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   States Rights







United States







Database Record

Posted 1/27/2006, Updated 10/7/2008

Historic Overview

The States Rights Party was a political movement in the years 1948 to 1964, primarily in the southern states. The party was sometimes called the "Dixiecrat" Party, although the latter term is not limited to members of the States Rights Party. The States' Rights Party broke from the Democratic Party in 1948. The Party opposed racial integration and wanted to retain Jim Crow laws and racial segregation. The party slogan was "Segregation Forever!" 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, Gov. J. Strom Thurmond (D-SC) helped organize the seceding delegates into a separate party, whose platform was ostensibly concerned with states' rights. The Dixiecrats held their convention in Birmingham AL on 7/17/1948, where they nominated Thurmond for president and Gov. Fielding L. Wright (D-MS) for vice president. Dixiecrat leaders worked to have Thurmond-Wright declared the "official" Democratic Party ticket in Southern states. They succeeded only in Alabama and Mississippi; in other states, they ran 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. Since the party saw itself as the Southern version of the Democratic Party, the SRP did not sponsor candidates for other offices in 1948. Conservative Iowa Democrats formed a States Rights chapter and ran candidates in the election of 1950. Ernest J. Seeman, the nominee for U.S. Senate, received 571 votes, and Stanley S. Baker, candidate for U.S. House, received 147 votes. In 1952, the hard right supported Douglas MacArthur in his unofficial bid for the Presidency. MacArthur was sponsored by three different parties, each with its own nominee for vice president. The second States Rights Party National Convention was held in the Mosque Auditorium, Richmond VA, on 10/15/1956. An earlier convention of the Constitution Party held in Ft. Worth nominated T. Coleman Andrews for President. However, J. Bracken Lee of Utah wanted to hold a broader-based convention of the far-right. He helped to organize the SRP convention, held just three weeks before the election. The convention endorsed Andrews and nominated Sen. Thomas H. Werdel (R-CA) for vice president. The third States Rights Party National Convention was held in Dayton OH on 3/19-20/1960. The convention was attended by delegates from 28 states. Given the more liberal leaning of the major contenders for the nominations of the two major parties, the SRP felt they had a chance of running a strong ticket for the 1960 election. They nominated Gov. Orval E. Faubus (D-AR) for President and John G. Crommelin (AL) for vice president. Faubus rejected the nomination but appeared on the ballot in several states nevertheless. The party won 209,314 votes, placing third behind the two major parties. The fourth and last States Rights Party National Convention was held in Louisville KY on 3/1-2/1964. The party nominated John Kasper of TN for president and Jesse B. Stoner of GA for vice president. Two events happened in 1964 that worked together to kill the SRP (which by this time was operating under the name of the National States Rights Party). First, the Republian Party nominated Sen. Barry Goldwater for President, cutting into the same base of supporters as the SRP. Second, northern right-wing parties held separate conventions and nominated other right-wing candidates such as Joseph Lightburn and T. Coleman Andrews. Kasper received only 6,953 votes. Jack Gunderson, the party's other candidate of 1964, received 644 votes in his race for the U.S. House from MT. The remnants of the party were absorbed into George Wallace's American Independent Party in 1968.





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