John Sherman Cooper: Wikis


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John Sherman Cooper

In office
November 6, 1946 – January 3, 1949
Preceded by William A. Stanfill
Succeeded by Virgil Chapman
In office
November 5, 1952 – January 3, 1955
Preceded by Thomas R. Underwood
Succeeded by Alben Barkley
In office
November 7, 1956 – January 3, 1973
Preceded by Robert Humphreys
Succeeded by Walter Huddleston

In office
February 4, 1955 – April 9, 1956
President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Preceded by George V. Allen
Succeeded by Ellsworth Bunker

Born August 23, 1901
Somerset, Kentucky
Died February 13, 1991 (aged 89)
Washington, D.C.
Political party Republican
Alma mater Centre College
Yale University
Harvard Law School
Profession Attorney
Religion Baptist
Military service
Service/branch United States Army
Rank Captain

John Sherman Cooper (August 23, 1901 – February 21, 1991) was a liberal Republican United States Senator from Kentucky who served a total of twenty years (1946-1949, 1952-1955, 1956-1973). He was a captain in the United States Army, and served as a member of the Warren Commission, and as U.S. ambassador to India and East Germany.


Early life

John Sherman Cooper was born in Somerset, Pulaski County, Kentucky. After a year at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, Cooper transferred to Yale, where he was captain of the basketball team, and a member of Skull & Bones; in 1923 he was voted "most likely to succeed".

He went on to Harvard Law School, but had to withdraw in 1925 after learning from his dying father that the recession of 1920 had virtually wiped out the family's resources. Assuming his father's debts, Cooper sold the family mansion. Over the next twenty-five years he paid off the debts and sent six brothers and sisters to college. He passed the state bar examination and was admitted to law practice in 1928.

Political career

Cooper won his first elective office in 1927, a two-year term in the Kentucky House of Representatives. From 1930 to 1938 he served as county judge, a powerful local administrative post that controlled county patronage.

Cooper was elected three times to fill unexpired terms in the United States Senate. The first time was in 1946, after A.B. "Happy" Chandler, a former and future Kentucky governor, resigned to become Commissioner of Baseball. Cooper failed to win re-election in the 1948 general election, but in 1952 he was elected to fill the unexpired term of Virgil Chapman, the man who had defeated him in the 1948 election.

Considered a liberal Republican, Cooper was one of the first Republicans in the Senate to denounce Senator Joseph R. McCarthy of Wisconsin for the tactics of McCarthy's anti-Communist campaign. At a time when it was unpopular to do so, Cooper also opposed legislation to remove from reluctant witnesses the Fifth Amendment's protection against self-incrimination.

In the next general election (1954) Cooper was defeated by Alben W. Barkley, a Democrat who had been Vice President under Harry S. Truman — but Barkley subsequently died, and Cooper was elected to fill his unexpired term in 1956. This time Cooper finally succeeded in winning re-election to a full term, in the election of 1960; he won election to his final term in the Senate in 1966.

Cooper voted for many pieces of civil rights legislation, including the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Cooper became a staunch opponent of the Vietnam War, and in 1970 he joined with Democratic Senator Frank Church of Idaho in drafting the Cooper-Church Amendment, which was aimed at barring further United States military action in Cambodia. Cooper's service in the Senate continued until his retirement in 1973.

Diplomatic assignments

Cooper's brief first stint in the Senate won him friends, among them Arthur Vandenberg, a Republican Senate leader, and President Harry S Truman. In 1949, Truman made Cooper a delegate to the United Nations; in subsequent years Cooper served in other missions to the United Nations, and as a special assistant to United States Secretary of State Dean Acheson. In 1955, Cooper was appointed to the joint ambassadorship to India and Nepal. There he worked closely with India's prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru to improve U. S.-Indian relations. In 1956, Cooper returned to Kentucky to run for the unexpired U. S. Senate seat of the late Alben Barkley. Cooper also served from 1975 to 1976 as the first U. S. ambassador to the German Democratic Republic (i.e., East Germany).

The Warren Commission

Cooper was one of the members of the Warren Commission appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964 to investigate the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He was later quoted as saying: "Now, people have said that somebody told them that they saw somebody on the railroad bank or saw somebody going over the bank, but no one has ever been able to show any cartridges, any rifle, any pistol, no one has ever found anything other than the evidence about Oswald."


  • A statue honoring Cooper stands in Fountain Square in Somerset, Kentucky.
  • In 1962, Centre College constructed and named a building after Cooper - Cooper House.[1]
  • Centre College has instated the John Sherman Cooper Scholarship, established by Frank Helm, awarded annually to a student with outstanding character and academic ability who also has a financial need.[2]


  • Mitchiner, Clarice James (1982). Senator John Sherman Cooper, consummate statesman (Dissertations in American biography). New York, New York: Arno Press. ISBN 978-0405140990.  
  • Schulman, Robert (1976). John Sherman Cooper: The Global Kentuckian. Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 978-0813102200.  


United States Senate
Preceded by
William A. Stanfill
United States Senator (Class 2) from Kentucky
November 6, 1946 – January 3, 1949
Served alongside: Alben W. Barkley
Succeeded by
Virgil Chapman
Preceded by
Thomas R. Underwood
United States Senator (Class 2) from Kentucky
November 5, 1952 – January 3, 1955
Served alongside: Earle C. Clements
Succeeded by
Alben Barkley
Preceded by
Robert Humphreys
United States Senator (Class 2) from Kentucky
November 7, 1956 – January 3, 1973
Served alongside: Earle C. Clements, Thurston B. Morton, Marlow W. Cook
Succeeded by
Walter Huddleston
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
George V. Allen
United States Ambassador to India
1955 – 1956
Succeeded by
Ellsworth Bunker
Preceded by
Brandon H. Grove, Jr.
United States Ambassador to East Germany
1974 – 1976
Succeeded by
David B. Bolen

External links



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