Hiram Johnson was born in Sacramento, Calif., on Sept. 2, 1866. After finishing high school, he worked in his father's law office for a year. He entered the University of California in 1884. He left school in 1886 to marry and once again studied law in his father's office, where he became a partner in 1888. After disagreements with his conservative father over political issues, he moved to San Francisco and opened a law office in 1902.
Johnson's swift rise in politics began in 1906, when he became a prosecuting attorney in San Francisco's graft trials and won the conviction of a party boss. A critic of corporate influence in California politics, Johnson swift rise in politics began in 1906, when he became a prosecuting attorney in San Francisco's graft trials and won the conviction of a party boss. .
As governor, Johnson organized his followers for aggressive reform. Under his leadership his adherents pushed many Progressive ideas through the legislature: a public utilities commission, a railroad commission, a conservation commission, women's suffrage, workingmen's compensation, restrictions on child labor, and direct primary elections.
In 1912 Johnson supported Theodore Roosevelt over incumbent William Howard Taft for the Republican presidential nomination. When Roosevelt bolted the party, Johnson accepted the vice-presidential nomination of Roosevelt's Progressive party. The ticket lost, but that it carried California testified to the strength of Johnson's reform organization. In 1914 Johnson ran for governor again as a Progressive. His legislative record, which included some conservative measures (notably the Alien Land Law of 1913 directed against resident Japanese in California), sufficed to reelect him without Republican endorsement. In 1916, however, he successfully sought the Republican nomination for senator and returned to leadership in that party.
As U.S. senator from 1917 until 1945, Johnson took Progressive positions on domestic issues but was an isolationist in foreign affairs and helped defeat President Woodrow Wilson's League of Nations proposal.
Joseph Medill McCormick (May 16, 1877 - Feb. 25, 1925), journalist and United States senator, was born in Chicago, Ill., the son of Robert Sanderson McCormick, diplomat, and Katharine Van Etta Medill, the daughter of the editor of the Chicago Daily Tribune, Joseph Medill. Brought up under the influence of his maternal grandfather, Medill McCormick imbibed at an early age an aggressive Americanism, though as a result of several years abroad he acquired a competent knowledge of foreign languages and learned to appreciate European points of view. After attending preparatory school at Groton, Mass., he became a student at Yale, and upon his graduation in 1900 returned to Chicago where he entered upon his career as newspaper editor and publisher. Beginning as police reporter for the Tribune at a salary of three dollars a week, he served in various capacities until by 1908 all departments of the paper were under his management. With the outbreak of revolt in the Philippines in 1901, he was sent to the seat of the disturbance as a special correspondent for the paper, and after participating in the Samar campaign he traveled about the Far East for several months.
Actively entering into politics in 1908, McCormick became an ardent follower of Theodore Roosevelt, and in the Progressive revolt of 1912, served as a member of the National Campaign Committee, having complete charge of the Western headquarters of the Progressive party and using all the resources of the Chicago Tribune. Much against his will, he was elected during the same campaign to the lower house of the Illinois state legislature and in 1914 was reëlected. At this time he led the remaining Progressive recalcitrants back into the Republican party, for in the face of threatening war in Europe he believed that party harmony should prevail. In 1916 he was elected congressman at large from Illinois and served in the Sixty-fifth Congress until 1919, when he took his seat in the Senate. He had definitely imperialistic leanings, although he rejected the extreme position of the Tribune, then under the control of his brother. Throughout his senatorial career he was a bitter opponent of the League of Nations and the Versailles Treaty.
He stood squarely in his opposition to any entangling alliance, although in 1923 as a member of the committee on foreign relations he admitted the value of a World Court.
The American statesman Philander Chase Knox (1853-1921) served as U.S. attorney general, senator, and secretary of state.
Philander Knox was born on May 6, 1853, at Brownsville, Pa. He graduated from Mount Union College in Ohio in 1872, and in 1878 he formed a successful law practice in Pittsburgh, Pa. In 1901 Knox drew up the papers transferring the Carnegie Steel Company to J. P. Morgan, thus creating America's first billion-dollar corporation, the United States Steel Company.
Knox joined President William McKinley's cabinet as attorney general in 1901, and he continued to serve under President Theodore Roosevelt after McKinley's assassination. Despite his close ties to business interests, Knox vigorously prosecuted trusts under the almost-forgotten Sherman Antitrust Law and took actions against railroads to prevent rate discrimination and rebates. His most notable victory was against the Northern Securities Company, formed by J. P. Morgan and James J. Hill to merge the competing Northern Pacific and Great Northern railroads. Knox personally argued the case before the Supreme Court, which sustained the government's position. Knox also influenced new antitrust legislation, helped draft the laws that created the Department of Commerce and Labor, and gave the Interstate Commerce Commission effective control of railroad rates.
In June 1904 Knox was appointed to the U.S. Senate from Pennsylvania and served with distinction until President William Howard Taft appointed him secretary of state in 1909. As secretary, Knox reorganized and strengthened the State Department and the Foreign Service. He encouraged American overseas investments (his policy of "dollar diplomacy") to promote the objectives of American political diplomacy, although he was not too successful.
In 1913 Knox resumed his law practice in Pittsburgh. In 1916 he was elected to the Senate, where he fought against United States participation in the League of Nations and ratification of the Treaty of Versailles. Instead, Knox favored a congressional resolution repealing the declarations of war against Germany and Austria.
George William Norris (1861-1944), U.S. congressman and senator, authored the 20th Amendment to the Constitution and sponsored numerous pieces of Progressive legislation.
George W. Norris was born on July 11, 1861, in Sandusky County, Ohio. He attended Northern Indiana Normal School (now Valparaiso University), where he received his bachelor of arts and law degrees. Returning to the family farm in 1883, he clerked in a local law office and taught school. He settled in Nebraska and in 1899 opened a law office in McCook, which remained his home until his death.
In 1892 Norris was elected Furnas County prosecutor and 3 years later, district judge. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1902, where he aligned himself with the Progressive wing of the Republican party. His most noteworthy achievement was his leadership of the 1910 rules fight which clipped the autocratic powers of the reactionary Speaker, Joseph G. Cannon.
In 1913 Norris was elected to the Senate. He voted against most of the Woodrow Wilson administration's domestic legislative program on the grounds that it was not sufficiently Progressive, and he bitterly opposed Wilson's foreign policy, even voting against the declaration of war against Germany. He was against American membership in the League of Nations and later opposed United States adherence to the World Court.
United States senator William Edgar Borah (1865-1940) was influential in developing American foreign policy, particularly by his isolationist attitudes in the 1930s and his opposition to aid to France and Great Britain as World War II approached.
William E. Borah was born to William Nathan and Eliza West Borah on June 29, 1865, on a farm near Fairfield, III. The family had settled originally in Pennsylvania about 1750 and moved west at the turn of the 19th century.
Young William had little liking for farm life. He resisted a career in the ministry and, while still a schoolboy, ran away with a traveling troupe of actors. Then an older sister invited him to join her and her husband in Lyon, Kans., where William continued his education, entering the University of Kansas in 1885. Forced by illness to leave college after his freshman year, he read law at home and passed the Kansas bar examination in 1887. Hard times, however, forced him to leave Kansas, and he settled in Boise, Idaho. Borah prospered and became prominent in Republican party circles. In 1895 he married Mary O'Connell, daughter of the governor of Idaho. Although Borah bolted the party to campaign for William Jennings Bryan in 1896, he rejoined it permanently in 1902. An unsuccessful candidate of the Progressive wing of the Republican party for U.S. senator in 1903, in 1907 he was elected to the Senate--where he served until his death. The senator was a political independent in his views. Although he was a corporation lawyer and champion of Idaho lumber interests, he also supported the working man. He led the Senate fight in support of President Wilson's income tax bill but opposed Wilson's trust-regulation policy. A nationalist and an imperialist before 1914, he led the most vocal opponents of Wilsonian internationalism after World War I.
Borah never traveled outside the United States, yet his significance in American history lies in his influence on foreign affairs. Borah opposed American membership in the League of Nations because he feared agreements committing the United States to the use of force at a time not of its own choosing. As a leader of the Senate "irreconcilables," he mapped the strategy in the Senate that defeated the Treaty of Versailles. In the Washington Disarmament Conference (1922), Borah supported the Washington Treaty system to limit naval armaments and maintain the status quo in the Pacific, but he was among those senators who insisted upon a reservation disassociating the United States from the use of military power to enforce it. As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee after 1924, he enlarged the Kellogg-Briand Pact (outlawing war) to include all the nations of the world, but he later refused to sanction the use of American arms to uphold the treaty.