Clifford P. Hansen

From Conservapedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Clifford Peter Hansen

In office
January 3, 1967 – December 31, 1978
Preceded by Milward Simpson
Succeeded by Alan Simpson

26th Governor of Wyoming
In office
January 7, 1963 – January 2, 1967
Preceded by Jack Robert Gage
Succeeded by Stanley K. Hathaway

Born November 16, 1912
Teton County, Wyoming
Died October 20, 2009 (aged 96)
Jackson, Wyoming
Resting place Cremation
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Martha Close Hansen (married 1934–2009, his death)
Children Mary Elisabeth Hansen Mead Steinhour

Peter Arthur Hansen Grandson:
Matt Mead

Alma mater University of Wyoming (Laramie)

(Bachelor of Science)

Religion Episcopalian

Clifford Peter Hansen (October 16, 1912 – October 20, 2009) was an American politician from his native Wyoming. A Republican, he served from 1963 to 1967 as the 26th Governor of his state and a United States Senator for two terms from 1967 to 1978. He died four days after his 97th birthday and was at the time was the oldest living former U.S. Senator[1] as well as the third oldest former governor in the United States.

Former Senate staffer Pete Williams recalled Hansen as:

an honest man, of rock solid integrity, who loved his wife, his children, and his state. And when his service to his nation was over, he went back to Wyoming, where he died, not far from the log house where he was born.


Hansen was born in Zenith in Lincoln County (now Teton County), a settlement so small that it is no longer listed on Wyoming road maps. He was the son of Peter Christofferson Hansen (1867–1952) and the former Sylvia Irene Wood (1885–1976). The senior Hansens were ranchers; Peter, of Danish extraction, came from Soda Springs, Idaho, and Sylvia, of English descent, was born in Blackfoot, Idaho. Peter Hansen, who had some college training, was a "practical" engineer in that he did surveying and ditch work on ranch lands. In the Menors Cabin, a small museum near the south entrance to Grand Teton National Park and adjacent to the Chapel of the Transfiguration, is a picture of young Cliff Hansen and his mother, which was taken in the early 1920s. The photograph is posted under the cattle exhibit and is meant to demonstrate the hardiness of early Wyoming pioneers.[2]

Hansen was reared in Jackson Hole, located in a high-mountain valley that includes Grand Teton]]. There he attended public school, during which time he overcame a serious speech impediment which baffled his teachers. His problem was not inability to learn but a severe stutter which was corrected by his attendance at a special school. Having overcome the speech impediment, Hansen forever stressed the value of an education, once having advised a grandson, "It's the one thing no one can take away from you."[3]

Peter K. Simpson, a UW political science professor and the 1986 Republican gubernatorial nominee, described the importance of the Tetons to the Hansen family: "That country is special. It provides solace and power all at the same time. ... There's a specific nurturing quality in it, and it has nurtured a specific breed of people -- strong, independent, clear-thinking, forthright, trustworthy, authentic Western-types. No-nonsense, good-humored, exuberant, full of warmth, larger than life. Close enough to creation to be at ease with all mankind, and thereby able to serve them better."[4]

Hansen obtained his bachelor's degree in animal science from UW in 1934. From 1946 to 1962, he was a UW trustee from 1946 to 1962 and the trustees president from 1955 to 1962, when he stepped down to run for governor. From 1943 to 1951, he was a Teton county commissioner.[3] From 1953 to 1955, he served as the president of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association.[5]

Political life

Hansen won the governorship in the 1962 mid-term elections by 1ten thousand votes. He unseated the Democrat Jack Robert Gage (1899–1970), who had served fewer than two years. First, Hansen won the GOP primary with 57 percent of the vote against two opponents, attorney and former state Representative Charles Monroe Crowell (1910–1991) of Casper[6] and Robert E. Cheever (1905–1982),[7] a former mayor of the capital city of Cheyenne. Jack Gage defeated William Jack to secure the Democratic nomination, 55.5–44.5 percent. In the general election, Hansen polled 64,970 votes (54.5 percent); Gage,s 54,298 (45.5 percent).[8]

Several western newspapers called Hansen the "cowboy governor. Hansen's obituary contends that he "brought both the down-to-earth pragmatism of a lifelong cattle rancher and the affability of a small-town politician to Cheyenne and then to Washington, and he was on friendly and familiar terms throughout his career, not only with those on both sides of the political aisle, but also with elevator attendants, cafeteria workers, and staff members throughout the Capitol who called him friend."[3]

Governor Hansen worked to bolster programs to combat alcoholism and mental illness.[9]

After a single term as governor, Hansen ran for the U.S. Senate seat which was being vacated by the retiring Republican Milward Simpson. He won that election with just under 52 percent of the vote. In a fairly Republican year nationally, he defeated popular Representative at-large Teno Roncalio (1916–2003), a Democrat of Italian extraction. Hansen received 63,548 votes (51.8 percent); Roncalio, 59,141 (48.2 percent).[10]

In 1972, Hansen was reelected to the Senate over Democrat Mike M. Vinich (1924–2015) of Hudson in Fremont County[11] 101,314 votes (71.3 percent) to 40,753 (28.7 percent).[12] Senator Hansen was known for social and fiscal conservatism. He voted against sending to the states the proposed Equal Rights Amendment,[13] which would have codified federal power over the states. He opposed the Richard M. Nixon administration's deployment of the anti-ballistic missile, a position which put him at odds with then Defense Secretary Melvin R. Laird of Wisconsin.[14]

Hansen voted in 1967 to confirm the African-American liberal Thurgood Marshall, the plaintiff's attorney in the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education school desegregation case, to the United States Supreme Court and the next year voted for the open-housing Civil Rights Act of 1968.[15][16]

In 1976, Hansen supported the renomination and re-election of President Gerald R. Ford, Jr., who won Wyoming's three electoral votes. Hansen retired from the Senate in 1978, when he declined to run for a third term. He moved back to Jackson and served on the Senate Finance Committee under Democratic chairman Russell Long, of Louisiana, another of his senatorial friends who showed interest in the plight of western ranchers.

When Ronald Reagan became president in 1981, after losing the nomination battle in 1976 to Gerald Ford, he offered Hansen the position of Secretary of the Interior, which another Wyoming politician, Stanley Hathaway had held for four months in the Ford administration. Hansen declined the offer because of conflict that might arise from his cattle operation in Jackson County.[1]

Hansen pushed for national legislation to increase the share of mineral royalties collected on federal lands within the western states from 37.5 to 50 percent. This adjustment brought an additional $2.8 billion to Wyoming over the years, according the Department of Revenue.[4]

Hansen resigned his Senate seat on the last day of 1978 to permit his Moderate Republican successor, Alan Kooi Simpson, to gain a leg up in seniority.[4] Simpson would later become the Senate Republican whip and was considered along with Dan Quayle for the 1988 vice-presidential nomination under George Herbert Walker Bush. At the Hansen funeral, Alan Simpson paid tribute, accordingly: "I owe him much. All of Wyoming and the nation owe him much. . . . He was a dear and special man who gave much and asked very little, and fought on always with integrity, courage, and an uncommon degree of common sense. God bless his soul."[4]

The Hansen family

In 1934, Hansen married the former Martha Close (1914–2011), originally from Sheridan, Wyoming. The two met in Laramie at the University of Wyoming. The Hansens were the parents of Peter Arthur Hansen and Mary Elisabeth Hansen Mead Steinhour (1935–1996), the unsuccessful Republican gubernatorial nominee in 1990.[17]

Hansen's grandson, Matthew H. "Matt" Mead, who was born eight months before his grandfather ran for governor. Matt Mead was the United States Attorney in the capital city of Cheyenne from 2001 to 2007, an appointee of then U.S. President George W. Bush. In 2007, Mead resigned as the U.S. Attorney to seek the seat of the late U.S. Senator Craig Thomas. However, the Wyoming Republican State Central Committee bypassed Mead on the third and final ballot. He came within fourteen votes of being one of the three nominees from which Democratic Governor David D. Freudenthal would make the final selection of John Barrasso to fill the Thomas vacancy until the 2008 general election. Barrasso served the unexpired term and then was elected to full terms in 2012 and 2018. In 2010, Mead was elected as the 32nd governor and was elected to a second term in 2014.

Upon the death of former Republican Senator Hiram Fong of Hawaii in August 2004, Hansen became the oldest living person to have served in the United States Senate.

Hansen's official gubernatorial portrait was prepared by Michele Rushworth, who sought to represent the former governor's soul in paint.[18]

Death and legacy

In 2006, Hansen said in an interview that he and his wife were in "pretty good health" considering their ages, though he had vision difficulties and they hired a driver. By mid-October 2009, Hansen fell severely ill because of complications from a broken pelvis. After a short time in the hospital, he returned home to be with Martha, his wife of more than seventy-five years, whom he had met at UW in Laramie. Theirs was the longest active marriage of a present or former U.S. senator. Hansen's prognosis was poor, and he died four days after his 97th birthday. In addition to his wife and son, Hansen was also survived by a brother, Robert Hansen, and a sister, Ordeen Hansen, five grandchildren, and ten great-grandchildren.[3]

Hansen lay in state in a casket draped with the Wyoming flag at the state capitol in Cheyenne. State funeral services were held on October 24 at the Cheyenne Civic Center. Governor Freudenthal eulogized Hansen:

I think that without a doubt we can see Cliff Hansen was beloved and always will be. ... And more than any stone monument, we will carry him with us throughout our lives because he is woven into who we are and through the fabric of this wonderful state.[4]

Mrs. Hansen recalled her husband's faith in the American people: "Everybody is important, and his actions both inside and outside politics bore that out."[3]

Pete Williams of NBC News, who formerly worked in Hansen's Senate office, recalled him, accordingly: "He was an honest man, of rock solid integrity, who loved his wife, his children, and his state. And when his service to his nation was over, he went back to Wyoming, where he died, not far from the log house where he was born."[14]

In 1995, Hansen was inducted, along with the Texas artist and illustrator Thomas C. Lea, III (1907–2001) into the Hall of Great Westerners of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.[19] Hansen sat beside his friend, Barry Goldwater, the Arizona Republican who lost the 1964 presidential election to Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas. He had been among those Republican senators who urged Goldwater to meet with President Nixon to inform him that there were far insufficient votes in the Senate to avoid conviction of a pending impeachment. Hansen though had politically benefited from Nixon leading the Republican Party to victory in 1972 over Senator George McGovern of South Dakota.[14]In a 2006 interview, Hansen fondly recalled one of Goldwater's jokes: Goldwater goes into a California country club that excludes Jews. The man in charge tells him that he is sorry but Jews cannot play in the club. Goldwater says, "I'm only half Jewish. Can I still play nine holes?"


  1. 1.0 1.1 Clifford Peter Hansen (1912-2009) - Find A Grave Memorial, accessed July 24, 2021.
  2. Menors Cabin exhibit, Grand Teton National Park, Jackson, Wyoming.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Obituary of Clifford P. Hansen. Wyoming Tribune-Eagle. Retrieved on October 24, 2009.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Matt Joyce. Hansen remembered as a man who gave much, but took little. Wyoming Tribune-Eagle. Retrieved on October 25, 2009.
  5. Clifford P. Hansen papers, 1943-1978 (bulk 1967-1978). Retrieved on July 23, 2021.
  6. Charles Monroe Crowell (1910-1991) - Find A Grave Memorial, accessed July 24, 2021.
  7. Robert E Cheever (1905-1982) - Find A Grave Memorial, accessed July 24, 2021.
  8. Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U.S. Elections, Wyoming governorship, 1966.
  9. Douglas Martin (October 21, 200). Clifford Hansen, Former Wyoming Governor and U.S. Senator, Is Dead at 97. The New York Times. Retrieved on July 23, 2021.
  10. Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U.S. Elections, U.S. Senator from Wyoming, 1966.
  11. Mike M. Vinich (1924-2015) - Find A Grave Memorial, accessed July 24, 2021.
  12. Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U.S. Elections, U.S. Senator from Wyoming, 1972
  13. TO PASS H.J. RES. 208.. Retrieved July 24, 2021.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Pete Williams, "Remembering Clifford Hansen,", October 21, 2009; no longer online.
  17. Mary Hansen Mead Steinhour (1935-1996) - Find A Grave Memorial, accessed July 23, 2021.
  18. Bill McCarthy, "Artists will attempt to capture souls of former governors: Two portrait artists will paint five former governors that will hang in the Capitol". Wyoming Tribune-Eagle (November 25, 2007).
  19. Hall of Great Westerners. Retrieved on July 24, 2021.