J. William Fulbright
Born - 4/9/05
Died - 2/9/95
The namesake of the Fulbright Scholarship
Born in Sumner, Missouri. He was educated at the University of Arkansas where he earned a B.A. degree in Political Science in 1925. He then attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar where he received an M.A. degree.
When he returned to the United Sates, he studied law at George Washington University in Washington, DC. During the 1930's, he served in the Justice Department and was an instructor at the George Washinton University Law School. In 1936, he returned to Arkansas where he was a lecturer in law and, from 1939 to 1941, president of the University of Arkansas, at the time the youngest university president in the country.
He entered politics in 1942 and was elected to the House of Representatives, entering Congress in 1943 and becoming a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee. In September of that year, the House adopted the Fulbright Resolution supporting an international peace-keeping machinery, encouraging the United States participation in what became the United Nations
In 1944 he was elected to the Senate and served from 1945 through 1974. In that time he became one of its most influential and best known members. His legislation that established the Fulbright Program was passed through the Senate without so much as debate in 1946. Its first participants went overseas in 1948, funded by war reparations and foreign loan repayments to the United States. The program has made an enormous impact around the world. There have been more than 250,000 Fulbright grantees and many of them have made significant contributions within their countries as well as to the overall goal of advancing mutual understanding.
In 1949, he became a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee . From 1954-1974, he served as chairman, the longest serving chairman of that committee in history. His career in the Senate was marked by some notable causes of dissent. In 1954 he was the only Senator to vote against an appropriation for the Permanent Subcommitte on Investigations, chaired by the infamous Joseph R. McCarthy. He also lodged serious objections to President John F. Kennedy in advance of the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961.
Always in the national spotlight, Fulbright was a powerful voice during the Vietnam war. He chaired the Senate hearings on United States policy and conduct of the war. A quote about Fulbright by Walter Lippman, "The role he plays in Washington is an indispensable role. There is no one else who is so powerful and also so wise, and if there were any question of removing him from public office, it would be a national calamity."
He received numerous awards during his lifetime from governments, universities, and educational organizations around the world for his efforts on behalf of education and international understanding. In 1993, he was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bill Clinton.
He died on February, 9, 1995, at the age of 89 at his home in Washington, DC.