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Strom Thurmond: A Featured Biography

Strom Thurmond
Strom Thurmond

James Strom Thurmond was born in Edgefield, S.C., on December 5, 1902. He graduated from Clemson College, studied law, and served as city and county attorney before being elected to the South Carolina state senate in 1932. Following military duty during World War II, Thurmond served as governor of South Carolina, 1947 to 1951. In 1948, he left the Democratic Party to run for president as the States’ Rights Democrat candidate, winning four states. When South Carolina Senator Burnet Maybank died in 1954, the state Democratic Party selected Edgar Brown as a replacement, arguing there was insufficient time before the election to hold a primary. Thurmond challenged Brown in the November election, pledging that if elected he would resign to run in the next primary election. He won the seat as a write-in vote. He carried out his pledge in 1956, winning the primary and the general election, this time to fill the vacancy caused by his own resignation. He joined the Republican Party in 1964. Thurmond’s Senate career was long and remarkable. He chaired the Judiciary and Armed Services Committees, and was elected president pro tempore. In 2002, just a month short of retirement, he turned 100 years old, becoming the oldest person ever to serve as a senator. He still holds the Senate's filibuster record of 24 hours and 18 minutes. Thurmond died on June 26, 2003. Read Senator Thurmond's remarks for the Leaders' Lecture Series and view a Thurmond Timeline (pdf).


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Related Art: Strom Thurmond
Senate art depicting Strom Thurmond.