Paul Sarbanes was born in Salisbury, on Maryland's Eastern Shore on February 3, 1933. He was the son of Greek immigrants from Laconia, Greece -- Spyros (deceased 1957) and Matina Sarbanes (deceased 2001) who owned the Mayflower Restaurant on Salisbury’s Main Street. The principles Senator Sarbanes learned growing up in Salisbury that have guided his public life are opportunity and fairness -- principles that he strongly believes are fundamental to a decent and just society. While there were no diplomas on the wall, Sarbanes’ parents understood the importance of hard work and the value of education. They instilled these values in their children along with an appreciation of the benefits of living in a democratic society.
After graduation from Wicomico High School in Salisbury, Sarbanes received an academic and athletic scholarship to Princeton University (A.B. degree, 1954). He was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship that brought him to Oxford, England (First Class B.A., 1957). Sarbanes then returned to the United States and attended Harvard Law School. After graduating in 1960, he clerked for Federal Judge Morris A. Soper before going into private practice with two Baltimore City law firms.
Sarbanes learned from his parents early in life how privileged we are to live in a democracy, the importance of community participation and, in particular, the importance of exercising the right to vote. In his many conversations with students across the State of Maryland, when he speaks of his passion for public service, Sarbanes talks about the high premium placed on involvement in public life by the ancient Greeks. In Athens, he says, "those who lived only in private life were falling short. They were called 'idiotes,' from which our word 'idiot' is derived today.
The principles of fairness and opportunity instilled in Sarbanes by his parents from a very early age led him to a life of public service. In 1966, Sarbanes ran for the Maryland House of Delegates in Baltimore City and won. During his four years as a State Legislator in Annapolis he served on the Judiciary and the Ways and Means Committees.
In 1970 he was elected to the United States House of Representatives, the first of three terms. While in the House, from 1971-76, Sarbanes served on the House Judiciary Committee, the Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee, and the Select Committee on House Reorganization. It was during his service in the House, in August 1974, that Sarbanes was selected by his Democratic colleagues on the House Watergate Committee to introduce the first Article of Impeachment, for obstruction of justice, against President Richard Nixon.
On November 2, 1976, Sarbanes was elected to the United States Senate. He was re-elected in 1982, 1988, 1994, and 2000. Throughout his public service, Senator Sarbanes has worked hard to provide the citizens of Maryland with dedicated, independent representation; representation based upon intelligence and integrity; representation which gives people the confidence that elected officials are there to serve the public interest.
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