James Strom Thurmond

73rd Governor of the State of South Carolina 1947 to 1951

Date Born: December 5, 1902

Date Died: June 26, 2003

Place Born: Edgefield, SC

Place Buried: Willowbrook Cemetery, Edgefield, SC

Residence: Edgefield County, SC, then Aiken, SC.

Occupation: Lawyer, Teacher, Lt. Colonel in US Army


Clemson College (now Clemson University), B.S.: 1923
Thurmond also held degrees from Bob Jones University, Clemson University, Trinity College, and The Citadel

Edgefield County Superintendent of Education: 1929-1933

South Carolina Senate: 1933-1938

1946 - James Strom Thurmond was elected governor without opposition, receiving 26,520 votes.

South Carolina Governor: 1947-1951

November 2, 1948 – Thurmond ran for president of the United States as a States Rights candidate, receiving 39 electoral votes and carrying Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina

U.S. Senate: 1954-2003

While in the US Army during World War II Thurmond served in both Europe and the Pacific: 1942-1945
Thurmond received many military honors including the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Bronze Arrowhead, the Legion of Merit, and several others

Thurmond was the first U.S. Senator to be elected by write-in vote: 1954

Thurmond is the author of The Faith We Have Not Kept

Thurmond received the USO's "Spirit of Hope" award: 1998

The Strom Thurmond Federal Building in Columbia, SC and Strom Thurmond High School in Edgefield County, SC were both named for James Strom Thurmond


James Strom Thurmond was born on December 5, 1902 in Edgefield, SC, the son of John William Thurmond and Eleanor Gertrude (Strom) Thurmond. Educated in the Edgefield County public schools, he graduated from Clemson College (now Clemson University) in 1923 with a degree in horticulture. He was a farmer, teacher and athletic coach until 1929, when he became the Edgefield County superintendent of education, serving in this position until 1933. He read law with his father and was admitted to the South Carolina bar in 1930. He served as the Edgefield Town and County Attorney from 1930-1938.

In 1932, James Strom Thurmond was elected to represent Edgefield County in the SC Senate of the:
- 80th General Assembly that met from 1933-1934
- 81st General Assembly that met from 1935-1936
- 82nd General Assembly that met from 1937-1938

James Strom Thurmond was elected as a Judge in the 11th Judicial Circuit on January 13, 1938 and he resigned from the SC Senate the next day.

When the United States entered World War II, Thurmond left the judgeship temporarily to serve in the U.S. Army. He was with the Civil Affairs section of the First Army headquarters and participated in the Normandy invasion on assignment with the 82nd Airborne Division. After Germany surrendered in May of 1945 he briefly served in the Pacific before returning to South Carolina. In 1946 Thurmond ran successfully for governor of South Carolina.

On November 7, 1947, James Strom Thurmond married Jean Crouch, daughter of Horace J. Crouch and Inez (Breazeale) Crouch of Elko, SC; they had no children.

He was governor from 1947 to 1951. Objecting to the 1948 nomination of Harry S Truman for President by the National Democratic Party, Thurmond ran as the presidential candidate of the States Rights' Democratic Party and won four southern states (Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina) and thirty-nine electoral votes. He ran unsuccessfully against Olin Dewitt Talmadge Johnston for U.S. Senator in 1950. Thurmond was the Chairman of Southern Governor's Conference in 1950.

After leaving the governorship in 1951, James Strom Thurmond resumed his law practice. He became President of the Reserve Officers Association in 1954 and served until 1955; he would later retire as a Major General, U.S. Army Reserves. Upon the death of U.S. Senator Burnet Rhett Maybank in 1954, Thurmond ran as a write-in candidate for U.S. Senator against the nominee of the SC Democratic Party, Edgar Brown. He defeated Brown in the primary, becoming the first person in U.S. history to be elected to a major office by write-in ballot. Thurmond resigned from the U.S. Senate in 1956 in fulfillment of a campaign promise and was re-elected to the U.S. Senate that same year.

As Senator, James Strom Thurmond served on a number of important committees, including Armed Services, Judiciary and Veterans Affairs. He was President Pro Tempore from 1981-1987, and served as chairman of the Judiciary Committee during the same period; he became President Pro Tempore again in 1995 and that same year became chairman of the Armed Services Committee. He was the originator of the 1956 "Southern Manifesto" against the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court desegregation ruling. Thurmond holds the record for the longest filibuster in U.S. Senate history; he spoke against the 1957 civil rights bill for twenty-four hours, eighteen minutes. He switched from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party in 1964 and aided Barry Goldwater in his unsuccessful bid for the Presidency against Lyndon Johnson. Thurmond was instrumental in the "Southern Strategy" that won the White House for President Richard M. Nixon in 1968. Thurmond is the author of The Faith We Have Not Kept (1968).

On December 22, 1968, James Strom Thurmond married a second time, to Nancy Janice Moore, daughter of Paul Robinson Moore and Julie Moore of Aiken, SC. They had four children: Thurmond's first and oldest child, Essie Mae Washington-Williams, was the daughter of Carrie Butler, who worked as a maid in the Thurmond family home in Edgefield, SC. Butler's aunt and uncle, Mr. & Mrs. Washington, adopted Essie Mae and took her to live with them in Pennsylvania when she was six months old.

Senator Thurmond received the USO's "Spirit of Hope" award September 23, 1998 on Capitol Hill. The award, named for comedian Bob Hope, goes to Americans whose patriotism and service to U.S. troops reflects that of Hope. Following a lifetime of achievements, James Strom Thurmond brought his U.S. Senate career to a close in January of 2003. His record stands as the longest serving and oldest U.S. Senator in U.S. history with 48 years at the age of 100. He died on June 26, 2003, and was buried at the Edgefield Cemetery.


James Strom Thurmond was born in Edgefield, SC. After graduating from Clemson College, he was a high school teacher for six years and then served as Edgefield County’s Superintendent of Education for four years. While working in the education field, he studied law and was admitted to the South Carolina bar in 1930. He was an Edgefield City and County Attorney from 1930 to 1938, a member of the SC Senate from 1933 to 1938, and a Circuit Court Judge from 1938 to 1946. With a leave of absence from the court, he served in the U.S. Army in both Europe and the Pacific during World War II, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and becoming a Major General in the U.S. Army Reserve. He won election as governor of South Carolina soon after the war ended. During his gubernatorial administration, the probation, prison, and parole systems were reorganized and state assistance for health and education increased. In addition, the courts ruled that blacks could participate in Democratic Party primary elections and a federal lawsuit was filed to declare school segregation unconstitutional. While governor, Thurmond made an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. presidency as the States Rights candidate and an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic nomination to a U.S. Senate seat. After leaving the state house, he practiced law and was President of the Aiken Federal Savings and Loan Association. In 1954 he won election to the U.S. Senate as a write-in candidate. However, due to a promise he had made to the voters when he was elected, he resigned as of April, 1956 to place the position in a primary. He went on to win the primary and general election and resumed his senatorial duties. He was re-elected to seven more U.S. Senate terms and because of both age and tenure held the distinction of being the oldest person ever to serve in the U.S. Senate. Thurmond died at the age of one hundred.

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