Strom Thurmond

James Strom Thurmond Sr. (December 5, 1902 – June 26, 2003) was an American politician, military officer, and attorney who represented South Carolina in the United States Senate from 1954 to 2003. Prior to his 48 years as a senator, he served as the 103rd governor of South Carolina from 1947 to 1951. Thurmond was a member of the Democratic Party until 1964 when he joined the Republican Party for the remainder of his legislative career. He also ran for president in 1948 as the Dixiecrat candidate, receiving over a million votes and winning four states.

Strom Thurmond
President pro tempore of the United States Senate
In office
January 20, 2001  June 6, 2001
Preceded byRobert Byrd
Succeeded byRobert Byrd
In office
January 3, 1995  January 3, 2001
Preceded byRobert Byrd
Succeeded byRobert Byrd
In office
January 3, 1981  January 3, 1987
Preceded byWarren Magnuson
Succeeded byJohn C. Stennis
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
President pro tempore emeritus of the United States Senate
In office
June 6, 2001  January 3, 2003
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byRobert Byrd
Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee
In office
January 3, 1995  January 3, 1999
Preceded bySam Nunn
Succeeded byJohn Warner
Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee
In office
January 3, 1981  January 3, 1987
Preceded byTed Kennedy
Succeeded byJoe Biden
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
Member of the South Carolina Senate
from the Edgefield County district
In office
January 10, 1933  January 14, 1938
Preceded byThomas Greneker
Succeeded byWilliam Yonce
Personal details
James Strom Thurmond

(1902-12-05)December 5, 1902
Edgefield, South Carolina, U.S.
DiedJune 26, 2003(2003-06-26) (aged 100)
Edgefield, South Carolina, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic (until 1964)
Republican (1964–2003)
Other political
Jean Crouch
(m. 1947; died 1960)

Nancy Moore
(m. 1968)
(sep. 1991)
Children5, including Essie, Strom Jr. and Paul
EducationClemson University (BS)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1924–1964[1]
Rank Major General
UnitUnited States Army Reserve
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 (Belgium)
Croix de Guerre (France)
Other offices

A staunch opponent of Civil Rights legislation in the 1950s and 1960s, Thurmond conducted the longest speaking filibuster ever by a lone senator, at 24 hours and 18 minutes in length, in opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1957.[2] In the 1960s, he voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Despite his support for racial segregation, Thurmond always denied the accusation that he was a racist by insisting he was a supporter of states' rights and an opponent of excessive federal authority.[3] Thurmond switched parties ahead of the 1964 United States presidential election, saying that the Democratic Party no longer represented people like him, and endorsed Republican nominee Barry Goldwater, who also opposed the Civil Rights Act.[4][5] By the 1970s, Thurmond had started to moderate his stance on race, but he continued to defend his prior support for segregation on the basis of states' rights and Southern society at the time.[6]

Thurmond served three times as President pro tempore of the United States Senate, and chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee from 1981 to 1987 and the Senate Armed Services Committee from 1995 to 1999. He retired in 2003 as the only member of either chamber of Congress to reach the age of 100 while still in office and the oldest-serving senator. His 48 years as a senator, a record at the time, is the third-longest in U.S. history behind Robert Byrd and Daniel Inouye.[7] Thurmond holds the record as the longest-serving member of Congress to solely serve in the Senate. At 14 years, he was also the longest-serving Dean of the United States Senate in political history.