Wayne Morse

Born on October 20, 1900, in Verona, Wisconsin, Wayne Lyman Morse left a deep legacy of commitment to democratic representation, the rule of law, and intellectual independence in his service to the University of Oregon, the State of Oregon, and the nation. He displayed this commitment in his work as a law professor and dean of the University of Oregon School of Law, a labor arbitrator, and while serving the State of Oregon as U.S. senator.

During Wayne Morse’s 24-year tenure in the Senate, 1945-69, he was a leader in a wide range of issues, including the anti-war movement, education, civil rights and international law. He is perhaps best remembered for his historic stance as one of two members of Congress who voted against the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which initiated U.S. military intervention in Vietnam.

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Watch The Last Angry Man: Senator Wayne Morse
For in-depth explorations of his policy work, check out the Wayne Morse Monograph Series



    Early Career

    Wayne Morse graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in economics and speech, and later taught at the University of Minnesota, concurrently earning his law degree. Read more.


    Political Philosophy

    Senator Morse’s political philosophy developed out of the Progressive movement, which was largely a response to rapid industrialization and urbanization. Read more.


    Political Career

    Senator Morse championed civil rights, labor rights, and equal access to education, and was an outspoken defender of the Constitution’s checks and balances. Read more.


    Labor Rights

    Morse returned to the labor front as a senator, only to face a bill that threatened to erase nearly every fundamental right he had helped establish while on the War Labor Board. Read more.


    Vietnam War

    Senator Morse was staunchly opposed to communism, even approving the use of military force to repel it when necessary. Read more.


    Death Penalty Opposition

    During his career, Senator Morse was opposed to the death penalty, stating, “I do not think any bar of judgment set up by man has the moral or spiritual right to substitute itself for the Almighty.” In 1967, along with Senator Mark Hatfield and others, he co-sponsored a bill to abolish the death penalty in the United States. Read more.


    Wayne Lyman Morse United States Courthouse

    The Wayne Lyman Morse United States Courthouse was designed as part of the General Services Administration’s (GSA) Design Excellence Program, which has improved the quality of federal architecture in recent years. Read more.



    "In the spring of 1967, Sen. Wayne Morse came to Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, at my invitation, to address the students and faculty.  His topic was “Vietnam and Congress’s Role in such Conflicts under the Constitution.” The Vietnam War was raging. And for many years, the Senator had been a strong and vocal critic of that war." Read more.