J. William Fulbright
James William Fulbright, usually known as J. William Fulbright (1905-1995), was a Democratic member of the United States Senate from Arkansas, whose tenure extended from 1945 to 1975. He is now best known for the Fulbright Program of merit-based international student exchanges.
Prior to entering the Senate, Fulbright had been the president of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and a member of the United States House of Representatives from Arkansa's 3rd congressional district. As a senator, he signed in 1956 the Southern Manifesto in opposition to racial integration. That same year he campaigned nationally for Democratic presidential nominee Adlai Stevenson. Fulbright could afford to leave the state to work for Stevenson, for he had only weak opposition for reelection from Ben C. Henley of Harrison, a Republican state party chairman and the brother of a later U.S. district judge.
In 1965, Fulbright became a major intraparty critic of U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson over the Vietnam War though he had voted for the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. Ironically, Fulbright's old ally, Adlai Stevenson, was a Vietnam War supporter through his position in the Johnson administration as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
During most of his senatorial tenure, Fulbright's colleague was fellow Democrat John McClellan.
In 1968, Fulbright defeated former gubernatorial candidate James D. Johnson, a staunch segregationist, in the Democratic primary election. He then turned aside a stronger-than-usual Republican challenge from Charles Taylor Bernard from Earle in Crittenden County in eastern Arkansas.
After five terms, Fulbright was handily unseated in the 1974 Democratic senatorial primary by then Governor Dale Bumpers of Charleston in Franklin County in western Arkansas. Both Fulbright and Bumpers were admirers of Adlai Stevenson and close friends of U.S. President Bill Clinton. Clinton once worked on Fulbright's staff, and Bumpers gave an impassioned speech in 1999, after he had retired from the Senate, in opposition to the impeachment of Clinton.