Mark Hatfield


Mark O(dom) Hatfield, (1922 – 2011), politician, was born in Dallas, Oregon the son of a middle class, Conservative Baptist family. He graduated from Willamette University in 1943 with a degree in political science. Upon graduating he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served in the Pacific Theater of World War II, an experience which profoundly shaped his later politics.

After the war Hatfield earned a master’s degree from Stanford and returned to Willamette as a dean and political science instructor. In 1950 he entered the political arena as a Republican and was elected to Oregon’s House of Representatives and, in 1954, to the Oregon state Senate. Handsome and articulate, he was identified as a rising star in the GOP. After a rededication of his faith in the mid-1950s Hatfield left his duties at Willamette in favor of a full-time political career, becoming Oregon’s Secretary of State in 1956. In 1958 he was elected the governor of Oregon and quickly began to make a name for himself on the national stage. A resolute backer of the civil rights movement he was selected the keynote speaker at the Republican Party’s 1964 “Goldwater convention” where he earned the ire of many in his own party for his criticism of American policy in Vietnam and his implied opposition to Goldwater and his followers.

In 1966 Hatfield was elected to the U.S. Senate and immediately made a reputation for his outspoken faith (cynical colleagues referred to him as “St. Mark”) and willingness to buck the pro-war opinions of his party and his fellow evangelicals. Over the next thirty years he carved out a distinctive evangelical political niche for himself, never once voting for a military spending bill, supporting many initiatives to boost social spending and education, consistently pro-life, and ever suspicious of the reach of a powerful Federal government. In 1997 Hatfield retired from the Senate, taking a position as the Herbert Hoover Chair Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the evangelical George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon.

For further reading see Robert Booth Fowler, A New Engagement: Evangelical Political Thought, 1966-1976 (Eerdmans, 1982), and Mark O. Hatfield, Between a Rock and a Hard Place (Word, 1976). 

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