KNOXVILLE — Fred Thompson, former U.S. senator from Tennessee, who recently assisted President George Bush with the confirmation of John Roberts to the Supreme Court, recently delivered the inaugural Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy Address on Civic Engagement.
Former U.S. Senator Fred Thompson
Thompson and university officials also celebrated the donation and opening of his papers to the Baker Center/University of Tennessee Libraries’ Modern Political Archives. The Fred Thompson archives collection includes materials documenting his election to and service in the U.S. Senate.
President George Bush asked Thompson this summer to shepherd Judge John Roberts through the introduction and Senate confirmation process to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O-Conner. After the death of Chief Justice Warren Rehnquist, Bush nominated Roberts to be Chief Justice. The Senate confirmed Roberts and he was sworn in Sept. 29.
Thompson agreed to be the first to present the Baker Center Address on Civic Engagement because he said it is a subject “near and dear to his heart,” noting that too many young people are prone to cynicism and apathy about their government leaders and their country.
“Sadly, too many of our young people today are not only unaware of the great story of America, they are lacking an understanding of why this country is so special and why we must fight hard to protect it,” he said. “We must teach them about the Constitution and how it has framed our freedoms for over 200 years. We must teach them about the sacrifices of this and past generations and remind them that future sacrifices are inevitable. We must teach them that America has a mission and that we stand for what is good and right in the world.”
The Fred Thompson Papers include correspondence, memoranda, reports, audio, videotapes and campaign materials that chronicle the inner workings and accomplishments during his public service. The Modern Political Archives includes the papers of U.S. Sens. Howard Baker Jr., Estes Kefauver, and Bill Brock; Tennessee Govs. Don Sundquist and Winfield Dunn; Congressmen John J. Duncan Sr. and Howard Baker Sr.; and state Sen. Ben Atchley.
A member of the Howard Baker Center board of directors, Thompson first gained national attention for his role as minority counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee in 1973. He was appointed by Senator Howard Baker Jr., vice chairman of the committee. Thompson later chronicled his experiences in a memoir titled “At That Point in Time.” In 1974, after the Watergate hearings concluded, Thompson returned to the practice of law.
He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1994 and served as chairman of the Committee on Governmental Affairs from 1997 until 2002. He also served on the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Thompson also has a prolific acting career that spans over 20 years. He currently plays District Attorney Arthur Branch on NBC’s “Law & Order,” the longest running crime drama in the history of television and one of NBC’s highest rated television shows. Thompson first appeared on screen in the film “Marie” in 1985, portraying himself. He was the attorney for Marie Ragghianti in the case against Tennessee Gov. Ray Blanton that eventually led to the governor’s early exit from office. He followed that role with many other roles including the film “The Hunt for Red October” and the television series “China Beach,” “Wiseguy” and “Matlock.”
He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the U.S. China Economic & Security Review Commission and a Visiting Fellow with the American Enterprise Institute.
For more information about the Baker Center, call (865-974-0931) or visit http://www.bakercenter.utk.edu
Nissa Dahlin Brown (865-974-0931)
Karen Ann Collins (865-974-5186 or 865-216-6862)