Tags: best lists | hiram rhodes revels | robert taft | arthur vandenberg | barry goldwater

Newsmax's Best Republican Senators of the Past

the late senator barry goldwater
The late Sen. Barry Goldwater, R-Ariz. (AP)

By    |   Friday, 07 February 2020 12:05 PM

Today's Senate Republicans consist of notable giants, including Texas firebrand Ted Cruz, master Kentucky parliamentarian Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Utah constitutional whiz kid Mike Lee, and Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina lawmaker who argued passionately for due process when he saw Democrats railroading Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Many earlier greats have been forgotten with the passage of time. Each of the following four are worth our attention and remembrance for the contributions they made to the country.

Hiram Rhodes Revels was the first African American to serve in the U.S. Senate. Even more remarkably, he was overwhelmingly elected to that position by the Mississippi State Senate, 81-15, to finish out a term left vacant.

Upon his arrival in Washington, D.C., his appointment was immediately opposed by southern Democrats who argued that the Supreme Court's Dred Scott decision ruled that those of African ancestry could not be citizens, and therefore could not serve in Congress.

Massachusetts Republican Charles Sumner countered that "The time has passed for argument. Nothing more need be said. For a long time it has been clear that colored persons must be senators."

And with that, Revels took his seat as the chamber's first African American senator by a strict party-line vote of 48-8.

While serving in the Senate, Revels argued passionately for racial equality and the spirit of coming together in compromise, as opposed to partisan politics.

His maiden speech was an argument for the reinstatement of black legislators who had been ousted by Georgia Democrats.

"I maintain that the past record of my race is a true index of the feelings which today animate them," he said. "They aim not to elevate themselves by sacrificing one single interest of their white fellow citizens."

After a brief tenure in the Senate, Revels accepted an appointment as president of Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College, a historically black Mississippi-based college.

Robert Taft of Ohio eventually became known as "Mr. Republican."

He was originally elected to the Senate in 1938 after two decades in Ohio state politics.

Taft was a true conservative who made it his mission to reverse President Franklin D. Roosevelt's budget-busting New Deal legislation.

He's best known for working with Rep. Fred A. Hartley, a New Jersey Republican, to draft, introduce, and push through the Taft Hartley Act, which restricts the power of labor unions. Although then-President Harry S. Truman vetoed the bill, calling it the "Slave Labor Act," Congress overrode the veto and the act is still in use today.

Arthur Vandenberg was initially appointed in 1928 by then-Michigan Gov. Fred Greene to fill a vacancy in the Senate.

Like Taft, Vandenberg was a fervent conservative and opponent of FDR's New Deal. He was also a strong isolationist, preferring to stay out of the affairs of foreign nations.

Dec. 7, 1941 changed that, and he agreed that the United States had no option but to respond to Japan's sneak attack on Pearl Harbor and enter World War II.

With the changing times, Vandenberg converted from being an isolationist to an internationalist. As a result, he pledged his support for the founding of the United Nations, NATO, and the Marshall Plan.

He was able to rally the support of fellow senators from both sides of the aisle to get all these programs implemented for the country's benefit. This would seem to be a gargantuan task in today's hyperpartisan politics.

Barry Goldwater represented Arizona in two periods in the Senate: 1953 to 1965 and 1969 to 1987.

He also made an unsuccessful stab at the White House against incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. Despite losing that race in a landslide, the campaign made Goldwater a household name that allowed him to spark the resurgence of the American conservative movement during the 1960s.

Goldwater entered the Army Air Force during World War II and remained a reserve officer in the Air Force, rising to the rank of major general. Without surprise, he strongly supported the creation of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Goldwater was a proponent of a small, easily controllable government, stating that "a government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you have."

The Arizona Republican was also an untiring defender of freedom and justice, and observed at one point that "I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!"

Goldwater was succeeded by John McCain.

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Many earlier greats in the Senate have been forgotten with the passage of time. Here are four worth our attention and remembrance for the contributions they made to the country.
best lists, hiram rhodes revels, robert taft, arthur vandenberg, barry goldwater
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2020-05-07
Friday, 07 February 2020 12:05 PM
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