Individual Isolationists: Arthur Hendrick Vandenburg (1884-1951)

Figure 1.--Here we see Senator Vahdenberg just after his reelection in 1934 with his grabndson. That was durung tghe Depression. The Republicans did not do well, but Vandenberg succesfully defended his seat. The press caption read, "Senator Vandenberg and his grandson, John Knight, Jr. The Duke as the Senator calls the youngster provides the 'real lifein our home'. The photigraph is dated November 20, 1934.

Arthur Hendrick Vandenburg was a respected and long-serving Republican Senator from Michigan. He was the editor and publisher of the Grand Rapids Herald, a staunchly Republican paper (1906-28). The Republican governor of Michigan appointed him on to fill the Senate vacancy caused by the death of Woodbridge N. Ferris (1928). Vnenberg proved popular abnd was elected (1928, 1934, 1940 and 1946). He served all through the New Deal/Depressiojn era when Republicans found it difficult to win elections. When he first arrived in the Senate he held beliefs that the United States should not have an active, especially interventionist foreign policy. Most Americans at the time shared that view. He thus as Presidenbt Roosevelt began to oppose Hitler sabd the NAZIs became prominent in the isolationist wing of the Republican Party. He won reelection in 1934, 1940, and 1946, and became one of the leading Republicans in the Senate. He was elected Minority Leader (1935). He served on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee where major legislation such as revision of the Neutrality Act was considered and became an influential isolationist spokesman opposing the vocally majority Democrats who backed President Roosevelt. Vandenberg was a dark horse candidate for the Republican nomination in the 1940 presidential election, but the Republicans in a major shift chose internationalist/interventionist Wendle Wilkie. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor bringing America into World War II radically changed Vandenberg's views and he shifted to internationalist views. Vandenberg was by the end of the War the leading Republican advocate of an internationalist foreign policy. After the War when the Republicans won the Senate he briefly served as chairman of the Foreign Relations Ciommittee. He used his position of as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to further his new approach (1946-47). There were Republicans who wanted a much more isolationist policy after the War, men like Senator Robert Taft. Vandenberg's support was important in ensuring that America would not withdraw from Europe as it had done after World War I. He was a delegate to the United Nations Conference at San Francisco (1945) and the United Nations General Assembly at London and New York (1946). He worked with former President Herbert Hoover on several issues, including famine relief legislation and government reorganization. Hoover and Vandenburg promoted Republican support for President Truman's foreign policy oppoinhg Soviet aggression, especially the Marshall Plan. The Plan was named for Marshall because it would never have passed the Senate if it had born Truman's name. This resulted in a rare period of bipartisan foreign policy which did not survive his death (1951).


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Created: 4:31 AM 5/5/2018
Last updated: 4:31 AM 5/5/2018