Monday, July 14, 2003

Dead Centagenarians

Senator Strom Thurmond vs Lord Shawcross

The differences between America and Great Britain are many and varied. Anglophiles in the U.S. take delight in the civilized manners, enchanting accents, even the charming differences between our version of English and the native version of the mother tongue.

Tony Blair's eloquence beguiles us, especially when compared to George W. Bush's syntax. We are intrigued by the skepticism of the State run BBC, compared with our own independent Fox News. Even when it comes to hardball politics, their "loyal opposition" at least appears articulate and civilized . . . while our partisan rancor bitterly devolves into one embarrassing display after another. (Assuming, of course, the "loyal opposition" even bothers to show up)

Perhaps no issue epitomizes what so many U.S. citizens find appealing about Jolly Old England than the recent twist of fate which befell both nations. You see, both countries suffered a loss in their Upper Houses of Government. Both Nations lost their oldest legislative member -- each man a centagenarian who had given many decades of service to his country.

In the U.S., Senator Strom Thurmond died at age 100 just a week ago. In one of those inexplicably odd coincidences, just a week later, the U.K. found itself mourning the loss of Lord Shawcross, aged 101.

On a lark, I made a quick comparison between these two Statesman. Their differences and similarities reveal as much about them as it does our two great nations:

Dead Centagenarian Strom Thurmond Lord Shawcross
Born December 5, 1902 February 2, 1902
Died June 26, 2003 July 10, 2003
Education Clemson College Dulwich College, the London School of Economics, University of Geneva
Political Affiliation Democrat until 1948, (bolted the party when Southern Democrats broke with President Harry S. Truman over civil rights), Independent (1948 Presidential campaign), Republican (1964) Labor Party
Nickname 'Ol Strom Sir Hartley Shawcross
Prior Offices Edgefield city and county attorney, South Carolina State Senator, Judge (S.C. 11th Circuit Court), Governor of South Carolina Attorney General (U.K.), Member of Parliament, Principal British delegate to the United Nations, President of the British Board of Trade
Best Known For Segregationism; Fiery opposition to civil rights act, 1948 Prosecuting Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg, 1945
Political Accomplishments Sped the development of a two-party system in the South; Pushed GOP to the right; Reshaped the Supreme Court after the retirement of Chief Justice Earl Warren; Accidentally caused Trent Lott to step down as Senate Majority leader. Conducted treason trials against infamous British spies and turncoats, including Klaus Fuchs and Alan Nunn May (convicted of giving atomic secrets to the Soviet Union); Successfully handled the Crown's case against William Joyce ("Lord Haw-Haw"), who made propaganda broadcasts for the Germans during WWII; Chief Nuremburg War Crime Prosecutor.
Verbosity Filibustered a civil rights bill for 24 hours and 18 minutes, stopping only when the Senate physician threatened to drag him from the floor. It was the longest filibuster in Senate history Delivered an eight-hour opening statement over the course of two days outlining the case before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg
Trivia The only U.S. senator ever elected as a write-in candidate Developed a special hatred for Lord Haw-Haw. "That fellow gave me the utter creeps."
Quote "I wanna tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that there's not enough troops in the army to force the southern people to break down segregation and admit the nigger race into our theatres into our swimming pools into our homes and into our churches." 1948 "There comes a point when a man must refuse to answer to his leader if he is also to answer to his own conscience."
Surprising Political Secret Kept secret for decades his illegitimate daughter, Essie Mae, born in 1925. Her mother was a black servant employed by Strom's father. According to "Ol' Strom: An Unauthorized Biography of Strom Thurmond," Strom put her through college. He remained opposed to capital punishment, despite winning the execution of 12 Nazis. Late in life he noted, to his dismay, that the Nuremberg trials "did not deter the odious crimes of Idi Amin, Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge."

Sources: NYT, ABC News, CNN

by Barry L. Ritholtz
Concept courtesy of Jon Dellheim

Posted at 06:48 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink


There comes a point when a man must refuse to answer to his leader if he is also to answer to his own conscience

This earned him the nickname "Sir Shortly Floorcross" from fellow Labour MPs who assumed he was about to go over to the other side of the House.

Posted by: dsquared | Oct 20, 2004 2:32:35 AM

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