Strom Thurmond, Senior Senator, Dead at 100

S. Carolina Republican Was Oldest Man to Serve in Congress

Strom Thurmond addresses Caucus of Dixie delegates prior to the 1948 Democratic convention, urging them to vote for a southerner for president. Bettman/CORBIS hide caption

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Strom Thurmond 100th Birthday Button

A commemorative button marking Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday. Button courtesy of John Pietrowski hide caption

itoggle caption Button courtesy of John Pietrowski

Retired Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina — who spent nearly half his life in the U.S. Senate — is dead at 100, mere months after leaving office. Thurmond was the longest-serving U.S. senator and the oldest man ever to serve in Congress.

Thurmond began his political career as a Democrat, splitting with President Harry Truman in 1948 to mount a "Dixiecrat" presidential run. He vowed to uphold racial segregation and carried four southern states. He denied his political stances were racist, insisting he sought to uphold constitutional guarantees of states' rights.

Later Thurmond switched to the Republican party, helping drive a wedge into the Democrats' hold on the "solid South." As a senator, he consistently supported the development of American military power, and served on the Senate Judiciary Committee for more than 30 years.

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