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Strom Thurmond

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James Strom Thurmond
United States Senator
from South Carolina
In office
November 7, 1956 – January 3, 2003
Preceded byThomas A. Wofford
Succeeded byLindsey Graham
In office
December 24, 1954 – April 4, 1956
Preceded byCharles E. Daniel
Succeeded byThomas A. Wofford
103rd Governor of South Carolina
In office
January 21, 1947 – January 16, 1951
LieutenantGeorge Bell Timmerman, Jr.
Preceded byRansome Judson Williams
Succeeded byJames F. Byrnes
99th, 102nd, & 104th President pro tempore of the United States Senate
In office
January 3, 1981 – January 3, 1987
Preceded byWarren G. Magnuson
Succeeded byJohn C. Stennis
In office
January 3, 1995 – January 3, 2001
Preceded byRobert Byrd
Succeeded byRobert Byrd
In office
January 20, 2001 – June 6, 2001
Preceded byRobert Byrd
Succeeded byRobert Byrd
1st President pro tempore emeritus of the United States Senate
In office
June 6, 2001 – January 3, 2003
Preceded by(N/A - post created)
Succeeded byRobert Byrd
Personal details
Born(1902-12-05)December 5, 1902
Edgefield, South Carolina
DiedJune 26, 2003(2003-06-26) (aged 100)
Edgefield, South Carolina
Political partyStates Rights Democratic (1948-1954)
Democratic (1954-1964)
Republican (1964-2003)
Spouse(s)Jean Crouch (1947-1960) (deceased)
Nancy Janice Moore (1968-2003) (separated 1991-2003)
Professionlawyer, politician
AwardsLegion of Merit (2)
Bronze Star with valor
Purple Heart
World War II Victory Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
Order of the Crown
Croix de Guerre
Military service
AllegianceUnited States of America
Branch/serviceUnited States Army
United States Army Reserves
Years of service1942 - 1963
Rank Major General
Battles/warsWorld War II
*Normandy Campaign

James Strom Thurmond Sr. (December 5, 1902 – June 26, 2003) was an American politician. He was the oldest serving member of the United States Senate to date and the only senator to reach 100 while in office. He was also Governor of his home state South Carolina and a Presidential candidate. He was a lawyer.

Thurmond spent more than 70 years of his life in public service. Before World War II he served as state senator and judge. During war he served in the US Army in Europe and briefly in Asia. In 1959 he was promoted to the rank of major general.

Early life[change | change source]

Thurmond was born on December 5, 1902 in Edgefield, South Carolina. His family used to own slaves, including ancestors of Al Sharpton.[1] He studied at Clemson Agricultural College of South Carolina. Thurmond graduated in 1923. He was married to Jean Crouch from 1947 until they divorced in 1960. Then he was married to Nancy Moore from 1968 until his death in 2003. He had five children.

Career[change | change source]

Thurmond (1961)

From 1947 to 1951 he served as Governor of South Carolina (as a Democrat). During 1948 U.S. Presidential Election he became the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party faction called "Dixiecrat" (States Rights Democrat, mostly from the South) - people who supported racial segregation and opposed civil rights laws. Thurmond and his vice presidential candidate, Mississippi Governor Fielding Lewis Wright finished the race in 3rd (behind Harry Truman and Thomas E. Dewey) with 39 electoral votes and they carried 4 states (Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and, of course, Thurmond's home state).

In 1957, he filibustered (delayed) the 1957 civil rights act for 24 hours. Despite the long hours, he failed and the bill passed.[2]

He was elected, as first write-in candidate for major national office, to the Senate in 1954. He was reelected for his first full term in 1956 and served until January 2003. He was originally a Democrat, but in 1964 he openly supported Barry Goldwater's presidential bid and became a Republican.

Later career[change | change source]

As the longest serving Republican he was President pro tempore of the United States Senate for three occasions (1981-1987, 1995-2001, and January 2001-June 2001), when Republican gained a majority. After Democrats took over the control of the Senate in June 2001 Thurmond became first honorary "president pro tempore emeritus".

Longevity[change | change source]

Thurmond at his 100th birthday celebration, December 2002

Thurmond turned 100 years old on December 5, 2002, while still in office, the oldest person ever to serve in the U.S. Senate.[3]

Started his career as opponent of racial integration, in his later years Thurmond supported desegregation.

His longtime Senate rival, Robert Byrd of West Virginia surpassed Thurmond's record of length of senatorial service in 2006. Byrd died in 2010.

Essie Mae Washington-Williams[change | change source]

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-Williams, with his family's housekeeper, Cassie Butler, then 16 years old. Thurmond paid for the girl's college education and provided other support.[4] Washington-Williams died in February 2013 at the age of 87.

Death[change | change source]

Thurmond died in his sleep on June 26, 2003, at 9:45 p.m. of heart failure at a hospital in Edgefield, South Carolina.[5][6] He was 100 years old. Then-Senator Joe Biden delivered a eulogy, and later to the family burial plot in Willowbrook Cemetery in Edgefield, where he was buried.

References[change | change source]

  1. "Sharpton, Thurmond linked by slavery". Reuters. 2007-02-25. Retrieved 2020-11-13.
  2. Weiner, Juli (7 March 2013). "Why Strom Thurmond Was Able to Filibuster For Twice as Long as Rand Paul". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2021-04-12.
  3. "THURMOND, James Strom - Biographical Information". bioguide.congress.gov.
  4. Mattingly, David (December 16, 2003). "Strom Thurmond's family confirms paternity claim". CNN. Archived from the original on September 20, 2010. Retrieved January 12, 2010.
  5. "THURMOND, James Strom - Biographical Information". bioguide.congress.gov.
  6. "Wyff4.com" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-03-23. Retrieved 2013-05-25.

Other websites[change | change source]

Articles[change | change source]

Obituaries[change | change source]