Former U.S. Senator from New York, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, has died at the age of 76. He was known as the scholar of the Senate and a champion of liberalism.

Senator Moynihan served in the U.S. Senate from 1976 until 2001. He was also a U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and India. But he made his mark as an intellectual and an independent thinker, who was respected even by those who disagreed with him.

U.S. Senator from New York, Hillary Clinton, who succeeded Mr. Moynihan, announced his passing on the Senate floor. She described Daniel Patrick Moynihan in lofty terms.

"The love that he had for New York and America was overwhelming and so obvious to anyone who spent more than a minute in his company," she said. "But he also held high standards about what we should expect from this great country of ours. He wanted us to keep looking beyond the short term, beyond the horizon, thinking about the next generation, understanding the big problems that confront us."

Senator Moynihan, while steeped in international affairs, made his mark on an important domestic issue: welfare reform.

In 1965, he drew controversy from civil rights groups after he published what is known as the Moynihan Report, arguing that the roots of problems among many black families lie in the legacy of slavery, growing urbanization, discrimination and a tradition of matriarchy. U.S. Senator from New York, Charles Shumer told the Senate that he audited a class with Mr. Moynihan as a student at Harvard. He later looked up to him for inspiration as a junior senator.

"I know that I will be looking up to the heavens for inspiration as I looked to Senator Moynihan's office when he was still with us and so I very much regret his passing. I just hope that God gives us a few more Pat Moynihans in this Senate and in this country," he said.

Senator Moynihan had been ill for several months. He was recently hospitalized for an infection that followed an emergency appendectomy. He is survived by his wife and three children.