Founding Senators


Thomas Henry KuchelThomas Henry Kuchel
 (August 15, 1910 – November 21, 1994) was a Republican U.S. Senator from California. Senator Kuchel (pronounced key-kull) was born in Anaheim in Orange County and was educated as a lawyer at the University of Southern California Law School before entering state government. He served in the California State Assembly from 1937 to 1941, in the California State Senate from 1941 to 1945, and as California State Controller from 1946 to 1953. During World War II, Senator Kuchel was a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Naval Reserves. He was appointed in 1953 to the U.S. Senate by Governor Earl Warren to fill the vacancy created after Republican Senator Richard M. Nixon was elected Vice President. A noted moderate in the Republican Party, from 1959 to 1969 Senator Kuchel served as the Senate’s Minority Whip, during which time he was instrumental in founding the United States Senate Youth Program. He was co-manager on the floor for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and he was also among a dozen Republican Senators who provided important backing for enactment of the Medicare program, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and conservation measures. Senator Kuchel was narrowly defeated in the Republican primary in 1968 by conservative state Superintendent of Public Instruction Max Rafferty, who went on to lose the general election to Democrat Alan Cranston. Senator Kuchel returned to practicing law in California until his retirement in 1981.

Michael Joseph MansfieldMichael Joseph Mansfield (March 16, 1903 – October 5, 2001) was a Democratic politician and the longest-serving Majority Leader of the United States Senate, a position he held from 1961 to 1977. It has been said that Mike Mansfield shaped the character of the modern Senate more than any other leader in its history by allowing a Senate of equals to emerge and giving voice and a role to younger Senators. Respected by Senators on both sides of the aisle, he led the Senate when the “Great Society” legislation of the 1960s was passed. Senator Mansfield introduced the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a landmark piece of legislation in the United States that outlawed racial segregation in schools, public places, and employment. Conceived to help African Americans, the bill was amended prior to passage to protect women, and explicitly included white people for the first time. It also created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The bill was outlined by President John F. Kennedy in his civil rights speech of June 11, 1963. Born in New York City to Irish Catholic immigrants, Senator Mansfield was raised in Montana and graduated from the University of Montana. He taught as a Professor of Latin American and Far Eastern History at the University of Montana and was a member of the American Federation of Teachers before being elected to his first term in Congress in 1942. He served as a member of the Democratic Party in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1943 until 1953 and in the United States Senate from 1953 until 1977. During Mike Mansfield’s years in Congress, Presidents Truman and Eisenhower appointed him delegate to the United Nations in 1951 and 1958 respectively. Considered an authority on U.S.-Asia relations, he also undertook foreign policy assignments for Presidents Roosevelt, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford, and his private discussions with President Nixon paved the way for Nixon’s visit to China in 1972. Senator Mansfield did not hesitate to speak out in opposition to the war in Vietnam and he privately counseled a succession of presidents against U.S. involvement. Mansfield retired from the Senate in 1976, and was appointed Ambassador to Japan in April 1977 by Jimmy Carter, a role he retained during the Reagan administration until 1988. After his retirement as ambassador, he worked as an advisor to Goldman Sachs on East Asian affairs. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on January 19, 1989.

Everett McKinley DirksenEverett McKinley Dirksen (January 4, 1896 – September 7, 1969) was a Republican U.S. Congressman and Senator from Illinois. As Republican Senate Leader he played a highly visible and key role in the politics of the 1960s, including helping to write and pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Dirksen was born to German immigrant parents in Pekin, Illinois. He entered the University of Minnesota, but dropped out during World War I to enlist in the U.S. Army, serving as a second lieutenant in a field artillery battery. After the war, he went into private business. His political career began in 1927, when he was elected to the Pekin City Council. Everett Dirksen served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1933-1947 and was elected to the Senate in 1950. Although Senator Dirksen’s voting record was consistently conservative on economic issues, he developed a good rapport with the Senate’s Majority Leaders, Lyndon B. Johnson and Mike Mansfield. Senator Dirksen reversed his early isolationism on foreign policy to support the internationalism of Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Democratic President John F. Kennedy, and he was a leading “hawk” on the issue of the Vietnam War. Other Senators regarded him as an eloquent, persuasive leader, with a seemingly endless supply of anecdotes, who demonstrated great tactical skills. Senator Dirksen’s influence was most keenly felt in 1964. Declaring that racial integration was “an idea whose time has come,” Senator Dirksen supported cloture to end the filibuster against the Civil Rights Act, thereby allowing passage of the bill. He delivered key Republican support for the Test Ban Treaty of 1963 and further civil rights legislation in 1965 and 1968 and held the position of Senate Minority Leader until his death following cancer surgery on September 7, 1969 at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. He is most often remembered for the quip attributed to him, “A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon, you’re talking real money.” He also is quoted as having said, “The mind is no match with the heart in persuasion; constitutionality is no match with compassion.”

Hubert Horatio Humphrey, Jr.Hubert Horatio Humphrey, Jr. (May 27, 1911 – January 13, 1978) was the thirty-eighth Vice President of the United States, serving under President Lyndon B. Johnson. Humphrey twice served as a United States Senator from Minnesota, and served as Democratic Majority Whip from 1961 to 1964 during which time he supported the creation of the United States Senate Youth Program. Hubert Humphrey was born in Wallace, South Dakota. He left South Dakota to attend the University of Minnesota but returned to South Dakota to help manage his father’s drug store early in the depression. He eventually earned an M.A. in political science from Louisiana State University in 1940, and was later elected Mayor of Minneapolis where he served until 1948. In 1948, at the Democratic National Convention, Humphrey gained national attention when he delivered a stirring speech in favor of a strong civil rights plank in the party’s platform. In November of 1948, voters in Minnesota elected Humphrey to the United States Senate. While in the Senate, he was known as a Senate liberal, working on issues of civil rights, social welfare, fair employment, arms control, a nuclear test ban, food stamps, and humanitarian foreign aid. Senator Hubert H. Humphrey, Jr. introduced the first bill to create the Peace Corps in 1957 and in 1974, along with Rep. Augustus Hawkins of California; he authored the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act, the first attempt at full employment legislation. In 1968, Humphrey was the nominee of the Democratic Party in the United States presidential election but narrowly lost to the Republican nominee, Richard Nixon. After leaving the Vice-Presidency, Humphrey utilized his talents by teaching at Macalester College and the University of Minnesota. He returned to the Senate in 1971 and remained in office until his death. In a rarity in politics Humphrey served as a Senator by holding both seats in his state (Class I and Class II).