* Normandy Campaign
Legion of Merit
JAMES STROM THURMOND (December 5, 1902 – June 26, 2003) was an
American politician who served for 48 years as a
A magnet for controversy during his nearly half-century Senate
career, Thurmond switched parties because of his opposition to the
1964 Civil Rights Act , disaffection with the liberalism of the
national party, and his support for the conservatism of the Republican
presidential candidate Senator
In opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1957 , he conducted the longest filibuster ever by a lone senator, at 24 hours and 18 minutes in length, nonstop. In the 1960s, he opposed the civil rights legislation of 1964 and 1965 to end segregation and enforce the constitutional rights of African-American citizens, including suffrage . He insisted he had never been a racist , but was opposed to excessive federal authority. He attributed the movement to Communist agitators.
Starting in the 1970s, he moderated his position on race, but continued to defend his early segregationist campaigns on the basis of states\' rights in the context of Southern society at the time. He never fully renounced his earlier viewpoints.
Six months after Thurmond died at the age of 100 in 2003, his mixed-race , then 78-year-old daughter Essie Mae Washington-Williams (1925–2013) revealed he was her father. Her mother Carrie Butler (1909–1948) had been 16 years old and working as his family's maid when Thurmond initiated a sexual relationship with her. He was 22. Butler died in 1948 when Washington-Williams would turn 23. Although Thurmond never publicly acknowledged Essie Mae Washington, he paid for her education at a historically black college and passed other money to her for some time. She said she kept silent out of respect for her father and denied the two had agreed she would not reveal her connection to Thurmond. His children by his marriage eventually acknowledged her. Her name has since been added as one of his children to his memorial at the state capital.
* 1 Early life and education
* 2 Early career
* 3 Senate career
* 3.1 1950s * 3.2 1960s * 3.3 1970s * 3.4 Post-1970 views regarding race * 3.5 Later career
* 4 Personal life
* 4.1 Marriages and children * 4.2 First daughter
* 5 Death * 6 Political timeline * 7 Electoral history * 8 Legacy * 9 See also * 10 Notes
* 11 Further reading
* 11.1 Primary sources
* 12 External links
* 12.1 Articles * 12.2 Obituaries
EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION
After Thurmond's death in 2003, an attorney for his family confirmed that in 1925, when he was 22, Thurmond fathered a mixed-race daughter, Essie Mae Washington , with his family's housekeeper, Carrie Butler, then 16 years old. Thurmond paid for his daughter's college education and provided other support. Essie Mae Washington was raised by her maternal aunt and uncle, and was not told about Thurmond as her father until she was in high school, when she met him for the first time.
After college, Thurmond worked as a farmer, teacher and athletic
coach until 1929, when at age 27 he was appointed as Edgefield County
's superintendent of education, serving until 1933. Thurmond studied
law with his father as a legal apprentice and was admitted to the
He was appointed as the Edgefield Town and County attorney, serving from 1930 to 1938. In 1933 Thurmond was elected to the South Carolina Senate and represented Edgefield until he was elected to the Eleventh Circuit judgeship.
WORLD WAR II
In 1942, after the U.S. formally entered
World War II
During 1954–55 he was president of the Reserve Officers Association . He retired from the U.S. Army Reserve with the rank of major general .
GOVERNOR OF SOUTH CAROLINA
Thurmond's political career began under
Jim Crow laws that
effectively disenfranchised almost all blacks from voting, at a time
when they constituted the majority of the state's population. Running
as a Democrat in the one-party state, Thurmond was elected Governor of
Many voters considered Thurmond a progressive for much of his term,
in large part due to his influence in gaining the arrest of the
perpetrators of the lynching of Willie Earle . Though none of the men
were found guilty by the all-white jury (as blacks had been
disenfranchised under the
RUN FOR PRESIDENT
In 1948, President
Harry S. Truman
In response, Thurmond became a candidate for president on the third party ticket of the States’ Rights Democratic Party (also known as the Dixiecrats). It split from the national Democrats over the threat of federal intervention in state affairs regarding segregation and Jim Crow . Thurmond's supporters took control of the Democratic Party in the Deep South, and Truman was not included on the presidential ballot in Alabama because that state’s Supreme Court ruled void any requirement for party electors to vote for the national nominee. Thurmond carried four states and received 39 electoral votes, but Truman was reelected.
During his 1948 campaign, Thurmond said the following in a speech, being met with loud cheers by the assembled supporters: listen (help ·info )
I wanna tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that there’s not enough troops in the army to force the Southern people to break down segregation and admit the Negro race into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes, and into our churches.
EARLY RUNS FOR SENATE
According to the state constitution, Thurmond was barred from seeking a succeeding second term as governor in 1950, so he mounted a Democratic primary challenge against first-term U.S. Senator Olin Johnston . In the one-party state of the time, the Democratic primary was the only competitive contest. Both candidates denounced President Truman during the campaign. Johnston defeated Thurmond 186,180 votes to 158,904 votes (54% to 46%). It was the only statewide election which Thurmond lost.
In 1952, Thurmond endorsed Republican Dwight Eisenhower for the Presidency, rather than the Democratic nominee Adlai Stevenson . State Democratic Party leaders blocked Thurmond from receiving the nomination to the Senate in 1954, and he ran as a write-in candidate.
The incumbent U.S. Senator, Burnet R. Maybank , was unopposed for re-election in 1954, but he died in September of that year, two months before Election Day. Democratic leaders hurriedly appointed state Senator Edgar A. Brown , a member of the Barnwell Ring, as the party's nominee to replace Maybank. The Brown campaign was managed by future Governor John C. West . In a state where the Democratic nomination was tantamount to election , many criticized the party's failure to elect a candidate by a primary vote. Thurmond announced he would mount a write-in campaign .
At the recommendation of Governor James Byrnes , Thurmond campaigned on the pledge that if he won, he would resign in 1956 to force a primary election which could be contested. At the time, South Carolina was a one-party state. For all intents and purposes, the Democratic primary was the real contest for most state races from the local level all the way to the U.S. Senate. The Republican Party, which attracted the support of most of the state's black voters, had a voice in choosing the Republican presidential nominee, but was all but powerless at the state level.
Thurmond won the 1954 election overwhelmingly, becoming the first person to be elected to the U.S. Senate as a write-in candidate against ballot-listed opponents. As promised, in 1956 Thurmond resigned to run in the party primary, which he won. Afterward, he was repeatedly elected to the US Senate by state voters until his retirement 46 years later.
Thurmond supported racial segregation throughout much of his career. He wrote the first version of the Southern Manifesto , announcing southern disagreement with the 1954 US Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education , which ruled that public school segregation was unconstitutional.
In an unsuccessful attempt to derail passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1957 , Thurmond made the longest filibuster ever conducted by a single senator, speaking for a total of 24 hours and 18 minutes. Cots were brought in from a nearby hotel for the legislators to sleep on while Thurmond discussed increasingly irrelevant and obscure topics, including his grandmother's biscuit recipe. Other Southern senators, who had agreed as part of a compromise not to filibuster this bill, were upset with Thurmond because they thought his defiance made them look incompetent to their constituents.
Strom Thurmond, c. 1961
Thurmond was increasingly at odds with the national Democratic Party,
some of whose leaders were supporting the civil rights movement led by
African Americans in the South seeking enforcement of their
constitutional rights as citizens to suffrage and equal treatment
under the law. The passage of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964
He played an important role in attracting support among white voters
After the assassination of President Kennedy , President Lyndon B.
Johnson 's campaign for passage of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964
In 1966, former governor Ernest "Fritz" Hollings won South Carolina's other Senate seat in a special election. He and Thurmond served together for just over 36 years, making them the longest-serving Senate duo in American history. Thurmond and Hollings had a very good relationship, despite their often stark philosophical differences. Their long tenure meant their seniority in the Senate gave South Carolina clout in national politics well beyond its modest population. Thurmond in 1969
1968 Republican National Convention in
Miami Beach, Florida ,
Thurmond, along with
Thurmond had quieted conservative fears over rumors that Nixon
planned to ask either liberal Republicans Charles Percy or Mark
Hatfield to be his running mate. He informed Nixon that both men were
unacceptable to the South for the vice-presidency. Nixon ultimately
At this time, Thurmond led the effort to thwart Johnson's attempt to
Abe Fortas to the post of Chief Justice of the United
States . Thurmond's conservative position left him unhappy with the
decisions of the
Warren Court . He was glad to disappoint Johnson and
enable the presidential successor
Thurmond decried the Supreme Court opinion in Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education (1969), which ordered the immediate desegregation of schools in the American South. This had followed continued Southern resistance for more than a decade to desegregation following the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education that segregation of public schools was unconstitutional. Thurmond praised President Nixon and his "Southern Strategy" of delaying desegregation, saying Nixon "stood with the South in this case".
Thanks to his close relationship with the Nixon administration, Thurmond was able to deliver a great deal of federal money, appointments and projects to his state. With a like-minded president in the White House, Thurmond became a very effective power broker in Washington. His staffers said his goal was to be South Carolina's "indispensable man" in Washington, D.C.
In the 1970 gubernatorial election, Thurmond's preferred candidate,
In 1970, Thurmond urged Nixon to nominate another South Carolina
Joseph O. Rogers, Jr.
On February 4, 1972, Thurmond sent a secret memo to William Timmons
(in his capacity as an aide to Richard Nixon) and United States
John N. Mitchell , with an attached file from the
Senate Internal Security Subcommittee , urging that British musician
John Lennon (then living in
New York City
During this period, the NSA reportedly had been eavesdropping on Thurmond's conversations, using the British part of the ECHELON project.
In 1976 , Thurmond appeared in a campaign commercial for incumbent
POST-1970 VIEWS REGARDING RACE
In 1970, blacks still constituted some 30 percent of South Carolina's
population; in 1900, they had constituted 58.4 percent of the state's
population. Thousands of blacks left the state during the first half
of the 20th century in the Great Migration to escape the
Jim Crow laws
and seek opportunities in the industrial cities of the North and
Midwest. After the
Voting Rights Act of 1965
Thurmond appointed Thomas Moss, an African American, to his Senate
staff in 1971. It has been described as the first such appointment by
a member of the South Carolinian congressional delegation (it was
incorrectly reported by many sources as the first senatorial
appointment of an African American, but
Thurmond became President pro tempore of the US Senate in 1981, and held the largely ceremonial post for three terms, alternating with his longtime rival Robert Byrd , depending on the party composition of the Senate. During this period, he maintained a close relationship with the Reagan White House.
Thurmond served as the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary
Committee during the hearings on the nomination of
On December 5, 1996, Thurmond became the oldest serving member of the
U.S. Senate, and on May 25, 1997, the longest-serving member (41 years
and 10 months), casting his 15,000th vote in September 1998. In the
following month, when astronaut and fellow Senator
Toward the end of Thurmond's Senate career, critics suggested his
mental abilities had declined. His supporters argued that, while he
lacked physical stamina due to his age, mentally he remained aware and
attentive, and maintained a very active work schedule, showing up for
every floor vote. He stepped down as Chairman of the Senate Armed
Services Committee at the beginning of 1999, as he had pledged to do
in late 1997.
Strom Thurmond\'s 100th birthday party, held at the Dirksen Senate
office building, December 5, 2002,
Tour of Thurmond\'s Senate office prior to his retirement,
December 19, 2002,
Thurmond left the Senate in January 2003 as the United States' longest-serving senator (a record later surpassed by Senator Byrd). In his November farewell speech in the Senate, Thurmond told his colleagues "I love all of you, especially your wives," the latter being a reference to his flirtatious nature with younger women. At his 100th birthday and retirement celebration in December, Thurmond said, "I don't know how to thank you. You're wonderful people, I appreciate you, appreciate what you've done for me, and may God allow you to live a long time."
Thurmond's 100th birthday was celebrated on December 5, 2002. Some
remarks made by
MARRIAGES AND CHILDREN
Thurmond was 44 when he married his first wife, Jean Crouch
(1926–1960), in the
Thurmond married his second wife, Nancy Janice Moore (born 1946), on
December 22, 1968. He was 66 years old and she was 22. She had won
At age 68 in 1971, Thurmond fathered the first of four children with
Nancy, who was then 25. The names of the children are Nancy Moore
Thurmond (1971–1993), a beauty pageant contestant who was killed by
a drunk driver; James Strom Thurmond, Jr. (born 1972), who became U.S.
Attorney for the District of
Essie Mae Williams news conference, December 17, 2003,
After Words interview with Williams on her book Dear Senator: A
Memoir by the Daughter of Strom Thurmond, February 6, 2005,
Presentation by Williams at the Palm Springs Book Festival, April
Six months after Thurmond's death, Essie Mae Washington-Williams
publicly revealed she was his daughter. She was African American, was
married and had a family; she was a retired Los Angeles Unified School
District elementary school teacher with a master's degree. She was
born on October 12, 1925, to Carrie "Tunch" Butler (1909–1948), who
had worked for Thurmond's parents and was 16 years old when Thurmond,
then 22, impregnated her. Though Thurmond never publicly acknowledged
Washington-Williams while he was alive, he helped pay her way through
a historically black college in
After Washington-Williams came forward, the Thurmond family publicly acknowledged her parentage. Her name has been added to those of his other children on a monument to Thurmond installed at the statehouse grounds. Many close friends, staff members, and South Carolina residents had long suspected that Washington-Williams was Thurmond's daughter, as they had noted his interest in her. The young woman had been granted a degree of access to Thurmond more typical of a family member than to a member of the public.
Washington-Williams later said she intended to join the Daughters of
the American Revolution and the
United Daughters of the Confederacy ,
as she was eligible through her Thurmond ancestry. Thurmond was a
member of the
Sons of Confederate Veterans
Washington-Williams died on February 4, 2013, in Columbia, South Carolina , at age 87.
Thurmond died in his sleep on June 26, 2003, at 9:45 p.m. of heart
failure at a hospital in Edgefield, South Carolina. He was 100 years
old. After lying in state in the rotunda of the State House in
Columbia, his body was carried on a caisson to the First Baptist
Church for services, where then-Senator
* Governor of
* Eight-term senator from
* Democrat (1954 – April 1956 and November 1956 – September 1964) * Republican (September 1964 – January 2003) * President pro tempore (1981–1987; 1995 – January 3, 2001; January 20, 2001 – June 6, 2001) * Set record for the longest one-man Congressional filibuster (1957) * Set record for oldest serving member at 94 years (1997) * Set the then-record for longest cumulative tenure in the Senate at 43 years (1997), increasing to 47 years, 6 months at his retirement in January 2003, surpassed by Robert Byrd in July 2006 * Became the only senator ever to serve at the age of 100
Main article: Electoral history of Strom Thurmond
Thurmond receives the Presidential
Charleston Southern University
* List of federal political sex scandals in the
* ^ Congress. Congressional Record, V. 148, Pt. 14, October 2, 2002
to October 9, 2002. Government Printing Office. p. 19478.
* ^ "Thurmond to Bolt Democrats Today; South Carolinian Will Join
G.O.P. and Aid Goldwater". The New York Times. September 16, 1964. p.
12. Retrieved December 27, 2010. Both senators have opposed the
Administration on such matters as civil rights...
* ^ Benen, Steve (May 21, 2010). "The Party of Civil Rights".
Washington Monthly . Retrieved June 18, 2012.
* ^ "
Robert Byrd to Become Longest-Serving Senator in History". Fox
News. Associated Press. June 11, 2006. Retrieved December 24, 2006.
* ^ Clymer, Adam (June 27, 2003). "Strom Thurmond, Foe of
Integration, Dies at 100". The New York Times.
* ^ A B C Noah, Timothy. "The Legend of Strom\'s Remorse: a
Washington Lie is Laid to Rest". Slate. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
* ^ A B Stroud, Joseph (July 12, 1998). "
Dixiecrat Legacy: An end,
The Charlotte Observer . p. 1Y. Retrieved September 17,
* ^ A B "What About Byrd?". Slate. December 18, 2002. Retrieved
September 17, 2007.
* ^ A B C "Thurmond\'s Family \'Acknowledges\' Black Woman\'s Claim
as Daughter". Fox News. Associated Press. December 17, 2003.
* ^ A B C D Washington-Williams, Essie Mae (February 11, 2009).
"Essie Mae On Strom Thurmond".
60 Minutes (Transcript). Interview with
* ^ Santos, Fernanda (February 26, 2007). "Sharpton Learns His
Forebears Were Thurmonds\' Slaves". The New York Times. Retrieved
November 26, 2007.
* ^ Reed, John Shelton (June 1, 1993). "
* Crespino. Joseph. Strom Thurmond's America (Hill 2012) 404 pages;
$30). A biography focused on role as pioneer sunbelt conservative.
Dixiecrat Revolt and the End of the Solid South, 1932–1968
by Kari Frederickson: University of North Carolina Press (March 26,
2001). ISBN 0-8078-4910-3 .
* Ol' Strom: An Unauthorized Biography of
* "The Faith We Have Not Kept", by Strom Thurmond: Viewpoint Books,
* Dear Senator: A Memoir by the Daughter of
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