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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Gale W. McGee
United States Senator
from Wyoming
In office
January 3, 1959 – January 3, 1977
Preceded byFrank A. Barrett
Succeeded byMalcolm Wallop
9th United States Ambassador to the Organization of American States
In office
March 30, 1977 – July 1, 1981
PresidentJimmy Carter
Ronald Reagan
Preceded byWilliam S. Mailliard
Succeeded byJ. William Middendorf
Personal details
Gale William McGee

(1915-03-17)March 17, 1915
Lincoln, Nebraska, U.S.
DiedApril 9, 1992(1992-04-09) (aged 77)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Resting placeOak Hill Cemetery
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Loraine Baker McGee
(m. 1939)
EducationState Teachers College (BA)
University of Colorado (MA)
University of Chicago (PhD)

Gale William McGee (March 17, 1915 – April 9, 1992) was a United States Senator of the Democratic Party, and United States Ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS). He represented Wyoming in the United States Senate from 1959 until 1977. To date, he remains the last Democrat to have represented Wyoming in the U.S. Senate.

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Early life

McGee was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, on March 17, 1915. He attended public schools, and had planned to study law in college, but was forced by the Great Depression to attend the State Teachers College in Wayne, Nebraska, instead. He graduated from the Teachers College in 1936, and worked as a high school teacher while studying for a master's degree in history at the University of Colorado. He continued as a college instructor at Nebraska Wesleyan University, Iowa State College, and Notre Dame. In 1946, McGee received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Chicago.[1]

University of Wyoming

Shortly after he received his Ph.D., McGee accepted a position as a professor of American history at the University of Wyoming. Soon after, he founded and served as chair of the University's Institute of International Affairs, which brought national dignitaries every summer through a Carnegie Foundation grant. Twenty-one teachers from Wyoming high schools were selected each summer to participate. For the next 12 years, the Institute brought international foreign policy thinkers such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Hans Morgenthau, and Henry Kissinger.[1]

In 1952, McGee took a one-year leave of absence from the University of Wyoming to serve as a Carnegie Research Fellow in New York with the Council on Foreign Relations, where he was assigned to research the mysteries of Soviet intentions.[1]

In 1956, because of the connections he made during his Carnegie fellowship, McGee led a group of teachers on a trip to the Soviet Union; it was the first trip of its kind.[1]

Political career

1958 election

Active in Democratic Party politics, McGee was asked to run for the United States Congress in 1950, but declined, saying he wanted to get more in touch with Wyoming and its people. In 1955–56 he took a leave of absence from the university to work as top aide to Wyoming Democratic Senator Joseph C. O'Mahoney.

In 1958 McGee left the university to make his bid for the U.S. Senate, challenging incumbent Frank A. Barrett. He ran on a program of youth and new ideas. The race between McGee and Barrett attracted the attention of national party leaders on both sides. Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson of Texas, Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts, Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon, Senator-elect Edmund Muskie of Maine, Congressman Joseph M. Montoya of New Mexico, and former President Harry S. Truman came to the state to support McGee, whose campaign slogan was "McGee for Me!".[2] Lyndon Johnson pledged that, if Wyoming sent McGee to Washington, he would appoint him to the prestigious Appropriations Committee.[1] Eleanor Roosevelt even conducted a national fund-raising drive for him.[3] Barrett received assistance from national leaders as well, including Vice President Richard Nixon. McGee ultimately defeated Barrett by a margin of 1,913 votes out of a total of 116,230 votes cast in the election.[2]

He won the majority of the votes in seven of the 23 counties. These were the southern "Union Pacific" counties (Albany, Carbon, Laramie, Sweetwater, Uinta) Platte, just north of Cheyenne, and Sheridan in the north. McGee won the endorsement of the Wyoming AFL-CIO Committee on Political Education (COPE) and the labor vote played an important part in the election.[2]

He became a member of the Democratic class of 1958, which was elected in the middle of President Eisenhower's second term.

Vice President Richard Nixon administers the oath of office to Senator Gale McGee, 1959.

First Senate term

After his victory McGee was appointed to the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee and Senate Majority Leader Johnson kept his promise and appointed him to the prestigious Appropriations Committee. McGee and his fellow Senate freshmen, Thomas J. Dodd and Robert C. Byrd, were the first freshmen ever to receive such an appointment.[4]

The nomination of Lewis Strauss to be Commerce Secretary (1959)

In 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower nominated Lewis Strauss to serve as Secretary of Commerce. Previously, Strauss had served in numerous government positions in the Truman and Eisenhower administrations. At the time, the 13 previous nominees for this Cabinet position won Senate confirmation in an average of eight days.[5]

During the Senate Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee hearings on the nomination, McGee raised concerns about the transparency of Admiral Strauss's testimony and his willingness to be candid with the committee. He also questioned Strauss's role in the Dixon–Yates contract, his relationship with banker Adolphe Wenzell and his calls to the United States Atomic Energy Commission about Argonne National Laboratory physicist David R. Inglis. McGee raised similar concerns about Secretary Strauss's involvement in a case involving Philadelphia Electric Co. and General Dynamics, as well as the accuracy of a statement attributed to him in the committee hearing report. After 16 days of hearings the Committee recommended Strauss' confirmation to the full Senate by a vote of 9-8 – McGee was one of the eight opposed to the nomination.

When the nomination was brought to the Senate floor for debate, McGee, over several days, urged his colleagues to reject Strauss's nomination. He argued that Strauss was not trustworthy and that his confirmation would set a dangerous precedent. He accused Strauss of attempting to deceive the Committee during the hearings and cited several examples of Strauss's misleading testimony. McGee argued that Strauss's pattern of deception made him unfit to hold such a high-ranking position in the government. McGee also raised concerns about Strauss's views on executive privilege and the separation of powers. He believed that Strauss's views were dangerous and that his confirmation would undermine the Senate's ability to check the executive branch.[5]

On June 19, 1959 just after midnight, the Strauss nomination failed by a vote 46-49. At the time, It marked only the eighth time in U.S. history that a Cabinet appointee had failed to be confirmed.[6]

Wyoming's and McGee's Role in the 1960 Presidential Campaign

Despite his initial preference for Lyndon Johnson, McGee developed a close friendship with John F. Kennedy during their time together in the Senate. They shared similar political views, a mutual admiration for Senator George Norris, and a cautious approach to civil rights. Kennedy appreciated McGee's support and expected his help in securing the 1960 Democratic presidential nomination.[7]

Despite their contrasting personalities and political styles, Johnson and McGee shared a deep mutual respect and understanding rooted in their common experiences representing rural constituents and their shared commitment to public service. Johnson's promise to put McGee on the powerful Appropriations Committee was not just a political maneuver but a genuine expression of his appreciation for McGee's loyalty and ability.[7]

During the summer of 1959, Kennedy's campaign team actively sought support from Wyoming Democrats, including McGee. However, they encountered mixed signals from McGee, with some reports indicating his support for Kennedy and others suggesting his leanings towards Johnson. Governor J.J. Hickey's support was also uncertain due to concerns about the Catholic issue. Despite these challenges, the Kennedy campaign made significant progress in Wyoming, with Teno Roncalio, the state Democratic Party chairman, expressing confidence in securing the state's full 15 votes for Kennedy.[7]

Johnson's campaign team faced resistance in securing Wyoming's endorsement. McGee's insistence on delegate independence thwarted Johnson's efforts to impose the unit rule and secure all of Wyoming's 15 votes. As a result, Johnson's strategy shifted to preventing the unit rule and securing at least four of Wyoming's delegates. However, McGee's neutrality and Governor Hickey's decision to second Johnson's nomination caused friction between the Texan and the Wyoming Senator.

McGee played a pivotal role in securing the Democratic presidential nomination for Kennedy. With Kennedy needing four more votes to clinch the nomination on the first ballot, McGee, the chairman of the Wyoming delegation, persuaded his colleagues to cast all 15 of Wyoming's votes for Kennedy, ensuring his victory. This decision cemented Wyoming's place in history and marked the end of a long day for the delegates.[8][9]

Wyoming politicians like McGee and Hickey understood the importance of unpredictability in the political process. Keeping their support uncertain ensured attention and visits from major presidential candidates like Kennedy, Johnson, and Symington. However, once Kennedy won the nomination, he initially planned to skip campaigning in Wyoming due to its low electoral vote. It took persuasion from Tracy McCraken and McGee to convince Kennedy to make one last stop in the state. This visit allowed Kennedy to learn about Wyoming's economy, needs, and people, establishing relationships with key state leaders that could prove valuable in the future.[7]

On September 23, 1960, Kennedy visited Cheyenne, Wyoming, to thank the state for its support in securing the Democratic presidential nomination. He acknowledged Wyoming's small size but emphasized its crucial role in the convention. Kennedy also demonstrated his knowledge of key Wyoming issues, such as natural resource development, and appealed to the state's voters to help him win the presidency in November.[10][11][12]

It was closer than that on November 8. John F. Kennedy was elected President but without Wyoming’s three electoral votes. They went to Richard Nixon who won the state 55 percent-45 percent.[7]

Overseas Trips (1959-1964)

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and strong defender of US foreign aid programs, McGee embarked on several fact-finding trips to various regions around the world:

1959 - traveled to the Middle East, India, and Southeast Asia with Senator Albert Gore, Sr. (D-TN) to assess the effectiveness of US foreign aid programs and the growing Arab refugee crisis.[13][14][15][16][17]

1960 - McGee joined a delegation of Senators and President-elect Kennedy's brother, Ted Kennedy, on a trip to Africa to witness the challenges of independence and the Cold War's influence on the continent. From a cafe in the Congo, McGee witnessed the arrest of Patrice Lumumba[18][19]

1961 - McGee led a delegation to visit eight South American countries to evaluate the conditions for the Alliance for Progress, a US-led initiative to promote economic and social development in Latin America.[20]

1962 - McGee received reports of Soviet military shipments to Cuba and in the run up to the Cuban Missile Crisis, he inspected US military facilities at Guantanamo Naval Base.[21][22] At the end of 1962, McGee joined Senators Frank Church and Frank Moss on an inquiry into US spending in Southeast Asia. They found that the situation in Laos was concerning, while the situation in Vietnam showed signs of improvement.[23]

Relationship with John F. Kennedy

Senator Kennedy endorsed McGee in his 1958 campaign and even flew to Wyoming to give him $500, the largest campaign contribution McGee received from any individual that year.[24]

At the 1960 Democratic National Convention, McGee was the chairman of the Wyoming delegation, and he was able to secure all 15 of Wyoming's votes for John F. Kennedy. This put Kennedy over the top and gave him the Democratic Party nomination for President of the United States.[25][8][26][27] Kennedy initially had no plans to return to Wyoming during the general election campaign, but he was persuaded by Tracy McCraken and Senator McGee to make one last stop in the state on September 23, 1960.[28] He spoke to a large crowd in Cheyenne and acknowledged Wyoming's role in securing his nomination.[10][11]

Kennedy visited Wyoming in the fall of 1963 accompanied by McGee.[29] The President gave a speech to 12,000 at the University of Wyoming War Memorial Fieldhouse (including a young Richard Cheney, then a student at the University), in which he challenged the audience to take advantage of opportunities to serve their country.[30][31][32] He also mentioned the need for Americans to make choices about the use of resources, fiscal policy, the space race, and the development of ocean resources.

McGee met with Kennedy in the Oval Office in November 1963 – one week before the tragedy in Dallas - to tape video and take photos for McGee’s upcoming re-election campaign.[33][34]

Rise of the John Birch Society

As Bircher influence grew in Wyoming in the 1960s, McGee emerged as a prominent national figure challenging the John Birch Society. The media, impressed by his speeches, began scrutinizing Founder Robert Welch and his tactics. McGee's appearance on a combative talk show, "Open End," further fueled the debate.[35] He criticized the JBS founder on the Senate floor and warned about their infiltration into communities.

Bircher followers disrupted events, and the society advertised aggressively in Wyoming, dominating local radio.[36] McGee actively engaged in debates with Birchers, intentionally putting himself in their crosshairs. Despite facing threats and violence, he continued his fight against right-wing extremism.

McGee cautioned President Kennedy not to deal with the extremists prematurely, believing it could be a winning issue for 1964. He warned about the appeal of the extreme right-wing ideology to the population in the West.[37]

Food Marketing Study (Public Law 88-354)

McGee expressed concerns for Wyoming cattlemen, farmers, and consumers due to falling cattle prices and record-high food prices driven by large national grocers. He believed that chain stores were monopolizing the food distribution market and engaging in unfair practices at the expense of the western communities.[38]

In 1963, McGee proposed legislation authorizing the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate the practices of large chain stores for possible violations of antitrust laws.[39] The Senate Commerce Committee held hearings on the proposal, during which witnesses testified about the intimidating tactics used by the chains.[40]

President Johnson endorsed the proposal but preferred to create a bipartisan commission to study the changes in the food industry.[41] The final commission report, issued in June 1966 after an 18-month investigation, failed to address antitrust violations directly. Instead, it pointed to various factors, including promotions and amenities, for rising consumer prices. However, the report did express concerns about the concentration of the food industry in the hands of a few corporations and recommended increased scrutiny of mergers and acquisitions. The commission also suggested "group marketing" through Agricultural Marketing Boards to empower farmers and ranchers in their marketing efforts.

1963 railroad strike

In 1963, Congress acted for the first time in peacetime to impose compulsory arbitration in a major labor dispute. President Kennedy sent Congress a bill to submit a dispute over the railroads' attempts to eliminate "featherbedding" to the Interstate Commerce Commission, which was to impose an interim solution binding on the parties for two years.[42]

During Congressional consideration of the President's legislation, McGee offered an amendment to remove these less controversial questions from arbitration and make the Senate bill conform with the House bill, thereby expediting passage to avoid the strike. Congress on cleared the bill on August 28, 1963 that created a seven-member board to arbitrate the major issues in the dispute and prohibited the railroads from issuing "anti-featherbedding" rules. The arbitrated settlement was imposed for two years, and no strikes or lockouts were allowed during that time. The President signed the bill into law (PL 88-108) six hours before the strike was to begin on August 29, 1963.[42]

1964 election

In the historically Republican state of Wyoming, the 1964 election proved exceptional as Democrats nearly matched Republicans in financing and ran a highly effective campaign. Despite being the only incumbent above the county level, McGee was re-elected, and Democrats also gained control of the state House of Representatives and secured the single seat in the United States House of Representatives.[43]

The shift in Wyoming's political behavior was not solely due to President Johnson's landslide victory. Two years prior, Wyoming Republicans focused on defeating Senator McGee and overlooked other races. Their preoccupation with McGee's defeat weakened their overall campaign. In contrast, McGee's strategy concentrated on discrediting the Wyoming Republican party and its actions, such as the passage of a right-to-work law, supporting a Court of the Union, repealing the income tax law, and aligning with Barry Goldwater, which led to the party's defeat.[43]

Organized labor played a significant role in the election, working closely with effective Democratic county organizations to help Senator McGee secure a significant plurality. Media, especially television, also played a major role in the campaign, with McGee using a documentary and effective advertising to his advantage.[43]

The election also saw increasing political self-consciousness among minority ethnic groups, such as the Native American vote in Fremont County. City voting patterns showed increasing Democratic margins, hinting at a potential shift in traditional Republican control.[43]

Second Senate term

He strongly supported President Lyndon B. Johnson's views on the Vietnam War. On March 6, 1965, CBS News aired an hour-long TV special titled "Vietnam: Hawks and the Doves" that featured a debate between McGee and Senator George McGovern for the full hour. It was moderated by Charles Collingwood. Hanson Baldwin of the New York Times and former Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (1963–64) Roger Hilsman also participated. During the debate, McGee called for "planned escalation;" Baldwin contemplated massive bombing campaign and a naval blockade of North Vietnam. It appeared that Hilsman agreed that troops should be sent, but didn't think it would make a difference. McGovern was all alone in arguing against military intervention.[44] At the conclusion on the debate, Collingwood summarized that McGee was a "hawk" on Vietnam, McGovern a "dove" and Hilsman was a "chicken hawk."

Also that year, after over 10 years as a member of the Appropriations Committee, McGee was named chairman of the Foreign Operations Appropriations subcommittee.[45]

In March 1966, McGee was appointed to the Foreign Relations Committee where he would serve until 1967 and then was reappointed in 1969 and served until he left the Senate. He believed in the policy of containing communism, and his pro-military views were accented by his firm support for foreign aid. Johnson strongly considered appointing Senator McGee to be Ambassador to the UN after the resignation of Arthur Goldberg.[46]

In 1968, McGee wrote The Responsibilities of World Power, which warned against isolationism and urged the United States to accept its power and position imposed upon it in the aftermath of World War II. The book further argued that the U.S. had a responsibility to be a Pacific power, to act as a counterweight to China, and to support free nations in their efforts to remain nonaligned or western allies but not to fall into the Communist fold. The work was nominated for a Woodrow Wilson Foundation award.

United States Senate Committee on Civil Service (L-R): Senators Ted Stevens (R-AK), Ranking Member Hiram Fong (R-HI), Chairman Gale McGee (D-WY), Ralph Yarborough (D-TX), Jennings Randolph (D-WV), and Frank Moss (D-UT).

In 1969, McGee became chairman of the Post Office and Civil Service Committee. As chair this Committee, he fought for greater equity in pay and benefits for those federal workers. He was also directly involved in the passage of the Postal Reorganization Act which was influenced by the U.S. postal strike of 1970, the largest wildcat strike in history. The Act abolished the then United States Post Office Department, which was a part of the cabinet, and created the United States Postal Service, a corporation-like independent agency with an official monopoly on the delivery of mail in the United States.

1970 election

McGee's bid for reelection in 1970 was targeted by Republicans as one of the top seven races in the country. Republican leaders recruited Congressman John Wold to again take on McGee, despite Wold being defeated by McGee in the 1964 election.[47]

McGee faced a primary challenger for the Democratic nomination because of McGee's support for continued military action in Vietnam. McGee won nomination overwhelmingly by 24,508 votes.[47]

McGee again promoted his seniority in the Senate and his committee assignments (Appropriations, Foreign Relations, and Post Office and Civil Service) that benefited the State. To charges that he was a big spender of federal monies, he pointed out that he helped bring over $349 million in federal aid to Wyoming in the previous year and that if that was big spending he was "for it." [47]

Vice President Spiro Agnew supported Wold's campaign but never specifically mentioned McGee by name. The Denver Post chided the Vice President for speaking against McGee considering it was McGee who helped Nixon solve a major postal strike and continued to support military action in Vietnam. The same newspaper reported that in 1969, McGee voted with the Nixon Administration 69 percent of the time and 24 percent against, while Wold only supported the Administration on issues 49 percent of the time, and opposed 28 percent.[47]

McGee won re-election receiving 67,207 votes to Wold's 53,279. McGee won eleven of the 23 counties he picked up in 1964 but added for others and increased his margin of victory in Natrona County, Wyoming – a moderately strong Republican county and Wold's home base. McGee continued to have strong support of organized labor, carrying big margins in the southern "Union Pacific" counties.[47]

Third Senate term

In his third term he continued to be a leading member of the committees on which he served. He was Chairman of Western Hemisphere Affairs subcommittee of the Foreign Relations Committee.

McGee was a voice of moderation in the affairs of the Watergate scandal and the impeachment proceedings of President Richard Nixon. Against the wishes of many of his constituents, McGee stood on principle and fought hard for positions unpopular in Wyoming in support of gas rationing and the 55-mile per hour speed limit in the era of the first Arab oil embargoes.

U.S. Senator Gale McGee (D-WY), Chairman of the Agriculture, Environmental and Consumer Protection Appropriations Subcommittee, and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Clifford Hardin, 1971

"Champion" of Congressional recess

In 1965, Senator McGee began calling for a mandated August recess for Congress. It was not until 1969 that his idea gained enough support amongst his colleagues that they gave it a test run - the Senate recessed from August 13 to September 3. Finally, on August 6, 1971, as mandated by the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970, the Senate began its first official August recess.[48]

Clear Cutting of Timber

During the 92nd Congress, McGee pushed vigorously for the implementation of his bill which would impose a two-year moratorium on clearcutting of timber on public lands until a study of the practice could be conducted by an independent commission. Clearcutting is a timber harvest method whereby all trees and the undergrowth in a given area are completely destroyed. Al- though McGee did not obtain passage of his bill, it was on the basis of his legislation that the Senate Interior Subcommittee on Public Lands demanded that the U.S. Forest Service stop permitting the timber industry to clear-cut at will in the National Forests. McGee has termed the recent action by the Senate Interior Subcommittee on Public Lands as “but one more step toward the establishment of a national policy setting down guidelines restricting the use of clearcutting as an accept- able timber harvest practice when such use would be detrimental to the environment, recreation, wildlife, and other concerns.[49]

Protection of bald and golden eagles

In his third Senate term, McGee gave up the gavel of the Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee to become Chairman of Agriculture, Environmental and Consumer Protection Appropriations Subcommittee. He would remain Chairman of that subcommittee until he left the Senate. At an August 1971 hearing held by McGee's subcommittee, a Wyoming helicopter pilot testified that sheep ranchers paid him to fly near eagles which they killed with shotguns. About 500 bald eagles were destroyed in this manner, the pilot said. The Wyoming Woolgrowers Association had claimed that 8,000 lambs were lost to eagles annually, and the group's president declared he had seen eagles kill grown sheep and antelope. Conservationists disputed the figures and said that eagles seldom touched lambs unless they were already dead. A University of Montana study of prey items collected from 40 golden eagle nests over a three-year period found evidence of only one dead lamb and one dead sheep, with no proof they had been killed by eagles. In October 1972, Congress approved legislation strengthening the penalties imposed for violations of Bald Eagle Protection Act of 1940.[50]

Voter registration by mail

In 1972, McGee introduced S. 352, which would allow eligible voters to register by mail in federal elections. The bill would establish a new Voter Registration Administration as part of the U.S. Census Bureau to administer the registration program. Under the procedure, postcard forms would be mailed to all postal addresses and residences, and the cards would have to be returned to local registration agents no later than 30 days before a federal election. Processing of the forms would be paid for by the Voter Registration Administration. McGee believed and argued that existing methods discouraged registration citing the fact that 62 million people did not vote in 1972 election, nearly half of all Americans eligible to vote.

Opponents believed that the proposal would destroy the two-party system, lead to increased fraud, and cost too much to implement. The Nixon administration formally opposed the bill citing the potential for fraud and cost but McGee's committee reported the bill with only Hiram Fong, the Committee's ranking Republican member, opposing. During floor debate In spring 1973, the bill was filibustered for almost a month. The 13th successful cloture vote since in the Senate came after two earlier attempts to terminate a four-week filibuster on the voter registration bill (S 352) failed. Had the May 9 vote also fallen short, McGee had warned opponents of S. 352 during floor debate that there would have been another cloture vote, and "if necessary there'll be another and another and another."

The nearly 100 per cent attendance for the May 9 vote, plus three switches in favor of cloture on the third try, gave the cloture motion the necessary two-thirds vote. John C. Stennis (D Miss.) was the only senator to miss the vote. Earlier efforts to shut off the talkathon on the bill failed by two and three votes, respectively. The April 30 vote was 56-31; the May 3 vote was 60-34. On May 9, cloture succeeded by a one-vote margin, 67-32. Two Republicans and one Democrat switched from opposition to support for cloture on the May 9 67-32 vote. The Republicans were Robert T. Stafford (Vt.) and Milton R. Young (N.D.); both had voted against cloture on the two previous cloture motions. The Democrat was Russell B. Long (La.), who opposed cloture on the May 3 vote. In addition, supporters of cloture gained four of five new votes of members who did not vote May 3: Alan Bible (D Nev.), Mark O. Hatfield (R Ore.), Joseph M. Montoya (D N.M.) and William B. Saxbe (R Ohio). John Sparkman (D Ala.), one of the other two members (along with Stennis) who did not vote May 3, cast the only additional vote against cloture. Final passage of S. 352 was successful on May 9, 1973 by a vote of 57-32.

The legislation died after the House failed to take action on the bill.[51][52]

27th U.N. General Assembly (1972)

A long-time supporter of the United Nations, McGee was appointed by President Richard Nixon to a four-member congressional delegation to represent the United States at the United Nations' 27th General Assembly in 1972. His chief assignment at the Assembly was to get the United Nations members to agree to lower the U.S.'s share annual dues from 31 percent to 25 percent - a difference of $13 million. Both the House and Senate had already passed measures to limit the United States' contribution to the U.N. But each country's share is ultimately decided by a majority of the 130 member nations. Through the efforts of McGee, along with U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. George Bush, the U.N. assembly approved the reduction, with 80 nations voting to support the resolution.[53][54]

Candidate for Director of Central Intelligence (CIA)

A July 10, 1975 memo from then White House Chief of Staff Donald Rumsfeld to President Gerald Ford listed McGee as one of many potential candidates to be Director of Central Intelligence. Rumsfeld listed "pros and cons" of each candidate (including George Bush, Lee Iacocca, and Byron White and others). The memo thought McGee was a strong defender of the intelligence community, respected within the foreign affairs community, and well-regarded for his independence. On November 4, 1975, William Colby was replaced as CIA Director by George Bush in a major shakeup of President Ford's administration termed the Halloween Massacre.[55]

1976 election

In his 1976 bid for a fourth term, McGee was defeated by Republican challenger Malcolm Wallop, who ran an expensive television advertising campaign attacking McGee for, among other positions, his opposition to state right-to-work laws, and problems with the U.S. Postal Service, based on McGee's chairmanship of the U.S. Senate committee overseeing the Postal Service. The margin of defeat was almost ten percentage points.

McGee-authored Legislation (or Legislation including McGee-authored provisions) Signed into Law

April 29, 1960 - Public Law (P.L.) 86-444: To revise the boundaries and change the name of the Fort Laramie National Monument, Wyoming to the Fort Laramie National Historic Site.[56] Expanded the Fort Laramie National Historic Site to 563 acres.

May 5, 1960 - P.L. 86-448: To permit the Secretary of the Interior to continue to deliver water to lands in the Third Division, Riverton Federal reclamation project.[57]

May 6, 1960 - P.L. 86-450: To place in trust status certain lands on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming[58]

August 17, 1961 - P.L. 87-151 to provide for the disposal of certain Federal property on the Minidoka project, Idaho; Shoshone project, Wyoming; and Yakima project, Washington.[59]

August 30, 1961 - P.L. 87-175 authorize the Secretary of Agriculture to exchange certain lands in the State of Wyoming with the town of Afton, Wyoming[60] Land was to be used for municipal park.[61]

March 20, 1962 - P.L. 87-422 authorize and direct the Secretary of Agriculture to convey to the State of Wyoming for agricultural purposes certain real property in Sweetwater County, Wyoming.[62] McGee introduced the Senate companion legislation, S. 875.[63] The law transferred farmland located near Farson, Wyoming from the USDA to the State of Wyoming. Land was used for demonstration of livestock and crop methods in areas of high altitude and short grazing seasons[64]

June 8, 1962 - P.L. 87-479: to Authorize continued delivery of water for the years 1962 and 1963 to land of the third division, Riverton Federal reclamation project, Wyoming.[65]

July 2, 1962 - P.L. 87-516: To adjust certain irrigation charges against non-Indian-owned lands within the Wind River irrigation project, Wyoming.[66] McGee introduced the Senate companion legislation, S. 536.[67]

April 18, 1963 - P.L. 88-10 to permit the Secretary of the Interior to continue to deliver water to lands in the third division, Riverton Reclamation Project, Wyoming

March 26, 1964 - P.L. 88-291 to defer certain operation and maintenance charges of the Eden Valley Irrigation and Drainage District.

July 2, 1964 - P.L. 88-354 To establish a National Commission on Food Marketing to study the food industry from the producer to the consumer. It authorized the Federal Trade Commission to conduct an investigation of purchasing, processing, marketing and pricing practices of large chain stores to determine whether there may have been any violation of antitrust laws. Special emphasis was to be given to why a sharp drop in meat producers' income since January 1963 had not been reflected in consumer prices, which had generally remained level since a rise in 1962.[68]

August 26, 1964 - P.L. 88-494 to authorize the Secretary of Agriculture to relinquish to the State of Wyoming jurisdiction over those lands within the Medicine Bow National Forest known as the Pole Mountain District

August 30, 1964 - P.L. 88-507 Fiscal Year 1965 Independent Offices Appropriations Act. McGee secured over $5 million for construction of the Post office and Federal Building in Casper, Wyoming.[69] In 1998, Congress designated the building as the Dick Cheney Federal Building, as part of the FY1999 Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations bill (P.L. 105-277).

September 2, 1964 - P.L. 88-568 To provide for the construction, operation, and maintenance of the Savery-Pot Hook, Bostwick Park, and Fruitland Mesa participating reclamation projects under the Colorado River Storage Project Act.

March 8, 1966 - P.L. 89-364 to cancel any unpaid reimbursable construction costs of the Wind River Indian irrigation project, Wyoming, chargeable against certain non Indian lands

October 16, 1966 - P.L. 89-664 to provide for the establishment of the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, and for other purposes;

November 5, 1966 - P.L. 89-760 to provide for reimbursement to the State of Wyoming for improvements made on certain lands in Sweetwater County, Wyoming, if and when such lands revert to the United States. Law provided $25,000 (equivalent to almost $220,000 in 2022 dollars) to reimburse Wyoming for improvements made to the Farson Pilot Farm[70]

November 5, 1966 - P.L. 89-763 to amend the act approved March 18, 1950, providing for the construction of airports in or in close proximity to national parks, national monuments, and national recreation areas, and for other purposes. Law provided $1.5 million (equivalent to almost $13.1 million in 2022 dollars) for the Jackson Hole Airport[70]

April 13, 1966 - P.L. 89-387, the Uniform Time Act, to make uniform dates for daylight savings time

May 24, 1968 - P.L. 90-317 to place in trust status certain lands on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming

October 1, 1968 - P.L. 90-540 to establish the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area in the States of Utah and Wyoming, and for other purposes.

December 30, 1969 - P.L. 91-187 To amend title 5, United States Code, to provide for additional positions in grades GS-16. GS-17, and GS-18. These were eliminated under the provisions of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 and replaced by the Senior Executive Service.

April 15, 1970 - P.L. 91-231 to increase the pay of Federal employees

August 12, 1970 - P.L. 91-375, Postal Reorganization Act, to improve and modernize the postal service, to reorganize the Post Office Department, and for other purposes.

September 25, 1970 - P.L. 91-409 to reauthorize the Riverton extension unit, Missouri River Basin project, to include therein the entire Riverton Federal reclamation project

September 25, 1970 - P.L. 91-418 to provide that the Federal Government shall pay one-half of the cost of health insurance for Federal employees and annuitants. Altered the determination of the government’s share of premiums by creating the “big six” formula, calculated separately for individual and family plans Set the government’s share at 40% of the simple average of premiums for the six health plans.

October 26, 1970 - P.L. 91-510, The Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970. Sec. 132(a) Provided for a set Congressional recess during the summer, long championed by McGee.

March 9, 1972 - P.L. 92-243 to amend chapter 83 of title 5, United States Code, relating to adopted child

October 9, 1972 - P.L. 92-476 to designate the Stratified Primitive Area as a part of the Washakie Wilderness, heretofore known as the South Absaroka Wilderness, Shoshone National Forest, in the State of Wyoming, and for other purposes. The law set aside 208,000 acres of wilderness for protection under the National Wilderness Preservation Act. It also designated a 30,000-acre tract in the upper drainage of DuNoir Creek as a special management area to be studied for 5 years.[71][72]

October 23, 1972 - P.L. 92-537 to establish the Fossil Butte National Monument in the State of Wyoming. Fossil Butte National Monument preserves the best paleontological record of Cenozoic aquatic communities in North America and possibly the world.[73]

July 23, 1974 - P.L. 93-354, National Diabetes Mellitus Research and Education Act, to amend the Public Health Service Act to provide for greater and more effective efforts in research and public education with regard to diabetes mellitus. The Act established the National Commission on Diabetes. This group established the first long-term plan to address diabetes prevention and treatment in the US, leading to improved funding for related research, treatment programs, and eventually the National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP). This commission’s recommendations resulted in federal policies that addressed the US diabetes epidemic.[74]

United States Ambassador to the Organization of American States

After his defeat by Malcolm Wallop, McGee was nominated by President Jimmy Carter as United States Ambassador to the Organization of American States. After approval by the Senate, he was sworn in on March 30, 1977 at a ceremony in the Roosevelt Room in the White House by Judge John Sirica. His former colleague from the U.S. Senate, Vice President Walter Mondale, was in attendance as were former U.S. secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and William P. Rogers, former United States Ambassador to South Vietnam Ellsworth Bunker, Under Secretary of State Warren Christopher, National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, and senators John Sparkman and William Fulbright.

During his tenure, McGee headed the U.S. delegation to four OAS assemblies and lobbied for the successful approval of the 1978 Panama Canal Treaty.

Life after public service

- In 1981, McGee formed Gale W. McGee Associates, a consulting firm specializing in international and public affairs activities. The firm offered a broad range of political and economic services to both domestic and international companies with a special emphasis on developing new business opportunities with the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean. He was also president of the consulting firm of Moss, McGee, Bradley, Kelly & Foley, which was created with former U.S. Senator Frank Moss.[75] McGee later served as president of the American League for Exports and Security Assistance, Inc. in 1986. He was a senior consultant at Hill & Knowlton, Inc. from 1987 to 1989.

- In 1985, Secretary of State George Shultz asked McGee to serve on a panel headed by Robert D. Ray to review U.S. policy towards Indochinese refugees. In the wake of the 1975 collapse of the South Vietnamese government, more than 1.6 million Indochinese people had become refugees. The panel issued recommendations in 1986.[76]

The Papers of Gale McGee are available to researchers at the American Heritage Center at the University of Wyoming. Collection includes digital materials relating to McGee’s career as a U.S. Senator, his work at the University of Wyoming and the Organization of American States, and his post public service and personal life.[75]

Personal life

McGee married Loraine Baker in 1939 and together they had four children: David, Robert, Mary Gale and Lori Ann. Senator McGee died on April 9, 1992, in Washington, D.C.[77] He is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Washington, D.C.[78]

Posthumous recognition


In January 2007, the Wyoming congressional delegation introduced federal legislation (H.R. 335, S. 219) to rename the U.S. Post Office in Laramie, Wyoming as the "Gale W. McGee Post Office." The United States House of Representatives passed the legislation by voice vote on January 29, 2007. The United States Senate passed the legislation by Unanimous consent on February 7, 2007. The President signed the bill into law on March 7, 2007.[79]


In 2018, Potomac Books/Nebraska press published McGee's biography, The Man in the Arena: The Life and Times of U.S. Senator Gale McGee written by Rodger McDaniel. The book won Best Nonfiction Book of the Year from the Wyoming State Historical Society

Movie Portrayal

McGee was portrayed by Harry Groener in the 2023 film Oppenheimer.


  1. ^ a b c d e Oral History Interview with Ambassador Gale McGee, The Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training, December 9, 1988 [1]
  2. ^ a b c The 1958 Election in Wyoming, Herman H. Trachsel, The Western Political Quarterly, Vol. 12, No. 1, Part 2 (Mar., 1959), pp. 363-366
  3. ^,91771,810557,00.html[dead link]
  4. ^ "Committee on Appropriations" (PDF). Retrieved August 6, 2023.
  5. ^ a b "Welcome to nginx!". Archived from the original on January 5, 2013. Retrieved October 1, 2008.
  6. ^ "Welcome to nginx!". Archived from the original on January 5, 2013. Retrieved December 1, 2011.
  7. ^ a b c d e McDaniel, R. E., & Simpson, A. K. (2018). The Man in the Arena: The Life and Times of U.S. Senator Gale McGee. Potomac Books, an imprint of the University of Nebraska Press.,
  8. ^ a b King, Larry L. “My Hero LBJ.” Harper's Magazine, Oct. 1966, p. 60
  9. ^ Wyoming Clinches it (1960, July 14) Los Angeles Times, p. 7
  10. ^ a b John F. Kennedy: "Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Cheyenne, WY, Frontier Park," September 23, 1960
  11. ^ a b Wyo,. Senator to accompany Kennedy Party (1960, September 21) Casper Morning Star, p. 2
  12. ^ Baker, R (1960, September 24) Kennedy Charges Nixon Is Selling America Short, New York Times
  13. ^ Department of State, Central Files, 884.411/11–1759
  14. ^ Message From Senators Albert Gore and Gale W. McGee to the President; Department of State, Central Files, 320.511/11–1959
  15. ^ Department of State, NEA/IAI Files: Lot 70 D 229, Refugees REF 1 General Policy and Plans Jan-Aug 1961. Secret. The source text is the copy sent to Thacher. Talbot was in Nicosia, Cyprus, attending a Regional Operations Conference July 31–August 5. The Conference was one of several regional meetings of U.S. Chiefs of Mission held by Under Secretary of State Bowles. A briefing book prepared for Talbot’s use at the conference is ibid., NEA/NE Files: Lot 66 D 5, Briefing Materials for Meetings with Near East Ambassadors, Nicosia Ambassadorial Conference. For an “Outline of NE Regional Problems for Presentation at Under Secretary’s Conference,” see Supplement, the regional compilation.
  16. ^ India is eagerly receptive to ‘Ike’s visit, Gore learns (1959, December 4) Memphis Commercial Appeal, p. 1
  17. ^ Box 25A, Gale W. McGee Papers, Collection Number 09800, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.
  18. ^ Church, F., United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on Foreign Relations. (1961). Study mission to Africa, November–December 1960: Report. Washington: U. S. Govt. Print. Off..
  19. ^ Transcript, Ambassador Frank Charles Carlucci III, Interviewed By: Charles Stuart Kennedy, The Association For Diplomatic Studies And Training Foreign Affairs Oral History Project, 1997
  20. ^ “Study Mission to South America November–December 1961” Report of Senators Gale W. McGee, Frank Moss, Claire Engle, and Stephen Young (U.S. Government Printing Office February 13, 1962)
  21. ^ McGee from Arturo Gonzalez, September 15, 1962, Box 56, Folder 6, Gale W. McGee Papers, Collection Number 09800, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.
  22. ^ McGee happy with Cuba policy (1962, October 3) Casper Morning Star, p. 14
  23. ^ Box 7A, Gale W. McGee Papers, Collection Number 09800, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.
  24. ^ McDaniel, R. E., & Simpson, A. K. (2018). The man in the arena: The life and times of U.S. Senator Gale McGee. Potomac Books, an imprint of the University of Nebraska Press.
  25. ^ Henderson, W. (1960, June 11). For and about People. Los Angeles Mirror News
  26. ^ Baker, R. (1960, July 14) Highlights and Chronology of nomination session of the Democratic convention, NY Times
  27. ^ Wyoming Clinches it (1960, July 14) Los Angeles Times, p. 77
  28. ^ McCraken to Senator Jackson, August 24, 1960, Box 563, Gale W. McGee Papers, Collection Number 09800, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming
  29. ^ "Remarks Upon Arrival at the Airport in Cheyenne, Wyoming, 25 September 1963". JFK Library. Archived from the original on October 29, 2013. Retrieved May 6, 2014.
  30. ^ "Trip of the President, September 24-28, 1963". JFK Library. Archived from the original on October 29, 2013. Retrieved May 6, 2014.
  31. ^ "Address at the University of Wyoming, 25 September 1963". JFK Library. Retrieved May 6, 2014.
  32. ^ “JFK Visits Wyoming” by Philip White, Casper Star-Tribune, September 25, 2013
  33. ^ The President’s Daily Diary, 11/14/1963; Evelyn Lincoln Personal Papers. Schedules and Diaries, 1953-1963. President's appointments, November 1963. ELPP-006-014. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
  34. ^ University of Wyoming, American Heritage Center, Gale W. McGee papers, Accession Number 09800, Box 12A, Folder 3.
  35. ^ Video discussion slated on John Birch Society (1961, June 8) Valley News, p. 60
  36. ^ Senator McGee repeats John Birch Charge (1963, April 25) Jackson Hole Guide, p. 7
  37. ^ “Memorandum for the President” Senator Gale W. McGee to President Kennedy, August 16, 1963, Papers of John F. Kennedy. Presidential Papers, President's Office Files, Subjects. Rightwing Movement, Digital Identifier: JFKPOF-106-013,
  38. ^ The Congressional Record, May 18, 1965 p. A2472
  39. ^ The Congressional Record April 26, 1963 p. 7172
  40. ^ United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on Commerce. (1964). Study of food marketing: Hearings, Eighty-eighth Congress, second session, on S. J. Res. 71, a joint resolution to authorize and direct the conduct by the Federal Trade Commission of a comprehensive investigation of chainstore practices which may be in violation of the antitrust laws. and for other purposes ... Washington: U. S. Govt. Print. Off..
  41. ^ Johnson asks Congress for body to study retail price increases (1964, April 2) Great Falls Tribune, p. 23
  42. ^ a b "Congress Imposes Settlement in Railroad-Labor Dispute." In CQ Almanac 1970, 26th ed., 01-165-01-166. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly, 1971. [2]
  43. ^ a b c d The 1964 Election in Wyoming, John T. Hinckley, The Western Political Quarterly Vol. 18, No. 2, The 1964 Elections in the West (Jun., 1965), pp. 523-526
  44. ^ The Search for Peace in Vietnam, 1964-1968, Lloyd C. Gardner, Ted Gittinger, 2004, p. 104
  45. ^ Committee on Appropriations, UNITED STATES SENATE, 1867–2008, 110th Congress, 2d Session Document No. 14 [3]
  46. ^ "LBJ Library 12504 GALE MCGEE 12/9/1967 11:00A WH6712.01 PNO 4". Archived from the original on October 11, 2008. Retrieved October 1, 2008.
  47. ^ a b c d e The 1970 Election in Wyoming, John B. Richard, The Western Political Quarterly, Vol. 24, No. 2 (Jun., 1971), pp. 362-368
  48. ^ "U.S. Senate: Give Us a (Summer) Break!".
  49. ^ Douth, George. Leaders In Profile: the United States Senate. New York: Speer & Douth, Inc., 1972
  50. ^ "Bald Eagle Protection." In CQ Almanac 1972, 28th ed., 06-743-06-744. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly, 1973. [4].
  51. ^ "Senate Passes Bill Allowing Voters to Register by Mail." In CQ Almanac 1973, 29th ed., 726-30. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly, 1974. [5]
  52. ^ "Postcard Voter Registration." In CQ Almanac 1976, 32nd ed., 517-19. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly, 1977. [6].
  53. ^ U.S. Drive on to Lower its Share of U.S. Budget, Associated Press, October 4, 1972
  54. ^ The U.N. Onward & Upward, column by Senator Gale McGee, June 3, 1973
  55. ^ July 10, 1975 Memorandum to the President from Donald Rumsfeld, Ford Presidential Library [7]
  56. ^ "Public Law 86-444: To revise the boundaries and change the name of the Fort Laramie National Monument, Wyoming, and for other purposes. (74 Stat. 83; Date: 4/29/60; enacted S. 2434).
  57. ^ "Public Law 86-448: Permitting the Secretary of the Interior to continue to deliver water to lands in the Third Division, Riverton Federal reclamation project, Wyoming. . (74 Stat. 85; Date: 5/5/60; enacted S.J. Res. 150).
  58. ^ "Public Law 86-450: To place in trust status certain lands on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming. (74 Stat. 92; Date: 5/6/60; enacted S.1751).
  59. ^ "Public Law 87-151: To provide for the disposal of certain Federal property on the Minidoka project, Idaho, Shoshone project, Wyoming, and Yakima project, Washington, and for other purposes (75 Stat. 388; Date: 8/17/61; enacted S.1085).
  60. ^ "Public Law 87-175: To authorize the Secretary of Agriculture to exchange certain lands in the State of Wyoming with the town of Afton, Wyoming. (75 Stat. 410; Date: 8/30/61; enacted S.702).
  61. ^ Afton cleared to buy forest land section (1961, July 27) Casper Star Tribune, p., 3
  62. ^ "Public Law 87-422: To authorize and direct the Secretary of Agriculture to convey to the State of Wyoming for agricultural purposes certain real property in Sweetwater County, Wyoming (76 Stat. 44; Date: 3/20/62; enacted H.R.3879).
  63. ^ 107 Cong. Rec. 1848 (1961)
  64. ^ State will get Farson farm (1962, March 2) Casper Star Tribune, p. 8
  65. ^ "Public Law 87-479: Permitting the Secretary of the Interior to continue to deliver water to lands in the Third Division, Riverton Federal reclamation project, Wyoming (76 Stat. 94; Date: 6/8/62; enacted S.J.Res.151).
  66. ^ "Public Law 87-516: To approve an order of the Secretary of the Interior adjusting, deferring, and canceling certain irrigation charges against non-Indian-owned lands under the Wind River Indian irrigation project, Wyoming, and for other purposes. (76 Stat. 128; Date: 7/2/62; enacted H.R.3444).
  67. ^ 107 Cong. Rec. 1067 (1961)
  68. ^ "Food Marketing Study." In CQ Almanac 1964, 20th ed., 142-44. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly, 1965.
  69. ^ City Federal Building, Riverton bills, ok’d (1964, July 31) Casper Morning Star, p. 1
  70. ^ a b LBJ signs bill for Jackson airport work (1966, November 9) Casper Star Tribune, p. 21
  71. ^ Senate approves Wilderness Bill (1971, May 4) Casper Star Tribune, p. 8
  72. ^ Du Noir is wilderness (1972, October 12), Jackson Hole News, p. 8
  73. ^ "Summer roadtrip: A fossil aquarium in Wyoming".
  74. ^ "National Commission Submits Congressional Report to Improve Diabetes Prevention and Care". diaTribe Change. Retrieved August 6, 2023.
  75. ^ a b University of Wyoming (1997)
  76. ^ IRWIN, D. (1986, April 19). Panel urges revision of immigration policy for southeast asians. Los Angeles Times.
  77. ^ "Gale McGee, 77, Wyoming Democrat in Senate 18 Years". The New York Times. April 10, 1992.
  78. ^ "Oak Hill Cemetery, Georgetown, D.C. (Terraced Niches, Etc.) - Rock Creek Terraced Niches (3021-3088)" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on March 2, 2022. Retrieved August 16, 2022.
  79. ^ []

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Wyoming
(Class 1)

1958, 1964, 1970, 1976
Succeeded by
U.S. Senate
Preceded by  U.S. senator (Class 1) from Wyoming
Served alongside: Joseph C. O'Mahoney, John J. Hickey, Milward L. Simpson, Clifford P. Hansen
Succeeded by
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by Permanent Representative of the United States to the Organization of American States
Succeeded by
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