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Thread: uniting voice dies at 100-- both parties lament immeasurable loss.

  1. #1
    Senior Member bilby's Avatar
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    uniting voice dies at 100-- both parties lament immeasurable loss.

    WASHINGTON (June 27) - Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, a one-time Democratic segregationist who helped fuel the rise of the modern conservative Republican Party in the South, died Thursday. He was 100 and the longest-serving senator in history.

    Thurmond died at 9:45 p.m. after having been in poor health in recent weeks, his son Strom Thurmond Jr. said. He had been living in a newly renovated wing of a hospital in his hometown of Edgefield, S.C., since he returned to the state from Washington earlier this year.

    ``Surrounded by family, my father was resting comfortably, without pain, and in total peace,'' Thurmond Jr. said in a statement released by the hospital.

    The Senate temporarily suspended debate on Medicare legislation to pay tribute to Thurmond. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said, ``Strom Thurmond will forever be a symbol of what one person can accomplish when they live life, as we all know he did, to the fullest.'' Frist, R-Tenn., then led the Senate in a moment of silence.

    ``He had enthusiasm and passion like no one I've ever met in my life,'' said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who replaced Thurmond in the Senate. ``South Carolina's favorite son is gone but he'll never be forgotten.''

    Thurmond, whose physical and political endurance were legendary - he holds the record for solo Senate filibustering - retired on Jan. 5, 2003, after more than 48 years in office.

    Age took its inevitable toll on Thurmond as he neared retirement, and he was guided through the Capitol in a wheelchair. Yet he wielded political power virtually to the end, prevailing upon President Bush to appoint his 29-year-old son, Strom Jr., as U.S. Attorney in South Carolina in 2001.

    Thurmond is ``beyond criticism'' in South Carolina, Furman University political scientist Don Aiesi said as the senator's health declined and he underwent a series of hospitalizations late in his congressional tenure. ``Strom is the most venerable of institutions here.''

    In a political career that spanned seven decades, Thurmond won his first election in 1928, to local office, and his last in 1996, to his eighth Senate term. ``We cannot and I shall not give up on our mission to right the 40-year wrongs of liberalism,'' he said during his last campaign. ``The people of South Carolina know that Strom Thurmond doesn't like unfinished business.''

    His voting record was pro-defense, anti-communist and staunchly conservative. His devotion to constituent services was legendary. He was a lifelong physical fitness buff, who shunned tobacco and alcohol and was known for his vigorous handshake. He had a storied, lifelong reputation as a ladies' man.

    Thurmond ran for president as a Dixiecrat in 1948 and won 39 Southern electoral votes as part of a states-rights uprising against President Harry Truman's support for civil rights. Nearly a decade later, he set the Senate record for filibustering when he spoke for a straight 24 hours and 18 minutes against a bill to end discrimination in housing.

    Ironically, his presidential campaign sparked controversy more than a half-century later, when then-Majority Leader Trent Lott declared at Thurmond's 100th birthday party that voters of Mississippi were proud to have supported the South Carolinian when he ran for the White House. ``If the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years either,'' added Lott, who was forced to step down as the Senate's Republican leader in the ensuing uproar.

    Thurmond's racial politics changed over the years as blacks began voting in large numbers. He became the first Southern senator to hire a black aide, supported the appointment of a black Southern federal judge and voted to make Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a national holiday.

    His outlook seemed far different a half century ago, when he ran for president.

    ``I want to tell you,'' he declared in one speech in 1948, ``that there's not enough troops in the Army to force the Southern people to break down segregation and admit the Negro race into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes and into our churches.''

    Thurmond grew up a Democrat - his father once ran for office - but switched to the GOP in 1964 to support Barry Goldwater's conservative campaign for the White House.

    He said at the time he had made the move because Democrats were ``leading the evolution of our nation to a socialistic dictatorship.''

    Like other Southern states, South Carolina had been a one-party Democratic state since the end of Reconstruction nearly a century earlier. Thurmond's switch anticipated a broader trend. By the 1990s, the South favored the GOP, and Republican candidates generally triumphed in statewide races in South Carolina.

    The first time he ran as a Republican, in 1966, he won easily.

    In 1968, Thurmond played a pivotal role in executing the ``Southern Strategy'' that helped Richard Nixon win the White House. The South Carolinian helped hold Southern delegates in line at the GOP convention when a charismatic conservative, Ronald Reagan, made a late play for the nomination. In the general election, he sought to blunt George Wallace's third-party candidacy in the South, arguing that anything but a vote for Nixon would help elect a liberal Democrat, Hubert Humphrey.

    Born Dec. 5, 1902, in Edgefield, S.C., James Strom Thurmond - Strom was his mother's maiden name - was elected county school superintendent, state senator and circuit judge before enlisting in the Army in World War II. He landed in Normandy as part of the 82nd Airborne Division assault on D-Day, and won five battle stars and numerous other awards.

    The war over, he returned home to resume his political career and won election as governor in 1946. His record was progressive by contemporary standards for a Southern Democrat. He pushed for repeal of the poll tax and boosted education spending.

    He lost a race in South Carolina for the only time in his career four years later, when he challenged incumbent Sen. Olin Johnston for renomination. In defeat, he returned home to practice law.

    But in 1954, Sen. Burnet Maybank died unexpectedly. When party officials tapped a state lawmaker to run for the post, Thurmond challenged as a write-in candidate, saying the voters, not the party's leaders, should decide who got the nomination. To underscore his credentials as an insurgent, he pledged to resign his seat before seeking re-election in 1956.

    He won, the only person in history to capture a seat in Congress by write-in. Two years later, he kept his pledge to resign before running for the four years remaining in the term.

    His presidential race and write-in victory behind him, Thurmond arrived in Washington with a nationwide reputation. The civil rights movement was gathering steam, but he held fast to his segregationist views for years.

    He was a leader in drafting the Southern Manifesto of 1956, in which Southern lawmakers vowed resistance to the Supreme Court's unanimous school desegregation order. In 1957, he staged his record nonstop filibuster against housing legislation that he denounced as ``race mixing.''

    Ironically, in earlier decades, Thurmond's segregationist views were more nuanced than those held by other Southern politicians.

    As governor, he called for forceful prosecution after a black man, a murder suspect, was lynched by a mob. The result was a trial at which 31 white men were defendants.

    His 1950 defeat came at the hands of an opponent who made an issue of Thurmond's gubernatorial appointment of a black physician to a state medical advisory board.

    Like many one-time segregationists, Thurmond insisted the issue wasn't race but ``federal power vs. state power'' - though the state power he wanted to preserve was the power to segregate.

    ``The question of integration was only one facet of that matter,'' he said in a November 1992 interview.

    Showing how much his world had changed, in 1977, Thurmond's young daughter, Nancy, 6, enrolled in a public school in Columbia, S.C., that was 50 percent black. The girl's teacher also was black.

    Thurmond's first wife, Jean Crouch, was 23 years his junior. The couple married in 1947, and she died of a brain tumor in 1960.

    His second wife, former beauty queen Nancy Moore, was 44 years younger than Thurmond when they were married in 1968. Thurmond was 68 when their first child, Nancy, was born. The couple had three other children before separating in 1991: Strom Jr., Juliana and Paul. His daughter Nancy died in 1993 after being struck by a car.

    06/26/03 23:55 EDT

  2. #2
    This is when I really hope God is a black person so Strom can reap his just rewards.

    Deb

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    Senior Member michaelm's Avatar
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    debbie- learn some history. He repented and was the first to hire a black as a staffer.

  4. #4
    It was a sad/somber day for South Carolina. Not many -- black, white, or otherwise -- had anything bad to say about the man.

    -Steven

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    Senior Member KLD's Avatar
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    Interesting to have the deaths of both Strom Thurmond and Lester Maddox in the same week...

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    Senior Member kate's Avatar
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    So interesting, Steven. From where I am--admittedly, the "left coast"!--there are all kinds of voices saying all kinds of things about him. We used to ask ourselves every election how it was that he kept his seat . . .

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    Senior Member Jeff's Avatar
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    Now I know why he lived so long. At 65 he married a woman 21. And began a family not long after. Unbelievable. I guess it's never too late. At the rate I'm going I could live to be 100 also.

    ~See you at the SCIWire-used-to-be-paralyzed Reunion ~

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    Senior Member craig's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Debbie7:

    This is when I really hope God is a black person so Strom can reap his just rewards.

    Deb
    lol, I agree, the same goes for Maddox.

  9. #9
    "Originally posted by kate:

    We used to ask ourselves every election how it was that he kept his seat . . ."

    Not many people -- serious contenders, anyway -- would run against him out of respect and knowing that the South Carolina people would vote for him out of that same respect.

    -Steven

  10. #10
    Senator Strom Thurmond, Twice the Man (Op-Ed)

    By Mr. Penguin
    Sat Jun 28th, 2003 at 02:46:40 PM EST

    On Thursday, June 26, 2003, Senator J. Strom Thurmond of Edgefield, South Carolina, passed away. He was 100 years old.

    Senator Turmond was known for many things, most prominently was that he was the oldest person ever to serve office in the Senate, that he was re-elected for eight consecutive terms, and that he once had strong views as a segregationist. However, there are many things that are lesser-known about the man, and therefore lead him to be misunderstood.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Thurmond first became known to the nation when he ran for President in 1948 under the Dixiecrat party. At that time, he was a staunch supporter of states' rights, particularly in the aspect of segregation. Thurmond, like many of the people of his state, believed that segregation was a question not to be decided on the national level, but in the several state congresses. Thurmond carried only a few Southern states in the electoral college, but he had made a name for himself.

    In 1954, Mr. Thurmond went to Washington as the first (and to this date, only) national Senator ever elected as a write-in candidate. Over the next several years, his views of segregationism changed, as did his attitude towards the people of his state.

    Few people know that Strom Thurmond was the first Southern Senator to appoint a black male to a position in his office, and the first to appoint a black federal judge. As the times changed, so did his voting record. Though he originally voted against the Voting Rights Act, he did support its renewal in the eighties. He was also one of few Southerners in support of the bill to create a national Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

    The reversal of his views was not completely spawned by a reversal of the views of South Carolinians. Rather, it was the other way around. Because Strom voiced his opinions and admitted his mistakes, many people began to come around to his way of thinking. It is because of Thurmond that racism receded in the South. Though most Southerners remain quite conservative, they have come far from the views that they collectively held in years past.

    It is quite unfortunate that Senator Trent Lott's statements regarding Strom Thurmond accelerated the negative aspects of the man's life. Instead, it should be realized that for a man to realize his errors, change his views, and then work to the converse, is a greater and more notable feat. Popular opinion of Thurmond resulted in few people realizing what a dedicated public servant he really was.

    If there is one thing that Thurmond knew how to do, it was to listen to the voices of South Carolina. Regardless what the problem was, he was eager to step in on behalf of a constituent and offer them aide. I was fortunate enough to be on the receiving end of such aid once.

    In my senior year of high school, I applied to only one school, Clemson University. I could think of going nowhere else. I was accepted and made my preparations for financial aid and scholarships, eager to enter the Unversity in the autumn.

    Unfortunately, a nefarious student worker in the admissions office, whom I barely knew but did not care for me, destroyed all records the University had for me. My transcripts, admissions application and acceptance offer, even my financial aid information, were gone. This became known to me when I had not received word of my financial aid months after I had submitted my application. The VP of Admissions and Financial Aid at the University told me that the information was lost, that it was past the deadline, and that there was nothing that he would do about it.

    Frustrated and distraught, I called Senator Thurmond's office in Columbia, South Carolina on Monday morning. The aide that I spoke with asked me to send a letter to the Senator's address in Washington, D.C. That I did the same afternoon. Only three days later, the University administrator who had destroyed my hopes called me back and apologized profusely. Senator Thurmond had left Washington upon receipt of my letter and flew to Clemson to meet with the administration and rectify the situation. Moreover, Thurmond had enlisted the support of other senators and representatives in South Carolina to assist me.

    Had it not been for Thurmond's willingness to help, I would not have been able to attend college that fall, and probably would not have attended at all. He did me no more of a favor than he would have done for any of his constituents, though. Only in passing had I met the man, and held no personal connection to him. I was merely one more voter calling for help. It is widely known in South Carolina that Strom would help anyone out, whenever you needed him. All you had to do was ask.

    That is Strom Thurmond as I and most South Carolinians knew him. He was a man of the people, he was dedicated to his state, and he was a true public servant. He helped us when we were down, he fought for us, and he showed us when we were wrong. And we trusted him, because he could tell us that he was wrong, too. Most people only know Strom Thurmond as half the man that he was. I like to think of him as being twice the man.

    Full discussion: http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2003/6/27/154228/901

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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    -Steven

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