|24th United States Ambassador to the United Nations|
July 23, 2004 – January 20, 2005
|President||George W. Bush|
|Preceded by||John D. Negroponte|
|Succeeded by||John R. Bolton|
|United States Senator|
December 27, 1976 – January 3, 1995
|Preceded by||Stuart Symington|
|Succeeded by||John Ashcroft|
|37th Attorney General of Missouri|
January 13, 1969 – December 27, 1976
|Governor||Warren E. Hearnes|
|Preceded by||Norman Anderson|
|Succeeded by||John Ashcroft|
|Special Counsel for the|
United States Department of Justice
September 9, 1999 – c. July 23, 2000
|Appointed by||Janet Reno|
|Deputy||Edward L. Dowd Jr.|
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||Position not in use|
John Claggett Danforth
September 5, 1936
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Sally Dobson (m. 1957)|
|Relatives||William Danforth (brother)|
William H. Danforth (grandfather)
|Education||Princeton University (AB)|
Yale University (JD, MDiv)
John Claggett Danforth (born September 5, 1936) is an American politician, attorney and diplomat who began his career in 1968 as the Attorney General of Missouri and served three terms as United States Senator from Missouri. In 2004, he served briefly as United States Ambassador to the United Nations. Danforth is an ordained Episcopal priest.
Early life and education
Danforth was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Dorothy (Claggett) and Donald Danforth. He is the grandson of William H. Danforth, founder of Ralston Purina. Danforth's brother, William Henry Danforth, was former chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis.
Danforth attended St. Louis Country Day School and Princeton University, where he graduated with an A.B. in religion in 1958 after completing a 111-page senior thesis titled "Christ and Meaning: An Interpretation of Reinhold Niebuhr's Christology." He received degrees from Yale Law School and Yale Divinity School in 1963.
Before Danforth entered Republican politics, Missouri was a reliably Democratic state with its U.S. senators and governors usually being Democrats. Danforth's seat in the Senate was previously held by Democrats Thomas Hart Benton, Harry S. Truman, and Stuart Symington.
Missouri Attorney General
In 1968 Danforth was elected Missouri Attorney General, the first Republican elected to the office in 40 years, and the first from his party elected to statewide office in 22 years. On his staff of assistant attorneys general were future Missouri Governor and U.S. Senator Kit Bond, future U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, future Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and future federal judge D. Brook Bartlett. Danforth was reelected in 1972.
United States Senate
In 1976 Danforth ran to succeed Symington, who was retiring. He had little opposition in the Republican primary. The Democrats had a three-way battle among Symington's son James W. Symington, former Missouri Governor Warren Hearnes and rising political star Congressman Jerry Litton. Litton and his family were killed when the plane taking them to their primary victory party in Kansas City crashed on takeoff in Chillicothe, Missouri. Hearnes, who had finished second in the primary, far behind Litton, was appointed to challenge Danforth. Danforth defeated him with nearly 57 percent of the vote.
In 1982 the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate was Harriett Woods, a relatively unknown state senator from the St. Louis suburb of University City. She was active in women's rights organizations and collected union support and was a cousin of Democratic Senator Howard Metzenbaum of Ohio. Her speeches denounced Ronald Reagan's policies so vigorously that she ran on the nickname "Give 'em Hell, Harriett" (a play on the famous Truman phrase). Danforth defeated Woods 51% to 49%, with Woods's pro-choice stance said to be the reason for her loss.
In 1988 Danforth defeated Democrat Jay Nixon, 68%–32%. He chose not to run for a fourth term and retired from the Senate in 1995. He was succeeded by former Missouri governor John Ashcroft. Nixon was later elected Missouri Attorney General, and, in 2008, governor of Missouri.
In January 2001, when Missouri Democrats opposed Ashcroft's nomination for U.S. Attorney General, Danforth's name was invoked. Former U.S. Senator Tom Eagleton reacted to the nomination by saying: "John Danforth would have been my first choice. John Ashcroft would have been my last choice."
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During the 1991 Senate confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, Danforth used his clout to support Thomas, who had served Danforth during his state attorney general years and later as an aide in the Senate.
Danforth portrayed himself as a political moderate, but voted like his right-wing Republican colleagues, including sustaining filibusters. He was once quoted as saying he joined the Republican Party for "the same reason you sometimes choose which movie to see—[it's] the one with the shortest line."
On July 1, 2004, Danforth was sworn in as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, succeeding John Negroponte, who left the post after becoming the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq in June. He is best remembered for attempts to bring peace to the Sudan but stayed at the UN for just six months. Danforth was mentioned as a successor to Secretary of State Colin Powell. Six days after the announcement that Condoleezza Rice was going to take the position, Danforth submitted his resignation on November 22, 2004, effective January 20, 2005. His resignation letter said, "Forty-seven years ago, I married the girl of my dreams, and, at this point in my life, what is most important to me is to spend more time with her."
In 1999, Democratic U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno appointed Danforth to lead an investigation into the FBI's role in the 1993 Waco Siege. Danforth appointed Democratic U.S. Attorney Edward L. Dowd Jr. for the Eastern District of Missouri as his deputy special counsel. He also hired Bryan Cave partner Thomas A. Schweich as his chief of staff. Assistant U.S. Attorney James G. Martin served as Danforth's director of investigative operations for what became known as the "Waco Investigation" and its resulting "Danforth Report".
In July 2000, Danforth's name was leaked as being on the short list of potential vice presidential nominees for Republican nominee George W. Bush, along with Michigan Governor John Engler, New York Governor George Pataki, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, and former American Red Cross President Elizabeth Dole. One week before the 2000 Republican National Convention was held in Philadelphia, campaign sources said that Dick Cheney, the man charged with leading the selection process for the nominee, had recommended Danforth, but Bush selected Cheney himself. Bush wrote in his book Decision Points that Danforth would have been his choice if Cheney had not accepted.[additional citation(s) needed]
In September 2001, Bush appointed Danforth a special envoy to Sudan. He brokered a peace deal that officially ended the civil war in the South between Sudan's Islamic government and Christian-backed Sudanese rebels, but elements of that conflict still remain unresolved (as has the separate Darfur conflict). Known as the Second Sudanese Civil War, the conflict ended in January 2005 with the signing of a peace agreement.
On March 30, 2005, Danforth wrote an op-ed in The New York Times critical of the Republican party. The article began: "By a series of recent initiatives, Republicans have transformed our party into the political arm of conservative Christians". He also penned a June 17, 2005, piece headlined "Onward, Moderate Christian Soldiers".
In May 2012, a group led by Danforth's son-in-law and Summitt Distributing CEO Tom Stillman, in which Danforth is a minority investor, took controlling ownership of the St. Louis Blues of the National Hockey League. The group acquired full ownership of the team in June 2019.
Contributing to the anthology Our American Story (2019), Danforth addressed the possibility of a shared American narrative and focused on the "great American purpose" of "hold[ing] together in one nation a diverse and often contentious people." He encouraged continued work "to demand a functioning government where compromise is the norm, to integrate all our people into one indivisible nation, and to incorporate separated individuals into the wholeness of the community." Danforth is a member of the Reformers Caucus of Issue One.
Since the mid-2000s, Danforth was a mentor and political supporter of Josh Hawley, who became Attorney General of Missouri in 2017 and U.S. Senator in 2019 with Danforth's encouragement; Danforth also supported Hawley's presidential ambitions. In the wake of the 2021 storming of the United States Capitol and Hawley's efforts to challenge the 2021 United States Electoral College vote count, Danforth said that supporting Hawley in the 2018 election "was the worst mistake I ever made in my life".
As of 2021 Danforth is a partner at Dowd Bennett, a Clayton law firm just outside Saint Louis.
- Resurrection: The Confirmation of Clarence Thomas, Viking, 1994
- Faith and Politics: How the "Moral Values" Debate Divides America and How to Move Forward Together, Viking Press, 2006. ISBN 978-0670037872
- The Relevance of Religion: How Faithful People Can Change Politics. Description & preview. Random House, 2015. ISBN 978-0812997903
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: John Danforth|
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Danforth, a Republican, is retiring after three terms from the seat once held by Harry Truman
- "Alien Nation?: This Week's Interview: John Danforth". PBS. September 29, 2006. Archived from the original on October 21, 2008.
Danforth succeeded retiring Senator Stuart Symington
- Barr, Diana (October 16, 2015). "Danforth cites long friendship in choosing Hawley in AG race". St. Louis Business Journal. Retrieved March 9, 2021.
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Bond became an assistant attorney general under former U.S. Senator John Danforth
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He won re-election as attorney general in 1972.
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When Danforth was appointed special counsel to investigate the FBI's 1993 raid ..., Dowd assisted the former senator as deputy special counsel
- Young, Virginia; McDermott, Kevin (March 4, 2015). "Danforth, in eulogy, decries 'whispering campaign' against Schweich". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved March 9, 2021.
- Kelly, Robert (January 31, 2014). "Dowd Bennett LLP adds James Martin as a partner". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved March 10, 2021.
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- Reynolds, Nick (December 29, 2018). "How fair is Hollywood's treatment of Dick Cheney?". Casper Star-Tribune.
Danforth ..., who Bush later concurred would have been his selection for the post if Cheney refused it
- "President Appoints Danforth as Special Envoy to the Sudan". The White House. September 6, 2001. Retrieved March 11, 2021 – via U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.
- Bixler, Mark (12 Jan 2005). "HISTORIC PEACE AGREEMENT: Q&A / JOHN DANFORTH, former special envoy to Sudan 'Sudan could be a possible model' for all of Africa". Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
- "Sudan Government and Rebels in Deal to End Fighting in South". The New York Times. January 9, 2005. Retrieved March 11, 2021.
- "Text: Homily of former Sen. John Danforth at Reagan funeral". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
- Danforth, John (March 30, 2005). "In the Name of Politics". The New York Times. Retrieved November 10, 2013.
- Danforth, John (June 17, 2005). "Onward, Moderate Christian Soldiers". The New York Times. Retrieved November 10, 2013.
- "St. Louis Blues announce local minority partner, new radio deal". The Hockey News. Sports Illustrated. The Canadian Press. March 29, 2007. Retrieved March 10, 2021.
Stillman, owner of Summit Distributing, ... and the son-in-law for former U.S. Sen. John Danforth
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Media related to John Danforth at Wikimedia Commons