Fulbright, J. William

Fulbright, (James) J. William

(1905–  ) U.S. representative/senator; born in Sumner, Mo. A graduate of the University of Arkansas and a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, he taught law and then became president of the University of Arkansas (1939–42). He served a term in the U.S. House of Representatives (Dem., Ark.; 1943–45). In 1944, he traveled to London as a member of a United Nations delegation to discuss postwar education. He went on to serve Arkansas in the U.S. Senate (1945–74) and immediately sponsored a bill to establish international scholarly exchanges (1945), a program still known by his name. Appointed chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1959, he performed a difficult balancing act by having to satisfy his conservative southern constituency and his own more liberal inclinations. He conducted six days of nationally televised hearings before the committee in February 1966 about the rapid escalation of the war in Vietnam; the hearings marked a turning point in public discussion of the war issue, lending legitimacy to the antiwar movement.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.