United States Senators
United States senators are as interesting and important as any group of politicians. Throughout the history of the country, legislation developed by its senators has had a distinctive impact on the direction the United States has taken. These legislators’ social and political awareness helped shape the America we know today.
- John C. Calhoun This United States senator served as vice president under Andrew Jackson before finishing his career in the Senate. In 1832, Calhoun resigned the vice presidency and became a senator. He spent the next twenty years attempting to defend slavery, arousing a strong anti-Southern sentiment with the rest of the states.
- Daniel Webster Previous to his career as a United States senator, Webster was an accomplished lawyer, arguing several cases before the Supreme Court. He became a Massachusetts senator in 1827, setting the stage for his famous arguments against John C. Calhoun’s views on the sovereignty of states.
- Charles Sumner A crusader for world peace and reform, Sumner was one of the most important United States senators of the Civil War era. Serving as a Massachusetts senator from 1852 to 1874, Sumner was a figurehead of the anti-slavery movement. In 1856, a fellow politician beat Sumner with a cane for his opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska Act and it took him three years to recover.
- Henry Clay During his career in politics, Clay experienced several different posts. In addition to his stints as a congressman, he served as a United States senator from 1806 to 1807, 1810 to 1811, 1831 to 1842 and 1849 to 1852. He was twice unsuccessful in his bids to become president as a member of the Whig party.
- Hiram Revels As the first African-American to serve in the US Senate, Revels made history in 1870. First a state senator, Revels was elected to fill the remainder of the term vacated by former Confederate President Jefferson Davis. He proved to be a gifted legislator, supporting desegregation of schools and railroads while in office.
- Strom Thurmond Before becoming a United States senator, Thurmond served as governor of South Carolina. He was first appointed to the senate in 1954, then won a seat in 1956. Thurmond continued his string of re-elections until 2002, when he declined to seek another term. He served longer than any of the other United States senators in history.
- Ted Kennedy After campaigning for his brother’s victory in the presidential race of 1960, Ted Kennedy won a seat in the United States senate in 1962. In the years immediately following his election, Kennedy endured some major turmoil in his personal life with the death of his brother and his involvement in a plane crash. Ted Kennedy’s career as a senator was a major success, as he was an active force in politics until his death in 2009.
- Joseph McCarthy An infamous figure in the modern history of United States senators, McCarthy wasn’t widely known until 1950. That year, he claimed that communism had infiltrated the US State Department. In consequent years, his investigations on communist affiliation in America became a divisive aspect of his legacy.
- Robert C. Byrd Proving that the United States is a land of second chances, this senator overcame a shady history with the Ku Klux Klan to enter a successful career in politics. Utilizing his self-taught knowledge of the law, Byrd renounced his regretful past and went on to serve two terms in the House of Representatives, then win a seat in the United States Senate in 1958.
- Blanche K. Bruce A former slave, Bruce was the first African-American to serve a full term in the United States Senate. He took office in 1875 and had to contend with prejudice and hatred from his fellow politicians. Though he served only one term, Bruce enjoyed a successful career in politics until his death in 1898.