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William B. Saxbe
United States Ambassador to India
In office
March 8, 1975 – November 20, 1976
PresidentGerald Ford
Preceded byPat Moynihan
Succeeded byRobert F. Goheen
70th United States Attorney General
In office
January 4, 1974 – February 2, 1975
PresidentRichard Nixon
Gerald Ford
Preceded byElliot Richardson
Succeeded byEdward H. Levi
United States Senator
from Ohio
In office
January 3, 1969 – January 3, 1974
Preceded byFrank Lausche
Succeeded byHoward Metzenbaum
Attorney General of Ohio
In office
January 14, 1963 – January 3, 1969
GovernorJim Rhodes
Preceded byMark McElroy
Succeeded byPaul W. Brown
In office
January 14, 1957 – January 12, 1959
GovernorC. William O'Neill
Preceded byC. William O'Neill
Succeeded byMark McElroy
Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives
In office
January 5, 1953 – January 2, 1955
Preceded byGordon Renner
Succeeded byRoger Cloud
Personal details
William Bart Saxbe

(1916-06-24)June 24, 1916
Mechanicsburg, Ohio, U.S.
DiedAugust 24, 2010(2010-08-24) (aged 94)
Mechanicsburg, Ohio, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Dolly Kleinhans
(m. 1940)
Children3, including Rocky
EducationOhio State University (BA, LLB)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
UnitUnited States Army Air Corps
Battles/warsWorld War II
Korean War

William Bart Saxbe (/ˈsæksb/ SAKS-bee; June 24, 1916 – August 24, 2010) was an American diplomat and politician affiliated with the Republican Party, who served as a U.S. Senator for Ohio, and was the Attorney General for Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford, and as the U.S. Ambassador to India.

At the time of his death, Saxbe was the oldest living Republican Senator and the second-oldest living Senator overall (after Harry F. Byrd Jr. of Virginia).

Early life and career

Saxbe's law offices, in Mechanicsburg, Ohio

Saxbe was born 1916 in Mechanicsburg, Ohio, the son of Faye Henry "Maggie" (née Carey) Saxbe, and Bart Rockwell Saxbe.[1]

He received a bachelor's degree, from The Ohio State University, Class of 1940, where he was a member of the Chi Phi Fraternity. He served in the U.S. Army Air Forces, during World War II, from 1940 to 1945, and Korean War, from 1951 to 1952.[2]

When he returned from World War II, he entered Ohio State University law school. However, while still in law school, he campaigned for the Ohio House of Representatives during 1947, and won. During 1948, when Saxbe was near the end of second term, he received a law degree.

He remained in the Ohio National Guard and was on active duty during the Korean War, from 1951 to 1952. He was discharged from the reserve with the rank of colonel during 1963.[2] He served as the Ohio House majority leader during 1951 and 1952, and as speaker of the House during 1953 and 1954.

Political career

During 1957, Saxbe was elected Ohio Attorney General, defeating Democrat Stephen M. Young. He was re-elected three times and had that office until 1968. In this capacity, Saxbe argued the murder case of Doctor Sam Sheppard before the United States Supreme Court during 1966, against Sheppard's attorney F. Lee Bailey.

He was a member of the Ohio Crime Commission from 1967 to 1968. During 1968, Saxbe was elected to the U.S. Senate, defeating the Democratic candidate, former Ohio Rep. (1965–1967) John J. Gilligan. During his campaign, he became a prominent supporter of a national health insurance system, co-sponsoring the Kennedy-Griffiths universal healthcare program in 1971 alongside fellow Republicans Jacob Javits (New York), Clifford Case (New Jersey) and John Sherman Cooper (Kentucky). When President Nixon resumed bombing North Vietnam in late 1972, Saxbe stated that the President had 'lost his senses'.[3][4][5]

He served in the Senate until January 3, 1974, when Nixon appointed him U.S. Attorney General.[6] Saxbe was the permanent replacement for Elliot Richardson, who had been dismissed by Nixon during the Watergate scandal's so-called "Saturday Night Massacre". Saxbe took over from Solicitor General Robert Bork, who had served as acting Attorney General after the "Massacre".

There was some minor controversy regarding Saxbe's appointment and the Ineligibility Clause of the Constitution. That provision states that a legislator cannot be appointed to an executive position during the same term that the legislature had voted to increase the salary of said position. Nixon addressed the problem by having Congress reduce the salary of the Attorney General to $35,000,[7] as it was before Saxbe's term in the Senate began. This maneuver had only occurred once before, when Senator Philander C. Knox had been appointed Secretary of State during 1909,[8] and has since become known as the "Saxbe fix". Because there was not any perception that anything intentional had been done to benefit Saxbe, the matter was largely ignored.

As Attorney General for Nixon, Saxbe supervised the antitrust suit that ultimately ended the Bell System telephone monopoly.[9]

Gilligan, who had been elected Governor of Ohio during 1970, appointed Howard Metzenbaum to serve Saxbe's vacated term. Later that year, former astronaut John Glenn, another Democrat, was elected to replace Saxbe.

Saxbe served as U.S. Attorney General for the first few months of the President Ford Administration, before resigning in early 1975, when he was appointed United States Ambassador to India. He served in that capacity until 1977. After that, Saxbe returned to Mechanicsburg and resumed the practice of law.

Personal life and death

During 1940, Saxbe married the former Ardath Louise "Dolly" Kleinhans.[2] They had three children: William Bart Saxbe Jr., Juliet Louise "Juli" Saxbe Spitzer, and Charles Rockwell "Rocky" Saxbe. Charles Saxbe served four terms in Ohio House of Representatives, and later as an attorney in private practice.

Saxbe was known for his quips. Asked about Sen. Bob Dole, he commented that Dole was so unpopular with his fellow senators at the time that he "couldn't sell beer on a troop ship".[10]

He died in his hometown of Mechanicsburg, Ohio, at the age of 94 on August 24, 2010.[11]


  1. ^ William B. Saxbe, Peter D. Franklin, Diana Britt Franklin I've seen the elephant page 7 (Accessed February 14, 2010)
  2. ^ a b c West's Encyclopedia of American Law (accessed February 14, 2010)
  3. ^ O'Connor, Anahad (25 August 2010). "William Saxbe, Attorney General During Watergate Inquiry, Dies at 94". The New York Times.
  4. ^ Congressional Record, Proceedings and Debates of the 92nd Congress, First Session, January-December 1971
  5. ^ National Health Insurance Proposals: Hearings, Ninety-second Congress, First Session on the Subject of National Health Insurance Proposals. Part of 13 Parts (October 19 and 20, 1971)
  6. ^ "William Bart Saxbe". The United States Department of Justice. 24 November 2022.
  7. ^ Deseret News, 8 December 1973, p. A1
  8. ^ "Way Clear For Knox to Enter Cabinet" (PDF). The New York Times. 1909-02-16. Retrieved 2011-06-15.
  9. ^ O'Connor, Anahad (25 August 2010). "William Saxbe, Attorney General During Watergate Inquiry, Dies at 94". New York Times. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
  10. ^ "First Out of the Chute: Bob Dole". The New York Times. June 19, 1994. p. 16. Retrieved June 28, 2013.
  11. ^ Albrecht, Brian (24 August 2010). "Former U.S. Sen. William B. Saxbe dies at age 94". Cleveland Plain Dealer.