William Wyche Fowler, Jr. was born in Atlanta, Georgia on 6 October 1940, and he served as a US Army intelligence officer before becoming a lawyer. He worked as a congressional aide and a private attorney before serving as an Atlanta city councilman from 1974 to 1977 as a Democratic Party member, and he was elected to the US House of Representatives from the 5th congressional district in 1977, succeeding Civil Rights movement leader Andrew Young. Fowler adhered to social liberalism, but he was moderate on economic and national security issues. Fowler was elected to the US Senate in 1987, and he voted to approve Clarence Thomas to the US Supreme Court. He lost re-election in 1992 to Republican Party politician Paul Coverdell, and he served as ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 14 September 1996 to 1 March 2001, succeeding Roy Mabus and preceding Robert W. Jordan. He procedeed to work for several corporate and academic boards, including the Carter Center and the Middle East Institute.