John Goodwin Tower

(b. 1925)

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(b. Houston, Texas, 29 Sept. 1925; d. New Brunswick, Georgia, 5 Apr. 1991)

US; US Senator 1961–85 The son of a Methodist church official, Tower spent a period in the navy before gaining a degree from Southwestern University in 1948. Between 1948 and 1951 he was employed as a radio announcer and as an insurance agent before continuing his education at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and at the London School of Economics. He then became a professor of political science at Midwestern University.

In 1960 he ran against Lyndon Johnson for the Texas Senate seat. Although he lost, he achieved 41 per cent of the vote and in 1961 he won the seat in a special election. In the Senate Tower became a specialist in defence and security matters, serving as ranking member and then chairman of the Armed Services Committee. (He was later chief arms negotiator at Geneva.) A hard-line conservative, Tower was generally a fierce critic of expanding federal government responsibility. He was also an opponent of many federal civil rights initiatives including the work of the Civil Rights Commission. When Congress set up a commission to investigate the Iran-Contra affair, Tower chaired it.

In 1989 the newly elected President George Bush nominated Tower as his Secretary of Defense. The Senate refused to confirm the nomination because of allegations about Tower's heavy drinking and sexual misconduct. Unwilling to lose Tower's expertise, Bush appointed him to chair his Foreign Intelligence Advisory Committee.

Tower was killed in a plane crash in 1991.

Subjects: Politics.

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