(Picture Shown) Maureen and Senator Mansfield, Pat Nixon and President Nixon
Mike Mansfield’s long successful political career began with his election to the House of Representatives as a representative of Montana in 1942. During his tenure in the House, Mike Mansfield served alongside future presidents such as Richard Nixon, who was just starting his political career. They served together in the House from 1947 until 1951, when Richard Nixon moved to the Senate. Following the 1952 election, Mike Mansfield also moved to the Senate.
Their working relationship would continue throughout the years. Mike Mansfield served as Senate Majority Leader in the Nixon administration, and met regularly with President Nixon for private discussions at the White House. Although their politics and personalities were very different, President Nixon shared Mike Mansfield’s interest in Asia, and sent Senator Mansfield on fact-finding missions to Asia to observe nations in the midst of conflict. As Mansfield biographer Don Oberdorfer notes, “One subject on which Nixon and Mansfield agreed unconditionally was the importance of establishing relations between the United States and China.” (Don Oberdorfer, Senator Mansfield (Washington: Smithsonian, 2003)). It was with Mike Mansfield’s assistance that the U.S. was able to re-start talks with China by laying the groundwork for President Nixon’s visit to China in 1972.
Photo credit: 1999-760, Mike Mansfield Collection, K. Ross Toole Archives, Archives & Special Collections, Mansfield Library, The University of Montana.