Burton K. Wheeler
Burton Kendall Wheeler (February 27, 1882 – January 6, 1975) was an attorney and an American politician of the Democratic Party in Montana, which he represented as a United States senator from 1923 until 1947.
|United States Senator|
March 4, 1923 – January 3, 1947
|Preceded by||Henry L. Myers|
|Succeeded by||Zales Ecton|
|United States Attorney for the District of Montana|
1912 – October 1918
|Member of the Montana House of Representatives|
Burton Kendall Wheeler
February 27, 1882
Hudson, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Died||January 6, 1975 92) (aged|
Washington, D.C., U.S.
|Resting place||Rock Creek Cemetery|
Washington, D.C., U.S.
|Children||6, including Frances|
|Education||University of Michigan (LLB)|
Born in Massachusetts, Wheeler began practicing law in Montana almost by chance, after losing his belongings while en route to Seattle. As the U.S. Attorney for Montana, he became known for his criticism of the Sedition Act of 1918 and defense of civil liberties during World War I. An independent Democrat who initially represented the progressive wing of the party, he received support from Montana's labor unions in his election to the Senate in 1922.
As a freshman Senator, Wheeler played a crucial role in exposing the Harding administration's unwillingness to prosecute people involved in the Teapot Dome scandal. He ran for vice president in 1924 on the Progressive Party ticket headed by Wisconsin Senator Robert La Follette Sr. He voted for the Immigration Act of 1924 which limited Catholic and Jewish immigration, and almost entirely banned Asian immigrants. An ardent New Deal liberal until 1937, Wheeler broke with President Franklin D. Roosevelt on the issue of packing the Supreme Court. In foreign policy, from 1938 to 1941, he became a leader of the non-interventionist wing of the party, fighting against entry into World War II until the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Wheeler lost reelection in 1946 and retired to private practice in Washington, D.C. His legacy is controversial. Wheeler's support of the America First Committee has been characterized as antisemitic, though some biographers argue that these accusations were promoted by his political opponents. Wheeler himself rejected the accusations during his lifetime.