His ancestry included English and German. Thurmond graduated in with a degree in horticulture. After Thurmond's death in , an attorney for his family confirmed that in , when he was 22, Thurmond fathered a mixed-race daughter, Essie Mae Washington , with his family's housekeeper, Carrie Butler, then 16 years old. Thurmond paid for his daughter's college education and provided other support.
Early career[ edit ] After college, Thurmond worked as a farmer, teacher and athletic coach until , when at age 27 he was appointed as Edgefield County 's superintendent of education, serving until Thurmond studied law with his father as a legal apprentice and was admitted to the South Carolina bar in He was appointed as the Edgefield Town and County attorney, serving from to In Thurmond was elected to the South Carolina Senate and represented Edgefield until he was elected to the Eleventh Circuit judgeship.
He retired from the U. Army Reserve with the rank of major general. Governor of South Carolina[ edit ] Statue of Thurmond outside the South Carolina State Capitol Strom Thurmond as Governor Thurmond's political career began under Jim Crow laws that effectively disenfranchised almost all blacks from voting, at a time when they constituted the majority of the state's population.
Running as a Democrat in the one-party state, Thurmond was elected Governor of South Carolina in , largely on the promise of making state government more transparent and accountable by weakening the power of a group of politicians from Barnwell ,  which Thurmond dubbed the Barnwell Ring , led by House Speaker Solomon Blatt. Many voters considered Thurmond a progressive for much of his term, in large part due to his influence in gaining the arrest of the perpetrators of the lynching of Willie Earle.
Truman ordered the end of racial discrimination in the U. Army,   proposed the creation of a permanent Fair Employment Practices Commission , supported the elimination of state poll taxes which effectively discriminated against poor blacks and whites in voting , and supported drafting federal anti- lynching laws.
It split from the national Democrats over the threat of federal intervention in state affairs regarding segregation and Jim Crow.
Wallace would lead the U. During his campaign, Thurmond said the following in a speech, being met with loud cheers by the assembled supporters: In the one-party state of the time, the Democratic primary was the only competitive contest. Both candidates denounced President Truman during the campaign. It was the only statewide election which Thurmond lost. State Democratic Party leaders blocked Thurmond from receiving the nomination to the Senate in , and he ran as a write-in candidate.
Maybank , was unopposed for re-election in , but he died in September of that year, two months before Election Day. Democratic leaders hurriedly appointed state Senator Edgar A. Brown , a member of the Barnwell Ring, as the party's nominee to replace Maybank. The Brown campaign was managed by future Governor John C. In a state where the Democratic nomination was tantamount to election , many criticized the party's failure to elect a candidate by a primary vote. Thurmond announced he would mount a write-in campaign.
At the recommendation of Governor James Byrnes , Thurmond campaigned on the pledge that if he won, he would resign in to force a primary election which could be contested. At the time, South Carolina was a one-party state. For all intents and purposes, the Democratic primary was the real contest for most state races from the local level all the way to the U. The Republican Party, which attracted the support of most of the state's black voters, had a voice in choosing the Republican presidential nominee, but was all but powerless at the state level.
Thurmond won the election overwhelmingly, becoming the first person to be elected to the U. Senate as a write-in candidate against ballot-listed opponents. As promised, in Thurmond resigned to run in the party primary, which he won. Afterward, he was repeatedly elected to the U.
Senate by state voters until his retirement 46 years later. In January , Thurmond stated that federal encroachment with states' rights was among the biggest threats to American life and that he had studied the issue of federal encroachment which he furthered violated the constitution. Thurmond spoke of the importance of education, saying it "should be a primary duty of the states just as national defense is a primary obligation of the federal government. Thurmond argued the bill's enactment would strengthen President Eisenhower during the Geneva Big Four summit.
Thurmond stated his opposition to an alternate plan proposed by Richard Russell, which would abolish compulsory feature in addition to adding a bonus of dollars to males forgoing active duty, saying he did not believe patriotism could be purchased.
Tariff Commission Edgar Brossard promised Thurmond that his position on American wool protections would be a factor in negotiating tariff agreements at the beginning of the following year. Other Southern senators, who had agreed as part of a compromise not to filibuster this bill, were upset with Thurmond because they thought his defiance made them look incompetent to their constituents.
Board of Education[ edit ] Thurmond supported racial segregation throughout much of his career. He wrote the first version of the Southern Manifesto , announcing southern disagreement with the U. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education , which ruled that public school segregation was unconstitutional. Board of Education decision as the beginning of the Supreme Court instilling liberal leaning views across the United States that continued with subsequent rulings.
He added that American industry would be destroyed by government subsidies that would convert the textile industry to other fields, his reason for opposing the proposal. At a news conference on November 28, Thurmond stated that President Kennedy had lost support in the South due to the formation of the National Relations Boards, what he called Kennedy's softness on communism, and an increase in military men being muzzled for speaking out against communism.
Thurmond stated the evidence was obtained through checking with the individuals censoring, describing them as just taking orders. He added that the issue of censoring had predated the Kennedy administration, though charged the incumbent executive branch with having increased its practice.
Vitale that it was unconstitutional for state officials to compose an official school prayer, Thurmond stated the decision could lead to the rise of atheism as a national policy and encouraged Congress to take measures preventing the Supreme Court from making similar decisions. Bohlen for United States Ambassador to France. In September , Thurmond called for an invasion of Cuba,  publicly stating his belief that other countries in the Western Hemisphere would want to join the United States in intervention.
Hours after the statement was made public, a Pentagon official disputed his claims as being "at wide variance with carefully evaluated data collected by U. These laws ended segregation and committed the federal government to enforce voting rights of citizens by the supervision of elections in states in which the pattern of voting showed blacks had been disenfranchised.
He and Thurmond served together for just over 36 years, making them the longest-serving Senate duo in American history. Thurmond and Hollings had a very good relationship, despite their often stark philosophical differences. Their long tenure meant their seniority in the Senate gave South Carolina clout in national politics well beyond its modest population.
On January 17, , Thurmond was appointed to the Senate Judiciary subcommittee. Thurmond responded to the claim on September 15, saying the tale was a liberal smear intended to damage his political influence,  later calling the magazine "anti-South". Fowler as the individual who had spread the story, a charge that Fowler denied.
Holmes County Board of Education , which ordered the immediate desegregation of schools in the American South. Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education that segregation of public schools was unconstitutional.
Thurmond praised President Nixon and his "Southern Strategy" of delaying desegregation, saying Nixon "stood with the South in this case".
Constitution as well as providing leadership for the eventual takeover of the U. He called on other Southern politicians to join him in bettering the Republican Party. Clark as Associate Justice. United States , a case noted by Fortas biographer Laura Kalman as taking place before Fortas' tenure but for which he was still held responsible for by Thurmond nonetheless. United States case was an encouragement of individuals to commit more serous crimes such as rape and if he believed in "that kind of justice", an inquiry that shocked the usually stoic Fortas.
Thurmond stated that Fortas had backed overturning 23 of the 26 lower court obscenity decisions. Goldberg as Chief Justice before becoming convinced there would be problems during the process. Otepka's appointment to the Subversive Activities Control Board. Douglas to resign over what he considered political activities.
Thurmond wrote to Haynsworth that he had worked harder on his nomination than any other that had occurred since his Senate career began. Several senators who voted against you have told me they would vote for you if they had it to do again. Nixon despite the sudden last-minute entry of Governor Ronald Reagan of California into the race. Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York was also in the race but having little effect. In the fall general election, Nixon won South Carolina with 38 percent of the popular vote and gained South Carolina's electoral votes.
With the segregationist Democrat George Wallace on the ballot, the South Carolina Democratic voters split almost evenly between the Democratic Party nominee, Hubert Humphrey , who received Other Deep South states swung to Wallace and posted weak totals for Nixon. Thurmond had quieted conservative fears over rumors that Nixon planned to ask either liberal Republicans Charles Percy or Mark Hatfield to be his running mate.
He informed Nixon that both men were unacceptable to the South for the vice-presidency. Nixon ultimately asked Governor Spiro Agnew from Maryland—an acceptable choice to Thurmond—to join the ticket. During the general election campaign, Agnew stated that he did not believe Thurmond was a racist when asked his opinion on the matter. Clayton Fritchey of the Lewiston Evening Journal cited Agnew's answer over the Thurmond question as an example of the vice presidential candidate not being ready for the same "big league pitching" Nixon had shown during the election cycle.
United States Senate election in South Carolina, Thurmond faced no opposition in the Republican primary and was renominated in March Thurmond far right campaigning for Ronald Reagan in Columbia, South Carolina in Thanks to his close relationship with the Nixon administration, Thurmond was able to deliver a great deal of federal money, appointments and projects to his state. With a like-minded president in the White House, Thurmond became a very effective power broker in Washington.
His staffers said his goal was to be South Carolina's "indispensable man" in Washington, D. In the gubernatorial election, Thurmond's preferred candidate, conservative U. Watson , was defeated by the more moderate opponent, Democrat John C. West , who had opposed Thurmond's initial write-in election to the Senate and the outgoing lieutenant governor.
Watson had defected to the Republicans in , the year after Thurmond's own bolt, and had been politically close to the senator. Watson lost mainly after several Republican officials in South Carolina shied away from him because of his continuing opposition to civil rights legislation.
Watson's loss caused Thurmond slowly to moderate his own image in regard to changing race relations. At the time Rogers was the U.