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February 9

In 1995, on this day 54th United States Secretary of State J. William Fulbright passed away in Washington, D.C. He was eighty-nine years old when he died of a stroke.

Passing of Sec State FulbrightFor fifteen years he represented Arkansas in the US Senate, serving alongside Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas. LBJ was only the running mate to general election winner John F. Kennedy, but fate intervened when the President-elect was assassinated by a mentally disturbed ex-postal worker named Richard Pavlick. This occurred on December 11th, 1960; JFK was set to unveil Dean Rusk as Secretary of State the very next day but of course that did not happen.

Fulbright had actually been considered by JFK but his brother Bobby had seriously objected. However following a re-assessment by LBJ Fulbright was considered a better personal fit for the office being a Southern Democrat, intellectual and staunch multi-lateralist. Chosen ahead of the less talented Rusk, the main criticism of Fulbright were his views on segregation and how they would play out after "the Year of Africa". But not having to face the voters of Arkansas, during the Senate Confirmation Process he made considerable efforts to moderate his earlier points of view.

Because of their long-term association in the Senate, Johnson listened carefully to Fulbright's words of wisdom. As a direct result of this counsel LBJ refused to approve paramilitary plans for the Bays of Pigs or Dominican Republican Invasion, and kept America's involvement in Vietnam to a minimum. By the time of the 1964 election having focused the efforts of the Federal Government almost exclusively on domestic policy they would be accused of ushering in a new era of isolationism by the Republican candidate Barry Goldwater.