Albert Gore Sr.

Albert Arnold Gore (December 26, 1907 – December 5, 1998) was an American politician who served as a United States Senator from Tennessee between 1953 until 1971. A member for the Democratic Party, he previously he served as a U.S. Representative from the state's 4th congressional district between 1939 until 1953. He was the father of Al Gore, who served as the 45th vice president of the United States from 1993 until 2001. A native of Granville, Tennessee, Gore graduated from Middle Tennessee State Teachers College and taught school. From 1932 to 1936 he was superintendent of schools for Smith County. He attended the Nashville Y.M.C.A. Night Law School, now the Nashville School of Law, from which he graduated in 1936.

Albert Gore Sr.
Official portrait of Albert Gore Sr.
Official portrait, c. 1953
United States Senator
from Tennessee
In office
January 3, 1953 – January 3, 1971
Preceded byKenneth McKellar
Succeeded byBill Brock
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 4th district
In office
January 3, 1939 – January 3, 1953
Preceded byJohn R. Mitchell
Succeeded byJoe L. Evins
Personal details
Albert Arnold Gore

(1907-12-26)December 26, 1907
Granville, Tennessee, U.S.
DiedDecember 5, 1998(1998-12-05) (aged 90)
Carthage, Tennessee, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
(m. 1937)
Children2, including Al Gore
Alma materMiddle Tennessee State University (BA)
Nashville School of Law (LLB)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1944–1945
UnitAllied Military Government for Occupied Territories
Battles/warsWorld War II

He was admitted to the bar later that year, and also accepted appointment as Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Labor, a position he held until 1937. In 1938, Gore was elected to the United States House of Representatives from Tennessee's 4th congressional district. He was twice re-elected, and served from 1939 until resigning in December 1944. During World War II, Gore briefly served in the United States Army as part of a program that enabled members of Congress to join the military incognito to obtain firsthand information on training, readiness, and treatment of service members. He served from December 1944 to March 1945, when he was discharged and took the House seat to which he had been elected again in November 1944. He was thereafter re-elected in 1946, 1948, and 1950, and served from 1945 until 1953. In 1952, Gore was a successful candidate for the U.S. Senate. He was reelected in 1958 and 1964, and served from January 1953 to January 1971. Gore was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1970.

In the Senate, Gore championed the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956. In 1956, he also opposed the segregationist Southern Manifesto, but he voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Gore reversed course a year later and supported the Voting Rights Act of 1965. During the presidency of Lyndon Johnson, Gore backed most of Johnson's Great Society programs. Gore's 1970 defeat was blamed in part on his opposition to continuing U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. After leaving the Senate, Gore practiced law and taught law at Vanderbilt University. He later served as a vice president of the Occidental Petroleum Company and was a member of its board of directors. Gore also served on the boards of directors of several other companies and operated a farm on which he bred Angus cattle. Gore died in Carthage, Tennessee on December 5, 1998 and was buried at Carthage's Smith County Memorial Gardens.

Early yearsEdit

Gore in 1939

Gore was born in Granville, Tennessee, the third of five children of Margie Bettie (née Denny) and Allen Arnold Gore.[1][2] Gore's ancestors included Anglo-Irish immigrants who first settled in Virginia in the mid-18th century and moved to Tennessee after the American Revolutionary War.[3][fn 1] As teenagers, Allen Gore and Cordell Hull were friends.[5]

Gore studied at Middle Tennessee State Teachers College, and taught school in Overton and Smith Counties from 1926 to 1930. He first sought elective public office at age 23, when he ran unsuccessfully for superintendent of schools in Smith County. A year later, he was appointed to the position following the death of the incumbent.[6] Gore graduated from the Nashville Y.M.C.A. Night Law School, now the Nashville School of Law, in 1936 and attained admission to the bar.

Congressional careerEdit

Plaque honoring Al Gore Sr. at a rest area along Interstate 40 in Tennessee

After serving as Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Labor from 1936 to 1937, Gore was elected as a Democrat to the 76th Congress in 1938, re-elected to the two succeeding Congresses, and served from January 3, 1939, until he resigned on December 4, 1944, to enter the U.S. Army.[7]

Military serviceEdit

Gore was one of several members of Congress who joined the military incognito for short tours, in order to observe training and combat and provide first-hand reports to the U.S. House and Senate.[8] He completed basic training at Fort Meade, Maryland, after which he was assigned to the Allied Military Government for Occupied Territories in Germany as a prosecutor in one of the military government courts.[9] Gore served as a private and was discharged in March 1945 so he could take the seat in the U.S. House to which he had been reelected in November 1944.[10][11]

Gore was re-elected to the 79th and to the three succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1945, to January 3, 1953). In 1951, Gore proposed in Congress that "something cataclysmic" be done by U.S. forces to end the Korean War: a radiation belt (created by nuclear weapons) dividing the Korean peninsula permanently into two.[12]

U.S. SenateEdit

Gore was not a candidate for House re-election but was elected in 1952 to the U.S. Senate. In his 1952 election, he defeated six-term incumbent Kenneth McKellar. Gore's victory is widely regarded as a major turning point in Tennessee political history and as largely marking the end of statewide influence for E. H. Crump, the Memphis political boss. During this term, Gore was instrumental in sponsoring and enacting the legislation creating the Interstate Highway System. Gore was re-elected in 1958 and again in 1964, and served from January 3, 1953, to January 3, 1971, after he lost reelection in 1970.

Gore was one of only three Democratic senators from the former Confederate states who did not sign the 1956 Southern Manifesto opposing integration, the others being Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas (who was not asked to sign), and Tennessee's other Senator, Estes Kefauver. South Carolina Senator J. Strom Thurmond tried to get Gore to sign the Southern Manifesto, but Gore refused. Gore voted in favor of the Civil Rights Acts of 1957,[13] 1960,[14] and 1968,[15] as well as the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the confirmation of Thurgood Marshall to the U.S. Supreme Court,[16][17] but voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and did not vote on the 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.[18][19]

Gore easily won renomination in 1958 over former governor Jim Nance McCord. In those days, Democratic nomination was still tantamount to election in Tennessee since the Republican Party was largely nonexistent in most of the state. In 1964, he faced an energetic Republican challenge from Dan Kuykendall, chairman of the Shelby County (Memphis) GOP, who ran a surprisingly strong race against him. While Gore won, Kuykendall held him to only 53 percent of the vote, in spite of Johnson's massive landslide victory in that year's presidential election.[citation needed]

1970 campaign and defeatEdit

By 1970, Gore was considered to be fairly vulnerable for a three-term incumbent Senator, as a result of his liberal positions on many issues such as the Vietnam War (which he opposed)[20] and civil rights. This was especially risky, electorally, as at the time the Republican Party was becoming more competitive in Tennessee. He faced a spirited primary challenge, predominantly from former Nashville news anchor Hudley Crockett, who used his broadcasting skills to considerable advantage and generally attempted to run to Gore's right. Gore fended off this primary challenge, but he was ultimately unseated in the 1970 general election by Republican Congressman Bill Brock. Gore was one of the key targets in the Nixon/Agnew "Southern strategy." He had earned Nixon's ire the year before when he criticized the administration's "do-nothing" policy toward inflation. In a memo[21] to senior advisor Bryce Harlow, Nixon aide Alexander Butterfield relayed the President's desire that Gore be "blistered" for his comment.[22] Spiro T. Agnew traveled to Tennessee in 1970 to mock Gore as the "Southern regional chairman of the Eastern Liberal Establishment". Other prominent issues in the race included Gore's vote against Everett Dirksen's amendment on prayer in public schools, and his opposition to appointing Clement Haynsworth and G. Harrold Carswell to the U.S. Supreme Court. Brock won the election by a 51% to 47% margin.[citation needed]

Political legacyEdit

In 1956, he gained national attention after his disapproval of the Southern Manifesto. Gore voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964, in fact filibustering against it, although he supported the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Gore was a vocal champion of the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, which secured creation of interstate highways. Later, he backed the Great Society array of programs initiated by President Johnson's administration, and introduced a bill with a Medicare blueprint. In international politics, he moved from proposing in the House to employ nuclear weapons for establishing a radioactive demilitarized zone during the Korean War, to voting for the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and speaking against the Vietnam War, which cost him his Senate seat in 1970.[23]

Personal lifeEdit

On April 17, 1937, Gore married lawyer Pauline LaFon (1912–2004), the daughter of Maude (née Gatlin) and Walter L. LaFon.[citation needed] Together, they had two children: Nancy LaFon Gore (1938–1984)[citation needed] and Albert Gore Jr. (born 1948), who followed in his father's political footsteps by representing Tennessee as a U.S. Representative and as a Senator, and later served as Vice President of the United States under Bill Clinton.

After leaving Congress, Gore Sr. resumed the practice of law and also taught law at Vanderbilt University.[citation needed] He continued to represent the Occidental Petroleum where he became vice president and member of the board of directors.[citation needed] Gore became chairman of Island Creek Coal Co., Lexington, Kentucky, an Occidental subsidiary, in 1972, and in his last years operated Gore Antique Mall, an antiques store in Carthage.[24] He lived to see his son Albert Gore Jr. become Vice President of the United States. Gore Sr. died on December 5, 1998 at the age of 90 and is buried in Smith County Memorial Gardens in Carthage.[citation needed] The stretch of Interstate 65 in Tennessee has been named The Albert Arnold Gore Sr. Memorial Highway in his honor.[6]


  1. ^ During a December 1987 interview with Playboy, Gore Vidal, a maternal grandson of Thomas Gore suggested that Albert Gore was of German descent, rather than Scots-Irish. Vidal believed that Albert Gore was his sixth or seventh cousin.[4]


  1. ^ Turque, Bill. "Inventing Al Gore". The New York Times. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
  2. ^ "Partial Genealogy of the Gores" (PDF). CLP Research.
  3. ^ Turque 2000, p. 5
  4. ^ Turque 2000, p. 378
  5. ^ Maraniss, David; Nakashima, Ellen (August 25, 2000). "The Prince of Tennessee: The Rise of Al Gore; Chapter One The Long Road". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 21, 2021.
  6. ^ a b Molotsky, Irvin (December 7, 1998). "Albert Gore, Sr., Veteran Politician, Dies at 90". The New York Times. Retrieved November 21, 2017.
  7. ^ "GORE, Albert Arnold, (1907–1998)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
  8. ^ "House Assignments O. K.'d by Caucus of Democrats". The Cincinnati Enquirer. Cincinnati, OH. Associated Press. January 16, 1945. p. 3 – via
  9. ^ "Tennessee Congressman Served Army Incognito". The Courier-Journal. Louisville, KY. Associated Press. March 5, 1945. p. 3 – via
  10. ^ "Pvt. Gore Loses Weight on Mission to Europe". Knoxville Journal. Knoxville, TN. Associated Press. March 8, 1945. p. 3 – via
  11. ^ "Gore Will Give Report on War Area Trip Soon". The Tennessean. Nashville, TN. March 8, 1945. p. 1 – via
  12. ^ George Mason University's History News Network. Retrieved December 29, 2009.
  13. ^ "HR. 6127. CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1957".
  14. ^ "HR. 8601. PASSAGE OF AMENDED BILL. – Senate Vote #284 – Apr 8, 1960".
  15. ^ "TO PASS H.R. 2516, A BILL TO PROHIBIT DISCRIMINATION IN ... – Senate Vote #346 – Mar 11, 1968".
  16. ^ "TO PASS S. 1564, THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT OF 1965. – Senate Vote #78 – May 26, 1965".
  19. ^ "HR. 7152. PASSAGE. – Senate Vote #409 – Jun 19, 1964".
  20. ^ "Albert Gore, Sr. | Anthony J. Badger". Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  21. ^ Memo from Alexander Butterfield to Bryce Harlow, July 10, 1969 Archived December 17, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, Nixon Library
  22. ^ Radnofsky, Louise (December 10, 2010) Documents Show Nixon Ordered Jews Excluded From Israel Policy, The Wall Street Journal
  23. ^ Edward L. Lach Jr. Gore, Albert Sr. American National Biography Online. September 2000. retrieved December 26, 2015.
  24. ^ Gore opens antique mall, Times Daily, January 3, 1994.

  This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress website


External linksEdit

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 4th congressional district

Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Tennessee
(Class 1)

1952, 1958, 1964, 1970
Succeeded by
U.S. Senate
Preceded by U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Tennessee
Served alongside: Estes Kefauver, Herbert S. Walters, Ross Bass, Howard Baker
Succeeded by
New office Chair of the Senate Attempts to Influence Senators Committee
Position abolished