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Theodore Fulton "Ted" STEVENS (1923- )

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Theodore Fulton "Ted" STEVENS

Name: Theodore Fulton "Ted" STEVENS
Sex: Male
Father: George A. STEVENS (1899-1957)
Mother: Gertrude S. CHANCELLOR (1899- )

Individual Events and Attributes

Birth 18 Nov 1923 Indianapolis, Marion Co., Indiana, USA

Individual Note

Early life and career

 

[edit] Childhood and youth

Stevens was born November 18, 1923, in Indianapolis, Indiana, the third of four children,[2][3] in a small cottage built by his paternal grandfather after the marriage of his father, George A. Stevens, to Gertrude S. Chancellor. The family later lived in Chicago, where George Stevens was an accountant before the stock market crash of 1929 instigated the Great Depression, ending his job.[3][4] Around this time, when Ted Stevens was six years old, his parents divorced, and Stevens and his three siblings went back to Indianapolis to live with their paternal grandparents, followed shortly thereafter by their father, who developed problems with his eyes and went blind for several years. Stevens' mother moved to California and sent for Stevens' siblings as she could afford to, but Stevens stayed in Indianapolis helping to care for his father and a mentally retarded cousin, Patricia Acker, who also lived with the family. The only adult in the household with a job was Stevens' grandfather. Stevens helped to support the family by working as a newsboy, and would later remember selling a lot of newspapers on March 1, 1932, when newspaper headlines blared the news of the Lindbergh kidnapping.[3]

 

In 1934, Stevens' grandfather punctured a lung in a fall down a tall flight of stairs, contracted pneumonia, and died.[3] By the time Stevens was fifteen, in 1938, his father had died of cancer.[4] Stevens and his cousin Patricia moved to Manhattan Beach, California to live with Patricia's mother, Gladys Swindells.[3] Stevens attended Redondo Union High School, participating in extracurricular activities including working on the school newspaper and becoming a member of a student theater group, a service society affiliated with the YMCA, and, during his senior year, the lettermen's society. Stevens also worked at jobs before and after school,[4] but also had time for surfing with his friend Russell Green, son of the president of Signal Gas and Oil Company, who remained a close friend through Stevens' life.[3]

 

 

[edit] Military service

After graduating from high school in 1942, Stevens enrolled at Oregon State University to study engineering,[5] attending for a semester.[3] With World War II in progress, Stevens attempted to join the Navy Air Corps, but failed the vision exam. He corrected his vision through a course of prescribed eye exercises, and in 1943 was accepted for a Army Air Corps Air Cadet program at Montana State College.[3][5] After scoring near the top of an aptitude test for flight training, Stevens was transferred to preflight training in Santa Ana, California and received his wings in early 1944. He went on to Bergstrom Field in Texas, where he trained to fly P-38s, but due to an incident during graduation, in which a graduate booed at the colonel who delivered the graduation address, Stevens never flew a fighter in combat. Instead, Stevens later recalled, "Suddenly we were copilots in a troop carrier squad."[3]

 

Stevens served in the China-Burma-India theater with the Fourteenth Air Force Transport Section, which supported the "Flying Tigers," from 1944 to 1946. He and other pilots in the transport section flew C-46 and C-47 transport planes, often without escort, mostly in support of Chinese units fighting the Japanese.[3] Stevens received the Distinguished Flying Cross for flying behind enemy lines, the Air Medal, and the Yuan Hai medal awarded by the Chinese Nationalist government.[3][6] He was discharged from the Army Air Forces in March 1946.[3]

 

 

[edit] Higher education and law school

After the war, Stevens attended UCLA, where he earned a bachelor's degree in political science in 1947. He applied to law school at Stanford University and the University of Michigan, but on the advice of his friend Russell Green's father to "look East," he applied also to Harvard Law School, and ended up attending there. Stevens' education was partly financed by the G.I. Bill; he made up the difference by borrowing money from an uncle, selling his blood, and working several jobs, including one as a bartender in Boston.[3] During the summer of 1949, Stevens was a research assistant in the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California.[7][8]

 

While at Harvard, Stevens wrote a paper on maritime law which received honorable mention for the Addison Brown prize, a Harvard Law School award made for the best essay by a student on a subject related to private international law or maritime law.[7] The essay later became a Harvard Law Review article[9] whose scholarship Justice Jay Rabinowitz of the Alaska Supreme Court praised 45 years later, telling the Anchorage Daily News in 1994 that the high court had issued a recent opinion citing the article.[3] Stevens graduated from Harvard Law School in 1950.[3]

 

 

[edit] Early legal career

After graduation, Stevens went to work in the Washington, D.C. law offices of Northcutt Ely.[7][10] Twenty years previously Ely had been executive assistant to Secretary of the Interior Ray Lyman Wilbur during the Hoover administration,[11] and by 1950 headed a prominent law firm specializing in natural resources issues.[10] One of Ely's clients, Emil Usibelli, founder of the Usibelli Coal Mine in Healy, Alaska,[12] was trying to sell coal to the military, and Stevens was assigned to handle his legal affairs.[10]

 

 

[edit] Marriage and family

In early 1952 Stevens married Ann Mary Chennington. Ann, a Democrat, was the adopted daughter of University of Denver chancellor Ben Mark Cherrington. She had graduated from Reed College in Portland, Oregon and during the Truman administration had worked for the State Department.[10]

 

In December 1978, Stevens survived the crash of a Lear Jet at Anchorage International Airport. The crash killed five people, including his first wife, Ann.[13] In 2000, the Alaska Legislature voted to rename the airport the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

 

Stevens' son, Ben Stevens, was appointed to the Alaska Senate in 2001 by Democratic Governor Tony Knowles, and was the Senate President until the fall of 2006.

 

Aside from Ben, Stevens and his first wife Ann had two daughters, Susan and Beth, and two sons, Walter and Ted. He and his second wife Catherine have a daughter, Lily.

 

Stevens' current home in Alaska is in Girdwood.

 

 

[edit] Early Alaska career

In 1952, while still working for Norcutt Ely, Stevens volunteered for the presidential campaign of Dwight D. Eisenhower, writing position papers for the campaign on western water law and lands. By the time Eisenhower won the election that November, Stevens had acquired contacts who told him, "We want you to come over to Interior." Stevens left his job with Ely, but a job in the Eisenhower administration didn't come through[10] as a result of a temporary hiring freeze instituted by Eisenhower in an effort to reduce spending.[8]

 

Instead, Stevens was offered a job with the Fairbanks, Alaska law firm of Emil Usibelli's Alaska attorney, Charles Clasby, whose firm, Collins and Clasby, had just lost one of its attorneys.[10][8] Stevens and his wife had met and liked both Usibelli and Clasby, and decided to make the move.[10] They loaded up their 1947 Buick[14] and, traveling on a $600 loan from Clasby, they drove across country from Washington, D.C. and up the Alaska Highway in the dead of winter, arriving in Fairbanks in February 1953. Stevens later recalled kidding Gov. Walter Hickel about the loan. "He likes to say that he came to Alaska with 37 cents in his pocket," he said of Hickel. "I came $600 in debt."[10] Ann Stevens recalled in 1968 that they made the move to Alaska "on a six-month trial basis."[14]

 

In Fairbanks, Stevens cultivated the city's Republican establishment. He befriended conservative newspaper publisher C.W. Snedden, who had purchased the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in 1950. Snedden's wife Helen later recalled that her husband and Stevens were "like father and son." "The only problem Ted had was that he had a temper," she told the a reporter in 1994, crediting her husband with helping to steady Stevens "like you would do with your children" and with teaching Stevens the art of diplomacy.[10]

 

 

[edit] U.S. Attorney

Stevens had been with Charles Clasby's law firm for six months when Bob McNealy, a Democrat appointed as U.S. Attorney for Fairbanks during the Truman administration,[10] informed U.S. District Judge Harry Pratt that he would be resigning effective August 15, 1953,[15] having already delayed his resignation by several months at the request of Justice Department officials newly appointed by Eisenhower, who asked McNealy to delay his resignation until Eisenhower could appoint a replacement.[14] Despite Stevens' short tenure as an Alaska resident and his relative lack of trial or criminal law experience, Pratt asked Stevens to serve in the position until Eisenhower acted.[15] Stevens agreed. "I said, 'Sure, I'd like to do that,' " Stevens recalled years later. "Clasby said, 'It's not going to pay you as much money, but, if you want to do it, that's your business.' He was very pissed that I decided to go."[10] Most members of the Fairbanks Bar Association were outraged at the appointment of a newcomer, and members in attendance at the association's meeting that December voted to support Carl Messenger for the permanent appointment, an endorsement seconded by the Alaska Republican Part Committee for the Fairbanks-area judicial division.[15] However, Stevens was favored by Attorney General Herbert Brownell, by Senator William F. Knowland of California, and by the Republican National Committee,[15] (Alaska itself had no Senators at this time, as it was still a territory). Eisenhower sent Stevens' nomination to the U.S. Senate,[16] which confirmed him on March 30, 1954.[10]

 

Stevens soon gained a reputation as an active prosecutor who vigorously prosecuted violations of federal and territorial liquor, drug, and prostitution laws,[10] characterized by Fairbanks area homesteader Niilo Koponen (who later served in the Alaska State House of Representatives from 1982-1991) as "this rough tough shorty of a district attorney who was going to crush crime."[16] Stevens sometimes accompanied U.S. Marshals on raids. As recounted years later by Justice Jay Rabinowitz, "U.S. marshals went in with Tommy guns and Ted led the charge, smoking a stogie and with six guns on his hips."[10] However, Stevens himself has said the colorful stories spread about him as a pistol-packing D.A. were greatly exaggerated, and recalled only one incident when he carried a gun: on a vice raid to the town of Big Delta about 75 miles (121 km) southwest of Fairbanks, he carried a holstered gun on a marshal's suggestion.[10]

 

Stevens also became known for his explosive temper, which was focused particularly on a criminal defense lawyer named Warren A. Taylor[10] who would later go on to become the Alaska Legislature's first Speaker of the House in the First Alaska State Legislature.[17] "Ted would get red in the face, blow up and stalk out of the courtroom," a former court clerk later recalled of Stevens' relationship with Taylor.[10]

 

In 1956, in a trial which received national headlines, Stevens prosecuted Jack Marler, a former Internal Revenue Service agent accused of failing to file tax returns. Marler's first trial, which was handled by a different prosecutor, had ended in a deadlocked jury and a mistrial. For the second trial, Stevens was up against Edgar Paul Boyko, a flamboyant Anchorage attorney who built his defense of Marler on the theory of no taxation without representation, citing the Territory of Alaska's lack of representation in the U.S. Congress. As recalled by Boyko, his closing argument to the jury was a rabble-rousing appeal for the jury to "strike a blow for Alaskan freedom," claiming that "this case was the jury's chance to move Alaska toward statehood." Boyko remembered that "Ted had done a hell of a job in the case," but Boyko's tactics paid off, and Marler was acquitted on April 3, 1956. Following the acquittal, Stevens issued a statement saying, "I don't believe the jury's verdict is an expression of resistance to taxes or law enforcement or the start of a Boston Tea Party. I do believe, however, that the decision will be a blow to the hopes for Alaska statehood."[10]

 

 

[edit] Department of the Interior

 

[edit] Alaska statehood

In March 1956, Stevens' friend Elmer Bennett, legislative counsel in the Department of the Interior, was promoted by Secretary of the Interior Douglas McKay to the Secretary's office. Bennett successfully lobbied McKay to replace him in his old job with Stevens, and Stevens returned to Washington, D.C. to take up the position.[18] By the time he arrived in June 1956, McKay had resigned in order to run for the U.S. Senate from his home state of Oregon[18] and Fred Andrew Seaton had been appointed to replace him.[18][19] Seaton, a newspaper publisher from Nebraska,[18] was a close friend of Fairbanks Daily News-Miner publisher C.W. Snedden, and in common with Snedden was an advocate of Alaska statehood,[19] unlike McKay, who had been lukewarm in his support.[18] Seaton asked Snedden if he knew any Alaskan who could come to Washington, D.C. to work for Alaska statehood; Snedden replied that the man he needed — Stevens — was already there working in the Department of the Interior.[19] The fight for Alaska statehood became Stevens' principal work at Interior. "He did all the work on statehood," Roger Ernst, Seaton's assistant secretary for public land management, later said of Stevens. "He wrote 90 percent of all the speeches. Statehood was his main project."[19] A sign on Stevens' door proclaimed his office "Alaskan Headquarters" and Stevens became known at the Department of the Interior as "Mr. Alaska."[18]

 

Efforts to make Alaska a state had been going on since 1943, and had nearly come to fruition during the Truman administration in 1950 when a statehood bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives, only to die in the Senate.[19] The national Republican Party opposed statehood for Alaska, in part out of fear that Alaska would elect Democrats to Congress.[19] At the time Stevens arrived in the Washington, D.C. to take up his new job, a constitutional convention to write an Alaska constitution had just been concluded on the campus of the University of Alaska in Fairbanks.[20] The 55 delegates also elected three unofficial representatives, all Democrats, as unofficial delegates to Congress: Ernest Gruening and William Egan as U.S. "senators" and Ralph Rivers as U.S. "representative."[19]

 

President Eisenhower, a Republican, regarded Alaska as too large and sparsely populated to be economically self-sufficient as a state, and furthermore saw statehood as an obstacle to effective defense of Alaska should the Soviet Union seek to invade it.[19] Eisenhower was especially worried about the sparsely populated areas of northern and western Alaska. In March 1954, he had drawn a line on a map indicating his opinion of the portions of Alaska which he felt ought to remain in federal hands even if Alaska were granted statehood.[19]

 

Seaton and Stevens worked with Gen. Nathan Twining, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who had served in Alaska, and Jack L. Stempler, a top Defense Department attorney, to create a compromise that would address Eisenhower's concerns. Much of their work was conducted in a hospital room at Walter Reed Army Hospital, where Seaton was being treated for back problems.[19] Their work concentrated on refining the line on the map that Eisenhower had drawn in 1954, which became known as the PYK Line after three rivers — the Porcupine, Yukon, and Kuskokwim — whose courses defined much of the line.[19] The PYK Line was the basis for Section 10 of the Alaska Statehood Act, which Stevens wrote.[19] Under Section 10, the land north and west of the PYK Line — which included the entirety of Alaska's North Slope, the Seward Peninsula, most of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, the western portions of the Alaska Peninsula, and the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands — would be part of the new state, but the President would be granted emergency powers to establish special national defense withdrawals in those areas if deemed necessary.[21] "It's still in the law but it's never been exercised," Stevens later recollected. "Now that the problem with Russia is gone, it's surplusage. But it is a special law that only applies to Alaska."[19]

 

Stevens also took part — illegally — in lobbying for the statehood bill,[19] working closely with the Alaska Statehood Committee from his office at Interior.[19] Stevens hired Margaret Atwood, daughter of Anchorage Times publisher Robert Atwood,[19] who was chairman of the Alaska Statehood Committee,[22] to work with him in the Interior Department. "We were violating the law," Stevens told a researcher in an October 1977 oral history interview for the Eisenhower Library. "[W]e were lobbying from the executive branch, and there's been a statute against that for a long time.... We more or less, I would say, masterminded the House and Senate attack from the executive branch."[19] Stevens and the younger Atwood created file cards on members of Congress based on "whether they were Rotarians or Kiwanians or Catholics or Baptists and veterans or loggers, the whole thing," Stevens said in the 1977 interview. "And we'd assigned these Alaskans to go talk to individual members of the Senate and split them down on the basis of people that had something in common with them."[19] The lobbying campaign extended to presidential press conferences. "We set Ike up quite often at press conferences by planting questions about Alaska statehood," Stevens said in the 1977 interview. "We never let a press conference go by without getting someone to try to ask him about statehood."[19] Newspapers were also a targeted, according to Stevens. "We planted editorials in weeklies and dailies and newspapers in the district of people we thought were opposed to us or states where they were opposed to us so that suddenly they were thinking twice about opposing us."[19]

 

The Alaska Statehood Act became law with Eisenhower's signature on July 7, 1958,[21] and Alaska formally was admitted to statehood on January 3, 1959, when Eisenhower signed the Alaska Statehood Proclamation.[23]

 

 

[edit] Alaska House of Representatives

After returning to Alaska, Stevens practiced law in Anchorage. He was elected to the Alaska House of Representatives in 1964, and became House majority leader in his second term.