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George David Aiken

George David Aiken in his office

In office
January 7, 1937 – January 9, 1941
Lieutenant William H. Wills
Preceded by Charles Manley Smith
Succeeded by William H. Wills

In office
January 10, 1941 – January 3, 1975
Preceded by Ernest W. Gibson, Jr.
Succeeded by Patrick Leahy

Born August 20, 1892(1892-08-20)
Dummerston, Vermont
Died November 19, 1984 (aged 92)
Putney, Vermont
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Beatrice Howard, Lola Pierotti
For the playwright, see George Aiken (playwright).

George David Aiken (August 20, 1892 – November 19, 1984) was an American politician from Vermont. A Republican, he served as the 64th Governor of Vermont from 1937 to 1941 and as a U.S. Senator from 1941 to 1975. At the time of his retirement, Aiken was the most senior member of the Senate.

Aiken was born in Dummerston in Windham County, Vermont, and graduated from Brattleboro High School while living in Putney, Vermont in 1909. A Republican, he was elected to the Vermont House of Representatives in 1931 and served as speaker from 1933 to 1935. He was lieutenant governor of Vermont from 1935 to 1937 and subsequently served two terms as governor, being first elected in 1936 and re-elected in 1938.

As governor of Vermont, he broke the monopolies of many major industries, including banks, railroads, marble companies, and granite companies. He also encouraged suffering farmers in rural Vermont to form co-ops to market their crops and get access to electricity.

He was elected to the United States Senate on November 5, 1940, to fill the vacancy in the term ending January 3, 1945, caused by the death of Ernest W. Gibson, and was re-elected in 1944, 1950, 1956, 1962, and 1968. During his time in the Senate he served in a number of leadership roles including Chairman of the Committee on Expenditures in Executive Departments in the 80th Congress and in the Committee on Agriculture and Forestry in the 83rd Congress bringing a Vermont-centric voice to Congress emphasizing common sense solutions over party ideology. He was one of the white-haired men during the time of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy's inaugural statement about the torch passing to a new generation.

During the Vietnam war, Aiken is widely believed to have suggested that the U.S. should declare victory and bring the troops home. Actually, what he said was that "the United States could well declare unilaterally ... that we have 'won' in the sense that our armed forces are in control of most of the field and no potential enemy is in a position to establish its authority over South Vietnam," and that such a declaration "would herald the resumption of political warfare as the dominant theme in Vietnam." He added: "It may be a far-fetched proposal, but nothing else has worked."[1]

He was a proponent of many progressive programs such as Food Stamps and public works projects for rural America, such as rural electrification, flood control and crop insurance. His views were at odds with those of many Old Guard Republicans in the Senate. Vermonters showed Aiken such respect and affection that he reportedly spent only $17.09 on his last reelection bid. A north-south avenue on the west side of the public lawn at the Vermont State House has been named for him, as well as the state's maple research center at the University of Vermont.

He married Beatrice Howard and had four children by her: Dorothy, Marjorie, Howard, and Barbara. He married his second wife, Lola Pierotti, on June 30, 1967.

Committee assignments

Committee Congresses Notes
Agriculture and Forestry 77th93rd Ranking Member (81 – 82; 84 – 91); Chairman (83)[2]
Civil Service 77th – 79th
Education and Labor
Labor and Public Welfare
77th – 80th
Expenditures in Executive Departments 77th – 80th Ranking Member (79);[3] Chairman (80)[4]
Pensions 77th – 79th Ranking Member (79)[3]
Senatorial Campaign Expenditures, 1942 (Select) 77th – 78th [5]
Foreign Relations 83rd – 93rd Appointed January 15, 1954[6]
Atomic Energy (Joint) 86th – 93rd
Aeronautical and Space Sciences 89th Resigned from committee January 14, 1966[7]


  1. ^ Eder, Richard. "Aiken Suggests U.S. Say It Has Won the War." New York Times. October 20, 1966, pp. 1, 16
  2. ^ The United States Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry: 1825-1998 (S. Doc. 105-24). 105th Congress. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. 1998.  
  3. ^ a b Official Congressional Directory. 79th Congress
  4. ^ "Charimen of Senate Standing Committees 1789-Present". Senate Historical Office. June 2008. pp. 35. Retrieved 2009-05-07.  
  5. ^ Canon, David T.; Garrison Nelson and Charles Stewart III (2002). Commitees in the U.S. Congress: 1789-1946. Vol 4, Select Committees. Washington, DC: CQ Press. ISBN 1-56802-175-5.  
  6. ^ Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, Millennium Edition, 1816-2000 (S. Doc. 105-28). 105th Congress, 2d session. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. 2000. pp. 98.  
  7. ^ Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences, United States Senate: 1958-1976. 94th Congress, 2nd Session. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. December 30, 1976. pp. 63.  

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Charles Manley Smith
Lieutenant Governor of Vermont
1935 – 1937
Succeeded by
William H. Wills
Governor of Vermont
1937 – 1941
Preceded by
Lister Hill
Chairman of the Senate Executive Department Expenditures Committee
1947 – 1949
Succeeded by
John L. McClellan
Preceded by
Allen J. Ellender
Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee
1953 – 1955
Succeeded by
Allen J. Ellender
United States Senate
Preceded by
Ernest W. Gibson, Jr.
United States Senator (Class 3) from Vermont
1941 – 1975
Served alongside: Warren R. Austin, Ralph Flanders, Winston L. Prouty, Robert Stafford
Succeeded by
Patrick Leahy
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Allen J. Ellender
Dean of the United States Senate
July 27, 1972 – January 3, 1975
Succeeded by
James Eastland
and John L. McClellan


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

George David Aiken (1892-08-201984-11-19) was an American politician from Vermont. A Republican, he served as Governor of Vermont from 1937 to 1941 and as a U.S. Senator from 1941 to 1975.


  • Today the Republican Party attracts neither the farmer nor the industrial worker. Why not? To represent the people one must know them. Lincoln did. The Republican Party leadership does not. The greatest praise I can give Lincoln on this his anniversary is to say he would be ashamed of his party's leadership today.
    • 1938 radio broadcast from New York City marking Abraham Lincoln's birthday, quoted in Vermont Today, Vermont's Great Moments of the 20th Century[1]


  • If we were to wake up some morning and find that everyone was the same race, creed and color, we would find some other cause for prejudice by noon.
  • The best policy is to declare victory and get out.
    • Discussing the Vietnam war
  • True conservation provides for wise use by the general public. The American people do not want our resources preserved for the exclusive use of the wealthy. These land and water resources belong to the people, and people of all income levels should have easy access to them.
  • People are people the world over. Some are good, some bad, some greedy and some generous. Nations are like people and act the same way.
  • We cannot go back to the days when we graded apples by the number of wormholes, picked potato bugs by hand, and milked by hand in the lantern light.

External links

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