Strom Thurmond

Strom Thurmond

Infobox Officeholder
name = James Strom Thurmond

imagesize = 220px

caption =
order = United States Senator from South Carolina
term_start = November 7, 1956
term_end = January 3, 2003
predecessor = Thomas A. Wofford
successor = Lindsey Graham
term_start2 = December 24, 1954
term_end2 = April 4, 1956
predecessor2 = Charles E. Daniel
successor2 = Thomas A. Wofford
order3 = 103rd Governor of South Carolina
term_start3 = January 21, 1947
term_end3 = January 16, 1951
lieutenant3 = George Bell Timmerman, Jr.
predecessor3 = Ransome Judson Williams
successor3 = James F. Byrnes
order4 = 99th, 102nd, & 104th President pro tempore of the United States Senate
term_start4 = January 3, 1981
term_end4 = January 3, 1987
predecessor4 = Warren G. Magnuson
successor4 = John C. Stennis
term_start5 = January 3, 1995
term_end5 = January 3, 2001
predecessor5 = Robert Byrd
successor5 = Robert Byrd
term_start6 = January 20, 2001
term_end6 = June 6, 2001
predecessor6 = Robert Byrd
successor6 = Robert Byrd
order8 = 1st President pro tempore emeritus of the United States Senate
term_start8 = June 6, 2001
term_end8 = January 3, 2003
predecessor8 = "(N/A - post created)"
successor8 = Robert Byrd
birth_date = birth date|1902|12|5|mf=y
birth_place = Edgefield, South Carolina
death_date = Death date and age|2003|6|26|1902|12|5
death_place = Edgefield, South Carolina
constituency =
party = Democratic (until 1964) Dixiecrat (1948) Republican (from 1964)
spouse = Jean Crouch (1947-1960) (deceased) Nancy Janice Moore (1968-2003) (separated 1991-2003)
profession =
religion = Southern Baptist

footnotes =

James Strom Thurmond (December 5, 1902June 26, 2003) was an American politician who served as governor of South Carolina and as a United States Senator. He also ran for the presidency of the United States in 1948 under the segregationist States Rights Democratic Party banner. He garnered 39 electoral votes in that election. Thurmond later represented South Carolina in the United States Senate from 1954 to April 1956 and November 1956 to 1964 as a Democrat and from 1964 to 2003 as a Republican. He served as Senator through his 90s, and left office at age 100 as the oldest serving and longest-serving senator in U.S. history (although he was later surpassed in the latter by Robert C. Byrd).cite news
title=Robert Byrd to Become Longest-Serving Senator in History
publisher=Associated Press
date=June 11, 2006
] Thurmond holds the record for the longest serving Dean of the United States Senate in U.S. history at 14 years. He conducted the longest filibuster ever by a U.S. Senator in opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1957. He later 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,cite news |first=Timothy
title=The Legend of Strom's Remorse: a Washington Lie is Laid to Rest
] never fully renouncing his earlier viewpoints.cite news
title=What About Byrd?
] He was the third U.S. Senator to reach age 100 but the only one to do it while still in office.

Early life and career

James Strom Thurmond was born on December 5, 1902, in Edgefield, South Carolina, the son of John William Thurmond (May 1, 1862 - June 17, 1934) and Eleanor Gertrude Strom (July 18, 1870 - January 10, 1958). He attended Clemson College (now Clemson University), where he was a member of ΠΚΑ, graduating in 1923 with a degree in horticulture. He was a farmer, teacher and athletic coach until 1929, when he became Edgefield County's superintendent of education, serving until 1933. Thurmond read law with his father and was admitted to the South Carolina Bar in 1930. He served as the Edgefield Town and County attorney from 1930 to 1938, and joined the United States Army Reserve in 1924. In 1933 Thurmond was elected to the South Carolina Senate and represented Edgefield until he was elected to the Eleventh Circuit judgeship.

After the outbreak of World War II, Judge Thurmond resigned from the bench to serve in the U.S. Army, rising to lieutenant colonel. In the Battle of Normandy (June 6August 25, 1944), he crash-landed his glider with the 82nd Airborne Division. For his military service, he received 18 decorations, medals and awards, including the Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star with Valor device, Purple Heart, World War II Victory Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, Belgium's Order of the Crown and France's Croix de Guerre.

Thurmond's political career began in the days of Jim Crow laws, when South Carolina strongly resisted any attempts at integration. Running as a Democrat, Thurmond was elected Governor of South Carolina in 1946 and supported the state's segregation laws.In 1948, after President Harry S. Truman desegregated the U.S. Army and proposed the creation of a permanent Fair Employment Practices Commission, Thurmond became a candidate for President of the United States on the third party ticket of the Dixiecrat Party, which split from the national Democrats over the proposed constitutional innovation involved in federal intervention in segregation. Thurmond carried four states and received 39 electoral votes. One 1948 speech, met with cheers by supporters, included the following:audio|Strom Thurmond 1948 Speech Clip.ogg|listen

Thurmond ran for the U.S. Senate in 1950 against Senator Olin Johnston. 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 Thurmond would ever lose.

In 1952, Thurmond endorsed Republican Dwight Eisenhower for the Presidency, rather than Democratic nominee Adlai Stevenson. This led state Democratic Party leaders to block Thurmond from receiving the nomination to the Senate in 1954, forcing him to run as a write-in candidate.

enate career


In 1954 he became the only person ever elected to the U.S. Senate as a write-in candidate, campaigning, at the recommendation of Governor James Byrnes, on the pledge to face a contested primary in the future. He resigned in 1956, triggering an election. He then won the Democratic primary—in those days, the real contest in South Carolina--for the special election triggered by his own vacancy. His career in the Senate remained uninterrupted until his retirement 46 years later, despite his mid-career party switch.

Thurmond supported racial segregation with the longest filibuster ever conducted by a single Senator, speaking for 24 hours and 18 minutes in an unsuccessful attempt to derail the Civil Rights Act of 1957. Cots were brought in from a nearby hotel for the legislators to sleep on while Thurmond rambled on about random things, 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 bad to their constituents. [Caro, Robert (2002). Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, New York: Knopf. ISBN 0-394-52836-0]


Throughout the 1960s, Thurmond generally received relatively low marks from the press and his fellow Senators in the performance of his Senate duties, as he often missed votes and rarely proposed or sponsored noteworthy legislation.

As Thurmond was increasingly at odds with the Democratic Party, on September 16, 1964 he switched his party affiliation to Republican. He played an important role in South Carolina's support for Republican presidential candidates Barry Goldwater in 1964 and Richard Nixon in 1968. South Carolina and other states of the Deep South had supported the Democrats in every national election from the end of Reconstruction to 1960. However, discontent with the Democrats' increasing support for civil rights resulted in John F. Kennedy barely winning the state in 1960. After Kennedy's assassination, Lyndon Johnson's strong support for the Civil Rights Act and integration angered white segregationists even more. Goldwater won South Carolina by a large margin in 1964.

In 1968, Richard Nixon ran the first GOP "Southern Strategy" campaign appealing to disaffected southern white voters. Although segregationist Democrat George Wallace was on the ballot, Nixon ran slightly ahead of him and gained South Carolina's electoral votes. Due to the antagonism of white SC voters towards the national Democratic Party, Hubert Humphrey received less than 30% of the total vote, carrying only majority black districts.

At the 1968 Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, Thurmond played a key role in keeping Southern delegates committed to Nixon, despite the sudden last-minute entry of California Governor Ronald Reagan into the race. Thurmond also quieted conservative fears over rumors that Nixon planned to ask either Charles Percy or Mark Hatfieldndash liberal Republicansndash to be his running mate, by making it known to Nixon that both men were unacceptable for the vice-presidency to the South. Nixon ultimately asked Maryland Governor Spiro Agnewndash an acceptable choice to Thurmondndash to join the ticket.

At this time, too, Thurmond took the lead in thwarting Lyndon Johnson's attempt to elevate Justice Abe Fortas to the post of chief justice of the United States. Thurmond's devotion to the original structure of the federal Constitution, coupled with his general conservatism, had left him quite unhappy with the Warren Court, and he was happy simultaneously to disappoint Johnson and to leave the task of replacing Warren to Johnson's presidential successor, Richard Nixon.

Senator Thurmond decried the Supreme Court opinion in Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education, which ordered the immediate desegregation of schools in the American South. [Woodward, Bob; Scott Armstrong (September 1979). The Brethren. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-671-24110-9. Page 56.] Thurmond praised President Nixon and his "Southern Strategy" of delaying desegregation, saying Nixon "stood with the South in this case." [Woodward, Bob; Scott Armstrong (September 1979). The Brethren. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-671-24110-9. Page 56.]


Thanks to his close relationship with the Nixon administration, Thurmond found himself in a position 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 that he aimed to become South Carolina's "indispensable man" in D.C.

In 1976, Thurmond was torn between wanting to support incumbent President Gerald R. Ford for the Republican nomination and making good on a promise he had given to Reagan back in 1968 to support him when he finally did run. Ultimately, Thurmond remained neutral during the primary contest (which saw Reagan take South Carolina's votes).

In 1979, rather than support frontrunner Reagan for the 1980 nomination, Thurmond made the surprise announcement that he was backing former Texas Governor and Secretary of the Treasury John Connally, a fellow Democrat-turned-Republican, instead. As a result, despite his Senate Judiciary Committee chairmanship, Thurmond had relatively little influence with the Reagan Administration.

Views regarding race

Thurmond would support extension of the Voting Rights Act and making the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. a federal holiday. However, he never explicitly renounced his earlier views on racial segregation. [cite news|title=What About Byrd?|language=English|publisher=Slate|date=2002-12-18|url=|accessdate=2007-09-17] cite news
title=Dixiecrat Legacy: An end, a beginning
publisher=The Charlotte Observer

Later career

Thurmond became President pro tempore 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. 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). He cast his 15,000th vote in September 1998. He joined the minority of Republicans who voted for the Brady Bill.

Towards the end of Thurmond's Senate career, there was controversy over his mental condition. 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 in 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. Resignation of a sitting chairman, even an elderly one, was highly unusual in the Senate. (Term limits for committee chairs adopted by the Republican Conference only forced some turnover years later and were not at issue in this case.) The move suggested that Thurmond and/or his colleagues felt he was no longer capable of fulfilling that role.

Declining to seek re-election in 2002, he was succeeded by fellow Republican Lindsey Graham. At Thurmond's hundredth birthday party in December 2002, Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott sparked controversy by praising Thurmond's 1948 candidacy for President and suggesting that the country would be better off if Thurmond had won, leading to Lott's resignation from his Leader post. Thurmond left the Senate in January 2003 as the United States' longest-serving senator (a record that has since been eclipsed by Byrd). On June 26, 2003, he died at 9:45 p.m at the age of 100, at a hospital in Edgefield.

Personal life

Marriages and children

Thurmond married his first wife, Jean Crouch (July 24, 1926January 6, 1960) in South Carolina's Governor's mansion on November 7, 1947. She died of cancer 13 years later; there were no children.

He married his second wife, Nancy Janice Moore (b. 1946), Miss South Carolina of 1965, on December 22, 1968. He was 66 years old and she only 23. She had been working in his Senate office off and on since 1967. It is often said that he ran for president before she was born. This is false; however, he was old enough to be eligible. They separated in 1991, but never divorced. The two remained married and close friends until his death. He even considered resigning during his last term, but only if the Governor would appoint his wife to the seat as his replacement.

At age 68 (his wife Nancy being 25) Thurmond fathered what was then believed to be his first child. His four children with Nancy are beauty pageant contestant [ Nancy Moore Thurmond] (1971–1993), who was killed when a drunk driver hit her in Columbia, South Carolina; South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Advisory Commmittee member James Strom Thurmond Jr. (1972– ); Washington, DC, lawyer's spouse [ Juliana Gertrude Thurmond Whitmer] (1973- ); [See [ A] . Juliana was the mother of Strom Thurmond's [ first grandchild B.] See also [ C] and [ D] ] and Charleston County, South Carolina, Council Member [ Paul Reynolds Thurmond] (1976– ). [Elected to the Council in 2006.]

Illegitimate daughter

Shortly after Thurmond's death on June 26, 2003, Essie Mae Washington-Williams publicly revealed that she was Strom Thurmond's illegitimate daughter. She was born to a black maid, Carrie "Tunch" Butler (1909–1947), on October 12, 1925, when Butler was 16 and Thurmond was 22. Thurmond met Washington-Williams when she was 16. He helped pay her way through college and later paid her sums of money in cash or, through a nephew, checks. These payments extended well into her adult life. [ 60 Minutes interview] , December 17, 2003] Washington-Williams has stated that she did not reveal she was Thurmond's daughter during his lifetime because it "wasn't to the advantage of either one of us" and that she kept silent out of love and respect for her father. [cite news
work=Associated Press
title=Thurmond's Family 'Acknowledges' Black Woman's Claim as Daughter
date=December 17, 2003
] She denies that there was an agreement between the two to keep her connection to Thurmond silent.

After Washington-Williams came forward, the Thurmond family publicly acknowledged her parentage. Many close friends and staff members had long suspected this to have been the case, stating that Thurmond had always taken a great amount of interest in Washington-Williams and that she was granted a degree of access to the Senator more appropriate to a family member than to a member of the public.In the light of this it is understandable that Thurmond was instrumental in convincing the Senate to acquit President Clinton from impeachment for his affair with Monica Lewinsky and denying it.

Political timeline

*Governor of South Carolina (1947–1951)
*States Rights Democratic presidential candidate (1948)
*Eight-term Senator from South Carolina (December 1954–April 1956 and November 1956–January 2003)
**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, 2001June 6, 2001)
**Set record for the longest 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

Electoral history

Other information

*The Strom Thurmond Foundation, Inc. provides financial aid support to deserving South Carolina residents who demonstrate financial need. The Foundation was established in 1974 by Senator Thurmond with honoraria received from speeches, donations from friends and family, and from other acts of generosity. It serves as a permanent testimony to his memory, and to his concern for the education of able students who have demonstrated financial need.
*A reservoir on the GeorgiaSouth Carolina border is named after him: Lake Strom Thurmond.
*The University of South Carolina is home to the Strom Thurmond Fitness Center, the largest fitness complex on any college campus.
*Charleston Southern University has a Strom Thurmond Building, which houses the school's business offices, bookstore, and post office.
*Thurmond Building at Winthrop University is named for him. He served on Winthrop's Board of Trustees from 1936–38 and again from 1947–51 when he was governor of South Carolina.
*A statue of Strom Thurmond is located on the grounds of the South Carolina State Capitol as a memorial to his service to the state.
*Strom Thurmond High School is located in his hometown of Edgefield, South Carolina.
*The Rev. Al Sharpton was reported on February 24, 2007 to be a descendent of slaves owned by the Thurmond family. Sharpton has not asked for a DNA test. [ Interview with Al Sharpton] , David Shankbone, "Wikinews", December 3, 2007.] cite news |title=Slavery links families |work=New York Daily News |date=February 25, 2007 |url=] [citation |first=Fernanda |last=Santos |title=Sharpton Learns His Forebears Were Thurmonds’ Slaves |url=,%20Strom&pagewanted=all |newspaper = The New York Times |date=2007-02-26 |accessdate=2007-11-26]
*The U.S. Air Force has a C-17 Globemaster named "The Spirit of Strom Thurmond".
*The Strom Thurmond Institute is located on the campus of Clemson University. George H. W. Bush was on hand at the ground breaking ceremony while he was the Vice President.


Further reading

*Finley, Keith M. "Delaying the Dream: Southern Senators and the Fight Against Civil Rights, 1938-1965" (Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 2008).
*"Abe Fortas: A Biography," by Laura Kalman: Yale University Press, 1990.
*"Dear Senator : A Memoir by the Daughter of Strom Thurmond" by Essie Mae Washington-Williams, William Stadiem: Regan Books (February 1, 2005). ISBN 0-06-076095-8.
*"The 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.
*"The Faith We Have Not Kept," by Strom Thurmond: Viewpoint Books, 1968.
*"Ol' Strom: An Unauthorized Biography of Strom Thurmond" by [ Jack Bass] , Marilyn Walser Thompson: University of South Carolina Press (January 1, 2003). ISBN 1-57003-514-8.
*"Strom: The Complicated Personal and Political Life of Strom Thurmond" by Jack Bass and Marilyn Walser Thompson: Public Affairs 2005. ISBN 1-58648-297-1.
*"Strom Thurmond & the Politics of Southern Change" by Nadine Cohodas: Mercer University Press (December 1, 1994). ISBN 0-86554-446-8.

External links

* [ Strom Thurmond Institute at Clemson University]
* [ U.S. Senate historical page on Strom Thurmond]
* [ SCIway Biography of Strom Thurmond]
* [ NGA Biography of Strom Thurmond]
* [ Oral History Interview with Strom Thurmond] from [ Oral Histories of the American South]


* [ Strom Thurmond's family confirms paternity claim] , By David Mattingly,, December 15, 2003


* [ Tribute to Strom Thurmond from "The State"] —June 26, 2003
* [ Strom Thurmond dead at 100] , CNN, June 26, 2003
* [,2933,90549,00.html Strom Thurmond Dead at 100] , By James Di Liberto Jr., Fox News, June 26, 2003
*findagrave|7623767 Retrieved on 2008-08-04

succession box
before=Ransome Judson Williams
title=Governor of South Carolina
after=James F. Byrnes
succession box
before= Ted Kennedy Massachusetts
title=Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee
years= 1981–1987
after= Joe Biden Delaware
succession box
title=President pro tempore of the United States Senate
before=Warren Magnuson Washington
after=John C. Stennis Mississippi
years=January 3 1981January 3 1987
succession box
before= Sam Nunn Georgia
title=Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee
years= 1995–1999
after= John Warner Virginia
s-ttl |title=President pro tempore of the United States Senate
years=January 3, 1995January 3, 2001

-s-ttl |title=President pro tempore of the United States Senate
years=January 20, 2001June 6, 2001

-U.S. Senator box
state=South Carolina
before=Charles E. Daniel
after=Thomas A. Wofford
alongside= Olin Johnston
years= December 24, 1954April 4, 1956
U.S. Senator box
state=South Carolina
before=Thomas A. Wofford
after=Lindsey Graham
alongside= Olin Johnston, Donald S. Russell, Ernest Hollings
years= November 7, 1956January 32003
succession box
title=Dixiecrat Presidential Candidate
s-ttl |title=President pro tempore emeritus of the United States Senate
years=June 6, 2001January 3, 2003
succession box
title=Oldest living U.S. Senator
before=Jennings Randolph
after=Hiram Fong
years= May 8, 1998June 26, 2003
succession box
title=Oldest living U.S. governor
before=?Jimmie Davis?
after=Luis A. Ferré
years= 2000–2003
succession box
title=Earliest serving US governor
before=Charles Poletti
after=Sid McMath

NAME= Thurmond, Strom
ALTERNATIVE NAMES= Thurmond, James Strom
SHORT DESCRIPTION= Governor of South Carolina, United States Senator
DATE OF BIRTH= December 5, 1902
PLACE OF BIRTH= Edgefield, South Carolina
DATE OF DEATH= June 26, 2003
PLACE OF DEATH= Edgefield, South Carolina

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