- Fulbright, James William
- (1905-1995)J. William Fulbright was born in Missouri, but he was raised in Arkansas and graduated from the University of Arkansas in 1925. He then studied at Oxford University, England, as a Rhodes Scholar until 1928. Upon his return to the United States, he taught at George Washington Law School and the University of Arkansas. In 1939, he became president of the University of Arkansas and the youngest college head in the country. In 1942, Fulbright began his political career when he was elected as a Democrat to the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1944, he was elected to the Senate and joined the Foreign Relations Committee. A committed internationalist, he supported the United Nations (UN) and in 1946 sponsored the educational exchange program, which was named after him. He also supported the Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan. Fulbright was a critic of Joseph McCarthy and right-wing groups like the John Birch Society. However, he opposed racial integration and in 1956 signed the Southern Manifesto against the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, and he took part in the filibuster that tried to prevent passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.As chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 1959 until 1975, Fulbright was an influential voice on foreign affairs. Although he initially supported the Tonkin Resolution granting President Lyndon Johnson the power to increase U.S. involvement in the war in Vietnam, he subsequently came to regret it and wrote a critical study of U.S. policy in Asia, The Arrogance of Power, published in 1967. Fulbright supported the passage of the War Powers Act in 1973 limiting presidential war-making powers. He lost his seat in 1974 and worked in a law firm in Washington, D.C., also traveling and speaking widely on foreign affairs. In 1993, President Bill Clinton awarded him the Medal of Freedom in recognition of his work.
Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . Neil A. Wynn . 2015.