Biographical sketches

Arthur Vandenberg

Arthur H. Vandenberg (1884-1951) was a respected Republican senator from Michigan from 1928 to 1951. Prior to becoming senator, Vandenberg worked as a reporter for the Grand Rapids Herald, later becoming the managing editor for the paper. As editor, Vandenberg made political connections throughout the state and gradually became an important player in the Michigan Republican Party.

Following the death of U.S. Senator Woodbridge Ferris in March 1928, Vandenberg was appointed to fill the vacancy, a seat that he was already campaigning for and subsequently elected to in November. As an advocate for limited American participation in international affairs, Vandenberg closely associated himself with the isolationist wing of the Republican Party. He won reelection in 1934, 1940, and 1946, and became one of the leading Republicans in the Senate, accepting the post of Senate Minority Leader in 1935.

However, the attack on Pearl Harbor and the United State's entry into World War II forced Vandenberg to rethink his isolationist foreign policy position. By the end of the war, Vandenberg was openly advocating an internationalist approach to U.S. foreign policy in order to prevent future conflict. His stint as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during 1947 and 1948 allowed him to further pursue this position.

As an influential senate leader, Vandenberg worked with former President Herbert Hoover on a number of issues from famine relief legislation to government reorganization. The two Republican leaders rallied members of their party to insure the passage of key pieces of President Truman's foreign policy including the Marshall Plan. Vandenberg's leadership contributed to a short-lived period of bipartisanship in the area of foreign policy, which quickly began to unravel following his death in 1951. For more information see: American National Biography v.22 (1999) p. 180-181 and C. David Tompkin's Senator Arthur H. Vandenberg: The Evolution of a Modern Republican, 1884-1945.

 


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