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Frank Church Chronology

by R. Gwenn Stearn



Born July 25 in Boise, Idaho.


As junior high student writes letter to Boise City newspaper in response to foreign relations article by Senator William Borah, Church's hero. Letter appears on front page.


Wins American Legion National Oratorical Contest. Speech: "The American Way of Life."


Serves as Boise High Student Body President.
Enrolls at Stanford University.
Enlists in Army Reserves.


Called to active duty.


Serves as 2nd lieutenant in military intelligence - China-Burma-India theatre. Decorated Bronze Star.


Discharged, July.
Returns to Stanford.


Graduates Stanford - Phi Beta Kappa.
Marries Bethine Clark, daughter of Judge Chase A. Clark, former Idaho governor.
Enrolls in Harvard Law School.


Transfers to Stanford.
Cancer diagnosis and treatment.


Graduates Stanford Law School.
Works in Boise for Federal Price Control Agency, 1950-1951.


Begins law practice in Boise.


Loses bid for seat in Idaho Legislature.
Elected chairman Young Democrats of Idaho, 1952-1954.


State chairman Crusade for Freedom, 1954-1955.


Defeats former Senator Glen Taylor and four other candidates by 170 votes in the Democratic primary.
Defeats incumbent Republican Herman Welker by 14 percent in general election. Becomes fifth youngest member of U.S. Senate at age 32.


Assigned to Interior and Insular Affairs, Post Office and Civil Service committees.
Gives maiden speech backing federal construction of Hell's Canyon Dam, June 19. Passes Senate, fails House.
Delegate to the Economic Conference of the Organization of American States, Buenos Aires.
Floor manager for compromise on the jury trial amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1957; a key amendment which enables passage of first Civil Rights law since reconstruction.
Chosen 1 of 10 Outstanding Young Men by the National junior Chamber of Commerce.


Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson appointment to John L. McClellan's Rackets Committee to investigate improprieties in labor and management.
Serves on the Committee on Public Works.


LBJ appointment to Foreign Relations Committee 1959-1980. First Idaho Senator since Borah to serve.
With LBJ contributes to passage of Senate Filibuster Rule.
Co-sponsors bill for reservoir on Upper Snake River.
Senate delegate to the International Parliamentary Union at Warsaw.
Member delegate to Canadian-American Parliamentary Conferences, 1959-1960.
Proposes feasibility study for Sawtooth National Park. Seeks opinion by postal poll of Idaho citizens and receives overwhelming support for the concept.


Delivers keynote speech at Democratic National Convention.
Co-sponsor of 1960 Civil Rights Act prohibiting use of poll tax and land ownership as voting prerequisites. As a member of liberal block had offered amendment to empower Attorney General to enter private suits for school desegregation, defeated.
Five week fact-finding tour of Africa. Favors independent, not Euro- pean, approach to relations with Africa.
Named to Senate Democratic Campaign Committee.
Interior Committee representative to the International joint Commission-U.S. & Canada.
Offers first of several bills designed to protect Sawtooth Mountain area of Idaho.


Sponsors and manages floor debate of Endangered Wilderness Act. Backs Redevelopment bill.
Votes for Aid to Education.
Blames bad advice to President by CIA and Defense Department for Cuban invasion failure.


Continues as floor manager of National Wilderness Act. Defeated in House. Results in friction with mining, cattle, and lumber interests in Idaho.
Wins re-election by 2,450 votes over Jack Hawley, a Boise attorney.
First Democratic Senator in Idaho elected to serve two consecutive terms.
Fact-finding tour to the Far East.


Co-sponsors Senate resolution banning all nuclear tests that con- taminate atmosphere or oceans.
Leads fight for speedy passage of Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
Proposes phase-out of grants to economically-developed countries in Western Europe and to Japan.
Introduces resolution opposing aid to regime of Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam.


Begins voluntarily making public his personal accounts of income and assets-one of the first elected officials to do so.
Endangered Wilderness Act passes.
Becomes Chair of the Subcommittee on Indian Affairs.
Plays pivotal role in passage of 1964 Civil Rights Act to strengthen voting rights and fair employment standards.
Appoints Verda Barnes as Chief Administrative Assistant. One of the first Senators to have a woman in this post.
Votes for Gulf of Tonkin Resolution with reservations-does so for Democratic cohesion in coming presidential election.
Offers two amendments and assists floor debate for Land & Water Conservation Fund Act-will build parks and recreation facilities with monies from federal mineral and oil royalties.
Interviews in Ramparts and N.Y. Times, speaks out for neutrality in S.E. Asia, opposes expansion of war into North Vietnam, and calls U.S. intervention in 1954 after French defeat a mistake.


Speaks out against Vietnam War in February 17, Senate floor speech, "Our Overinvolvement in Africa and Asia." Urges President Johnson to seek negotiated settlement.
Becomes chairman of Subcommittee on Public Lands.
Votes for Supplemental Arms Appropriation Bill - justification to "give American boys every protection."
Calls for scaling down of U.S. war effort, free elections in South Viet- nam, and direct negotiations with National Liberation Front.
Voted Conservationist of the Year by the Idaho Wildlife Federation.


Tours Western Europe on fact-finding tour and attends 18-nation Geneva Disarmament Conference.
Writes letter to LBJ with 15 Democratic Senators urging the continued suspension of air strikes against North Vietnam.
Advocates amendment to cut $100 million from military aid to Indochina.
Supports legislation to bar aid to regimes in Latin America that came to power by unconstitutional means.
Confirmed as delegate to the U.N. 21st General Assembly.
Receives National Conservation Legislative Award from the National Wildlife Federation.


Introduces legislation to establish the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
Drafts letter of warning to North Vietnam - signed by 16 anti-war senators.
Conservatives in Idaho begin recall move; but backlash creates popular sympathy.
Serves on Special Committee on Aging, 1967-1980.
Plays important role in retaining Open Housing Amendment in Civil Rights Act.


Votes against gun control.
Resumes "Courthouse Campaign" to visit all 44 counties in Idaho.
On Interior Committee, blocks measure to divert Snake and Columbia River water from Idaho to the Southwest with 10-year ban on federal aid for such projects.
Wild and Scenic Rivers Act passes.
Votes against $17.4 million army project in Germany.
Wins re-election bid against 2nd District Rep. George Hansen by 60 percent.


Becomes chairman of the Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs.
Sponsors the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.
Supports student protests against Vietnam War.
Sponsors amendment with John Sherman Cooper (R-Ky.) to prohibit use of U.S. ground troops in Laos and Thailand; reduces defense monies for Indochina to 1968 levels.


Second Cooper-Church Amendment prohibits President Nixon from sending troops or advisors to Cambodia without consent of Con- gress. After 7-week filibuster and 6-month debate in Senate, passes 58-37, but House rejects. A watered-down version passes attached to defense appropriations bill. Cooper-Church Amendment first limitation on presidential power during a war situation.
Becomes Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Genocide Convention.


Advocates 50,000-man cut in U.S. forces of 310,000 in Europe.
Strong supporter of aid to Israel.
Opposes Foreign Aid Authorization bill.
Becomes Chairman of the Special Committee on Aging, 1971-1980.


With Clifford Case (R-N.J.) proposes amendment to appropriations bill to cut off funds for all combat operations in Indochina after December 31, subject to agreement for release of POWs. Watered- down version passes.
Church-sponsored Social Security Act takes effect providing for cost of living adjustments.
Denounces mining of Haiphong Harbor by President Nixon.
Urges scrapping SEATO alliance.
Sawtooth National Recreation Area bill passes protecting 754,000 acres.
Supports George McGovern for Democratic presidential nomination.
Sees to new 10-year extension of 1968 ban on water diversion projects from Idaho.
Helps enact measure to peg grazing fees on federal lands to beef prices.
Sponsors legislation to create the Gospel-Hump Wilderness area-passes.
Law allowing 18-year-olds to vote goes into effect - co-sponsored by Church.
Named Chairman of the Subcommittee on Multinational Corporations-investigates relationships between U.S. oil companies and Middle East producing nations, ITT plans to influence elections in Chile, and complicity between U.S. companies and other foreign countries, 1973-1976.


Becomes Chairman of Subcommittee on Water and Power Resources.
Senate approves Church amendment to Campaign Reform bill requiring financial disclosure by members of Congress and those running for election.
Secures Senate authorization of bill to replace American Falls Dam.
Second Case-Church amendment ends bombing of Cambodia.
Named Co-Chair of the Special Committee on National Emergencies and Delegated Emergency Powers-to study presidential emergency powers built up over 40-year period.
Introduces legislation to establish Hells Canyon National Recreation Area covering parts of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.
War Powers act passes over veto of President Nixon.


Leads fight in Senate to reject pay raise for Congress and top officials.
Proposes $5 billion ceiling on new foreign aid for 1975.
Criticizes Nixon pardon by President Ford.
Wins re-election by 36,000 votes over Robert L. Smith.


Becomes ranking Democrat on Interior and Insular Affairs Committee.
Sponsors Hells Canyon National Recreation Area Act - designates portions as wilderness, and sections of Snake and Rapid rivers as Wild & Scenic - passes.
Urges antitrust investigation of U.S. oil companies.
Named Chairman of Select Committee to Study Governmental Opera- tions with Respect to Intelligence Activities - investigates alleged abuse of power by CIA and FBI. Reveals CIA involvement in plots to assassinate world leaders, coup against Chile's Marxist President Salvador Allende, covert operations against radical groups as de- fined by 1. Edgar Hoover, including Martin Luther King Jr., Adlai Stevenson and justice William 0. Douglas. Committee makes 100 recommendations including curbing illegal wire taps, mail opening, break-ins, surveillance, harassment of political dissidents, assassina- tion plots against foreign leaders, and campaigns to smear Civil Rights activists. 1975-1976.
Becomes Chairman of Subcommittee on Energy Research and Water Resources, formerly Interior and Insular Affairs Subcommittee.


Announces candidacy for President of United States in Idaho City, Idaho, March 19.
Enters presidential primaries-wins Nebraska, Idaho, Oregon, and Montana. Withdraws before Democratic National Convention.
Urges appointment of special prosecutor to investigate findings of Committee on Intelligence.
Backs Humphrey-Hawkins Jobs bill.


Becomes chairman of Subcommittee on Energy Research and Develop- ment and Subcommittee on Foreign Economic Policy.
Becomes ranking Democrat on Foreign Relations Committee.
Introduces Endangered American Wilderness Act.
Amtrak passenger service to Southern Idaho resumes after a six-year hiatus because of Church's intervention.
Mission of goodwill to Cuba for President Carter.
While on Energy and Natural Resources Committee opposes Carter plan to develop plutonium as power reactor fuel.
Demands Panama Canal Treaty clarification.


Tries to kill Overseas Private Investment Corporation-federal in- surance for companies with investments in politically unstable areas.
Acts as floor leader for ratification of Panama Canal Treaty.
Casts deciding vote in Foreign Relations Committee against Carter pro posal to sell F-15 jets to Saudi Arabia.
Sponsors amendment to Panama Canal Treaty to provide for U.S. defense rights.


Takes over Chair of Foreign Relations Committee-fulfills a lifelong dream.
Conducts hearings on Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty.
Demands immediate withdrawal of Soviet combat troops from Cuba before allowing Senate vote on ratification of SALT 11.
Pushes resolution to assure U.S. will defend Taiwan.
Leads debate for ratification of Panama Canal Treaty.


Church's central Idaho Wilderness Act passes, including River of No Return Wilderness Area (2.2 million acres), and parts of the Salmon River as wild & scenic.
Assures China during spring visit that Taiwan resolution poses no threat to U.S.-China Relations.
Defeated by Congressman Steve Symms by 4,262 votes-less than 1 percent.


Leaves Senate. Practices international law with Washington, D.C., firm of Whitman and Ransom.


Writes, travels widely, and practices law.


Lectures on international affairs.
Trustee for N.Y. based Fund for Peace.
Board Member for Democrats for the '80s.
Last public appearance as keynote speaker at BSU Russian Awareness Week, October 21.


Hospitalized for pancreatic tumor, January 12.
Senator James McClure (R-Idaho) introduces legislation and President Reagan signs into law the renaming of the River of No Return Wilderness Area to the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area.

Frank Church dies at home in Bethesda, MD, at the age of 59, April 7.

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