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James Strom Thurmond
South Carolina

Gov. James Strom Thurmond

  • January 21, 1947 - January 16, 1951
  • Democratic
  • December 5, 1902
  • June 26, 2003
  • Alabama
  • Clemson College
  • Married twice--Jean Crouc (died 1960), Nancy Moore; seven children
  • Senator
  • Army
  • Legion of Merit, Bronze Star with V, Bronze Arrowhead, Purple Heart, Belgian Order of the Crown


JAMES STROM THURMOND was born in Edgefield, South Carolina. 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 South Carolina 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 I a primary. He went on to win the primary and general election and resumed his senatorial duties. He was reelected to seven more 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.


Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. I. New York: James T. White & Company.

Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

Cohodas, Nadine. Strom Thurmond & The Politics of Southern Change. Macon, GA:  Mercer University Press, 1994.

Recent South Carolina Governors