William Warren Barbour

William Warren Barbour (July 31 1888 - November 22 1943) was an American Republican Party politician who represented New Jersey in the United States Senate from 1931 to 1937 and again from 1938 until his death in office in 1943, a business leader, and the amateur heavyweight boxing champion in both the United States (1910) and Canada (1911).

Family background and early life

William Warren Barbour, the third of four brothers, was born in 1888 to Colonel William Barbour and his wife, Julia Adelaide Sprague, in Monmouth Beach, Monmouth County, New Jersey. His eldest brother, Thomas Barbour, a general naturalist and herpetologist, served as director of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard. His father, Colonel William Barbour, was founder and president of the Linen Thread Company, Inc., a thread manufacturing enterprise having much business on both sides of the Atlantic. [Barbour, "Our Families 1", p. Barbour-14]

William Warren Barbour attended the public schools, but ultimately graduated from the Browning School, New York City in 1906. He also entered Princeton University but left after one semester to join The Linen Thread Company, of which his father was president. William Warren Barbour became president of the company in 1917 when his father, "The Colonel", died. [Barbour, "Our Families 1" p. Barbour-21]

As a teenager, Barbour was threatened by tuberculosis, which he overcame by intensive exercise and participation in sports. These athletic pursuits included boxing, which eventually led to his becoming amateur heavyweight boxing champion of the United States in 1910, when he defeated Joseph Burke, and Canada in 1911. [Barbour, "Our Families 1", p. Barbour-21]

Around this time, both Theodore Roosevelt and "Gentleman Jim" Corbett wanted him to take up the mantle of "the great white hope" and fight Jack Johnson, the reigning professional heavyweight champion. [Time, Inc.] While the idea apparently appealed to Barbour and his father, his mother was adamantly opposed and firmly quashed the plan. While Barbour never continued with a professional boxing career, he did serve as timekeeper for the Jack Dempsey-Jess Willard fight in 1919. [Barbour, "Our Families 1", p. Barbour-21; Time, Inc.]

Militarily, he served as a member of the New York National Guard for ten years, being stationed on the Mexican border in 1916, and attaining the rank of captain. In 1921, he married Elysabeth Cochran Carrere, a union which gave rise to three children and ten grandchildren. [Barbour, "Our Families 2", p. Addenda I-2] Soon after his marriage, Barbour entered the political arena, serving as a member of the Rumson Borough Council in 1922 and as mayor of Rumson from 1923-1928.

Political career and opposition to the Holocaust

By 1930, Barbour and his family took their house in Locust Point, Monmouth County, N.J., as their official residence, while also maintaining a home in New York City. Barbour continued his work in various industrial enterprises, primarily including the family thread manufacturing business, of which he was president. On December 1 1931, New Jersey Governor Morgan F. Larson appointed Barbour, a Republican, to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy created by the death of Dwight W. Morrow.

The appointment was confirmed the following year, when he was elected to the U.S. Senate on November 8 1932, with 49% of the vote, in a year when more than half of the Republican incumbents running for the Senate were defeated.Fact|date=February 2007 He served in the Senate until January 3 1937. After completing Morrow's unfinished term, Barbour was unsuccessful in his 1936 reelection bid. For the next two years, he resumed his former pursuits, including service as a member of the New Jersey unemployment compensation commission in 1937. Barbour regained his Senate seat on November 8 1938, when he was again elected to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of A. Harry Moore. Reelected in 1940, he served as U.S. Senator from New Jersey until his death in 1943.

While Barbour evidenced no personal history of an interest in Jewish affairs prior to rejoining the Senate in 1940, the plight of victims of Nazi genocide stirred him deeply. In April 1943, along with many other Congressmen and Senators, Barbour may have attended a performance of "We Will Never Die", a pageant written by Ben Hecht and produced by the Bergson Group to commemorate two million European Jews who had already been murdered. [ [http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/article.php?lang=en&ModuleId=10007036 "We Will Never Die: Shattering the Silence Surrounding the Holocaust"] , United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Holocaust Encyclopedia, accessed December 6, 2006 (While the article indicates more than 200 members of Congress attended the performance in Washington, DC, it makes no mention of Barbour in particular.)] In the fall of 1943, he was one of a small group of senators and congressmen who, together with the vice president, met with 400 rabbis who marched with the Bergson Group in Washington in 1943, shortly before Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. It was hoped their march would encourage the United States government to take a formal stand against the Holocaust. While President Franklin D. Roosevelt avoided meeting the rabbis, Senator Barbour, along with a handful of Congressional colleagues, met them on the steps of the United States Capitol and expressed his commitment to their cause.Davis S. Wyman Institute]

On October 14, 1943, [New York Times (NYT)] barely a week after meeting with the rabbis, and despite strong public and political opinion against allowing further immigration to the United States, Barbour introduced a bill that would have permitted as many as 100,000 victims of the Holocaust "who are now being persecuted either because of racial or religious belief" to come to America and to remain in the United States as visitors for the duration of the war. [New York Times (NYT); Davis S. Wyman Institute] This would have been a significant change from the existing policy limiting immigration to only 2% of the number of their countrymen who had been in the United States as of the 1890 Census.Davis S. Wyman Institute]

Barbour's death just a few weeks later in November, 1943, prevented him from working toward passage of the bill. His support of the rabbis, however, and his subsequent actions in the Senate did much to increase political and public awareness of and compassion for the victims of Nazi genocide.

Death and burial

Senator Barbour died of a heart attack in 1943 at age 55 at his home in Washington, D.C. [Barbour, "Our Families 1" p. Barbour-22; excluding statistics re. 1932 election] He is buried with his parents and a brother, Robert Barbour, at Cedar Lawn Cemetery in Paterson, New Jersey. Divorced at the time of his death, he was survived by three children and, subsequently, ten grandchildren.

Notes

References

* Barbour, Thomas (brother of William Warren Barbour). "Naturalist at Large". Little, Brown and Company; Boston, 1943.
* Barbour, Thomas (nephew of William Warren Barbour). "Our Families (Volumes 1 & 2)". Self-printed. 1983
*
* [http://www.wymaninstitute.org Davis S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies] ; [http://www.wymaninstitute.org/articles/2003-11-thanksg.php "A Thanksgiving Day when Jews Mourned."] , copyright 2005. accessed 7 September 2006.
* [http://www.nyt.com New York Times (NYT)] , October 15, 1943; p. 21; [http://select.nytimes.com/mem/archive/pdf?res=FB0712F83F5C167B93C7A8178BD95F478485F9 "Moves for Admission of 100,000 Refugees - Barbour Offers Resolution for Entry of Racial Victims"] ; accessed December 12, 2006 (There may be a charge for this article if accessed online.)
* [http://www.time.com Time, Inc.] ; [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,777399,00.html "Boxers Triumph"] , copyright 2006. accessed 7 September 2006.

External links

*CongBio|B000132|name=Barbour, William Warren|inline=1
* [http://politicalgraveyard.com/bio/barbour.html#R9M0IONAF Political Graveyard biography for William Warren Barbour]


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