A timeline documenting the life of Walter Frederick
Created by MinnesotaHistory on Apr 1, 2009
Last updated: 01/11/11 at 10:16 AM
Documentary filmmaker Melody Gilbert premieres "Fritz: The Walter Mondale Story" at a gala celebration attended by Mr. Mondale at the Minnesota Historical Society. The film draws upon rare archival footage to tell the wide-ranging story of Mondale's political life, and is narrated by his daugher, Eleanor.
Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Store invites Mondale to become Norway's Consul General in Minneapolis. As Consul General, Mondale pledges to strengthen ties between Norway and the Midwestern United States.
Following Minnesota senator Paul Wellstone's death in a car crash, 11 days before a congressional election, the DFL chooses Mondale as a replacement candidate. Due in part to the tone of Wellstone's memorial, which some perceive as overtly political, voters turn away from the DFL and choose Republican Norm Coleman over Mondale by a slim margin.
Twin Cities institutions Minnesota Public Radio, Macalester College, the Minnesota Historical Society and the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota kick off the lecture series 50 Years: The Mondale Lecture Series on Public Service. Lecture subjects draw from Mondale's varied experiences as a public servant, including the 1964 Democratic National Convention, the American vice presidency, and Japanese-American relations.
Following his tenure as ambassador to Japan, Mondale serves as a U.S. representative to Indonesia during talks with Indonesian President Soeharto (Suharto). President Clinton turns to Mondale's international diplomatic experience at a time when the U.S. is eager to intervene in the political and human rights crisis generated by the disintegration of Suharto's regime. The talks proceed on March 3, 1998 and center around reforms needed in Indonesia before a significant loan from the International Monetary Fund can be secured.
President Clinton appoints Mondale, along with Senator Nancy Kassebaum Baker of Kansas, co-chair of the Campaign Finance Reform Project. Mondale and Kassebaum are charged with raising awareness of campaign finance reform issues and with facilitating the development, promotion and passage of campaign finance reform legislation in the House and Senate. The Project is stymied in 1998 when an early version of the McCain-Feingold Bill fails to pass the Senate after a Republican fillibuster. Pictured (left to right): Senator Kassebaum Baker, Vice President Gore and Walter Mondale in March of 1997.
Mondale returns to the Minneapolis law firm Dorsey & Whitney. He continues to act as Senior Counsel in their Asia practice group to this day.
Mondale serves as President Clinton's Japanese ambassador from 1993-1996. His accomplishments as ambassador include signing 20 trade agreements, returning a portion of U.S.-occupied land on Okinawa to the Japanese and working towards the deregulation of sectors of the Japanese economy. Mondale is also instrumental in handling the public outcry surrounding the rape of a Japanese woman by American servicemen on Okinawa. Pictured: Walter Mondale visiting a Marine Corps Base Camp on Okinawa in 1994. Walter F. Mondale Papers. Minnesota Historical Society.
In 1990, in collaboration with the University of Minnesota's Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, Mondale establishes the Mondale Policy Forum, to be sponsored and overseen by the Institute. In its functions as both a conference and a fellowship program, the Forum seeks to act as a meeting place for the nation's leading scholars and policymakers, and to host discussions of domestic and international issues. Mondale dissolves the Forum in 1993 in preparation for his new role as United States Ambassador to Japan.
Mondale becomes a partner at Dorsey & Whitney, a law firm in Minneapolis.
Ronald Reagan and running mate George H. W. Bush win the 1984 presidential election by a landslide, capturing 525 electoral votes and 59% of the popular vote. Mondale wins 13 electoral college votes and 41% of the popular vote.
Mondale is chosen as the Democratic candidate for president in the 1984 election. On July 12, he had announced his choice of Geraldine Ferraro, House Representative from New York, as his running mate, making Ferraro the first woman to be nominated for the vice presidency by either party .
Pictured: Mondale and Ferraro on the campaign trail in 1984.
Though he has made no secret of his intentions and is already considered the Democratic frontrunner, Mondale officially begins his campaign for president. In a speech delivered before the Minnesota House of Representatives, Mondale proclaims, I know we are going to win. We have a plan for the future. We have everything we need to renew our country. But the American people must also understand that we also need a president who knows what he's doing--and I know what I'm doing... I have the experience. I know where the talent is. I know the White House. I know how to shape a government. I know how to manage and how to lead...I know myself, and I am ready. I am ready to be president of the United States."* *Quoted in Finlay Lewis' Mondale: Portrait of an American Politician (Perennial Library, 1984), 267-269.
Former frontrunner Ted Kennedy withdraws from the campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, citing personal reasons and a reluctance to experience again the campaign of 1980, in which he also ran. With Kennedy out of the running Mondale moves to position himself as the most well-known and reliable of the remaining candidates.
Mondale joins fellow 1984 presidential election hopefuls Ted Kennedy, Gary Hart, Alan Cranston and Ernest Hollings at the Democratic Party's mid-term conference, a kind of dry run for the national convention to come. Mondale lags behind Kennedy, the favorite, in polls, but turns heads with a passionate speech, which includes the following passage: "In Reagan's America, if you're sick, they make you pay more. If you're young, they call ketchup a vegetable. If you're poor, they fire your lawyer. If you're hungry, they make you wait in the cold for cheese...If you're wealthy, they cut your taxes enough for you to buy a Lincoln. If you're a waiter, they give you enough to buy a hubcap."* *Quoted in Finlay Lewis, Mondale: Portrait of an American Politician (New York: Harper & Row, 1984), 257. Pictured: Walter Mondale at the Democratic Party Mid-Term Conference
After the 1980 presidential election, Mondale prepares to return to the work force as a private citizen. He chooses to practice law at the D.C. office of the Chicago law firm of Winston & Strawn. Mondale turns down a senior partnership and instead opts for an independent consultant's role. During this time he also begins to plan and gather resources for his 1984 presidential campaign. Mondale makes trips to Winston & Strawn's Chinese, Korean, Japanese and European offices throughout 1981 and 1982, and in 1986 travels again for the firm to China and Hong Kong. Pictured: Walter Mondale meeting with French President François Mitterand (far right) at the Élysee.
Ronald Reagan and running mate George H. W. Bush deny Carter and Mondale their reelection bid in a decisive victory, capturing 10% more of the popular vote and 489 electoral votes. Republicans also succeed in Congress, gaining control of the Senate for the first time in twenty-five years. Pictured: Walter Mondale with George H. W. Bush in 1981. Walter F. Mondale Papers. Minnesota Historical Society.
In the aftermath of the Iranian revolution, deposed ruler Mohammad Reza Pahlavi requests admittance to the United States to receive medical treatment for cancer at the Mayo Clinic. The Carter Administration agrees, and the Shah travels to New York. His admittance intensifies anti-American sentiment among Iranian militants, who suspect that the U.S. intends to reinstall the Shah and end the revolution. On November 4, students seize the American Embassy and the Iranian Foreign Ministry in Tehran, taking 66 Americans hostage. Heated bargaining for the release of the hostages begins that will continue for 444 days, through a botched rescue mission and an embargo on Iranian oil. The Carter Administration's failure to resolve the crisis damages the popularity of the Carter-Mondale ticket and brings credibility to Ronald Reagan's campaign argument that America has declined since 1976.
A special meeting to discuss the humanitarian crisis surrounding refugees fleeing Vietnam by boat convenes in Geneva. Mondale is present and announces the Carter administration's decision to send the United States Navy's Seventh Fleet to aid stranded refugees, calling for other nations to join its example. The issue is an important one for Mondale, who has had to overcome the hesitation of Carter as well as the Navy in order to promise swift aid.
Mondale works throughout 1978 to bring Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin towards an agreement to meet at Camp David. The resulting meetings between Sadat, Begin and President Carter, known as the Camp David Accords, negotiate a framework for peace between Egypt and Israel that persists for decades. Pictured (left to right): Walter Mondale and Menachem Begin in July of 1978
Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill administers the oath of office to Walter Mondale, making him the forty-second vice president of the United States. The Carter-Mondale inauguration is noteworthy as the last ceremony held on the Captiol's East Portico; all subsequent cermonies are set up on the building's West Front. Pictured: Mondale takes the oath from O'Neill as Hubert Humphrey, Jimmy Carter, Joan Mondale and others look on. The Walter F. Mondale Papers. Minnesota Historical Society.
On December 9, 1976, Mondale composes and submits to newly-elected President Carter an 11-page memo reimagining the role of the vice president. While the vice presidency has until this time been a largely symbolic and ceremonial position, Mondale proposes expanding it to allow for greater responsibility, increased access to the president and direct participation in West Wing activities. Carter agrees with the memo's proposals and works with Mondale to edit his inherited job description.
The memo provides an early indication of Mondale's resolve to break the vice presidential mold, and foreshadows his deep and unprecedented involvement in the operations of the Carter administration. Al Gore would later remark, "You can divide every American vice president into two categories: pre-Walter Mondale and post-Walter Mondale."
Buoyed by voters' frustration with Gerald Ford for his granting of the Nixon pardon, Jimmy Carter captures 297 electoral votes to Ford's 240, allowing him to clinch the presidency.
Having won the Democratic nomination for president, Jimmy Carter chooses Mondale as his running mate from among a group of candidates including senators Edmurd Muskie, Adlai Stevenson and John Glenn. Pictured: Walter and Joan Mondale leave the stage of the George Moscone Center in San Francisco after Mondale's acceptance of the presidential nomination at the Democratic National Convention, held in New York City. The Joan A. Mondale Papers. Minnesota Historical Society.
While serving his third term as Minnesota senator, Mondale writes The Accountability of Power: Toward a Responsible Presidency. The book was in part a reaction to the abuses of power exposed by the Watergate scandal, and allowed Mondale to lay out his recommendations for what "we as Ameriacns must do to protect our system and our liberties from the encroachment of an unaccountable presidency."* *Quoted in Finlay Lewis, Mondale: Portrait of an American Politician (New York: Harper & Row, 1984), 174.
After returning to Washington from his visit with Soviet leaders, Mondale announces that he will be withdrawing from the 1976 presidential race, explaining, "I found I did not have the overwhelming desire to be President which is essential for the kind of campaign that is required."* He also remarks that he is relucant to spend another year of his life living in Holiday Inns--a quip that will become well-known. *Quoted in Victor Lasky's Jimmy Carter: The Man and the Myth (Richard Marek Publishers, 1979), 179. Pictured: Walter Mondale holds a press conference to announce his decision not to run for president in the 1976 election. Walter Mondale Papers. Minnesota Historical Society.
Mondale flies to Moscow to meet with Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin, Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko and other officials to discuss the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT II). Other topics touch upon missile deproliferation and restrictions on emigration from the Soviet Union. The news media seize on Mondale's trip as a strategy for the presidential hopeful to boost his foreign policy experience.
As the Vietnam War continues, many members of Congress become concerned about the ability of the president to involve the United States in military operations for extended periods of time without the assent of the House or Senate. Senator Mondale plays a key role in developing the resulting War Powers Resolution, which passes both houses of Congress. President Nixon vetoes the resolution, but Congress overrides his veto and ennacts it into law on November 7, 1973.
Mondale wins a second term as senator from Minnesota, defeating challenger Phil Hansen. Though Mondale has made no public declaration of his intent, the Washington Post begins reporting on Mondale as a possible presidential candidate in the 1976 election. Pictured: Senator Walter Mondale waving from the back of a car in the 1972 Minneapolis Aquatennial Parade. Walter Mondale Papers. Minnesota Historical Society.
In the late summer of 1970, Senators George McGovern of South Dakota and Mark Hatfield of Oregon present to Congress an amendment that would cease all U.S. military operations in Vietnam by December of that year. Mondale votes in favor, but Nixon supporters came out in strong opposition, and the amendment fails by a margin of 55–39.
Mondale is appointed chairman of the Senate's Select Committee on Equal Education Opportunity. The committee is tasked with eliminating educational disparities between groups of children arising from differences of race, class, and ability, as well as social segregation and discrimination. The committee's recommendations ultimately include many of the programs--special education, ESL, and magnet schools, for instance--still in use today. Pictured: Senator Mondale taking a call in his Senate office, 1970. Walter Mondale Papers. Minnesota Historical Society.
Lyndon Johnson announces his decision not to seek a second term as president. Soon afterwards, Hubert Humphrey declares his intention to run for the Democratic presidential nomination, and Mondale accepts his invitation to sign on as campaign cochairman. Humphrey wins the nomination but eventually loses to Richard Nixon in the general election.
Encouraged by Senator Gary Hart, junior Senator Mondale joins Senator Edward Brooke of Massachusetts in drafting a bill to ban racial discrimination in the sale and rental of housing. Mondale works closely with key senators to secure their votes for cloture, and insists that explicit language guaranteeing opening housing remain in the bill. Mondale's provisions, as Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (also known as the Fair Housing Act), eventually pass both the House and Senate and are signed into law by President Johnson on April 11, 1968. The victory marks Mondale's first major achievement as a senator, and elevates his reputation as a hard-working legislator.
Pictured: Walter Mondale and President Johnson in 1968
Mondale is elected to the Minnesota seat he has held since his appointment by Governor Rolvaag in 1964. Pictured: Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey administering the senatorial oath of office to Walter Mondale at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland as Joan Mondale looks on. Walter Mondale Papers. Minnesota Historical Society.
In this 1966 film clip from the KSTP archives, Joan Mondale drives the Mondale family, including husband Walter, daughter Eleanor and sons Ted and William, through Washington, D.C.
At the urging of Ralph Nader, Mondale spearheads and introduces to Congress the Fair Warning Act of 1966. The Act promises to guarantee the safety of car drivers by requiring automakers to alert the public to manufacturing defects. He argues passionately that "We cannot continue to permit people to drive time bombs which can cause fatal or crippling accidents without warning...Human life is more important than corporate profits."* Congress incorporates Mondale's proposed regulations into President Johnson's National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. *Quoted in Finlay Lewis' Mondale: Portrait of an American Politician (Perennial Publishing, 1984), 115. Pictured: Special Assistant for Consumer Affairs Betty Furness reviewing a Senate bill with Senator Walter Mondale and others, circa 1967. Walter Mondale Papers. Minnesota Historical Society.
Hubert Humphrey campaigns as Lyndon Johnson's running mate in the 1964 presidential election and takes office as vice president. Minnesota governor Karl Rolvaag moves quickly to appoint Walter Mondale to Humphrey's empty Senate seat.
Pictured (left to right): Governor Rolvaag, Miles Lord and Walter Mondale in November of 1964 after the announcement of Mondale's appointment as senator.
Mondale finds himself at the center of one of the most dramatic and eventful political conventions of the era when members of the de-segregated Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) request to be seated as delegates in place of the all-white delegation sent in their stead. As a member of an arbitration committee tasked with handling delegation seating disputes, Mondale must juggle his roles as arbitrator, party loyalist, Humphrey ally and civil rights advocate. The confrontation attracts national attention when MFDP witnesses Fannie Lou Hamer and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. deliver moving speeches. So-called "Regular" Democrats, encouraged by Mondale, offer to seat two members of the MFDP as delegates at large, but Freedom Democrats refuse all but full enfranchisement. Mondale continues to manage negotiations between the two groups throughout the convention and helps to head off the collapse of his party from within. Mondale's compromise seating plan is instituted in spite of MFDP opposition, and the Johnson-Humphrey ticket prevails. Pictured: Minnesota State Attorney General Walter Mondale posing with a group of Young Texans for Lyndon Johnson at the 1964 National Democratic Convention. Walter Mondale Papers. Minnesota Historical Society.
This landmark Supreme Court ruling requires courts to provide legal representation to defendants in criminal cases who cannot afford lawyers of their own. Walter Mondale co-writes an amicus curiae brief in the case with Massachusetts attorney general Edward J. McCormack, Jr. In a letter at the same time as the brief, Mondale declares, Nobody knows better than an attorney general or a prosecuting attorney that in this day and age furnishing an attorney to those felony defendants who can't afford to hire one is 'fair and reasonable.' Nobody knows better than we do that rules of criminal law and procedure which baffle trained professionals can only overwhelm the uninitiated...As chief law enforcement officer of one of the 35 states which provide for the appointment of counsel for indigents in all felony cases, I am convinced that it is cheap-very cheap-at the price. I can assure you that such a requirement does not disrupt or otherwise adversely affect our work...Since I firmly believe that any person charged with a felony should be accorded a right to be represented by counsel regardless of his financial condition, I would welcome the court's imposition of a requirement of appointment of counsel in all state felony prosecutions. -Quoted in Finlay Lewis' Mondale: Portrait of an American Politician (Perennial Library, 1984), 74-75.
The Mondales' second son, William H. Mondale, is born in 1962. He will serve as Assistant Attorney General for the State of Minnesota from 1990 to 2000. The Walter F. Mondale Papers. Minnesota Historical Society. Pictured: The growing Mondale family (clockwise and left to right), in 1965: Walter, William, Joan, Eleanor and Ted.
As an outspoken voice in the nascent consumer protection movement, Mondale is a savvy addition to President Kennedy's new Consumer Advisory Council in 1960. Mondale serves on the Council until 1964. He also makes consumer safety a priority during his tenure as attorney general, establishing a consumer protection unit in his office and creating an antitrust team to fight price-fixing and bid-rigging at the local level. Pictured: President John F. Kennedy with Minnesota State Attorney General Walter Mondale, circa 1963. Walter Mondale Papers. Minnesota Historical Society.
Just weeks after his appointment as Attorney General, Mondale learns that staff at the Elizabeth Kenny Foundation, a charitable organization ostensibly dedicated to raising and distributing donations to the physically handicapped, have been pocketing cash for personal profit. The embezzled funds amount to millions of dollars. Mondale announces the details of the case on June 27, and is catapulted into the public eye. He would later recall, [The Sister Kenny case] was my first big public issue and I was scared to death, because even though I was trained as a lawyer and had been in politics for some time, it was sort of awesome to take this on. And so I was very apprehensive. But, in fact, what happened was I went into office in May unknown, untested, and very young and inexperienced, and within a month or two I was a state figure. There was a tremendously good public reaction...to what we did there. -Quoted in Finlay Lewis' Mondale: Portrait of an American Politician (Perennial Library, 1984), 66-67.
Following the resignation of Minnesota attorney general Miles Lord, Governor Orville Freeman selects Mondale as Lord's replacement. At 32, Mondale is the youngest state attorney general in the nation.
Pictured: Attorney General Mondale (center) in a staff conference circa 1961
The Mondales' first and only daughter is born. Eleanor Mondale will go on to become an actress and television host for station WCCO in Minneaoplis
When Minnesota Governor Orville Freeman runs for reelection, Mondale is named finance director of the Democratic Farmer-Labor Party (DFL) and special assistant to the state attorney general on interstate trade.
Pictured (left to right): Senator Donald Fraser, Governor Orville Freeman, and Representative John Skeate in front of the Minnesota Capitol in 1958.
Theodore Mondale, called Ted or Teddy, is the first child born to the Mondales. Ted will go on to a career in politics as an ambassador and state senator from Minnesota.
Mondale graduates cum laude from the University of Minnesota Law School. Pictured: Walter Mondale (third row, second from left) with his colleagues on the Minnesota Law Review Board of Editors. Walter Mondale Papers. Minnesota Historical Society.
Walter Mondale and Joan Adams are married on December 27, 1955 in a Macalester College chapel. Joan Adams' father, the Reverend John Maxwell Adams, officiates. Pictured: Walter and Joan Mondale in Mondale's office as the state attorney general, 1964. The Walter F. Mondale Papers. Minnesota Historical Society.
Mondale graduates with honors from the University of Minnesota and receives his undergraduate degree in political science.
Almost immediately after graduating from the University of Minnesota in the summer of 1951, Mondale enlists in the United States Army. He is initially stationed at Fort Knox in Kentucky and serves out the rest of his enlistment period without traveling overseas. In 1953, he is honorably discharged as a corporal. Pictured: Walter Mondale and a family member, circa 1952. The Walter F. Mondale Papers. Minnesota Historical Society.