The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Mike Mansfield

Michael Joseph Mansfield (March 16, 1903October 5, 2001) was an American politician from Montana. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1943 to 1953 and in the U.S. Senate from 1953 to 1977. During his tenure in the Senate, he served as the majority leader from 1961 to 1977; he is the longest serving majority leader in the history of the Senate.

An early supporter of Ngo Dinh Diem, Mansfield had a change of heart on the Vietnam issue after a visit in 1962. He reported to President Kennedy on December 2, 1962 that US money given to Diem's government was being squandered and that the US should avoid further involvement in Vietnam. He was thus the first American official to comment adversely on the war's progress. During the Johnson and Nixon administrations, Mansfield became a frequent and vocal critic of US involvement in the Vietnam war. He retired from the Senate in 1976, and was appointed Ambassador to Japan by Jimmy Carter, a role he retained during the Reagan administration. His wife was Maureen Manfield and the Mike and Maureen Mansfield Memorial Library at the University of Montana, Missoula is named after them, as was his request when informed of the honor. The library also contains the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center which is dedicated to Asian studies , and, like the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation, "advancing understanding and co-operation in U.S.-Asia relations." The Montana Democratic Party holds an annual Mansfield-Metcalf Dinner named partially in his honor. He retired in 1989, and died on October 5, 2001. Senator Mansfield: The Extraordinary Life of a Great American Statesman and Diplomat (ISBN 1588341666), by Don Oberdorfer, was published in 2003.

The controversial Mansfield Amendment of 1973 expressly limited appropriations for defense research (through ARPA) to projects with direct military application. Some contend that the amendment devastated American science, since ARPA was a major funding source for basic science projects at the time; the National Science Foundation never took up the slack as expected. But the resulting brain drain is also credited with boosting the development of the fledgling personal computer industry. Many young computer scientists fled from the universities to startups and private research labs like Xerox PARC.

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Last updated: 05-21-2005 01:13:48