A Calm Voice in a Strident World: Senator J.W. Fulbright Speaks

“A Calm Voice in a Strident World: Senator J.W. Fulbright Speaks” presents a collection of selected speeches and images. 

Senator J. W. Fulbright

For three decades following World War II, J.W. Fulbright represented Arkansas in the Congress of the United States. His single term in the House and four terms in the Senate saw Fulbright rise to become the foremost congressional authority on American foreign policy. From the beginning, Fulbright was a voice of calmness in the halls of congress, counseling international cooperation, the exchange of information, and support for the United Nations.

This digital collection contains fifty speeches Fulbright made during his congressional career. While the speeches deal with many topics, the emphasis is given to foreign affairs.

In order to put the speeches into their historical context, a variety of resources are included—including a detailed time line, a bibliography on the senator, and a selection of photographs.

Readers are reminded that these 50 speeches and related materials included on this site represent only a tiny fraction of the J.W. Fulbright Papers, comprised of over 1400 linear feet, held by the University of Arkansas Libraries.  Serious students of Senator Fulbright and his era are urged to consult the full collection at the University. The collection, and a partial guide to the collection, may be accessed at http://libraries.uark.edu/SpecialCollections/findingaids/fulbright/fulintro.html.

The original project, completed in 2009, was coordinated by Tom W. Dillard and Tim Nutt. Others involved included Vera Ekechuwku, Scot Oldham, and Janet Parsch.  The project’s accessibility was greatly enhanced in 2013 through the efforts of Martha Parker, Megan Massanelli, and Geoffery Stark.

About J. William Fulbright

James William Fulbright, Democratic Senator from Arkansas, was born in Sumner, Missouri, on April 9, 1905.  The following year, he moved with his parents to Fayetteville, Arkansas, where he attended public schools.  In 1925, he graduated from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville with a B.A. degree in political science.  While there, he was also active in athletic and other extracurricular activities.  He was president of the student governing body, captain of the tennis team, and played halfback on the football team.

Before graduating from the University of Arkansas, he won a Rhodes Scholarship.  He continued his study of history and political science at Pembroke College, Oxford University, England, graduating with two degrees, a B.A. in 1928 and an M.A. in 1931, both in the Honor School of Modern History.  After visiting a number of European countries, Fulbright returned to the United States to study law at George Washington University Law School.  He received an LL.B. degree with distinction in 1934.  On his graduation from law school, Fulbright took a position as a special attorney in the Anti-trust Division of the Department of Justice.  He then served as a lecturer in law at George Washington before returning to his hometown and becoming a member of the law faculty at the University of Arkansas Law School in 1936.  He served in that capacity until 1939, when he was appointed--at age 34--President of the University of Arkansas.  Two years later Governor Homer Adkins removed Fulbright from the presidency for political reasons.

Fulbright began his political career in 1942, running for the United States House of Representatives, where he served one term.  Soon after entering Congress, he won recognition in the field of foreign affairs.  As a freshman on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, he introduced what has become known as the “Fulbright Resolution,” which called for the participation of the United States in an international organization to maintain the peace; this was considered by many to be the forerunner to the establishment of the United Nations.  It passed the House on September 21, 1943.  In 1944, Fulbright won his first successful election to the U.S. Senate, where he served five six-year terms.  Among the candidates he defeated was former Gov. Homer M. Adkins, who had purged Fulbright from the presidency of the University of Arkansas in 1941.

Fulbright earned a reputation as a conscientious and courageous senator.  He was responsible for the international student exchange program initiated in 1946 and expanded and reorganized in 1961.  The Fulbright Scholarship Program is associated throughout the world with the concept of advancing international understanding.  No other exchange program in history has reached so many people.

In 1954, Senator Fulbright was the lone member of the Senate to vote against an appropriation for the Special Investigating Subcommittee, chaired by Senator Joseph R. McCarthy of Wisconsin, and was a sponsor of the censure resolution against Senator McCarthy which was later passed by the Senate.

Like most southern members of Congress at the time, Fulbright opposed civil rights legislation during the early years of his tenure. However, during the Nixon administration, Fulbright broke with the majority of his fellow Southerners and voted for a civil rights bill in 1970.

Senator Fulbright served as chairman of the Senate Banking and Currency Committee from 1955 until 1959, when he became chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a position he held until 1974, longer than any other senator in American history.  Under his chairmanship, the committee conducted extensive inquiries into American policy in Southeast Asia, relations with China, and United States commitments abroad.  He introduced legislation that led to the founding of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.  In 1974, Senator Fulbright was defeated by Governor Dale Bumpers in the Arkansas Democratic primary.  After leaving the Senate, Fulbright became counsel for the Washington law firm of Hogan and Hartson and remained active in this position until 1993.  Throughout the years, he continued in his support of the international exchange program that bears his name.

J. William Fulbright played an important role in the international affairs of the United States and was a champion of legislation which contributed to the welfare of Arkansas and to the domestic affairs of the nation.  He received numerous awards from governments and educational organizations worldwide for his efforts on behalf of education and international understanding.  In 1993, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton.

Senator J. William Fulbright died on February 9, 1995, at his home in Washington, D.C.

(Biography written by Vera Ekechukwu, Fulbright Papers Research Assistant.  January 26, 2009.)

J. William Fulbright: Chronology

  • 1905 - Born in Sumner, Missouri, on April 9, the son of Jay and Roberta Waugh Fulbright.
  • 1906 - Moved with his family to Fayetteville, Arkansas.
  • 1920 - Entered the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.
  • 1924 - Received a Rhodes scholarship in December to study at Oxford University, Oxford, England.
  • 1925 - Graduated in January with a B.A. degree from the University of Arkansas and began his study at Pembroke College, Oxford, in the fall.
  • 1928 - Graduated in June with a B.A. degree from Oxford.
  • 1928-1929 - Traveled on the continent, settled in Vienna for a time, and traveled with foreign correspondent Marcel William Fodor.
  • 1931 - Received an M.A. degree from Oxford in April.
  • 1932 - Married Elizabeth Kremer Williams on June 15; two daughters, Elizabeth and Roberta.
  • 1934 - Graduated in June with an L.L.B. degree with distinction from George Washington University, Washington, D.C.; also admitted to practice before the Bar of the Supreme Court.
  • 1934-1935 - Served as special attorney, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice.
  • 1935-1936 - Accepted a position as instructor in law at George Washington University, Washington, D.C.
  • 1936-1939 - Accepted a position as lecturer in law at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville; also helped with the family business, which included a Coca-Cola bottling company, the J.H. Phipps Lumber Company, the Fulbright Investment Company (banking), furniture making, a newspaper, and farming as well.
  • 1939-1941 - Became president of the University of Arkansas on September 18, 1939, and served until June 9, 1941.
  • 1943 - Began his term in the U.S. House of Representatives in January; assigned to the Foreign Affairs Committee. Drafted the Fulbright resolution favoring U.S. participation in a postwar international peacekeeping organization.
  • 1944 - Served as chairman of the American delegation to the Allied Ministers of Education Conference in London in the spring.
  • 1945 - Began his first term in the U.S. Senate in January. Became a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Arkansas Alpha Chapter, in May.
  • 1946 - On August 1, President Harry Truman signed the Fulbright Act authorizing the scholarship program bearing the senator’s name.
  • 1947 - Introduced a resolution in March that would have secured congressional support of the political unification of Europe.
  • 1949 - Assigned to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; also became Honorary Fellow of Pembroke College, Oxford University.
  • 1950 - Began the Banking and Currency Committee’s investigation of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation.
  • 1953 - Awarded honorary Doctor of Civil Laws degree from Oxford University.
  • 1954 - Nominated by President Dwight D. Eisenhower as a Representative of the United States to the Ninth Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations; also cast the only dissenting vote against appropriations for Senator Joseph R. McCarthy’s Permanent Investigations Subcommittee.
  • 1955 - Became chairperson of the Senate Banking and Currency Committee.
  • 1956 - Signed the Southern Manifesto.
  • 1957 - Clashed with Secretary of State John Foster Dulles over U.S. policy in the Middle East.
  • 1958 - Introduced legislation on February 24, 1958, authorizing the construction of a National Cultural Center for Washington, D.C., which became the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; also filed a brief, Amicus Curiae, Aaron v. Cooper, with the Supreme Court in August urging a delay in desegregation.
  • 1959 - Became chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee on February 6.
  • 1961 - Delivered a memorandum to President John F. Kennedy advising against the invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs; sent a memorandum to the president and Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara alerting them to educational and propaganda activities of the military; introduced legislation consolidating and expanding the educational and cultural exchange program (Fulbright-Hays Act).
  • 1963 - Traveled to Moscow for the signing of the nuclear test ban treaty.
  • 1964 - Delivered his “Old Myths and New Realities” speech in the U.S. Senate on March 25; also introduced and managed President Johnson’s Gulf of Tonkin resolution in the Senate in August.
  • 1965 - Delivered a speech in the U.S. Senate on September 15 criticizing U.S. intervention in the Dominican Republic, a move that precipitated his break with President Lyndon B. Johnson.
  • 1966 - Launched hearings before the Foreign Relations Committee in January and February on the conduct of U.S. policy in Vietnam; also delivered the Christian A. Herter Lectures at Johns Hopkins University in the spring on the “arrogance of power.”
  • 1968 - Reelected to the U.S. Senate for fifth and last term amid the Vietnam War controversy.
  • 1969 - Reintroduced his 1967 national commitments resolution. The Senate adopted Resolution 85 in June by a vote of 70 to 16,  expressing the sense of the Senate concerning the constitutional role of Congress in matters concerning military commitments to other governments and specifically the Senate’s constitutional power initiating wars.
  • 1974 - Defeated by Governor Dale Bumpers in his reelection bid for a sixth term.
  • 1975 - Became counsel for Hogan and Hartson, Washington, D.C.; also delivered the first R.B. McCallum Memorial Lecture at Oxford University.
  • 1983 - Testified in November before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on U.S.- Soviet relations.
  • 1985 - Elizabeth Williams Fulbright died on October 5.
  • 1990 - Married Harriet Mayor in March. Traveled in June to Oxford University for the naming of a quadrangle at Pembroke College in his honor and to Moscow State University for an honorary degree.
  • 1993 - Received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in May; the first J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding was awarded by the Fulbright Association on October 1 to Nelson R. Mandela.
  • 1995 - Passed away February 9, 1995, at his home in Washington, D.C.

Chronology reprinted (with additional 1995 entry) from J. William Fulbright: A Bibliography, compiled by Betty Austin, Greenwood Press, Westport, CT, 1995. (Permission to reprint provided by the author)

J. William Fulbright: Bibliography

Fulbright writings: Monographs

Fulbright, James William.  The Arrogance of Power.  New York: Random House, 1967.

_____.  The Crippled Giant: American Foreign Policy and its Domestic Consequences.  New York: Random House, 1972.

_____.  The Higher Patriotism.  Belmont, California: Wadsworth, 1971.

_____.  Old Myths and New Realities, and Other Commentaries.  New York: Random House, 1964.

_____.  The Pentagon Propaganda Machine.  New York: Liveright, 1979.

_____.  The Price of Empire.  New York: Pantheon Books, c1989

_____.  Prospects  for the West.  Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1963.

Stennis, John Cornelius, and James William Fulbright.  The Role of Congress in Foreign Policy.  Washington: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, 1971.

Biographical and Other Scholarly Works

Bales, James D.  Senator Fulbright’s Secret Memorandum.  Searcy, Arkansas: Bales Bookstore, 1962.

Berman, William C.  William Fulbright and the Vietnam War: The Dissent of a Political Realist.  Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1988.

Brown, Eugene.  J. William Fulbright: Advice and Dissent.  Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1985.

Coffin, Tristram.  Senator Fulbright: Portrait of a Public Philosopher.  New York: E.P. Dutton and Company, 1966.

Fry, Joseph A.  Debating Vietnam: Fulbright, Stennis, and their Senate Hearings. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006.

Johnson, Haynes, and Bernard M. Gwertzman.  Fulbright: The Dissenter.  Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday and Company, 1968.

Lynn, Naomi B., and Arthur F. McClure.  The Fulbright Premise: Senator J. William Fulbright’s Views on Presidential Power. Lewisburg, Pennsylvania: Bucknell University Press, 1973.

Meyer, Karl. E., ed.  Fulbright of Arkansas: The Public Positions of a Private Thinker.  Washington: R.B. Luce, 1963.

Powell, Lee Riley.  J. William Fulbright and America’s Lost Crusade: Fulbright’s Opposition to the Vietnam War.  Little Rock, Arkansas: Rose Publishing Company, 1984.

_____.  William Fulbright and his Time: A Political Biography. Memphis, Tennessee: Guild Bindery Press, 1996.

Tweraser, Kurt Karl.  Changing Patterns of Political Beliefs: The Foreign Policy Operation Codes of J. William Fulbright, 1943-1967.  Beverly Hills, California: Sage Publications, 1974.

Woods, Randall Bennett.  J. William Fulbright, Vietnam, and the Search for a Cold War Foreign Policy.  New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

_____.  Fulbright: A Biography.  New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Theses and Dissertations

Anderson, Joel E.  The Fulbright Strategy: A Critique.  Master’s thesis.  American University, 1966.

Bailey, Richard Eugene.  A Rhetorical Analysis of James William Fulbright’s Speaking on the “Arrogance of Power.”  Ph.D. diss., Ohio State University, 1968.

Cumpston, Jeffrey T.  Senator J. William Fulbright, the Suez Crisis,  and the Eisenhower Doctrine.  Honors thesis, University of Arkansas, 1991.

Hwang, Jack Nay-Chyi.  Internationalism with Different Faces: The Evolution of J. William Fulbright’s Beliefs in China Policy (1943-1974). Ph.D. diss., Tamkang University, 1999.

Manske, Robert Fred.  The Fulbright Foreign Policy Thought, 1964-1971: A Co-Organic Critique.  Ph.D. diss., American University, 1973.

Maxwell, Angie.  Old Myths and New Realities: Uncovering the Implications of Senator J. William Fulbright’s 1970 Middle East Peace Plan. Honors thesis, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, 2000.

Morgan, Francesca C.  An Unlikely Rebel: J. William Fulbright, his 1966 Hearings and their Impact on American Politics.  Honors thesis, Harvard University, 1990.

Morse, David Charles.  Lyndon Johnson and William Fulbright: the Yin and Yang of American Foreign Policy in the Sixties.  Master’s thesis, University of Tulsa, 2000.

Natesan, Sivagami.  The Influence of Senator J. William Fulbright on American Foreign Information Policy.  Master’s thesis, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, 1993.

Paris, Carol Ann.  Senator J. W. Fulbright and American Foreign Policy, 1943-1949.  Master’s thesis, Southern Methodist University, 1970.

Perry, Bruce.  Senator J. William Fulbright on European and Atlantic Unity.  Ph.D. diss., University of Pennsylvania, 1968.

Rogers, Jimmie N.  An Investigation of Senator J. William Fulbright’s Attitudes towards President Lyndon B. Johnson as Demonstrated in Selected Foreign Policy Addresses: An Evaluative Assertion Analysis.  Ph.D. diss., Florida State University, 1972.

Tobler, Judith Ann.  The Education of a Legislator: The Evolution of J. William Fulbright’s Attitudes Toward the Soviet Union.  Master’s thesis, University of Arkansas, 1983.

Compiled by Vera Ekechukwu, Fulbright Papers Research Assistant.  September 24, 2008.