Ralph Flanders

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Ralph E. Flanders
Ralph Flanders.png
Former U.S. Senator from Vermont
From: November 1, 1946 – January 3, 1959
Predecessor Warren Austin
Successor Winston L. Prouty
Former President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston
From: May 1, 1944 – February 28, 1946
Predecessor William Paddock
Successor Laurence Whittemore
Party Republican
Spouse(s) Helen Edith Hartness
Religion Congregationalist[1]

Ralph Edward Flanders (September 28, 1880 – February 19, 1970) was an industrialist and engineer from Vermont. A member of the Republican Party, he served as the state's U.S. senator from the mid-1940s to the late 1950s. Flanders previously was the president of the Boston Federal Reserve Bank.

U.S. Senate

Although a Moderate Republican,[2] Flanders was generally considered a member of the more conservative wing of the Vermont GOP.[3] In the 1940 Senate special race, he unsuccessfully ran against George D. Aiken, a more liberal Republican, in the primary.[4] Coincidentally, they would later serve together in the Senate.

After incumbent Republican senator Warren Austin resigned from Congress to become the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under the Truman administration, Flanders ran in the special election for the seat. He won the primary by ten percentage points[5] and easily defeated his Democrat opponent in the general election by a landslide.[6]

Senate portrait of Flanders.

Flanders was mostly known for having been the leading Republican opponent of Joseph McCarthy,[7] who exposed communist infiltration of the State Department and the United States Army. The Vermont senator led the motion to censure McCarthy and made absurd statements (namely comparing him to Adolf Hitler) as well as the following sarcastic remark:[8]

To what party does [McCarthy] belong? Is he a hidden satellite of the Democratic Party, to which he is furnishing so much material for quiet mirth?

McCarthy was ultimately censured by the Senate, with nearly every Democrat supporting the measure while the Senate GOP was split;[8] Flanders and his more moderately liberal colleague Aiken voted in favor of it.[9] He later reflected on his efforts:

The conviction grew that something must be done about this, even if I had to do it myself.

Flanders retired from the Senate in the 1958 midterms. He missed 18.6% of all roll call votes throughout his congressional career.[10]


  1. Hart, D.G. (June 9, 2015). The World Ike Wrought. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved June 8, 2021.
  2. The Rockefeller Republicans. Mad Politics: The Bizarre, Fascinating, and Unknown of American Political History. Retrieved June 8, 2021.
  3. The Bizarre Political Transformation of Vermont. Mad Politics: The Bizarre, Fascinating, and Unknown of American Political History. Retrieved June 8, 2021.
  4. VT US Senate - Special R Primary Race - Sep 10, 1940. Our Campaigns. Retrieved June 8, 2021.
  5. VT US Senate - R Primary Race - Aug 13, 1946. Our Campaigns. Retrieved June 8, 2021.
  6. VT US Senate Race - Nov 05, 1946. Our Campaigns. Retrieved June 8, 2021.
  7. Bushnell, Mark (May 26, 2019). Then, Again: The Vermonter who brought down Joseph McCarthy. VTDigger. Retrieved June 8, 2021.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Glass, Andres (March 9, 2011). Vermont Senator Confronts Sen. Joseph McCarthy, March 9, 1954. Politico. Retrieved June 8, 2021.
  9. S. RES. 301. PASSAGE.. GovTrack.us. Retrieved June 8, 2021.
  10. Sen. Ralph Flanders. GovTrack.us. Retrieved June 8, 2021.

External links

  • Profile at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  • Profile via United States Senate
  • Biography at Federal Reserve History
  • Profile at Find a Grave