John Danforth

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John Claggett "Jack" Danforth (born September 5, 1936) is a former United States Ambassador to the United Nations and former Republican United States Senator from Missouri. He is an ordained Episcopal priest. Danforth is married to Sally D. Danforth and has five adult children.


Education and early career

Danforth was born in 1936 in St. Louis, Missouri. He attended St. Louis Country Day School, received his bachelor's degree from Princeton University in 1958, and attended both law and divinity graduate schools at Yale University. Danforth is the grandson of William H. Danforth founder of Ralston Purina. His father was Donald Danforth, a former chief executive of the company. One of his brothers is Dr. Bill Danforth, former chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis.

He is a brother in the Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity.[1]

In his first bid to run for public office at any level he was elected in 1968 at the age of 32 to be Missouri Attorney General. On his staff of assistant attorneys general were Kit Bond, John Ashcroft, and Clarence Thomas.

In 1970 Danforth ran for the United States Senate for the first time, against Democratic incumbent Stuart Symington. Danforth was defeated in a close race.

In 1972 Danforth's colleague Bond was elected Missouri Governor at the age of 33, and Danforth was re-elected Attorney General. The two projected an image of Missouri's young Republican wunderkind in a state that traditionally had been Democratic.

Senate races

In 1976 Danforth ran to succeed retiring Senator Stuart Symington. He ran in the Republican primary with little opposition. The Democrats had a three-way battle among Symington's son James W. Symington, former Missouri Governor Warren Hearnes and rising political star Congressman Jerry Litton. Litton and his entire family were killed when the plane taking them to their victory party in Kansas City crashed on take off in Chillicothe, Missouri. Hearnes, who had finished second in the primary far behind Litton, was appointed to challenge Danforth. Danforth easily won even though Jimmy Carter of Georgia won Missouri in the presidential election.

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