From left: Congressman (now Senator) Max Baucus (D-Montana), Congressman John Melcher (D-Montana, served in the House 1969-1977 and the Senate 1977-1989), Senator Mike Mansfield, Senator Lee Metcalf (D-Montana, served in the Senate 1961-1978).
Photo credit: 99-1640, Mike Mansfield Collection, K. Ross Toole Archives, Archives & Special Collections, Mansfield Library, The University of Montana.
Mike Mansfield began his political career in 1942, when he was elected to the House of Representatives for the first of his five terms. In 1952, Mansfield was elected to the Senate, and he was re-elected in 1958, 1964, and 1970. His tenure as Senate majority leader from 1961 until his retirement in 1977 made him the longest serving majority leader in Senate history.
Throughout his career, Mansfield remained loyal to his constituents and the state of Montana. During his campaign in 1944, Mansfield declined to take a partisan stand on divisive issues, and would only state, “I pledge my best for the welfare of Montana and the Nation.” (Don Oberdorfer, Senator Mansfield (Washington: Smithsonian, 2003)).
Despite his travels abroad and work in Washington, Mansfield frequently returned home to Montana to visit with constituents. Mansfield estimated that over 4,500 Montanans visited him in Washington during his time in Congress, and he personally read and signed all letters to his Montana constituents.