Warren Magnuson

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Warren Grant "Maggie" Magnuson

In office
December 14, 1944 – January 3, 1981
Preceded by Homer Truett Bone
Succeeded by Slade Gorton
In office
January 3, 1977 – January 3, 1981
Preceded by John McClellan
Succeeded by Mark O. Hatfield

Chairman of the
Senate Commerce Committee
In office
January 3, 1955 – January 3, 1977
Preceded by John W. Bricker
Succeeded by Howard Cannon (Nevada)

Senate President Pro Tempore
In office
December 6, 1980 – January 3, 1981
Preceded by Milton Young (North Dakota)
Succeeded by Strom Thurmond
In office
January 3, 1979 – December 5, 1980
Preceded by James Eastland
Succeeded by Milton Young

United States Representative for
Washington's 1st Congressional District
In office
January 3, 1937 – December 13, 1944
Preceded by Marion Zioncheck
Succeeded by Emerson DeLacy

Washington State Representative
for the 37th District
In office
January 9, 1933 – January 14, 1935
Preceded by George F. Murray
Succeeded by A. Lou Cohen

Born April 12, 1905
Moorhead, Clay County,
Died May 20, 1989 (aged 84)
Seattle, Washington
Resting place Acacia Memorial Park
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) (1) Eleanor Peggy "Peggins" Maddieux Magnuson (married 1928–1935, divorced)

(2) Jermaine Elliott Peralta Magnuson (married 1964–1989, his death)

Alma mater University of North Dakota (Grand Fiorks)
North Dakota State University (Fargo)
University of Washington
(Bachelor of Arts and LLB)
Occupation Attorney

Military Service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Rank Lieutenant Commander
Battles/wars World War II

Pacific Theater of Operations

Warren Grant Magnuson, sometimes known as Maggie Magnuson (April 12, 1905 – May 20, 1989), was an attorney and Democrat politician who served from 1944 to 1981 as a United States Senator for his adopted state of Washington. From 1937 to 1944, he was the U.S. Representative for Washington's 1st congressional district. He is the state's longest-serving senator with thirty-six years of tenure.

Magnuson's better-known Washington colleague, Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson, served thirty years and died in office shortly after his last reelection in 1982. During his final two years in office, Magnuson was the Senate's most senior senator and twice the President Pro Tempore of the body.


Magnuson was born in Moorhead in Clay County in west central Minnesota, which is part of the Fargo, North Dakota metropolitan area.[1] Magnuson never knew his parents, who may have died within a month of his birth,[2] or his unwed mother placed him for adoption.[3]

He was adopted by William Grant Magnuson (1876–1946) and the former Emma Anderson and took their surname.[4] The Magnusons were second-generation immigrants from Scandinavia who operated a bar in Moorhead. A year after taking Warren, the couple adopted a daughter, Clara.[5] In 1921, his adoptive father left the family while Warren was in his middle-teens.[6]

Magnuson played football and baseball at Moorhead High School[3] and still found time to work numerous jobs, including wheat farming, newspaper and telegram delivery, and managing a YMCA camp in Moorhead and Fargo.[4] He graduated in 1923, and then enrolled for a year at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, eighty miles north of Moorhead.[1] In 1924, he transferred to North Dakota State University, an agricultural college in Fargo, which he also attended for a year.[3] He traveled into Canada by riding freight trains and threshing wheat.[4] In 1926, he graduated from the University of Washington in Seattle; in 1929, from the UW Law School.[1]

During World War II, Magnuson, still a member of the House and then the Senate, served in the United States Navy and reached the rank of lieutenant commander.[1]

Political career

Magnuson launched his law practice in Seattle, where from 1930 to 1931 he was the secretary of the Seattle Municipal League. From 1931 to 1936, he was a prosecuting attorney for King County. In 1932, he was elected to the Washington legislature and served until 1934. In 1933, he was a delegate to the state constitutional convention. In 1934, he was a U.S. Attorney. In 1936, he was elected to the U.S. House and served until 1944. [1]

U.S. Senate

In 1944, Magnuson was elected to the first of his six terms to the U.S. Senate. He defeated his future Senate colleague, Republican Harry P. Cain, 452,013 votes (55.1 percent) to 364,356 (44.4 percent). Republican Governor Arthur B. Langlie the next month appointed Magnuson to finish the three weeks left in the term of Democratic Senator Homer Truett Bone (1883–1970), who resigned before the expiration of his term. This gave Magnuson an edge in seniority among the senators taking office in 1945.

Magnuson served twice as the President pro tempore of the Senate. He was the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee and sat on the Appropriations Committee as well.[1]In November 1961, U.S. President John F. Kennedy visited Seattle for Magnuson's celebration of his first twenty-five years in both houses of Congress.[7]

In 1967, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, while signing into law the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, cited Magnuson with obtaining enactment of the law.[8]

Three laws bear Magnuson's name:

  1. The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976, authored with Moderate Republican Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska.
  2. The Magnuson Act, which repealed the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.
  3. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, co-sponsored with Utah Senator Frank Moss (1911–2003). He worked to keep supertankers out of Puget Sound.[9]

Magnuson also played a key role in pushing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 through the Commerce Committee despite the opposition of southern Democrats, most of whom at the time were segregationists.

Later years

After his defeat for Senate reelection in 1980 by the Moderate Republican Slade Gorton, heir of the Gorton's seafood company, Magnuson returned to the practice of law in Seattle.[1]

He was twice married. In 1928, he wed the former Eleanor Peggy "Peggins" Maddieux; they divorced in 1935. Twenty-nine years later, he wed the former Jermaine Elliott Peralta, to whom he was married from 1964 until his death twenty-five years later.[10]

Magnuson died in Seattle at the age of eighty-four and is interred with his second wife at Acacia Memorial Park in Lake Forest Park in King County.[11]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress - Retro Member details, accessed August 26, 2021.
  2. Wolfgang Saxon, "Warren G. Magnuson Dies at 84; Held Powerful Positions in Senate," The New York Times, May 21, 1989.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Shelby Scates, Warren G. Magnuson and the Shaping of Twentieth-Century America (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1997).
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Warren G. Magnuson," Current Biography, H. W. Wilson Company, 1945.
  5. Warren Magnuson was one of a kind (seattlepi.com), accessed August 25, 2021.
  6. Kit Oldham, "Magnuson, Warren G. (1905-1989), HistoryLink.
  7. President Kennedy delivers major policy speech at UW on November 16, 1961, accessed August 27, 2021.
  8. Lyndon B. Johnson (November 7, 1967). Remarks Upon Signing the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967. American Presidency Project. Retrieved on August 27, 2021.
  9. HistoryLink.org Congress passes Senator Warren Magnuson's amendment banning supertankers in Puget Sound. historylink.org: The online encyclopedia of Washington State history (October 5,1977).
  10. "Magnuson weds Seattle widow," Spokane Daily News, October 5, 1964.
  11. Jermaine Elliott Magnuson (1923-2011) - Find A Grave Memorial, accessed August 27, 2021.

External links