J. William Fulbright

J. William Fulbright

Known as one of the most influential senators in American history, J. William Fulbright served as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 1959 through 1974, the group's longest-serving leader. As a member of the House of Representatives, he first received national attention when he authored the Fulbright Resolution in 1942, which encouraged the United States' participation in what later became the United Nations.Early yearsJames William Fulbright was born on April 9, 1905, in Sumner, Missouri. With aspirations to make a positive difference in the world, he first attended the University of Arkansas where he was awarded the B.A. degree upon completion of his studies.When Fulbright returned to the United States, he studied law at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The 1930s proved to be Fulbright's starting point in a career of moral suasion and conciliation. The year 1936 brought him home to Arkansas, where he was a lecturer in law (1939 to 1941) at the University of Arkansas — quickly becoming president of that institution.A man with a missionBy 1946, the successful professor and former university president developed the Fulbright Program that funded war reparations and foreign loan repayments to the United States. While he was the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Fulbright wrote a caustic critique, entitled The Arrogance of Power, about the failure Congress made to set limits on the United States' participation in the Vietnam War and the movements that gave rise to it.Fulbright also warned of the impending results of the passing of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in 1964 that led to a further escalation of the Vietnam War. Fulbright left the Senate in 1974, after being defeated in the Democratic primary by then-governor Dale Bumpers.Former senator J. William Fulbright died of a stroke on February 9, 1995, at the age of 89 at his home in Washington, D.C.

Throughout our history two strands have coexisted uneasily; a dominant strand of democratic humanism and a lesser, but durable strand of intolerant Puritanism. There has been a tendency through the years for reason and moderation to prevail as long as things are going tolerably well or as long as our problems seem clear and finite and manageable. But... when some event or leader of opinion has aroused the people to a state of high emotion, our puritan spirit has tended to break through, leading us to look at the world through the distorting prism of a harsh and angry moralism. - The Arrogance of Power, J. William Fulbright, 1966.

J. William Fulbright

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J. William Fulbright, in full James William Fulbright, (born April 9, 1905, Sumner, Mo., U.S.—died Feb. 9, 1995, Washington, D.C.), American senator who initiated the international exchange program for scholars known as the Fulbright scholarship. He is also known for his vocal and articulate criticism of U.S. military involvement in South Vietnam during his tenure as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Fulbright graduated from the University of Arkansas, then went to Oxford—where he earned two degrees—as a Rhodes Scholar. Back in the United States, he received his law degree from George Washington University (Washington, D.C.) and taught law at the University of Arkansas, serving as president of the latter from 1939 to 1941.

In 1942 Fulbright won a seat as a Democrat in the House of Representatives, thus beginning a political career that was to last more than three decades. His most notable achievement in the House was the 1943 Fulbright Resolution, putting the House on record as favouring U.S. participation in a postwar international organization. This organization at its founding in 1945 was named the United Nations.

In 1944 Fulbright ran successfully for the Senate. The following year he initiated the Fulbright Act, establishing an educational exchange program for scholars between the United States and foreign countries.

Fulbright voted against funding for Senator Joseph R. McCarthy’s anti-Communist investigations, an action that made him popular among liberals. He consistently opposed efforts to integrate schools and promote the civil rights of blacks, however, making it possible for him to be reelected from Arkansas in 1950, 1956, 1962, and 1968.

As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (1959–74), Fulbright advised President Kennedy not to invade Cuba, and he vigorously opposed President Johnson’s 1965 intervention in the Dominican Republic.

The American public came to know Fulbright best for his probing, articulate opposition to the Vietnam War, despite the fact that he initially supported U.S. involvement. Indeed, as an old friend and former Senate colleague of President Johnson, Fulbright had shepherded the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution through the Senate. In 1966, however, his committee held televised hearings on U.S. military involvement in Southeast Asia, from which he emerged as a leading proponent for an end to the U.S. bombing of North Vietnam and for peace talks to settle the Vietnamese conflict.

Fulbright was defeated in the Arkansas Democratic primary contest for the Senate in 1974, and he retired later that year. He presented his views of U.S. foreign policy in a number of books, including Old Myths and New Realities (1964), The Arrogance of Power (1966), and The Crippled Giant (1972).

This article was most recently revised and updated by Amy Tikkanen, Corrections Manager.

Panel: Remove Fulbright statue, name from Arkansas campus

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- A University of Arkansas committee says tributes honoring a former senator, alum and segregationist whose beliefs did not align with the values of the institution today should be removed from campus.

The committee considered J. William Fulbright’s stance on integration and civil rights in the 1950s and 1960s before recommending his statue be removed and his name stripped from the university’s arts and sciences college, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

Fulbright was a UA graduate and served as the university's president for three years starting in 1939. He is known worldwide for creating an international education scholarship in his name.

“There was a time when Black students were not welcome on our campus,” the committee said following its review of Fulbright's legacy. “J. William Fulbright, while senator, voted against the interests of Black students, and supported values antithetical to the university. For many, the statue is a memorial to those segregationist values and a daily reminder to our Black students of that time.”

The committee — comprising students, alumni, faculty and staff — also recommended the name of former Arkansas Gov. Charles Brough be removed from a campus dining hall due to his role in the 1919 Elaine Massacre, one of the largest racial mass killings in U.S. history.

“The committee recognizes that these recommendations alone will not transform the University of Arkansas into a wholly equitable and antiracist campus. Nonetheless, public memorials, statues and dedications need to be changed if they reinforce historic racism,” the committee stated.

In a statement posted Wednesday on the university's website, Chancellor Joe Steinmetz said the university would gather feedback and consider input and perspectives from other university stakeholders, including faculty, staff, alumni and students.

The feedback would conclude in late May and any changes would need to be approved by the university system's board of trustees, the statement said.

“This matter is complicated by Sen. Fulbright’s deep connections to the state and university, and important international contributions, at the same time acknowledging that the name causes pain for some on our campus, which is unfortunate,” Steinmetz said.

Sen. Mark Johnson warned that a bill that has yet to be signed into law would restrict the removal of public monuments.

“The bill was not specifically aimed at that or any other statue,” Johnson said. “It protects the Sen. Fulbright statue, it protects Confederate monuments, it protects the Little Rock Nine memorial on the Capitol grounds.”

The bill would allow for petitions to the Arkansas Historical Commission seeking approval to remove monuments.

UA spokesman Mark Rushing said in an email that the “university will follow the law concerning any recommendations or decisions on these matters.”

Daniel Webster, president of the UA Black Students Association and a member of the committee, said whether the recommendations are followed or what the next steps are, “we’ll at least know how the committee felt for years to come, and I think that was really important.”

University of Arkansas may move statue of William Fulbright, late senator and Bill Clinton's mentor

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The University of Arkansas’ chancellor has reportedly met with state lawmakers this week to hear their concerns about the potential relocation of a campus statue of late Sen. James William Fulbright – the one-time mentor to Bill Clinton whom the former president delivered a eulogy for at his funeral.

The meeting Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz had Tuesday in Little Rock lasted about an hour, KHBS reported, and came weeks after he addressed a letter to the university system’s president recommending that the statue of Fulbright erected outside of the Fayetteville campus’s oldest building be moved elsewhere to "another appropriate campus location."

"You have to keep the history," Steinmetz said to a group of lawmakers, some of whom are University of Arkansas graduates who have taken issue with moving the statue away from its current location, according to KHBS.

The J. William Fulbright statue on campus of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. (Replay Photos/Getty Images) (Lance King/Replay Photos via Getty Images)

"So what I'm really suggesting in recommending that to Dr. Bobbitt and the board is that we not diminish Senator Fulbright at all, but actually celebrate that history but to celebrate the complete story of the history not just things that we pick and choose to talk about," he added. "That includes all the great things that he did at which are just tremendous in number but also the failures that he had historically as well."

Steinmetz said in his May 19 letter that the university had formed a committee to "evaluate Senator J. William Fulbright’s controversial and complex legacy on our campus" and "to explore whether the statue of Fulbright should continue to occupy a place in the center of campus."

He said critics of Fulbright point to the senator’s civil rights record, in particular his decision to sign the Southern Manifesto – a declaration opposing the landmark Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education – and resistance to the "Civil Rights Bills of 1957 and 1964, and vote against the Voting Rights Bill of 1965."

"On the other hand, we must also weigh his contributions as a president of the University and as a U.S. senator, including opposition to the Vietnam war and perhaps his greatest legacy, the Fulbright International Exchange Program, likely the most prestigious, far-reaching and important exchange program in the world," Steinmetz said.

The chancellor also said "some would prefer that the university completely remove the statue in an attempt to further distance the campus from Senator Fulbright," while "others suggest that we move the statue from its current location in order to reduce the discomfort that some students feel from having to pass by it when entering and exiting Old Main."

Before he became president, when Clinton was a student at Georgetown University, he worked as an intern for Fulbright, who at the time was leading the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

"We come to celebrate and give thanks for the remarkable life of J. William Fulbright, a life that changed our country and our world forever and for the better," Clinton had said when delivering Fulbright’s eulogy in 1995. "In the work he did, the words he spoke, and the life he lived, Bill Fulbright stood against the 20th century's most destructive forces and fought to advance its brightest hopes."

Clinton also lauded the Fulbright Scholarship Program as a "perfect example of Bill Fulbright's faith, different kinds of people learning side by side, building what he called ‘a capacity for empathy, a distaste for killing other men, and an inclination for peace.’"

In his letter, Steinmetz told university system president Donald Bobbitt that he is making a formal request to relocate the statue to an undetermined on-campus location "where our campus community and visitors can go to see and hear the entire story of Fulbright."

"Ultimately, the goal and desire is to create a healthy dialogue, to minimize hurt feelings, and challenge false dichotomies – that you are either against Fulbright . or else you are a racist," Steinmetz said. "It is just more complicated than that."

Fulbright and Vietnam

In 1964 Fulbright and most other American lawmakers expressed firm support for President Lyndon Johnson's (see entry) introduction of U.S. forces into South Vietnam. In fact, the Arkansas senator sponsored the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which Johnson later used as his legal authority for waging war against North Vietnam and its Viet Cong allies. This resolution was passed by Congress in August 1964, after U.S. Navy ships based in Vietnam allegedly came under attack from North Vietnamese forces. It authorized Johnson to take "all necessary measures" against further attacks. Today, however, most historians believe that the U.S. Navy vessels were never attacked.

"When I look back on [my sponsorship of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution], I couldn't have made a greater mistake," Fulbright stated in The Bad War: An Oral History of the Vietnam War. "I consider that as my greatest mistake in the Senate, to believe what they [the Johnson administration] said and not take it skeptically and examine it. They made it appear that this was very important to support the President and that if he had the backing of this great country, that we could make North Vietnam understand that the United States couldn't be pushed around in this fashion and that they would in effect sue for peace, and it would end the thing [the war] there . . . . There's no excuse for my stupidity in going along with the administration. I shouldn't have . . . . I was mistaken and I'm sorry and that's all I can say."

In 1965 the Johnson administration began pouring U.S. troops and weaponry into Vietnam at a furious rate. Around this same time, Fulbright began to express private doubts about the wisdom of America's growing military presence in the conflict and its ability to win the war quickly. He also rejected the Johnson administration's description of the war as a Cold War clash of great strategic importance to the United States. Instead, Fulbright came to regard the war as a regional struggle that should be settled by the Vietnamese people without outside interference.

In late 1965 Fulbright reluctantly decided that he needed to express his growing concerns about the Vietnam War in public. "Fulbright dreaded the thought of bringing on himself the firestorm of pressure and controversy that would certainly be triggered by publicly criticizing the war policies of a still-popular president," wrote Eugene Brown in J. William Fulbright: Advice and Dissent. "Yet, he could not much longer suppress his own gnawing doubts about the wisdom of committing America's power and prestige to the military determination of what he was coming to view as a localized political conflict."

History minute: Fulbright makes the world a classroom

Each year, thousands of college students are given the opportunity to continue their studies outside their home countries through a program devised by one Arkansas educator and politician.

The Fulbright Scholar Program has become one of the most prestigious efforts of study thanks to veteran U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright of Fayetteville, who created the program in 1946. His experiences as a student and as an educator convinced him of the importance of expanding the horizons of young scholars as much as possible.

James William Fulbright was born in Sumner, a tiny farm community in central Missouri, in 1905. Within a year, his family moved to Fayetteville, where his father controlled his business interests in banking, bottling and lumber. Education was always an important part of Fulbright’s life. He attended the experimental kindergarten class at the University of Arkansas as a child when kindergarten was almost unheard of.

As a young man, he attended the university, ultimately earning a history degree.

Afterward, Fulbright earned a Rhodes Scholarship for study at Oxford University in Great Britain. The program had been established in 1902 by Cecil Rhodes, a British explorer, politician and mine owner who had made a fortune in Africa. The coveted scholarship is offered to roughly one hundred students around the world each year.

His experiences as a student at Oxford opened his eyes to a wide world of experiences far beyond his upbringing in a small corner of Arkansas had ever offered. Oxford, the oldest university in England, had for eight centuries educated the brightest minds and brought in students from across Europe and eventually the globe to work, learn, and live together. He earned a masters degree from Oxford in 1928 and soon enrolled at the George Washington University Law School in Washington, DC, earning a law degree in 1934.

Fulbright served for two years as an antitrust lawyer for the Department of Justice before returning to Arkansas in 1936. He worked for the University of Arkansas as a law professor from 1936 to 1939. That year, longtime university president John C. Futrall died in a car accident. University trustees decided to choose an internal candidate to succeed Futrall and quickly decided on Fulbright. As president, Fulbright saw thousands of students from all walks of life come through the university and understood the importance and prestige that a university education offered.

When Fulbright was elected to Congress during World War II, he brought an international perspective with him. In 1943, he pushed through a resolution calling for the United States to create new international organizations dedicated to peace, such as the United Nations. The measure, later called the Fulbright Resolution, passed by a vote of 360 to 29.

As the war came to a close, the newly elected Senator recognized how much the world had changed. The old world was gone, where nations, businesses and scholars could stay insulate themselves from the rest of the globe. Overall, a lasting peace among nations required more than just agreements among politicians. The people had to be involved, and education was the key to peace.

Modeled on the Rhodes Scholar idea, Fulbright sponsored the creation of the Fulbright Scholar Program to send American students abroad and to bring international students to the United States. Fulbright’s proposal, in fact, was designed to reach many more students than the Rhodes Scholar program had. In the process, students would learn about foreign cultures and, Fulbright believed, about the importance of American democratic ideals.

He mused on how differently international politics could have changed if America’s adversaries had been exposed to American ideas as part of their education.

“What a fine thing it would be if Mr. [Joseph] Stalin or Mr. [Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav] Molotov could have gone… to Columbia in their youth,” remarked Fulbright as he pushed the initiative.

Fulbright found an ingenious way to fund the expansive new international scholarship program with very little effort. The program was initially financed through sales of unneeded and excess military supplies — that is, war surplus — by slightly amending the 1944 Surplus Property Act. The entire scholarship would be administered through the state department.

The program was signed into law by President Harry S. Truman on August 1, 1946.

The program quickly became a monumental success. The program has included in its ranks 33 heads of state, 59 Nobel Prize winners and 82 Pulitzer Prize winners, easily some of the most influential minds of the past 70 years. The program has expanded to include researchers and teachers as well.

More than 300,000 students worldwide have participated in the Fulbright program, including more than 120,000 from just the United States. More than 150 nations participate.

Fulbright allowed the world to become a classroom. In the process, students learned not only how to build their own lives, but how to work with others and preserve peace.

History of the Bulgarian Fulbright Commission

“The simple purpose of the exchange program… is to erode the culturally rooted mistrust that sets nations against one another. The exchange program is not a panacea but an avenue of hope.”

Senator J William Fulbright

The Fulbright Program

In September 1945, in the wake of the horrors of World War Two, Senator James William Fulbright (D-Arkansas) introduced a bill establishing an international academic exchange program to be funded through the disposal of U.S. wartime properties in Europe. The bill passed without debate and was signed into law by President Truman on August 1, 1946. Educational exchanges were consolidated during the presidency of John F. Kennedy under the Mutual Educational and Cultural Act of 1961, introduced by Senator Fulbright in the Senate and Representative Wayne Hays of Ohio in the House. This law, still operative today, is known as the Fulbright-Hays Act. Its main purpose is “to enable the Government of the United State to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchange to strengthen the ties which unite us with other nations by demonstrating the educational and cultural interests, developments and achievements of the people of the United States and the other nations, and the contributions being made toward a peaceful and more fruitful life for people throughout the world to promote international cooperation for educational and cultural advancement and thus to assist in the development of friendly, sympathetic, and peaceful relations between the United States and other countries of the world.”

Today, Fulbright is the most widely recognized and prestigious international exchange program in the world. Over the past seven decades, the Fulbright Program has enabled more than 360 000 people to participate in the Fulbright exchange. The Fulbright Program awards approximately 8,000 grants annually, seeking out individuals with potential who represent the full diversity of their respective societies and selecting nominees through open, merit-based competitions.

Many Fulbright alumni have become prominent figures in government, science, the arts, business, and education: 30 Fulbright alumni have served as head of state in their home countries Fulbright alumni have been awarded 53 Nobel Prizes and 88 Pulitzer Prizes, 29 have received MacArthur Foundation “Genius” awards, and 16 have been recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The Fulbright Program is administered in the United States by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to the United States Department of State through cooperating agencies, such as the Institute of International Education (IIE) and the Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES). The J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board (FSB), which consists of twelve presidentially-appointed members, provides policy guidelines for the educational exchange. Overseas, the Fulbright Program is administered in 50 countries by binational commissions which implement the principle of binationalism strongly emphasized by Senator Fulbright himself: “I had not wanted this to be solely an American program… In each country, binational commissions were to develop the kind of program that made sense to them – what kinds of students, or teachers and professors, should be selected, what kind of research work.”

The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation by the Congress of the United States. The Congressional appropriation for the Fulbright Program in fiscal year 2015 was $236 million. Participating governments, foundations and host institutions in foreign countries and the United States also contribute financially through cost-sharing and indirect support.

Bulgarian-American Commission for Educational Exchange

Bulgarian-American Commission for Educational Exchange

The Bulgarian-American Commission for Educational Exchange (Bulgarian Fulbright Commission) was officially inaugurated on February 9, 1993, under a ten-year bilateral agreement between the Governments of the United States and the Republic of Bulgaria. On December 3, 2003, a new bilateral agreement was signed between the Governments of the United States and the Republic of Bulgaria establishing the Fulbright Commission in perpetuity. The Commission consists of ten members, five American citizens and five Bulgarian citizens. They represent the major areas of state and public activity: government, education, the arts, and business. The Ambassador of the United States to the Republic of Bulgaria and the Minister of Education and Science of the Republic of Bulgaria serve as honorary chairpersons of the Commission.

The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program and Commission in Bulgaria is an annual US government allocation of approximately $600,000 and since 2009 an annual Bulgarian government contribution of $140,000. The America for Bulgaria Foundation has generously supported the expansion of the Bulgarian Fulbright English Teaching Assistant program since 2010.

The main function of the Commission directly derives from the goals of the Fulbright Program worldwide and consists in administering the exchange of Bulgarian and American scholars, students, teaching assistants and professionals and providing educational advising about opportunities for study in the U.S.

Prior to the establishment of the Commission, the Fulbright exchange in Bulgaria existed on a limited scale: between 1967 and 1993 there were 102 Bulgarian and about 80 American Fulbright grantees. The total number of Bulgarian and American Fulbright grantees since 1967 is 1187. Of these, 560 are Bulgarians and 627 Americans.


For if we did not precisely invent any of the instruments which these new nations are now using, we did illustrate their potentialities more fully and, I think, on the whole, more happily and more successfully than any other nation. The United States was the first nation to be founded squarely on the right of revolution—that is, the right to “alter or abolish government and institute new government.” … What was true in 1787 is, I think, true in 1967.

—Henry Steele Commager, 1967 Footnote 1

In the seventeenth century America escaped from the world, in the twentieth century it was forced to return to it.

The tumult of 1968 shook the globe. The Vietnam War had become one of the most divisive conflicts in United States history, and the sharp increase in American military involvement in Southeast Asia prompted protests and a critical re-examination of racism, militarism, and capitalism at home and overseas. Little wonder, then, that in the winter of 1968, the same moment as the Tet Offensive and CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite's famous criticism of the conduct of the war, veteran Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations (SCFR) J. William Fulbright summoned experts to testify at a series of public hearings on the Vietnam War and American foreign policy. These assembled academics were charged not with examining the minutiae of U.S. strategy and tactics in Vietnam, but with addressing a more fundamental issue: what was “the nature of revolution”? Footnote 3 The conveners intended “The Nature of Revolution” Hearings to consider whether Vietnam was a revolutionary situation. Yet a close reading of the hearings also revealed a far more interesting preoccupation: did a shared faith in the nobility of the United States's own revolutionary heritage help or hinder the nation's political decision makers in understanding the revolutionary aspirations of others?

In seeking to understand and inform their perspectives on Vietnam and the limits of U.S. power, the SCFR uncovered the contested legacies of the American Revolution. The proceedings revealed a significant contradiction: while Americans exalted in their own revolutionary heritage and sincerely believed the republic an example to the world, they simultaneously held that the American revolutionary experience was not replicable due to the unique circumstances of the late 1700s and the exceptional skills of the founding generation. Hearings participants anticipated that the U.S. experience and understanding of its own revolutionary past should enable a policy better able to handle the revolutionary impulses of others, and yet the opposite proved more often the case.

Responding in part to a challenge to seek new directions in the study of the Revolutionary Era and Early Republic, particularly its “contemporary invocations,” this article presents one look at an underexplored theme in the history of U.S. foreign relations: a marked ambivalence toward twentieth-century sociopolitical revolutions, and the consequences of this contradictory posture for the nation's self-image and foreign policy. Footnote 4 Indeed, the Nature of Revolution testimonies elicited elite perspectives on the American Revolution and its relationship with late 1960s U.S. foreign policy—perspectives best characterized as neither pro- nor counter-revolutionary, but of revolutionary ambivalence. While Fulbright posed the question of the nature of revolution, two prominent Harvard professors, historian Crane Brinton and political scientist Louis Hartz, answered it. Though respected in their fields, neither was a specialist on Vietnam, Southeast Asia, or even U.S. foreign relations. While other testimonies focused on Vietnamese nationalism, Brinton and Hartz expressed significant anxiety about the legitimacy of other people's revolutions and the capacities of non-Americans for true revolutionary change. These issues had a long history in the United States, of course, from the Jefferson–Adams debates over the French Revolution through the Eisenhower administration's preoccupations with Fidel Castro. Footnote 5 A close reading of these hearings illuminates this revolutionary ambivalence and informs models for how to understand the Vietnam War.

The earliest histories of the American Revolution, such as those written by David Ramsay in 1789 and Mercy Otis Warren in 1805, described it as a glorious cause for liberty and against British perfidy, helping to create a now-familiar noble narrative. As the nation expanded, however, the quest for a nationalist creation story and a usable past intensified. Footnote 6 As Joyce Appleby has noted, the generation born between Independence and 1800 “some enthusiastically, others reluctantly—took on the self-conscious task of elaborating the meaning of the American Revolution.” Footnote 7 For the next generation of historians, the Revolution acquired a religious dimension, becoming the end point of a providential plan to bring light to the New World. This Whig interpretation remained in vogue until the turn of the twentieth century (indeed, echoes of this interpretation are still found in populist accounts today). Footnote 8 From military generals to political elites to yeoman farmers, the colonists were depicted as united in their opposition to British colonial “slavery,” in their revulsion toward tyranny, and in their intrinsic understanding of the historical significance of the nation that emerged. Footnote 9

Not until the Progressive Era was the Whig interpretation seriously challenged. As urbanization, industrialization, immigration, and World War I transformed the United States, Progressive historians looked back and spied similar class and ethnic conflicts in the Revolutionary Era. Scholars such as Charles Beard, Arthur M. Schlesinger, and J. Franklin Jameson explored linkages among geography, demographics, and economics, and analyzed the tensions between “sections” and special interests in the creation of the nation. Footnote 10 Progressive historians also questioned the supposed radicalism of the founding era, arguing that a domestic elite had replaced their foreign precursors without dramatically changing an American society riddled with economic tensions. Footnote 11

With the end of World War II emphasis returned to points of commonality among Americans. Footnote 12 This so-called Consensus School inflected many aspects of intellectual life, including politics, government, jurisprudence, and the social sciences. When the consensus historians of the 1950s and early 1960s turned their analytical lenses to the American Revolution, they emphasized the roles of sober, propertied men, entirely rational in their fight for home rule. Mindful of the all-consuming ideological and political battle with the Soviet Union, early Cold War historians of the Revolution emphasized the Founders’ adherence to the rule of law, the slow yet steady march of democracy, the definitive character of American liberalism, and the lack of truly divisive issues in American life. Footnote 13 But events in the late 1960s—among them rising revolutionary rhetoric and the proliferation of national liberation movements and potentially revolutionary situations across the globe—challenged these assumptions and raised new questions about decolonization, radical change, and the role the United States should play as a global superpower. Footnote 14 The fallout from the Vietnam War lent further urgency to the question.

More than four decades after the fall of Saigon, the war continues to fascinate and divide Americans (witness the popular and academic reactions to Ken Burns and Lynn Novick's 2017 PBS series The Vietnam War). Footnote 15 Changing sociopolitical experiences, access to fresh sources, and new academic approaches have meanwhile inspired a new generation of Vietnam War historiography. Footnote 16 Yet much of the writing on Vietnam remains shaped by two narratives: a mainstream academic “orthodox” perspective, which holds that the war was largely ill-advised and a lost cause, and a “revisionist” view, typically associated with military perspectives, in which the war was necessary and winnable but for the loss of support at home. Footnote 17

Turning to a close analysis of the impacts of the discursive and affective legacies of the American Revolution on later U.S. foreign relations, particularly in the twentieth century, offers a new narrative framework and a new set of questions to ask about the Vietnam War, questions underexplored by historians but clearly on the minds of elite thinkers at the time of the SCFR hearings. First, was Vietnam a true nationalist revolution, rather than a site of foreign communist agitation? Second, how was the support of the right to nationalist revolt to be balanced with fears of communist infiltration and the disruption of the global order? Third, did the United States's own revolutionary heritage provide special insights into the roots and validity of sociopolitical upheavals in other states? And finally, did the legacy of the American Revolution imply a responsibility to support other nationalist revolutions? The issue was therefore not only the nature and perceived legitimacy of other people's revolutions, but how Americans felt about revolutions as a whole, including their own. Footnote 18 The answers brought to light a profound revolutionary ambivalence that helps explain the sharp moral contradiction of a nation that oscillated between expounding the virtues of liberty and self-determination on the one hand and impeding movements for national liberation in the name of order and anti-communism on the other. The persistence of revolution as a category of contentious politics, the Cold War–decolonization nexus, and the nation's revolutionary ambivalence meant that for U.S. foreign policy elites, revolutions were, in the words of Louis Hartz, a problem “entangled with our destiny.” Footnote 19

As President Lyndon Johnson escalated and Americanized the war in Vietnam, members of Congress took note. Whether Johnson's freedom to maneuver was circumscribed by Kennedy's legacy and the hawkish wing of the Democratic Congress or by his own hubris, officials explained the expanding engagement in Vietnam in internationalist terms. The credibility of Johnson's presidency and of the Democratic Party, as well as the U.S.'s ability to act as guarantor of the international order, were at stake and the pressure was felt acutely throughout the administration. Footnote 20 But as the fighting in Vietnam became costlier and more visible, it prompted a sustained examination of U.S. policy. As Chair of the SCFR, Fulbright considered it his duty to keep a sharp eye on the nation's foreign interventions.

Fulbright remains an enigmatic character in twentieth century U.S. political history. Footnote 21 On questions of race, Fulbright was a quintessential Southern Democrat the junior senator from Arkansas signed the 1956 “Southern Manifesto” against mandatory racial integration in the wake of Brown v. Board of Education (1954), filibustered the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1964, and voted against the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Yet Fulbright proved iconoclastic on questions of foreign policy. He was a Wilsonian with similar racial prejudices and a comparable aversion to European imperialism, a perspective often shared by Southerners. Footnote 22 He was a keen supporter of international law and the United Nations. At a time when most Southern Democrats were zealous anti-communists, Fulbright clashed openly with both Senate McCarthyites and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles. In 1956, Harper's called the junior senator the “Arkansas Paradox.” Footnote 23 A decade later journalist Marquis Childs described Fulbright as a “bemused college professor,” concerned as a “humanitarian and a scholar” with the Johnson administration's “willingness to sacrifice human lives” over Vietnam. Footnote 24

Until the 1960s Fulbright was most famous for his eponymous educational exchange program and his oft-repeated belief in the redemptive powers of education. Footnote 25 He had established himself as a critic and intellectual who challenged what he considered to be the false assumptions distorting American foreign policy. On March 25, 1964, Fulbright addressed the Senate with a speech entitled “Old Myths and New Realities.” Due to human fragilities, there was always some “divergence” between the world as it was and the world “as men perceive it.” This was especially true in foreign policy, and particularly problematic for Americans “predisposed to regard any conflict as a clash between good and evil rather than as simply a clash between conflicting interests.” Footnote 26 The central “old myth” was that of a centralized communist conspiracy, with different actors and agents “all equally resolute and implacable in their determination to destroy the free world.” Footnote 27 Two years later, in his most well-known address, Fulbright lectured a Johns Hopkins audience on “The Arrogance of Power,” arguing that the U.S. was “in danger of losing its perspective on what exactly [was] within the realm of its power and what [was] beyond it.” Footnote 28 Fulbright insisted that the United States was powerful enough to have the “courage to be wrong” about its foreign relations. Footnote 29 When Fulbright finally broke with the administration over Vietnam, it was dramatic but not entirely unprecedented.

Fulbright the politician may have been an odd fit with his Senate colleagues and seemed to have a unique ability to alienate those closest to power, but Fulbright the political intellectual was a well-respected public figure in liberal internationalist circles. Footnote 30 To quote Walter Lippmann, “Fulbright is not listened to on the floor of Congress until he has been heard around the world.” Footnote 31 Hosting hearings was therefore entirely in keeping with Fulbright's conception of the role of a senator-as-intellectual and his desire to influence politics by shaping the conversation, rather than through legislative change or having the ear of decision makers. Footnote 32

After 1965, as U.S. military commitments in Vietnam escalated sharply, Fulbright used the chair's prerogative to convene a series of ongoing conversations about the use and misuse of American power in general, and about Johnson's Southeast Asia policies in particular. Fulbright turned to a rotating series of experts from government, the military, and academia. The hearings probed the “larger geopolitical and ideological rationale for and meaning of US involvement” and provided a window into a series of issues raised by the war, including the validity of the domino theory, whether or not American credibility hinged on defeating North Vietnam, why the nation's superior military technology was not producing the expected results, and the ultimate position of the United States in the story—defender of liberty or global bully? Footnote 33 Not just the concerns of the emergent antiwar left, these questions also troubled Congressional elites and high-ranking political actors.

Lofty goals notwithstanding, the hearings were often a mixed bag. Some were highly orchestrated political theater, interrogating high-ranking officials such as Secretary of State Dean Rusk and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, with Fulbright conspicuously wearing dark glasses to shield himself from the television lights. Footnote 34 Others had fewer than ten people in the room and passed with little fanfare. Some explicitly focused on the prosecution of the war, such as John Kerry's April 1971 “Winter Soldier” testimony on behalf of Vietnam Veterans against the War. Footnote 35 Still others explicitly handled the broadest questions about U.S. history, the nation's values, and its changing role in a decolonizing world.

Throughout the twentieth century, movements for national liberation had increased, and sociopolitical revolution was once again a subject of popular and academic attention. Footnote 36 The 1960s and 1970s arguably represented the height of an increasingly global pan-liberationist cosmology, where the popular appeal of revolution was present everywhere from Paris to Mexico City and from Soweto to Harvard Yard. The rise of radical ideologies and practices also inspired American revolutionaries to pursue radical social transformations at home and abroad, and to stand in solidarity with revolutions in the decolonizing world.

Fulbright's hearings showcased how elite Americans tried to understand revolutionary upheaval with the assistance of academic specialists—a penchant that reflected the growing commitment to professionalization and positivist thinking that characterized post-1945 social science. Footnote 37 In 1967, for example, Fulbright invited prominent historian Henry Steele Commager to speak before the committee on the subject of “Changing American Attitudes Toward Foreign Policy.” Known for his critical liberal analyses, Commager was introduced by Fulbright as “one of our Nation's most celebrated scholars in the field of American history.” Commager was asked to comment on the history of U.S. foreign relations and on the nation's handling of its new global standing.

Commager forcefully declared that Americans had long recognized the necessity of limits to political power. Indeed, “our political philosophy … is a monument to the belief that power is limited, and that power should be limited.” And as power was constrained domestically through the elaborate system of checks and balances, so should it also be limited in foreign relations. In Commager's telling, the main traditions in American foreign relations history all reflected this respect for limits. The American Revolution was a response to the Declaratory Act of 1766, which had argued for the Crown's right to “bind the Colonies and people of America in all cases whatsoever.” George Washington's Neutrality Proclamation in 1793 limited American engagement in European affairs, and both the Monroe Doctrine and the Open Door could be interpreted as policies in which the United States encouraged European restraint, but also set global limits for itself. Commager also articulated the “accidental” explanation for the nation's overseas domain: Spanish territories were acquired in a “fit of absentmindedness” Cuba was “very sensibly” returned to the Cubans and Americans were “eager to get out” of the Philippines.

The United States's penchant for international restraint, then, had allowed it to “go before the world with clean hands, as it were: we do not have ‘colonies.’” Footnote 38 But Commager believed that the two world wars “inextricably” bound the United States to the affairs of Europe and the world, and had stretched traditions too far. Americans successfully helped Europe and Asia rebuild, but the policy of restraint was abandoned to the nation's detriment. Commager argued that it was now the United Nations's duty, not that of the United States, “to keep peace throughout the globe, to put down aggression wherever it starts up, to stop the advance of communism or other isms which we may not approve of.” Footnote 39

Commager's statement anticipated several core themes raised in the Nature of Revolution testimonies a year later. First was his argument that the careless deployment of American might around the globe represented a betrayal of American values. Second was Commager's insistence that participants take a wider historical perspective in their deliberations. The communist revolutions that so many policy makers interpreted as immediate threats to global stability were for others the natural culmination of centuries of oppression. As Commager reminded the assembled senators, “It was the West—not communist countries—that invented imperialism and invented colonialism.” And finally, Commager suggested that perhaps the United States owed the world a debt of revolution. The American Revolution was the preeminent example of radical, liberatory political transformation. As such, the U.S. had to bear some responsibility for the seismic change in the international system denoted by “the revolt of Asia and Africa against the West.… and the emergence into modernity of perhaps two-thirds of the peoples of the globe.” Footnote 40 As the “first people to create a nation,” Americans should be “infinitely sympathetic to the new nations of the world.” Instead, Commager concluded, the United States too often found itself opposed to revolution, to the great disenchantment of emerging nations, weakening the nation's moral authority. Footnote 41

In February and March 1968, the Foreign Relations Committee convened the Nature of Revolution hearings, and entertained the testimony of five academics from the fields of history, political science, and government. Footnote 42 The academics had a difficult task. They were summoned before a bipartisan, high-level Senate committee of career politicians not to discuss Vietnam strategy or Vietnamese nationalism, but to consider the far more ambiguous topic of revolution. Footnote 43 While three of the academics were present for their area expertise, Crane Brinton and Louis Hartz, like Commager before them, were called for their knowledge of history and government.

On Monday, February 19, Fulbright called the meeting to order:

The Committee on Foreign Relations this morning is beginning a series of public Hearings on the nature of revolutions and the significance of revolutions abroad for American foreign policy. The broad purpose of these open discussions is, first, to develop information about the tendency of revolutions, regardless of their ideological origins, to pass through certain relatively distinct stages, and, second, to try to identify the implications of the process in the context of the current and future formulation of foreign policy by the United States. Footnote 44

Brinton testified first. A specialist on revolutions and the history of France, known to combine sweeping historical analysis with observations of contemporary ethical and political issues, Brinton had offered a few general reflections on global affairs and U.S. policy in his publications. In 1947, in a collection of addresses delivered at Pomona College entitled From Many One: The Process of Political Integration, the Problem of World Government, he argued that the new challenges of the postwar era required the intervention of social scientists. Brinton quoted the chilling remark of an unnamed academic colleague: “We physical scientists have now succeeded in devising a way—several ways—to destroy the human race you social scientists have got to find a way to keep the human race from using the opportunity we have given it.” Brinton emphasized that historians had a necessary role in creating this new political age. Since all the “treaties, alliances, leagues, united nations [sic], and any other device for bringing sovereign states together” had not yet worked, it was up to historians to discern which aspects of political integration had worked in the past and could be adapted for a nuclear world. Footnote 45

For Brinton, there existed two grand models of political integration: imperialism (integration by force) and federalism (integration by consent), and neither was suitable for the postwar world. Imperialism was obviously problematic, as it relied on artificial hierarchies and coercion. Moreover, imperialism's legitimacy as a form of political organization had been severely damaged by the Second World War and was further threatened by rising Asian nationalism. Democratic federalism, the model pioneered by the United States, though superior to imperialism, was a poor fit for mid-twentieth-century political integration. The sociopolitical experiment of American federalism, which absorbed a once adversarial multitude of distinct European peoples into a “melting pot of races,” could not be replicated on the scale necessary for global peace. Footnote 46 To attempt such would be logistically impractical, as there were simply too many people in the world, “some twenty-two thousand million of them,” of differing political traditions and levels of development. As Brinton explained, even if one excluded the “black Africans and Polynesians, you can hardly rule out [the] Chinese, Japanese, and East Indians” from the new global political compact. Footnote 47 There lay the dilemma. If integration by force was out of the question, so then was control by the traditional imperial powers, France and Britain. The obvious alternative was U.S. global leadership, yet Americans were a distinct people who possessed neither the inclination nor “the stuff of imperialists.” Footnote 48 Brinton argued that a “pax Americana” was both inadvisable and impossible:

We Americans have many assets for the task, but I do not believe we could make a pax Americana for the globe. We have great energy, and we are today as ubiquitous in the furthest corners of the world as was once the Englishman. We have to the full the great Anglo-Saxon gift of identifying our desires with universal human obligations. We should never attempt, as Hitler did, to conquer cruelly for our own avowed good when we conquer people, or indeed have any dealing with them, we do so for their good. Footnote 49

There was an additional difficulty—nationalism. Here Brinton adopted the language of English writer Arthur Clutton-Brock, who in 1921 defined nationalism as “pooled self-esteem.” Footnote 50 Nationalism remained a constant, “not to be stamped out by conquest, nor even to be exorcised by professorial and editorial incantations.” In a gibe at the Cold War realists already dominating political discourse (Hans Morgenthau's Scientific Man versus Power Politics was published in 1946, Politics Among Nations followed in 1948), Brinton pointed out that “oppressed nationalities like the Irish and the Poles” were remarkably persistent in their refusal to be subsumed by stronger powers. Much to the annoyance of those “afflicted” with realism, “the human sentiments that bind men into nationalities are deep, slow to change, and like many other human sentiments, are often strengthened by attempts to suppress them.” Footnote 51 Thus, whatever form of political integration would save the world from further atomic terror would require “deliberate human volition” to eradicate “festering sores of unsatisfied nationalism, [and] irredenta, internal or external.” Footnote 52

The threat of unfulfilled nationalist aspirations and the irreplaceability of the American historical experience were key themes in Brinton's postwar work, but his 1938 title, The Anatomy of Revolution, made Brinton's academic reputation and formed the basis of his prepared remarks before the SCFR three decades later. Footnote 53 In his testimony Brinton reintroduced his famous medical metaphor, likening revolutions to a fever wherein discontent with the ancien régime festered until the elites defected and there developed widespread call for systemic change. Gradually, moderate reformers lost control to better organized radicals, who in turn lost control to the most violent extremists, precipitating social catastrophe (borrowing from the French Revolution, Brinton called this period a “reign of terror”). Footnote 54 After a period of convalescence, society settled back down, forever altered, but often not nearly as radically as the revolutionaries had initially hoped. Footnote 55 Anatomy of Revolution set the stage for decades of study on comparative revolutions. Brinton was not uncommon in his academic distaste for the French Revolution, but he was unique in that his ideas reached both academic and general audiences. Footnote 56

This broad pattern characterized all the great revolutions, except the American one, which Brinton described to the Foreign Relations Committee as a “successful nationalist revolution” to expel British rulers that Americans had come to view as foreigners in their midst. The American Revolution shared with other revolutions a transfer of allegiance from the legitimate authority in the imperial metropole to local elites and a compelling narrative of social change, but it avoided the violence that characterized France and Russia. Brinton noted that the “Declaration [of Independence] marked the victory of the radicals—I will not call them extremists—over the moderates. Our revolution can still arouse in us emotions not aroused by other revolutions.” Footnote 57 Perhaps mindful of the sensitivities of his audience, Brinton carefully noted that the American colonists had created a revolution for territorial expansion to support a growing nation and not to spread a “revolutionary faith.” Footnote 58 He also admitted there was “a general overall feeling among good solid Americans—since our own revolution is so long past—to ennoble their own revolutionary past but to dislike current ones as not so noble. England is a very nice example of such a tendency. They have even tried to forget the fact that they once cut a king's head off. They don't like to be reminded.” Footnote 59

After Brinton's testimony Fulbright steered the discussion, asking questions about the success ratio of modern revolutions and segueing quickly into questions about the U.S.'s interventionist tendencies. Brinton claimed that in the Mexican Revolution (1910–1920) a stable, democratic polity developed because the Americans had not interfered. Fulbright pressed him: “Is it true that in most of our interventions we haven't been very successful in trying to bring about a revolution and the creation of a better society?” Brinton hedged, responding that the nation's interventions had mostly been in the Americas and did not necessarily “count,” dismissing “the conventional opera bouffe South American revolution.” In Brinton's estimation, “where we have attempted to intervene, notably at present in the Vietnam revolution which I regard as a very complicated one indeed, at the moment we seem not to have been successful.” Footnote 60

At this point Al Gore, Sr. (D-TN) inquired about the role of “esprit gospel” and the “dedications of faith and ideology,” which were so central to the spread of revolutionary movements. Gore was “rather proud of the American evangelical spirit” and the proverbial shot heard around the world at Lexington and Concord in April 1775. Linking revolutionary and religious fervor, Gore's comments pointed to a fundamental aspect of American political thought: the U.S. had the “most aggressive religious culture in modern days … having spread its influences to the darkest most spots of every continent.” Footnote 61 In Gore's words, Americans “have the best and we insist that our sense of values [are] superior and, therefore, we want to make them available. We are a little impatient when people do not accept them.” Yet even Gore admitted that current attempts to spread these values to Vietnam had run into a series of formidable philosophical and material obstacles. Americans were now “in confrontation with another aggressive culture that is inspired by a sort of materialistic fanaticism. I can't quite call it religion.” Perhaps Americans had erred in spreading the gospel of revolution around the globe, since modern revolutions were so expansionary and aggressive, and since modern revolutionaries seemed unappreciative of American solicitations. Footnote 62

Brinton agreed that the “gospel” of a revolution was a critical factor. Earlier, he had inveighed against the prevailing trend toward scientism and quantification, which detracted from a true understanding of what motivated political action. Brinton emphasized the importance of ideology in the mobilization of revolutionary sentiments, since ideas distinguished “a revolutionary crisis from ordinary political, military, or economic crisis.” Footnote 63 Though Cold War Americans derided ideology as the preserve of communists and radicals, Brinton criticized “current American opinion which tends to minimize the importance of ideas as not being hard boiled, concrete, and realistic.” Footnote 64 For this reason the emerging “national liberation fronts, and so forth, and so on, mostly in Asia and Africa” were the classic revolutionary type, that is, “mixed socioeconomic and nationalist but with nationalism at its core.” Footnote 65 The crux of the matter was whether self-determination and democracy were Western or Eastern principles. As Gore saw it, the U.S. attempted to “make available Western values to Southeast Asia, [. ]attempting to measure our problem there by Western values.” Gore had “serious doubts that Western values [were] an adequate index for policy.” Brinton replied that self-determination—“those famous words”—were “good American words” for an American context, yet the desire to create affective groups above the level of kin or family was a natural desire that “went back to the tribal.” The goal of an independent nation-state was simply the most recent iteration of this longstanding aspiration, one Americans were "running up against now” in the decolonizing world. Footnote 66

George Aiken (R-VT) finally turned the discussion to Vietnam, asking if “what is going on in Vietnam today is a revolution, a bona fide revolution, or is it a widespread Communist conspiracy to take over the world? How would you treat those two influences?” Footnote 67 Aiken was already infamous for allegedly stating in 1966 that the United States should declare victory in Vietnam and get out. Footnote 68 Brinton responded that the idea of a global communist conspiracy for world domination did not “make much sense in view of the relations between Russia and China, to say nothing of some of the minor communist states and Yugoslavia and indeed North Korea as far as that goes.” There was no doubt that Ho Chi Minh was a communist, but Ho was closer to a Tito, more concerned with building a nationalist program than executing orders from Moscow. Footnote 69

Next, Aiken inquired about the wave of anticolonial resistance movements sweeping Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and the fear of revolutionary violence in places such as Congo, where “revolution has been going on all the time,” or in other volatile places like Nigeria, Thailand, or Burma. Footnote 70 Despite the common belief that poorer nations were most susceptible to both communist influence and internal disorder, Brinton did not believe that poverty alone was a catalyst for revolution. Earlier in his testimony Brinton explicitly stated that revolutions did not occur among the “miserable and downtrodden and the desperate,” but among “people who have enough to want more.” Footnote 71 And indeed, revolutions would proliferate now that a critical mass of once-colonized peoples had “enough to want more,” and were willing to adopt Marxism to get it. The world was in another age of revolution: “One can break out most anywhere really and especially in the underdeveloped nations or whatever you call them. I think there is no question about it.” If revolutions were now an unavoidable part of the contemporary geopolitical landscape, how should the U.S. respond? Brinton offered “no simple formula” other than prudence. The U.S. could not support or “bless” every case of revolutionary upheaval there could be no endorsement of “what Castro did in Cuba,” for example, but too much counterrevolutionary interference was also a flawed strategy. Returning to his medical metaphor, the United States should approach each case of upheaval like a wise physician attending to an illness, following the Hippocratic oath of “do no harm.” Footnote 72

Fulbright also wanted Brinton's expertise on the subject of whether communism led to excesses such as purges and show trials, and whether a period of political violence was characteristic of revolutions in general, or of the communist variant specifically? Footnote 73 Brinton was unequivocal that violence was a part of all revolutionary processes. The United States had to manage the increasing complexity of the international system and the difficulty of maintaining a balance of forces amenable to American interests. Vietnam and the rise of sociopolitical revolutions in other parts of the world only compounded this issue.

Clifford P. Case (R-NJ) wondered if Brinton “would just sort of speculate about the relationship, if any, between local revolution and the larger question of the balance of power”:

We vacillate back and forth between thinking how horrible it is that we, a great power, are destroying a little country at the tip of Southeast Asia, and being concerned about whether we do not have some responsibility for the maintenance of the balance of power, or the balance of tensions, which, in the imperfect world in which we live, provide our only semblance of stability.… Footnote 74

Brinton replied that the international system simply had too many moving parts to provide a neat answer, “especially since the freeing of the colonies and so forth and so on—and what part changes in them will play in the big balance is really awfully hard to estimate.” Footnote 75 Brinton was suspicious of Dulles and the domino theory, instead agreeing with Walter Lippmann, who argued that a true balance of power would require China to have as much influence in Asia as the U.S. did in Latin America. Footnote 76

In his final words, Brinton appeared to share Fulbright's exasperation with the U.S.'s Vietnam policy, though couched in a far more reticent tone. It was doubtful that American national security could be fundamentally affected by a small and “unimportant” territory, and Vietnam was not a “sufficient menace” to commit U.S. forces to mainland Asia. Ultimately, Brinton questioned “the American tradition of virtuous interference.” Even in situations that were intensely problematic, such as apartheid South Africa, “officially even when we are outraged by what goes on in South Africa we should do nothing.” Footnote 77 Brinton's advice was that Americans “should work against our irrational attitudes toward revolution and above all also attempt to weaken the delusion of the potency of our virtues.” The United States must lose its presumption of “omnipotence” and be prepared to address crises in the global order on a case-by-case basis. This included revolutionary movements, no matter how communistic or distasteful:

Brinton: We should put up with a world that isn't our own making. We have to anyway.

Fulbright: In other words, if I understand you fairly, we shouldn't be sympathetic only to revolutions that are in our own image we should allow revolutions that may be different to ours to work themselves out. Is that correct?

Family tree of J. William FULBRIGHT

Fulbright was born in Sumner, Missouri, the son of Roberta (née Waugh) and Jay Fulbright. In 1906 the Fulbright family moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas. Fulbright's parents enrolled him in the University of Arkansas's College of Education's experimental grammar and secondary school.

Fulbright earned a history degree from the University of Arkansas in 1925, where he became a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. He was elected president of the student body and a star four-year player for the Razorback football team from 1921 to 1924.

Fulbright later studied at Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar at Pembroke College, graduating in 1928. He received his law degree from The George Washington University Law School in 1934, was admitted to the bar in Washington, D.C. and became an attorney in the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

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Geographical origins

The map below shows the places where the ancestors of the famous person lived.

Who Are Fulbright Alumni?

The Fulbright Association extends the Fulbright international exchange into a lifelong experience for U.S. alumni. We connect alumni and friends of the Fulbright program through lifelong learning, collaborative networking, and service projects at home and abroad.

Established on February 27, 1977, the Fulbright Association is the U.S. alumni organization of the Fulbright Program, representing 140,000 U.S. alumni – 70 years of Fulbrighters since the program’s inception – and friends of international education. We support a thriving alumni community that helps increase visibility for the Fulbright effect and helps preserve Fulbright exchanges for future generations.

Through our 54 local chapters, the Fulbright Association hosts more than 230 regional and national programs each year for visiting Fulbrighters and alumni throughout the United States. Programs include educational events, career development seminars, music and art presentations, networking events, volunteer activities, and more.

We are a hub for Fulbright alumni to connect in meaningful ways, as well as a community of friends of Fulbright who support international education and cultural understanding around the world.

Mission, Vision, and Values

To continue and extend the Fulbright tradition of education, advocacy and service

To be a catalyst for a peaceful and interconnected world inspired by international educational exchange

We respect all peoples and cultures, value diversity and are committed to international education and mutual understanding

Our History

In 1976, the Board of Foreign Scholarships (now the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board) convened regional Fulbright alumni meetings to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Fulbright Program. The Fulbright Association grew out of resolutions adopted at those meetings. The late Arthur Power Dudden became its founding president.

Senator J. William Fulbright encouraged alumni to create an active constituency for the Fulbright Program that would educate Congress and the public about the benefits of advancing increased mutual understanding between the people of the United States and those of other countries. He wanted U.S. alumni to welcome and exchange ideas with Fulbrighters from abroad. Through our programs and advocacy campaigns, the Fulbright Association sustains these goals for future generations of Fulbright alumni and supporters.

Who are the Fulbright Alumni?

Fulbright alumni are leaders in every field and represent over 165 countries. They are global change-makers in politics, business, science, education, and the arts. Our ranks include 82 Pulitzer Prize winners, 59 Nobel Prize laureates, 37 current or former heads of state or government, 70 MacArthur Foundation Fellows, and 16 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients.

Our alumni come from thousands of public and private universities in the United States and abroad. Fulbrighters are committed to advancing mutual understanding, tolerance, and peaceful relations worldwide.

Watch the video: J. William Fulbright on the Fulbright Program