Born senator from 1947-51 and worked as a judge

Born on December 5, 1902, Thurmond lived in South Carolina until leaving to study at Clemson University. Like his father he turned to law and worked as an attorney, later becoming a state senator from 1947-51 and worked as a judge for the circuit court of the states from 1938 until 1942. He also served in World War II as a captain and then lieutenant colonel. While he served in the military he received multiple medals and honors for his efforts in war. Contrary to his later political stance which opposed civil rights and integration, Thurmond was considered a progressive governor. As governor, Thurmond attempted to aid black educational institutions, set fair wages for women, and establish rent control. However, Thurmond was largely opposed to the Democratic Civil Rights program and participated in the Southern Democrat walk out during the 1948 party convention. During this year Thurmond also ran for presidency under the Dixiecrat (States’ Right Democratic) Party, which ultimately ended in him being defeated by Harry S. Truman. Essentially, the Dixiecrat Party is any of the Southern Democrats who left the Democratic Party in 1948 in opposition of extending civil rights. Prior to the 1948 Presidential election, discontent was being voiced on Harry S. Truman and the policies he was supporting. Many of the issues discussed were high taxes, labor strive, and the onset of the Cold War. A poll was conducted and it was discovered that only 37% of the responders supported Truman’s methods. This meant that different ways of thinking, such as a third party candidate, could be considered by the American voters. The election is still considered one of the greatest upsets in American history. Nearly each poll predicted Harry S. Truman’s defeat at the hands of Thomas E. Dewey. In the end Truman won after defeating a three way split in his own party. The small margin with which Truman won is owed to Thurmond’s voter turnout in four southern states, which were South Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. By taking majority in these four states Thurmond became the second third party candidate in the post war period to gain any electoral votes. This victory marked the fifth consecutive Democratic President in the past five elections. As a result of obtaining the Presidential office the Democrats would seize control of both houses of Congress, making them the nation’s majority party until 1952. Thurmond’s next claim to fame is his 24-hour filibuster on August 28, 1957. During his speech he argued against the 1957 Civil Rights Act, which was passed the day after his filibuster. To pass time during his extended speech he read, word for word, each voting law of every one of the 48 states, the U.S. criminal code, and the Declaration of Independence among discussions of other topics including jury trials and, of course, civil rights. It is reported, however, that Thurmond’s twenty four hour discussion did not change a single vote from the congregated politicians.