Alben W. Barkley

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Lowes, Kentucky
Birth Sign
Lowes, Kentucky

Alben Barkley was an American diplomat and lawyer who served as Harry S. Truman’s 35th Vice President from 1949 until 1953. Barkley was a member of Congress for nearly 40 years and was a key architect of the New Deal. Alben Barkley, a native of Kentucky, studied law and was eventually admitted to the bar in 1901 after completing public schools and graduating from Marvin College. He soon began practicing law and pursued his education at the University of Virginia. Barkley previously served as prosecuting attorney for McCracken County and was later elected county court judge. Following that, Barkley was elected to the House of Representatives as a Democrat, where he served seven consecutive terms from 1913 to 1927, before being elected to the Senate. He was re-elected to the United States Senate from Kentucky four times in a row, serving until 1949. He was then elected Vice President of the United States alongside President Harry S. Truman on the Democratic ticket, a position he held until 1953. Barkley sought the 1952 presidential candidacy following the conclusion of his term, but his party colleagues declined to accept him due to his advanced age. He was re-elected to the United States Senate in 1955 and served for just over a year before succumbing of a heart attack while delivering a speech.

Childhood & Adolescence

Alben William Barkley was born Willie Alben Barkley near Lowes, Kentucky, United States, on November 24, 1877, to John Wilson Barkley and his wife, Electra Eliza Smith. He was the eldest of his parent’s eight children, who were also tobacco farmers.

Barkley attended local public schools in Lowes, Kentucky, and changed his name to ‘Alben William’ shortly thereafter. He afterward attended Marvin College, a Methodist institution where he was awarded a scholarship in exchange for his work as a janitor.
He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1897 and subsequently enrolled at Emory College in Georgia. Later in life, he pursued a career in law and was admitted to the bar in 1901.

He then began practicing law in Paducah, Kentucky, while pursuing his studies at the University of Virginia Law School. He served as prosecuting attorney for McCracken County from 1905 to 1909 and then as judge of McCracken County Court from 1909 to 1913.

Alben Barkley’s Career

Barkley was elected to the United States House of Representatives from Kentucky’s 1st congressional district in 1912 and served seven consecutive terms from 1913 through 1927.
Barkley was defeated in his 1923 governor campaign in Kentucky, and consequently did not seek re-nomination as a Congressman in 1926, having been elected to the United States Senate.

Barkley was elected to the United States Senate from Kentucky in 1926 and was re-elected in 1932, 1938, and 1944, serving until 1949. He also served as the keynote speaker at the Democratic National Conventions of 1932, 1936, and 1948.

Barkley, a gifted congressional tactician, served in the cabinet from 1937 until 1947 as Senate Majority Leader. He then served as Senate Minority Leader under the administration, serving until 1949, when he resigned from the Senate.

Meanwhile, Barkley served as chairman of the Joint Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack and as a member of the Congressional Committee on Nazi War Crimes.
Barkley was nominated for vice presidency alongside President Harry S. Truman at the 1948 Democratic Convention. He was installed in January 1949 and became the United States’ oldest Vice President at the age of 71.

Following the conclusion of his term, Barkley sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1952 but was rejected by labor leaders who believed he was too old for the position. He was then re-elected to the United States Senate, where he served until his death the following year, in January 1955.

His Significant Works

Barkley was a key figure in the passage of the Volstead Act during his tenure in the United States House of Representatives.
He supported and played a crucial part in the passage of much of the New Deal legislation in the Senate during the 1930s, including the Securities and Exchange Act, the National Labor Relations Act, and the Social Security Act.

Barkley also wielded enormous influence on the international affairs and finance committees, as well as supporting Israel’s establishment as a nation-state. During President Roosevelt’s administration, he functioned as the principal spokesperson for home and foreign policy.

Awards and Accomplishments

Barkley received the Congressional Gold Medal in 1949.

Personal History and Legacies

Barkley married Dorothy Brower in June 1903, and the couple went on to have three children: David Murrell Barkley, Marion Frances Barkley, and Laura Louise Barkley. Dorothy later had a heart ailment and died in March 1947.
Barkley married Jane (Rucker) Hadley, a St. Louis widow who was nearly half his age, in July 1949. The couple was childless.

On April 30, 1956, while delivering a keynote presentation at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, Barkley collapsed on stage and died. He was laid to rest in Kentucky’s Mount Kenton Cemetery, near Paducah.
He is commemorated by Lake Barkley, a man-made lake on the Cumberland River, and the Barkley Dam on the same lake.

Estimated Net worth

Alben is one of the wealthiest politicians and is ranked among the most popular. Alben W. Barkley’s net worth is estimated to be $1.5 million, based on our analysis of Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.