Milton Young
President pro tempore of the United States Senate
In office
December 5, 1980 – December 6, 1980
Preceded byWarren Magnuson
Succeeded byWarren Magnuson
Secretary of the Senate Republican Conference
In office
January 3, 1946 – January 3, 1971
LeaderWallace H. White
Preceded byJohn Chandler Gurney
Succeeded byNorris Cotton
United States Senator
from North Dakota
In office
March 12, 1945 – January 3, 1981
Preceded byJohn Moses
Succeeded byMark Andrews
Personal details
Milton Ruben Young

(1897-12-06)December 6, 1897
Berlin, North Dakota, U.S.
DiedMay 31, 1983(1983-05-31) (aged 85)
Sun City, Arizona, U.S.
Resting placeBerlin Cemetery
Berlin, North Dakota
Political partyRepublican
Malinda Benson
(m. 1919; died 1969)
Patricia Byrne
(m. 1969)
EducationNorth Dakota State University
Graceland University

Milton Ruben Young (December 6, 1897 – May 31, 1983) was an American politician, most notable for representing North Dakota in the United States Senate from 1945 until 1981. At the time of his retirement, he was the most senior Republican in the Senate, and the last member of the Lost Generation to serve in the Senate.

Early life

Born at Berlin, North Dakota to John and Rachel Young, all four of his grandparents were from Germany.[1] Young graduated from LaMoure High School, then attended North Dakota State University in Fargo and Graceland College. After college, Young returned home to operate the farm of his parents, John and Rachel Zimmerman Young. In 1919, Young married Malinda Benson and together they had three sons, Wendell, Duane, and John.

Political career (North Dakota)

Young became increasingly interested in politics during the depression and drought of the late 1920s and 1930s. He was active in community affairs, serving on the school, township, and county Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) boards. He stood for election to the North Dakota House of Representatives in 1932; he won, and was then elected to the state Senate just two years later. Young was also one of the key persons in developing the Republican Organizing Committee in North Dakota during the 1940s.

Political career (Washington)

With the death of John Moses in 1945, Governor Fred G. Aandahl appointed Young to fill the vacant U.S. Senate seat, and Young was forced to relinquish management of the family farm, in order to fulfill his duties in Washington.

For the 1952 Presidential election, Young initially indicated his support for Ohio Senator Robert Taft. In March, Young endorsed Democratic Senator Richard Russell Jr. for the presidency, citing him as "superbly qualified" for the position and stated his willingness to support him in the event that he was nominated by his party. The endorsement caused a sensation and left Republicans from his home state calling for his withdrawal from the party.[2]

Young spent the remainder of his career in the Senate, becoming one of the longest-serving members of the Senate in its history. His major committee assignments were on the Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry committee, and the Appropriations committee of which he was the ranking Republican member. He was nicknamed "Mr. Wheat", and was instrumental in getting the Agricultural Act of 1956 and the Agriculture and Consumer Protection Act of 1973 passed. Despite his Republican affiliation, Young did receive praise from the Farmers Union for his support of farm policies.[3] While supportive of Dwight D. Eisenhower as president, Young was critical of the farm policies of his Secretary of Agriculture, Ezra Taft Benson, who was praised by the far-right John Birch Society, an organization of which Young was also critical. Young voted in favor of the Civil Rights Acts of 1957,[4] 1960,[5] 1964,[6] and 1968,[7] as well as the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the confirmation of Thurgood Marshall to the U.S. Supreme Court,[8][9] but did not vote on the 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.[10] Despite voting against Medicare and Medicaid in 1965, Young co-sponsored health care bills that advocated for benefits and services similar to the Medicare program for people under 65 (as well as their spouses and children) through the Social Security Act, as well as a federally run health care program that would have replaced Medicaid.[11][12][13][14] Young also voted in favor of the Comprehensive Child Development Act of 1971, which was vetoed by President Nixon, and the Equal Rights Amendment in 1972.[15][16] When asked about a potential candidacy for his Senate seat from journalist Eric Sevareid in 1968, Young replied: "What does Sevareid know about wheat?". In 1974, during his last election for the U.S. Senate, Young's age was being used against him during the General election; Young aired campaign commercials showing himself breaking a piece of board with a karate chop and won re-election.[17]

Young once said of his career in the Senate and loyalty to the people of his state: "I have always tried to stay close to the people. In North Dakota to be elected and to stay on, you have to know the farmers and stay close to them. They are loyal to a fault."

As a result of the 1980 elections, Republicans won control of the Senate. As the longest-serving Republican Senator, Young would have been in line to become President pro tempore. However, he had chosen to retire instead of running for a seventh term. In deference to his long service in the body, he was elected President pro tempore by the lame duck Democratic-controlled Senate on December 5 and served for one day.

Later personal life

Young's first wife died shortly before their golden anniversary in 1969. Young's second wife was Patricia Byrne, his secretary in the Senate, of Bowman, North Dakota.

Senator Young died at his retirement home in Sun City, Arizona on May 31, 1983, and was buried at Berlin, North Dakota. The Milton R. Young Power Plant in Oliver County was named in his honor. The tallest building in Minot is a public housing facility which bears his name.

See also


  1. ^ "United States Census, 1900", FamilySearch, retrieved February 27, 2018
  2. ^ GOP Senator Endorses Russell (March 2, 1952)
  3. ^ "North Dakota's 'Race of the Century' pitted a popular senator against a well-regarded governor".
  4. ^ "HR. 6127. Civil Rights Act of OF 1957".
  5. ^ "HR. 8601. Passage of Amended Bill".
  6. ^ "HR. 7152. Passage".
  7. ^ "To Pass H.R. 2516, A Bill to Prohibit Discrimination in Sale or Rental of Housing, and to Prohibit Racially Motivated Interference with a Person Exercising His Civil Rights, and for Other Purposes".
  8. ^ "To Pass S. 1564, The Voting Rights Act of 1965".
  9. ^ "Confirmation of Nomination of Thurgood Marshall, The First Negro Appointed to the Supreme Court".
  10. ^ "S.J. Res. 29. Approval of Resolution Banning the Poll Tax as Prerequisite for Voting in Federal Elections".
  12. ^ "S.2513 - Catastrophic Health Insurance and Medical Assistance Reform Act".
  13. ^ "S.350 - Catastrophic Health Insurance and Medical Assistance Reform Act".
  14. ^ "S.351 - Catastrophic Health Insurance Act".
  16. ^ "TO PASS H.J. RES. 208".
  17. ^ "Former Sen. Milton Young, 85, Dies". The Washington Post.
U.S. Senate Preceded byJohn Moses U.S. Senator (Class 3) from North Dakota 1945–1981 Served alongside: William Langer, Clarence Norman Brunsdale, Quentin Burdick Succeeded byMark Andrews Preceded byLeverett Saltonstall Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Committee 1967–1981 Succeeded byWilliam Proxmire Party political offices Preceded byGerald Nye Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from North Dakota(Class 3) 1946, 1950, 1956, 1962, 1968, 1974 Succeeded byMark Andrews Preceded byJohn Chandler Gurney Secretary of the Senate Republican Conference 1946–1971 Succeeded byNorris Cotton Honorary titles Preceded byGeorge Aiken Most Senior Republican in the United States Senate 1975–1981 Succeeded byStrom Thurmond Political offices Preceded byWarren G. Magnuson President pro tempore of the U.S. Senate 1980 Succeeded byWarren G. Magnuson