Mike Mansfield

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The Honorable
Mike Mansfield
Michael Joseph Mansfield.jpg
United States Senator
from Montana
In office
January 3, 1953 – January 3, 1977
Preceded by Zales Ecton
Succeeded by John Melcher
Senate Majority Leader
In office
January 3, 1961 – January 3, 1977
Deputy Hubert Humphrey (1961–65)
Russell B. Long (1965–69)
Ted Kennedy (1969–71)
Robert Byrd (1971–77)
Preceded by Lyndon Johnson
Succeeded by Robert Byrd
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Montana's 1st district
In office
January 3, 1943 – January 3, 1953
Preceded by Jeannette Rankin
Succeeded by Lee Metcalf
22nd United States Ambassador to Japan
In office
June 10, 1977 – December 22, 1988
President Jimmy Carter
Ronald Reagan
Preceded by James D. Hodgson
Succeeded by Michael Armacost
Personal details
Born Michael Joseph Mansfield
(1903-03-16)March 16, 1903
New York City
Died October 5, 2001(2001-10-05) (aged 98)
Walter Reed Army Medical Center
Washington, D.C.
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Maureen Hayes Mansfield (1905-2000)
Children Anne Fairclough Mansfield
Profession Professor of history
Religion Roman Catholic[citation needed]
Military service
Service/branch United States Navy
United States Army
United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1918 - 1919 (Navy)
1919 - 1920 (Army)
1920 - 1922 (Marine Corps)
Rank Seaman (Navy)
Private (Army)
Private (Marine Corps)
Battles/wars World War I

Michael Joseph "Mike" Mansfield (March 16, 1903 – October 5, 2001) was an American politician and diplomat. A member of the Democratic Party, he served as a U.S. Representative (1943–1953) and a U.S. Senator (1953–1977) from Montana. He was the longest-serving Senate Majority Leader, serving from 1961 to 1977. During his tenure, he shepherded Great Society programs through the Senate and strongly opposed the Vietnam War.

After retiring from the Senate, Mansfield served as U.S. Ambassador to Japan from 1977 to 1988, and upon retiring as ambassador, was awarded the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1989), in part for his role in the resignation of Republican President Richard Nixon.[1] Mansfield is the longest-serving American ambassador to Japan in history.[2]

After his ambassadorship, Mansfield served for a time as a senior adviser on East Asian affairs to Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street investment banking firm.[1]

Early childhood

Mansfield was born in the Brooklyn section of New York City, the son of Patrick J. Mansfield and Josephine (née O'Brien) Mansfield, who were both Irish Catholic immigrants.[3] His mother died from pneumonia in 1906, and his father subsequently sent Michael and his two sisters to live with an aunt and uncle in Great Falls, Montana.[4] He attended local public schools, and worked in his relatives' grocery store.[3] He turned into a habitual runaway, even living at a state orphanage in Twin Bridges for half a year.[5]

Military service

At 14, Mansfield dropped out of school and lied about his age in order to enlist in the U.S. Navy during World War I.[6] He went on several overseas convoys on the USS Minneapolis, but was discharged by the Navy after his real age was discovered.[6] (He was the last known veteran of the war to die before reaching the age of 100, as well as being the final World War I veteran to sit in the US Senate.) After his Navy discharge, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving as a private from 1919 to 1920.[7]

Mansfield was a Private First Class in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1920 to 1922.[7] He served in the Western Recruiting Division at San Francisco until January 1921, when he was transferred to the Marine Barracks at Puget Sound, Washington. The following month, he was detached to the Guard Company, Marine Barracks, Navy Yard, Mare Island, California. In April, he boarded the USAT Sherman, bound for the Philippines. After a brief stopover at the Marine Barracks at Cavite, he arrived at his duty station on May 5, 1921, the Marine Barracks, Naval Station, Olongapo, Philippine Islands. One year later, Mansfield was assigned to Company A, Marine Battery, Asiatic Fleet. A short tour of duty with the Asiatic Fleet took him along the coast of China, before he returned to Olongapo in late May 1922.[6] His service with the Marines established a lifelong interest in Asia.

That August, Mansfield returned to Cavite in preparation for his return to the United States and eventual discharge. On November 9, 1922, Marine Private Michael J. Mansfield was released on the completion of his enlistment. He was awarded the Good Conduct Medal, his character being described as “excellent” during his two years as a Marine.[citation needed]


Following his return to Montana in 1922, Mansfield worked as a "mucker," shoveling ore and other waste, in the copper mines of Butte for eight years.[7] Having never attended high school, he took entrance examinations to attend the Montana School of Mines (1927–1928), studying to become a mining engineer.[5] He later met a local schoolteacher and his future wife, Maureen Hayes, who encouraged him to further his education. With her financial support, Mansfield studied at the University of Montana in Missoula, where he took both high school and college courses.[4] He was also a member of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1933, and was offered a graduate assistantship teaching two courses at the university; he also worked part-time in the registrar's office.[3] He earned a Master of Arts degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy of Tufts University in 1934 with a thesis entitled: "United States-Korean Diplomatic Relations: 1866-1910".[3] From 1934 to 1942, he taught classes in Far Eastern and Latin American history, and also lectured some years on Greek and Roman history.[5] He also attended the University of California at Los Angeles (1936–1937).[7]

Service in The House of Representatives

Mansfield's official Congressional portrait, by Aaron Shikler

In 1940, Mansfield ran an unsuccessful campaign for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. House of Representatives in Montana's 1st congressional district.[6] However, he ran for the same seat in 1942 and won, handily defeating Republican businessman Howard K. Hazelbaker.[8] He succeeded Jeannette Rankin, the first woman elected to the Congress, who had decided not to seek re-election.

A confidential 1943 analysis of the House Foreign Affairs Committee by Isaiah Berlin for the British Foreign Office described Mansfield as[9]

A new-comer to the House, who is reportedly internationalist-minded, having been professor of history and political science at Montana State University for ten years. Though a supporter of the Administration's foreign policy, he is likely to be strongly critical of the smallness of China's share of Lend-Lease, and of what he fears is the Administration's tendency to regard the Atlantic as more important than the Pacific, and of its apparent reluctance to regard the Chinese as an ally on equal footing. His strongly pro-Chinese sentiments may tend to make him somewhat anti-British on this score.

Mansfield served five terms in the House, being re-elected in 1944, 1946, 1948, and 1950. His military service and academic experience landed him a seat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.[3] He went to China on a special mission for President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944, and served as a delegate to the ninth Inter-American Conference in Colombia in 1948.[8] In 1951, he was appointed by President Harry S. Truman as a delegate to the United Nations sixth session in Paris. During his House tenure, he also expressed his support for price controls, a higher minimum wage, the Marshall Plan, and aid to Turkey and Greece; he opposed the House Un-American Activities Committee, the Taft–Hartley Act, and the Twenty-second Amendment.[8]

Service in The Senate

In 1952, Mansfield was elected to the U.S. Senate after narrowly defeating Republican incumbent Zales Ecton.[6] He served as Senate Majority Whip under Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson from 1957 to 1961.[7] In 1961, after Johnson resigned from the Senate to become Vice President, Mansfield was unanimously elected the Democratic floor leader and thus Senate Majority Leader. Serving sixteen years, from 1961 until his retirement in 1977, Mansfield is the longest-serving Majority Leader in the history of the Senate.[6] The Washington Post compared Mansfield's behavior as Majority Leader to Johnson's by saying, "Instead of Johnson's browbeating tactics, Mansfield led by setting an example of humility and accommodation."[5]

An early supporter of Ngo Dinh Diem, Mansfield had a change of heart on the Vietnam issue after a visit to Vietnam in 1962. He reported to President Kennedy on December 2, 1962, that US money given to Diem's government was being squandered and that the US should avoid further involvement in Vietnam. He was thus the first American official to comment adversely on the war's progress.

Mansfield delivered a eulogy on November 24, 1963, as President Kennedy's casket lay in state in the Capitol rotunda, saying in part, "He gave that we might give of ourselves, that we might give to one another until there would be no room, no room at all, for the bigotry, the hatred, prejudice, and the arrogance which converged in that moment of horror to strike him down."[10]

During the Johnson presidency, Mansfield became a frequent and vocal critic of US involvement in the Vietnam War. In February 1965 he lobbied against escalating aerial bombardment of North Vietnam in the aftermath of Pleiku, arguing in a letter to the president that Operation Rolling Thunder would lead to a need for "vastly strengthened . . . American forces."[11]

In 1964, Mansfield, as Senate Majority Leader, filed a procedural motion to have the proposed Civil Rights Act discussed by the whole Senate rather than by the Judiciary Committee, the latter having killed similar legislation seven years prior.[12]

He hailed the new Nixon administration, especially the "Nixon Doctrine" announced at Guam in 1969 that the US would:

  1. honor all U.S. treaty commitments against those who might invade the lands of allies of the United States;
  2. provide a nuclear umbrella against threats of other nuclear powers;
  3. supply weapons and technical assistance to countries where warranted but without committing American forces to local conflicts.

In turn Nixon turned to Mansfield for advice and as his liaison with the Senate on Vietnam. Nixon began a steady withdrawal of U.S. troops shortly after taking office in January 1969, a policy supported by Mansfield. During his first term, Nixon reduced American forces by 95%, leaving only 24,200 in late 1972; the last ones left in March 1973.

During the economic crisis of 1971, Mansfield was not afraid to reach across the aisle to help the economy. He said:

What we're in is not a Republican recession or a Democratic recession; both parties had much to do with bringing us where we are today. But we're facing a national situation which calls for the best which all of us can produce, because we know the results will be something which we will regret.[13]

The Mansfield Amendments

Two controversial amendments by Mansfield limiting military funding of research were passed by Congress.

  • The Mansfield Amendment of 1969, "passed as part of the fiscal year 1970 Military Authorization Act (Public Law 91-121) prohibited military funding of research that lacked a direct or apparent relationship to specific military function. Through subsequent modification the Mansfield amendment moved the Department of Defense toward the support of more short-term applied research in universities."[14] This amendment affected the Military Services, for example research funding by the Office of Naval Research (ONR).[15]
  • The Mansfield Amendment of 1973 expressly limited appropriations for defense research through ARPA, which is largely independent of the Military Services, to projects with direct military application.[16]

An earlier Mansfield Amendment, offered in 1971, called for the number of U.S. troops stationed in Europe to be halved. On May 19, 1971, however, the Senate defeated this amendment by a vote of 61–36.

As Senator, Mansfield sponsored S.J.RES.25 : The joint resolution to authorize and request the President to issue a proclamation designating the fourth Sunday in September, 1973, as "National Next Door Neighbor Day", and in 1974 drafted legislation (S.J.RES.235) to honor the fourth Sunday in September of every subsequent year as "Good Neighbor Day".[17]

U.S. Ambassador to Japan

Mansfield retired from the Senate in 1976, and was appointed Ambassador to Japan in April 1977 by Jimmy Carter, a role he retained during the Reagan administration until 1988. While serving in Japan, Mansfield was highly respected. Mansfield is particularly renowned for describing the United States-Japan relationship as the 'most important bilateral relationship in the world, bar none'.[18] Mansfield's successor in Japan, Michael Armacost, noted in his memoirs that, for Mansfield, the phrase was a 'mantra.' While in office, Mansfield also fostered relations between his home state of Montana and Japan. The sister city of Helena, capital of the state, is Kumamoto city, on the island of Kyushu.[19]


The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library at the University of Montana, Missoula is named after him and his wife Maureen,[20] as was his request when informed of the honor. The library also contains the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center, which is dedicated to Asian studies, and, like the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation, "advancing understanding and co-operation in U.S.-Asia relations." The Mike Mansfield Federal Building and United States Courthouse in Missoula was renamed in his honor in 2002.[21]

The Montana Democratic Party holds an annual Mansfield-Metcalf Dinner named partially in his honor.

In 1977, Mansfield received the U.S. Senator John Heinz Award for Greatest Public Service by an Elected or Appointed Official, an award given out annually by Jefferson Awards.[22]

Mansfield retired in 1989. In that year he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He received the United States Military Academy's Sylvanus Thayer Award. In 1990, Japan conferred on Ambassador Mansfield the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun with Paulownia Flowers. This is Japan's highest honor for someone who is not a head of state.[23]


Ambassador Mansfield died from congestive heart failure at the age of 98 on October 5, 2001.[23] He was survived by his daughter, Anne Fairclough Mansfield (1939?-2013),[24] and one granddaughter.

Remarks by Col. James Michael Lowe, USMC, October 20, 2004.[25]

The burial plot of Senator and Mrs. Mansfield can be found in section 2, marker 49-69F of Arlington National Cemetery.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Michael Joseph Mansfield". Arlington Cemetery website.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Warnock, Eleanor (2012-04-16). "End of an Era: Yamamoto, Top 'America Hand' Dies at 76". Wall Street Journal Japan Real Time. Retrieved 2012-04-18.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Charting a New Course: Mike Mansfield and U.S. Asian Policy. Rutland, VT: Charles E. Tuttle Company. 1978.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Biography". The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 "125 Montana Newsmakers: Mike Mansfield". Great Falls Tribune.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 "Senate Leaders: Mike Mansfield, Quiet Leadership in Troubled Times". United States Senate.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 "MANSFIELD, Michael Joseph (Mike), (1903 - 2001)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Wilson, Richard L. (2002). American Political Leaders. New York: Facts On File, Inc.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Hachey, Thomas E. (Winter 1973–1974). "American Profiles on Capitol Hill: A Confidential Study for the British Foreign Office in 1943" (PDF). Wisconsin Magazine of History. 57 (2): 141–153. JSTOR 4634869. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-10-21.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Eulogies to the Late President Kennedy". John F. Kennedy Fast Facts: Eulogies for President Kennedy. Retrieved 2015-01-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Andrew J. Bacevich, Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2010), 103.
  12. "Recess Reading: An Occasional Feature From The Judiciary Committee: The Civil Rights Act of 1964". United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Economic Crisis: 1971 Year in Review, UPI.com"
  14. "Federally funded research, decisions for a decade" (PDF).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Office of Technology Assessment report. Hearing before the Subcommittee on Science of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, U.S. House of Representatives, One Hundred Second Congress, first session, March 20, 1991.by the United States. Congress. House. Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Subcommittee on Science. Pub: Washington : U.S. G.P.O. : For sale by the Supt. of Docs., Congressional Sales Office, U.S. G.P.O., 1991. Chapter 2: The Value of Science and the Changing Research Economy, p. 61.
  15. "Reverberations from the Mansfield Amendment".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Editorial by Herbert Laitinen, Anal. Chem., 42 (7), pp. 689-689, June 1970.
  16. "DARPA History".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> See "Mansfield Amendment of 1973" about halfway down the page.
  17. "Bill Summary & Status - US Library of Congress".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> See items 39 and 46.
  18. Testimony of Ambassador to Japan-designate John V. Roos before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, July 23, 2009
  19. "Mike Mansfield Quiet Leadership in Troubled Times". United States Senate. Retrieved July 23, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library". Course Catalog 2006–2007. The University of Montana. Retrieved 2007-03-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. General Service Administration page on the Mike Mansfield Federal Building and United States Courthouse.
  22. National Winners | public service awards. Jefferson Awards.org. Retrieved on 2013-08-16.
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 23.3 Campi, Alicia. "The Role of Mike Mansfield in Consolidating Mongolia's International Status and in Establishing Diplomatic Relations with the United States," The Mansfield Foundation. May 17, 2007.
  24. ANNE F. MANSFIELD Obituary: View ANNE MANSFIELD's Obituary by The Washington Post. Legacy.com (2013-04-24). Retrieved on 2013-08-16.
  25. Keystonemarines.com


  • Oberdorfer, Don (2003). Senator Mansfield: The Extraordinary Life of a Great American Statesman and Diplomat. ISBN 1-58834-166-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Olson, Gregory A. (1995). 'Mansfield and Vietnam, a Study in Rhetorical Adaptation. Michigan State University Press.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> online
  • Valeo, Francis R. (1999). Mike Mansfield, Majority Leader: A Different Kind of Senate, 1961–1976. New York: M. E. Sharpe. ISBN 0-7656-0450-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> online
  • Whalen, Charles and Barbara (1985). The Longest Debate: A Legislative History of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Cabin John, Maryland: Seven Locks Press.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.

External links

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Jeannette Rankin
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Montana's 1st congressional district

Succeeded by
Lee Metcalf
United States Senate
Preceded by
Zales Ecton
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Montana
Served alongside: James Edward Murray, Lee Metcalf
Succeeded by
John Melcher
Party political offices
Preceded by
Earle C. Clements
Senate Democratic Whip
Succeeded by
Hubert Humphrey
Preceded by
Lyndon B. Johnson
Senate Democratic Leader
Succeeded by
Robert Byrd
West Virginia
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
James D. Hodgson
U.S. Ambassador to Japan
Succeeded by
Michael Armacost
Preceded by
Ronald Reagan
Sylvanus Thayer Award
Succeeded by
Paul H. Nitze