Walter F. George

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Walter F. George
Walter George.PNG
United States Senator
from Georgia
In office
November 22, 1922 – January 2, 1957
Preceded byRebecca L. Felton
Succeeded byHerman E. Talmadge
President pro tempore of the United States Senate
In office
January 5, 1955 – January 2, 1957
Preceded byStyles Bridges
Succeeded byCarl Hayden
Personal details
BornWalter Franklin George
(1878-01-29)January 29, 1878
Preston, Georgia
DiedAugust 4, 1957(1957-08-04) (aged 79)
Vienna, Georgia
NationalityAmerican
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Lucy Heard George
Alma materMercer University
 
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For other people named Walter George, see Walter George (disambiguation).
Walter F. George
Walter George.PNG
United States Senator
from Georgia
In office
November 22, 1922 – January 2, 1957
Preceded byRebecca L. Felton
Succeeded byHerman E. Talmadge
President pro tempore of the United States Senate
In office
January 5, 1955 – January 2, 1957
Preceded byStyles Bridges
Succeeded byCarl Hayden
Personal details
BornWalter Franklin George
(1878-01-29)January 29, 1878
Preston, Georgia
DiedAugust 4, 1957(1957-08-04) (aged 79)
Vienna, Georgia
NationalityAmerican
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Lucy Heard George
Alma materMercer University

Walter Franklin George (January 29, 1878 – August 4, 1957) was an American politician from the state of Georgia. He was a long-time Democratic United States Senator and was President pro tempore of the Senate from 1955 to 1957.

Early years[edit]

George was born on a farm near Preston, Georgia. He attended public schools and then Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. He received his law degree from Mercer in 1901 and entered the practice of law. George served as a judge of the Georgia Court of Appeals in 1917 and as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia from 1917 to 1922.

Senator[edit]

1920s[edit]

George resigned from the Supreme Court of Georgia to run for a seat in the United States Senate, which became available due to the death of Thomas E. Watson. George won the special election but, rather than take his seat immediately when the Senate reconvened on November 21, 1922, George allowed the appointed Rebecca Latimer Felton to be sworn in, making her the first woman seated in the Senate, and serving until George took office on November 22, 1922, one day later. George was re-elected to his first full six-year term in 1926. He served in the Senate from 1923 until 1957, declining to run for a sixth full term in 1956. At that time, the Republican Party in Georgia was very weak, so the real re-election contests for George were in the Democratic primaries.

During the 1920s George, a Democrat, tended to vote much like his fellow senators from the South, conservatively.[1] He supported prohibition and opposed civil rights for blacks,[1] even voting against anti-lynching measures.[1] He was a strong supporter of large corporations, particularly those based in Georgia, like the Coca-Cola Company and Georgia Power Company.[1]

In 1928, Georgia's congressional delegation selected George as a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.[1] (Al Smith from New York received the national nomination but was soundly defeated by Republican candidate Herbert Hoover.)[1] Even though George was never a serious candidate for the nomination,[1] it was clear that he was very popular among his fellow Georgians.[1]

The stock market crash of 1929 ushered in the Great Depression of the 1930s and, with it, a new era in American politics.[1]

1930s[edit]

Still very conservative. George opposed Franklin Roosevelt's nomination for president in 1932.[1] Not very enthusiastic about the New Deal (his fellow senator Richard B. Russell Jr. was much more),[1] George supported some programs that he saw as beneficial to Georgia, primarily the Tennessee Valley Authority,[1] Social Security,[2] the Rural Electrification Administration,[3] and the Agricultural Adjustment Act.[1] He would also support several of the earlier New Deal policies[4] and during Roosevelt's time in office, he supported 34 New Deal bills that went through the Senate, opposing only 10.[2]

George found far more to oppose during Roosevelt's second term, however, including rigorous regulation of utility companies, the Wealth Tax Act, and Roosevelt's attempt to pack the US Supreme Court with justices favorable to his New Deal policies.[1] Roosevelt—who considered Georgia his "second home," given the time he spent at Warm Springs, tried hard to unseat George,[1] who, Roosevelt felt, had now been "sent out to pasture."[2] In a famous speech, delivered in Barnesville on August 11, 1938, Roosevelt praised George for his service, acknowledging his intelligence and honor, but urged voters to choose George's opponent, Lawrence Camp, in the upcoming Democratic primary.[1] George shook the president's hand and accepted the challenge.[1]

George avoided openly attacking Roosevelt, who was extremely popular in Georgia.[1] Instead, George accused the president's advisors of promoting his interference in Georgia politics.[1] George painted a dire picture of another round of Reconstruction to be forced upon Georgia if the northern advisors had their way.[1] George easily won renomination for his senate seat and, with the Democratic Party firmly in control of Georgia, easily won re-election as well.[1][1]

1940s[edit]

George and Roosevelt were in greater agreement on foreign affairs.[1] In the 1940s, as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and then of the Senate Finance Committee, George supported Roosevelt's efforts at military preparedness, including Lend-Lease aid to Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union, already at war, and American defensive buildup in response to the threat posed by Japanese and German militarism.[1] Once the United States entered World War II after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, George embraced the president's vigorous prosecution of the war, even reverseing his previous opposition to an international agency designed to keep peace by supporting the ra-tification of the United Nations Charter in 1945.[1]

1950s[edit]

He also strongly supported racial segregation like most other southern senators, signing "The Southern Manifesto" in 1956 and introducing it into the Congressional Record.[5]

George's office became a meeting place for southern senators to plot opposition strategy to the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954, which declared the segregation of schools to be unconstitutional.[1] However, George was less vocal about his pro-segregation views than Senator Russell or his young opponent in the 1956 election, Herman Talmadge.[1]

Talmadge had the state political machinery built by his father, Eugene, firmly behind him, and despite his seniority and leadership in the Senate (he served as president pro tempore in 1955 and 1956), George realized he was not likely to withstand the Talmadge challenge and declined to run for reelection.[1]

Early in 1957, shortly after his retirement from the Senate, George was appointed special ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization by President Dwight Eisenhower. He served in this position for about six months before becoming seriously ill. He died in Vienna, Georgia and is interred in the Vienna cemetery.

During his time in Congress, George was a member of twelve committees while he was in the Senate, and chairman of five, including the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations from 1940 to 1941 and from 1955 to 1957 and the US Senate Committee on Finance from 1941 to 1947 and from 1949 to 1953. He was also President pro tempore of the Senate from 1955 to 1957. While in the Senate, George became known for his polished oratory and was considered one of the Senate's best public speakers.

Remembrances[edit]

The Walter F. George School of Law of Mercer University, the former Walter F. George High School (presently South Atlanta High School) in Atlanta, Georgia, and Walter F. George Lake in western Georgia are named for him. The Walter F. George Foundation, created at Mercer when the university's law school was named in honor of George in 1947, continues to award scholarships to Mercer law students who plan to pursue careers in public service. George's portrait hangs in the Georgia state capitol in Atlanta.

In 1960, the United States Postal Service issued a $0.04 stamp honoring George. The place of issue was Vienna, Georgia, George's final home.

Jacqueline Kennedy recalled that her late husband, John F. Kennedy, considered George the finest senator that he had served with and that Kennedy would go out of his way to be in the Senate chamber when George was making a speech[citation needed].

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-3134
  2. ^ a b c http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/40577958?uid=3739736&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=47698753985587
  3. ^ http://www.lat34north.com/historicmarkers/MarkerDetail.cfm?KeyID=152-5&MarkerTitle=Walter%20F.%20George%201878-1957
  4. ^ http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/ArticlePrintable.jsp?id=h-3134
  5. ^ The Southern Manifesto (1956-03-12)

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

United States Senate
Preceded by
Rebecca L. Felton
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Georgia
1922–1957
Served alongside: William J. Harris, John S. Cohen, Richard B. Russell, Jr.
Succeeded by
Herman E. Talmadge
Political offices
Preceded by
Key Pittman
Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
1940–1941
Succeeded by
Tom Connally
Preceded by
Pat Harrison
Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee
1941–1947
Succeeded by
Eugene D. Millikin
Preceded by
Eugene D. Millikin
Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee
1949–1953
Preceded by
Alexander Wiley
Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
1955–1957
Succeeded by
Theodore F. Green
Preceded by
Styles Bridges
President pro tempore of the United States Senate
January 5, 1955 – January 2, 1957
Succeeded by
Carl Hayden
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Kenneth McKellar
Dean of the United States Senate
January 3, 1953 – January 2, 1957
Succeeded by
Carl Hayden