Warren Magnuson

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Person.png Warren Magnuson  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(Lawyer, politician)
Moorhead, Minnesota
Died1989-05-20 (Age 84)
Seattle, Washington
Alma materUniversity of North Dakota, North Dakota Agricultural College, University of Washington
U.S. Representative (1937–1944) and a U.S. Senator (1944–1981) from Washington state.

Employment.png United States Senator from Washington

In office
December 14, 1944 - January 3, 1981
Succeeded bySlade Gorton

Employment.png President pro tempore of the United States Senate Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
January 3, 1979 - December 5, 1980
Succeeded byWarren Magnuson

Employment.png President pro tempore of the United States Senate Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
December 5, 1980 - January 3, 1981
Preceded byWarren Magnuson
Succeeded byStrom Thurmond

Employment.png Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce

In office
January 3, 1955 - January 3, 1977

Warren Grant "Maggie" Magnuson was an American lawyer and politician. A member of the Democratic Party, he served as a U.S. Representative (1937–1944) and a U.S. Senator (1944–1981) from Washington. He served over 36 years in the Senate, and was its most senior member during his final two years in office.

Early life and education

Warren Magnuson was born in Moorhead, Minnesota. His unmarried mother put him up for adoption, and he was adopted by the Magnuson family, who gave him their name. The Magnusons were second-generation Scandinavian immigrants who operated a bar in Moorhead, and adopted a daughter, Clara, a year after adopting Warren.[1] His adoptive father left the family in 1921.

Magnuson attended Moorhead High School, where he played quarterback on the football team and was captain of the baseball team. While in high school, he ran a YMCA camp, worked on wheat farms, and delivered newspapers and telegrams in Moorhead and nearby Fargo, North Dakota. He graduated in 1923, and then enrolled at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. In 1924, he transferred to the North Dakota Agricultural College in Fargo, which he attended for a year.He then traveled through Canada for some time, riding freight trains and working with threshing crews.

Magnuson followed a high school girlfriend to Seattle, Washington, where he entered the University of Washington in 1925. He was a member of Theta Chi fraternity, and worked delivering ice as a Teamsters member under Dave Beck. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1926, and earned a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Washington School of Law in 1929. A Democrat, he first became active in politics in 1928, volunteering for A. Scott Bullitt for governor and Al Smith for president.

Early career

In 1929, Magnuson was admitted to the bar and joined the law office of Judge Samuel Stern in Seattle. He was secretary of the Seattle Municipal League from 1930 to 1931 and served as a special prosecutor for King County in 1932, investigating official misconduct. He founded the state chapter of the Young Democrats of America that same year.[2] He was a leading supporter of repealing state Prohibition laws and establishing the state Liquor Control Board.

From 1933 to 1935, Magnuson served as a member of the Washington House of Representatives from the Seattle-based 37th Legislative District.

Congressional career

Magnuson was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1936, filling a vacancy caused by the sudden death of fellow Democrat Marion Zioncheck on August 7, 1936. He was reelected in 1938, 1940, and 1942. After the Attack on Pearl Harbor, Magnuson was a staunch supporter of the U.S. war effort. Magnuson served in the United States Navy during World War II. He was aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise for several months, seeing heavy combat in the Pacific Theatre until Roosevelt ordered all congressmen on active duty to return home in 1942.

In 1944, Magnuson successfully ran for the U.S. Senate. On December 14, 1944, Governor Arthur B. Langlie appointed Magnuson to fill the vacancy created by Homer Bone's appointment to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, thus resigning from the House and starting his Senate tenure a month early.

Magnuson was reelected in 1950, 1956, 1962, 1968, and 1974. He served on the Senate Commerce Committee throughout his tenure in the Senate, and the Senate Appropriations Committee during his final term. Magnuson served most of his tenure in the Senate alongside his friend and Democratic colleague from Washington State, deep politician Henry M. "Scoop" Jackson. State Attorney General Slade Gorton defeated Magnuson in the 1980 election.

In August 1950, Magnuson proposed voluntary enlistment for the Japanese in the American armed forces and sent a cable request to General Douglas MacArthur on the practicality of the proposal.[3]

On November 7, 1967, Johnson signed the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, citing Magnuson as one of the members of Congress to "have been part of the team that has brought this measure to the White House to make it the law of our land."[4]

The bill that became the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was referred to the Committee on Commerce. Magnuson played a key role in getting it to the floor and enacted into law despite vigorous opposition by Senator William Fulbright and other staunch segregationists.