1948 July 14

Segregationist Dixiecrats Walk Out of Democratic Party Convention, Create States’ Rights Party


Segregationist Southerners, reacting to President Harry Truman’s civil rights program, walked out of the Democratic Party Convention on this day and founded an independent States’ Rights Party, dedicated to preserving racial segregation (August 14, 1948). On this same day, the Democratic Party had adopted a strong civil rights plank for its platform, the first major political party to do so. The States’ Rights Party nominated South Carolina Governor Strom Thurmond as its presidential candidate. Although Thurmond carried four states, with 39 electoral votes, in the 1948 election (while many liberals supported Progressive Party candidate Henry Wallace), Truman was reelected president.

President Truman had made a major commitment to civil rights. He sent a civil rights program to Congress on February 2, 1948, and had advocated a strong civil rights plank in the 1948 Democratic Party Platform. And on July 26, 1948, he took the historic step of desegregating the armed services by executive order.

Read the States’ Rights Party Platform: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/print.php?pid=25851

See newsreel footage of the Dixiecrats walk out of the Democratic Party Convention: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbU0lXeJbi4

Read a biography of Strom Thurmond: Joseph Crespino, Strom Thurmond’s America (2012)

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