Mansfield, Mike, 1903-2001.

Alternative names
Birth 1903-03-16
Death 2001-10-05

Biographical notes:

American politician and United States Senator.

From the description of Letter, 1958. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 145435846

From the guide to the Mike Mansfield letter, 1958, (L. Tom Perry Special Collections)

Michael Joseph Mansfield (b. March 16, 1903, N.Y.C.-d. Oct. 5, 2001, Washington, D.C.), a U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator from Montana, began his public service career at the age of 14 as a seaman in the U.S. Navy during the First World War, as a private in the U.S. Army in 1919 and 1920, and as a private first class in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1920 to 1922. He graduated from Montana State University, received a master's degree, and spent a decade as a professor of history and political science at his alma mater. Mr. Mansfield was elected as a Democrat to the U.S. Congress and served from 1943 to 1953, and was then elected to the Senate in 1952, serving from 1953 to 1977. In the Senate he was Democratic whip from 1957 to 1961 and majority leader from 1961 to 1977. Senator Mansfield also served as Ambassador to Japan for ten years and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1989.

From the description of Mansfield, Mike, 1903-2001 (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration). naId: 10582492

Michael Joseph (Mike) Mansfield was born on March 16, 1903, in New York City the first of three children of Irish immigrants Patrick and Josephine O'Brien Mansfield. Mike's mother died in 1910, the same year that his father was seriously injured on a construction job. Because Patrick had no way to care for his motherless children, they were sent to live with Patrick's Uncle Richard, a Great Falls, Montana, grocer. Mike's childhood was troubled. Shuttled between public, parochial and reform schools, Mike dropped out by grade seven. In 1917, at age 14, Mike enlisted in the United States Navy. He crossed the sea seven times before officials discovered that he lied about his age. He was summarily discharged. From 1919 to 1920 he served as a private in the Army, stationed in San Francisco. From 1920 to 1922, Mike enlisted in the United States Marine Corps where as a private first class he served in China, the Philippines and Siberia. At the conclusion of his service, Mansfield returned to Montana and worked in the Butte mines from 1922 to 1930.In 1927 Mike met Maureen Hayes, a teacher, who encouraged him to return to school. In 1932 the two married and were parents of one daughter, Anne. Mansfield first attended the Montana School of Mines in 1927 and 1928. In 1933 he graduated from Montana State University in Missoula (now the University of Montana) and worked as a graduate assistant. In 1934 he earned his Masters and became an instructor. During the summers of 1936 and 1937, Mike attended the University of California in Los Angeles. He was full professor of history and political science until 1942, specializing in Latin America and the Far East.In the early 1940's Mansfield developed an interest in politics. He was elected to the United States House of Representatives as a Democrat and served with distinction from 1943 to 1953. In 1952 Mansfield was elected to the Senate and served continuously until 1977. He believed, in retrospect, that his most significant achievements were initiating the Watergate Committee leading to Richard Nixon's resignation; extending voting rights to eighteen year olds; and creating a committee to investigate the abuses of the CIA. He was an outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War.From 1977 to 1988 Mansfield served as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Japan. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.Mike Mansfield died on October 5, 2001, in Washington, D.C. His wife, Maureen, preceded him in death in 2000. Anne Mansfield Marris and one granddaughter survive him.

From the description of Mike Mansfield Papers 1952-1976 (Montana Historical Society Library). WorldCat record id: 746059850

Michael Mansfield was born March 16, 1903 and raised in Great Falls, Montana. He was educated in Montana, with two quarters on his Ph. D at the University of California, Los Angeles. In 1917, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. In 1919 he enlisted in the U.S. Army for one year, and then served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1920 to 1922. During his military service, he traveled to and established his lifelong interest in Asia. He then returned to Butte, Montana, where he worked as a miner and mining engineer until 1930. He was admitted to Montana School of Mines in Butte by examination and studied there from 1927 to 1928. He married Maureen Hayes, a former Butte high school teacher. He then transferred to Montana State University in Missoula, where he completed his B.A. and M.A. From 1933 to 1943, he was Professor of Latin American and Far Eastern History at Montana State University.

Mansfield was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1942 and served five terms as representative of Montana's 1st District. In October 1951, he was appointed by President Truman as a delegate to the United Nations Sixth Session in Paris. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1952 and re-elected in 1958, 1964 and 1970. In 1958, President Eisenhower appointed Mansfield as United States Delegate to the 13th General Assembly of the United Nations. In November and December 1962, he undertook a foreign policy assignment to West Berlin and Southeast Asia for President Kennedy, and took a similar assignment for President Nixon in 1965. He visited the People's Republic of China with the Senate Minority Leader in 1972 on invitation from Premier Chou-En-Lai. In December 1974 and September 1976, he again visited China at the invitation of their government. Through all of this international work, he remained very close to the people and concerns of Montana, and was notorious for his close contact with citizens around the state.

Mansfield's responsibility and prestige steadily increased through his tenure in Congress. He became Assistant Majority Leader (Majority Whip) of the Senate in January 1957, and served in that capacity until 1961, when he was elected Majority Leader of the Senate. He held that position until he retired from the Senate in 1977- longer than any other Majority Leader in the history of the U.S. Senate.

President Jimmy Carter appointed Mansfield Ambassador to Japan in 1977, and he served in that position until 1988. Mansfield was a consultant to Goldman Sachs in Washington, DC. Maureen died in 2000; Mike Mansfield died in October 2001.

From the guide to the Mike Mansfield Papers, 1903-1990, (Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library Archives and Special Collections)


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  • Montana
  • United States--Foreign relations, 1977-1981
  • Artifacts
  • Material Types
  • Transportation
  • Advertising, political
  • Subscription television--History--Sources
  • Sound Recordings
  • Mines and Mineral Resources
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  • Legislators--Correspondence
  • Legislators--United States--Correspondence
  • Native Americans
  • United States--Foreign relations--1981-1989
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  • Japan--Foreign relations--United States
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  • United States--Foreign relations--Japan
  • Correspondence
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  • United States--Politics and government--20th century


  • Diplomatic and consular service, American--Japan
  • Legislators--United States
  • Ambassadors--United States


  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Southeast Asia (as recorded)
  • Montana (as recorded)