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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Strom Thurmond, July 20, 1978. Interview A-0334. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Thurmond remembers how a gubernatorial candidate won by appealing to his listeners' emotions

Strom Thurmond compares the oratory skills of two gubernatorial candidates from his childhood. A candidate named Coleman Livingston Blease defeated Ira Jones because he had a more appealing presentation style.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Strom Thurmond, July 20, 1978. Interview A-0334. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

But my father always wanted us to hear the different people who came to speak, all the campaigns. See, the big entertainment back in those days was two things. One was to go to courthouse and hear cases tried. So I'd go up and hear a lot of cases tried, just got intrigued by cases being tried.
JAMES G. BANKS:
How often did you go there to hear these cases, every week?
STROM THURMOND:
Well, when they'd have court. They'd have it about, once in the spring, once in the fall, once in the winter. And as school was out I'd get to the courtroom to hear those cases. That was a big entertainment. They have those picture shows there, but I liked this better than a picture show. And then, every two years when people ran for office and have stump speaking, I'd want to go and hear them. I remember when Blease and Ira Jones ran for governor in 1912. And we were for Jones, he had been Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and a very fine man. But he was not a stirrer of people's souls. He was not a picturesque character like Blease. I remember they had him down there close to where the old high school was where I went to school, down at the bottom by the Creek they had a platform built. Well, Blease was quite a speaker you know. He kind of ridiculed Jones. Well Jones wouldn't pay any attention to him make his speech. Blease won by a close vote. That's one time we felt the best man didn't win. But Blease was such a speaker.
JAMES G. BANKS:
Bowled them over.
STROM THURMOND:
Yeah, he did. And that's the way then they judged people. And now, you're on television and different things. But back then it was stump speaking, whoever could make the best speech on the stump was going to get elected.
JAMES G. BANKS:
You didn't need a press writer, wrote your own.
STROM THURMOND:
No, you just didn't have any press writers.