Barry Morris Goldwater

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Barry Goldwater successfully led his family’s mercantile enterprise as a young man, but he had no idea that over three decades later, he would rule the U.S. Senate. One of the most despised yet significant politicians of the 20th century, he would go on to permanently influence and rule conservative American political events. Goldwater, a college dropout, had his first run-in with patriotism when he enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces and was later elevated to the rank of major general in the Air Force Reserve. A surprise election to the local City Council marked the beginning of his 37-year transition from the military to the senate. He then started winning one governorship election after another, sparking a revolt within the Republican Party. Strongly opposed to communism, he quickly lost the elections to Lyndon B. Johnson, a Democrat, as a result of his belligerence and outdated views, for which he endured years of derision. Nevertheless, he was elected and re-elected to the US Senate, where he implemented his belligerent orders about foreign policy, the flow of weaponry, and defense strategies. He even had a hand in getting former President Richard Nixon to resign. In his lifetime, he has written several books, including “The Conscience of a Conservative” and “No Apologies.” Continue scrolling for more.

Early Childhood & Life

Barry Morris Goldwater was raised in a wealthy Episcopal family by his parents, Baron M. Goldwater and Hattie Josephine Williams, who also owned a sizable chain of Goldwater’s department stores across the country.

After completing his studies at Staunton Military Academy, he enrolled for a year at the University of Arizona. Young Barry took over the family business after his father passed away in 1930 and championed novel, reformist methods that improved the company’s prospects.

Career of Barry Morris Goldwater

He grew weary of running the family business and joined the US Army Air Forces at the start of World War II. From command pilot to Major General, he advanced quickly through the ranks.
He spent over 37 years in the army and played a key role in founding the United States Air Force Academy and the Arizona Air National Guard.

In 1949, after leaving the Army as an Air Force Major General, he got involved in municipal politics in Phoenix.
He defeated Ernest McFarland to win the US Senate election in 1952. He defeated McFarland once more six years later and left the US Senate in 1964 to run for president.

He wrote, “The Conscience of a Conservative” in 1960, which went on to become a key work in American politics.
He rejected the “Civil Rights Act of 1964” 1964 and defended it by arguing that each state had the right to enact its own laws and maintain its independence and that the federal government was meddling in the internal affairs of each state.

In order to defeat the federal government, he ran a conservative campaign, which helped him garner the support of conservatives in southern states like Georgia and South Carolina.

His fight against the “Civil Rights Act” had disastrous effects on other states in America, though, and that year he was soundly defeated.

He ran for the Republican Party’s presidential candidacy in 1964, narrowly defeating Nelson Rockefeller in the first round of voting.

Many liberal Republicans opposed his candidacy, nevertheless, as they thought that his harsh, anti-Communist stance toward Russia may pave the path for a nuclear conflict. As a result, the number of votes decreased, which caused him to lose the election to Lyndon Johnson, who went on to win.

Despite losing, he was chosen to replace Carl Hayden in the US Senate in 1968.
In 1974, when he was re-elected to the Senate, he encouraged Nixon to step down as president in the aftermath of the “Watergate Scandal.”

He had intended to retire before being re-elected to the Senate in 1980. He nonetheless made the decision to run for office one more time, and this time around, the odds of winning re-election appeared to be worse because Arizona’s social structure had changed and fewer new people agreed with his antiquated beliefs and policies. He was re-elected to the Senate despite the challenges.

He presented the Cable Communications Act on October 30, 1984, encouraging competition and deregulation in the cable industry while establishing a number of regulations on cable communications.

He was chosen to lead the Senate Committee on Armed Services in 1985 and held that position until his retirement.
He signed the “Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act” during his final term as a senator, which resulted in a number of significant changes to the US Military and the Department of Defense.

He left the US Senate in 1987 and was regarded as one of its most reputable and prominent politicians at the time of his retirement.

After retiring, he made a number of contentious remarks on the “Whitewater Scandal” and the military’s ban on gays, which alienated many of his own followers. He actively contributed to the legalization of “medical marijuana.”

Major Works The 1960 publication of “The Conscience of a Conservative,” which covers a wide range of themes from Goldwater’s conservative views to civil rights and social welfare initiatives, was an instant impact on American political circles. The book continues to inspire contemporary radical discourse and has served as an inspiration for subsequent works, such as “The Conscience of a Liberal” and “Conservatives without Conscience,” that have leaned on its themes.

Recognition & Achievements

On May 12, 1986, President Ronald Reagan presented him with the “Presidential Medal of Freedom.”
The Smithsonian Institution honored him in 1987 by giving him the “Langley Gold Medal.”

The American Whig-Cliosophic Society from Princeton University gave him the “James Madison Award for Distinguished Public Service” in 1988.

Personal Legacy & Life

Early in his life, he worked as a radio operator, actively assisting individuals serving in the army to contact with loved ones back home during the Vietnam War.

He had four children—Joanne, Barry, Michael, and Peggy—with Margaret Johnson, whom he married in 1934. She died, however, in 1985.

He wed Susan Wechsler, who was 32 years his junior, in 1992.
Along with being an ardent photographer, he had a keen interest in UFO research.
At the age of 89, he had a stroke, which caused his death.

Today, college students who want to work in the fields of math, science, and engineering are given the “Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship.”

The Barry M. Goldwater Terminal, the Barry Goldwater Air Force Academy Visitor Center, and the Barry Goldwater High School in Phoenix are just a few of the structures and monuments that bear his name.

Estimated Net Worth

The estimated net worth of Barry Morris Goldwater is around $5 to $10 million.


During his lifetime, this well-known US Senator amassed 437 Kachina dolls, which he ultimately donated to the Heard Museum in Phoenix in 1969.