Essay: A Legacy of Public Service

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En route to a ship launching ceremony in Port Angeles
En route to a ship launching ceremony in Port Angeles

Warren Magnuson and Henry Jackson began their careers in an era when the economies of the world were in deep depression. Both were of Scandinavian parentage, heirs of the progressive reformist tradition that has marked Washington State politics. That tradition embodied ingenuity and tenacity, openness to broad involvement in government (direct legislation, woman suffrage) to government intervention in economic and social development, and to a political system responsive to issues and personalities rather than to party. Both endorsed President Franklin Roosevelt's leadership in creating programs to relieve the effects of the Great Depression, and they were known as "New Deal Democrats" throughout their careers. Their tandem representation of Washington State is remarkable both for its length and for the breadth of their interests in Congress. What follows is a summary view of their activities during forty years of unparalleled change.

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Jackson's Early Years

Henry Martin Jackson was born in 1912 of immigrant Norwegian parents, Peter and Marie Jackson. In Everett, his hometown teachers and friends remember him as a good student with early ambitions to become president or a U.S. senator. His father was a concrete mason, and in the constrained economy of the time, young "Scoop" (as his sister Gertrude nicknamed him) delivered newspapers to add to the family income. He briefly attended Stanford University, then worked his way through the University of Washington to a law degree.

While awaiting the results of his bar examination in 1935, Jackson served as a caseworker in a Snohomish County relief office. During his second year as a lawyer with a private firm in Everett, Jackson and his friends mounted an innovative door-to-door campaign that culminated in his election as Snohomish County prosecutor in 1938. His insistence on strict enforcement of gambling and liquor regulations secured his reputation for integrity and yielded yet another nickname, "Soda Pop," an allusion to his sparing use of alcohol.

In 1940, Jackson ran for the Second Congressional District seat vacated when Mon Wallgren sought election to the Senate. Campaigning as a supporter of New Deal programs and publicly owned utilities, Jackson defeated five other Democrats in the primary and his Republican opponent in November. Jackson's first committee assignments in the House conformed with his interests in fishing, small business, and flood control. He enlisted in the army in 1943, but was recalled to Congress after basic training, in 1944. Jackson joined a fact-finding mission which witnessed the horrors of Buchenwald a few days after its discovery by allied forces. Visiting Norway after its liberation, he observed the repatriation of Red Army soldiers captured by the Nazis. "I recall how reluctant most of those Russians were to go back to Russia," he later noted. "They knew they'd have even less freedom there." These firsthand encounters with totalitarian systems and the wartime occupation of his ancestral homeland were reference points for Jackson's view that government was responsible not only for the provision of social and economic justice but also for the adequate defense of its citizens. "The first priority is survival. I feel we can do both," he said.

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Postwar Adjustments

The tensions and irritations that followed the death of FDR and the end of the war in 1945, including shortages of housing and consumer goods and inflation, were acute in Washington State. The population of the state grew by more than a million after 1935, and while the housing boom spurred the lumbering and construction industries, the major issue was jobs. Thousands of returning servicemen discharged from military service stayed in the state to take advantage of the GI Bill. Moreover, defense contractors laid off workers as they struggled to make the transition to peacetime pursuits.

Senator Henry M. Jackson breaking ground in a bulldozer, Plutonium Recycle Test Reactor, Hanford, Washington, ca. early 1960s
Breaking ground in a bulldozer, Hanford, ca. 1960s

Senator Magnuson and Representative Jackson supported Truman administration efforts to redirect the economy. But voter discontent with the slow pace of reconversion extended into the 1946 elections. Jackson's personal popularity among the predominantly Scandinavian fishermen, loggers, and dairy farmers of his district enabled him to survive. He won reelection to his third term, the only Democrat elected from the Pacific Northwest. The election of a Republican Congress, however, reopened many questions about New Deal reforms and the extent of federal involvement in state and local affairs and in the regulation of private enterprise

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Power to the West

One of the great disputes of twentieth-century U.S. history has been waged among public and private purveyors of electricity. In Washington State, the idea of building an irrigation and reclamation dam at Grand Coulee had been around since the turn of the century. Columbia Basin development advocates, such as Rufus Woods of Wenatchee and Albert Goss of the Washington Grange, joined forces with public power proponents, such as Sen. C. C. Dill and Homer Bone to boost the project at state and federal levels. FDR backed with action his own view that public power projects served to moderate the cost of electricity. His support for the Bonneville and Grand Coulee dams and his authorization of McNary and four dams on the lower Snake River in 1945 laid the foundation for a comprehensive hydroelectric, navigation, reclamation, and flood-control program in the Columbia Basin. But the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) and the federal power concept were under attack in the Congress after 1947, and appropriations to complete Columbia Basin projects were withheld.

In the wake of the great Memorial Day flood of 1948 and the power shortages later that year, as well as his own reelection, President Truman revived proposals for a Columbia Valley Authority (CVA). Magnuson introduced the legislation in the Senate, and Jackson in the House, in 1949. Backed by agricultural, labor, and public power groups, they argued for the revenues and regional productivity benefits accruing from such a multipurpose system. "The Columbia Basin project is good for the nation as a whole," noted Magnuson, "the biggest bargain since Seward bought Alaska." But a system similar to that in the Tennessee Valley was not to be. Congress did approve the River and Harbor Flood Control Act of 1950. The act authorized projects in sections of the nation besides the Pacific Northwest and included plans for Chief Joseph, The Dalles, and John Day dams. Although the CVA idea faded, the role of the federal government in Washington State power and resource development remained central to the work of the Pacific Northwest congressional delegation in future years.

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Science and the Federal Government

Besides continuation of such public projects as housing and flood control, Truman's postwar domestic agenda included unification of the armed forces through the Department of Defense, the formation of the Atomic Energy Commission, and promotion of research in each of those areas through the creation of the National Science Foundation.

After the first atomic bombs were dropped on Japan in 1945, Congress supported international cooperation for future development of atomic energy. The reactor at Hanford produced plutonium for Atomic Energy Commission uses, and Representative Jackson became interested in the military and peaceful applications of the atom, including its potential for generating electricity. He won appointment to the Joint Congressional Committee on Atomic Energy in 1948. After the USSR detonated its first atomic bomb in 1949 and prospects for international cooperation receded, Jackson advocated expansion of military research, including the hydrogen bomb program. "If strength is the road to peace, then let's not waste a minute getting strong," he reasoned. "If peace comes, we can dismantle our atomic warheads and use the same material to run machines, treat cancer, fertilize the soil and for dozens of other productive jobs.”

Truman's proposal for a National Science Foundation (NSF) grew out of the federal research experience of the 1930s and wartime. It was a direct successor to the Office of Science Research and Development that FDR created in 1941 to coordinate and protect research with military applications. As a new member of the Commerce Committee, Senator Magnuson introduced legislation in 1945 for government-funded science research and education. Testimony from scientists during Commerce Committee hearings on this measure underscored his belief that sophisticated research and international cooperation in the emerging Cold War era would not be adequately advanced by isolated government laboratories and private industry. Arguments about the propriety of federal support of research, the administrative structure of the agency, patent rights, and the loyalty-security issue took years to resolve. After the National Science Foundation was established in 1950, NSF grants became the engine for a broad national program of basic research and for the training of succeeding generations of scientists.

Magnuson and Jackson supported President Truman's "Fair Deal" agenda in other areas as well. Congress enacted the Displaced Persons Act, which liberalized immigration, provided for low-income and rural housing and slum clearance, raised the minimum wage to 75 cents an hour, and increased Social Security benefits and extended coverage to ten million additional people. Magnuson and Jackson also endorsed Truman's foreign policy initiatives, including the Marshall Plan, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance, and U.S. involvement in the defense of South Korea.

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The 1950s

Recriminations about the 1949 triumph of the communists in China, the stalemate on the Korean Peninsula, and the rearmament of the United States in response to the Cold War became key factors in the elections of 1952. The bipartisan consensus on foreign policy faltered amid charges that "communist subversives" and "twisted thinking New Dealers" undermined national security. The electorate chose Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower to clean up "the mess in Washington" while in "the other Washington" Rep. Henry Jackson unseated Sen. Harry P. Cain. A former mayor of Tacoma and paratrooper during the Second World War, Cain charged that Jackson's record showed he was incapable of understanding the seriousness of the communist threat at home and abroad. Running on the slogan "Jackson will make a great U.S. senator," the Snohomish County Democrat relied on volunteers (Scoop's Troops) to pass out literature emphasizing his twelve-year record. Against Cain's charge that he was soft on communism for voting against a permanent House Un-American Activities Committee, Jackson posed his abilities as a lawyer that enabled him to fight communism without destroying individual liberties. His role on the Joint Atomic Energy Committee and his proposal for an atomic plant at Hanford to power industrial development of the Tri-Cities area were important aspects of Jackson's campaign. The general prosperity occasioned by consumer demand and expansion of defense appropriations to meet Cold War needs helped Jackson, and combined with his vigorous campaign on both sides of the Cascades, he won the Senate seat by a comfortable margin in a generally Republican year. President Eisenhower's victory resulted in slim GOP majorities in the Congress. The junior senator from Washington gained assignment to the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs. His posting to the Committee on Government Operations and its Subcommittee on Permanent Investigations brought Jackson to national attention. Its chairman. Sen. Joseph McCarthy, had been making broad accusations since 1950 about government agencies harboring communists. He subjected alleged subversives to intense investigation but failed to substantiate his charges. Jackson opposed such unproductive investigations and joined his Democratic colleagues in protesting McCarthy's tactics. Public opinion turned against McCarthy after millions witnessed his televised attacks on the loyalty of army personnel, and in 1954, the Senate voted to censure him. The attitudes that sustained anticommunist crusaders like McCarthy, however, became part of the fabric of U.S. politics.  Meanwhile, Magnuson had become chairman of the Senate Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce after the Democrats regained control of the Senate in 1955.  He also chaired the Independent Offices Subcommittee on Appropriations that reviewed the activities of such agencies as the Federal Communications Commission, Federal Power Commission, Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC), and the Veterans Administration. Magnuson's positions gave him great influence in matters important to Washington State development, from fishing and merchant marine affairs to ports, aviation, and inland waterways. He steered shipping and shipbuilding for Pacific military projects to Puget Sound. When Washington cattlemen were threatened with increased freight rates, he intervened with the ICC. When the Highway Act of 1956 authorized a vast system of interstate highways, Magnuson made sure that Washington State's ferry system was included.

Holding a long petition, Washington, D.C., ca. 1950s
Holding a long petition, Washington, D.C., ca. 1950s

Magnuson and Jackson worked to diversify the state's economic base during the Eisenhower years, when the administration sought to limit federal spending through its partnership programs with private industry and local governments. Their actions included obtaining appropriations to continue federal hydroelectric and reclamation projects authorized in previous years. They helped build cooperative relationships among private and public agencies that produced dryland port and irrigation districts. They used their influence in Congress to produce more-available bank loans, price supports, and import/export legislation responsive to the fishermen, orchardists, cattlemen, wheat ranchers, and lumbermen of Washington. Both senators responded to the economic development needs of Alaska because of its importance to the Washington State economy. They supported the initiatives of territorial representatives in building the Alaskan infrastructure of utilities, schools, and housing. As chairman of the Interior Subcommittee, responsible for territorial affairs, Jackson introduced statehood legislation for both Alaska and Hawaii in 1955. During the next four years, he worked to overcome bipartisan objections based on defense and racial issues. Southern congressmen feared that admission of Alaska would lead to admission of Hawaii, another racially diverse state, upsetting the civil rights balance in the Senate. Both states were admitted to the union in 1959. In the shift to Democratic control of the Senate in 1955, Jackson gained reassignment to the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy and moved to the Armed Services Committee. He became known for his advocacy of bipartisan foreign policy, speaking and writing often on defense and NATO affairs. Jackson supported the continued presence of U.S. troops in Europe. Moreover, he endorsed Eisenhower's strategy of deterrence, in part, through air power, and backed Adm. Hyman Rickover in development of atomic submarines. In the mid-1950s, Jackson worked to accelerate the U.S. intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) program. Soviet "firsts" in the space race, beginning with Sputnik in 1957, seemed to bear out his warnings that the U.S. missile program was lagging. Congress moved to close the technological and scientific "gaps" by creating NASA and by enacting the National Defense Education Act in 1958, making money available for improvements in science, mathematics, and foreign language programs. Similarly, at Atlantic Assembly meetings, Jackson advocated scholarship programs for exceptional students from NATO nations to foster scientific and technical education and the study of Asian and African languages.

The post-Sputnik years convinced Jackson of the need for more effective U.S. leadership in world affairs. In 1959, when he became chairman of the Government Operations National Policy Machinery Subcommittee, he and his staff studied the policy-making areas of the executive branch as they related to national security.   Besides producing reports on the National Security Council, the State Department, and the Atlantic Alliance,   the committee's studies helped shape Jackson's views on arms control, defense, and foreign policy.

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The 1960s

Senator Jackson's growing reputation led to his emergence in 1960 as a contender for the vice presidency. Candidate John F. Kennedy, however, chose Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson, who, he believed, improved Democratic chances in the South in his close race with Richard M. Nixon. Jackson was named chairman of the Democratic National Committee. The election of Kennedy, the first president to have come of age during the New Deal, seemed to signal a new era of reform.

From their positions on Senate committees, the Magnuson-Jackson team advanced the interests of Washington State during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. When Bangor, on the Kitsap Peninsula, was chosen as the base for Polaris submarines, Magnuson's legislation for assistance to communities impacted by federal employees helped build schools and housing. As the children of the baby boom moved from elementary school to secondary school to higher education ages, the senators supported initiatives for federal assistance.

The senators also encouraged expanded Western power generation and interregional cooperation. As a member of the Interior Committee, Jackson worked with the Washington Public Power Supply System (WPPSS), the BPA, and administration officials to conclude the Columbia Storage Power Exchange agreement with Canada in 1963. The treaty ensured firm power capacities of downstream U.S. dams and allowed the sale of power throughout the Pacific Northwest and California through the west coast interties authorized by Congress in 1964. FDR's vision of slack-water navigation from Astoria to Clarkston became a reality as appropriations for the Lower Snake dams to complete that "new Northwest Passage" speeded up during the 1960s. Magnuson and Jackson also backed such projects as the giant third powerhouse at Grand Coulee that expanded the capacity of existing dams.

But concern about the ecological and fiscal costs of hydroelectric projects mounted. To meet the long-term power demands of the West, Senator Jackson's proposal for a dual-purpose reactor at Hanford was approved by President Kennedy. WPPSS became the managing partner with the Atomic Energy Commission to add the steam plant, and by 1966 the new production reactor began contributing to the Northwest power pool. Although the project was plagued with difficulties after 1971, Jackson spoke with pride of the effort: "There we literally did beat swords into plowshares and provided jobs."

Senator Henry M. Jackson and Mt. Rainier Assistant Superintendent J. Leonard Volz pushing a KTNT radio news car out of the mud, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington, 1963
Pushing a news car out of the mud, Mt. Rainier, 1963

The industrial and agricultural development of eastern Washington through dams and reclamation also provided residents and tourists with recreational facilities. Travel and tourism became a major industry, and Magnuson and Jackson endorsed state promotional programs from Westport to Walla Walla. When the citizens of Seattle hosted a world's fair in 1962, Magnuson obtained a $10 million subsidy to boost the Century 21 Exposition. The Pacific Science Center, centerpiece for the fair's "Man in Space" theme, showed off both the latest NASA triumph and the Washington aerospace industry. Magnuson also backed the 1974 world's fair in Spokane that promoted his perennial interests in Pacific Rim trade and environmental protection.

Within the month after the world's fair closed in October 1962, however. Senator Magnuson almost lost his bid for a fourth Senate term. His opponent was a neophyte politician, a thirty-two-year-old minister from Snohomish County whose youth and vigor inspired an enthusiastic corps of volunteers. Richard G. Christensen used television extensively, and advertisements showed him speaking to an empty rocking chair to depict both Magnuson's age and his refusal to debate. Magnuson embodied the old-style, cigar-smoking, pork-barrel political insider rather than a member of the New Frontier, and his bachelor life-style and reputation as a hard-drinking man seemed out of place to many voters. Beyond those factors, however, the election took place within days of the Cuban missile crisis and the threat of nuclear war played into the hands of the resurgent New Right, which decried Magnuson's liberal record. Eastern Washington voters supported Christensen, as did organizations that disapproved of Magnuson's work for such federal programs as Medicare. The senator's forty-eight-thousand-vote victory resulted from his traditional strength in urban western Washington, where labor, education, and maritime organizations heavily supported him.

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Commerce Committee

The election of 1962 convinced Magnuson and his staff of a need to make changes to increase his effectiveness and visibility as chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce. He added enterprising staff members to help him and other committee members identify and develop approaches to issues. Magnuson encouraged junior and minority party subcommittee members to develop workable bills and accommodated their concerns in final legislation as much as possible. "We seldom pass a bill in the Commerce Committee that isn't pretty well agreed upon," he noted. Although some senators objected that Magnuson's integrative approach "compromised" their legislation, most realized the value of the chairman's insistence on taking a unified committee to the Senate floor. His mastery of Senate rules and deference to the divergent views of his colleagues resulted in an unusually effective committee. During Magnuson's tenure - the longest continuous chairmanship in Senate history (1955-78) - more than two hundred measures he introduced became law. The Commerce Committee's work during this period resulted in such legislation as that creating the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Communications Satellite Corporation, Amtrak, Conrail, and the Department of Transportation.

Magnuson and his staff made consumer protection a central concern of the Commerce Committee. In 1966, he created and became chairman of a new Consumer Subcommittee. The Dark Side of the Marketplace, a book Magnuson wrote with Jean Carper in 1968, aimed to raise public awareness of the need for protection of the consumer's economic welfare, health, and safety. Such protection, he emphasized, also served the interests of responsible businessmen. Among the many consumer measures passed as a result of subcommittee work were regulations on flammable fabrics for children's sleepwear, truth in packaging and labeling, generic drugs (to lower the cost of antibiotics), cigarette labeling and advertising, toy and auto safety, improved product warranties, packaging for poison prevention, and drinking water safety. He also helped create the Consumer Products Safety Commission (1972) and the Agency for Consumer Advocacy to represent citizens before federal agencies and courts.

Magnuson and his Commerce Committee staff also brought fresh approaches to his traditional interest in fisheries and maritime policy. The general course of his activities followed on the National Academy of Sciences oceanography report of 1959, which recommended an ambitious program of ocean exploration rivaling the federal effort in space science. Magnuson interested the maritime construction industry in his ideas and took testimony from marine and fisheries scientists scattered among federal agencies and universities. These efforts culminated in enactment of the Marine Resources and Engineering Development Act of 1966, which provided coordination of research, education, and planning for future oceanographic development. Magnuson also sought ecological safeguards through regulations on toxic substances and oil tanker construction and through prohibition of oil ports on Puget Sound. Long a proponent of measures to preserve and enhance North Pacific fisheries, he sponsored the bill that established the two-hundred-mile fishing jurisdiction in 1977.

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Interior Committee

Concern about conservation of natural resources preoccupied reformers at regular intervals in U.S. history—from the establishment of the National Park Service in 1916 to the New Deal's extensive soil and water management programs. Wilderness preservation and conservation forces found support in the Kennedy-Johnson administrations for new programs to solve the nation's growing ecological problems. Finding a balance between environmental concern and economic development became a major task for the Senate Interior and Insular Affairs Committee. Jackson's tenure on this committee began in 1953. He served as its chairman from 1963 to 1980 and helped guide a wide range of environmental protection bills through Congress. The Wilderness Act of 1964 set up a system for designating wilderness areas on public lands. It was followed in 1965 by the creation of the Land and Water Conservation Fund to buy and develop land for preservation and recreation. Additions to the Olympic National Park, wildlife refuges, and public-access facilities in parks were provided by the fund. Jackson responded to the persistent efforts of such Washington advocates as the North Cascades Conservation Council to forge the compromise that established the North Cascades National Park in 1968. That same year, he sponsored, with congressional colleagues, the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and the National Trails Systems Act. A program that provided city youths with jobs in the nation's parks and forests resulted from the Youth Conservation Corps Act of 1970. This measure depended on the persistent legislative teamwork of Jackson and Washington Congressman Lloyd Meeds as well as on the appropriations strategy of Magnuson and Julia Butler Hansen.

The landmark National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), which also was a Jackson-created bill, established environmental protection as a priority. The act required all government agencies to consider the impact of proposed programs on the environment and to seek any needed protective alternatives. Legislation of such sweeping character as NEPA was not easily passed. Timber, ranching, and mining interests and agencies such as the Corps of Engineers and the Atomic Energy Commission argued that efficiency would be hampered by such close regulation.

The preoccupation of the Interior Committee with energy issues after the embargo imposed by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in 1973 was indicated by its title change to the Energy and Natural Resources Committee in 1977. Jackson's ability to achieve bipartisan consensus was demonstrated by the passage of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977, after hearings and attempts that spanned the previous decade. His reputation as an arbiter, as well as his credibility as an advocate for Alaskan development, helped in the mediation of the land claims of Alaska natives (1971) and in passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (1980).

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Influential Advocates

Washington's senators were often called "the gold-dust twins" or the "senators from Boeing" because the legislation they initiated or supported often directed federal monies to Washington State. Their reputation for backing programs in the national interest, as well as their accumulated seniority, were factors in the deference accorded Magnuson's economic development programs and Jackson's programs for national defense. Both were consensus seekers known for their ability to build coalitions supportive of their bills.

Senator Henry M. Jackson and Congressman Ed Edmudson posing with Mayor Kim Tae Sin and Minister of Education, Lee Sung Kun, and flower girls during a tour of military installations in the Far East. K-16 Airport, Seoul, Korea, November 28, 1955
During a tour of military installations, Korea, 1955

Both were active in Democratic party affairs and were friends and advisers to presidents. Magnuson played poker with FDR, whose affectionate use of the nickname "Maggie" was widely adopted by others. He went fishing with Harry Truman and swimming with John Kennedy. President Lyndon Johnson, who began his congressional career with Magnuson on the House Naval Affairs Committee in 1936, was best man when Magnuson married Jermaine Peralta in 1964. While both senators supported the domestic reforms of the 1960s, Kennedy and Johnson drew on Magnuson's unique position and reputation to pass civil rights legislation. Lunch-counter sit-ins and freedom riders in Southern states focused national attention on the drive to desegregate public facilities. As a result, the public accommodations section was introduced as a separate bill to ensure hearings in Magnuson's Commerce Committee rather than in the Judiciary Committee, known as "the civil rights graveyard." The strategy produced a public accommodations section that Congress adopted as part of the Civil Rights Act signed by President Johnson on July 2, 1964.

Jackson's advice on defense and foreign policy was sought by both Democratic and Republican administrations. While both senators were proponents of a bipartisan approach to global affairs, their contrasting views were illustrated by their positions on the Vietnam War and China. Magnuson endorsed a strong U.S. naval presence in the Pacific and such alliances as Southeast Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO) and Australia-New Zealand-United States alliance (ANZUS) to contain communism and maintain trade. After the Vietnam conflict escalated to involve more than half a million U.S. troops, and his old friend LBJ decided not to seek reelection in 1968, Magnuson joined those advocating a negotiated U.S. withdrawal.

Jackson initially stood by LBJ in his conduct of the war as a means to check the domination of Southeast Asia by the Chinese and Soviets. As a member of the Armed Services Committee, he endorsed the bombing of North Vietnamese military targets until the South Vietnamese could defend themselves. He believed in "going for the jugular," because the Korean experience had shown the American people would not support a protracted war. As the war dragged on, he advocated a mutual cease-fire and a negotiated settlement; in 1968, he privately advised the Johnson administration against sending more U.S. troops. Jackson continued this stance with President Nixon while supporting Nixon's effort to "Vietnamize" the war and withdraw U.S. ground troops. Jackson declined Nixon's invitation to serve either as secretary of defense or as secretary of state. In 1972, he lost the party's nomination for the presidency to Senator George McGovern, a leading opponent of the war.

Magnuson's experiences in China as a young man and in the Pacific theater during World War II helped him realize the implications of U.S. domestic policy in international affairs. In 1943, he sponsored legislation repealing the Chinese exclusion laws, which were used by the Japanese to illustrate U.S. prejudice against its Asian ally. After the Chinese communists conquered the mainland in 1949, the United States recognized the nationalist government, which had retreated to Taiwan Magnuson, however, advocated nonstrategic trade and cultural relations with the mainland Chinese as early as 1956. His overture was politically unpopular, but he maintained his belief explaining, "We can't keep four hundred million people behind an economic bamboo curtain forever just because we don't like the policies of their government.”

By 1969, the shifting alliances of the Cold War era and the geopolitical importance of China had convinced Jackson that closer U.S.-China ties were crucial to U.S. efforts to promote world stability. He agreed that the Chinese could help end the war in Southeast Asia and applauded President Nixon's visit to China in 1972. In July 1973, Magnuson led the first U.S. congressional delegation to the People's Republic of China in nearly twenty-five years. Jackson made four official trips to China between 1974 and 1983. Throughout the 1970s, Jackson led discussions regarding normalization of relations, and the two nations finally exchanged ambassadors during the Carter administration in 1979. Magnuson and Jackson were instrumental in arranging many business, educational, and community contacts between the Pacific Northwest and the People's Republic of China and became revered figures in China.

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Arms Control and Human Rights

The ideological rivalry between the U.S. and the Soviet Union was complicated by nuclear weapons, and negotiations in search of a solution to the arms race became a fixture of foreign policy. In the aftermath of the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, President Kennedy and Premier Nikita Khrushchev resumed long-stalled discussions on nuclear testing and formally signed a treaty the following October. The treaty banned atmospheric, ocean, and space testing of nuclear weapons while permitting underground testing. In the course of debate on ratification, Senator Jackson led those who favored the treaty contingent on administration assurances that U.S. testing and monitoring capabilities would be maintained and improved. His floor speech endorsing the treaty helped ensure ratification of the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

In 1969, the two nations again entered arms control negotiations. Phase one of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT I) concluded in 1972 when President Nixon and Secretary Leonid Brezhnev signed a treaty limiting antiballistic missile (ABM) systems and a five-year interim agreement on the limitation of strategic offensive arms.

During the Senate ratification process, Jackson voted with the majority to ratify the ABM treaty. He supported the interim agreement, but only after the Senate had agreed to his amendment directing the president to achieve equality in levels of intercontinental forces in all future agreements.

As part of the relaxation of tensions, the two nations also began to normalize trade relations that had languished since 1951. Senator Jackson, a critic of the Soviet Union's violations of the human rights of its citizens, emerged as a leader of the opposition to the restoration of its most-favored nation status unless it met certain conditions. In 1972, Jackson introduced an amendment to the Trade Reform Act that denied most-forced nation status to countries that denied their citizens the right to emigrate freely. Jackson targeted the amendment in part at the "education tax" on Soviet citizens that was designed to stop the exodus of talented individuals. Jackson's linkage of human rights to a favored trade status touched off two years of debate that was complicated by Soviet encouragement of the attack on Israel by Egypt and Syria during Yom Kippur in 1973.

Jackson supported close ties with Israel after its formation as a separate state in 1948. Soviet intervention in the Middle East confirmed Jackson amendment supporters in their doubts about detente. Henry Kissinger, Nixon's secretary of state, argued against trying to influence Soviet internal affairs. A compromise was reached allowing the president to waive the requirements of the amendment when an individual nation moved substantially toward freer emigration. The Jackson-Vanik Amendment became law in 1974.

The Jackson amendment and the resulting debate about human rights, preferential trade, and the role of Congress in foreign policy were issues in the 1976 presidential campaigns. Jackson won the Massachusetts and New York primary elections but withdrew from campaigning after losing to Jimmy Carter in Pennsylvania. As president. Carter endorsed the concept of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment. Following Carter's negotiation with the Soviets of the SALT II agreement, Jackson again led the skeptics, criticizing the lack of reductions in ICBMs and the failure to respect the principle of equality of strategic forces. With the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, Carter withdrew the SALT II treaty from Senate consideration.

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Health Care

For Magnuson, the post- Vietnam era was a time to do rear-guard battle on the health-care front. Magnuson's first bill as a new representative from Washington State in 1937 was a cancer research bill cosponsored with his mentor. Senator Homer Bone. The National Cancer Institute established by passage of that legislation was an innovation. It embodied the idea that research into noninfectious disease was within the purview of the federal government and advanced the role of U.S. Public Health Service research by means of fellowships, private investigators, and medical schools. The wartime experience with battle casualties and draftees revealed the need for better national health care, and Congress passed the National Institutes of Health (NIH) bill introduced by Senators Magnuson and Lister Hill in 1948. Heart disease and mental illness were added to cancer as "dread diseases" to be conquered by the Public Health Service. In 1950, more institutes were added, and Magnuson's work for the National Science Foundation included a Medical Research Division to coordinate grant activities with the NIH.

During the next decade, Magnuson helped devise an effective network of activists and health professionals who countered opposition and exploited opportunities to further their cause. The Korean War validated Magnuson's advocacy for involvement of Veterans Administration hospitals in research and education. The development of a poliomyelitis vaccine by NIH researcher Jonas Salk proved the importance of biomedical research to millions of parents. The health-care lobby also helped pass the Medicare and Medicaid programs over the objections of those who feared "socialized medicine."

Magnuson's ability to influence health legislation increased when he became chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor-Health, Education, and Welfare in 1969. In opposition to Nixon administration budget cutters, he sponsored and helped guide through Congress new programs for rural and children's health-care. In 1973, he stopped Nixon's campaign to close the nation's Public Health Service hospitals. During these years, Magnuson became known as the "most-vetoed senator."

Magnuson took his arguments for increased health-care appropriations to the public with the book How Much for Health?, co-authored with Elliot A. Segal in 1974. The book served as a summary of the current state of the nation's health-care system and as a guide for future action, including the need for better food safety, lead-based paint regulation, and fire prevention. Magnuson's efforts on behalf of national programs did not overlook Washington State. Besides keeping open the Public Health Service Hospital, he obtained matching funds for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and endorsed appropriations for clinics such as those on the Puyallup and Lummi Indian reservations. In 1978, the Board of Regents of the University of Washington named the Health Sciences Center in Magnuson's honor, an acknowledgement that his support for biomedical research and education was vital to its many programs in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.

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End of an Era

Senator Magnuson rose to his most powerful positions during his last three years in the Senate. In 1978, he became chairman of the Appropriations Committee while also serving on the Budget, Science, and Transportation committees. As the senior member of the majority party, he was third in line for the presidency in the otherwise largely ceremonial role of president pro tempore of the Senate in 1979-80. He continued to work on issues he considered to be in the long-term national interest: no-fault auto insurance, health-care insurance, and fisheries conservation.

But it was his position as appropriations chairman that claimed most of his time. President Carter's campaign pledge to balance the federal budget by 1980 received Magnuson's support. Magnuson expressed his determination to impose discipline on appropriations through increased oversight, confident that he and subcommittee heads could trim programs and critique spending requests. In response to queries about his new "frugal hand," Magnuson replied that he was a "closet conservative when federal spending is the issue." Budget cutting was popular in many states at the time. After Washington State voters limited revenue collections by passing an initiative in 1979, Magnuson introduced a bill tying federal spending to the gross national product. However, Magnuson was as generous as ever in assisting the Pacific Northwest in calamities of the moment. He engineered appropriations for new Hood Canal and West Seattle bridges (both accidentally destroyed in 1979), steered a $400 million contract to Todd Shipyards, and made $951 million available to assist government agencies coping with the effects of the 1980 eruption of Mount Saint Helens.

In response to criticism during the 1980 campaign that the Appropriations Committee had become the "Warren G. Magnuson Charitable Trust," Vice President Walter Mondale said: "Maggie assured me that he has decided to be scrupulously fair with federal appropriations. He has decided to divide them up 50-50-halffor Washington State and half for the rest of the country." Others noted that, "Grant is Magnuson's middle name." Such joking revealed the ambivalence some voters felt about Magnuson's ability to bring federal funds to bear on Washington problems. While Magnuson's reelection campaign was well financed by traditional groups in the labor, shipping, and fishing communities, actual voting support was diluted by the issues. Support of health professionals was divided; some physicians doubted that Magnuson's support for national health care plans was good for the nation. Regional economic problems associated with declining salmon runs and the shift of lumbering jobs to the South were heightened by the double-digit inflation, and they weakened Magnuson's traditional voting base. Some observers noted that a majority of voters were young or new to the state and thus immune to the tradition of voting for "Maggie." Those same voters, however, also had acquired the habit of voting for Magnuson's opponent, the state's highest elected Republican officeholder. Attorney General Slade Gorton.

Gorton rose to leadership of the moderate wing of the Republican Party during his ten years in the Washington State House of Representatives. Vigorous and articulate, Gorton's initiatives as attorney general included the establishment of an office of consumer protection, and earned him continuous reelection after 1969. In the 1980 race, Magnuson's age and declining health were factors in his defeat. The fifty-two-year-old Gorton jogged and cycled around the state, while Magnuson conducted a whistle-stop tour by rail. The seventy-five-year-old Magnuson rebutted observations on his age with the comment, "Age isn't a problem; it's a fact of life." Concerning the voters' mandate that ended his forty-four years in Congress, he concluded that is was “some sort of tidal wave. There is a time to come and a time to go.”

The 1980 election, with its shift to Ronald Reagan and the Republican Party, seemed to signal the end of the old New Deal reform coalition. An ironic consequence of the GOP tidal wave was that Henry Jackson became senior senator and leader of the Washington delegation to Congress for the first time-but lost his chairmanships.

As ranking Democrat on the Energy and Natural Resources, Armed Services, and Government Affairs committees, Jackson worked at issues ranging from the Columbia Gorge to Middle East tensions. He acted to block such Reagan administration proposals as the sale of the Bonneville Power Administration system to private interests and the leasing of wilderness areas for oil and gas exploration. As relations between the United States and the USSR deteriorated, Jackson joined with Senator John Warner to obtain the support of sixty- one cosigners to a resolution urging a renewal of arms-control negotiations. The bipartisan resolution advocated a long-term, mutual, and verifiable arms freeze at equal and sharply reduced levels. Also in response to national and local concern, he proposed the formation of a bipartisan commission on Central America to end the policy stalemate between Congress and the Reagan administration as well as to unify the nation. The final report of the bipartisan commission was dedicated to Jackson.

Senator Jackson died suddenly on September 1, 1983, during his forty-third year in Congress. He had just returned from China, and in his last press conference, that day, denounced the Soviet Union's action in destroying Korean Air Line's Flight 007 with its 269 passengers and crew. Congressional tributes to Jackson's memory included the naming of a Trident submarine, the federal office building in Seattle, and the Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine in his honor. Moreover, in 1986, Congress approved a $10 million grant to match private funds raised to support the Henry M. Jackson Foundation, which had been established in 1983 by his widow, Helen, and his friends and colleagues. The Jackson Foundation carries forward the senator's commitment to the advancement of education and scholarship in the fields of international affairs, environmental and resource policy, and other areas of interest to him. Jackson also had furthered programs of the University of Washington's School of Law and Graduate School of Public Affairs that promoted his interest in international education and training for foreign service. The University's School of International Studies was named for Jackson in recognition of his active support for its programs and its interdisciplinary approach to the study of world cultures.

On the occasion of what would have been Jackson's seventy-fifth birthday anniversary, May 31, 1987, former Senator Magnuson said, "I have lots of memories tonight. We were a team. It was rare that we voted opposite." Together, they recorded more than twenty thousand votes, and, in the matter of Washington State development, they seldom disagreed.


This account of the careers of Senators Magnuson and Jackson was written by Jane Sanders in 1987 under the auspices of the University of Washington Libraries to accompany the exhibit based on the senators' papers administered by the libraries. Advisors for the exhibit and for the biographical essay were University of Washington faculty members Robert E. Burke, Department of History; Brewster Denny, Graduate School of Public Affairs; and Richard Ellings, Jackson School of International Studies; as well as Dorothy Fosdick of the Henry M. Jackson Foundation.


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