//www.w3.org/TR/html4/loose.dtd"> Arizona Stories
Ernest McFarland (second from left) poses with Lyndon B. Johnson

Ernest McFarland

A look at the only man in history who was an Arizona Senator, Governor, and Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court. McFarland helped to create the GI Bill and impacted the state profoundly.
(Pictured with President Lyndon Johnson, second from left)

Read the complete transcript:

Recording of McFarland:
The American people look to their leaders in congress for a bold and far-reaching initiative.

Narrator:
In Pinal County , the town of Florence claims the oldest standing courthouse in Arizona . It survived many incarnations. Today it's the home of the McFarland State Historic Park , named to honor its former owner and perhaps Arizona 's most important statesman, Ernest McFarland.

Christopher DeMille:
He was governor and signed the bill into effect making state parks.

Narrator:
McFarland achieved a unique place in history by representing Arizona in the United States Senate, by serving as its governor, and by presiding as the chief justice of the Arizona Supreme Court.

Recording of McFarland:
Our nation was founded in a spirit of self-sacrifice, on hard work, on overcoming unsurmountable obstacles.

Narrator:
Ernest McFarland was raised in Oklahoma . He joined the navy during World War I but became ill with a lung infection. Like many, that led him to the drier Arizona climate. Eventually he studied law at Stanford, then returned to Arizona , where he set up a practice. Later, the man who would become known as "Mac" served as judge of the superior court of Pinal County .

Jack August:
He's kind of an uncommon common man. You know, he had a kind of a plain -- plain way of speaking, homespun. Someone called him a "homespun Ernie."

Narrator:
As a boy in Florence , John Swearingin met Mac while eavesdropping on a party.

John Swearingin:
We got up there and we're sitting and admiring all of this going on down below when out of the crowd down there came this great big guy, and he walked right below us and he looked up with, "Hello, boys," he said. "You came to join our party?" And that was Mac. He was like that, he wanted everybody to be happy.

Narrator:
But McFarland's life would be touched by tragedy. His first wife, Claire, died after enduring the consecutive deaths of their three young children. This was one of many losses that Mac would endure. But it was also one of many indications that he would never quit. McFarland later met and married his second wife, Edna. She and their daughter, Jewell, were with him when he won his first Senate race in 1940.

Jack August:
He got grassroots support. He was a very, very good grassroots politician in the era before television. He worked hard at everything he did. Even Senator Hayden loved working with him and just said the guy was indefatigable.

Narrator:
Senator McFarland was also a man of the times. With the second World War raging, he led the call for an act that forced thousands of Americans into internment camps simply because they were of Japanese descent. At war's end, McFarland came to the aid of Americans returning from the fight by working to create the G.I. Bill.

John Swearingin:
The G.I. Bill probably was the one thing that affected more people -- in fact, I even got a loan when I built my first house.

Jewell Lewis:
And since the G.I. Bill of Rights was used so extensively, I think it brought a new middle class to our country because we had -- I've had many doctors say, "Well, I would never have been a doctor if it hadn't been for your father." And then I hear lots of people say that, "Well, we would never have owned a home."

Del Lewis:
And everybody was educational-conscious and industry got started. Now they had a resource pool of young men and women that were trained, educated in all endeavors and gave us the base to expand to greater things in the sciences, in the arts, and you name it. And it just caused the growth to skyrocket.

Narrator:
Part of that growth contributed to the emergence of a new kind of voter. While McFarland and Hayden worked hard to bring federal dollars for infrastructure into the state, Arizona was attracting private industry, and with it, more of a pro-business, anti-labor sentiment. Nevertheless, McFarland was reelected to the Senate in 1946 and was elected majority leader. He was recognized as a senator who could bring differing parties together. By 1952, however, perhaps overly confident in his position, tied to President Truman, and representing big government, he was upset in his reelection bid by Barry Goldwater, who represented the new Phoenix business ideal.

Jack August:
I think Ernest McFarland was an unrepentant New Dealer, and maybe that kind of unconsciously -- Goldwater tapped into that kind of unconscious feeling and was able to offer something new, something fresh, something truly Arizonan.

Narrator:
Unwilling to throw in the towel, McFarland absorbed that loss and turned it into a successful run for governor in 1954 and 1956.

Jack August:
He still had the public service bug, or what do they say about politicians' campaigns? The only thing that's going to cure them is embalming fluid.

John Swearingin:
I talk about him patting everybody on the back, shaking hands with everybody. He shook hands with everybody he met everywhere he went, and I always thought -- silly thought -- that when we have his funeral, Mac will be lying in his casket shaking hands with people as they go by.

Narrator:
It was during his tenure as governor that Mac, in an unprecedented move, argued before the United States Supreme Court in what would become the longest Supreme Court case in American history, Arizona v. California . It would ultimately result in the Colorado Basin Project Act of 1968, which ensures the state water through the Central Arizona Project.

Jack August:
But McFarland committed his -- his presentation before the Supreme Court to memory. And one of the things he did is he's up all night writing notes and throwing them in the garbage. Now, archivists would just blanch at that, but he threw his notes away. But he went in before the Supreme Court, argued beautifully; Arizona won its motion.

Narrator:
McFarland would make an unsuccessful bid to unseat Goldwater in 1958, but ever-persevering, was elected to the Arizona Supreme Court in 1964, becoming chief justice. On the way, he would also take advantage in his faith in the technological promise of his day by opening Phoenix television station KTVK. Mac died in 1984. In his day, he was an influential power broker and businessman who never let defeat overwhelm him. Yet he will also be remembered for his down-to-earth style and his respect for the common person.

John Swearingin:
People were overawed by this man who had the political character, but in Florence , why, he insisted he was Mac, he was not some senator or something like that. And he didn't want to be dealt with in that manner. He simply was the man who wanted the world to be better.