National Constitution CenterCenturies of Citizenship: A Constitutional Timeline Exhibit
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1947-1954: We struggle to preserve freedom in a dangerous world

November 2, 1954
Strom Thurmond becomes first Senator ever elected on write-in

Strom Thurmond

Strom Thurmond (1902 – 2003)

He Served In The Senate To Age 100

Strom Thurmond was a powerful symbol of southern politics for five decades. He ran for President against Harry Truman in 1948 as a Dixiecrat, a splinter group of southern Democrats opposed to the civil rights planks in the Democratic Party platform. Defending segregation on the principle of states’ rights, Thurmond won four southern states and broke the Democrats’ grip on the South.

Thurmond won a write-in campaign for the U.S. Senate in 1954. He retired from the Senate at age 100 in 2002, after 48 years in office – the oldest and longest-serving senator ever.

Thurmond’s segregationist past remained a lightning rod for controversy even beyond his death in 2003.

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