William Edgar Borah was born on June 29, 1865, on a farm in Jasper, Illinois. His schooling included the Wayne County common schools and the Southern Illinois Academy at Enfield. Graduating from the University of Kansas at Lawrence in 1889, he studied law and was admitted to the bar in September 1890. After practicing law in Lyons, Kansas, and Boise, Idaho, Borah was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1907 and served until 1940.
A member of the Republican National Committee from 1908 to 1912, he was a delegate to the 1912 Republican National Convention. As a Senator he was dedicated to principles rather than party loyalty. He disliked entangling alliances in foreign policy and became a prominent isolationist. He encouraged the formation of a series of world economic conferences and favored a low tariff. From 1925 to 1933, Borah served as the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Domestically, he sponsored bills that created the Department of Labor and the Children's Bureau. He was one of the Senators responsible for uncovering the scandals of the Harding Administration. Borah supported Roosevelt's New Deal, especially old age pensions and the reduced gold content of the dollar.
Known for his integrity, eloquent speaking ability, and genuine concern for his constituents, William E. Borah died in Washington, D.C., on January 19, 1940.