Kenneth Wherry

From Conservapedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Kenneth Spicer Wherry

In office
January 3, 1943 – November 29, 1951
Preceded by George Norris
Succeeded by Fred A. Seaton

In office
January 3, 1949 – November 29, 1951
Preceded by Alben W. Barkley
Succeeded by Styles Bridges

Senate Republican Conference Leader
In office
January 3, 1949 – November 29, 1951
Preceded by Wallace H. White, Jr.
Succeeded by Styles Bridges

Senate Majority Whip
In office
January 3, 1947 – January 3, 1949
Leader Wallace H. White, Jr.
Preceded by Lister Hill
Succeeded by Francis J. Myers

Senate Minority Whip
In office
January 3, 1943 – January 3, 1947
Leader Charles McNary
Wallace H. White, Jr.
Preceded by Felix Hebert (1935)
Succeeded by Scott W. Lucas

Born February 28, 1892
Liberty, Gage County
Died November 29, 1951
(aged 59)
Washington, D.C.
Resting place Pawnee City (Nebraska) Cemetery
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Marjorie Colwell Wherry
(married 1920–1951, his death)
Children Marilynn Wherry Latta

One son, name unavailable

Alma mater University of Nebraska at Lincoln (BA)
Religion Presbyterian

Military Service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1917–1918
Unit Commander, Naval Air Forces
Battles/wars World War I

Kenneth Spicer Wherry (February 28, 1892 – November 29, 1951)[1] was an American businessman, attorney, and from 1943 until his death a United States Senator for his native Nebraska. He was the Senate Minority Leader for his last two years in office. A strong conservative, Wherry was a member of what is known as the Old Right.

Wherry's senatorial colleague Hugh A. Butler was similarly a conservative isolationist.


Wherry was born in the village of Liberty (located in Gage County) in southeastern Nebraska to David Emery Wherry (1862–1847) and the former Jessie Comstock (1864–1934).[2] He received his early education at public schools in Pawnee City in Pawnee County, located south of Gage County. He graduated from the University of Nebraska in the capital city of Lincoln. From 1915 to 1916, he studied business administration at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.[2] During World War I, Wherry served in the United States Navy Flying Corps.[3]


Following his military service, Wherry began a business career selling automobiles, furniture, and livestock. He also studied law, was admitted to the bar, and engaged in private practice in Pawnee City. He was even a licensed undertaker in Nebraska and Kansas.[2]. He was a member of the city council in Pawnee City from 1927 to 1929, the mayor of Pawnee City from 1929 to 1931 and, again, from 1938 to 1943. He was a state senator from 1929 to 1932. He ran unsuccessfully for governor of Nebraska in 1932; he finished a strong second in the primary,[4] but victory went to the Democrat Charles W. Bryan.[5] He also lost in the primary for U.S. Senator in 1934,[6] when victory went to the Democrat Edward Raymond Burke (1880–1968) in the general election.[7] In 1942, he upset progressive George Norris, a supporter of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal, in the general election.[8] He was the Nebraska Republican state chairman and from 1941 to 1942 and the western director for the Republican National Committee. He was reelected to the Senate in 1948,[9] when Moderate Republican Thomas E. Dewey carried the state though defeated nationally by Harry Truman, who became something of a nemesis to Wherry. He was the Republican whip from 1944 to 1949 before he became minority leader for the last two years of his life. From 1939 to 1942, he served from 1939 to 1942 as the chairman of Special Committee on Problems of Small Business during what Truman called "the do nothing 80th Congress."[10]

Wherry in 1940.

Senator Wherry was an isolationist and an iconoclast in foreign affairs and was one of the few defenders of the German people suffering in the postwar years from starvation. He joined six colleagues in opposition to the U.S. entry into the United Nations because he expected none of these organizations to benefit the American people. He opposed the Marshall Plan, the Truman Doctrine, and entry into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.[11] With fellow conservative senator Homer Capehart of Indiana, he supported building military family housing in the post-World War II era.[12] He was the leader of the twenty conservative isolationists in the Senate. He was outmaneuvered by the internationalist wing, led by Moderate Republican Senator Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan. The isolationists claimed that supporting the socialist post-war governments of Western Europe would not thwart the spread of international communism, but Vandenberg said that the Marshall Plan would at the least stop economic chaos, sustain Western Civilization, and stop further Soviet expansion. Senator Robert A. Taft of Ohio, a son of U.S. President William Howard Taft who lost three bids for the Republican presidential nomination, said that the Marshall Plan had no economic justification but was needed in the battle against communism. Ultimately, only seventeen senators voted against the Marshall Plan on March 13, 1948.[13]

Wherry was part of a group of lawmakers and journalists who toured the Buchenwald concentration camp, which American forces had liberated on April 11, 1945, after the deaths of more than 56,000 people.T General Dwight D. Eisenhower left rotting corpses on the ground so that the visiting party could grasp the extent of the atrocities.[14]

In the spring of 1950, Wherry joined Sen. J. Lister Hill, a liberal Democrat from Alabama, in a congressional investigation of homosexuals in government, particularly the United States Department of State. Wherry argued that:[15]

...only the most naïve could believe that the communists' fifth column in the United States would neglect to propagate and use homosexuals to gain their treacherous ends.


Wherry died at the age of fifty-nine a week after Thanksgiving Day 1951 at the George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C., while he was the Republican Minority Leader. He is interred at the Pawnee City Cemetery, along with his wife, the former Marjorie Colwel (1896–1990).[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Kenneth Spicer Wherry (1892-1951) - Find A Grave Memorial, accessed March 31, 2021.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Kenneth S. Wherry. Nebraska State Historical Society. Retrieved on March 31, 2021.
  3. Kenneth S. Wherry. Pawnee County History. Retrieved June 15, 2021.
  4. NE Governor - R Primary Race - Apr 12, 1932. Our Campaigns. Retrieved June 15, 2021.
  5. NE Governor Race - Nov 08, 1932. Our Campaigns. Retrieved June 15, 2021.
  6. NE US Senate - R Primary Race - Aug 14, 1934. Our Campaigns. Retrieved June 15, 2021.
  7. NE US Senate Race - Nov 06, 1934. Our Campaigns. Retrieved June 15, 2021.
  8. NE US Senate Race - Nov 03, 1942. Our Campaigns. Retrieved June 15, 2021.
  9. NE US Senate Race - Nov 02, 1948. Our Campaigns. Retrieved June 15, 2021.
  10. Harry S. Truman - "Do Nothing Congress," State of the Union History, 1947.
  11. "UNO Bill Approved By Senate, 65 to 7, With One Change," The New York Times, December 4, 1945.
  12. Bernard Lemelin, "Isolationist Voices in the Truman Era: Nebraska Senators Hugh Butler and Kenneth Wherry." Great Plains Quarterly (Vol. 37, No. 2) (2017), pp. 83-109.
  13. John C. Campbell, The United States in World affairs: 1947-1948 (1948) pp 500-505; quotes on pages 504, 505.
  14. Marvin E. Stromer, "The Making of a Political Leader: Kenneth S. Wherry and the United States Senate," (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1969) p. 136–137.
  15. Judith Adkins (2016). 'These People Are Frightened to Death': Congressional Investigations and the Lavender Scare. National Archives.

External links

  • Profile at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  • Biography at History Nebraska