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Former Senator Mark Hatfield Dies, Rare Kind Of Leader

August 8, 2011

One of the names from the era that I grew up in passed from the stage on Sunday. Mark Hatfield was hard to peg, or put a certain label on.

Mark Hatfield, Oregon’s Republican governor from 1959 to 1967 and then senator from 1967 to 1997, hasdied at age 89. In World War II, he had been among the troops who entered Hiroshima after the bomb fell. That scarring experience, along with his deep Christian faith, made Hatfield the most pacifist presence in the Senate in the second half of the 20th century. He opposed U.S. intervention in Vietnam, Central America, the Persian Gulf, and the Balkans, he joined forces with Ted Kennedy to push for a nuclear freeze, and he never voted for a single military appropriations bill. So strong was Hatfield’s interest in nonviolence that in the early ’70s he flirted with rejecting the institutionalized violence of the state, reading one of the anarchist economist Murray Rothbard’s articles into the Congressional Record and writing (or at least signing) a glowing review of Rothbard’sPower and Market that appeared in The Individualist — probably the only time a sitting senator has endorsed an anarcho-capitalist treatise.

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