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Fulbright in New Zealand


Black and White photograph of Senator Fulbright


James William Fulbright was born in 1905, in the town of Sumner, Missouri. Educated at the University of Arkansas, he then, as a Rhodes scholar, studied and received another degree at the University of Oxford. After completing a law degree at George Washington University, he was admitted to the District of Washington bar, and served for a year as a special attorney in the United States Department of Justice. He taught at George Washington University from 1935 to 1936 and then at the University of Arkansas from 1936 to 1939. He was President of that university from 1939 to 1941.

A member of the Democratic Party, Fulbright was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1942, and to the Senate in 1944. When he rose in the Senate to introduce his bill in late September 1945, Senator Fulbright displayed the political skill that his experience as a congressman, university president, law school lecturer and Rhodes scholar had given him. He had spent four years in Europe, three of them at Oxford, and had a driving awareness of the basic similarity of European culture and the links between the United States and the rest of the world. He knew, from his subsequent years at George Washington University and the University of Arkansas, how political pressures and educational needs are often at war with each other. His work as a congressman had laid the foundations of the acceptance of the United Nations in the United States.

Fulbright brought to the Senate not only a deeply held commitment to the ideals of international education, but also a profound recognition of the miseries that had been wrought by the War Reparations after World War I. It was the combination of these two concerns that led him to introduce the legislation that would use the debts of war to finance the pursuit of peace and international understanding.