William Borah

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William Borah
William Edgar Borah cph.3b19589.jpg
United States Senator
from Idaho
In office
March 4, 1907 – January 19, 1940
Preceded by Fred Dubois
Succeeded by John W. Thomas
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
In office
December 1, 1924 – March 4, 1933
Preceded by Henry Cabot Lodge
Succeeded by Key Pittman
Dean of the United States Senate
In office
March 4, 1933 – January 19, 1940
Preceded by Reed Smoot
Succeeded by Ellison D. Smith
Personal details
Born William Edgar Borah
(1865-06-29)June 29, 1865
near Fairfield, Illinois
Died January 19, 1940(1940-01-19) (aged 74)
Washington, D.C.
Resting place Morris Hill Cemetery
Boise, Idaho
Political party Republican
Other political
Silver Republican (1896–99)
Spouse(s) Mary McConnell Borah
(m. 1895–1940, his death)
Parents William Nathan Borah
Elizabeth West Borah
Alma mater University of Kansas
Profession Attorney
Religion Protestant
Nickname(s) The Lion of Idaho[1]
The Big Potato[2]

William Edgar Borah (June 29, 1865 – January 19, 1940) was an outspoken Republican U.S. Senator, one of the greats of Idaho's history. A progressive who served from 1907 until his death in 1940, Borah is often considered an isolationist, for he led the Irreconcilables, senators who would not accept the Treaty of Versailles, Senate ratification of which which would have made the U.S. part of the League of Nations.

Borah was born in rural Illinois to a large farming family. He studied at the University of Kansas and became a lawyer in that state before seeking greater opportunities in Idaho, where he found them. He quickly rose in the law and in state politics, and after a failed run for the House of Representatives in 1896 and one for the United States Senate in 1903, was elected to the Senate in 1907. Before he took his seat in December of that year, he was involved in two prominent trials. One, the murder conspiracy trial of Big Bill Haywood, gained Borah fame though Haywood was found not guilty, and the other, a prosecution of Borah for land fraud, made him appear a victim of political malice even before his acquittal.

In the Senate, he became one of the progressive insurgents who challenged President William Howard Taft's policies, though Borah refused to bolt the party with former president Theodore Roosevelt in 1912. Borah reluctantly voted for war in 1917, but felt the United States should not have common war aims with the Allies. After World War I, he fought against the Versailles treaty, and it failed of ratification in the Senate. Remaining a maverick, Borah often fought with the Republican presidents in office between 1921 and 1933, though Coolidge offered to make Borah his running mate in 1924. Borah campaigned for Hoover in 1928, something he rarely did for presidential candidates and never did again.

Deprived of his post of Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when the Democrats took over in 1933, Borah agreed with some of the New Deal legislation, but opposed other proposals. He ran for the Republican nomination for president in 1936 at age 71, but party regulars were not minded to allow a longtime maverick to head the ticket. In his final years, he felt he might be able to settle differences in Europe by meeting with Hitler, something that has not enhanced his historical reputation, though he did not go to Europe. Borah died in 1940; his statue stands in the National Statuary Hall Collection at the Capitol.

Childhood and early career[edit]

Born in Jasper Township, Illinois, near Fairfield in Wayne County, William Edgar Borah was the son of Elizabeth (West) and William Nathan Borah, farmers.[3] Borah was distantly related to Katherine von Bora, a Catholic nun who left her convent and married Martin Luther. The family came to America in about 1760, fought in the Revolutionary War, and moved west with the frontier. The young William E. Borah was the seventh of ten children, and the third son.[4]

The future senator was not a good student, but at an early age began to love oratory and the written word.[3] Borah was educated at Tom's Prairie School, near Fairfield. When the eager learner exhausted its rudimentary resources, he was sent by his father in 1881 to Southern Illinois Academy, a Cumberland Presbyterian academy at Enfield. The 63 students there included two future U.S. senators, Borah and Wesley Jones, who would represent the state of Washington; the two often debated as schoolboys. Instead of becoming a minister, Borah was expelled for hitching rides on the Illinois Central to spend the night in the town of Carmi. He ran away from home with an itinerant Shakespearean company, but his father persuaded him to return. In his teenage years, he became interested in the law, and later stated, "I can't remember when I didn't want to be a lawyer ... there is no other profession where one can be absolutely independent".[5][6]

With his father finally accepting his son's ambition to be a lawyer, Borah in 1883 went to live with his sister Sue in Lyons, Kansas; her husband, Ansel M. Lasley, was an attorney. Borah initially worked as a teacher, but became so engrossed in historical topics at the town library that he was ill-prepared for class; he and the school parted ways. In 1885 Borah enrolled at the University of Kansas, and rented an inexpensive room in a professor's home in Lawrence, he studied alongside students who would become prominent, like William Allen White and Fred Funston. Borah was working his way through college, but his plans were scuttled when he contracted tuberculosis in early 1887, and had to return to Lyons, where his sister nursed him to health and he began to read law under Ansel Lasley's supervision. The bar examination was rudimentary and Borah passed it in September 1887, going into partnership with his brother-in-law.[7][8]

The mayor of Lyons appointed Borah city attorney in 1889, but the young lawyer felt that he was destined for bigger things than a Kansas town suffering in the hard times that persisted on the prairie in the late 1880s and early 1890s. Following the advise attributed to Horace Greeley, Borah decided to go west and grow up with the country.[9] In October 1890, uncertain of his destination, he boarded the Union Pacific Railroad in Omaha. On the advice of a gambler on board the train, Borah decided to settle in Boise, Idaho, for, as his biographer, Marian C. McKenna, put it, "that was as far west as his pocketbook would take him".[10]

Pre-Senate career[edit]

Idaho lawyer[edit]

Idaho had been admitted to the Union earlier in 1890, and Boise, the state capital, was a boom town, where law and order was more the exception than the rule. His first case was referred to him by the gambler, that of a man accused of murder for shooting a Chinese immigrant in the back; Borah gained an unasked-for dismissal when the judge decided that killing a Chinese male was at worst manslaughter. Borah prospered in Boise, both in law and in politics, and in 1892 became head of the Republican State Central Committee. He served as political secretary to Governor William J. McConnell and in 1895 married the governor's daughter, Mary, a union that produced no children.[3]

Idaho, a mining state, was fraught with labor tensions, and violence was not uncommon. In 1899, there was a strike, and a large group of miners blew up with dynamite facilities belonging to a mining company that refused to recognize the union. The explosion took no life, but the mob of miners that had come by hijacked train to destroy the company's plant shot and killed a strikebreaker. Governor Frank Steunenberg declared martial law and had more than one thousand miners arrested. Paul Corcoran, secretary of the union, was placed on trial for murder and Borah was engaged as a prosecutor in a trial that began at Wallace on July 8, 1899. Prosecution witnesses testified to seeing Corcoran sitting on top of the train, rifle in hand, and later leap to the platform. The defense contended that given the sharp curves and rough roadbed of the rail line, no one could have sat on top of the train, nor jump from it without severe injury. Borah used his skills as a teenage rail rider to ride the top of the train, and jump from it to the platform without injury. Corcoran was convicted, but his death sentence was commuted, and he was pardoned in 1901, after Steunenberg left office. Borah gained wide acclaim for his actions.[11]

Senate contender[edit]

Borah also involved himself in politics. Many Idahoans, including Senator Fred Dubois, bolted the Republican Party in 1896 to support the campaign of Democrat William Jennings Bryanfree silver, which Bryan supported, was extremely popular in Idaho. Borah joined the exodus, becoming a Silver Republican in opposition to the campaign of the Republican presidential candidate, former Ohio governor William McKinley. Borah ran for the House of Representatives that year, but knew that with the silver vote split between himself and a Democrat-Populist fusion candidate, he had little chance of winning, and concentrated on making speeches aimed at gaining a legislature that would re-elect Dubois—until 1913, state legislatures elected senators. Bryan, Dubois, and Borah were all defeated.[12]

In 1898, Borah supported the Spanish–American War and remained loyal to the Silver Republicans. By 1900, Borah deemed the silver issue of minimal importance due to increased gold production and national prosperity,[13] and, with other former silverites, made an unapologetic return to the Republican Party. He made speeches for McKinley, who was re-elected. Bryan, however, took Idaho's electoral votes for a second time[14] Dubois, though nominally remaining a Silver Republican, gained control of the state Democratic Party, and was returned to the Senate by the Idaho Legislature.[15]

Borah's legal practice had made him prominent in southern Idaho, and in 1902 he sought election to the Senate. By this time, a united Republican Party was deemed likely to defeat the Democratic/Populist combine that had ruled Idaho for the past six years. The 1902 Idaho state Republican convention showed that Borah had, likely, the most support among the people, but the choice of senator was generally dictated by the caucus of the majority party in the legislature. In 1902, Idaho Republicans elected a governor, a congressman, and a large majority in the legislature. There were three other Republicans seeking the Senate seat, including Weldon B. Heyburn, a mining lawyer from the northern part of the state. When the legislature met in early 1903, Borah led on early caucus ballots, but then the other candidates backed Heyburn, who was chosen by the caucus, and then by the legislature.[16] There were many rumors of corruption in the choice of Heyburn, and Borah determined that the defeat would not end his political career, deciding to seek the seat of Senator Dubois (by then a Democrat) when it was filled by the legislature in early 1907.[17]

At the state convention at Pocatello in 1904, Borah made a speech in support of the election of Theodore Roosevelt for a full term as president, which was widely applauded but not by the Old Guard Republicans in Idaho, who determined to defeat Borah in his second bid for the Senate.[17] The same year, Dubois damaged his prospects for a third term by his opposition to the appointment of H. Smith Woolley, a member of the Mormon church (many Idahoans adhered to that faith), as assayer-in-charge of the United States Assay Office at Boise. Dubois had advanced politically through anti-Mormonism in the 1880s, but the issue was more or less dead in Idaho by 1904. Woolley was confirmed by the U.S. Senate despite Dubois's opposition, and Rufus G. Cook, in his article on the affair, suggested that Dubois was baited into acting by Borah and his supporters. The result was that Borah attacked Dubois for anti-Mormonism in both 1904 and 1906, which played well in the heavily Mormon counties in southeast Idaho.[18]

Borah campaigned to end the caucus's role in selecting the Republican nominee for Senate, arguing that it should be decided by the people, in a convention. He drafted a resolution based on the one passed by the 1858 Illinois Republican convention that had endorsed Abraham Lincoln for Senate in his unsuccessful race against Stephen Douglas. He made a deal with a potential Republican rival, Governor Frank Gooding, whereby Borah would be nominated for Senate and Gooding for re-election and on August 1, 1906, both men received the state convention's endorsement by acclimation. Dubois was the Democratic choice, and Borah campaigned in support of President Roosevelt, argued that Republicans had brought the nation prosperity, and urged law and order. Voters re-elected Gooding, and selected a Republican legislature, which in January 1907 retired Dubois by electing Borah to the Senate.[19]

Haywood trial, lumber accusations[edit]

Borah presented his credentials at the Senate prior to the formal beginning of his first term on March 4, 1907. Until 1933, Congress's regular session began in December, allowing Borah time to participate in two major trials, one of which boosted him to national prominence for his role in the prosecution, and the other, with Borah as the defendant, placed him at risk of going to prison. The first was a trial for conspiracy to commit the murder of ex-governor Steunenberg, who was killed on December 30, 1905 by a bomb planted on the gate at his home in Caldwell. Borah, who viewed Steunenberg as a father figure, was among the prominent Idahoans who hurried to Caldwell, and who viewed Steunenberg's shattered body and the bloodstained snow. Suspicion quickly fell on a man registered at a local hotel who proved to be Harry Orchard, an explosives expert and assassin. Many labor leaders were embittered against Steunenberg for his actions while in office, and Orchard implicated four of them. The three who could be found, including "Big Bill" Haywood, were extradited from Colorado to Idaho in February 1906. As the legal challenges wended through the courts, the case became a campaign issue both for Gooding, who had signed the extradition warrant, and for Borah, who joined the prosecution team and stated that trying the case was more important to him than being sent to the Senate.[20]

While the Haywood defendants awaited trial, Borah and others were indicted in federal court for land fraud, having to do with the acquisition by the Barber Lumber Company (for which Borah had been counsel) of title to timber land claims. Individuals had filed for the claims, and then sold them to the Barber Company although they had sworn that the claims were for their own use. As the United States Attorney for Idaho, Norman M. Ruick, had expanded the grand jury from 12 members to 22 before he could get a majority vote to indict Borah (by a 12—10 margin), the accusation was immediately deemed political, with Ruick acting on behalf of Idaho Republicans who had lost state party leadership to the new senator. Roosevelt took a wait-and-see attitude, upsetting Borah, who considered resigning his Senate seat even if exonerated.[21]

Haywood was tried first; jury selection began on May 9, 1907 and proceedings in Boise continued for over two months. The courtroom, corridors, and even the lawn outside were often filled. Counsel for the prosecution included Borah and future governor James H. Hawley; famed attorney Clarence Darrow led the defense team. A highlight of the trial was Borah's cross-examination of Haywood, who denied personal animus against Steunenberg and any connection with the death, and another was Borah's final argument for the prosecution in rebuttal to Darrow on July 25 and 26. Borah urged the jury to convict,

But as I listened to the voice of counsel and felt for a time their great influence there came to me after the spell was broken another scene. There came to me in more moving tones than of voices—I remembered again [the night of] December 30th, 1905 ... I felt again its cold and icy chill, faced the drifting snow and peered at last into the darkness for the sacred spot where last lay the body of my dead friend, and saw true, only too true, the stain of his life's blood upon the whitened earth. I saw Idaho dishonored and disgraced. I saw murder—no, not murder, a thousand times worse than murder; I saw anarchy wave its first bloody triumph in Idaho. And as I thought again I said "Thou living God, can the talents or the arts of counsel unteach the lesson of that hour?" No, no. Let us be brave, let us be faithful in this supreme test of trial and duty ... But you never had a duty imposed upon you which required more intelligence, more manhood, more courage than that which the people of Idaho assign to you this night in the final discharge of your duty.[a][22]

Although Darrow won the day, gaining an acquittal for Haywood,[b] the trial transformed Borah from an obscure freshman senator to a national figure. But Borah still had to face a jury on the land fraud charge, which he did in September 1907, a trial held then at Roosevelt's insistence—Ruick had asked for more time, but Borah wanted the matter disposed of before Congress met in December. Borah refused to challenge the indictment and at the trial, his counsel allowed Ruick free rein; the judge commented on Ruick's inability to tie Borah to any offense. The defense case consisted almost entirely of Borah's testimony, and the jury quickly acquitted him, setting off wild celebrations in Boise. Ruick was dismissed from his post by Roosevelt in 1908.[23]

Senator (1907–40)[edit]

Progressive insurgent (1907–13)[edit]

When Borah went to Washington for the Senate's regular session in December 1907, he was immediately a figure of note, not only for the dramatic events in Idaho, but for keeping his Western habits, including wearing a ten-gallon hat. It was then the custom that junior senators wait perhaps a year before giving their maiden speech, but at Roosevelt's request, in April 1908, Borah spoke in defense of the president's dismissal of over a hundred African American soldiers in the Brownsville affair, their cause pressed by the fiery Ohio senator, Joseph B. Foraker. The soldiers were alleged to have shot up a Texas town, and Borah compared their alleged offense to the murder of Steunenberg.[24] The accusations were later deemed to be motivated by racism, and in 1972, after the death of Roosevelt, Borah, and most of the soldiers, the dismissals were reversed.[25]

Republican leaders had heard that Borah was an attorney for corporations, who had prosecuted labor leaders; they believed him sympathetic to their Old Guard positions and assigned him to important committees. In fact, Borah supported unions, so long as they did not commit violent acts. When Borah staked out progressive positions after his swearing-in, Rhode Island Senator Nelson Aldrich, the powerful chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, hoped to put pressure on him through the westerner's corporate clients, only to find that he had given up those representations before coming to Washington.[24] Borah became one of a growing number of progressive Republicans in the Senate. Yet, Borah often opposed liberal legislation, finding fault with it or fearing it would increase the power of the federal government. Throughout his years in the Senate, in which he would serve until his death in 1940, his idiosyncratic positions would limit his effectiveness as a reformer.[3]

After Roosevelt's hand-picked successor, former Secretary of War William Howard Taft was inaugurated in March 1909, Congress battled over what became the Payne-Aldrich Tariff. At the time, tariffs were the main source of government revenue, and battles over them were passionate. The party platform had promised tariff reform, which progressive insurgents like Borah took to mean tariff reductions. Old Guard legislators like Senator Aldrich disagreed, and the tariff bills actually raised rates by about one percent. The battles alienated Borah from Taft, who in a speech at Winona, Minnesota described the new law as the best tariff the country had ever had. Borah and other progressives had proposed an income tax to be attached to the tariff bill; when this was unacceptable to Taft, who feared the Supreme Court would strike it down again, Borah repackaged it as a constitutional amendment, which passed the Senate unanimously and then the House, and to the surprise of many passed the requisite number of state legislatures by 1913 to become the Sixteenth Amendment. Borah also had a hand in the other constitutional amendment to be ratified in 1913, the Seventeenth Amendment. In 1909, due to Borah's influence, the Idaho Legislature passed an act for a statewide election for senator with legislators in theory bound to choose the winner, and by 1912 over 30 states had similar laws. Borah promoted the amendment in the Senate in 1911 and 1912 until it passed Congress and after a year was ratified by the states. Thus, according to McKenna, the popular Borah "secured for himself a life option on a seat in the Senate".[26]

Borah opposed Taft over a number of issues and in March 1912 announced his support of the candidacy of Roosevelt over Taft for the Republican presidential nomination. Most delegates to the 1912 Republican National Convention in Chicago selected by primary supported Roosevelt, but as most states held conventions to select delegates, Taft's control of the party machinery gave him the advantage. A number of states, especially in the South, had contested delegate seats, matters which would be initially settled by the Taft-controlled Republican National Committee. Borah was Idaho's Republican National Committeeman and was one of those designated by the Roosevelt campaign to fight for it on the RNC. As Taft controlled the committee, Borah found few victories. Borah was among those who tried to find a compromise candidate, and was spoken of for that position, but all such efforts failed.[27]

When it became clear Taft would be renominated, Roosevelt and his supporters bolted the party; the former president asked Borah to chair the organizational meeting of his new Progressive Party, but the Idahoan refused. Borah would not countenance leaving the Republican Party and did not support any of the presidential candidates (the Democrats nominated New Jersey Governor Woodrow Wilson). When Roosevelt came to Boise on a campaign swing in October, Borah felt he had to greet the former president and sit on the platform as Roosevelt spoke, though he was unwilling to endorse him. Roosevelt told in his speech of a long list of state delegate votes he said had been stolen from him, and after each, turned to Borah and asked, "Isn't that so, Senator Borah?" giving him no choice but to nod.[27] It is not clear whether Borah voted for Roosevelt or Taft, he later stated both at different times.[28] The main issue in Idaho was Borah's re-election, which was so popular that those disgruntled at the senator for not supporting Taft or Roosevelt kept quiet. Idahoans helped elect Wilson, but sent 80 Republican legislators out of 86 to Boise (with two of the six Democrats pledged to support Borah if necessary), who on January 14, 1913 returned William Borah for a second term.[29]

Wilson years[edit]

Prewar (1913–17)[edit]

The Republicans both lost the presidency with Wilsjn's inauguration, and went into the minority in the Senate. In the reshuffle of committee assignments that followed, Borah was given a seat on Foreign Relations. He would occupy it for the next quarter century, becoming one of America's leading figures on international affairs.[30]

Borah generally approved of many of Wilson's proposals, but found reasons to vote against them. He voted against the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, after gaining a concession that no banker would initially be appointed to the Federal Reserve Board. Borah believed monopolies, public and private, should be broken up, and believed the new Federal Trade Commission would prove a means for trusts to control their regulators; he voted against the bill and stated he would not support confirmation of the first commissioners. The Clayton Antitrust Act, Borah opined, was merely a means by which Congress could appear to be dealing with the trusts without actually doing so.[30]

In 1913 and early 1914, Borah clashed with Wilson and his Secretary of State, Bryan, over Latin American policy. Borah believed that there was an ongoing temptation for the U.S. to expand into Latin America, and the construction of the Panama Canal only made things worse in his eyes. If the U.S. did so, the local population would have to be subjugated or incorporated into the American political structure, neither of which he deemed possible. Believing that nations should be left unmolested by greater powers, Borah decried American interference in Latin American governments; he and Wilson clashed over policy towards Mexico, then in the throes of revolution. Wilson decided that the Mexican government, led by Victoriano Huerta, must pledge elections in which Huerta would not run before being recognized. Although Borah disliked Huerta as too close to the pre-revolutionary leadership, he felt that Mexicans should decide who ran Mexico, and argued against Wilson's plan.[31]

After World War I began in 1914, it was Borah's view that the U.S. keep completely out of it and he voted for legislation requested by Wison barring armament shipments to the belligerents. Borah was disquieted when Wilson permitted credits to Great Britain and France after refusing them loans, as the credits served the same purpose, furthering the war. He was vigilant in support of the neutral rights of the United States, and was outraged both by the 1915 sinking of the Lusitania by the Germans and by infringements against Americans by British forces. Borah was spoken of as a possible candidate for president in 1916, but gained little support: the Old Guard disliked him almost as much as Roosevelt, while others questioned whether a man so free from the discipline of the party could lead its ranks. Borah stated he lacked the money to run. He did work behind the scenes to find a candidate that would reunite the Republicans and holdout Progressives: a member of a joint committee of the two parties' conventions to seek re-unification, Borah achieved a friendly reception when he addressed the Progressive convention. Reunion was not achieved, and many former Roosevelt supporters would not support the Republican nominee, Charles Evans Hughes. Borah campaigned for the Republican presidential candidate (something he would do only once more, for Hoover in 1928), but Wilson narrowly won reelection.[32]

World War and Versailles treaty (1917–20)[edit]

[President Wilson] is in favor of a League of Nations. If the Savior of mankind would revisit the earth and declare for a league ... I would be opposed to it. That is my position and it is not a question of personality. It is a question of policy for my government.

William E. Borah to the Senate, December 1918 [33]

After Germany resumed unlimited submarine warfare in early 1917, many considered U.S. entry into the war inevitable, though Borah expressed hope it might still be avoided. Nevertheless, he supported Wilson on legislation to arm merchant ships, and voted in favor when the president requested a declaration of war in April 1917. He made it clear that in his view, the U.S. was going in to defend its own rights and had no common interest with the Allies beyond the defeat of the Central Powers. He repeated this often through the war: the United States sought no territory, and had no interest in French and British desires for territory and colonies.[34] Borah, though a strong war supporter, was possibly the most prominent wartime advocate of progressive views, opposing the draft and the Espionage Act of 1917, and pressing Wilson for statements of limited war aims.[35] Borah's term was to expire in 1919; never a wealthy person and hard-hit by the high cost of living in wartime Washington, he considered leaving the Senate and practicing law in a major New York firm. However, he felt needed in the Senate and in Idaho, as both of the state's seats would be up for election in November 1918 due to the death of Borah's junior colleague, James H. Brady. Even President Wilson urged Borah's re-election in a letter to former senator Dubois. Borah received two-thirds of the vote in his bid for a third term, while former governor Gooding narrowly won Brady's seat, with Idaho's two seats giving the Republicans a 49–47 majority in the Senate.[36]

That the war would not last long beyond the election was clear in the final days of the 1918 congressional midterm election campaign, which was fought in part to decide which party would control the postwar peace process. Wilson hoped for a treaty based on the Fourteen Points and had urged formation of a postwar organization to assure peace. Borah, well aware the U.S. would play a large role at the peace table, saw such an organization as a trap that would inevitably involve the U.S. whenever conflict developed in Europe. He decided to oppose Wilson's plan despite his personal admiration for the president.[37] Like many Westerners, Borah held agrarian ideals, and linked them with a policy of isolationism and avoiding foreign entanglements he believed had served the nation well.[38] Borah took pains, throughout the battle, to stress that he had opposed the principle of a league before it became a partisan issue; according to McKenna, in Borah's League fight, "of partisanship, jealousy, or personal hostility there is no trace".[39]

Borah (seated at left), Lodge, and California's Hiram Johnson refuse to yield their seats to Peace.

Republicans felt Wilson was making a political issue of the peace, especially when the president urged a Democratic Congress prior to the 1918 election, and attended the Paris Peace Conference in person, taking no Republicans on his delegation. Wilson had felt his statement was the only chance of getting a Senate that might ratify a treaty for a League of Nations, and deemed conciliation pointless. Republican senatorial opinion ranged from the Irreconcilables like Borah, who would not support any organization, to those who strongly favored a league, but none wanted Wilson to go into the 1920 presidential election[c] with credit for having sorted out Europe. Once the general terms of the Treaty of Versailles, which included the Charter of the League of Nations, were presented by Wilson in February 1919, Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts, the incoming Senate Majority Leader, decided on a strategy: rather than outright opposition, offer reservations to the treaty that Wilson would not accept.[40]

A week after Wilson presented the treaty, Borah declined an invitation to the White House extended to him and other Senate and House members on the foreign relations committees, alleging there was no chance of common ground, though he wrote to Wilson's private secretary that no insult was intended. In the following months, Borah was a leader of the Irreconcilables. An especial target was Article X of the charter, obligating all members to defend each other's independence. The Irreconcilables argued that this would commit the U.S. to war without its consent; Borah stated that the U.S. might be forced to send thousands of men if there was war in Armenia. Other provisions were examined; Borah proposed that the U.S. representatives in Paris be asked to press the issue of Irish independence, but the Senate took no action.[41] Borah found the provisions of the treaty regarding Germany to be shocking in their vindictiveness, and feared they might snuff out the new Wiemar republic at birth.[42]

The small Republican majority in the Senate made Irreconcilable votes necessary to Lodge's strategy, and he met with Borah in April 1919, persuading him to go along with the plan of delay and reservations as the most likely of success, allowing the initial support for Wilson's proposal in the country to diminish. Neither senator liked or trusted the other much, but they formed a wary pact to defeat the treaty.[43] Lodge was also chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and he delayed the treaty by convening a lengthy series of hearings, presiding over a committee packed with Irreconcilables, including Borah.[44] As these hearings continued in the summer of 1919, Wilson undertook a speaking tour by train to get the public to press the Senate for ratification, a tour that ended in his collapse. In the months that followed, an invalid Wilson refused any compromise.[45]

Borah helped write the majority report for the committee, recommending 45 amendments and 4 reservations. In November 1919, the Senate defeated both versions of the Treaty of Versailles, with and without what were called the Lodge reservations. Borah, delighted, proclaimed the day the greatest since the end of the Civil War.[44] The following January, the Senate considered the treaty again and Lodge planned to convene a bipartisan group of senators to find a compromise. Borah, threatening party schism, met with Lodge behind closed doors, and Lodge withdrew his plan. The Senate voted once more, in March 1920, on the treaty with a version of the Lodge reservations, and it failed again. According to Robert James Maddox in his book on Borah's influence on American foreign policy, the Irreconcilables "dictated to the majority leader as though they were the majority. Borah as much as any man deserves the credit—or the blame—for the League's defeat".[46]

Harding and Coolidge years[edit]

Borah was determined to see that the Republican presidential candidate in 1920 was not pro-League. He supported his fellow Irreconcilable, California Senator Hiram Johnson, who had been Roosevelt's running mate in 1912. Borah alleged bribery on the part of the leading candidate for the Republican nomination, General Leonard Wood, and was snubbed when he demanded to know the League views of Wood's main rival, Illinois Governor Frank Lowden. When the 1920 Republican National Convention met in Chicago in June, delegates faced a deadlock both as to who should head the ticket, and as to the contents of the League plank of the party platform. The League fight was decided, with Borah's endorsement, by using language proposed by former Secretary of State Elihu Root supporting a league, rather than the League. The presidential stalemate was harder to resolve. A hater both of political intrigue and of tobacco, Borah played no part in the smoke-filled room discussions as the Republicans attempted to resolve the deadlock. He was initially unenthusiastic about the eventual nominee, Ohio Senator Warren G. Harding, his colleague on the Foreign Relations Committee, as he was disappointed at the failure of Johnson's candidacy and disliked Harding's vague stance on the League. Borah eventually strongly endorsed Harding and his running mate, Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge, who were victorious. Borah later stated he would have left the Senate had Harding lost.[47]

Borah proved as idiosyncratic in his views as ever with Harding as president. The original idea for the Washington Naval Conference of 1921–22 was a resolution he introduced in December 1920. After the new Secretary of State, Charles Hughes, took the idea, Borah became an opponent, convinced the conference would lead the United States into the League of Nations through the back door.[3] In 1921, when Harding nominated former president Taft as chief justice, Borah was one of four senators to oppose confirmation.[48] In 1922 and 1923, Borah spoke against passage of the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill, which had passed the House. A strong supporter of state sovereignty, he believed that punishing state officials for failure to prevent lynchings was unconstitutional, and that if the states could not prevent such murders, federal legislation would do no good. The bill was defeated by filibuster in the Senate by Southern Democrats. When another bill was introduced in 1935 and 1938, Borah continued to speak against it, by that time saying that it was no longer needed, as the number of lynchings had dropped sharply.[49]

Harding's death in August 1923 brought Calvin Coolidge to the White House. Borah had been dismayed by Harding's conservative views, and believed Coolidge had shown liberal tendencies while governor. He met with Coolidge multiple times in late 1923, and found the new president interested in his ideas on policies foreign and domestic. Borah was encouraged when Coolidge included in his annual message to Congress a suggestion that he might open talks with the Soviet Union on trade—the Bolshevik government had not been recognized since the 1917 October Revolution and Borah had long urged relations. Under pressure from the Old Guard, Coolidge quickly walked back his proposal, depressing Borah, who concluded the president had deceived him. In early 1924, the Teapot Dome scandal broke, and although Coolidge had no involvement in the affair, some of the implicated cabinet officers, including Attorney General Harry Daugherty, remained, backed by the Old Guard. Coolidge sought the support of Borah, whose price was Daugherty's firing. The president stalled Borah, and when Daugherty eventually resigned under pressure, it was due more to events than Borah. When the president was nominated for election in his own right at the 1924 Republican National Convention, he offered the vice presidential nomination to Borah.[50] By one account, when Coolidge asked Borah to join the ticket, the senator asked which position on it he was to occupy. The prospect of Borah as vice president appalled Coolidge's cabinet officials and other Republican officials, and they were relieved when he refused. Borah spent less than a thousand dollars on his re-election campaign that fall, and gained a fourth term with just under 80 percent of the vote. Coolidge and his vice-presidential choice, Charles G. Dawes easily won,[51][52] though Borah did no campaigning for the Coolidge/Dawes ticket, alleging his re-election bid required his full attention.[53]

Senator Lodge died in November 1924, making Borah senior on the Foreign Relations Committee, and he took its chairmanship. He could have become Judiciary Committee chairman, as Connecticut's Frank Brandegee death before Congress reconvened in December made Borah senior Republican on that committee as well.[54] The Foreign Relations chairmanship greatly increased his influence, one quip was that the new Secretary of State, Frank B. Kellogg, created policy by ringing Borah's doorbell.[3] Borah continued to oppose American interventions in Latin America, often splitting from the Republican majority over the matter.[55] Borah was an avid horseback rider, and Coolidge is supposed to have commented, "It's hard to imagine Senator Borah going in the same direction as his horse."[2]

Borah was involved through the 1920s in efforts for the outlawry of war. Chicago lawyer Salmon Levinson, who had formulated the plan, labored long to get the mercurial Borah on board as its spokesman. Maddox suggested that Borah was most enthusiastic about this plan when he needed it as a constructive alternative to defeat actions such as entry into the World Court, that he deemed entangling the U.S. abroad.[3][56] By the time of the 1924 election, Levinson was frustrated with Borah, but Coolidge's statement after the election that outlawry was one of the issues he proposed to address, briefly resurrected Borah's enthusiasm. only to have it fall away again.[57] It was not until 1927, when French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand proposed the U.S. and his nation enter into an agreement to "outlaw war" that Borah became interested again, though it took months of pestering by Levinson. In December 1927, Borah introduced a resolution calling for a multilateral version of Briand's proposal, and once the Kellogg-Briand Pact was negotiated and signed by various nations, secured ratification for that treaty by the Senate.[58]

Hoover and FDR[edit]

Borah hoped to be elected president in 1928, but his only chance was a deadlocked convention. He was reluctant to support Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover for president, backing Ohio Senator Frank Willis instead, but after Willis collapsed and died at a campaign rally in late March, began to find Hoover more to his liking. The Idahoan's support for Hoover became more solid as the campaign began to shape as a rural/urban divide. Hoover's support of Prohibition was another reason Borah supported him; the senator disliked the Democratic candidate, New York Governor Al Smith, an opponent of Prohibition, considering him a creature of Tammany Hall. Though Montana Senator Thomas J. Walsh commented on "Borah's recent conversion to Hoover", and some progressives were disheartened, Borah undertook a lengthy campaign tour, warning that he saw "the success of Tammany in national politics as nothing less than a national disaster".[59] Hoover was elected and thanked Borah for "the enormous effect" of his support. He offered to make Borah Secretary of State, though deploring the loss to the Senate, but Borah declined.[60]

Hoover (seated) with senators and cabinet officers, 1930. Borah looms directly behind his chair.

Borah was not personally harmed by the stock market crash of October 1929, having sold any stocks and invested in government bonds. Thousands of Americans had borrowed on margin, and were ruined by the crash. Congress had been working on a bill increasing tariffs and in June 1930 passed the Hawley-Smoot Tariff, steeply increasing them. Borah was one of 12 Republicans who joined Democrats in opposing the bill, which passed the Senate 44–42. Borah was up for election in 1930, and despite a minimal campaign effort, took over 70 percent of the vote in a bad year for Republicans. When he returned to Washington for the lame duck session of the Senate beginning in December, Borah pressed the passage of legislation that would help business and suggested that members of Congress turn back their salary to the Treasury. The economy continued to worsen in the winter of 1931, and Borah urged the passage of relief legislation, stating that opponents argued "that for the Government to feed this woman and her sick children would destroy her self respect and make a bad citizen of her. Does anyone believe it? It is a cowardly imputation on the helpless. I resent it and I repudiate it."[61]

When Congress reconvened in December 1931, the Republicans nominally controlled the Senate by the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Charles Curtis, but, as Hoover later wrote, there was no real majority as Borah and other progressives were against the administration.[62] Borah did agree with Hoover on one issue: after the Bonus Army marched on Washington, both men felt should be taken so long as the ex-soldiers remained in Washington; the senator considered their presence intimidating to Congress. Borah, though, was angered when they were forcibly dispersed.[63]

Borah considered challenging Hoover for renomination in 1932, but concluded the president's control over the party machinery, especially in the South, could not be overcome.[64] A major source of conflict at the 1932 Republican National Convention was Prohibition; after the party passed a vague compromise plank and renominated Hoover, Borah made a major address on June 30 gaining nationwide attention by attacking his party's platform for forty minutes. Between then and November, he rarely mentioned Hoover's name publicly, though he said late in the campaign that he would vote for the president. He made speeches discussing issues, not candidates, and did nothing to aid Hoover's doomed campaign against Franklin D. Roosevelt. Despite his disdain for Hoover, Borah differed from Roosevelt during the campaign over a number of issues, including Prohibition and farm relief.[65] When some Idahoans demanded that he support Hoover on pain of being opposed for renomination for Senate in 1936, Borah responded that he regretted if his quarter century in the Senate had left them with the impression he might be moved by such an ultimatum.[66]

The Democratic landslide that accompanied Roosevelt's election cost Borah his chairmanship of the Foreign Relations Committee, but much of his influence was independent of party. Borah liked Roosevelt for his liberalism and his energy. Due to illness, Borah took only a limited role in Roosevelt's Hundred Days, but played a key role in the passage of Glass-Steagall in June 1933, helping forge a compromise that ended the opponents' filibuster. He opposed Roosevelt's calling in of gold, alleging that the government had no power to tell individuals what to do with their money. Borah opposed the National Recovery Act and was gratified when it was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1935.[67] Borah's fifteen-year fight for the recognition of the USSR ended in 1933 when Roosevelt opened diplomatic relations.[68]

1936 Presidential campaign and final years[edit]

Borah ran for the Republican nomination for president in 1936, the first from Idaho to do so. His candidacy was opposed by the conservative Republican leadership. Borah praised Roosevelt for some of his policies, and deeply criticized his party. With only 25 Republicans left in the Senate, Borah saw an opportunity to recast the Republican Party along progressive lines, as he had long sought to do. He was opposed by the Republican organization, which sought to dilute his strength in the primaries by running state favorite son candidates. Borah managed to win only a handful of delegates and won a majority of delegates in only one state, Wisconsin, where he had the endorsement of Progressive United States Senator Robert M. La Follette, Jr. Borah refused to endorse the eventual Republican nominee, Kansas Governor Alf Landon, leading some to believe he might cross party lines and support Roosevelt's reelection. Ultimately, as he had four years earlier, he chose to support neither candidate.[69] Borah was on the ballot that fall in Idaho, seeking a sixth term in the Senate. For the first time since the people had been given the right to elect senators, the Democrats ran a serious candidate against him, Governor C. Ben Ross. Although Roosevelt captured Idaho's electoral votes in a landslide, winning those of all states but Maine and Vermont, Borah still took over 60 percent of the vote in his re-election bid.[70]

Only sixteen Republicans remained in the Senate, most progressives, when Congress met in January 1937, but Borah retained much influence as he was liked and respected by many of the Democrats.[71] Many of Roosevelt's New Deal policies, such as the NRA, were struck down by the Supreme Court during Roosevelt's first term, but he had no opportunities to make an appointment to the court in his first four years. In 1937, he proposed what came to be known as the court-packing scheme, that for every justice over the age of seventy, an additional justice could be appointed. This would give Roosevelt six appointments, but would require Congress to pass legislation, to which Borah was immediately opposed, believing it would be the death of the Supreme Court as an independent institution. Although he refused to take the lead in the bipartisan opposition, Borah wrote a section of the committee report dealing with the history and independence of the court. When the matter came to the Senate floor, Borah was asked to make the opening speech, but again deferred to the Democratic majority, and Roosevelt's plan was defeated. The court crisis had also been defused by the retirement of the Senior Associate Justice, Willis Van Devanter, a Taft appointee. When Borah was asked if he had played a role in Van Devanter's retirement, he responded, "Well, guess for yourself. We live in the same apartment house."[72]

After Hitler took control in Germany in 1933, Borah thought well of the new chancellor's repudiation of the war guilt and other clauses of the Versailles treaty, and saw much of value in his new social and economic programs. But he was utterly disgusted and alienated by the Nazi treatment of the Jews. This did not initially lead him to speak out against Nazi Germany, though many urged him to do so, as he felt that each nation had the right to run its own affairs. Borah was unwilling to back large-scale immigration by Jews from Germany, feeling that was impractical with millions of Americans unemployed. As Roosevelt came to see Germany and other totalitarian nations as a threat, Borah generally opposed his policies towards them, seeing America move to war as it had twenty years before. By 1938, Borah was speaking out against Hitler's failure to end persecutions. Nevertheless, the Senator felt the European issue could be settled if Germany's former colonies were returned. After the Munich Conference in September 1938, Borah issued a statement far more critical of Britain and France than of Germany.[73]

Borah sought to visit Germany and see Hitler, hoping to settle the troubled international situation. He approached the German Embassy in Washington through intermediaries, and the Germans approved the trip, and even offered to pay, something Borah was unwilling to accept. Borah realized that going to Germany would compromise him in foreign policy debates, and did not go; by August 1939, the U.S. was seeking to evacuate its citizens from Europe and the journey was no longer feasible.[74] in September 1939, after Germany invaded Poland, and World War II began, Borah mourned, "Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler—all this might have been averted."[75] This was said to William Kinsey Hutchinson, then International News Service's Washington Bureau Chief. Hutchinson indicated that Borah confided this "in words that ran like a prayer."[75] McKenna noted, "It was fortuitous that the march of events prevented Borah from joining those pacifists and liberals ... who trudged up the hill to Berchtesgaden to lay before the Fuehrer their plans for world peace".[76]


Still in office, Borah suffered a fall and died in his sleep at his home in Washington, D.C., on January 19, 1940 of a cerebral hemorrhage at age 74.[77][78] His state funeral at the U.S. Capitol was held in the Senate chamber on Monday, January 22.[79] A second state funeral in Idaho was held three days later at the Idaho State Capitol in Boise, where Borah's casket lay in state beneath the rotunda for six hours prior to the funeral. An estimated 23,000 passed by the bier or attended the funeral service,[80] nearly equal to Boise's population (26,130) in 1940. He is buried in Morris Hill Cemetery in Boise.[81]

The tributes to Borah on his death were many. William Gibbs McAdoo, a former Democratic senator, stated "You don't have to agree with every position taken to concede that he as an intellectual giant and one of the truly great men of our times".[82] Ernest K. Lindley deemed Borah the "most effectively liberal voice in the Republican Party".[82] Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels' paper, Der Angriff, asserted, "American life loses a personality valued by friend or foe on account of his courage, honesty, and decent method of fighting."[82] Borah's old classmate, Kansas editor William Allen White, called him "a righteous man who was wise and unafraid, who followed his star, never lowered his flag, and never lost his self-respect ... an honest man who dedicated his talents to his country's good".[82] Columnist Raymond Clapper mourned, "there are no fighters on the progressive side [of the Republican Party]—no men like T.R. ... Borah was the last".[83]

Marriage and family[edit]

Mary McConnell Borah, ca 1909

In 1895, Borah married Mary McConnell (1870–1976) of Moscow, Idaho, daughter of Governor William J. McConnell. They first met in Moscow while he was campaigning for her father.[84][85] They had no children; she died in 1976 at the age of 105,[86][87] and is buried next to him at Morris Hill Cemetery in Boise.[88] Petite and elegant, she was commonly known as "Little Borah."[89][90][91]

There were rumors in Washington that Borah was a philanderer, and he may have had an affair with his close friend Alice Roosevelt Longworth,[92] One of Longworth's biographers has alleged they had a daughter, Paulina Longworth Sturm (1925–57).[93] According to one family friend, "everybody called her 'Aurora Borah Alice.' " [94]

Sites and memorials[edit]

In 1947, the state of Idaho donated a bronze statue of Borah to the National Statuary Hall Collection, sculpted by Bryant Baker.[95] Idaho's highest point, Borah Peak, at 12,662 feet (3,859 m) was named for him in 1934,[96] while he was dean of the Senate. Two public schools are named for him: Borah High School in Boise, opened in 1958,[97] and Borah Elementary School in Coeur d'Alene.[98]

At the University of Idaho in Moscow, an annual symposium on international problems and policy is held by the Borah Foundation, which operates under the university's auspices. The symposium is intended to honor Borah's memory "by considering the causes of war and the conditions necessary for peace in an international context".[99] Also affiliated with the university is the William Edgar Borah Outlawry of War Foundation, which was funded by a donation from Borah's colleague in the outlawry movement, Salmon Levinson, in 1929.[99]

William E. Borah Apartment, Windsor Lodge, his longtime home in Washington[d] was designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1976.[100]

Appraisal and legacy[edit]

I would sooner lose in a right cause than win in a wrong cause. As long as I can distinguish between right and wrong, I shall do what I believe to be right—whatever the consequences.

William E. Borah[101]

Borah's biographer, McKenna, deemed him, "an idealist, even a romantic. He fervently defended the idea of an innocent America, an America too much devoted to the principles stated in the Declaration of Independence, Washington's Farewell Address, Jefferson's First Inaugural, and the Gettysburg Address to risk a compromise of its faith and a coarsening of its character by active entanglement with the Old World."[102] According to John Chalmers Vinson in his volume on Borah's involvement with the war outlawry movement, the senator "spoke for a large part of the the American public. He was the archetype of absolute insistence on unfettered national will that has been loosely described as isolationism. Further, he represented the struggle to preserve in full the traditions of a small republic remote from strong neighbors against the inroads of recurring crises faced by a world power."[103] According to LeRoy Ashby in his book on Borah, he "emerged as one of the major figures in American reform politics [and] reached the peak of his prestige and influence during the Twenties".[104] Maddox noted, "almost as suspicious of U.S. presidents as he was of foreign nations, Borah perceived threats everywhere."[3]

Statue of Borah in Statuary Hall in the Capitol by Bryant Baker, 1947

Yet, Borah's effectiveness as a reformer was undercut by his tendency to abandon causes after initial enthusiasm, as Maddox put it, "although he was very skilled at speaking out, his unwillingness to do more than protest eventually earned him a reputation for futility."[3] H. L. Mencken in 1925 deemed Borah "the Great Sham", and the one most responsible for stopping reform in its tracks. Harold L. Ickes wrote, most likely after the 1928 campaign, that progressives in the Senate, with no illusions left about Borah, called him "our spearless leader"[105] Theodore Roosevelt described Borah as "entirely insincere", an insurgent whose chief talent was to "insurge".[106]

Borah's political career bridged two eras of reform, but according to Ashby, "emotionally and intellectually he belonged with the older prewar [that is, pre-World War I] America. As New Deal enthusiast Edgar Kemler observed, he 'was overtaken by obsolescence at an early age'."[107] Borah wrote in 1927, near the end of a decade of tumultuous change, "I cannot think of any views which I now have that I did not have before the war."[108] In 1936, Time magazine noted that though Borah was the most famous senator of the century, and had long been "the great Moral Force of the Senate ... the conscience of the country has been placed in other pockets".[109]

McKenna saw more than Borah becoming an antique in his own time, she saw damage inflicted by his positions, "time was to demonstrate the utter bankruptcy of the narrow nationalistic policy which the irreconcilables decreed and to which the Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover administrations submitted with such disastrous results."[110] Borah's comment regretting that he could not have talked to Hitler has been repeatedly cited as evidence of the alleged naivete of a belief in the power of pure diplomacy. Conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer has referred to the quote in at least three of his columns, making an analogy to negotiating with China in 1989, with North Korea in 1994 and with Iran in 2006.[111] In August 2006 Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld referred to the quote when decrying those who want to "negotiate a separate peace with terrorists."[112]

Criticism of Borah meant little to the people of Idaho, who sent him to the Senate six times over thirty years in a rapidly changing America. Claudius O. Johnson, who studied Borah, explained their relationship:

The Idaho people knew ... that he was very easy to approach, "as plain as an old shoe"; that he would listen at length to their problems, help if he could, say "No" if he must, and always show sympathetic understanding. That was his strength with the people—his simplicity, his approachability, his kindliness, his human sympathy ... In him they found release from their own verbal inhibitions; through them they felt their own strength. They were lovers of freedom, as independent as the hills and the canyons. This freedom and independence Borah proclaimed, and they understood ... He understood them, admired them, believed in them. They were his friends. In them he found inspiration and strength.[113]


  1. ^ As per the trial transcript, held by the Idaho Historical Society. Borah later published his address as a pamphlet, taking the opportunity to polish and expand the prose, and biographers have often relied on the later version. See Grover, pp. 70–72.
  2. ^ After Darrow gained a second acquittal, for George Pettibone, the charges against the third defendant, Charles Moyer, were dropped. Orchard was tried and convicted; his sentence was reduced from death to life imprisonment because he had turned state's evidence; he died in prison in 1954 at age 88. Haywood was convicted of espionage for his opposition to World War I by federal Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, jumping bail during the appeal and dying in 1928 in Moscow. See McKenna, p. 63.
  3. ^ Although Wilson had been elected twice, there was no constitutional barrier to a third term.
  4. ^ Borah did not maintain a home in Idaho after his election to the Senate, staying at a hotel or with friends when he returned to the state.


  1. ^ "Idaho governor sets Borah day". Spokane Daily Chronicle (Washington). Associated Press. November 23, 1957. p. 7. 
  2. ^ a b c Bates, Kirk (January 25, 1940). "The Senator who traveled alone". Milwaukee Journal. p. 22. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Maddox, Robert James (February 2000). "Borah, William Edgar". American National Biography Online. Retrieved June 26, 2016. (subscription required (help)). 
  4. ^ McKenna, pp. 5–6.
  5. ^ McKenna, pp. 7–9.
  6. ^ Braden, pp. 170–173.
  7. ^ Braden, p. 174.
  8. ^ McKenna, pp. 10–15.
  9. ^ McKenna, pp. 16–17.
  10. ^ McKenna, pp. 1–5.
  11. ^ McKenna, pp. 27–31.
  12. ^ McKenna, pp. 31–38.
  13. ^ Johnson 1943, p. 125.
  14. ^ McKenna, pp. 40–42.
  15. ^ Cook, p. 196.
  16. ^ Johnson 1943, pp. 126–137.
  17. ^ a b McKenna, p. 42.
  18. ^ Cook, pp. 193, 197–198.
  19. ^ McKenna, pp. 43–67.
  20. ^ Grover, pp. 66–67.
  21. ^ Grover, pp. 67–68.
  22. ^ Grover, pp. 71–72.
  23. ^ McKenna, pp. 67–82.
  24. ^ a b McKenna, pp. 98–100.
  25. ^ Weaver, pp. xvi–xviii, 209–210.
  26. ^ McKenna, pp. 103–112.
  27. ^ a b McKenna, pp. 118–28.
  28. ^ Hutchinson, p. 26.
  29. ^ Johnson 1953, pp. 16–17.
  30. ^ a b McKenna, pp. 131–33.
  31. ^ Johnson 1953, pp. 4–9.
  32. ^ Johnson 1953, pp. 10–21.
  33. ^ Nichols, pp. 249–50.
  34. ^ Maddox 1969, pp. 10–21.
  35. ^ McKenna, p. 143.
  36. ^ McKenna, pp. 146–48.
  37. ^ Maddox 1969, pp. 50–54.
  38. ^ Nichols, p. 230.
  39. ^ McKenna, pp. 164–65.
  40. ^ Maddox 1969, pp. 53–57.
  41. ^ Nichols, pp. 254–56.
  42. ^ Maddox 1969, p. 62.
  43. ^ Maddox 1969, pp. 58–59.
  44. ^ a b Maddox 1969, pp. 63–68.
  45. ^ McKenna, pp. 162–63.
  46. ^ Maddox 1969, pp. 69–72.
  47. ^ McKenna, pp. 168–171.
  48. ^ Gould, Lewis L. (2014). Chief Executive to Chief Justice:Taft Betwixt the White House and Supreme Court. Lawrence KS: University Press of Kansas. pp. 170–71. ISBN 978-0-7006-2001-2. 
  49. ^ "Proceedings of the U.S. Senate on June 13, 2005 regarding the "Senate Apology" as Reported in the 'Congressional Record'", Part 3, Mr. Craig". African American Studies, University of Buffalo. Retrieved July 26, 2011. 
  50. ^ Maddox 1967, pp. 772–79.
  51. ^ Johnson 1953, pp. 19–20.
  52. ^ McKenna, pp. 209–11.
  53. ^ Maddox 1969, pp. 164–65.
  54. ^ McKenna, p. 217.
  55. ^ Nichols, pp. 285–87.
  56. ^ Vinson, pp. 59–61.
  57. ^ Maddox 1969, pp. 165–66.
  58. ^ Maddox 1969, pp. 172–82.
  59. ^ Ashby, pp. 260–276.
  60. ^ Ashby, pp. 280–81.
  61. ^ McKenna, pp. 262–268.
  62. ^ McKenna, p. 271.
  63. ^ McKenna, p. 274.
  64. ^ McKenna, p. 276.
  65. ^ McKenna, pp. 280–81.
  66. ^ Hutchinson, p. 57.
  67. ^ McKenna, pp. 281, 310–316.
  68. ^ Maddox 1969, p. 213.
  69. ^ A Lion Among The Liberals, by Kevin C. Murphy. Retrieved June 29, 2016.
  70. ^ Johnson 1953, p. 21.
  71. ^ McKenna, p. 342.
  72. ^ Hutchinson, pp. 12–17.
  73. ^ McKenna, pp. 354–56.
  74. ^ McKenna, pp. 356–59.
  75. ^ a b Hutchinson, p. 37.
  76. ^ McKenna, p. 360.
  77. ^ "Senator Borah dies; state funeral Monday". Toledo Blade (Ohio). Associated Press. January 20, 1940. p. 1. 
  78. ^ Wilson, Lyle C. (January 20, 1940). "Borah is mourned by nation". Berkeley Daily Gazette (California). United Press. p. 1. 
  79. ^ "Leaders grieve at state rites for Sen. Borah". Lewiston Morning Tribune (Idaho). Associated Press. January 23, 1940. p. 1. 
  80. ^ Bottcher, Walter R. (January 26, 1940). "Senator Borah rests in mountain's shadow". Lewiston Morning Tribune (Idaho). Associated Press. p. 1. 
  81. ^ Cemetery Walking Tour: William E. Borah, published by City of Boise. Retrieved May 15, 2008.
  82. ^ a b c d McKenna, p. 373.
  83. ^ Ashby, p. 294.
  84. ^ Ulrich, Roberta (October 14, 1970). "Widow of Sen. Borah nearing 100th birthday anniversary". Ludington Daily News (Michigan). UPI. p. 9. 
  85. ^ Taylor, Dabney (October 14, 1970). "Mrs. Borah recalls 100". Spokane Daily Chronicle (Washington). Associated Press. p. 1. 
  86. ^ "Mrs. Borah dies". Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. January 16, 1976. p. 7. 
  87. ^ "Illness claims Mary Borah, 105". Lewiston Morning Tribune (Idaho). Associated Press. January 16, 1976. p. 2A. 
  88. ^ "Mary Mamie McConnell Borah". Find a Grave.com. Retrieved October 24, 2012. 
  89. ^ Sumner, Allene (May 30, 1928). ""Little Borah" is popular confidant of many ex-serviceman". San Jose News (California). p. 12. 
  90. ^ "Death takes Borah, noted Idaho Senator". Milwaukee Journal. January 20, 1940. p. 1. 
  91. ^ "Mary Borah retains wit at 100 mark". Toledo Blade (Ohio). Associated Press. October 14, 1970. p. 30. 
  92. ^ Carter, Jack (April 8, 1988). "Did Sen. Borah father Alice Longworth's child?". Idahonian (Moscow). p. 1C. 
  93. ^ Cordery, Stacy A. Alice: Alice Roosevelt Longworth, From White House Princess to Washington Power Broker. New York: Penguin Group, Viking Adult (2007). ISBN 0-670-01833-3 ISBN 978-0-670-01833-8, pp. 304–05
  94. ^ Brands, H.W. (2008). Traitor to his Class. New York, NY: Doubleday. p. 91. ISBN 978-0-385-51958-8. 
  95. ^ "Statue of Borah unveiled today". Spokane Daily Chronicle (Washington). Associated Press. June 6, 1947. p. 1. 
  96. ^ "Named for Solon: Idaho's Highest Mountain be Called "Borah Peak"". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Associated Press. February 12, 1934. p. 1. 
  97. ^ "History of Borah". Borah High School. Retrieved July 5, 2016. 
  98. ^ "Borah Elementary School". Coeur d'Alene School District. Retrieved September 27, 2015. 
  99. ^ a b "The Borah Foundation & Symposium". University of Idaho. Retrieved July 5, 2016. 
  100. ^ Cathy A. Alexander; Ralph Christian & George R. Adams (January 1976), National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: William Edgar Borah Apartment, Number 21, Windsor Lodge / William Edgar Borah Apartment, Number 21, Chancellery Cooperative (PDF), National Park Service, retrieved June 22, 2009  and Accompanying three photos, exterior, from 1975 and 1978 PDF (1.56 MB)
  101. ^ Hutchinson, p. 55.
  102. ^ McKenna, p. 376.
  103. ^ Vinson, p. ix.
  104. ^ Ashby, p. vii.
  105. ^ Ashby, p. 3–4.
  106. ^ Maddox 1969, p. xix.
  107. ^ Ashby, pp. 292–93.
  108. ^ Ashby, p. 293.
  109. ^ Ashby, pp. 293–294.
  110. ^ McKenna, p. 228.
  111. ^ "Why the Nazi Analogy Is on the Rise", Brendan Nyhan, Time Magazine, August 31, 2006
  112. ^ Address at the 88th Annual American Legion National Convention, Donald Rumsfeld, August 29, 2006
  113. ^ Johnson 1953, p. 22.


  • Ashby, LeRoy (1972). The Spearless Leader: Senator Borah and the Progressive Movement in the 1920s. Urbana IL: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-00220-5. 
  • Braden, Waldo W. (June 1947). "Some Illinois Influences on the Life of William E. Borah". Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 40 (2): 168–175. JSTOR 40188261. 
  • Cook, Rufus G. (October 1969). "The Political Suicide of Senator Fred T. Dubois of Idaho". The Pacific Northwest Quarterly 60 (4): 193–198. JSTOR 40488686. 
  • Grover, David H. (February 1963). "Borah and the Haywood Trial". Pacific Historical Review 32 (1): 65–77. JSTOR 4492129. 
  • Hutchinson, William K. (February 29, 1940). News Articles on the Life and Works of Honorable William E. Borah, Late a Senator from the State of Idaho. Washington DC: United States Government Printing Office. (subscription required (help)). 
  • Johnson, Claudius O. (June 1943). "When William E. Borah Was Defeated for the United States Senate". The Pacific Historical Review 12 (2): 125–138. JSTOR 3634181. 
  • Johnson, Claudius O. (January 1953). "William E. Borah: The People's Choice". The Pacific Northwest Quarterly 44 (1): 15–22. JSTOR 40486998. 
  • Maddox, Robert James (March 1967). "Keeping Cool with Coolidge". The Journal of American History 53 (4): 772–80. JSTOR 1893991. 
  • Maddox, Robert James (1969). William E. Borah and American Foreign Policy. Baton Rouge LA: Louisiana State University Press. ISBN 978-0-8071-0907-6. 
  • McKenna, Marian C. (1961). Borah. Ann Arbor MI: The University of Michigan Press. 
  • Nichols, Christopher McKnight (2011). Promise and Peril : America at the Dawn of a Global Age (eBook ed.). Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-06118-7. 
  • Vinson, John Chalmers (1957). William E. Borah and the Outlawry of War. Athens GA: The University of Georgia Press. OCLC 484484. 
  • Weaver, John D. (1997). The Senator and the Sharecropper's Son: Exoneration of the Brownsville Soldiers. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press. ISBN 978-0-89096-748-5. 
United States Senate
Preceded by
Fred Dubois
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Idaho
March 4, 1907 – January 19, 1940
Served alongside: Weldon B. Heyburn, Kirtland I. Perky, James H. Brady, John F. Nugent, Frank R. Gooding, John W. Thomas, James P. Pope, D. Worth Clark
Succeeded by
John W. Thomas
Party political offices
Preceded by
Pre-17th Amendment
Republican Party nominee, U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Idaho
1918 (won), 1924 (won), 1930 (won), 1936 (won)
Succeeded by
John W. Thomas
Political offices
Preceded by
Henry Cabot Lodge
Chair of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
Succeeded by
Key Pittman
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Reed Smoot
Dean of the United States Senate
March 4, 1933 – January 19, 1940
Succeeded by
Ellison D. Smith
South Carolina
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Gelasio Caetani
Cover of Time Magazine
May 5, 1924
Succeeded by
Homer Saint-Gaudens

External links[edit]