Birthday: December 5, 1902
Died At Age: 100
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Also Known As: James Strom Thurmond
Born in: Edgefield, South Carolina
Famous as: Former United States Senator
political ideology: Republican, States Rights Democratic, Democratic
Spouse/Ex-: Jean Crouch (m. 1947–1960), Nancy Janice Moore (m. 1968–2003)
father: John William Thurmond
mother: Eleanor Gertrude
children: Essie Mae Washington-Williams, James Strom Thurmond Jr., Juliana Gertrude Thurmond Whitmer, Nancy Moore Thurmond, Paul Reynolds Thurmond
Died on: June 26, 2003
place of death: Edgefield, South Carolina
U.S. State: South Carolina
education: Clemson University
awards: - Legion of Merit
- Bronze Star with valor
- Purple Heart
- World War II Victory Medal
- European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
- Order of the Crown
- Croix de Guerre
Strom Thurmond was an American politician, who represented the state of South Carolina in the United States senate for 48 years. He also ran for the chair of the President of United States of America as a candidate for the Democratic Party. Born and brought up in Edgefield, South Carolina, he worked as a farmer and a teacher and later enlisted in the US military to fight for his country in the Second World War. Once the war was over, he ran as the governor of South Carolina and won the elections in 1946 and two years later, he ran for presidency from the Democratic Party. He was highly progressive as a governor earlier and strongly advocated the uplifting of the black community and also the civil rights in general. He had had a controversial career as he seemed to have changed sides and his beliefs frequently during his terms. In 2002 he turned 100 years old and became the oldest American senate to have served in Congress. After his death, it became known that as a 22 years old man, he had an affair with an African-American woman who worked in his house and had a daughter with her.
Childhood & Early Life
James Strom Thurmond was born on December 5th 1902 in Edgefield, South Carolina in an upper middle class family of a lawyer John William Thurmond and his wife Eleanor Gertrude. His family had an English and German ancestry. Initially, Strom was attracted towards the idea of being a farmer and he pursued his goal by enrolling into Clemson University in his home state.
Strom graduated in 1923 with a degree in horticulture and embarked on a career in farming. Apart from farming, teaching interested him and his love for athletics also dragged him into being an athletic coach. He did those three jobs until 1929, when he was 27 years old and by then he had started gaining an interest in politics.
But upon the insistence of his father, he was pushed to study law and he became his father’s apprentice. He further received admission in the South Carolina Bar in 1930. By then, he was also serving as the superintendent of Education of Edgefield County. Starting from 1930, he further served as the attorney for Edgefield Town and County and resigned from his post to serve his country in the Second World War.
He was directly promoted to the post of lieutenant colonel and following his brave service in the army, he received more than a dozen awards, medals and honours. This also played a major role in him attaining the trust of American voters as war heroes were always seen with utmost respect.
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He was elected as the Governor of the state of South Carolina in 1946 at a time when there were many limitations to the civil and voting rights for the black community. This was highly uncalled for as most of the population in the state comprised of African-Americans. As a democrat he was strongly against his party’s civil rights bill presented in the Congress. Several southern democrats walked out of the 1948 convention upon Strom’s insistence.
In the same year, he contested for the presidency and although he got a million votes, he lost to Harry S. Truman by a massive margin. Following a write-in campaign, he was appointed as a Democrat to the senate in 1954 and just a decade later he switched sides and aligned with Republicans. Despite switching sides, which isn’t generally considered a good thing on the part of a politician, he remained a favourite and kept getting re-elected over the years.
The main cause for him switching sides was his Democratic Party’s stance on the civil rights act, which was passed further in 1964 and allowed the African-Americans to have a right to vote and give them equal treatment under the state/national law.
After siding with the Republic party, he heavily campaigned for the Republic Party’s presidential candidates Richard Nixon and Barry Goldwater.
In the 70’s, his ties with Richard Nixon administration further strengthened and this allowed him to have a strong say in the Washington DC. People close to him said that Strom wanted to be the strongest political force in South Carolina. Despite being against the equal rights to blacks, he made a controversial decision to appoint an African-American Thomas Moss to his senate staff in 1971. A decade later, he further advocated that the birthday of Martin Luther King must be made into a national holiday.
During his long tenure as a senator, Strom served on a number of crucial committees, which further gave him enough power in the political sphere of South Carolina. He led armed services, veteran affairs and judiciary. He also was the President Pro Tempore from early to mid 80’s. He also held the record for being the longest filibuster in the US Senate history.
He turned 100 in 2002 and didn’t contest for the senate post after that. He was the oldest person to have sat in the Congress and remained a senate for the longest time in history, until 2006, when Robert C. Byrd broke his record. During the time he was an active politician, Strom remained one of the most respected and controversial American senates. And it can’t be doubted that under his tenure the state of South Carolina became of utmost importance to the United States.
Personal Life & Legacy
Strom died in his sleep on 26th June 2003 of a heart failure at the age of 100.
Strom Thurmond married quite late at the age of 44. He met his first wife in April 1947 when he was judging a beauty contest and Jean Crouch, his future wife, won the competition for Miss South Carolina. Following this, Strom befriended her and hired her as his secretary and married her in November 1947. Crouch died of a brain tumour at the age of 33.
In December 1968, Strom married another beauty contest winner Nancy Janice Moore. He was 66 at the time of his marriage and she was 44 years younger to him.
Strom’s second marriage repeated the story of the first one as he had hired Nancy to work in the senate office and late proposed to her, which she accepted. The couple got separated in 1991 but they never divorced.
Strom fathered four children from his second wife Nancy and he doesn’t have any children from his first marriage. However, after six months, a woman named Essie May Washington-Williams came ahead and openly claimed that she was his daughter. She was a married African-American woman who was born in October 1925.
She claimed that her mother Carrie Butler worked at Strom’s house in the 20’s and was 16 years old when Strom impregnated her. Despite the fact that Strom kept this a secret, Williams said that he had provided financial support to her all her life.
Williams was later recognized as a daughter to Strom as people had noticed earlier as well that he had affection towards her. She kept the identity a secret out of the respect for her father. Since then, she was welcomed as a member of the family by the remaining family of Thurmond.
Strom was a flirtatious man all through his life and there have been rumours doing the rounds that he had romantic relationships with several young women.
He had had schools, colleges and libraries built after him. He also won several honours from the government, such as Presidential Medal of Freedom and Presidential Citizens Medal.