About Mark Odom Hatfield, Sr.
Mark Odom Hatfield (July 12, 1922 – August 7, 2011) was an American politician and educator from the state of Oregon. A Republican, he served for 30 years as a United States Senator from Oregon, and also as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. A native Oregonian, he served in the United States Navy in the Pacific Theater during World War II after graduating from Willamette University. After the war he earned a graduate degree from Stanford University before returning to Oregon and Willamette as a professor.
While still teaching, Hatfield served in both houses of the Oregon Legislative Assembly. He won election to the Oregon Secretary of State's office at the age of 34 and two years later was elected as the 29th Governor of Oregon. He was the youngest person to ever serve in either of those offices, and served two terms as governor before election to the United States Senate. In the Senate he served for 30 years, and now holds the record for longest tenure of any Senator from Oregon. At the time of his retirement, he was 7th most senior Senator as well as second most senior Republican. In 1968, he was considered a candidate to be Richard Nixon's running mate for the Republican Party presidential ticket.
Hatfield served as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations on two different occasions. With this role, he was able to direct funding to Oregon and research-related projects. Several Oregon institutions, buildings and facilities are named in his honor, including the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse in Portland, the Mark O. Hatfield Library at Willamette University (his alma mater), the Hatfield Government Center light rail station, the Mark O. Hatfield School of Government in the College of Urban and Public Affairs at Portland State University, and the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport. Outside of Oregon, a research center at the National Institutes of Health is also named in his honor for his support of medical research while in the Senate. Hatfield died in Portland on August 7, 2011, after a long illness.
Hatfield was born in Dallas, Oregon, on July 12, 1922, the only son of Dovie Odom Hatfield, a schoolteacher, and Charles Dolen Hatfield, a blacksmith for the Southern Pacific Railroad. Mark's father was from Oregon and his mother from Tennessee. When Mark was five years old, his grandmother took over the household while Dovie attended Oregon State College (now Oregon State University) and graduated with a teaching degree after four years. She taught school in Dallas for two years before the family moved to Salem, where she taught junior high school.
Encouraged by his mother, Hatfield's first experience with politics came at the age of 10, when he campaigned in his neighborhood for President Herbert Hoover's 1932 re-election campaign. In the late 1930s Hatfield worked as a tour guide at the new Oregon State Capitol Building in Salem, using his key to enter the governor's office, where he sat in the governor's chair.
While in high school, on June 10, 1940, when he was 17 years old, Hatfield was involved in a traffic accident that turned deadly. While driving his mother's car, Hatfield struck and killed Alice Marie Lane south of Salem as she crossed the street. He was not held criminally liable for the crash, but was found civilly liable to the family. The case made its way to the Oregon Supreme Court in 1943, with the court affirming the trial court's decision.
Hatfield graduated from Salem High School (now North Salem High School) in 1940 and then enrolled at Willamette University, also in Salem. While attending Willamette, Hatfield became a brother of Alpha Phi Omega and Kappa Gamma Rho, which he later helped become a chapter of Beta Theta Pi. In college he also worked part-time for then Oregon Secretary of State Earl Snell, where he learned how to build a political base by sending out messages to potential voters after reading about life changes posted in newspapers, such as deaths and graduations. He also sketched out a political career path beginning with the state legislature and culminating in a spot in the United States Senate, with a blank for any position beyond the Senate. Hatfield graduated from Willamette in 1943 with a Bachelor of Arts degree after three years at the school. While at the school he lost his only election, for student body president.
Hatfield joined the U.S. Navy after graduation, taking part in the World War II battles at Iwo Jima and Okinawa as a landing craft officer where he witnessed the carnage of the war. A lieutenant, he also witnessed the effects of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, as one of the first Americans to see the ruins of the city (later, as Senator, Hatfield opposed arms proliferation and the Vietnam War). After Japan, he served in French Indochina, where he witnessed firsthand the wealth divide between the peasant Vietnamese and the colonial French bourgeoisie. After his discharge, he spent one year at Willamette’s law school, but decided politics or teaching better suited him.
Hatfield then enrolled at Stanford University, where he obtained a master's degree in political science 1948. He returned to Salem and Willamette after Stanford and began working as an assistant professor in political science. During his tenure as professor, he built a political base by sending out messages and speaking at any public forum where he could get an invitation.
Mark Hatfield's career in public office spanned five decades as he held office in both the legislative and executive branches of Oregon's state government, including two terms as governor. On the national stage he became the longest serving U.S. Senator from Oregon and a candidate for the Republican Vice Presidential nomination in 1968. In the U.S. Senate he would twice serve as chairman of the Appropriations Committee, and twice be investigated for possible ethics violations.
In 1950 while teaching political science and serving as dean of students at Willamette, Hatfield began his political career by winning election to the Oregon House of Representatives as a Republican. He defeated six others for the seat at a time when state assembly elections were still determined by county-wide votes. He served for two terms representing Marion County and Salem in the lower chamber of the Oregon Legislative Assembly. At the time he was the youngest legislator in Oregon and still lived at his parents' home. Hatfield would teach early-morning classes and then walk across the street to the Capitol to legislate.
In 1952 he won re-election to his seat in the Oregon House. He also received national attention for his early support for coaxing Dwight D. Eisenhower to run for President of the United States as a Republican. This earned him a spot as a delegate at the Republican National Convention that year.
While in college he saw firsthand the discrimination against African Americans in Salem when he was tasked by his fraternity after a dinner with driving their guest, Black artist Paul Robeson back to Portland, as African Americans were prohibited from staying in hotels in Salem. In 1953, he introduced and passed legislation in the House that prohibited discrimination based on race in public accommodations before federal legislation and court decisions did so on a national level. In 1954, Hatfield ran and won a seat in the Oregon State Senate representing Marion County. While in the legislature, he continued to apply the grassroots strategy he learned from Earl Snell, but expanded it to cover the entire state to increase his political base.
After serving in the state senate, he became the youngest secretary of state in Oregon history after winning election in 1956 at age 34. Hatfield defeated fellow state senator Monroe Sweetland for the office, receiving 51.3% of the vote in the November general election. He took office on January 7, 1957, and remained until he resigned on January 12, 1959.
For his first run for Governor of Oregon in 1958, the Republican Party opposed his candidacy going into the primary election. The large political base he had cultivated allowed him to win the party's primary despite the party's opposition. In the primary he defeated Oregon State Treasurer Sig Unander for the Republican nomination. In July 1958, after the primary election, Hatfield married Antoinette Kuzmanich, a counselor at Portland State College (now Portland State University). The marriage during the campaign drew some attention as the Catholic Kuzmanich converted to Hatfield's Baptist religion. The couple would have four children: Elizabeth, Mark Jr., Theresa and Visko. He continued his campaign for the governor's office after the wedding, but avoided most public appearances with fellow Republican candidates for office and did not mention them during his campaign, despite requests by other Republicans for joint appearances.
In the November general election Hatfield faced Democratic incumbent Robert D. Holmes. In the final days of the campaign U.S. Senator Wayne Morse, a Democrat, implied Hatfield lied in his trial regarding the deadly car accident when he was 17. This tactic backfired as the press denounced the comments, as did Holmes and other Democrats. Hatfield defeated Holmes, winning 55.3% of the vote in the election. That same election saw the Democratic Party gain a majority in both chambers of the state legislature for the first time since 1878. Holmes' defeat was attributed in part to the image and charisma portrayed by Hatfield and in part due to the campaign issues such as the declining economy, increased taxation, capital punishment, labor, and education. After the election, Holmes attempted to appoint David O'Hara as Secretary of State to replace Hatfield, who would have to resign to become governor. Hatfield appointed Howell Appling, Jr. to the office, and O'Hara challenged the appointment in state court. The Oregon Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hatfield on the constitutional issue, with the appointment of Appling confirmed. He was the youngest governor in the history of Oregon at that point in time at the age of 36.
In 1962 Hatfield had been considered a possible candidate to run against Morse for his Senate seat, but Hatfield instead ran for re-election. He faced Oregon Attorney General Robert Y. Thornton in the general election, winning with 345,497 votes to Thorton's 265,359. He became the state's first two-term governor in the 20th century when he was re-elected in 1962, and later became only the second governor up to that point in the state's history to serve two full-terms.
Hatfield gave the keynote speech at the 1964 Republican National Convention in San Francisco that nominated Barry Goldwater and served as temporary chairman of the party during the convention. He advocated a moderate approach for the party and opposed the extreme conservatism associated with Goldwater and his supporters. He also was the only governor to vote against a resolution by the National Governors' Conference supporting the Johnson Administration's policy on the Vietnam War, as Hatfield opposed the war, but pledged "unqualified and complete support" for the troops. He preferred the use of economic sanctions to end the war.
Hatfield was a popular Governor who supported Oregon's traditional industries of timber and agriculture, but felt that in the postwar era expansion of industry and funding for transportation and education needed to be priorities. While governor he worked to begin the diversification of the state's economy, such as recruiting industrial development and holding trade missions. As part of the initiative, he helped to found the Oregon Graduate Center (now part of Oregon Health & Science University) in what is now the Silicon Forest in Washington County in 1963. A graduate level school in the Portland area (Portland State was still a college with no graduate programs at this time) was seen by business leaders as essential to attracting new industries and by Tektronix as needed to retain highly skilled workers. In lieu of the standard portrait for former governors, Hatfield is represented by a marble bust at the Oregon State Capitol.
Limited to two terms as governor, Hatfield announced his candidacy in the 1966 U.S. Senate election for the seat vacated by the retiring Maurine Neuberger. During the Vietnam War, and during an election year, he was the only person to vote against a resolution by a governors' conference that expressed support for the U.S. involvement in the war in 1966. At that time the war was supported by 75 percent of the public, and was also supported by Hatfield's opponent in the November election. He won the primary election with 178,782 votes compared to a combined 56,760 votes for three opponents. Hatfield then defeated Democratic Congressman Robert Duncan in the election. In order to finish his term as governor, which ended on January 9, 1967, he delayed taking his oath of office in the Senate until January 10 instead of the usual January 3.
Hatfield's re-election victory for governor in 1962 in a Democratic year made him something of a national figure. In 1968, Hatfield was on Richard Nixon's short list for vice president, and received the strong backing of his friend, the Rev. Billy Graham. Hatfield was considered too liberal by many southern conservatives, and Nixon chose the more centrist Maryland Governor Spiro Agnew. Hatfield would later find himself at odds with Nixon over Vietnam and other issues, including a threat by Hatfield to reduce funding for the White House's legal department in 1973 during the Watergate Scandal, after Nixon had failed to use funds appropriated for renovating dams on the Columbia River.
As a senator Hatfield took positions that made him hard to classify politically. In the Summer of 1969, he had told Murray Rothbard that he had "committed himself to the cause of libertarianism." Rothbard remarked concerning Hatfield, "obviously his voting record is not particularly libertarian—it's very good on foreign policy and the draft, but it's not too great on other things", adding that "in the abstract, at least, he is very favorable to libertarianism." Hatfield was pro-life on the issues of abortion and the death penalty, though as governor he chose not to commute the sentence of a convicted murderer and allowed that execution to go forward. Although a prominent evangelical Christian, he opposed government-sponsored school prayer and supported civil rights for minorities and gays.
In 1970, with Senator George McGovern (D-South Dakota), he co-sponsored the McGovern-Hatfield Amendment, which called for a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam. In the 1980s, Hatfield co-sponsored nuclear freeze legislation with Senator Edward M. Kennedy, as well as co-authoring a book on the topic. He also advocated for the closure of the N-Reactor at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in the 1980s, though he was a supporter of nuclear fusion programs. The N-Reactor was used for producing weapons grade plutonium while producing electricity.
Hatfield frequently broke with his party on issues of national defense and foreign policy, such as military spending and the ban on travel to Cuba, while often siding with them on environmental and conservation issues. Senator Hatfield supported increased logging on federal lands. He was the lone Republican to vote against the 1981 fiscal year's appropriations bill for the Department of Defense. He was rated as the sixth most respected senator in a 1987 survey by fellow senators. In 1990, Hatfield voted against authorizing military action against Iraq in the Gulf War, one of only two members of his party to do so in the Senate.
Sometimes referred to as "Saint Mark", Hatfield enjoyed warm relations with members of both Republican and Democratic parties. In 1984, columnist Jack Anderson revealed that Mrs. Hatfield, a realtor, had been paid $50,000 in fees by Greek arms dealer Basil Tsakos. Tsakos had been lobbying Senator Hatfield, then Appropriations Chairman, for funding for a $6 billion trans-African pipeline. The Hatfields apologized and donated the money to a Portland hospital. In 1991, it was revealed that Hatfield had failed to report a number of expensive gifts from the president of the University of South Carolina James B. Holderman. Again, he apologized. The Senate's Ethics Committee rebuked Hatfield for the latter, but cleared him of any wrongdoing for the 1984 incident.
His final re-election campaign came in 1990 against businessman Harry Lonsdale. Lonsdale aggressively went after Hatfield with television attack ads that attacked Hatfield as out of touch on issues such as abortion and timber management and accused the incumbent of being too closely allied with special interest groups in Washington. Lonsdale's tactics moved him even with, and then ahead of Hatfield in some polls. Hatfield, who had typically stayed above the fray of campaigning, was forced to respond in kind with attack ads of his own. He raised $1 million in a single month after trailing Lonsdale in the polls before the November election. He defeated the Democrat with 590,095 (53.7 percent) votes to 507,743 (46.2 percent) votes.
In 1993 he became the longest serving Senator from Oregon, surpassing the record of 9,726 days in office previously held by Charles McNary. In 1995, Hatfield was the only Republican in the Senate to vote against the proposed balanced budget amendment, and was the deciding vote that prevented the passage of the bill. In 1996 the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, a group he served on previously, granted him their Distinguished Service Award.
Senator Hatfield retired in 1996 after more than 46 years of political service, having won all eleven political campaigns he entered. During his tenure he gained billions of dollars in the form of federal appropriations for projects in Oregon. This included funding for transportation projects, environmental protection of wilderness areas and scenic rivers, research facilities, and health care facilities.
Later years and legacy
After retiring from political office, he returned to Oregon and teaching, joining the faculty of George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon. As of 2006, he was the Herbert Hoover Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Politics at the school. Additionally, he taught at the Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University, which is named in his honor, and lectured at Willamette University and Lewis & Clark College while living in Portland.
In July 1999, Hatfield and his wife were passengers on a tour bus when a car collided with the bus. He and his wife received minor injuries, but began advocating for buses to be required to have seat belts.
The Mark O. Hatfield Library at Willamette is dedicated to him, along with Oregon State University's Hatfield Marine Science Center. Other namesakes include the Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research Center at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland; Hatfield Research Center at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU); the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness, Mark O. Hatfield Institute for International Understanding at Southwestern Oregon Community College; Hatfield Government Center station at the western terminus of the MAX Blue Line light rail; Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse in Portland; the Mark Hatfield trailhead at the western end of the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail in the Columbia River Gorge; and the Mark Hatfield Award for clinical research in Alzheimer's disease.
From February 2000 to May 2008 Hatfield served on the board of directors for Oregon Health & Science University. His papers and book collection are stored in the Willamette University Archives and Special Collections, inside the Mark O. Hatfield Library. Senator Hatfield merited his own chapter in Tom Brokaw's The Greatest Generation.
In 2010, a group of filmmakers began production on a documentary film about Hatfield's public service.
Hatfield was admitted to the Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research hospital at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland in November 2010 for observation after his health began to decline. Mark Hatfield died at a care facility in Portland on August 7, 2011, after several years of illness. A specific cause of death was not immediately given.