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Theodore Bilbo

Theodore Bilbo


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Theodore Bilbo was born in Pearl River County, Mississippi on 13th October, 1877. After attending Vanderbilt University and the University of Michigan, Bilbo worked as a teacher in Mississippi. Admitted to the bar in 1908, Bilbo had a law practice in Poplarville, Mississippi.

A member of the Democratic Party, Bilbo served in the State senate (1908-1912), as lieutenant governor (1912-16) before being elected as governor of Mississippi (1916-1920 and 1928-32). At the time he held fairly progressive views and increased taxes on corporations and provided state aid to education.

Bilbo was elected to the United States Senate in 1934. He adopted the policies of Huey Long and told the electors he intended to "raise hell with the money lords, the privileged few, the men who hold 90 per cent of the wealth of the nation."

A strong opponent of African American civil rights Bilbo told the electors of Mississippi in 1940 that: "I want to make it impossible for the Negro to Vote and thus guarantee white supremacy."

Bilbo was chairman of the Committee on District of Columbia and served on the Committee on Pensions. Theodore Bilbo died in New Orleans on 21st August, 1947.


Theodore Bilbo

Theodore Gilmore Bilbo (October 13, 1877 – August 21, 1947) was a Democrat Senator and Klansman from Mississippi. Bilbo served as a governor of Mississippi from 1916 to 1920 and 1928 to 1932, and as a U.S. senator from 1935 to 1947. A towering figure among white supremacist and segregationist politicians, Bilbo praised Nazi racial philosophy and was famous for his extreme and inflammatory rhetoric. Bilbo faced three primary challengers running for a third term and told a group of supporters, “I’m calling on every red-blooded American who believes in the superiority and integrity of the white race to get out and see that no n***** votes.” In true Democrat tradition, Bilbo won the rigged primary election with 51% in a four way contest. The Republicans won back control of the Senate that year in 1946 and refused to seat Bilbo as his comments about Democrat voter suppression to rig the election became more widely known. He died 7 months later, unable to take his seat, while the Senate was still investigating. [1]

While governor of Mississippi, Bilbo instituted a statewide sales tax [Citation Needed] and caused the state to become bankrupt after failing to negotiate a tax bill with the legislature.

Bilbo was a leader among other racist Democrats, including the Exalted Cyclops Robert Byrd and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the latter of which called him "a real friend of liberal government." [2] He claimed himself to be "100 percent for Roosevelt. and the New Deal." [3] In a 1938 filibuster against anti-lynching legislation, Bilbo said on the Senate floor that the bill would “open the floodgates of hell in the South” by encouraging Black men to rape white women.

In his book When Jim Crow Met John Bull, Graham Smith referred to a letter Bilbo received from the Exalted Cyclops Robert Byrd when on the 1945 controversy raging over the idea of racially integrating the military.

Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds.
He had earlier written Bilbo:
I shall never fight in the armed forces with a Negro by my side
Bilbo told Meet the Press in an August 9th, 1946 interview:
No man can leave the Klan. He takes an oath not to do that. Once a Ku Klux, always a Ku Klux. [4]

In 1946, after four white men beat a Black Army veteran for attempting to register to vote, Senator Bilbo delivered a radio address urging every “red-blooded Anglo-Saxon man in Mississippi to resort to any means to keep hundreds of Negroes from the polls in the July 2nd primary.” He continued, “And if you don’t know what that means, you are just not up on your persuasive measures.” Southern senators successfully defended Bilbo against an NAACP-led effort to remove him from office for inciting violence against Black voters. Despite having been re-elected, he was blocked from taking office. [1]

Before succumbing to oral cancer at age 69 following decades of spouting hatred, bigotry, and inciting violence, Bilbo spent the last weeks of his life writing a book, Take Your Choice: Separation or Mongrelization, in which he outlined his fears of “race-mixing” and advocated for the relocation of African Americans to West Africa. (He had proposed a relocation bill in the Senate in 1938, but it failed.) Bilbo never repudiated his racist views and remained an influential figure among leading segregationists in the South long after his death.


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Theodore G. Bilbo and the Greater Liberia Act

Born on October 13, 1877, at Juniper Grove in Pearl River County, Theodore G. Bilbo occupied a place of prominence in Mississippi politics from 1909-1947. He served as state senator, lieutenant governor, governor, and United States senator. While many adored his passionate desire to improve the quality of life for the state&rsquos poor and working class white citizens, his segregationist views alienated many others around the country.

Following the ideology of black radicals like Marcus Garvey, founder of the United Negro Improvement Association (U.N.I.A) and former Garveyite, Mittie Gordon, who established the Peace Movement of Ethiopia, Bilbo sponsored the Greater Liberia Act. In 1939, Bilbo&rsquos bill provided the opportunity for African American&rsquos to move to Africa in an attempt to escape the racial intolerance in the United States. In reality, his intention was to remove all African Americans from the United States creating a &ldquowhite&rdquo country.

Bilbo regularly corresponded with representatives from the U.N.I. A. and the Peace Movement of Ethiopia receiving petitions signed by African Americans in favor of the bill. The organizations collected more than two million signatures with a selection of those in the Theodore G. Bilbo Papers in Special Collections at the University of Southern Mississippi Libraries. The collection also contains clippings, political records, correspondence, photographs, and other documents relating to his life and career.

For more information about the Theodore G. Bilbo Papers or any collection in Special Collections, contact Jennifer Brannock at or 601.266.4347. To see more Items of the Month, click here.

Text by Eve Wade, History PhD student, University of Southern Mississippi


Theodore Bilbo - History

Collection Title: Bilbo (Theodore G.) Papers

Collection Number: M2

Dates: 1905-1947

Volume: 690 cu. ft.

Provenance: Donated by Theodore Bilbo's son and daughter, Col. Theodore G. Bilbo, Jr. and Mrs. Jessie Bilbo Burge, in 1961.

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the
United States (Title 17, United States Code).


Biographical/Historical Sketch:


Theodore G. Bilbo, the thirty-second governor of Mississippi, was perhaps the most controversial figure ever to serve as chief executive of the state.

He was born on October 13, 1877 at Juniper Grove in Pearl River County. He attended Vanderbilt University, and taught school for six years. In 1908 he was admitted to the bar in Tennessee but began the practice of law in Poplarville, Mississippi.

Bilbo entered politics in 1909 as state senator from the Fourth District. Before the end of his term an unsuccessful effort was made by the Senate to expel him after the first in his career of several accusations of accepting bribes. In 1911 Senator Bilbo was elected after a stormy campaign as lieutenant governor to serve with Governor Earl L. Brewer. Four years later he entered the race for governor and was elected over four opponents.

Governor Bilbo was inaugurated on January 18, 1916, and his administration during the next four years was as progressive as that of any in the history of the state. His administration instituted notable reforms in the highway system, in fiscal policies, and in education. Under his administration the State Tax Commission, the Mississippi Industrial Training School, the Game and Fish Commission, the State Plant Board, and the State Board of Embalming were established.

Bilbo was again a candidate for governor in 1923 but was defeated by Henry L. Whitfield. In 1927 he ran again, with M.S. Conner, A.C Anderson, and Governor Dennis Murphree as opponents. Although he led Governor Murphree by nearly 65,000 votes in the first primary, he was able to exceed him in the second by only a little over 10,000 votes.

Governor Bilbo was inaugurated the second time on January 17, 1928. The next four years were filled with controversies over a state-owned printing plant, brick roads, the removal of the University of Mississippi to Jackson, the firing of college presidents and professors, and the building of the Mississippi State Hospital at Whitfield. Two state officials were impeached one resigned and one was exonerated. The Depression added to Governor Bilbo's troubles, so that when he went out of office in 1932, both he and the state were bankrupt.

In 1934 Governor Bilbo ran for the United States Senate against Senator Hubert D. Stephens, Ross A. Collins, and Frank H. Harper. Although Stephens led in the first primary, Governor Bilbo won in the second by about 6,000 votes. He was re-elected in 1940 over Governor Hugh L. White. In 1946 he defeated four opponents for a third term, but, again facing charges of accepting bribes, was refused his seat when he appeared to be sworn in the third time. He died in New Orleans on August 21, 1947.

Scope and Content:

The Theodore G. Bilbo Papers document the activities of the former Mississippi governor and United States Senator from approximately 1905-1947. To facilitate its use, the collection has been divided into the following seven subgroups:

Subgroup I: Early Life and Politics Through First Governorship, 1905-1920, Box 1

Subgroup I consists of personal records, items pertaining to the 1910 bribery trial, and materials regarding Bilbo's first term as governor (1916-1920).

Subgroup II: Private Law Practice and Mississippi Free Lance, 1920-1928, Boxes 2 - 34

Materials in Subgroup II cover the period between Bilbo's first and second terms as governor of Mississippi. Included are personal papers, personal correspondence, campaign correspondence, newspaper clippings, assorted business and professional papers, and materials relating to Bilbo's controversial weekly political newspaper, Mississippi Free Lance, which was published in Jackson.

Subgroup III: Second Term As Governor, 1928-1932, Boxes 35-129

Boxes 35 -100 of this subgroup contain general correspondence to and from Gov. Bilbo, which has been designated either "A" or "B." Correspondence designated "A" consists of letters written to Bilbo, and is arranged chronologically, and alphabetically, by surname of the writer or by the name of the agency of origin. "B" correspondence signifies letters written by Bilbo, and is arranged chronologically, and alphabetically, by name of the individual or agency to whom it is directed.

Boxes 101-111 are comprised of gubernatorial subject files, which are arranged alphabetically.

Boxes 112-129 contain newspaper clippings from 1928-1932.

Subgroup IV: Private Law Practice & U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1932-1935, Boxes 130-169

Boxes 130-164 consist of general correspondence relating to Bilbo's activities in the interval between his second term as governor and his election to the U.S. Senate. In 1933, through the efforts of Sen. Pat Harrison, Bilbo was given a position in the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, where he was assigned to compile a scrapbook for the AAA from newspapers, magazines, and other published sources. Bilbo called himself "Advisory Counselor", but his enemies dubbed him "Pastemaster General." Correspondence in this grouping is arranged in the same manner as in Subgroup III.

Boxes 165-169 contain newspaper clippings from 1932-1935.

Subgroup V: United States Senate, 1935-1947, Boxes 170 - 1167

Materials in Subgroup V have been divided into three subheadings: General Correspondence, Subject Files, and Newspaper Clippings.

Correspondence (Boxes 170-969) contain letters to and from Bilbo, and are arranged in the manner described in Subgroup III. This series contains a wealth of information regarding the activities and ideology of Senator Bilbo.

Sen. Bilbo's Subject Files (Boxes 970-1145) are arranged alphabetically, and consist of files kept by Bilbo during his two terms of office.

Newspaper Clippings (Boxes 1146-1167) are arranged chronologically, and document events between 1935 and 1947.

Subgroup VI: Photographs, Boxes 1168-1174

  1. Photographs in Subgroup VI date from circa 1888-1953, and have been divided into seven categories:
  2. Theodore G. Bilbo (Boxes 1168-1170)
  3. Bilbo Family Members (Box 1170)
  4. Dream Houses I & II, and Juniper Grove Baptist Church (Box 1170)
  5. Identified Individuals (Boxes 1170-1171)
  6. Unidentified Individuals (Boxes 1171-1172)
  7. Places (Box 1173)
  8. Subjects (Box 1174)

Subgroup VII: Miscellaneous Materials, Boxes 1175-1188 and Oversize Folders

Subgroup VII is comprised of a variety of materials that did not fit well in any other category. Included are manuscripts of Redneck Liberal, a biography of Theodore G. Bilbo written by Chester M. Morgan bound copies of Mississippi Free Lance two copies of Take Your Choice: Segregation or Mongrelization by Theodore G. Bilbo approximately 2000 signed "Peace Movement of Ethiopia" petitions reference materials relating to Bilbo political broadsides, handbills, and pamphlets and artifacts and memorabilia. A unique item in this subgroup is a segment of carpet taken from the speaker's stand at President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's 1941 inaugural address.

This collection provides insight into the government of the state of Mississippi in the early decades of the twentieth century, as well as American culture, political climate, and governmental activities during the Great Depression and World War II. It paints a definitive portrait of one of Mississippi's most colorful and controversial political figures, and is of immeasurable value to researchers of both Mississippi and American history.

Related Collections:

Col. Theodore G. Bilbo, Jr. [son] Oral History Interview, vol. 151. A copy of the transcript is available in the McCain Library, call number F341.5 .M57.

George W. Bilbo [nephew] Oral History Interview, vol. 440. A copy of the transcript is available in the McCain Library, call number F341.5 .M57.

J.O. Bilbo [nephew] Oral History Interview, vol. 453. A copy of the transcript is available in the McCain Library, call number F341.5 .M57.

Publications:

The following publications by Theodore G. Bilbo are available in the Cook and McCain Libraries:

Mississippi Free Lance [microform] (Jackson, Miss.), call number AN2.J33 M577 (Cook).

Welcome Address / Delivered by Governor Theo. G. Bilbo to the Fortieth Annual Confederate Veterans Reunion (Biloxi, Miss.: s.n., 1930), call number E650 .W44 1930 (McCain).

Report of the Mississippi Building Commission to the Mississippi Legislature, February 1, 1930, Theo G. Bilbo, Chairman (Jackson, Miss. The Commission, 1930), call number KFM7062.5.L34 A25 1930 (McCain).

Special Message by Gov. Theo. G. Bilbo to the Extraordinary Session, Oct. 20, 1931: Recommending State Ownership and Control of Gas and Electric Power for the People of Mississippi (Jackson, Miss. s.n., 1931?), call number HD2767.M74 M572 1931 (McCain).

Extension of Remarks of the Hon. Theodore G. Bilbo of Mississippi in the Senate of the United States, April 17, 1944 (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1944), call number E749 .B55 1944 (McCain).

Speech of Hon. Theodore G. Bilbo of Mississippi in the Senate of the United States, Thursday, December 14, 1944 (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1945), call number HG1591 .B55 1945 (McCain).

Speeches of Senator Theodore G. Bilbo of Mississippi in the Senate of the United States, June 27, 28, July 3, 6, 24, and 28, 1945 (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1945), call number HD4903.5.U5 B55 1945 (McCain).

Speeches of Senator Theodore G. Bilbo of Mississippi in the Senate of the United States, October 3, 4, and 24, 1945 (Washington, D.C: GPO, 1945), call number HE1063 .B55 1945 (McCain).

Speeches of Senator Theodore G. Bilbo of Mississippi in the Senate of the United States, September 20, 1945 (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1945), call number S541 .B55 1945 (McCain).

Speeches of Hon. Theodore G. Bilbo of Mississippi in the Senate of the United States, January 30, 31, and February 7, 1946 (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1946), call number E742.5 .B55 1946 (McCain).

Take Your Choice Separation or Mongrelization (Poplarville, Miss., Dream House Publishing Company, 1947), call number E185.61 .B55 (Cook, McCain).

Speeches of Hon. Theodore G. Bilbo of Mississippi in the Senate of the United States, May 10 and 14, 1945 (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1945), call number HD4903.5.U5 B54 1945 (McCain).

Box and Folder List: Click here to access a list of the contents of the collection.

Accessions: Click here to access a list of recent additions to the collection.


Theodore Bilbo - History

Theodore Bilbo. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Attitudes toward the KKK have dramatically changed over the years, as shown by the contrasting arcs of two public figures separated by just half a century: Theodore Bilbo and David Duke.

During his multiple terms of office, as both a governor and senator from Mississippi in the early 20th century, Theodore Bilbo’s name became synonymous with racism in America. Renowned journalist H. L. Mencken even coined the term “Bilboism” for the kind of official prejudice Bilbo campaigned on.

In 1938, he tried to amend the federal work-relief bill in the Senate with a provision to deport 12 million black Americans to Liberia. That same year, facing the prospect of a federal anti-lynching bill, Bilbo argued:

“If you succeed in the passage of this bill, you will open the floodgates of hell in the South. Raping, mobbing, lynching, race riots, and crime will be increased a thousandfold and upon your garments and the garments of those who are responsible for the passage of the measure will be the blood of the raped and outraged daughters of Dixie, as well as the blood of the perpetrators of these crimes that the red-blooded Anglo-Saxon White Southern men will not tolerate.”

Near the end of his life, Bilbo appeared on the radio program Meet the Press and admitted to having been a lifelong KKK member.

With the air of a man stating a solemn principle, he claimed: “No man can leave the Klan. He takes an oath not to do that. Once a Ku Klux, always a Ku Klux.” Today, a statue of Theodore Bilbo adorns the room in the Mississippi Capitol where the Legislative Black Caucus holds meetings. It is reportedly used as a coat rack.

In stark contrast to Bilbo’s generally successful career stands the four-decade career of David Duke. Like Bilbo, Duke is a Southern politician. Unlike Bilbo, Duke has been generally unsuccessful in winning public office with the exception of a single term as a U.S. Representative from his adopted state of Louisiana.

In 1974 at the age of 24, David Duke joined and quickly rose to the top of the KKK. Unlike Bilbo, who kept his membership relatively quiet but made bloodcurdling speeches from the floor of Congress, Duke was always open about his involvement with the KKK, but he worked to essentially launder the organization’s public image.

Rather than holding shadowy secret ceremonies and preaching bloodshed and murder, Duke encouraged members of the Knights of the KKK (which he founded) to wear business suits and appropriate the language of the Civil Rights movement to describe the “predicament” of white Americans. He even changed his title from Grand Wizard to the less cultish “National Director.” The idea seems to have been to mainstream the KKK in society and politics.

If mainstreaming the KKK was Duke’s plan, he could not have failed more spectacularly. During his tenure as “National Director,” Klan membership nosedived to its present 5,000-8,000. The national organization was sued out of existence by the Southern Poverty Law Center, to be replaced with hundreds of officially independent Klaverns, few of which have three-digit membership.

Association with the KKK destroyed David Duke’s political ambitions. During the 1988 presidential election, Duke’s sole victory was in the New Hampshire vice presidential primary. Running in 11 states on the Populist ticket, he won just shy of 50,000 votes–in a race that saw 91.5 million votes cast. Libertarian candidate Ron Paul got 10 times Duke’s vote tally.

Duke’s electoral humiliations didn’t end there: after winning a 1989 special election to the House, Duke lost his 1990 bid for the Senate when his own Republican Party conceded the election to a Democrat rather than let Duke run on their ticket.

In 1991, Duke lost his bid to become Governor of Louisiana. In 1992, he again failed to poll at one percent in the Republican presidential primaries. In 1996, voters rejected his second bid for the Senate. In 1999, he came third in a special election for the House.


A Short History of the Filibuster

Filibusters tend to be more infuriating than inspirational.

After talking non-stop for 10 hours and 35 minutes, Huey Long informed his fellow senators that he wasn’t a bit tired. “I would just as soon stay here and go ten more hours,” he said. “I am in hog heaven here discussing this thing.”

It was 10:30 on the night of June 12, 1935, and Sen. Long had been yakking since noon, trying to prevent a vote that he knew he would lose. The Senate was prepared to pass an extension of President Franklin Roosevelt’s National Recovery Act, which Long opposed, and he was trying to talk the bill to death. Huey was a very entertaining talker, so spectators packed the gallery, many of them Shriners in town for a convention. “I seem to have new inspiration,” Long announced. “I seem to hear a voice that says, ‘Speak ten hours more.’”

During his epic filibuster, Long mostly ignored the National Recovery Act, preferring to read from the Constitution, quote the Bible and tell funny stories about his drunken uncle and the snakes of his native Louisiana. He jokingly proposed a bill to repeal “every law that has been enacted by the Hoover and Roosevelt administrations.” He gave a step-by-step lesson in how to fry oysters, and then he picked up a wastebasket and demonstrated how to make potlikker. “If you had a pot of turnip greens about two-thirds the size of this wastebasket,” he said, “you ought to put in about a 1-pound hunk of side meat that is sliced, but not clear through, just down to the skin part…”

As the night dragged on, Long periodically praised his own oration, describing it as “this masterful speech” and “a marvelous speech” and “one of the greatest speeches that has ever been made in this body.” After filibustering for 15 hours, he even had the audacity to proclaim, “I do not believe in filibustering.” Then he came up against the powerful force that dooms most solo filibusters—the call of nature. At 3:50 a.m., his bladder bursting, Long yielded the floor and dashed to the men’s room. The Senate soon passed the bill.

Long’s marathon monologue inspired actor Jimmy Stewart’s famous filibuster scene in Frank Capra’s classic 1939 movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. And the movie helped create the enduring notion of a filibustering senator as a lone hero courageously defying the corrupt political establishment. It’s a heart-warming image but, alas, it’s a myth. Most filibusters are neither solo nor courageous, and they tend to be more infuriating than inspirational.

The colorful history of filibusters is a smorgasbord of idealism, cynicism, egomania, buffoonery and, if truth be told, a great deal of blatant racism. And it involves much more than just talking a bill to death. “A filibuster is any device used by a minority to prevent a vote because presumably the majority would win,” says Donald A. Ritchie, the Senate’s official historian. Indeed, these days the mere threat of a filibuster is enough to create gridlock.

Filibusters tied up the ancient Roman Senate, as well as the British Parliament. Wherever you find legislatures, you’ll find legislators stalling to prevent votes they know they’ll lose. But stalling is part of the very fabric of the U.S. Senate. The Founding Fathers created the Senate as a check on the House of Representatives, which was closer to the people and would therefore, the Founders believed, be inflamed by the wild passions and whims of the rabble.

In the early republic, filibusters tied up both chambers of Congress, but in 1811 the House enacted rules to limit debate. The Senate, a smaller body composed of larger egos, defeated all attempts to restrict debate for another 106 years. Consequently, the Senate frequently found itself handcuffed by a small minority—or by one long-winded member.

In 1841, when the Senate’s Whig majority wanted to fire the official Senate printers, the Democratic minority filibustered for a week, and the debate devolved into personal attacks so malicious that Democrat William King of Alabama challenged Whig leader Henry Clay to a duel. Clay accepted the challenge, and the two men might have killed each other if they hadn’t been hauled before a magistrate, who put the kibosh on the shootout. A few months later, Democrats filibustered for weeks against a Whig bank bill. Irate, Clay announced that he would sponsor legislation permitting a Senate majority to cut off debate, but he was forced to back down when his fellow Whigs told him they’d vote against it.

In 1846 Southern senators filibustered against a bill to appropriate money to purchase land from Mexico because it contained an amendment that prohibited slavery in the purchased territory. After a month-long filibuster, the appropriation passed—but without the antislavery provision.

Filibusters became increasingly common in the decades after the Civil War, with loquacious senators trying to kill bills on issues ranging from federal silver purchases to black voting rights. In 1903 Benjamin “Pitchfork Ben” Tillman, a South Carolina Democrat, threatened to filibuster all pending legislation unless the Senate paid his state $47,000 that he claimed it was owed for expenditures in—believe it or not—the War of 1812. When the Senate capitulated and approved the appropriation, Rep. Joseph Cannon rose on the floor of the House and demanded that the Senate “change its methods of procedure.” If not, he threatened, the House “backed up by the people, will compel that change.” Cannon’s House colleagues cheered his speech but the Senate, in its lofty majesty, ignored it. It takes more than insults from the House to change Senate rules. In this case, it took World War I.


Mississippi Senator Theodore Bilbo filibustered a 1938 anti-lynching bill to protect “Saxon civilization.” (Library of Congress)

In March 1917—shortly before the United States entered the war—President Woodrow Wilson urged Congress to pass a bill to arm American merchant ships against German submarines. A dozen antiwar senators, led by Wisconsin progressive Robert LaFollette, filibustered the bill and defeated it. Wilson denounced this “little group of willful men” and demanded that the Senate curb filibusters. In the wartime patriotic frenzy, the Senate complied, passing Rule 22, which allowed it to end debate on a bill if two-thirds of senators vote for “cloture.”

The cloture rule provided a method for cutting off filibusters by a small group, but it was powerless against filibusters supported by more than a third of senators, which explains how Southern Democrats were able to use filibusters to kill every meaningful civil rights bill for the next 47 years.

The Southern filibusters were serious, well-organized power plays designed to defeat any attempt to extend equal rights to black people. For decades, the House passed bills to outlaw discrimination and protect the right of black citizens to vote, only to watch the bills killed by filibusters in the Senate. In an era when white mobs frequently lynched black people with impunity, Southern senators used filibusters to defeat anti-lynching bills in 1922, 1935, 1938, 1948 and 1949.

While filibustering to deny rights to minority groups, Southern senators had the gall to tout the filibuster as a tool to protect minority rights—meaning the right of a minority of senators to prevent the majority from voting on civil rights bills.

“Without the filibuster,” said Sen. Theodore Bilbo of Mississippi, “the minority would be at the mercy of the majority.”

“The filibuster is the last defense of reason, the sole defense of minorities,” said Sen. Lyndon Johnson of Texas, while filibustering against a 1949 civil rights bill.

Sen. Millard Tydings of Maryland took the argument even further: “It was cloture,” he said, “that crucified Christ on the cross.”

Not surprisingly, the longest solo filibuster in history was an anti–civil rights monologue. It came in 1957, when Lyndon Johnson was the Senate majority leader. Johnson wanted to become president but he calculated that he could never win the Democratic nomination if he was associated with the Senate’s infamous filibusters. So he carefully crafted a civil rights bill so toothless that his Southern colleagues agreed not to filibuster against it. But one senator broke that agreement—Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, who was worried about reelection.

On August 28, 1957, Thurmond took a steam bath to dehydrate his body so it could absorb liquids without requiring a bathroom break. Armed with malt tablets and bits of cooked hamburger and diced pumpernickel, he began talking at 8:54 p.m., and he didn’t stop for the next 24 hours and 18 minutes. He read the voting laws of all 48 states and quoted George Washington’s Farewell Address, but he forgot to mention that 35 years earlier he had impregnated his parents’ 16-year-old black maid, and consequently one of the people he was fighting to keep segregated was his daughter.

Thurmond’s marathon broke the filibuster record set by Sen. Wayne Morse in 1953, when the Oregon maverick denounced an oil bill for 22 hours and 26 minutes. “I salute him,” Morse said of Thurmond. “It takes a lot out of a man to talk so long.”

But Thurmond’s Southern colleagues didn’t salute. They were livid when Strom’s publicity stunt sparked a barrage of phone calls and telegrams from angry segregationists back home, who demanded to know why they weren’t helping Thurmond fight for white supremacy.

“If I had undertaken a filibuster for personal political aggrandizement,” said Richard Russell of Georgia, the leader of the Southern caucus, “I would have forever reproached myself for being guilty of a form of treason against the South.”

Seven years later, in 1964, President Johnson committed his own “treason against the South” by supporting a strong civil rights bill. Again, Southern senators tried to kill the bill by filibuster, but times had changed. American television viewers had watched Southern cops attacking nonviolent black protestors with nightsticks, dogs and fire hoses, and civil rights had become the moral issue of the age.

On March 30, as the Southerners started filibustering, CBS News reporter Roger Mudd began filing bulletins from the steps of the Capitol several times a day, standing next to a clock that ticked off the days and hours of the filibuster. The clock reached day 57—June 10—when Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia finished his 14-hour anti–civil rights speech, and then the Senate finally voted on a cloture motion. The motion required 67 votes—two-thirds of the Senate—and everyone knew it would be close.

A Senate clerk called the roll. “Mr. Aiken.”

Two navy corpsmen wheeled Sen. Clair Engle, a California Democrat, down the center aisle. Engle was dying of brain cancer and his voice was too weak to be heard. Slowly, painfully, he lifted his hand and pointed to his eye.

“Mr. Engle votes ‘aye,’” said the clerk.

The “ayes” won. For the first time in history, the Senate voted to break a filibuster on a civil rights bill. Nine days later, the Senate passed the landmark law that ended segregation.

The filibuster was tainted by its connection to Southern racism, but after 1964, it became just another legislative tactic, used by all kinds of senators for all kinds of reasons. For starters, in 1968 a bipartisan filibuster defeated President Lyndon Johnson’s nomination of Abe Fortas as chief justice of the Supreme Court.

In 1975 the Senate changed the number of votes needed for cloture from 67 to 60. Two years later, a pair of senators opposed to a natural gas deregulation bill tried to kill it with a “post-cloture filibuster”—bringing up scores of amendments and demanding time-consuming roll call votes on each. After 13 days of mind-numbing tedium, Robert Byrd, who was then Senate majority leader, thwarted the filibuster with a complex parliamentary maneuver, and the bill passed.

In 1987 Republicans defeated seven cloture votes to kill a Democratic campaign finance reform bill. When Democrats brought up the bill again in 1988, Republicans launched another filibuster. “We are ready to go all night,” said Republican Whip Alan Simpson of Wyoming. “We will have our sturdy SWAT teams and people on vitamin pills and colostomy bags and Lord knows what else.”

During the long night, Republican senators boycotted a roll call vote and in their absence, Democrats voted to command the Senate sergeant-at-arms to “arrest the absent Senators and bring them to the Chamber.” Sergeant-at-Arms Henry Giugni found Republican Robert Packwood of Oregon in his office and arrested him. Packwood insisted that he be carried into the Senate chamber—and at 1:17 a.m., he was. Despite the theatrics, the Republicans still killed the bill. “The events of the last 48 hours,” noted Republican Warren Rudman of New Hampshire, “were a curious blend of ‘Dallas,’ ‘Dynasty,’ ‘The Last Buccaneer’ and Friday Night Fights.”

That filibuster was a team effort others were solo performances. In 1981 William Proxmire, a Wisconsin Democrat, spoke for 16 hours and 12 minutes to protest the fact that the national debt had reached a trillion dollars. (Now it’s over 12 trillion.) In 1986 Alphonse D’Amato, a New York Republican, spoke for 23 hours and 30 minutes to protest a defense bill that failed to fund a warplane made in his home state. In 1992 D’Amato spoke for 15 hours and 14 minutes against a bill that he claimed would hurt a New York typewriter company. (In both years, perhaps not coincidently, D’Amato faced tough reelection battles.)

The number of filibusters has soared since 1986, which might be connected to the fact that the Senate began televising its debates that year. Since then, senators from both parties have defeated judicial nominations by filibustering—or threatening to filibuster. This now occurs so often that it has become a ritual: When Democrats threaten to filibuster, Republicans demand “a simple up-or-down vote.” When Republicans threaten to filibuster, Democrats demand an up-or-down vote.

Whatever their party affiliation, critics of the filibuster are undeniably correct: The tactic is intrinsically undemocratic. But so is the Senate itself—a legislative body in which every state gets two votes whether it contains 550,000 people, like Wyoming, or 36 million, like California.

The Senate could end all filibusters by simply voting to amend its rules. Periodically, a senator proposes such a change, but the proposal inevitably fails because deep down, senators love the filibuster. They love it for two reasons. The high-minded reason was summed up by Sen. Byrd in 1989: “The framers of the Constitution thought of the Senate as the safeguard against hasty and unwise action by the House.” The less high-minded reason was summed up by Senate historian Donald Ritchie in 2010: “Asking a senator to speak for a long time isn’t a punishment. They love to do that.”

And so the filibuster goes on. And on. And on. Occasionally it gets downright bizarre. I witnessed one of those occasions on November 12, 2003, when I was covering the Senate for the Washington Post. Democrats were threatening to filibuster against four of George W. Bush’s judicial nominees. In response, Republicans concocted a wacky new tactic—the anti-filibuster filibuster. For more than 30 hours—all of one night and deep into the next—the Republicans filibustered to protest the Democrats’ plan to filibuster.

This anti-filibuster filibuster incensed Democrat Harry Reid of Nevada so much that he protested against it by—yes, you guessed it!—filibustering. He denounced the anti-filibuster filibuster for eight solid hours. Reid’s speech was the Senate’s first anti-anti-filibuster filibuster—and it included recipes for goulash, advice on how to keep rabbits out of the garden and a dramatic reading of six chapters of his book about his boyhood hometown of Searchlight.

It made for a long, absurd, surreal spectacle, and those of us who witnessed it will never forget it, no matter how hard we try.

Peter Carlson writes our Encounter column. His latest book is K Blows Top.


Theodore Bilbo, a Mississippi Disgrace

Theodore Bilbo, the Mississippi demagogue and likely KKK member, committed his public service tenure to preserving segregation and used all power at his disposal to prevent African Americans from attaining equal civil and political rights. Bilbo, along with other Southern senators, embarked on one of the Senate’s longest filibusters to prevent passage of an anti-lynching bill, saying (on the Senate floor!) “If you succeed in the passage of this bill, you will open the floodgates of hell in the South. Raping, mobbing, lynching, race riots, and crime will be increased a thousandfold and upon your garments and the garments of those who are responsible for the passage of the measure will be the blood of the raped and outraged daughters of Dixie, as well as the blood of the perpetrators of these crimes that the red-blooded AngloSaxon white Southern men will not tolerate.”

In that same speech, Bilbo first dabbled with an idea to return all 12 million blacks to Africa. He introduced legislation to achieve that goal in 1938 and continued pushing for this “repatriation” during the Second World War. Upon the war’s completion, he added a new target for his vitriol: Jews. Defeating Nazism apparently didn’t defeat anti-Semitism at home.

Writing to Leonard Golditch, executive secretary of the National Committee to Combat Anti-Semitism, Bilbo ranted that “there are five million Jews in the United States and the majority of them are fine public citizens, but if Jews of your type don’t quit sponsoring and fraternizing with the Negro race you are going to arouse so much opposition that they will get a very strong invitation to pack up and resettle in Palestine, the homeland of the Jews, just as we propose to provide for the voluntary resettlement of the American Negro in West Africa their fatherland. Now do not pop-off and say I am in favor of sending the Jews to Palestine. What I am trying to say to you is that there are just a few of you New York ‘kikes’ that are fraternizing and socializing with the Negroes for selfish and political and if you keep it up you will arouse the opposition of the better class of your race.”

Perhaps most shocking and stomach-churning, Theodore Bilbo published a book in 1946 entitled “Take Your Choice: Separation or Mongrelization.” The racist manifesto furthered his efforts to popularize deporting all blacks to Africa, preying on racial anxieties and pointing to the “scientific” inferiority of blacks to argue that commingling of the races – which would lead to interracial marriages – would destroy white civilization. His own words best exemplify the true depths of his hatred and ignorance: “The experiences and history of thousands of years prove that whenever and wherever the white and black man have tried to live side by side the result has been mongrelization which has destroyed both races and left a brown mongrel people.”

For more on Theodore Bilbo and the role he played in the Senate, read Robert Caro’s incredible “Master of the Senate,” the third volume of his series on Lyndon B. Johnson.

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Robert Taft (R-OH, 1939-1953)

The son of President Howard Taft, Robert Taft made his name as a staunch conservative and opponent to the New Deal, which he labelled “socialist.” Taft’s opposition to Roosevelt and Democratic initiatives included arguing against American involvement in World War II prior to the Japanese attack on pearl Harbor. A staunch non-interventionist, Taft fought against all efforts to aid countries at war with Nazi Germany – his leadership in the cause pushed Roosevelt into acting without Congress, finding ways around the legislative branch to help victims of German aggression. After the war, Taft remained suspicious of, and hoped to demolish, NATO. He also condemned the Nuremberg Trials that sought to prosecute leading Nazis for crimes against humanity during the Holocaust.


Tag: Theodore Bilbo

Note: In Part 6, we began to record some historical facts Democrats have hidden from the public or effectively encouraged the public to ignore. We added to the list in Part 7, and this week, in Part 8, we complete it. The list contains 33 items. It isn’t exhaustive by any means, but it is thorough and very informative. It’s available on a single page here.

Links to all the articles in this series are available here.

The second Sunday after a congregation had welcomed a new pastor into its midst, churchgoers noticed he preached the very same sermon he’d given a week earlier. The next week, he preached the same sermon yet again. When his people asked him why he was doing this, the pastor replied, “When you begin to apply the principles in this sermon, I’ll be happy to move on to the next one.”

As we continue adding items to our list of historical truths Democrats conveniently overlook, some may feel we are being repetitious, even though we’ve been adding new items every week. Unlike the new preacher who kept preaching the same sermon, I believe you’re getting it. Democrats, generally speaking, have rewritten history and are overlooking their own racist past. There are exceptions, but overall, Democrats have a history that upholds racism.

The eleventh item on our list (see last week’s post) highlighted Republican attempts to make lynching a federal crime in 1922, 1923, and 1924—and Democrat efforts to thwart them. Southern Democrats in the US Senate successfully filibustered the bill. Looking back a few years may shed some light on why these Democrats’ efforts could succeed.

Historical Truths Democrats Have Successfully Concealed

Twelfth, Woodrow Wilson, the 28 th President of the United States from 1913 to 1921, was a Democrat who promoted and adopted racist policies and who glorified the Ku Klux Klan. Under Wilson, the federal government resegregated numerous agencies in the US government. Yes, resegregated. Integration had taken place during Reconstruction decades before Wilson took office. Wilson “brought with him an administration loaded with white supremacists who segregated offices and removed black men from political appointments.” In 1914 President Wilson defended these policies, saying this:

Segregation is not humiliating but a benefit, and ought to be so regarded by you gentlemen. If your organization goes out and tells the colored people of the country that it is a humiliation, they will so regard it, but if you do not tell them so, and regard it rather as a benefit, they will regard it the same. The only harm that will come will be if you cause them to think it is a humiliation… If this organization is ever to have another hearing before me it must have another spokesman. Your manner offends me…

Of course, Wilson’s policies affected people on a personal level. One man affected was John Abraham Davis. John Davis was a hard worker and excelled in school. Not long after graduating from high school in 1882 he landed a job at the Government Printing Office in Washington, DC. His job became his career. John was rewarded for his hard work with promotions and pay increases, and by 1908 he had a very respectable income as well as a home in the nation’s capital and a farm in a nearby state. Everything changed for John after Wilson took office. He was demoted, then sent from one department to another to do jobs that required little skill or experience. In the end he wound up delivering messages in the War Department, but that job paid only about half of what he had been earning in 1908. John was forced to sell the farm, and by 1917 his spirit had been crushed. He’d live for eleven more years but could not recover from the humiliation and economic ruin Wilson’s racist policies had brought upon him. Not surprisingly, other black men in government jobs had similar experiences.

Moreover, Woodrow Wilson spoke glowingly of the Ku Klux Klan. In 1901 in his book, A History of the American People, Volume IX, Wilson wrote, “Those who loved mastery and adventure directed the work of the Ku Klux.” He also wrote, “The white men of the South were aroused by the mere instinct of self-preservation to rid themselves, by fair means or foul, of the intolerable burden of governments sustained by the votes of ignorant negroes and conducted in the interest of adventurers.” The quote inspired this frame in the racist movie The Birth of a Nation, a silent movie directed by by D. W. Griffith and released in 1915. The film was successful and was a factor leading to a resurgence of the Klan, which also took place in 1915.

On another issue, Wilson is seen today as a leader promoting women’s suffrage. Not so fast! He and other Democrats actually had no choice but to go along with passage of the Nineteenth Amendment after landslide wins for Republicans in Congress in the election of 1918. On May 21, 1919, the Nineteenth Amendment passed the House of Representatives. The vote was 304-89. Ninety-one percent of Republicans but just 59 percent of Democrats voted for it. The Senate passed the amendment on June 4 of the same year by a vote of 56-25. Eighty-two percent of Republicans but just 41 percent of Democrats voted for it. On to the states it went, and Tennessee became the 36 th state to ratify the amendment on August 26, 1920. Tom Wrutz writes, “Of the 36 states to ratify the 19 th Amendment, 26 were Republican states [states with Republican legislatures].”

Suffragist demonstration in 1913 in Washington, DC

Thirteenth, the Democrat Convention in 1924 was called Klanbake because of the controversy that swirled around it involving the Ku Klux Klan. No political convention in US history has lasted as long as did this one. From June 24 to July 9, 1924, delegates cast a total of 103 ballots before officially nominating John W. Davis and Charles W. Bryan to run for president and vice-president, respectively. They would be defeated by Calvin Coolidge and Charles G. Dawes in November.

Going into the convention, observers probably would have put their money on either Al Smith of New York or William Gibbs McAdoo, who had served as the Secretary of the Treasury in the Wilson administration and who would go on to serve as a Democrat US Senator from California. Davis became the compromise candidate.

Not all Democrats supported the revived KKK, and some wanted the party’s platform to condemn Klan for its violent activities. A plank was proposed. Pro-Klan delegates opposed Al Smith’s candidacy (Smith was a Catholic) and supported the candidacy of his chief opponent, William McAdoo (a Protestant). The convention was deeply divided. Writing about the proceedings, Randy Dotinga seasons his report with quotes from Robert K. Murray, a historian.

The vicious KKK debate finally ended in a chaotic two-hour vote that produced the most “prolonged pandemonium in an American political gathering.”

“The delegates engaged in fist fights, arguments, name calling, wrestling matches, and brawls, while the galleries howled and stomped their feet.” The fighting veered toward a riot that was only averted when 1,000 NYC cops hurried to the scene.

Debate over adopting the anti-Klan plank was fierce. In the end, the plank was rejected by a vote of 546.15 to 542.85. In Celebration, “tens of thousands of hooded Klansmen rallied in a field in New Jersey, across the river from New York City. This event…was also attended by hundreds of Klan delegates to the convention, who burned crosses, urged violence and intimidation against African Americans and Catholics, and attacked effigies of Smith.”

Fourteenth, Democrat Hugo Black, who was a US Senator from Alabama from 1927 to 1937, was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. After being elected to his seat in the Senate in 1926, Black spoke to a KKK gathering and thanked them for their support:

This passport which you have given me is a symbol to me of the passport which you have given me before. I do not feel that it would be out of place to state to you her on this occasion that I know that without the support of the members of this organization I would not have been called, even by my enemies, the “Junior Senator from Alabama.”

As a US Senator, Black strongly opposed anti-lynching legislation, even when the sponsors of the bill also were Democrats.

In 1935 Black led a filibuster of the Wagner-Costigan anti-lynching bill. The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reported that when a motion to end the fillibuster was defeated “[t]he southerners- headed by Tom Connally of Texas and Hugo Black of Alabama—grinned at each other and shook hands.”

Fifteenth, Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointed Hugo Black to the Supreme Court in 1937. He was an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court from August 19, 1937 until just September 17, 1971, just days before his death. Shortly after Black became an Associate Justice, reporter Ray Sprigle of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote a story disclosing Black’s involvement in the KKK. The report caused quite a stir, and Sprigle won a Pulitzer Prize for his work. As a Supreme Court Justice, Black “went on to reintroduce America to the long-dormant phrase ‘separation of church and state, twisting its meaning. Black also wrote the majority opinion that deemed internment camps in the United States constitutional in 1944.”

Sixteenth, in 1938, during a filibuster of the Wagner-Van Nuys anti-lynching bill—a bill, by the way, bearing the names of two Democrat senators, Robert Wagner and Frederick Van Nuys— Mississippi Senator Theodore Bilbo, also a Democrat, declared,

If you succeed in the passage of this bill, you will open the floodgates of hell in the South. Raping, mobbing, lynching, race riots, and crime will be increased a thousandfold and upon your garments and the garments of those who are responsible for the passage of the measure will be the blood of the raped and outraged daughters of Dixie, as well as the blood of the perpetrators of these crimes that the red-blooded Anglo-Saxon White Southern men will not tolerate.

Seventeenth, in 1941, Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointed James Byrmes to the US Supreme Court. Byrmes was a segregationist who in 1919 said, “This is a white man’s country, and will always remain a white man’s country.”

Eighteenth, FDR committed racist acts and failed to defend races who were vulnerable.

  • In 1942, internment camps were established by Executive Order 9066 to house American citizens descended from Japanese and Japanese expatriates.
  • Jesse Owens had defied the propaganda of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany by winning four gold medals on German soil, at the Berlin Olympics of 1936. After the games, FDR invited only the white athletes to meet with him. Of course, Owens received no such invitation.

FDR invited only white athletes to meet with him following the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

  • While Roosevelt was critical of lynching, he would not support a federal anti-lynching law. He said Southern Democrats, especially Senators, would retaliate by blocking other bills Roosevelt supported that were essential for the country’s survival: “If I come out for the anti-lynching bill now, they will block every bill I ask Congress to pass to keep America from collapsing. I just can’t take that risk.”
  • FDR also has been accused of not doing enough to help the Jews during the Holocaust and World War 2.

Ninteenth, evangelist Billy Graham led a crusade in Jackson, Mississippi in 1952. Graham’s policy was clear regarding race—members of all races would be welcome at his events. Mississippi Democrat Governor Hugh White didn’t like the policy and asked Graham to schedule different services for white and black audiences. Graham refused, although he did, at the Jackson Crusade, allow segregated seating. Several months later, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Graham vehemently resisted the call for segregated seating. In Jackson, Graham proclaimed, “There is no scriptural basis for segregation. It may be there are places where such is desirable to both races, but certainly not in the church. The ground at the foot of the cross is level.…[I]t touches my heart when I see whites stand shoulder to shoulder with blacks at the cross.”

Twentieth, In 1956, a document was drafted in the US Congress called “The Declaration of Constitutional Principles” or simply the “Southern Manifesto.” In it, 101 political leaders expressed their opposition to racial integration in public facilities and venues, including schools. Ninety-nine of the leaders were Democrats and two were Republicans. One signatory to the document was J. William Fulbright, Senator from Arkansas and eventual mentor to Bill Clinton. Fulbright has been described as a racist, a “notorious segregationist,” pro-communist, and anti-Semitic. Recently, “the famous Fulbright fellowship…[was] renamed…the “J. William Fulbright–Hillary Rodham Clinton Fellowship.”

Former Democrat Arkansas Senator J. William Fulbright has been described as a racist, a “notorious segregationist,” pro-communist, and anti-Semitic. Recently, “the famous Fulbright fellowship…[was] renamed…the “J. William Fulbright–Hillary Rodham Clinton Fellowship.”

Twenty-first, Bruce Bartlett, author of Wrong on Race: The Democratic Party’s Buried Past,” explains that Republican President Dwight Eisenhower repeated his call for civil rights legislation in his 1957 State of the Union address. Previously, the legislation had passed in the House but had died in the Senate because of opposition from Southern Democrats. Lyndon B. Johnson was the Senate’s Majority Leader. Opponents of the legislation were looking to him to oppose it, just as he had in the past. (While a congressman, Johnson had called President Harry Truman’s civil rights initiative “a farce and a sham—an effort to set up a police state in the guise of liberty. I am opposed to that program. I have voted against the so-called poll tax repeal bill…I have voted against the so-called anti-lynching bill.”) Johnson, however, wanted to become president. Bartlett continues,

After dragging his feet on the civil rights bill throughout much of 1957, Johnson finally came to the conclusion that the tide had turned in favor of civil rights and he needed to be on the right side of the issue if he hoped to become president.…

At the same time, the Senate’s master tactician and principal opponent of the civil rights bill, Democrat Richard B. Russell of Georgia, saw the same handwriting on the wall but came to a different conclusion. He realized that the support was no longer there for an old-fashioned Democrat filibuster.…So Russell adopted a different strategy this time of trying to amend the civil rights bill so as to minimize its impact. Behind the scenes, Johnson went along with Russell’s strategy of not killing the civil rights bill, but trying to neuter it as much as possible.…

Eisenhower was disappointed at not being able to produce a better piece of legislation. “I wanted a much stronger civil rights bill in 󈧽 than I could get,” he later lamented. “But the Democrats…wouldn’t let me have it.”

Johnson explained his approach this way:

These Negroes, they’re getting pretty uppity these days and that’s a problem for us since they’ve got something now they never had before, the political pull to back up their uppityness. Now we’ve got to do something about this, we’ve got to give them a little something, just enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference. For if we don’t move at all, then their allies will line up against us and there’ll be no way of stopping them, we’ll lose the filibuster and there’ll be no way of putting a brake on all sorts of wild legislation. It’ll be Reconstruction all over again.

Forgive the language—I’m just reporting what was said. On Air Force One, President Johnson was speaking to two like-minded governors and explaining some of the benefits Democrats would reap from his “Great Society” programs. Johnson said, “I’ll have those niggars voting Democrat for the next 200 years.”

Twenty-second, In 1958, Billy Graham planned a rally on the steps of South Carolina’s capitol building. South Carolina Democrat Governor George Timmerman objected and successfully nixed the plans to hold the rally at the capitol. Graham was viewed as an “integrationist.” In fact, the KKK had listed Billy Graham as one of their targets in 1957. Governor Timmerman said, “There is, in fact, no reason to select the State House unless the real purpose is to capitalize, for propaganda, purposes, on the appearance of a widely known advocate of desegregation. It is Graham’s endorsement of desegregation that has brought him front-page acclaim.” Brig. General Christian H. Clark helped make Fort Jackson, which was a federal venue, available, and the rally was held there. As many as 60,000 people of different races attended, and the meeting was “described at the time as the largest turnout for a non-sporting event in state history.”

Twenty-third, in 1962 George C. Wallace, then a Democrat, was elected Governor of Alabama. He was inaugurated on January 14, 1963.

In his inauguration speech he proclaimed, “In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!”

Twenty-fourth, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Republican.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivering his “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC on August 28, 1963
The top image is a photo of the crowd attending that event.

Twenty-fifth, Contrary to the assumptions of many today, Republicans passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

  • In the House of Representatives, 80 percent of Republicans voted for the measure, while just 61 percent of Democrats voted for it.
  • In the Senate, Republicans were at last able to end a filibuster brought by Democrats. Eighty-two percent of Republicans supported cloture along with just 66 percent of Democrats.
  • In the vote on the legislation itself, 82 percent of Republicans and 69 percent of Democrats gave their support.

Twenty-sixth, Surprise, surprise! The Voting Rights Act of 1965 also became law largely because of Republicans.

  • Ninety-four percent of Republicans in the US Senate supported the Voting Rights Act, contrasted to 73 percent of Democrats.
  • When the Senate voted on the final version of the bill from the House, one lone Republican Senator opposed it, along with 17 Democrats.
  • In the House of Representatives, 82 percent of Republicans and 78 percent of Democrats voted for the legislation.

Republican Illinois Senator Everett Dirksen was a co-author of the legislation, and he strategized against opposition brought by Democrats. He said, “There has to be a real remedy. There has to be something durable and worthwhile. This cannot go on forever, this denial of the right to vote by ruses and devices and tests and whatever the mind can contrive to either make it very difficult or to make it impossible to vote.”

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 became law largely because of the work of Republicans.

Twenty-seventh, Lester Maddox was elected governor of Georgia in 1970 and was a Democrat at the time. An ardent segregationist, Maddox once said, “That’s part of American greatness, is discrimination. Yes, sir. Inequality, I think, breeds freedom and gives a man opportunity.”

Twenty-eighth, In 1989, the NAACP sued three state officials, including then-Arkansas Democrat Governor Bill Clinton, under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a federal statute. According to the Arkansas Gazette on December 6, 1989, “Plaintiffs offered plenty of proof of monolithic voting along racial lines, intimidation of black voters and candidates and other official acts that made voting harder for blacks.” The paper also said that “the evidence at the trial was indeed overwhelming that the Voting Rights Act had been violated.” The court ordered the redrawing of electoral districts to enhance the strength of votes from the black community.

Writing at nationalreview.com, Deroy Murdock reports,

During his 12-year tenure, Governor Clinton never approved a state civil-rights law. However, he did issue birthday proclamations honoring Confederate leaders Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee. He also signed Act 116 in 1987. That statute reconfirmed that the star directly above the word “Arkansas” in the state flag “is to commemorate the Confederate States of America.” Arkansas also observed Confederate Flag Day every year Clinton served. The governor’s silence was consent.

Also, examples of merchandise from Bill Clinton’s presidential run in 1992 have appeared that reflect Confederate sympathies.

Twenty-ninth, As a presidential candidate in 2000, Al Gore declared to the NAACP that his father was voted out of office after voting for the Civil Rights Act in 1964. The Senior Gore, however, opposed the Civil Rights Act and voted against it. In 1970, Gore, Sr. lost to Republican Bill Brock in a contest that centered on the Supreme Court, the war in Viet Nam, and prayer in public schools. Also in 2000, Gore claimed to have worked to increase diversity among those who followed him every day, including the Secret Service but blacks in the Secret Service were suing Gore because they “were not being promoted to positions guarding the Vice-President.”

Thirtieth, in a National Review article titled “Whitewashing the Democratic Party’s History,” Mona Charen writes, “As recently as 2010, the Senate’s president pro tempore was former Ku Klux Klan Exalted Cyclops Robert Byrd (D., W.Va.).” Go here to learn more about this KKK role.

During World War 2, Byrd wrote, “I shall never fight in the armed forces with a Negro by my side. … Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds.” Go here to view a brief timeline of Byrd’s actions with regard to race relations.

Thirty-first, Barak Obama has increased racial tensions in this country since becoming president. One glaring manifestation of this truth that if you’re opposed to his policies, you’re accused of racism. Check out articles here, here, here, and here.

This president is the most racist president there has ever been in America. He is purposely trying to use race to divide Americans.
—Ben Stein, speaking of President Barak Obama—

Thirty-second and finally, Hillary Clinton apparently has garnered support from people willing to embrace the Confederate flag (also go here). While a candidate can’t control who supports him or her, the candidate can disavow attitudes of prominent supporters with whom he or she disagrees.

Hillary Clinton does not have the best track record with regard to race, especially when one considers her husband’s policies when he was Governor of Arkansas. Yet she has been quick to accuse Republicans of racism.

In fact, accusations of racism among Republicans has become a Democrat mantra.

You see, Democrats don’t just rewrite the past, they misrepresent the present, too.


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