Stuart Symington was born and raised in Amherst, Massachusetts, and enlisted in the army in 1918 at seventeen years of age. In 1919 he entered Yale University and in 1923 he took his first corporate job with a railroad company in Rochester, New York. The following year he married Evelyn Wadsworth whose social prominence insured Symington's access to important political figures of the period. Working for a defense firm during World War II, Symington first met Harry Truman, who was then a senator from Missouri. After Truman became president he appointed Symington to head the Surplus Property Administration and then promoted him to assistant secretary of war for air. For the remainder of Truman's presidency, Symington held important defense-related positions as secretary of the air force, chairman of the National Security Resources Board, and chairman of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. In 1952, Symington opted to run for Missouri's vacant Senate seat and won by a landslide. In the Senate, he advocated a high level of military preparedness through increased spending and a strong American presence in Vietnam. Symington later amended these views in the late 1960s, eventually becoming openly opposed to the war and voting against many major defense spending increases. Symington left the Senate in 1977 but continued his involvement with a number of private endeavors until his death in 1988.
Sources: American National Biography Online. Internet on-line. Available From http://www.anb.org; The International Who's Who 1979-1980, 43rd ed. (London: Europa Publications Limited, 1979), p. 1224.
Recommended citation: Eleanor Roosevelt, John Kennedy, and the Election of 1960: A Project of The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, ed. by Allida Black, June Hopkins, John Sears, Christopher Alhambra, Mary Jo Binker, Christopher Brick, John S. Emrich, Eugenia Gusev, Kristen E. Gwinn, and Bryan D. Peery (Columbia, S.C.: Model Editions Partnership, 2003). Electronic version based on unpublished letters. http://adh.sc.edu.
For more information, visit The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers home page at http://www.gwu.edu/~erpapers/.
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