James William Fulbright (April 9, 1905 – February 9, 1995) was a
United States Senator representing
Arkansas from January 1945 until
his resignation in December 1974. Fulbright is the longest serving
chairman in the history of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. A
Southern Democrat and a staunch multilateralist who supported the
creation of the United Nations, he was also a segregationist who
signed the Southern Manifesto. Fulbright opposed
McCarthyism and the
House Un-American Activities Committee
House Un-American Activities Committee and later became known for his
opposition to American involvement in the Vietnam War. His efforts to
establish an international exchange program eventually resulted in the
creation of a fellowship program which bears his name, the Fulbright
1 Early years
2 Congressional career
2.1 House of Representatives
Vietnam War and U.S. foreign policy
3 Final election and legacy
4 Fulbright Program
9 Further reading
10 External links
An earlier portrait of Senator Fulbright.
Fulbright was born in Sumner, Missouri, the son of Roberta (née
Waugh) and Jay Fulbright. In 1906 the Fulbright family moved to
Fayetteville, Arkansas. Fulbright's parents enrolled him in the
University of Arkansas's College of Education's experimental grammar
and secondary school.
Fulbright earned a history degree from the University of
1925, where he became a member of the
Sigma Chi fraternity. He was
elected president of the student body and a star four-year player for
the Razorback football team from 1921 to 1924.
Fulbright later studied at Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes
Scholar at Pembroke College, graduating in 1928. He received his law
degree from The
George Washington University
George Washington University Law School in 1934, was
admitted to the bar in
Washington, D.C. and became an attorney in the
Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.
Fulbright was a lecturer in law at the University of
1936 until 1939. He was appointed president of the school in 1939,
making him the youngest university president in the country. He held
this post until 1941. The School of Arts and Sciences at the
Arkansas is named in his honor, and he was elected there
into Phi Beta Kappa. He was a member of the Founding Council of the
Rothermere American Institute, University of Oxford.
Fulbright's sister, Roberta, married Gilbert C. Swanson, the head of
Swanson frozen-foods conglomerate, and was the maternal
grandmother of media figure Tucker Carlson.
House of Representatives
Fulbright was elected to the
United States House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives in
1942, where he served one term. During this period, he became a member
of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The House adopted the
Fulbright Resolution which supported international peace-keeping
initiatives and encouraged the
United States to participate in what
United Nations in September 1943. This brought Fulbright to
In 1943 a confidential analysis by
Isaiah Berlin of the House and
Senate foreign relations committees for the British Foreign Office
identified Fulbright as "a distinguished new-comer to the House."
A young (age 38) wealthy ex-Rhodes scholar, whose major experience so
far has been of farming and business. He has already shown versatile
competence and ability in business as special attorney in the
Anti-Trust Division of the Justice Department and as president of the
University of Arkansas. An alert and intelligent member of the
committee who recently drew a comparison between the British practice
of making grants to her allies and America's World War practice of
making loans on fixed financial terms, to show that it was America
which had departed from the general international practice in the
matter. Fulbright would like to see the
United States obtain only
non-material benefits from Lend-Lease, namely, political commitments
from the countries receiving it, that would enable a system of
post-war collective security to be set up. An internationalist.
He was elected to the Senate in 1944, unseating incumbent Hattie
Carraway, the first woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate. He served
five six-year terms. In his first general election to the Senate,
Fulbright defeated the Republican Victor Wade of Batesville, 85.1 to
14.9 percent. Benjamin Travis Laney, a more conservative Democrat than
Fulbright, won the race for governor of
Arkansas in the same election
by a similar margin, 86 to 14 percent for Republican Harley C. Stump,
the former mayor of Stuttgart.
He promoted the passage of legislation establishing the Fulbright
Program in 1946, a program of educational grants (Fulbright
Fellowships and Fulbright Scholarships), sponsored by the Bureau of
Educational and Cultural Affairs of the
United States Department of
State, governments in other countries, and the private sector. The
program was established to increase mutual understanding between the
peoples of the
United States and other countries through the exchange
of persons, knowledge, and skills. It is considered one of the most
prestigious award programs and it operates in 155 countries.
Fulbright became a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in
1949, and served as chairman from 1959 to 1974–he was the
longest-serving chair in that committee's history.
He was the only senator to vote against an appropriation for the
Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations in 1954, which was chaired by
Senator Joseph McCarthy.
In 1956, Fulbright campaigned across the country for the unsuccessful
Stevenson-Kefauver ticket. He swamped his Republican challenger that
year, Ben C. Henley, the state party chairman and a brother of U.S.
Jesse Smith Henley of Harrison.
Fulbright signed The
Southern Manifesto in opposition of the Supreme
Court's historic 1954
Brown v. Board of Education
Brown v. Board of Education decision which
declared that "separate but equal" in segregating black and white
children in schools was illegal and that all schools must be
integrated.  With other southern Democrats, Fulbright filibustered
the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as voting against the 1965
Voting Rights Act. However, in 1970, during the Nixon
administration, Fulbright voted for a five-year extension of the
Voting Rights Act. He also led the charge against confirming
Nixon's conservative Supreme Court nominees
Clement Haynsworth and
According to historian and former
Special Assistant to President
Kennedy Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Fulbright was Kennedy's first choice
as Secretary of State, but it was felt he was too controversial.
Rather the "lowest common denominator", Dean Rusk, was chosen.
Senator Fulbright and the Chicken Tax
U.S. intensive chicken farming led to the 1961–1964 "chicken war"
With imports of inexpensive chicken from the U.S., chicken prices fell
quickly and sharply across Europe, radically affecting European
chicken consumption. U.S. chicken overtook nearly half of the
imported European chicken market. Coming on the heels of a "crisis
in trade relations between the U.S. and the Common Market", Europe
moved ahead with tariffs. 
Senator Fulbright, as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee and Democratic Senator from Arkansas—a chief
poultry-producing state—interrupted a
NATO debate on nuclear
armament to protest trade sanctions on U.S. chicken, going so far
as to threaten cutting US troops in NATO.
The U.S. subsequently enacted a 25% tariff on imported light trucks,
known as the chicken tax—that remains in effect as of 2010.
Fulbright raised serious objections to President
John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy about
Bay of Pigs Invasion
Bay of Pigs Invasion in April 1961, and also to
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson on the 1965
Dominican Civil War
Dominican Civil War in Santo
On 30 July 1961, two weeks before the erection of the Berlin Wall,
Fulbright said in a television interview, "I don't understand why the
East Germans don't just close their border, because I think they have
the right to close it." Fulbright’s statement was reported
as a three-column spread on the front page of the East German
Communist Party newspaper Neues Deutschland. The West German reception
of his statement was extremely negative. A cable from US Embassy Bonn
reported that “rarely has a statement by a prominent American
official aroused so much consternation, chagrin and anger.” Willy
Brandt’s Press Secretary
Egon Bahr is quoted as saying: “We
privately called him Fulbricht” (after Walter Ulbricht, who was
the East German head of state at that time).
McGeorge Bundy sent the press coverage of Fulbright’s interview to
the President with a comment about “the helpful impact of Senator
Fulbright’s remarks.” Kennedy subsequently refused to distance
himself from Fulbright’s observation, which suggests that he asked
Fulbright to make this statement as a way of signaling to Soviet
Nikita Khrushchev that the building of a wall would be viewed
United States as an acceptable way of defusing the Berlin
The President (John Kennedy) is hobbled in his task of leading the
American people to consensus and concerted action by the restrictions
of power imposed on him by a constitutional system designed for an
18th century agrarian society far removed from the centers of world
power. He alone, among elected officials can rise above parochialism
and private pressures. He alone, in his role as teacher and moral
leader, can hope to overcome the excesses and inadequacies of a public
opinion that is all too often ignorant of the needs, the dangers, and
the opportunities in our foreign relations. It is imperative that we
break out of the intellectual confines of cherished and traditional
beliefs and open our minds to the possibility that Basic Changes in
Our System may be essential to meet the requirements of the 20th
— J William Fulbright, Stanford University, 1961
Testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1963, Fulbright
claimed five million tax-deductible dollars from philanthropic
Americans was sent to Israel and then recycled back to the U.S. for
distribution to organizations seeking to influence public opinion in
favor of Israel. This statement led to friction with organized
pro-Israeli groups in the U.S.
Perhaps his most notable case of dissent was his public condemnation
of foreign and domestic policies, in particular, his concern that
right-wing radicalism, as espoused by the
John Birch Society
John Birch Society and
wealthy oil-man H. L. Hunt, had infected the United States
military. He was, in turn, denounced by
Republican Senators J.
Strom Thurmond and Barry M. Goldwater.[citation
needed] Goldwater and Texas Senator
John Tower announced that they
were going to
Arkansas to campaign against Fulbright, but Arkansas
voters reelected him.
One of Fulbright's local staffers in
Arkansas was James McDougal.
While working for Fulbright, McDougal met the future
and US President
Bill Clinton and the two of them, along with their
wives, began investing in various development properties, including
the parcel of land along the White River in the Ozarks that would
later be the subject of an independent counsel investigation during
Clinton's first term in office.
Despite serving in the Senate for 30 years, Fulbright remained
Arkansas' junior senator throughout his tenure, serving alongside
senior Senator John L. McClellan. He along with
Tom Harkin of Iowa who
served alongside Chuck Grassley, are both the longest-serving senators
in history to never become their state's senior senator.
Vietnam War and U.S. foreign policy
On August 7, 1964, a unanimous House of Representatives and all but
two members of the Senate voted to approve the Gulf of Tonkin
Resolution, which led to a dramatic escalation of the Vietnam War.
Fulbright, who not only voted for but also sponsored the resolution,
would later write:
Many Senators who accepted the Gulf of Tonkin resolution without
question might well not have done so had they foreseen that it would
subsequently be interpreted as a sweeping Congressional endorsement
for the conduct of a large-scale war in Asia.
U.S. Congressional opposition
to American involvement in
wars and interventions
1812 North America
House Federalists’ Address
1847 Mexican–American War
1917 World War I
Filibuster of the Armed Ship Bill
1970 Southeast Asia
Repeal of Tonkin Gulf Resolution
1973 Southeast Asia
War Powers Resolution
House Concurrent Resolution 63
Fulbright (left) with Senator
Wayne Morse during a hearing of the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the
Vietnam War in 1966
As chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Fulbright held several
series of hearings on the Vietnam War. Many of the earlier hearings,
in 1966, were televised to the nation in their entirety (a rarity in
C-SPAN era); the 1971 hearings included the notable
Vietnam veteran and future Senator and Secretary of State
In 1966, Fulbright published The Arrogance of Power, in which he
attacked the justification of the Vietnam War, Congress's failure to
set limits on it, and the impulses which gave rise to it. Fulbright's
scathing critique undermined the elite consensus that U.S. military
Indochina was necessitated by
Cold War geopolitics.
In his book, Fulbright offered an analysis of American foreign policy:
Throughout our history two strands have coexisted uneasily; a dominant
strand of democratic humanism and a lesser but durable strand of
intolerant Puritanism. There has been a tendency through the years for
reason and moderation to prevail as long as things are going tolerably
well or as long as our problems seem clear and finite and manageable.
But... when some event or leader of opinion has aroused the people to
a state of high emotion, our puritan spirit has tended to break
through, leading us to look at the world through the distorting prism
of a harsh and angry moralism.
Fulbright also related his opposition to any American tendencies to
intervene in the affairs of other nations:
Power tends to confuse itself with virtue and a great nation is
particularly susceptible to the idea that its power is a sign of God's
favor, conferring upon it a special responsibility for other
nations—to make them richer and happier and wiser, to remake them,
that is, in its own shining image. Power confuses itself with virtue
and tends also to take itself for omnipotence. Once imbued with the
idea of a mission, a great nation easily assumes that it has the means
as well as the duty to do God's work.
He was also a strong believer in international law:
Law is the essential foundation of stability and order both within
societies and in international relations. As a conservative power, the
United States has a vital interest in upholding and expanding the
reign of law in international relations. Insofar as international law
is observed, it provides us with stability and order and with a means
of predicting the behavior of those with whom we have reciprocal legal
obligations. When we violate the law ourselves, whatever short-term
advantage may be gained, we are obviously encouraging others to
violate the law; we thus encourage disorder and instability and
thereby do incalculable damage to our own long-term interests.
Final election and legacy
Fulbright left the Senate in 1974, after being defeated in the
Democratic primary by then-Governor Dale Bumpers. His well-documented
early condemnation of the Vietnamese war and anti-interventionist
programs had long made him a target of his party's right wing. Bumpers
won by a landslide.
At the time that he left the Senate, Fulbright had spent his entire 30
years in the Senate as the junior senator from Arkansas, behind John
Little McClellan who entered the Senate two years before him. After
his retirement, Fulbright practiced international law at the
Washington, D.C. office of the law firm Hogan & Hartson from
On May 5, 1993, President
Bill Clinton presented the Presidential
Medal of Freedom to Fulbright at the Fulbright Association's
forty-eighth birthday tribute.
Fulbright died of a stroke in 1995 at the age of 89 in Washington,
D.C. A year later, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary dinner of
Fulbright Program held June 5, 1996 at the White House, President
Bill Clinton said, "Hillary and I have looked forward for some time to
celebrating this 50th anniversary of the Fulbright Program, to honor
the dream and legacy of a great American, a citizen of the world, a
native of my home state and my mentor and friend, Senator
Fulbright's ashes were interred at the Fulbright family plot in
Evergreen Cemetery in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
In 1996, The
George Washington University
George Washington University renamed a residence hall in
his honor. The
J. William Fulbright
J. William Fulbright Hall is located 2223 H Street,
N.W., at the corner of 23rd and H Streets. The Hall received historic
designations as a District of Columbia historic site on January 28,
2010, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on
June 18, 2010. 
On October 21, 2002, in a speech at the dedication of the Fulbright
Sculpture at the University of Arkansas,
Bill Clinton said,
I admired him. I liked him. On the occasions when we disagreed, I
loved arguing with him. I never loved getting in an argument with
anybody as much in my entire life as I loved fighting with Bill
Fulbright. I'm quite sure I always lost, and yet he managed to make me
think I might have won.
Fulbright Program was established in 1946 under legislation
introduced by then-Senator
J. William Fulbright
J. William Fulbright of Arkansas. The
Fulbright Program is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and
Cultural Affairs of the
United States Department of State.
Approximately 294,000 "Fulbrighters", 111,000 from the United States
and 183,000 from other countries, have participated in the Program
since its inception over sixty years ago. The
Fulbright Program awards
approximately 6,000 new grants annually.
Fulbright Program operates in over 155 countries
The Thank You Fulbright project was created in April 2012 to provide
an annual opportunity for alumni and friends of the Fulbright program
to celebrate Fulbright's legacy.
1982 awarded an honorary degree, doctor honoris causa, at the
Norwegian Institute of Technology, later part of Norwegian University
of Science and Technology.
Association for Asian Studies (AAS), 1985 Award for Distinguished
Contributions to Asian Studies
1987 Foreign Language Advocacy Award.
Fulbright, J. William (1947). Heywood, Robert B., ed. The Works of the
Mind: The Legislater. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
The Arrogance of Power, New York: Random House, 1966,
The Pentagon Propaganda Machine. New York: Vintage Books. 1971.
Prospects for the West, William L. Clayton Lectures on International
Economic Affairs and Foreign Policy. 1962/1963. Harvard University
Old Myths and New Realities and Other Commentaries. Random House.
The Crippled Giant;:American foreign policy and its domestic
consequences. Harvard University Press. 1972.
Fulbright, J. William; Tillman, Seth P. (1989). The Price of Empire.
^ "Roberta Waugh Fulbright". Encyclopedia of Arkansas.
^ Woods 1998, p. 1.
^ Apple, R. W., Jr. (February 10, 1995). "J. William Fulbright, Senate
Giant, Is Dead at 89". The New York Times. Retrieved May 5,
Arkansas Razorbacks National Championship" (PDF). Archived
from the original (PDF) on 2012-07-28. Retrieved 2012-06-11.
^ "Founding Council The Rothermere American Institute". Rothermere
American Institute. Archived from the original on 2012-11-17.
^ Harris, David (Sep 9, 1979). "
Swanson Saga: End of a Dream". New
York Times. p. SM111.
^ a b Hachey, Thomas E. (Winter 1973–1974). "American Profiles on
Capitol Hill: A Confidential Study for the British
Foreign Office in
1943" (PDF). Wisconsin Magazine of History. 57 (2): 141–153.
JSTOR 4634869. Archived from the original (PDF) on
^ On Fulbright's goal of promoting peace, and the influence of the
Rhodes Scholarships on this, seeDonald Markwell, (2013). "Instincts to
Lead": on Leadership, Peace, and Education, Connor Court: Australia.
^ Woods, Randall. "Bill Fulbright (1905–1995)". The Central Arkansas
Library System. Retrieved 17 July 2014.
^ Woods, Randall Bennett (1998). J. William Fulbright, Vietnam, and
the Search for a
Cold War Foreign Policy. Cambridge University Press.
p. 13. ISBN 0-521-58800-6.
^ Woods 1995, pp. 330-331.
^ Woods 1995, p. 555.
^ Woods 1995, pp. 555-557.
^ Schlesinger, Arthur M., Jr. (2008). Journals 1952–2000. Penguin
Books. p. 98. ISBN 978-0-14-311435-2. Elizabeth Farmer told
me this evening that, at five this afternoon, it looked as if it would
be Rusk in State, with Bowles and Bundy as Undersecretaries. (Ken, by
the way, told me that Jack had called him on the 7th and talked
seriously about Mac as Secretary.) I asked why Rusk had finally
emerged. Elizabeth said, 'He was the lowest common denominator.'
Apparently Harris Wofford succeeded in stirring the Negroes and Jews
up so effectively that the uproar killed Fulbright, who was apparently
Jack's first choice.
^ a b c "Western Europe: Nobody But Their Chickens". Time. November
30, 1962. Retrieved May 5, 2010.
^ "Common Market: Ruffled Feathers". Time. August 16, 1963. Retrieved
May 5, 2010.
^ "Common Market: The Chicken War". Time. June 14, 1963. Retrieved May
^ Friday, Nov. 11, 1966 (1966-11-11). "Verdict on Santo Domingo".
Time.com. Retrieved 2012-06-11. CS1 maint: Multiple names:
authors list (link)
^ "DER SPIEGEL 52/1993 - Gerechtigkeit unerreichbar". Spiegel.de.
1993-12-27. Retrieved 2012-06-11.
^ Congressional Record — Senate, August 1, 1961, pp. 14222-14224.
^ Berlin in Early Berlin-Wall Era CIA, State Department, and Army
Booklets, T.H.E. Hill (compiler), 2014, pp. xviii, xix, 279, 283.
^ W. R. Smyser, Kennedy and the Berlin Wall, Rowman & Littlefield
Publishers, 2009, p. 90.
^ Grant F. Smith, , "Pulse Media", August 28, 2009
^ abc-clio.com. ABC-CLIO
Retrieved 19 July 2014. Missing or empty title= (help)
^ Johnson, Haynes and Gwertzmann, Bernard (1968). Fulbright: The
^ Labaton, Stephen (9 March 1998). "Clinton Partner In Whitewater Dies
in Prison". New York Times. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
^ "Univ. of Arkansas, Fayetteville: FULBRIGHT POST-SENATORIAL PAPERS,
SERIES 1". Libinfo.uark.edu. 1980-05-22. Retrieved 2012-06-11.
^ "Univ. of Arkansas, Fayetteville: FULBRIGHT PROGRAM EXHIBIT".
Libinfo.uark.edu. 1993-05-05. Retrieved 2012-06-11.
Bill Clinton speech at Fulbright Program". June 5, 1996. Retrieved
June 11, 2012.
^ "Fulbright Hall - GWUEncyc". Encyclopedia.gwu.edu. Archived from the
original on 2012-03-21. Retrieved 2012-06-11.
^ "Street Address Index". Planning.dc.gov. Retrieved 2012-06-11.
^ "National Register of Historical Places - DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA (DC),
District of Columbia County". Nationalregisterofhistoricplaces.com.
^ "Fulbright Sculpture Dedication". October 21, 2002. Archived from
the original on August 1, 2012. Retrieved June 11, 2012.
^ "Honorary doctors at NTNU". Norwegian University of Science and
Association for Asian Studies (AAS)1985 Award for Distinguished
Contributions to Asian Studies; retrieved 2011-05-31
^ "The James W. Dodge Foreign Language Advocate Award". Northeast
Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. Archived from the
original on August 21, 2014. Retrieved August 28, 2014.
Presentation by Randall Bennett Woods on Fulbright: A Biography,
August 22, 1995, C-SPAN
Biographical Directory of the
United States Congress
Woods, Randall Bennett (1998). J. William Fulbright, Vietnam, and the
Search for a
Cold War Foreign Policy (abridged ed.). Cambridge
University Press. ISBN 9780521588003.
Brown, Eugene (1985). J. William Fulbright: Advice and Dissent. Iowa
City: University of Iowa Press. ISBN 0-87745-130-3.
Clinton, Bill (2005). My Life. Vintage. ISBN 1-4000-3003-X.
Finley, Keith M. (2008). Delaying the Dream: Southern Senators and the
Fight Against Civil Rights, 1938–1965. Baton Rouge: LSU Press.
Johnson, Haynes and Gwertzmann, Bernard (1968). Fulbright: The
Powell, Lee Riley (1996).
J. William Fulbright
J. William Fulbright and His Time: A
Political Biography. Guild Bindery Press. ISBN 1-55793-060-0.
Woods, Randall B. (1995). Fulbright: A Biography. Cambridge University
Press. ISBN 0-521-48262-3.
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