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Henry Martin Jackson

(1912—1983)


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(b. Everett, Washington, 31 May 1912; d. Everett, Washington, 1 Sept. 1983)

US; member of the US House of Representatives 1940–52; US Senator 1952–83 The son of Norwegian immigrants, Jackson acquired the nickname ‘Scoop’ as a result of delivering newspapers while a schoolboy. Although he started university at Stanford, he transferred to the University of Washington, where he completed both his undergraduate degree and a law degree. After a brief period as a county prosecutor, he was elected in 1940 to the House of Representatives, where he served until 1952 when he secured election to the Senate.

Throughout his career he was sceptical about the motives of the Soviet Union and a ‘hawk’ on foreign and security policy. He used his Senate position to urge the United States to achieve arms superiority over the USSR and resist initiatives which might weaken America in relation to Russia. He publicized the missile gap in 1955 and successfully urged amendment of President Kennedy's test ban treaty with Khrushchev. His support for Israel prompted the Jackson-Vanik amendment in 1974 linking most-favoured nation status for Russia to a liberalization of its emigration laws; and he was a powerful critic of Carter's Salt II Treaty. Thus he became a leading member of the neo-conservative group of academics and politicians whose ideas became influential in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Although Jackson was resolutely opposed to the Soviet Union and Communism, his stance was based on analysis not emotion. He distanced himself from crude anti-Communists and his early career in the Senate was marked by withdrawal from the Permanent Investigations Committee because of Senator Joe McCarthy's behaviour.

In domestic politics he was a traditional New Deal liberal, supporting welfare and civil rights, though opposing busing. He was a strong environmentalist and sponsored the legislation which created the Environmental Protection Agency.

Jackson twice sought the Democratic presidential nomination. In both 1972 and 1976 his hawkish views on foreign policy (including broad support for the Vietnam War) put him too far to the right of the Democratic Party to win the nomination. His expertise on nuclear and defence issues and his seniority in the Senate ensured, however, that he remained a figure of influence with administrations of both parties and a key figure in the debate about America's relationship with Russia.

Subjects: Politics.


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