William E. Jenner
|United States Senator|
January 3, 1947 – January 3, 1959
|Preceded by||Raymond E. Willis|
|Succeeded by||Vance Hartke|
November 14, 1944 – January 3, 1945
|Preceded by||Samuel D. Jackson|
|Succeeded by||Homer E. Capehart|
|Indiana State Senator|
|Born||July 21, 1908|
|Died||March 9, 1985 (aged 76)|
|Alma mater||Indiana University School of Law - Bloomington|
William Ezra Jenner (July 21, 1908 – March 9, 1985) was an American lawyer and politician from the state of Indiana. A Republican, Jenner was an Indiana state senator from 1934 to 1942, and a U.S. Senator from 1944 to 1945 and again from 1947 to 1959. In the Senate, Jenner was a supporter of McCarthyism.
Early life and career
He attended Lake Placid Preparatory School in New York before attending Indiana University, where he graduated in 1930. Jenner worked as elevator operator in the old House Office Building while attending night classes at the George Washington University Law School. Jenner later graduated with a law degree from Indiana University Maurer School of Law, and practiced in Paoli and later in Shoals.
Jenner entered politics in 1934, when he was first elected to the Indiana State Senate in 1934. He was minority leader from 1937 to 1939, and then majority leader and president pro tempore from 1939 to 1941.
In 1940, Jenner ran for Governor of Indiana, finishing second at the Republican state convention.
One month after his discharge from the Army Air Corps, Jenner was elected to the U.S. Senate seat that had been vacated by the death of Frederick Van Nuys. He served the last few months of Van Nuys's term from November 14, 1944, to January 3, 1945; he was not a candidate for the full six-year term that began in 1945. Jenner was the first veteran of World War II elected to the Senate and the youngest member of the Senate.
He ran for the Senate in 1946 defeating Congressman Charles M. La Follette 1,994 to 105 at the Republican state convention. He then won the general election by over 150,000 votes.
He ran for governor of Indiana for a second time in 1948, winning a plurality on the first ballot at the Republican state convention. Jenner lost the nomination on the second ballot to Holbart Creighton 885 to 931.
Jenner was re-elected to the Senate in 1952.
He was also a member of the Subcommittee on Internal Security. He was a strong supporter and friend of Joseph McCarthy and engaged in McCarthyism. Jenner and McCarthy were both part of "a core of isolationist Republicans in the Senate" along with Herman Welker of Idaho and George W. Malone of Nevada. In 1950, when McCarthy issued a report falsely accusing a number of State Department employees of being secret Communists (see Tydings Committee), Jenner supported him, claiming that the State Department had engaged in "the most scandalous and brazen whitewash of treasonable conspiracy in our history" and stating: "Considering the fact that we are now at war ... how can we get the Reds out of Korea if we cannot get them out of Washington?" When McCarthy was censured by the Senate in 1954, Jenner gave a speech suggesting that censure resolution "was initiated by the Communist conspiracy."
In the Senate, Jenner was a strident opponent of General George Marshall, who was appointed Secretary of Defense in 1950. During the confirmation debate, Jenner and McCarthy was part of a group of militantly anti-communist Republican Senators that attacked Marshall. Jenner "delivered a shrill, hour-long attack on the nominee" in which he also disparaged President Harry S. Truman and Secretary of State Dean Acheson. Exemplifying McCarthist rhetoric, Jenner accused the Truman administration of "bloody tracks of treason" and called Marshall "a living lie" who was "joining hands once more with this criminal crowd of traitors and Communist appeasers ... under the direction of Mr. Truman and Mr. Acheson." Jenner also "denounced and blamed Marshall for the Pearl Harbor defeat and for his role in helping FDR 'trick America into a war,' the extension of lend-lease to the Communist Soviet Union, the 'selling out' of Eastern Europe at Yalta, the loss of China, and the inclusion of an offer of aid to the Soviet Union under the Marshall Plan." When Marshall was informed of Jenner's speech, the former general replied: "Jenner? Jenner? I do not believe I know the man."
In 1951, after President Truman dismissed General Douglas MacArthur for insubordination, Jenner gave a speech on the floor of the Senate in which he said: "I charge that this country today is in the hands of a secret inner coterie, which is directed by agents of the Soviet Government. Our only choice is to impeach President Truman and find out who is the secret invisible government."
Jenner introduced legislation that sought to strip the Supreme Court of jurisdiction "in all the areas where it had interfered with the anticommunist program," a measure that Senator Lyndon B. Johnson maneuvered to oppose. Ultimately, Jenner's measure was tabled by a vote of 49-41.
A consistent opponent of American foreign aid and any involvement in foreign affairs, he opposed U.S. participation in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. and other isolationist positions. During his tenure, right-wingers wanted Jenner to run for president as a far-right third-party candidate.
Jenner claimed that the United Nations had infiltrated the American educational system in 1952.
Later life and death
In 1958, he did not seek re-nomination. After leaving the Senate, Jenner practiced law in Indianapolis and was the owner of the Seaway Corporation, a land development company. He also owned farms in Indiana and Illinois. He died at Dunn Memorial Hospital in Bedford, Indiana, of a respiratory illness, on March 9, 1985, at age 76.
Jenner is interred at Crest Haven Memorial Gardens in Bedford, Indiana.
- Isabel Wilkerson, William E. Jenner, Ex-Senator, Dead, New York Times (March 11, 1985).
- Irving Leibowitz, "Senator William E. Jenner" in Indiana History: A Book of Readings (ed. Ralph D. Gray: Indiana University Press, 1994), p. 365.
- James H. Madison, Indiana through Tradition and Change: A History of the Hoosier State and Its People 1920–1945 (Indiana Historical Society Press, 2016), p. 403.
- JENNER, William Ezra, (1908-1985), Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
- Robert Griffith, The Politics of Fear: Joseph R. McCarthy and the Senate (University of Massachusetts Press, 1996), p. 196.
- James Cross Giblin, The Rise and Fall of Senator Joe McCarthy (Clarion Books, 2009), pp. 252-254.
- Giblin, p. 114-15.
- Giblin, p. 252.
- Ed Cray, General of the Army: George C. Marshall, Soldier and Statesman (1990: Cooper Square Press ed. 2000), pp. 685-86.
- Brian R. Farmer, American Conservatism: History, Theory and Practice (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2005), p. 256.
- Cray, p. 686.
- Farmer, p. 256.
- Cray, p. 686.
- Lucas A. Powe Jr., The Supreme Court and the American Elite, 1789-2008 (Harvard University Press, 2009), p. 238.
- "Anti-Communist Ex-Sen. William E. Jenner Dies". Los Angeles Times. March 13, 1985.
- "Who Were the Senate Isolationists?". Richard F. Grimmett. The Pacific Historical Review, Vol. 42, No. 4 (November 1973), p. 479.
- "The Literature of Isolationism, 1972–1983". Justus D. Doenecke. The Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 7, No. 1 (Spring 1983), p. 174.
- Leibowitz, p. 369.
- United States Congress. "William E. Jenner (id: J000093)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
- William E. Jenner at Find a Grave
- "Let's Put America First"; address delivered by Jenner on February 14, 1955
Samuel D. Jackson
| U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Indiana
Served alongside: Raymond E. Willis
Homer E. Capehart
Raymond E. Willis
| U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Indiana
Served alongside: Homer E. Capehart