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Hayakawa, Samuel I. (Ichiyé) (1906-1992) | Special Collections & University Archives

Name: Hayakawa, Samuel I. (Ichiyé) (1906-1992)
Variant Name: Samuel Hayakawa
Fuller Form: Samuel Ichiyé Hayakawa


Historical Note:

Samuel Ichiyé Hayakawa was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on July 18, 1906 and naturalized as a United States citizen. Hayakawa, who was of Japanese decent, attended public schools in Calgary and Winnipeg. He received a B.A. in English (University of Manitoba, 1927) an M.A. in English (McGill University, 1928), and a Ph.D. in English and American literature (University of Wisconsin, 1935). After attaining his higher degrees, Hayakawa subsequently taught English at the University of Wisconsin (1936-1939), Illinois Institute of Technology (1939-1947), the University of Chicago (1950-1955), and San Francisco State College (1968-1973).

An internationally renowned semanticist, Hayakawa gained notoriety within the academic world with several notable publications such as: Language in Thought and Action (1949) which went through four editions and was translated into ten languages, and Symbol, Status and Personality (1963) which was translated into Swedish, German, Japanese and Spanish. Hayakawa was appointed as President Emeritus of San Francisco State University 1973; the year the college had attained university status.

Hayakawa, previously Democrat, became a registered Republican in 1973. After placing a bid for senatorial office in 1976, Hayakawa was elected to a six-year term representing California in the United States Senate beginning January 3, 1977. During his term which ended January 3, 1983, Hayakawa served on the senate committees for Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry; Foreign Relations; and the Select Business Committee on Small Business.  He was also a member of the U. S. Senate Republican Conference and the Senate Republican Steering Committee.

Hayakawa earned a reputation for issuing unorthodox ideas and adhering to a philosophical process of thought. He was more infamously known as a "sleeper senator" due to his occasional napping during senate meetings. His ideas were not always favorable to fellow senators; nevertheless he was highly respected by his peers for his sharp intellect and wit.

Following the end of his term and an illustrious career which included numerous honorary degrees and accolades, Hayakawa retired to his Mill Valley home in California where he resided with his wife Margedant until his death in Greenbrae, California on February 27, 1992 at the age of 85.

Note Author: Chris Atchley





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