The Passing of Howard Baker, Jr.
By Ray Smock
The Byrd Center notes with sadness the passing of Howard Baker, Jr., (R-TN) who served for 18 years in the U.S. Senate, and succeeded Senator Byrd as Majority Leader in 1981. Senator Baker also served as President Reagan’s chief of staff and later served as U.S. Ambassador to Japan.
During the major struggle for passage of the Panama Canal Treaties, in the late 1970s, Senator Baker, then Senate Minority Leader, worked closely with Senator Byrd on this controversial legislation. Senator Byrd wrote in his autobiography “The passage of the Canal Treaties was a victory that could not have been achieved without the strong support of Minority Leader Howard Baker.” [Byrd, Child of the Appalachian Coal Fields, 385]. Both men were highly criticized in their home states and nationally for passage of the Panama Canal Treaties. But they risked the wrath of the voters for something they felt was in the national interest. Some West Virginians called Byrd a traitor and a communist for supporting the treaties and in Baker’s case it may have cost him his party’s nomination for president in 1980.
When Senator Baker became Majority Leader in 1981, Byrd became Minority Leader. Both men, whether representing the majority or the minority, often worked together on legislation. Even when they did not see eye to eye on matters before the Senate they conducted Senate business with great civility and parliamentary skill.
A Treasure Trove of Files
Note: This post was previously listed under our "News from the Grey Box" blog series
After a brief survey of the 2.9 million electronic files in Senator Byrd’s papers, two things became quite apparent:
1. 2.6 million of those files were images and PDFs of microfilm rolls and
2. Of the remaining ~300,000 files, there is a wide and richly diverse set of records!
Identified file types include word processing documents (usually WordPad), image files, audio files, databases, and even archived web pages. Below we highlight a few of these records to give you a better understanding of the content that can be found in this congressional collection.
Welcome to the Byrd Center Blog! We share content here including research from our archival collections, articles from our director, and information on upcoming events.
The Byrd Center advances representative democracy by promoting a better understanding of the United States Congress and the Constitution through programs and research that engage citizens.
© 2021 Robert C. Byrd Center for
Congressional History and Education