not seek a third Senate term in 1958, choosing instead to run for governor. Following a tough primary battle and a crushing loss to Democrat Pat Brown, Knowland left politics and became publisher of the Oakland Tribune.

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