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Landon Lecture Series on Public Issues

The Landon Lecture Series
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Edward Brooke

Edward Brooke

U.S. Senator, Massachusetts

US; US Senator 1967 - 79 Educated at Howard and Boston Universities, Brooke practised law in Massachusetts and Washington, DC, before becoming Attorney-General of Massachusetts, a post he filled from 1962 until 1966.

In 1966 Edward Brooke's decisive Senate victory made him the first black elected to the Senate in the twentieth century. The victory was all the more unusual because Brooke was a Republican at a time when the vast majority of blacks identified with the Democratic Party and the Republican Party fielded few black candidates. A liberal on most issues except the economy and national security, he was also a key Senate supporter of allowing abortions funded by Medicaid. Brooke's reputation and liberal politics, together with his political skill and personal charm, meant that he was able for a time to secure support from Democrats as well as Republicans in his state. Following an easy re-election victory in 1972, Brooke's seat seemed secure until 1978 when the Boston Globe reported a series of financial and ethical problems including the fact that Brooke had lied about his financial worth in divorce proceedings. He was investigated by the Senate Ethics Committee and, although it emerged that much of the information against Brooke was being leaked by members of his family, he became politically vulnerable. Some also criticized him for failing to promote Massachusetts' interests in the Senate; and Massachusetts' other Senator, Ted Kennedy, for the first time campaigned on behalf of Brooke's Democratic opponent, Paul Tsongas. Tsongas defeated Brooke in the 1978 election.

Edward W. Brooke
Landon Lecture
October 6, 1969

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