Strom Thurmond, Oldest US Senator, Segregationist Dixiecrat, Dies, 100

Strom Thurmond, the longest serving Senator in United States history, has died, aged 100.

ThurmondThurmond served 48 years in the US Senate, from 1954 until January 2003, first as a Democrat and then as a Republican.

A former Governor of South Carolina, Thurmond ran for President in 1948 as a Dixiecrat, losing to Harry Truman, but breaking the Democrats political hold on the South.

His stance as an opponent of racial integration contributed to the political realignment of the South, with implications still being felt today.

The first senator to be elected as a “write-in” candidate, Thurmond was a foe of racial integration, linking it to communism, but later became one of the first southern senators to employ blacks on his staff.

He is immortalised in political textbooks as the man who filibustered civil rights legislation in the Senate in 1957 by talking for 24 hours and 18 minutes. Thurmond always denied he was racist and claimed he was merely defending State rights.

A soldier in World War 2, Thurmond landed by glider in France on D-Day, June 6, 1944. He was awarded the Bronze Star for valour.

In the Senate, he was known as a successful proponent of pork-barrelling.

In his later years, as the only senator to ever reach 100 whilst still in office, he was indulged by all and sundry when he groped women in elevators and became unable to follow Senate debates.

Thurmond voted for the impeachment of President Clinton and was a loyal foot soldier of the Right.

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