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The Senator in a Time of Troubles and Triumphs

The Senator in a Time of Troubles and Triumphs

(p.221) 14 The Senator in a Time of Troubles and Triumphs
Alben Barkley
James K. Libbey
University Press of Kentucky

For Barkley the period from 1941 to 1945 was filled with achievements and difficulties. He received praise for his effective handling of wartime legislation; yet his wife, Dorothy, suffered a heart attack, required round-the-clock nursing care, and he had to deliver speeches for money to pay for medical expenses. Dorothy died several years later. Meanwhile, military purchases completely ended the Great Depression as New Deal measures disappeared, but Barkley faced sectional opposition over unions and his support for the anti–poll tax bill for federal elections. He led the opposition in successfully overriding FDR’s veto of a revenue bill, yet the process ruptured the close relationship between Barkley and FDR. The latter would not support Barkley for the vice presidential nomination in 1944. Thus, Truman joined FDR on the victorious ticket that led the former Missouri senator to become president on FDR’s death in 1945. Before the end of the war Barkley joined an Eisenhower-requested delegation to visit German death camps. he delivered the delegation’s report to a silent and stunned Senate. On a happier note he supported US membership in the United Nations, which seemed to fulfill Wilson’s failed quest for US participation in the League of Nations.

Keywords:   Barkley and family, Dorothy Barkley as invalid, Barkley speeches, sectional problems in Senate, unions, anti–poll tax bill, tax revenue bill, Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower

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