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Notable Oregonians: Charles McNary - U.S. Senator

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Charles McNary

Charles McNary, 1874-1944

Charles Linza McNary was born on a farm near Salem, Oregon on June 12, 1874. He graduated from Stanford University and returned to Salem to begin a law career in which he served as a deputy district attorney from 1906 to 1913; dean of the Willamette University Law School from 1908 to 1913; and Oregon Supreme Court associate justice from 1913 to 1915.

 

Following the death of Harry Lane in 1917, McNary was appointed as a Republican to the U.S. Senate. His seat was taken by Frederick Mulkey in the 1918 election, but Mulkey resigned within weeks to allow for McNary's appointment. In the Senate McNary advocated farm and reclamation legislation including the McNary-Haugen farm bill of 1927. He served as minority leader from 1933 to 1944 and supported a great deal of New Deal legislation, although he opposed the reciprocal trade agreements and President Franklin Roosevelt's proposals for Supreme Court reform. In 1933 McNary was the original and principal sponsor of the Bonneville Dam. He ran unsuccessfully for vice president with Wendell Wilkie in 1940 against the Roosevelt ticket.

 

McNary died in office in 1944. Seen by many as the leading figure in Oregon politics in the first half of the 20th century, he was later honored when McNary Dam on the Columbia River and McNary High School in Keizer were named for him.

 

(Sources: Columbia Encyclopedia | Biographical Directory of the United States Congress | Dictionary of Oregon History) Revised 1/2013

 

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