Henry M Jackson


Recognized as one of the most successful leaders in American public service, Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson was widely regarded as a master statesman and legislator across his 43 years of service in the U.S. Congress. Historians acknowledge that Jackson was extraordinarily effective as a political leader in his era. Those who worked with the Senator or studied his work continue to view him as someone of great character and dedication, as did his legions of constituents.

Henry M Jackson graduation portrait

Born and raised in Everett, Washington, Jackson graduated from the University of Washington with a law degree in 1935. He began practicing law in Everett. Quickly drawn to the lure of public service, Jackson was elected as Snohomish County’s prosecuting attorney at the age of 26.

In 1940, Jackson was elected to represent Washington’s 2nd District in the U.S. Congress. His Congressional work was briefly interrupted when he enlisted in the U.S. Army in World War II. Returning to the House of Representatives, he played an influential role on issues including public lands, reclamation, and hydroelectric power development.

In 1945, Congressman Jackson visited Buchenwald a few days after the death camp was liberated, an event that deeply affected his views on freedom and human rights. He was one of the first American politicians to emphasize the significance of human rights in international relations, culminating in the passage of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment to the 1974 Trade Act. He also helped unify American foreign policy by identifying international communism as a political and ethical threat in the modern world.

Jackson served as the 2nd District’s Representative until 1952, when he successfully challenged Harry P. Cain for his seat in the U.S. Senate. He then served for more than 30 years in the U.S. Senate.

My advice to you is to be a participant–to be involved. In this way, you will enrich the nation, and you will enrich your own lives.

~ Senator Jackson

Throughout his time in Congress, Jackson continuously promoted public service as a desirable and important career path. He encouraged countless young people to enter public service, providing them with opportunities to experience what effective public service could do for the country and the world. He continued to serve until 1983, when he unexpectedly passed away.

You can learn more about Senator Jackson online at the UW Libraries Special Collections: Senator Henry M. Jackson Web Portal.

Senator Jackson speaking with Helen Hardin Jackson on the right, 1974
 University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections, UW27294