|George David Aiken in his office|
|United States Senator
January 10, 1941 – January 3, 1975
|Preceded by||Ernest W. Gibson, Jr.|
|Succeeded by||Patrick Leahy|
|64th Governor of Vermont|
January 7, 1937 – January 9, 1941
|Lieutenant||William H. Wills|
|Preceded by||Charles Manley Smith|
|Succeeded by||William H. Wills|
|Born||George David Aiken
August 20, 1892
|Died||November 19, 1984
|Spouse(s)||Beatrice Howard, Lola Pierotti|
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: George Aiken|
George David Aiken (August 20, 1892 – November 19, 1984) was an American farmer and politician. A member of the Republican Party, he was the 64th Governor of Vermont (1937–1941) before serving in the United States Senate for 34 years, from 1941 to 1975. At the time of his retirement, he was the most senior member of the Senate.
George Aiken was born in Dummerston, Vermont, to Edward Webster and Myra (née Cook) Aiken. In 1893, he and his parents moved to Putney, where he received his early education at local public schools and graduated from Brattleboro High School in 1909. Aiken, who developed a strong interest in agriculture at an early age, became a member of the Putney branch of the Grange in 1906. In 1912, he borrowed $100 to plant a patch of raspberries; within five years, the land grew to five hundred acres and included a nursery. In 1926, Aiken became engaged in the commercial cultivation of wildflowers. He published Pioneering With Wildflowers in 1933 and Pioneering With Fruits and Berries in 1936. He also served as president of the Vermont Horticultural Society (1917–1918) and of the Windham County Farm Bureau (1935–1936).
In 1914, Aiken married Beatrice Howard, to whom he remained married until her death in 1966. The couple had three daughters, Dorothy Howard, Marjorie Evelyn (who married Harry Cleverly), and Barbara Marion; and one son, Howard Russell. Following his first wife's death, Aiken married his longtime administrative assistant, Lola Pierotti, in 1967.
Early political career
Aiken served as school director of Putney from 1920 to 1937. A Republican, he unsuccessfully ran for the Vermont General Assembly in 1922. However, eight years later, he was elected to the Vermont House of Representatives, serving from 1931 to 1935. Three preceding generations of his family had also served in the state legislature. As a state representative, he became known for his opposition to the private power companies over the issue of flood control. Aiken was elected as Speaker of the House in 1933, over the opposition of the Republican establishment. As Speaker, he passed the Poor Debtor Law to protect people who could not pay their obligations during the Great Depression.
Governor of Vermont
Aiken was elected Lieutenant Governor of Vermont in 1934. In 1936 he won election as Governor, serving from 1937 to 1941. Aiken earned a reputation as a moderate to liberal Republican, supporting many aspects of the New Deal. He wrote an open letter to the Republican National Committee in 1937 criticizing the party, and claimed Abraham Lincoln "would be ashamed of his party's leadership today" during a 1938 Lincoln Day address.
During his administration, Aiken reduced the state's debt, instituted a "pay-as-you-go" road-building program, and convinced the federal government to abandon its plan to control the Connecticut River Valley flood reduction projects. He also broke the monopolies of many major industries, including banks, railroads, marble companies, and granite companies. He also encouraged suffering farmers in rural Vermont to form co-ops to market their crops and get access to electricity.
He was elected to the United States Senate on November 5, 1940, to fill the vacancy in the term ending January 3, 1945, caused by the death of Ernest W. Gibson, and was re-elected in 1944, 1950, 1956, 1962, and 1968. During his time in the Senate he served in a number of leadership roles including Chairman of the Committee on Expenditures in Executive Departments in the 80th Congress and in the Committee on Agriculture and Forestry in the 83rd Congress bringing a Vermont-centric voice to Congress emphasizing common sense solutions over party ideology. He was one of the white-haired men during the time of President John F. Kennedy's inaugural statement about the torch passing to a new generation.
During the Vietnam war, Aiken is widely believed to have suggested that the U.S. should declare victory and bring the troops home. Actually, what he said was that "the United States could well declare unilaterally ... that we have 'won' in the sense that our armed forces are in control of most of the field and no potential enemy is in a position to establish its authority over South Vietnam," and that such a declaration "would herald the resumption of political warfare as the dominant theme in Vietnam." He added: "It may be a far-fetched proposal, but nothing else has worked."
He was a proponent of many progressive programs such as Food Stamps and public works projects for rural America, such as rural electrification, flood control and crop insurance. He also had a great affection for the natural beauty of his home state, saying "some folks just naturally love the mountains, and like to live up among them where freedom of thought and action is logical and inherent." His views were at odds with those of many Old Guard Republicans in the Senate. Vermonters showed Aiken such respect and affection that he reportedly spent only $17.09 on his last reelection bid. A north-south avenue on the west side of the public lawn at the Vermont State House has been named for him, as well as the state's maple research center at the University of Vermont.
|Agriculture and Forestry||77th – 93rd||Ranking Member (81 – 82; 84 – 91); Chairman (83)|
|Civil Service||77th – 79th|
|Education and Labor
Labor and Public Welfare
|77th – 80th
81st – 83rd
|Expenditures in Executive Departments||77th – 80th||Ranking Member (79); Chairman (80)|
|Pensions||77th – 79th||Ranking Member (79)|
|Senatorial Campaign Expenditures, 1942 (Select)||77th – 78th|||
|Foreign Relations||83rd – 93rd||Appointed January 15, 1954|
|Atomic Energy (Joint)||86th – 93rd|
|Aeronautical and Space Sciences||89th||Resigned from committee January 14, 1966|
- Krebs, Albin (1984-11-20). "George Aiken, Longtime Senator And G.O.P. Maverick, Dies at 92". The New York Times.
- "AIKEN, George David, (1892 - 1984)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
- Current Biography 24. H. W. Wilson Company. 1948.
- The History of Putney, Vermont, 1753-1953. Fortnightly Club of Putney. 1953.
- "George D. Aiken". University of Vermont.
- Eder, Richard. "Aiken Suggests U.S. Say It Has Won the War." New York Times. October 20, 1966, pp. 1, 16
- Kauffman, Bill (2004-09-13) Democracy in Vermont, The American Conservative
- The United States Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry: 1825–1998 (S. Doc. 105-24). 105th Congress. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. 1998.
- Official Congressional Directory. 79th Congress
- "Chairmen of Senate Standing Committees 1789 – present". Senate Historical Office. June 2008. p. 35. Retrieved 2009-05-07.
- Canon, David T.; Garrison Nelson and Charles Stewart III (2002). Committees in the U.S. Congress: 1789–1946. Vol 4, Select Committees. Washington, DC: CQ Press. ISBN 1-56802-175-5.
- Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, Millennium Edition, 1816–2000 (S. Doc. 105-28). 105th Congress, 2d session. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. 2000. p. 98.
- Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences, United States Senate: 1958–1976. 94th Congress, 2nd Session. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. December 30, 1976. p. 63.
- George Aiken at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- George D. Aiken papers in Congressional Papers collection, Center for Digital Initiatives, University of Vermont Library
- Inventory of the George D. Aiken Papers, Special Collections, University of Vermont Library
- Oral History Interview with George Aiken, from the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library