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

Early years

George was born on a farm near Preston, Georgiamarker. He attended public schools and then Mercer Universitymarker in Macon, Georgiamarker. 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 Georgiamarker from 1917 to 1922.

Senator

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 officially 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 reelection contests for George were in the Democratic primaries. In 1938, George faced a particularly difficult primary fight after angering many Democrats by his opposition to certain aspects of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal programs. George defeated Lawrence Camp and Eugene Talmadge in the 1938 primary, though Camp was backed by Roosevelt.

When World War II began in Europe, George was at first a member of the isolationist faction in the United States Senate, but later supported the lend-lease program between the United States and Britain. When the United States entered the war, George helped guide legislation to finance it while he was chairman of the finance committee. Throughout his career, George was known as a supporter of legislation to help farmers. He also supported racial segregation like most southern senators of the time, signing "The Southern Manifesto" in 1956.

George was a member of twelve committees while he was in the Senate, and chairman of five, including the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations from 1940 to 1941 and from 1955 to 1957, and the U.S. 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.

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

Remembrances

The Walter F. George School of Law of Mercer Universitymarker, the former Walter F. George High School (presently South Atlanta High School) in Atlanta, Georgiamarker, and Walter F.marker George Lakemarker 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 $.04 cent stamp honoring George. The official place of issue was Vienna, Georgiamarker, George's final home.

References

  • Mixon, Val G. "The Foreign Policy Statesmanship of Senator Walter F. George: 1955-1956." West Georgia College Review 1973 6: 29-41. ISSN 0043-3136
  • Zeigler, Luther Harmon, Jr. "Senator Walter George's 1938 Campaign." Georgia Historical Quarterly 1959 43(4): 333-352. ISSN 0016-8297


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