Paul Douglas

Paul Douglas

Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts, USA
Death 24 Sep 1976 (aged 84)
Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, USA
Burial Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA
Memorial ID 6643 · View Source
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US Senator, Educator, Social Reformer, Author. Characterized by his fellow senators as "the conscience of the U.S. Senate." During his three active terms in Washington his influence spanned the presidential administrations of Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson. An uncompromising idealist, he was a strong force in the Capitol the could be relied on to champion issues of civil rights, social welfare programs, public housing, extension of Social Security (including Medicare), federal aid to education and a concern for the environment. He was personally particularly proud of what he was able to accomplish with tax reform and Medicare. While he achieved the accolades of formal education and contributed much to students as a professor his own lessons of life began in the backwoods of Maine. Born in Salem Massachusetts, to Annie (Smith) and James Howard Douglas, his mother died when he was four. His father remarried, but was an abusive husband and he and his older brother John were raised by a kindly stepmother. He played basketball in high school and football in college, but he also read a lot of books and had a lifelong fascination with reading. The circumstances of poverty forced him to work his way through Bowdoin College from which he was graduated in 1913, Phi Beta Kappa. He secured his master's degree in 1915 from Columbia University from which he also, after a year of postgraduate work at Harvard, was awarded his Ph.D. in economics in 1921. He taught at a number of colleges before accepting an appointment at the University of Chicago. Intrigued in 1927 by the communist experiment, he rejected Marxist economic theory summarily after seeing first hand the aftermath of Lenin's dictatorial powers when he visited Russia. Long a friend of organized labor, he became a supporter of the New Deal as genuine social reforms became reality. As a Quaker, he had long opposed military preparation, but when Mussolini announced Italy's invasion of Ethiopia, he was shocked into the conclusion that "isolationism was impossible and pacifism self-defeating against dictators." He insisted, "We cannot let the isolationist minority treat Franklin D. Roosevelt after this war as they treated Woodrow Wilson after the first World War." He prevailed upon Navy Secretary Frank Knox, not long before his fiftieth birthday, to permit him to enlist in the Marine Corps as a private. Wounded and decorated he was discharged as a lieutenant colonel who had served heroically in the Pacific. He never regained full use of his left arm and often referred to it as a good "paperweight." His wife Emily, daughter of the famous sculptor Lorado Taft, actually preceded him in Congress, when she was elected as a Representative from Illinois to the Seventy-ninth Congress. He loved to say that he was elected because of his name and that people thought that they were voting for his wife. Resuming his professorship at the University after the war, he assumed a strong stance as an anti-Communist activist. "If the experience of the thirties with fascism has taught us anything," he declared, "it was that it is a mistake to make great sacrifices of principle in order to appease aggression." His books include Real Wages in the United States, 1890–1926 (1930), The Theory of Wages (1934), Social Security in the United States (1936), and Ethics in Government (1952). He died in Washington, D.C. from complications, six years after he had suffered a stroke. Private services were at a Quaker meeting house in Washington, DC, with ashes scattered in the Japanese gardens in Jackson Park, near the University of Chicago.

Bio by: D C McJonathan-Swarm

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 13 Oct 1999
  • Find a Grave Memorial 6643
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Paul Douglas (26 Mar 1892–24 Sep 1976), Find a Grave Memorial no. 6643, citing Jackson Park, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .