James Oliver Eastland, widely known as "Big Jim," served in the U.S. Senate for 36 years. Eastland was born in 1904 in Mississippi's Sunflower County. After practicing law and serving two terms in the Mississippi legislature, he returned to his birthplace to run the family cotton plantation.
In 1941 Eastland was appointed to fill a vacancy in the Senate created by the death of Democrat Pat Harrison–-on the agreement that he would not run in the special election to be held three months later. During his short term as a senator, Eastland earned credit for his work on agricultural issues and built a reputation that enabled him to run in the Democratic primary the following year and to defeat his replacement.
After his election to the Senate, Eastland served on the Agriculture and Judiciary Committees. In 1956 he became chairman of the Judiciary Committee, a post he held for 22 years, 9 months, and 26 days–-among the longest continuous service of any Senate committee chair. Eastland also chaired subcommittees on internal security, immigration, and soil conservation and forestry. He served as president pro tempore from 1972 to 1978.
Eastland was known for standing firm in his beliefs. Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield of Montana observed that, once having taken a position, James Eastland "proved almost impossible to move and indeed it requires nearly the entire Senate to budge him."  Senator Eastland asserted at the end of his long career, "I voted my convictions on everything."  He resigned from the Senate in December 1978 to give his successor, Thad Cochran, a few extra days of seniority. Eastland died in Doddsville, Mississippi, in 1986.
1. Malcolm David Scott, ed., Mississippi???s Senator James O. Eastland (Office of Senator James Eastland, n.d.).
2. ???Ex-Sen. Eastland, Civil Rights Foe, Is Dead at Age 81,??? New Orleans Times-Picayune, 20 February 1986.