Donald H. Magnuson

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Donald H. Magnuson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Washington's 7th district
In office
January 3, 1959 – January 3, 1963
Preceded by District Created
Succeeded by K. William Stinson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Washington's At-large district
In office
January 3, 1953 – January 3, 1959
Preceded by District Reestablished
Succeeded by District Eliminated
Personal details
Born (1911-03-07)March 7, 1911 in Freeman,
Spokane County, Washington
Died October 5, 1979(1979-10-05) (aged 68)
Seattle, Washington
Resting place Evergreen Washelli
Memorial Park
, Seattle
Political party Democratic
Alma mater University of Washington, 1931
Spokane University (attended)
Profession Journalist

Donald Hammer "Don" Magnuson (March 7, 1911 – October 5, 1979) was a five-term congressman from the state of Washington and an investigative journalist for the Daily Olympian and Seattle Times newspapers. He was not related to Washington's long-serving U.S. Senator, Warren G. Magnuson.

Early years[edit]

Magnuson was born on a farm near Freeman, in Spokane County, Washington, the son of Ellis William Magnuson and Ida (Hammer) Magnuson. He attended the public schools and Spokane University from 1926 to 1928, then transferred to the University of Washington in Seattle, and earned a bachelor's degree in 1931. After graduation, he worked as a harvester and then as a riveter in an aircraft factory.[1]

Journalism career[edit]

Magnuson was a newspaper reporter for the Daily Olympian and Seattle Times from 1934 to 1952. In 1942, he wrote a series of reports about loafing in the Seattle-Tacoma Shipyards. He was instrumental in obtaining the pardon of Clarence Boggie, who was wrongly convicted of murder.[2] He earned a Broun Award for his coverage and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in Local Reporting in 1949 by the managing editor of the Seattle Times.

In 1950, Magnuson wrote a series on alcoholism. He interviewed 6,000 men who had been treated over 15 years. He described the "conditioned-reflect treatment" which was intended to create an aversion to alcohol. This treatment was based on Pavlov's work on conditioned reflex. The treatment for alcoholism was for the staff at the sanitarium to give a patient alcohol and at the same time induce nausea with an additive.

Political career[edit]

Magnuson was elected in 1952 as a Democrat to the Eighty-third Congress and was re-elected four times, serving from January 1953 until January 1963. Magnuson was named to the Committee on Merchant Marines and Fisheries in 1955. During his time in Congress he served on the Appropriations Committee subcommittee on Department of State, Justice and Judiciary, and the Department of the Interior. He also served on the Public Works Committee with oversight over the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, and the Atomic Energy Commission.

On January 30, 1959, Magnuson introduced a bill to establish a shield law to keep reporters from having to reveal their sources. On February 2, 1959, he introduced a bill to grant a second income tax exemption to college students who held down a job. On February 7, 1959 he was named to the board of oversight of the U.S. Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs for 4 consecutive years. On May 22, 1959, Magnuson voted for an addition to the public works bill in an Appropriations subcommittee for $724,000 to start the Greater Wenatchee reclamation project. On August 4, 1959, Magnuson said about the upcoming Khruschev visit, "What Khruschev sees here may help guard against a fatal miscalculation on his part."

On January 21, 1960, the Bellingham Labor News said that as a member of the Public Works Committee, Magnuson sponsored a resolution to authorize the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to review flood control studies in western Washington. On that same day, he was appointed to become a charter member of the Democratic Study Group. In 1960, as a member of the Appropriations Committee, he voted against an additional $73 million for the development of nuclear airplanes, according to The Labor Journal.

Following an extremely close victory in 1960, Magnuson lost his bid for a sixth term in 1962. He was employed by the Department of the Interior from 1963 to 1969, and by the Department of Labor from 1969 to 1973.[3]

Death and legacy[edit]

After he retired in 1973, he resided in Seattle, where he died on October 5, 1979, and was interred in Evergreen Washelli Memorial Park in north Seattle. His papers are housed at the University of Washington Libraries; the collection contains 18 cubic feet (0.5 m3) of legislative papers and 8 film strip reels relating to his various political campaigns.[4]


  1. ^ Donald H. Magnuson (Biographical Directory)
  2. ^ "Boggie reunion with his family tearful, joyful". Spokane Daily Chronicle. December 25, 1948. p. 1. 
  3. ^ "Don Magnuson, ex-congressman, dead at 68". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Associated Press. October 8, 1979. p. 2B. 
  4. ^ "Preliminary Guide to the Donald Hammer Magnuson Papers 1953-1962". University of Washington Libraries. Retrieved February 28, 2012. 

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
New district formed after 1950 Census
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Washington's at-large congressional district

Succeeded by
At-large district abolished
New district Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Washington's 7th congressional district

Succeeded by
K. William Stinson

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.