The States' Rights Democratic Party (usually called the Dixiecrats) was a short-lived segregationist political party in the United States. It originated in 1948 as a breakaway faction of the Democratic Party determined to protect states' rights to legislate racial segregation from what its members regarded as an oppressive federal government. Supporters assumed control of the state Democratic parties in part or in full in several Southern states. The Party opposed racial integration and wanted to retain Jim Crow laws and white supremacy in the face of possible federal intervention. Its members were referred to as "Dixiecrats", a portmanteau of "Dixie", referring to the Southern United States, and "Democrat".
The party did not run local or state candidates, and after the 1948 election its leaders generally returned to the Democratic Party. The Dixiecrats had little short-run impact on politics. However, they did have a long-term impact. The Dixiecrats began the weakening of the "Solid South" (the Democratic Party's total control of presidential elections in the South).
The term "Dixiecrat" is sometimes used by Northern Democrats to refer to conservative Southern Democrats from the 1940s to the 1990s, regardless of where they stood in 1948.
States' Rights Democratic Party (Dixiecrats)
|Split from||Democratic Party|
|Merged into||Democratic Party|
|Political position||Right-wing to far-right|
By the 1870s, the conservative voters of southern United States were heavily voting Democratic in national and presidential elections, and apart from minor pockets of Republican electoral strength in Appalachia plus Gillespie and Kendall Counties of central Texas, forming what was known as the "Solid South". The social and economic systems of the Solid South were based on Jim Crow, a combination of legal and informal segregation acts that made blacks second-class citizens with little or no political power anywhere within the southern United States.
Three-time Democratic Party presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan opposed a highly controversial resolution at the 1924 Democratic National Convention condemning the Ku Klux Klan, expecting the organization would soon fold. Bryan disliked the Klan but never publicly attacked it.
In the 1930s a realignment occurred courtesy of the New Deal under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. While many of the Democratic Party members in the southern United States had shifted toward favoring economic intervention, their own recognition of full civil rights for Black Americans was not yet incorporated within the New Deal agenda, as Southerners controlled many of the key positions of power within the U.S. Congress.
With the entry of the United States into the Second World War, Jim Crow was indirectly challenged as two million Black Americans would serve in the U.S. military during World War II, receiving equal pay while serving within segregated units, and becoming equally entitled to receive veterans' benefits from the United States government. Tens of thousands of black civilians at home were recruited in the labor-starved war industries across many urban centers in the country, mainly due to the promotion of Executive Order 8802, which required defense industries not to discriminate based on ethnicity or race.
Members of the Republican Party (nominating Governor of New York Thomas E. Dewey in 1944 and 1948), along with many Democrats from the northern and western states, supported civil rights legislation that the Deep South Democrats in Congress almost unanimously opposed.
After Roosevelt died, the new president Harry Truman established a highly visible President's Committee on Civil Rights and issued Executive Order 9981 to end discrimination in the military in 1948. A group of Southern governors such as Strom Thurmond of South Carolina and Fielding L. Wright of Mississippi met to consider the place of Southerners within the Democratic Party. After a tense meeting with DNC chairman and Truman confidant J. Howard McGrath, the Southern governors agreed to convene their own convention in Birmingham if Truman and civil rights supporters emerged victorious at the 1948 Democratic National Convention. In July, the convention re-nominated Truman and adopted a plank proposed by Northern liberals led by Hubert Humphrey calling for civil rights; 35 southern delegates walked out. The move was on to remove Truman's name from the ballot in the southern United States. This political maneuvering required the organization of a new and distinct political party, which the Southern defectors from the Democratic Party chose to brand as the States' Rights Democratic Party.
Just days after the 1948 Democratic National Convention, the States' Rights Democrats held their own convention at Municipal Auditorium in Birmingham, Alabama on July 17. While several leaders from the Deep South such as Strom Thurmond and James Eastland attended, most major Southern Democrats did not attend the conference. Among those absent were Georgia Senator Richard Russell, Jr., who had finished with the second most delegates in the Democratic presidential ballot.
Prior to their own States' Rights Democratic Party convention, it was not clear whether the Dixiecrats would seek to field their own candidate or simply try to prevent Southern electors from voting for Truman. Many in the press predicted that if the Dixiecrats did nominate a ticket, Arkansas Governor Benjamin Travis Laney would be the presidential nominee and South Carolina Governor Strom Thurmond or Mississippi Governor Fielding L. Wright would be the vice presidential nominee. Laney traveled to Birmingham during the convention, but he ultimately decided that he did not want to join a third party and remained in his hotel during the convention. Thurmond himself had doubts about a third-party bid, but party organizers convinced him to accept the party's nomination, with Fielding Wright as his running mate. Wright's supporters had hoped that Wright would lead the ticket, but Wright deferred to Thurmond, who had greater national stature. The selection of Thurmond received fairly positive reviews from the national press, as Thurmond had pursued relatively moderate policies on civil rights and did not employ the fiery rhetoric used by other segregationist leaders.
The States' Rights Democrats did not formally declare themselves as being a new third party, but rather said that they were only "recommending" that state Democratic Parties vote for the Thurmond-Wright ticket. The goal of the party was to win the 127 electoral votes of the Solid South in the hopes of throwing the election to the Representatives. Once in the House, the Dixiecrats hoped to throw their support to whichever party would agree to their segregationist demands. Even if the Republicans won an outright majority of electoral votes (as many expected in 1948), the Dixiecrats hoped that their third-party run would help the South retake its dominant position in the Democratic Party. In implementing their strategy, the States' Rights Democrats faced a complicated set of state election laws, with different states having different processes for choosing presidential electors. The States' Rights Democrats eventually succeeded in making the Thurmond-Wright ticket the official Democratic ticket in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina. In other states, they were forced to run as a third-party ticket.
In numbers greater than the 6,000 that attended the first, the States' Rights Democrats held a boisterous second convention in Oklahoma City, on August 14, 1948, where they adopted their party platform which stated:
We stand for the segregation of the races and the racial integrity of each race; the constitutional right to choose one's associates; to accept private employment without governmental interference, and to earn one's living in any lawful way. We oppose the elimination of segregation, the repeal of miscegenation statutes, the control of private employment by Federal bureaucrats called for by the misnamed civil rights program. We favor home-rule, local self-government and a minimum interference with individual rights.
The platform went on to say:
We call upon all Democrats and upon all other loyal Americans who are opposed to totalitarianism at home and abroad to unite with us in ignominiously defeating Harry S. Truman, Thomas E. Dewey and every other candidate for public office who would establish a Police Nation in the United States of America.
In Arkansas, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Sid McMath vigorously supported Truman in speeches across the state, much to the consternation of the sitting governor, Benjamin Travis Laney, an ardent Thurmond supporter. Laney later used McMath's pro-Truman stance against him in the 1950 gubernatorial election, but McMath won re-election handily.
Efforts by States' Rights Democrats to paint other Truman loyalists as turncoats generally failed, although the seeds of discontent were planted which in years to come took their toll on Southern moderates.
On election day 1948, the Thurmond-Wright ticket carried the previously solid Democratic states of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina, receiving 1,169,021 popular votes and 39 electoral votes. Progressive Party nominee Henry A. Wallace drew off a nearly equal number of popular votes (1,157,172) from the Democrats' left wing, although he did not carry any states. The splits in the Democratic Party in the 1948 election had been expected to produce a victory by GOP nominee Dewey, but Truman defeated Dewey in an upset victory.
The States' Rights Democratic Party dissolved after the 1948 election, as Truman, the Democratic National Committee, and the New Deal Southern Democrats acted to ensure that the Dixiecrat movement would not return in the 1952 presidential election. Some Southern diehards, such as Leander Perez of Louisiana, attempted to keep it in existence in their districts. Former Dixiecrats received some backlash at the 1952 Democratic National Convention, but all Southern delegations were seated after agreeing to a party loyalty pledge. Moderate Alabama Senator John Sparkman was selected as the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 1952, helping to boost party loyalty in the South. Regardless of the power struggle within the Democratic Party concerning segregation policy, the South remained a strongly Democratic voting bloc for local, state, and federal Congressional elections, but increasingly not in presidential elections.
|Year||Pres. candidate / VP||Popular votes||Percentage||Electoral votes|
|1948||Strom Thurmond / Fielding L. Wright||1,175,930 #3||2.4%||39|
The 1900 United States presidential election in South Carolina took place on November 6, 1900. Voters chose nine representatives, or electors, to the Electoral College, who voted for the President and Vice President.
South Carolina overwhelmingly voted for the Democratic nominee, former U.S. Representative and 1896 Democratic presidential nominee William Jennings Bryan, over the Republican nominee, President William McKinley. Bryan won South Carolina by a landslide margin of 85.92% in this rematch of the 1896 presidential election. Despite McKinley’s decisive victory nationwide as a result of the return of economic prosperity and recent victory in the Spanish–American War, South Carolina proved to be his weakest state, due to the nearly complete disfranchisement of the black majority that was the party’s sole support in the state.This would be the last election when the Republican Party won any county in South Carolina until Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952, and the last when any county voted against the Democrats until Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond carried every county bar Anderson and Spartanburg in 1948.1948 Democratic Party vice presidential candidate selection
This article lists those who were potential candidates for the Democratic nomination for Vice President of the United States in the 1948 election. At the 1948 Democratic National Convention, President Harry S. Truman won nomination to a full term. Truman had become president upon the death of his predecessor and 1944 running mate, Franklin D. Roosevelt. As the 25th Amendment had not yet been passed, there was no method for filling a vice presidential vacancy, and Truman served without a vice president during his first term. Truman's nomination faced significant opposition from the South, as did the party's platform on civil rights. Though Truman attempted to convince Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas to join the ticket, Douglas declined. Truman instead selected Senate Minority Leader Alben W. Barkley, the preferred choice of many Democratic delegates, and a border state Senator who could appeal to both the Northern and Southern wings of the party. The Truman-Barkley ticket won the 1948 election, defeating the Republican (Dewey-Warren), Progressive (Wallace-Taylor), and Dixiecrat (Thurmond-Wright) tickets.1948 United States presidential election in Florida
The 1948 United States presidential election in Florida was held on November 2, 1948. Voters chose eight electors, or representatives to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president.1948 United States presidential election in Georgia
The 1948 United States presidential election in Georgia took place on November 2, 1948, as part of the wider United States Presidential election. Voters chose twelve representatives, or electors, to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president.1948 United States presidential election in Louisiana
The 1948 United States presidential election in Louisiana took place on November 2, 1948, as part of the 1948 United States presidential election. Louisiana voters chose ten representatives, or electors, to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president.
Louisiana was won by Governor Strom Thurmond (DX–South Carolina), running with Governor Fielding L. Wright, with 49.07% of the popular vote, against incumbent President Harry S. Truman (D–Missouri), running with Senator Alben W. Barkley, with 32.75% of the popular vote, and Governor Thomas Dewey (R–New York), running with Governor Earl Warren, with 17.45% of the popular vote.1948 United States presidential election in Mississippi
The 1948 United States presidential election in Mississippi took place on November 2, 1948, in Mississippi as part of the wider United States presidential election of 1948.
The Democratic Party candidate, South Carolina governor Strom Thurmond, overwhelmingly won Mississippi against fellow Democrat, incumbent President Harry S. Truman by a margin of 148,154 votes, or 77.08 percent. Although Truman was the national Democratic Party candidate, Thurmond managed to be placed on the ballot in Mississippi, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Alabama as the official Democratic candidate. Outside of these four states, Thurmond was forced to run under the label of the States' Rights Democratic Party. The Republican Party candidate, New York governor Thomas E. Dewey, had no impact on the race in Mississippi, only obtaining 5,043 votes total, or 2.62 percent of the popular vote.1948 United States presidential election in New Mexico
The 1948 United States presidential election in New Mexico took place on November 2, 1948. All 48 States were part of the United States presidential election. New Mexico voters chose four electors to represent them in the Electoral College, which voted for President and Vice President.
New Mexico was won by incumbent President Harry S. Truman, who took the Oval Office after the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Running against Truman was Governor of New York Thomas E. Dewey, who was strongly predicted to win the contest. Dixiecrat candidate Strom Thurmond took portions of the South, but was not even on the ballot in New Mexico and other Western states.
As of the 2016 presidential election, this is the last election in which Union County and Harding County voted for a Democratic presidential candidate.1948 United States presidential election in South Carolina
The 1948 United States presidential election in South Carolina took place on November 2, 1948, as part of the 1948 United States presidential election. State voters chose eight electors to the Electoral College, which selected the president and vice president.
South Carolina was won by States' Rights Democratic candidate Strom Thurmond, defeating the Democratic candidate, incumbent President Harry S. Truman, and New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey.
Thurmond won his native state by a margin of 47.77 percent, making him the first third-party candidate to carry the state since Southern Democrat John C. Breckinridge in 1860.1950 New Orleans mayoral election
The New Orleans mayoral election of 1950 was held on January 24, 1950. It resulted in the re-election of deLesseps Morrison to his second term as Mayor of New Orleans.
Like most Southern states between Reconstruction and the civil rights era, Louisiana's Republican Party was virtually nonexistent in terms of electoral support. This meant that the city's Democratic primary was the real contest for mayor.
Incumbent mayor deLesseps Morrison was backed by labor unions, the major newspapers, and black New Orleanians, but he also publicly maintained his support for segregation on the campaign trail.
After being defeated in the election of 1946, the Regular Democratic Organization political machine was anxious to regain control of the city. After an unsuccessful search for a candidate that briefly included former mayor Robert Maestri, the RDO threw its support behind Charles C. Zatarain, a local businessman and member of the Louisiana Tax Commission. Zatarain also received the endorsement of Governor Earl Long. Though running against Morrison, Zatarain’s platform was largely a watered-down copy of Morrison’s. Zatarain also used racial appeals in his campaign, charging that Morrison planned to build housing for African Americans in Lakeview and Gentilly and circulating photographs of Morrison with black leader Ralph Bunche.
Another minor candidate, Alvin A. Cobb, ran on an explicit Dixiecrat platform that included racial attacks on Morrison’s policies.
In the first primary, Morrison won an overwhelming majority over Zatarain, receiving 64% of the vote and winning every one of the city’s 17 wards. Cobb received 4,751 votes. No runoff was needed. With five of Morrison’s seven candidates for council also winning election, it seemed as though the RDO was irrevocably beaten.1952 United States presidential election in Florida
The 1952 United States presidential election in Florida took place on November 4, 1952, as part of the 1952 United States presidential election. Florida voters chose ten representatives, or electors, to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president.Florida was won by Columbia University President Dwight D. Eisenhower (R–New York), running with Senator Richard Nixon, with 54.99 percent of the popular vote, against Adlai Stevenson (D–Illinois), running with Senator John Sparkman, with 44.97 percent of the popular vote.
In contrast to Herbert Hoover's anti-Catholicism-driven victory in the state in 1928, Eisenhower's victory was entirely concentrated in the newer and more liberal South Florida counties, which had seen extensive Northern settlement since the war, did not have a history of slave-based plantation farming, and saw Eisenhower as more favourable to business than the Democratic Party. Eisenhower swept the urban areas of Miami, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Sarasota and Tampa, but failed to gain much support in the northwestern pineywoods that had been the core of the 1928 "Hoovercrat" bolt. In this region – inhabited by socially exceptionally conservative poor whites who had been voting in increasing numbers since Florida abolished its poll tax – Democratic loyalties dating from the Civil War remained extremely strong and economic populism hostile in general toward urban areas kept voters loyal to Stevenson. Whereas the urban voters who turned to Eisenhower felt wholly disfranchised both locally and nationally by the one-party system and malapportionment, rural poor voters supported the New Deal/Fair Deal status quo.In contrast to the wholly Deep South states of Mississippi, Louisiana and South Carolina, where former Thurmond voters turned to Eisenhower, Florida – although akin to those states in entirely lacking traditional Appalachian, Ozark or German "Forty-Eighter" Republicanism – did not see its 1948 Dixiecrat voters or black belt whites turn over to Eisenhower on a large scale, although they were less loyal than in North Carolina, Texas and Virginia, where traditional Republicanism did exist.
As of the 2016 presidential election, this is the last election in which Collier County voted for a Democratic presidential candidate.1956 United States presidential election in South Carolina
The 1956 United States presidential election in South Carolina took place on November 6, 1956, as part of the 1956 United States presidential election. South Carolina voters chose eight representatives, or electors, to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president.
South Carolina was won by Adlai Stevenson (D–Illinois), running with Senator Estes Kefauver, with 45.37 percent of the popular vote against incumbent President Dwight D. Eisenhower (R–Pennsylvania), running with Vice President Richard Nixon, with 25.18 percent of the popular vote. T. Coleman Andrews, the Dixiecrat candidate, finished second via unpledged electors.The 1956 election in South Carolina marks the only occasion Eisenhower placed third in a state in either of his presidential campaigns, and the second of only three times in the 20th century that an incumbent president had done this badly in any state. As of the 2016 presidential election, this is the last election in which Greenville County voted for a Democratic presidential candidate. It is also the last time that Lexington County was not carried by the Republican candidate.1972 United States presidential election in Idaho
The 1972 United States presidential election in Idaho took place on November 7, 1972, as part of the 1972 United States presidential election. Idaho voters chose four representatives, or electors, to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president.
Idaho was won by incumbent President Richard Nixon (R–California), with 64.2 percent of the popular vote, against George McGovern (D–South Dakota), with 26.0 percent of the popular vote.In a state that would reflect McGovern's national results, the Democratic nominee did not win a single county in Idaho. In fact, John G. Schmitz, running under the "American Independent" banner as a remnant of George Wallace's 1968 campaign, ran second ahead of McGovern in Fremont, Jefferson, Lemhi and Madison Counties. Although due to the salience of the civil rights issue there had occurred numerous cases of unpledged and "Dixiecrat" candidates receiving almost the entire vote of Deep Southern counties, and a smaller number in other antebellum slave states, Schmitz' performances in Jefferson County was the best by a third-party presidential candidate in any non-Southern county since 1936 when William Lemke reached over twenty-eight percent of the vote in the North Dakota counties of Burke, Sheridan and Hettinger. With 9.3% of the popular vote, Idaho would be Schmitz's strongest state in the 1972 election.Nixon was the first Republican to sweep all Idaho's counties since Warren G. Harding in 1920, the first to carry Clearwater and Lewis Counties since Herbert Hoover in 1928, whilst the previous occasion the Republicans had won adjacent Nez Perce County was Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952.Absalom Willis Robertson
Absalom Willis Robertson (May 27, 1887 – November 1, 1971) was an American politician from Virginia who served over 50 years in public office. A member of the Democratic Party and ally of the Byrd Organization led by fellow U.S. Senator Harry F. Byrd, Robertson represented Virginia in the U.S. House of Representatives (1933–1946) and the U.S. Senate (1946–1966), and had earlier served in the Virginia General Assembly. A Dixiecrat or member of the conservative coalition during his congressional career, Robertson was also the father of televangelist Pat Robertson.Eugene Talmadge
Eugene Talmadge (September 23, 1884 – December 21, 1946) was an American Dixiecrat politician who served two terms as the 67th Governor of Georgia from 1933 to 1937, and a third term from 1941 to 1943. Elected to a fourth term in November 1946, he died before his inauguration, scheduled for January 1947. Only Talmadge and Joe Brown, in the mid-19th century, have been elected four times as Governor of Georgia. He is well known for actively promoting segregation, white supremacy, and advocating for racism in the Georgia university system.George P. Mahoney
George Perry Mahoney (December 16, 1901 – March 18, 1989) was an Irish American Catholic building contractor and Democratic Party politician from the State of Maryland. A segregationist Dixiecrat and perennial candidate, Mahoney is perhaps most famous as the Democratic nominee for Governor of Maryland in 1966 in which he used the campaign slogan, "Your home is your castle; protect it."Leven H. Ellis
Leven Handy Ellis (April 6, 1881 – January 4, 1968) was an American politician who served as the 15th Lieutenant Governor of Alabama from 1943 to 1947.
Ellis was born in Nixburg, in Coosa County, Alabama. He obtained a B. Ped degree from Troy Normal School in 1907, and a Bachelor of Law degree from the University of Alabama in 1909. Ellis practiced law in Columbiana, Alabama. He served as a State Senator from 1927-1931, a Representative in the Alabama Legislature from 1936-1943, and a mayor of Columbiana for two terms. In 1948, Ellis served as an Alabama delegate at the Democratic National Convention. After Hubert Humphrey's address, Ellis led 13 members of the Alabama delegation (that was also joined by the entire Mississippi delegation) in a walk out, leading to the creation of the short-lived Dixiecrat political party.Mississippi Democratic Party
The Mississippi Democratic Party is the affiliate of the Democratic Party in the state of Mississippi. The party headquarters is located in the state capital, Jackson, Mississippi.
The party has members and County Executive Committees in all 82 counties of the state. The Mississippi Democratic State Executive Committee is elected by congressional districts: 20 positions from each district.Politics of the Southern United States
The politics of the Southern United States generally refers to the political landscape of the Southern United States. Due to the region's unique cultural and historical heritage, including slavery, the South has been involved in many political issues. Some of these issues include States' rights, Reconstruction, the Civil Rights Movement and social conservatism. From the 1870s to the 1960s, the region was referred to as the Solid South, due to their consistent support for Democrats in all elective offices. As a result, its Congressmen gained seniority across many terms, thus enabling them to control many Congressional committees. In presidential politics, the South began to move away from national Democratic loyalties with the Dixiecrat movement of 1948 and the Barry Goldwater presidential campaign of 1964. Among white Southerners, Democratic loyalties first fell away at the presidential level, followed much later at the state and local levels.Trent Lott
Chester Trent Lott Sr. (born October 9, 1941) is an American politician and author. A former United States Senator from Mississippi, Lott served in numerous leadership positions in both the United States House of Representatives and the Senate. He entered Congress as one of the first of a wave of Republicans winning seats in Southern states that had been solidly Democratic. He became Senate Majority Leader, then stepped down from power after praising Strom Thurmond's 1948 segregationist Dixiecrat presidential bid.
From 1968 to 1972, Lott was an administrative assistant to Representative William M. Colmer of Mississippi, who was also the chairman of the House Rules Committee. Upon Colmer's retirement, Lott won Colmer's former seat in the House of Representatives. In 1988, Lott ran successfully for the U.S. Senate to replace another retiree, John C. Stennis. After Republicans took the majority in the Senate, Lott became Senate Majority Whip in 1995 and then Senate Majority Leader in 1996, upon the resignation of presidential nominee Bob Dole of Kansas.
On December 20, 2002, after significant controversy following comments regarding Strom Thurmond's presidential candidacy, Lott resigned as Senate Minority Leader. He resigned from the Senate in 2007 and fellow Republican Roger Wicker won the 2008 special election to replace him. Lott became a lobbyist, co-founding the Breaux–Lott Leadership Group. The firm was later acquired by law and lobbying firm Patton Boggs. Lott serves as a Senior Fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), where he focuses on issues related to energy, national security, transportation and congressional reforms. Lott is also a co-chair of BPC's Energy Project.