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Frank Church
Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

In office
January 3, 1979 – January 3, 1981
Preceded by John Sparkman
Succeeded by Charles H. Percy
Chair of the Senate Aging Committee

In office
January 3, 1971 – January 3, 1979
Preceded by Harrison A. Williams
Succeeded by Lawton Chiles
United States Senator
from Idaho

In office
January 3, 1957 – January 3, 1981
Preceded by Herman Welker
Succeeded by Steve Symms
Personal details
Born Frank Forrester Church III
(1924-07-25)July 25, 1924
Boise, Idaho, U.S.
Died April 7, 1984(1984-04-07) (aged 59)
Bethesda, Maryland, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Bethine Clark (1947–1984)
Children 2 (including Frank)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1943–1946
Rank US-O1 insignia.svg Second Lieutenant
Unit Military intelligence
Battles/wars World War II
 • China Burma India Theater

Frank Forrester Church III (July 25, 1924 – April 7, 1984) was an American lawyer and politician. A member of the Democratic Party, he served as a United States Senator from Idaho from 1957 to 1981. He is known for heading the Church Committee, which investigated abuses in the United States Intelligence Community.

Born and raised in Boise, Idaho, Church served as a military intelligence officer in the China Burma India Theater during World War II. He established a legal practice in Boise after graduating from Stanford Law School. He defeated incumbent Republican Senator Herman Welker in Idaho's 1956 Senate election, becoming one of the youngest individuals ever to serve in the Senate. In the Senate, Church became a protégé of Lyndon B. Johnson and established a reputation as a member of the party's liberal wing. He sponsored the Wilderness Act and the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

Church emerged as an important figure in American foreign policy and chaired the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations from 1979 to 1981. He was one of the first Senators to publicly oppose the Vietnam War, and co-sponsored legislation to curtail the war. In 1975, Church led the Church Committee, which inspired the passage of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the creation of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. He also led the effort to ratify the Torrijos–Carter Treaties, which returned the Panama Canal Zone to Panama.

Church sought the Democratic nomination in the 1976 presidential election, but withdrew from the race in favor of Jimmy Carter. Church won re-election to the Senate in 1962, 1968, and 1974, but narrowly lost his bid for a fifth term to Steve Symms. After leaving the Senate, Church practiced international law until his death in 1984.

Early life[]

Further reading[]

  • Ashby, LeRoy. "Frank Church Goes to the Senate: The Idaho Election of 1956." Pacific Northwest Quarterly 78 (January–April 1987): 17-31.
  • Ashby, LeRoy, and Rod Gramer. Fighting the Odds: The Life of Senator Frank Church. Pullman: Washington State University Press, 1994.
  • Church, F. Forrester. Father and Son: A Personal Biography of Senator Frank Church of Idaho by His Son'
  • Dant, Sara. "Making Wilderness Work: Frank Church and the American Wilderness Movement." Pacific Historical Review 77 (May 2008): 237-272.
  • Ewert, Sara E. Dant. "The Conversion of Senator Frank Church: Evolution of an Environmentalist." Ph.D. dissertation, Washington State University, 2000.
  • Ewert, Sara E. Dant. "Evolution of an Environmentalist: Senator Frank Church and the Hells Canyon Controversy." Montana: The Magazine of Western History 51 (Spring 2001): 36-51.
  • Ewert, Sara E. Dant. "Peak Park Politics: The Struggle over the Sawtooths, from Borah to Church." Pacific Northwest Quarterly (Summer 2000): 138-149.
  • Hall, Bill. Frank Church, D.C., and Me. Pullman, Washington: Washington State University Press, 1995. ISBN 978-0-87422-119-0

External links[]

Party political offices
Preceded by
David Worth Clark
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Idaho
(Class 3)

1956, 1962, 1968, 1974, 1980
Succeeded by
John V. Evans
Preceded by
Frank G. Clement
Keynote Speaker of the Democratic National Convention
1960
Succeeded by
John O. Pastore
Preceded by
Mike Mansfield
Response to the State of the Union address
1972
Served alongside: Carl Albert, Lloyd Bentsen, Hale Boggs, John Brademas, Thomas Eagleton, Martha Griffiths, John Melcher, Ralph Metcalfe, William Proxmire, Leonor Sullivan
Vacant
Title next held by
Mike Mansfield
United States Senate
Preceded by
Herman Welker
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Idaho
1957–1981
Served alongside: Henry Dworshak, Leonard B. Jordan, James A. McClure
Succeeded by
Steve Symms
Preceded by
John Sparkman
Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
1979–1981
Succeeded by
Charles H. Percy
Preceded by
Harrison A. Williams
Chair of the Senate Aging Committee
1971–1979
Succeeded by
Lawton Chiles
New office Chair of the Senate National Emergency Termination Committee
1971–1975
Position abolished
Chair of the Church Committee
1975
Succeeded by
Daniel Inouye
as Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Russell Long
Baby of the Senate
1957–1961
Succeeded by
John Tower

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