William Pierce Rogers

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Rogers, William Pierce,

1913–2001, U.S. government official, b. Norfolk, N.Y. Admitted to the bar in 1937, he served (1947–50) as chief counsel to two Senate investigating committees before becoming (1953) deputy attorney general under President Dwight D. Eisenhower. He lobbied vigorously for passage of the 1957 Civil Rights Act and later, as attorney general (1957–61), set up the civil-rights division of the Justice Department. As secretary of state (1969–73) under President Richard M. Nixon, Rogers argued for restraint in the use of U.S. military power. In 1970 he arranged a cease-fire in the Middle East between Israel and Egypt. He returned to public service one last time in 1986 when he headed the special presidential commission set up to investigate the explosion of the space shuttle ChallengerChallenger,
U.S. space shuttle. It exploded (Jan. 28, 1986) 73 seconds into its tenth flight, killing all seven crew members, including the first civilian in space, schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe. The disaster was caused by the faulty design of a gasket (the O-ring seal).
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