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Strom Thurmond: A Featured Biography

Strom Thurmond

James Strom Thurmond served as a city and county attorney before being elected to the South Carolina state senate in 1932. Following military duty in the Pacific and European theaters during World War II, where he participated in the D-Day invasion of Normandy and earned a Purple Heart, Thurmond served as governor of South Carolina from 1947 to 1951. He ran as the States’ Rights Democratic (also known as Dixiecrat) candidate for president in 1948, calling for continued racial segregation and opposing federal civil rights laws. In 1954 Thurmond won election to the Senate as a write-in candidate, but he pledged to resign in 1956 to allow for a full election process. Carrying out that pledge, Thurmond was again elected in 1956. He took the oath of office again on November 7, 1956, and continued to serve until his retirement on January 3, 2003. In 1956 Thurmond joined 18 other southern senators in signing the Southern Manifesto, a statement that called for resistance to desegregation in public education in the wake of the Supreme Court’s landmark Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decisions. In September of 1964, Thurmond joined the Republican Party. He chaired the Judiciary and Armed Services Committees and was elected president pro tempore. He turned 100 years old in 2002, the only senator to reach that milestone while still in office. He also holds the Senate's record for the longest individual speech, his filibuster against the 1957 Civil Rights Act, which lasted for 24 hours and 18 minutes.

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