John Claggett "Jack" Danforth (born September 5, 1936) is a former United States Ambassador to the United Nations and former Republican United States Senator from Missouri. He is an ordained Episcopal priest. Danforth is married to Sally D. Danforth and has five adult children.
Danforth was born in 1936 in St. Louis, Missouri. He attended St. Louis Country Day School, received his bachelor's degree from Princeton University in 1958, and attended both law and divinity graduate schools at Yale University. Danforth is the grandson of William H. Danforth founder of Ralston Purina. His father was Donald Danforth, a former chief executive of the company. One of his brothers is Dr. Bill Danforth, former chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis.
In his first bid to run for public office at any level he was elected in 1968 at the age of 32 to be Missouri Attorney General. On his staff of assistant attorneys general were Kit Bond, John Ashcroft, and Clarence Thomas.
In 1970 Danforth ran for the United States Senate for the first time, against Democratic incumbent Stuart Symington. Danforth was defeated in a close race.
In 1972 Danforth's colleague Bond was elected Missouri Governor at the age of 33, and Danforth was re-elected Attorney General. The two projected an image of Missouri's young Republican wunderkind in a state that traditionally had been Democratic.
In 1976 Danforth ran to succeed retiring Senator Stuart Symington. He ran in the Republican primary with little opposition. The Democrats had a three-way battle among Symington's son James W. Symington, former Missouri Governor Warren Hearnes and rising political star Congressman Jerry Litton. Litton and his entire family were killed when the plane taking them to their victory party in Kansas City crashed on take off in Chillicothe, Missouri. Hearnes, who had finished second in the primary far behind Litton, was appointed to challenge Danforth. Danforth easily won even though Jimmy Carter of Georgia won Missouri in the presidential election.
Danforth was narrowly re-elected in 1982. His Democratic opponent was Harriett Woods, a relatively unknown state senator from the St. Louis suburb of University City, Missouri. She was active in women's rights organizations and collected union support. She was a cousin of Democratic Senator Howard Metzenbaum of Ohio. Her speeches denounced Ronald Reagan's policies so vigorously that she ran on the nickname, "Give 'em Hell, Harriett" (a play on the famous Truman phrase). Danforth won 51% to 49%. Woods' pro-choice stance was said to be the reason for her defeat.  Woods and Danforth stayed on good terms following her defeat.
In 1988 Danforth crushed Democrat Jay Nixon, 68% to 32%. Danforth chose not to run for a fourth term and retired from the Senate in 1995. He was succeeded by former Missouri governor John Ashcroft. Nixon would later be elected to Danforth's former post as Missouri Attorney General, and in 2008, Governor of Missouri.
In January 2001, when Missouri Democrats lined up against John Ashcroft to oppose his nomination for U.S. Attorney General, Danforth's name was invoked. Former U.S. Senator Tom Eagleton reacted to the nomination by saying: "John Danforth would have been my first choice. John Ashcroft would have been my last choice." 
During the 1991 Senate hearings regarding U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, Danforth used his considerable clout to aid the confirmation of Thomas, who had served Danforth during his state attorney general years and later as an aide in the Senate. The bond was further strengthened in that both men had studied to be ordained. Thomas was studying to be a Catholic priest at Conception Seminary College in Nodaway County, Missouri when a racial comment he heard at the college about the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. caused him to quit. After leaving the seminary, Thomas attended Episcopal services, and Danforth is an ordained Episcopal priest.
A political moderate, Danforth was once quoted as saying he joined the Republican Party for "the same reason you sometimes choose which movie to see — [it's] the one with the shortest line".
When Danforth entered politics, Missouri was a reliably Democratic state with both its U.S. Senators and Governors regularly being Democrats. Prior to Symington, Danforth's seat in the Senate was held by Democratic Party heavyweights Thomas Hart Benton and Harry S. Truman.
Danforth has had a colorful post-Senate career.