USS Ted Stevens Commissioning Committee


Senator Ted Stevens

Sen. Ted Stevens announces a bid for re-election at a press conference in Anchorage on August 4, 2008. Photo by Greg Martin / Stevens Foundation


Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, on November 18, 1923, Senator Ted Stevens was a World War II veteran and, at the time he left office, the longest-serving Republican senator in U.S. history. 


During World War II, he joined the Army Air Corps and flew missions in the China-Burma-India Theater, supporting the Flying Tigers of the 14th Air Force.  For his service, Stevens received two Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Air Medals, and the Republic of China’s Yuan Hai medal. 


Following the war, Stevens received an undergraduate degree in political science from UCLA and a juris doctor from Harvard Law School.  In the early 1950s, he moved to Alaska and practiced law in Fairbanks before being appointed U.S. Attorney in 1953.


Stevens came to Washington, DC in 1956, where he first worked as a legislative counsel and later as an assistant to Secretary of the Interior Fred Seaton.  While in Washington, Stevens helped fight for Alaska’s and Hawaii’s admissions to the Union.  In 1960, President Eisenhower appointed Stevens to the position of Solicitor (chief counsel) of the Department of the Interior.


In 1961, Stevens returned to Alaska to practice law.  He was elected to the Alaska House of Representatives in 1964, and during his second term in the state legislature, he became the House Majority Leader.  In December 1968, Alaska Governor Walter Hickel appointed Stevens to the U.S. Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the death of U.S. Senator Bob Bartlett.  In 1970, Alaskans chose Stevens to finish Bartlett’s term in a special election, and he was subsequently re-elected six consecutive times.


From 1977 to 1985, Stevens served as the Assistant Republican Leader, more commonly known as the “Whip.”  In 1983, Stevens was appointed Chairman of the Committee on Ethics, and subsequently served as Chairman of the Committee on Rules and Administration (1994-1996), Committee on Governmental Affairs (1996-1997), Committee on Appropriations (1997-2005), and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation (2005-2009).  Throughout his tenure in the Senate, Stevens was a key player in national defense issues and oversight.  From 1981-2008, he was Chairman or Ranking Member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.  And from 1985 to 2000 he served as Chairman or Administrative Co-Chairman of the Arms Control Observer Group.  


In 2002, Stevens was elected President Pro Tempore of the Senate.  The U.S. Constitution provides for the President Pro Tempore to preside over the Senate in the absence of the Vice President, and is the third person in the line of presidential succession.


A tireless advocate for his state, Stevens worked to address Alaska’s unique challenges and advance opportunities.  During his 40 years in the Senate, Stevens championed important legislative initiatives, including the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline Authorization Act, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation Act, the American Fisheries Act, and the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act.  He was a national leader on pension reform, women in sports, health care, telecommunications, transportation, and aviation.