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Senator Henry M. Jackson, 1912-1983: Staff

The portal provides a general overview of key archival, printed, and visual resources in UW Libraries Special Collections that document Senator Jackson's long and distinguished career in public service.

Jackson Staff

Throughout his legislative career Senator Jackson sought out competent and intelligent individuals, whose political philosophy was closely aligned with his own, to serve on his staff. As a consequence, staff contributed in large measure to the shaping of Jackson's legislative agenda and to his many achievements, both in the House and in the Senate. They also served as influential contributors to all of his major campaign bids, from his first years in the House through his Presidential bids in the 1970s.

The Jackson staff were incredibly loyal and dedicated. John L. Salter served on the Jackson staff as a campaign organizer, political adviser, and close personal friend, from 1938 until 1964. S. Sterling Munro, Senator Jackson's chief aide, joined the staff in 1961 and served until his retirement in 1977. Dr. Dorothy Fosdick , Senator Jackson's chief foreign affairs specialist, joined the Jackson staff in 1955 and Brian Corcoran joined the staff in 1961 to serve as Jackson's Press Secretary. Both served the Senator until his death in 1983. Richard Perle, who was introduced to Jackson by DorothyFosdick in 1969, while a doctoral student at Princeton University, joined the Jackson staff shortly thereafter as an advisor on national security, and served until 1980.

Jackson, in turn, was a trusted mentor and adviser, actively promoting the individual careers and ambitions of his staff. With his support, many secured important positions in both Democratic and Republican administrations, including Jeane Kirkpatrick, Richard S. Perle, Elliott Abrams, General Edward Rowny, Max Kampelman, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Pipes, Joshua Muravchik, Douglas J. Feith, and Frank Gaffney, Jr. Charles Horner, and Denny Miller.

Documentation in the Henry M. Jackson Papers

The Henry M. Jackson Papers include files of several members of the Jackson staff. Much of this material is listed, within individual accessions, under the heading Committee Records and Aides Papers. Those staff members for whom readily identifiable groups of "papers" are present include:


  • John L. Salter
  • Brian Corcoran
  • Russ Holt
  • Sterling Munro
  • Rick Applegate
  • Christy Wise Axelrod
  • Sheral Burkey
  • Rick Cocker
  • Karla Graue
  • Joel Merkel
  • Denny Miller
  • Tom Mortimer
  • L. Phillips
  • Michelle Robbins
  • Charlotte Tsoucalas
  • Bob Turner
  • Dorothy Fosdick
  • Richard S. Page

John L. Salter, 1938-1964

John L. Salter would prove to be a life-long friend and integral member of the Jackson staff, contributing considerable energy and strategy to the significant phases of Jackson's formative political career.

Jackson reconnected with John L. Salter after graduating from the University of Washington Law School in 1935. Jackson and Salter had previously met during a post-tonsillectomy convalescence at Providence Hospital in Everett, Washington. While Jackson stayed in the educational system in Everett, Salter attended prep schools in California and later entered the seminary, withdrawing one year before he would be ordained a priest. Returning to Everett, Salter and Jackson's paths crossed once again, as they both took up work with the Everett office of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA).

When Jackson decided to run for Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney in 1938, Salter mounted an tactful campaign that he would later simulate in Jackson's bid for the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. When Jackson won the seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, Jackson and Salter shared an apartment on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. with another good friend of Jackson's, Bob Low. Salter became a reputable consultant in all matters of political affairs amongst the Jackson staff, as well as a very close friend. Jackson and Salter participated in baseball games in Washington, D.C., which offered a rare opportunity to take in some extracurricular recreational activity with fellow Senators Mike Mansfield, John F. Kennedy, and others.

Salter was the perfect counterpart to Jackson, serving as an indefatigable, sharp-tongued promoter of his friend. Salter was also very well connected in the political circles of the time, being present during the crucial Hyannisport meeting that would map out the strategy of ushering Senator John F. Kennedy into the White House. Salter had campaigned diligently through several major elections that brought Jackson to the U.S. Senate, and Jackson returned the favor in November 1960 when Senator John F. Kennedy attained the Presidency. Senator Jackson advocated vociferously for a place for Salter in Kennedy's administration, which later earned him a deputy director position within the International Cooperation Administration (later the Agency for International Development). Salter took the position only to later return to the Jackson staff two years later. Salter officially left the Jackson staff in 1964, taking a position as a lobbyist for the Boeing Company.

Dr. Dorothy Fosdick, 1955-1983

Jackson initially met Dr. Dorothy Fosdick at a dinner during his first term as U.S. Senator in 1954 and was immediately impressed by her integrity, intelligence, and knowledge of foreign policy, an area of politics he wanted to expand in his legislative career as a freshman Senator. Fosdick became emblematic of Senator Jackson's continuing reliance on academic expertise in the shaping of legislative policy and his uninhibited recognition of talent.

Dr. Dorothy Fosdick was the daughter of Harry Emerson Fosdick, a pastor of the Riverside Church in New York City. Fosdick graduated from Smith College in 1934, received a Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1939, and returned to Smith College to teach. In 1942, Fosdick joined the U.S. Department of State and became a member of the Policy Planning Staff from 1948 to 1953, serving under Dean Acheson, George Kennan, and Paul Nitze before joining the Jackson staff. Dr. Fosdick assisted Senator Jackson with his speech writing in the area of foreign policy and had previously a speech writer for Adlai Stevenson. She also authored Common Sense and World Affairs in 1955. Fosdick and Jackson were of one mind, closely aligned politically, and largely agreed on major foreign affairs issues. Fosdick used her connections to the academic world to bring in scholarly minds to resolve some of the more pressing foreign policy issues of the day.

Dr. Fosdick became Senator Jackson's chief foreign affairs specialist and contributed greatly to Jackson's committee work as a professional assistant and adviser in the areas of foreign affairs and defense policy. Among the committees Dr. Fosdick assisted the Senator with were the Subcommittee on National Policy Machinery (1959-1962), the Subcommittee on National Security, Staffing and Operations (1962-1965), the Subcommittee on National Security and International Operations (1965-1973), and the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (1973-1981). Dr. Fosdick also worked collaboratively with Richard S. Perle, Senator Jackson's national security adviser, and the two would be an indelible force on the Jackson staff. Dr. Fosdick worked on the Jackson staff from 1954 until Jackson's death in 1983. Her influence was paramount to the Jackson staff and she contributed greatly to the staff, was a loyal advocate, and authored materials on Jackson after his death in 1983. After Senator Jackson's death in 1983, Dr. Fosdick served on the Henry M. Jackson Foundation as a member of the Board of Governors and as well on the Visiting Committee of the University of Washington Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies in Seattle, Washington. Dr. Fosdick died in Washington, D.C. on February 5, 1997.

Brian Corcoran, 1961-1983

Brian Corcoran would become Senator Jackson's press secretary, filling the position left vacant by Russ Holt, who had worked with Senator Jackson during two of his Senatorial campaigns in 1952 and 1958. Corcoran, who took over the position in 1961, came to the Jackson staff from The Everett Herald, where he worked as a sportswriter. Through his management of the publicity and press for Senator Jackson Corcoran would come into contact with many distinguished political personalities, an opportunity Jackson would encourage throughout Corcoran's tenure on the Jackson staff.

Corcoran would oversee press and publicity coverage of the 1972 and 1976 Presidential campaigns and administered radio press releases emanating from the Jackson staff during both campaigns that were delivered by staff members Bob Turner, Christy Wise (Christy Wise Axelrod), Rick Cocker, and Deputy Press Secretary Gene Tollefson. As press secretary, Corcoran would also come to be known for his exigent handling of publicity matters and was noted for his exacting methods of maintaining and creating a name for Senator Jackson in the media coverage of the time.

Similar to the loyalty of other Jackson staff members, Corcoran would stay on as Press Secretary throughout Jackson's Senatorial career, and was present as a pallbearer at the funeral for Jackson in Everett, Washington.

S. Sterling Munro would join the Jackson staff in 1961 and would serve as Senator Jackson's principal Administrative Assistant and highest ranking aid? until his retirement in 1977.

S. Sterling Munro, 1961-1977

S. Sterling Munro joined the Jackson staff in 1961 and served as Senator Jackson's principal Administrative Assistant and highest ranking aide until his retirement in 1977. Munro was a native of Wisconsin, who grew up in Bellingham, Washington, and spent most of his adult life working for Jackson. He was a gifted Administrative Assistant and dedicated public servant, who took a passionate interest in issues related to the environment, national resource management, and conservation. As such, he played an instrumental role in the development and passage of the body of environmental legislation that forms a key part of the Jackson legacy. In the 1970s, he was appointed an administrator of the Bonneville Power Administration by President Jimmy Carter. He also served as a Trustee of Central Washington University, and on the Board of Directors of the Henry M. Jackson Foundation. Munro died in 1992

Richard S. Perle, 1969-1980

Although Perle came to the Jackson staff an expert on national defense and foreign policy, he would learn a great deal from Senator Jackson, specifically in the area of Middle East relations, and would become the protege of the Jackson staff, later taking a prominent position as assistant Secretary of Defense under the Reagan administration in 1980. Both Perle and Dr. Fosdick would work collaboratively to advise, execute, and lend critical strategy to Senator Jackson's foreign and national defense policies. Similar to Dr. Fosdick, Perle cultivated his close contacts with leading academic thinkers in the field to inform and underwrite the architecture of Jackson's legislative policies. Perle's contributions to the proceedings and outcome of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) I and II, as well as his hand in the Jackson-Vanik Amendment to the Trade Reform Act of 1973, cannot be underestimated in their impact. Senator Jackson and Richard S. Perle met during a meeting in Washington, D.C. in 1969. Perle, a Princeton University doctoral student, was later formally introduced to Senator Jackson by Dr. Dorothy Fosdick, and subsequently took a position on the Jackson staff. Perle served as Senator Jackson's national security advisor and was initially brought onto the Jackson staff to advise Jackson as chairman on the Government Operations Committee, Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

Presently, Perle holds continual membership in Project for the New American Century, the Hudson Institute and serves as a resident fellow with the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research.


Kaufman, Robert G. 2000. Henry M. Jackson: a life in politics. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

Ognibene, Peter J. 1975. Scoop: the life and politics of Henry M. Jackson. New York: Stein and Day.

Prochnau, William W. and Richard W. Larsen. 1972. A certain Democrat: Senator Henry M. Jackson; a political biography. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, Inc.