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Wayne L. Morse: A Featured Biography

Photo of Senator Wayne Morse
Wayne Morse (OR)

The notoriously independent Wayne Morse (1900-1974), who set a filibuster record in 1953, was first elected to the Senate as a Republican. He broke with that party in 1953, leaving Democrats and Republicans evenly divided in the Senate. Rather than allow the Democrats to take the majority, however, Morse symbolically moved his chair into the center aisle of the Senate Chamber for a day to show that he belonged to no party. Two years later, Democratic leader Lyndon Johnson persuaded Morse to join the Democratic Conference, giving Democrats a one-vote majority. Nevertheless, Morse retained his independent spirit. A decade later, after Johnson had become president, Senator Morse cast one of the two votes in Congress against the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and became an unrelenting critic of the president on the Vietnam war.


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