From Academic Kids

In its modern connotation (especially 1956-1980), the term "Dixiecrat" is used in reference to Southern Democrats who traditionally vote (or voted) in support of the Democratic Party, but because of social issues, may vote in opposition to the Democratic Party with regard to certain elections and/or candidates. The term is a portmanteau derived from "Dixie", which is a term used to describe the South, and the term "Democrat".


1948 presidential election

The States' Rights Democratic Party was a short-lived splinter group that broke from the Democratic Party in 1948. The States' Rights Democratic Party opposed racial integration and wanted to retain Jim Crow laws and racial segregation. The party slogan was "Segregation Forever!" Members of the States' Rights Democratic Party, were often known as Dixiecrats.

The party was formed after thirty-five delegates from Mississippi and Alabama walked out of the 1948 Democratic National Convention. Even before the convention started, the Southern delegates were upset by President Harry S. Truman's executive order to racially integrate the armed forces. The walkout was prompted by a controversial speech by Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota urging the party to adopt an anti-segregationist plank in the platform.

After President Truman's endorsement of the civil rights plank, Strom Thurmond, governor of South Carolina, helped organize the walkout delegates into a separate party, whose platform was ostensibly concerned with states' rights. The Dixiecrats held their convention in Birmingham, Alabama, where they nominated Thurmond for president and Fielding L. Wright, governor of Mississippi, for vice president. Dixiecrat leaders worked to have Thurmond-Wright declared the "official" Democratic Party ticket in Southern states. They succeeded only in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina; in other states, they were forced to run as a third-party ticket. These included Arkansas, whose governor-elect, Sid McMath, a young prosecutor and decorated World War II Marine veteran, vigorously supported Truman in speeches across the region, much to the consternation of the sitting governor, Ben Laney, an ardent Thurmond supporter. Laney later used McMath's pro-Truman stance against him during his 1950 re-election bid which McMath won handily. Efforts 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, among them Congressman Brooks Hays of the Second (central) District of Arkansas, whose efforts at reconciliation during the 1957 Little Rock School Crisis made him vulnerable to defeat in 1958 by a segregationist surrogate fielded by forces loyal to then-Governor Orval Faubus, whose justification for using the national guard to bar entry to black pupils in defiance of a federal court order echoed much of the 1948 Dixiecrat platform.

On election day 1948, the Thurmond-Wright ticket carried the previously solid Democratic states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and South Carolina, receiving 1,169,021 popular votes and 39 electoral votes. The split in the Democratic party in the 1948 election was seen as virtually guaranteeing a victory by the Republican nominee, Thomas E. Dewey of New York, yet Truman won re-election in an upset.

Subsequent Elections

The Dixiecrat Party largely dissolved after the 1948 election. Senators Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms switched parties and joined the Republicans. Serveral others remained in the Democratic Party and went on to become prominent Democratic Senators. These former Dixiecrats, turned Senators, went on to serve multiple terms in the service of their respective states. These long careers in the Senate elevated their seniority putting them in positions of power and prestige. Today, one original member of the Dixiecrat Party remains in public service as a Senator, Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia.

Regardless of the power struggle within the Democratic Party, concerning segregation policy, the south remained a strongly Democratic voting block for local, state and federal Congressional elections. This was not true of Presidential elections.

In the 1960s, the courting of white Southern Democratic voters was the basis of the "southern strategy" of the Republican Party's Presidential Campaigns. Republican Presidential Candidate Barry Goldwater carried the Deep South in 1964, despite losing in a landslide in the rest of the nation to President Lyndon B Johnson of Texas. The only Democratic presidential candidate after 1956 to solidly carry the Deep South was President Jimmy Carter in the 1976 election.

Notable members


  • (D)VA Harry F. Byrd, 1933-1965
  • (D)VA A. Willis Robertson, 1946-1966
  • (D)AL J. Lister Hill, 1938-1969
  • (D)AL John J. Sparkman, 1946-1979
  • (D)FL Spessard Holland, 1946-1971
  • (D)FL George Smathers, 1951-1969
  • (D)SC Olin D. Johnston, 1945-1965
  • (D,R)SC Strom Thurmond, 1954-1956,1956-2003
  • (D)TN Herbert S. Walters, 1963-1964



  • Walter Sillers JR, Mississippi Speaker of the House
  • Harvey T. Ross, Mississippi State Legislature
  • Thomas P. Brady, Associate Justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court
  • Gessner T. McCorvey, Alabama state Democratic Executive Committee Chairman
  • Orval Faubus cadidate for president.
  • Leander Perez, Louisiana political "leader"
  • Horace C. Wilkinson, Birmingham attorney defender of the Klan and political "leader"
  • Ross Lillard
  • John Kasper
  • Mrs. Anna B. Korn
  • Mrs. Ruth Lackey
  • Clark Hurd
  • William E. Jenner
  • Francis Haskell
  • John Oliver Emmerich, Speech writer
  • Hugh Roy Cullen
  • T. Coleman Andrews
  • John Steel Baston
  • Dr. Frazier
  • O. L. Penny
  • Clifton Ratlift
  • M. F. Ray
  • Thomas Jefferson Tubb
  • J.K. Wells
  • Barney Wolverton
  • Governor White
  • Thomas H. Werdel

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