Arthur V. Watkins papers on Department of the Interior and Bureau of Reclamation, 1941-1965
Scope and Contents note
Contains correspondence, news clippings, proposals, amendment, and miscellaneous brochures concerning the Bureau of Reclamation from 1954 to 1958.
- Other: 1941-1965
Conditions Governing Access note
Open for public research.
Conditions Governing Use note
It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from the Arthur V. Watkins papers must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Board of Curators.
Arthur V. Watkins was a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, worked as a lawyer in Utah for several years before serving two terms as a United States Senator between 1946 and 1958, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee, and Chief Commissioner of the Indian Claims Commission.
Arthur Vivian Watkins was born in Midway, Utah on December 16, 1886, the first of eight children born to Arthur Watkins and Adelia (Gerber) Watkins. When he was not working on the farm, Arthur (or Vivian, as he was called at home) attended school with his siblings. In 1903, he began attending Brigham Young Academy in Provo, Utah, where he studied hard and participated in the Rialto Club, formed in 1903 to discuss economic and political issues. Arthur dropped out of school in 1906 to teach fourth and fifth grades. He taught for one year and was called to serve a mission in the Eastern States for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After completing his mission on September 17, 1910, he decided to stay in New York and continue his education. In 1912 he graduated from Columbia University Law School.
While in New York, Watkins met Andrea Rich, the daughter of his mission president, Ben E. Rich. After he passed the Utah bar exam in 1912, he and Andrea were married at the Salt Lake Temple on June 18, 1913 by President Joseph F. Smith.
Arthur and Andrea Watkins settled in Vernal, Utah where he practiced law and joined Roosevelt's Bull Moose Party. In 1915 Watkins accepted the appointment as Assistant County Attorney of Salt Lake County. While working at the County Attorney's office, he began building a private practice. Two years later, the Democrats won the election and he lost his appointment.
Watkins quit his private practice in 1922 due to health issues but soon set up another practice in American Fork, Utah. In 1925 the family moved to Orem so they could be closer to schools and the church. Watkins began another private practice in Provo. He was elected as Utah County judge in the Fourth District Court in 1928. He lost the reelection bid in 1930 and decided to merge his law practice with Raymond B. Holbrook. When Holbrook left, Watkins continued to practice on his own.
In 1946 Watkins was elected to the United States Senate. While in the Senate, he and his wife resided in Arlington, Virginia. He ran for reelection in 1952 and defeated the Democratic challenger, Congressman Walt Granger. In 1954, Senator Knowland, the Senate Majority Leader, appointed Watkins as the Chairman of the Senate Select Committee, which censured Senator Joseph R. McCarthy for his conduct in the Senate. Watkins later wrote a book, Enough Rope, describing his emotions and experiences during the McCarthy hearings and debates. Partly due to his involvement in the McCarthy hearings, he lost the election for U.S. Senator in 1958.
Arthur V. Watkins was very involved in the community and in church. He helped organize the Sharon's Cooperative Educational and Recreational Association (SCERA), a not-profit organization dedicated to providing educational recreational activities for youth in the area. He also became the director and general counsel for the Provo River Water User Association and worked with the Bureau of Reclamation and other organizations and agencies associated with the Water Users Association. The Willard Dam in Utah was later renamed the Arthur V. Watkins Dam in recognition of his work on the Bureau of Reclamation. Arthur also worked with Orem City on the Deer Creek project and Geneva Steel Plant project. At church, Watkins was called to served on the High Council, was active in the Young Men's program, and served as a stake president for eighteen years.
After his defeat in the campaign of 1958, Watkins was appointed a member of the Indian Claims Commission and later accepted the position of Chief Commissioner. In 1965, while in the Indian Claims Commission, he received the Abraham O. Smoot Public Service Award from Brigham Young University. He resigned as Chief Commissioner of the Indian Claims Commission at age 80 to spend more time with with his wife, who had contracted a serious heart condition. The next year Andrea Watkins died due to complications from a stroke a few years earlier. On March 1, 1972 he married Dorothy Eva Watkins. As lung cancer began to deteriorate his health, Watkins asked that he be moved to Orem to die where he passed away on September 1, 1973.
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