William Jenner

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Person.png William Jenner  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
BornJuly 21, 1908
Marengo, Indiana
Died1985-03-09 (Age 76)
Bedford, Indiana
Alma materIndiana University
American politician and strong supporter of Joseph McCarthy

Employment.png United States Senator from Indiana

In office
January 3, 1947 - January 3, 1959

Employment.png United States Senator from Indiana

In office
November 14, 1944 - January 3, 1945

William Ezra Jenner was an American lawyer and politician from the state of Indiana. A Republican, Jenner was an Indiana state senator from 1934 to 1942, and a U.S. Senator from 1944 to 1945 and again from 1947 to 1959. In the Senate, Jenner was a supporter of McCarthyism.

Early career

Jenner entered politics in 1934, when he was first elected to the Indiana State Senate in 1934. He was minority leader from 1937 to 1939, and then majority leader and president pro tempore from 1939 to 1941.

In 1942, during World War II, Jenner resigned his seat to become a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Jenner was discharged in 1944 at the rank of captain.[1]

One month after his discharge from the Army Air Corps, Jenner was elected to the U.S. Senate seat that had been vacated by the death of Frederick Van Nuys.[1]


He was also a member of the Subcommittee on Internal Security.[2] He was a strong supporter and friend of Joseph McCarthy and engaged in McCarthyism.[2][3] Jenner and McCarthy were both part of "a core of isolationist Republicans in the Senate" along with Herman Welker of Idaho and George W. Malone of Nevada.[1] In 1950, when McCarthy issued a report falsely accusing a number of State Department employees of being secret Communists (see Tydings Committee), Jenner supported him, claiming that the State Department had engaged in "the most scandalous and brazen whitewash of treasonable conspiracy in our history" and stating: "Considering the fact that we are now at war ... how can we get the Reds out of Korea if we cannot get them out of Washington?"[4] When McCarthy was censured by the Senate in 1954, Jenner gave a speech suggesting that censure resolution "was initiated by the Communist conspiracy."[5]

In the Senate, Jenner was a strident opponent of General George Marshall, who was appointed Secretary of Defense in 1950. During the confirmation debate, Jenner and McCarthy was part of a group of militantly anti-communist Republican Senators that attacked Marshall. Jenner "delivered a shrill, hour-long attack on the nominee" in which he also disparaged President Harry S. Truman and Secretary of State Dean Acheson.[6] Exemplifying McCarthist rhetoric,[7] Jenner accused the Truman administration of "bloody tracks of treason" and called Marshall "a living lie" who was "joining hands once more with this criminal crowd of traitors and Communist appeasers ... under the direction of Mr. Truman and Mr. Acheson."[8] Jenner also "denounced and blamed Marshall for the Pearl Harbor defeat and for his role in helping FDR 'trick America into a war,' the extension of lend-lease to the Communist Soviet Union, the 'selling out' of Eastern Europe at Yalta, the loss of China, and the inclusion of an offer of aid to the Soviet Union under the Marshall Plan."[9] When Marshall was informed of Jenner's speech, the former general replied: "Jenner? Jenner? I do not believe I know the man."[10]

In 1951, after President Truman dismissed General Douglas MacArthur for insubordination, Jenner gave a speech on the floor of the Senate in which he said: "I charge that this country today is in the hands of a secret inner coterie, which is directed by agents of the Soviet Government. Our only choice is to impeach President Truman and find out who is the secret invisible government."[1]

Jenner introduced legislation that sought to strip the Supreme Court of jurisdiction "in all the areas where it had interfered with the anticommunist program," a measure that Senator Lyndon B. Johnson maneuvered to oppose. Ultimately, Jenner's measure was tabled by a vote of 49-41.[11]

A consistent opponent of American foreign aid[12] and any involvement in foreign affairs,[13] he opposed U.S. participation in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.[1] and other isolationist positions.[12][14][15] During his tenure, right-wingers wanted Jenner to run for president as a far-right third-party candidate.[16]

Jenner claimed that the United Nations had infiltrated the American educational system in 1952.

Later life and death

In 1958, he did not seek re-nomination. After leaving the Senate, Jenner practiced law in Indianapolis and was the owner of the Seaway Corporation, a land development company.[1][12] He also owned farms in Indiana and Illinois.[12] He died at Dunn Memorial Hospital in Bedford, Indiana, of a respiratory illness, on March 9, 1985, at age 76.[1][12]


  1. a b c d e f g https://www.nytimes.com/1985/03/11/us/william-e-jenner-ex-senator-dead.html
  2. a b Robert Griffith, The Politics of Fear: Joseph R. McCarthy and the Senate (University of Massachusetts Press, 1996), p. 196.
  3. James Cross Giblin, The Rise and Fall of Senator Joe McCarthy (Clarion Books, 2009), pp. 252-254.
  4. Giblin, p. 114-15.
  5. Giblin, p. 252.
  6. Ed Cray, General of the Army: George C. Marshall, Soldier and Statesman (1990: Cooper Square Press ed. 2000), pp. 685-86.
  7. Brian R. Farmer, American Conservatism: History, Theory and Practice (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2005), p. 256.
  8. Cray, p. 686.
  9. Farmer, p. 256.
  10. Cray, p. 686.
  11. Lucas A. Powe Jr., The Supreme Court and the American Elite, 1789-2008 (Harvard University Press, 2009), p. 238.
  12. a b c d e "Anti-Communist Ex-Sen. William E. Jenner Dies". Los Angeles Times. March 13, 1985.
  13. https://www.nytimes.com/1985/03/11/us/william-e-jenner-ex-senator-dead.html
  14. "Who Were the Senate Isolationists?". Richard F. Grimmett. The Pacific Historical Review, Vol. 42, No. 4 (November 1973), p. 479.
  15. "The Literature of Isolationism, 1972–1983". Justus D. Doenecke. The Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 7, No. 1 (Spring 1983), p. 174.
  16. Leibowitz, p. 369.