Key Players in 1950s Senate

Lyndon Johnson (D-Texas), Senate majority leader, 1955-1961. Johnson transformed the office of majority leader to emerge as the second most powerful man in Washington during Eisenhower's term.
Richard Russell (D-Georgia), chairman, Armed Services Committee, 1955-1961. The unofficial leader of the Southern conservatives and a brilliant parliamentarian, Russell successfully helped blocked meaningful civil rights legislation through the 1950s, while also emerging as the Democrats' most influential spokesman on national security issues.
Wayne Morse (Oregon). Re-elected as a Republican in 1950, left the party after Richard Nixon was nominated for VP in 1952. Independent from 1953-55; switched to Democratic Party in January 1955 to give the Democrats a Senate majority. In exchange, received a seat on the Foreign Relations Committee, from which he would emerge as an important left-wing critic of Cold War foreign policy.
William Knowland (R-California), Senate majority leader, 1953-55, minority leader, 1955-1959. Nicknamed the "senator from Formosa" for his ties to the Chinese Nationalists, he was involuntarily retired from politics in 1958, when he unsuccessfully sought the California governorship.
Paul Douglas (D-Illinois). An economics professor before entering the Senate, this strong advocate of civil rights was the most prominent liberal critic of LBJ's Senate management style.
Hubert Humphrey (D-Minnesota). Johnson's closest ally among Senate liberals, Humphrey's initial foray into national politics came in the 1948 Democratic National Convention, with a passionate speech in favor of civil rights. Combined a strongly liberal record on economic and social issues with a hard-line anti-communism.
James Eastland (D-Mississippi), chairman, Judiciary Committee, 1955-1979. Senior senator from the most reactionary state in the Union, Eastland succeeded to the chairmanship following the death of liberal WV senator Harley Kilgore. He used his post to ensure appointment of anti-civil rights federal judges in the South, and to bottle up civil rights legislation.
Henry Jackson (D-Washington). An ambitious Democrat who made his mark opposing Joe McCarthy in 1953 and 1954, Jackson was a friend of labor and an ambitious player on national security matters.
Everett Dirksen (R-Illinois), GOP whip, 1954-1959, minority leader, 1959-1969. Knowland's successor as Republican leader, this traditional Midwestern conservative also developed a close relationship with LBJ and was amenable to political dealmaking.
Strom Thurmond (D-South Carolina). The longest-serving senator in US history (he retired in 2000) and the last person ever to win a Senate election by a write-in campaign (1954). Thurmond was perceived as differing from most Southern senators in that he seemed to believe his vitriolic anti-civil rights rhetoric. Switched to the Republican Party in 1964.
Barry Goldwater (R-Arizona). Elected in an upset in 1952, a strong conservative (on both economic and foreign policy issues), he foreshadowed the GOP's drift to the right.
Frank Church (D-Idaho). The youngest member of the Senate after winning election in 1956 at age 32, he made his mark on foreign policy issues, and received a slot on the Foreign Relations Committee in his first term.