Strom Thurmond and the politics of Southern change.



Transcription of Annotations

Notes on front flysheet: Bill Tillman, Tom McCain. 1929 1st election Edgefield County Superintendent; 1948 Dixicrat Ti-race; 1959 Longest filibuster; 1964 Barry Gold; 1982 Voted for Voting Rights Act. Relationship between Hollings/Thurmond. Only Senator elected with write-in vote. Did Nancy Thurmond talk with you? Lyndon at the funeral of Jean. Harvey Gantt Clemson. Filabuster. Underlinings/notes: "Old seg." Summer 1988 Congress passed fair-housing legislation. New proposal allowed the fed. gov. to penalize those who discriminate in sale/rental of housing. Althea Simmons--NAACP's chief--"I'm gonna vote with you." June 18, 1992. July 17, 1948 Thurmond temporarily left Dem. Party over civil rights to challenge Harry Truman for the presidency. On Sept. 16, 1964 left for good to help Barry Goldwater's presidential campaign as the South's most prominent Republican. Grandfather a Confederate soldier. In 1957 talked for more than a day on the Senate floor against a modest civil rights bill because he didn't like jury trial provisions. Loved to say he was "standing with the people." 1928 won first political contest. Sen. Olin D. Johnston. Ike Williams--never thought Thurmond actually hated blacks, he just never needed them. Harry Dent--let's not do that anymore. Trying to tell a master politician what to do. Pierce Mason Butler. Took Charles Sumner 3 years to recover. Benjamin Ryan Tillman. Hamburg Riot. August 1885 speech to the joint session of the State Grange and the State Agricultural and Mechanical Society at Bennettsville. Tillman's enemies dubbed him Agricultural Moses. 1892--justification for lynching=negro ravishing a white woman. Pitchfork Ben, President Cleveland. Crimes of murder/fighting absent from list. Mississippi--James Kimble Vardaman. Coon-flavored miscegenationist in the White House. Booker T. Washington--saddle-colored philosopher of Tuskegee. Coon ad--Vardaman ran ad: “Wanted, sixteen big, fat, mellow, rancid 'coons' to sleep with Roosevelt when he comes to go bear hunting..." 12/5/1902--South molded by Ben Tilman and James Vardman that welcomed James Strom Thurmond into the world, town of Edgefield. 2nd child of John William Thurmond, prosperous lawyer, farmer and community leader, and Eleanor Gertrude Strom. Bill, Gertrude, Allen George, Mary and Martha. Politics discussed at every meal. Tillman rewarded Thurmond for loyalty by getting him named US attorney in a new South Carolina federal district. Thurmond killed a man in 1897 over Tillman's politics. Handshake--good grip. 1918--Strom started college at Clemson. Not yet 21, landed job teaching farm techniques--got Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Coontown Aristocrats. High school football coach. Thurmond took office as county superintendent 1 July 1929--five months short of 27th birthday. Thurmond gave up judicial position to enter army, WWII. Captain US Army. First saw Jean Crouch fall '41. Married Jean 21 and Thurmond 44. Clark Clifford gave president a pointed memo in November 1947 titled "The Politics of 1948." Contest decided by black urban vote in California, Illinois, New York, and Ohio. Clifford said it was inconceivable that any policy instituted by Truman administration could alienate the South so that it would revolt. Allen J. Ellender of Louisiana, Richard Russell of Georgia. Alabama's James E. Folsom. Old Confederacy--had 127 votes. Thurmond named to head a special committee that would gain concessions from national Democratic leadership. Jubilant over nomination of Governor Dewey, running mate Governor Earl Warren of California. General Eisenhower loomed as party's savior. Thurmond/Jean took train to NY for private meeting with Eisenhower, president of Columbia University, to encourage him to run. Eisenhower says no. 9 July, Eisenhower telegrams Claude Pepper to not put his name before convention. Texas Democrats opposed to Truman's civil rights program. If Thurmond blamed for giving WH back to a GOP no better than Truman, last day as governor could be his last day as a politician. Progress of Negro race not due to emancipators, but to kindness of good southern people. Not enough troops in army to force southern people to break down segregation, admit the Negro race into theaters, swimming pools, homes and churches. Thurmond not classic race-hater--torn between desire to be decent Christian man, inner insistence on a racial system that is unchristian. Thurmond failed to realize that William Hastie, governor of Virgin Islands, former federal judge, former dean of Howard University law school was black. When exchange of letters publicized, Thurmond explained that he would not have written him had he known that Hastie was a Negro. States Rights Democrats placed 3rd in popular vote--2.5 % of 47.3 million votes cast. Truman won with 51% to Dewey's 46.5%. Dixicrat distant third--39 to Truman's 333 and Dewey's 189. Thurmond and Wright carried Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina. Thurmond received 87.2% of vote in Mississippi, state with largest black population; 72% in home state with second largest black population; just under 50% in Louisiana--next largest black population; 79.8% in Alabama. Waring/Thurmond. Maybank heart attack on 1 Sept. caught South Carolina by surprise. 1954 two separate events made Washington, DC focal point of political life. Segregation in education unconstitutional. Maybank's death. Thurmond became 1st to win election to Senate by a write-in vote. David Vann, young lawyer from Alabama, was Black's clerk. Senator Eastland--South will not abide by nor obey this legislative decision by a political court--will take whatever steps necessary to retain segregation in education. Ways must be found to check the tendency of the court to disregard the Constitution. No black players in southern shrine or black spectators. Charles "Pug" Ravenel. Death of Sen. Richard Russell of Georgia, had meaning for South Carolina which twice supported him for presidency. Thurmond won endorsement of state's black mayors. William T. Coleman, Jr.--campaigned for Thurmond in SC. Thad Cochran's election could be traced to partisan realignment Thurmond fostered. Nov. 5, 1980, Senate Judiciary Committee his for the asking. Dennis Shedd, lawyer on Thurmond's staff. Moderate in 1980. 6-year stewardship of Judiciary Committee provided balance to career otherwise known for obstructionism. 1988 presidential campaign further evidence of political transformation. Lee Atwater. Insulted female witnesses. Limits on equal opportunities. No whispering in senator's ear during televised hearings. 1959 Civil, Rights Commission investigated McCormick County--blacks 63% of population, none registered to vote. Edgefield--even after Voting Rights Act of 1965, blacks were half the population, but only 39.6% of registered voters. Between Nov. 1980 and early summer 1981 Thurmond tempered remarks on voting rights--could support an extension of law if enforcement provisions were expanded to cover the entire nation. Thurmond would never get more than a fraction of black vote. Solid lock on white conservative vote. Key--younger voters. Laughlin McDonald--ACLU lawyer. Born in Edgefield County, lived in Aiken for four decades. Legend had Thurmond fathering a child with a black woman during bachelor days. King Holiday. Morris College--black college in Sumter, gave Thurmond an honorary degree; SC's 14 black mayors named him legislator of the year. Biden developed genuine fondness for Thurmond. Neas told Short that if president nominated Bork, confirmation fight as never before. Mark Gooden part of Bush operation--Dent support. Thurmond's best course to remain neutral. Nancy liked Elizabeth Dole. Thurmond endorsed Dole. Lee Atwater. Trent Lott. Reelected with 64.2% of vote. Clarence Thomas. Tom McCain regularly met with Thurmond to discuss Edgefield problems. Times change--when growing up, black people just servants, now deserve to be acknowledged.


Cohodas, Nadine, “Strom Thurmond and the politics of Southern change. ,” One Book. One Author. One Hour., accessed December 3, 2022,


Output Formats

Dublin Core


Strom Thurmond and the politics of Southern change.


Cohodas, Nadine


Program air date: April 4, 1993.


A biography on the career of the late Senator Strom Thurmond.


"Thurmond, Strom, 1902-2003."
"United States. Congress. Senate--Biography."
"Civil rights movements--South Carolina--History--20th century."
"Civil rights movements--Southern States--History--20th century."
"Legislators--United States--Biography."


Brian Lamb Booknotes Collection
Gift of Brian Lamb, 2011.


Simon & Schuster
George Mason University. Libraries. Special Collections & Archives


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