Strom Thurmond's America: A History

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"Do not forget that ‘skill and integrity' are the keys to success." This was the last piece of advice on a list Will Thurmond gave his son Strom in 1923. The younger Thurmond would keep the words in mind throughout his long and colorful career as one of the South's last race-baiting demagogues and as a national power broker who, along with Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, was a major figure in modern conservative politics.

But as the historian Joseph Crespino demonstrates in Strom Thurmond's America, the late South Carolina senator followed only part of his father's counsel. Political skill was the key to Thurmond's many successes; a consummate opportunist, he had less use for integrity. He was a thoroughgoing racist—he is best remembered today for his twenty-four-hour filibuster in opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1957—but he fathered an illegitimate black daughter whose existence he did not publicly acknowledge during his lifetime. A onetime Democrat and labor supporter, he switched parties in 1964 and helped to dismantle New Deal protections for working Americans.

If Thurmond was a great hypocrite, though, he was also an innovator who saw the future of conservative politics before just about anyone else. As early as the 1950s, he began to forge alliances with Christian Right activists, and he eagerly took up the causes of big business, military spending, and anticommunism. Crespino's adroit, lucid portrait reveals that Thurmond was, in fact, both a segregationist and a Sunbelt conservative. The implications of this insight are vast. Thurmond was not a curiosity from a bygone era, but rather one of the first conservative Republicans we would recognize as such today. Strom Thurmond's America is about how he made his brand of politics central to American life.

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About the author

Joseph Crespino is a professor of history at Emory University. He is the author of In Search of Another Country: Mississippi and the Conservative Counterrevolution and the co-editor of The Myth of Southern Exceptionalism.

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Publisher
Hill and Wang
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Published on
Sep 4, 2012
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Pages
416
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ISBN
9781429945486
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Political
History / United States / 20th Century
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Matthew D. Lassiter
More than one-third of the population of the United States now lives in the South, a region where politics, race relations, and the economy have changed dramatically since World War II. Yet historians and journalists continue to disagree over whether the modern South is dominating, deviating from, or converging with the rest of the nation. Has the time come to declare the end of southern history? And how do the stories of American history change if the South is no longer seen as a region apart--as the conservative counterpoint to a liberal national ideal? The Myth of Southern Exceptionalism challenges the idea of southern distinctiveness in order to offer a new way of thinking about modern American history. For too long, the belief in an exceptional South has encouraged distortions and generalizations about the nation's otherwise liberal traditions, especially by compartmentalizing themes of racism, segregation, and political conservatism in one section of the country. This volume dismantles popular binaries--of de facto versus de jure segregation, red state conservatism versus blue state liberalism, the "South" versus the "North"--to rewrite the history of region and nation alike. Matthew Lassiter and Joseph Crespino present thirteen essays--framed by their provocative introduction--that reinterpret major topics such as the civil rights movement in the South and the North, the relationship between conservative backlash and liberal reform throughout the country, the rise of the Religious Right as a national phenomenon, the emergence of the metropolitan Sunbelt, and increasing suburban diversity in a multiracial New South. By writing American history across regional borders, this volume spends as much time outside as inside the traditional boundaries of the South, moving from Mississippi to New York City, from Southern California to South Carolina, from Mexico to Atlanta, from Hollywood to the Newport Folk Festival, and from the Pentagon to the Attica prison rebellion.
Matthew D. Lassiter
More than one-third of the population of the United States now lives in the South, a region where politics, race relations, and the economy have changed dramatically since World War II. Yet historians and journalists continue to disagree over whether the modern South is dominating, deviating from, or converging with the rest of the nation. Has the time come to declare the end of southern history? And how do the stories of American history change if the South is no longer seen as a region apart--as the conservative counterpoint to a liberal national ideal? The Myth of Southern Exceptionalism challenges the idea of southern distinctiveness in order to offer a new way of thinking about modern American history. For too long, the belief in an exceptional South has encouraged distortions and generalizations about the nation's otherwise liberal traditions, especially by compartmentalizing themes of racism, segregation, and political conservatism in one section of the country. This volume dismantles popular binaries--of de facto versus de jure segregation, red state conservatism versus blue state liberalism, the "South" versus the "North"--to rewrite the history of region and nation alike. Matthew Lassiter and Joseph Crespino present thirteen essays--framed by their provocative introduction--that reinterpret major topics such as the civil rights movement in the South and the North, the relationship between conservative backlash and liberal reform throughout the country, the rise of the Religious Right as a national phenomenon, the emergence of the metropolitan Sunbelt, and increasing suburban diversity in a multiracial New South. By writing American history across regional borders, this volume spends as much time outside as inside the traditional boundaries of the South, moving from Mississippi to New York City, from Southern California to South Carolina, from Mexico to Atlanta, from Hollywood to the Newport Folk Festival, and from the Pentagon to the Attica prison rebellion.
Matthew D. Lassiter
More than one-third of the population of the United States now lives in the South, a region where politics, race relations, and the economy have changed dramatically since World War II. Yet historians and journalists continue to disagree over whether the modern South is dominating, deviating from, or converging with the rest of the nation. Has the time come to declare the end of southern history? And how do the stories of American history change if the South is no longer seen as a region apart--as the conservative counterpoint to a liberal national ideal? The Myth of Southern Exceptionalism challenges the idea of southern distinctiveness in order to offer a new way of thinking about modern American history. For too long, the belief in an exceptional South has encouraged distortions and generalizations about the nation's otherwise liberal traditions, especially by compartmentalizing themes of racism, segregation, and political conservatism in one section of the country. This volume dismantles popular binaries--of de facto versus de jure segregation, red state conservatism versus blue state liberalism, the "South" versus the "North"--to rewrite the history of region and nation alike. Matthew Lassiter and Joseph Crespino present thirteen essays--framed by their provocative introduction--that reinterpret major topics such as the civil rights movement in the South and the North, the relationship between conservative backlash and liberal reform throughout the country, the rise of the Religious Right as a national phenomenon, the emergence of the metropolitan Sunbelt, and increasing suburban diversity in a multiracial New South. By writing American history across regional borders, this volume spends as much time outside as inside the traditional boundaries of the South, moving from Mississippi to New York City, from Southern California to South Carolina, from Mexico to Atlanta, from Hollywood to the Newport Folk Festival, and from the Pentagon to the Attica prison rebellion.
Matthew D. Lassiter
More than one-third of the population of the United States now lives in the South, a region where politics, race relations, and the economy have changed dramatically since World War II. Yet historians and journalists continue to disagree over whether the modern South is dominating, deviating from, or converging with the rest of the nation. Has the time come to declare the end of southern history? And how do the stories of American history change if the South is no longer seen as a region apart--as the conservative counterpoint to a liberal national ideal? The Myth of Southern Exceptionalism challenges the idea of southern distinctiveness in order to offer a new way of thinking about modern American history. For too long, the belief in an exceptional South has encouraged distortions and generalizations about the nation's otherwise liberal traditions, especially by compartmentalizing themes of racism, segregation, and political conservatism in one section of the country. This volume dismantles popular binaries--of de facto versus de jure segregation, red state conservatism versus blue state liberalism, the "South" versus the "North"--to rewrite the history of region and nation alike. Matthew Lassiter and Joseph Crespino present thirteen essays--framed by their provocative introduction--that reinterpret major topics such as the civil rights movement in the South and the North, the relationship between conservative backlash and liberal reform throughout the country, the rise of the Religious Right as a national phenomenon, the emergence of the metropolitan Sunbelt, and increasing suburban diversity in a multiracial New South. By writing American history across regional borders, this volume spends as much time outside as inside the traditional boundaries of the South, moving from Mississippi to New York City, from Southern California to South Carolina, from Mexico to Atlanta, from Hollywood to the Newport Folk Festival, and from the Pentagon to the Attica prison rebellion.
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