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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 >>

Southerners' commitment to certain values and constitutional ideals

The southern region of the United States is unique for a higher commitment to the federal Constitution, militarism, and Christian ideals. Thurmond uses his observations of northern war resisters to prove his point.

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

Are you conscious of being a southerner?
STROM THURMOND:
Conscious of being a southerner;yes I am. Although I'm interested in the people of the whole nation and I've taken a great interest in national and world affairs in the Senate. Especially national defense and foreign policy and things like that. Because I think we're all one nation and we've got to work together to try to preserve it. But the southerners seem to understand the constitution better. They seem to realize that we do have a constitution and to realize what it means and that it should be adhered to.
JAMES G. BANKS:
Do you think that goes back to Jefferson and Virginia and that whole aristocracy.
STROM THURMOND:
I think probably it does. You see South Carolina was settled by Virginians more than any other group. The Thurmonds came from Virginia.
JAMES G. BANKS:
New Kent County, wasn't it, Albemarle, New Kent?
STROM THURMOND:
Yeah, that's right. My ancestor John Thurmond before the Revolutionary War. Then King went to Georgia and crossed over to South Carolina. So Virginia people have had a big part settling out of state. It's different from North Carolina. The people of South Carolina, I wouldn't say they're South, but their culture is very much;a lot of 'em are very cultured people like Virginians, you know. Virginians were considered the cream of the crop back in the early formation of the country. And South Carolina was settled by Virginians more than North Carolina.
JAMES G. BANKS:
You're also; well, you just said it. You are conscious of being a South Carolinian because there are some distinct relationships between the Virginian and the South Carolinian.
STROM THURMOND:
There's an old saying that North Carolina is a valley of humility between two mountains of conceit.
JAMES G. BANKS:
(chuckle) That's very good. I guess you're also conscious of being from Edgefield too.
STROM THURMOND:
Yes, I guess so. You couldn't get away from it. But I want to say this. Although I'm proud of being from Edgefield and I'm proud of being from South Carolina. I'm proud to be a southerner because I think those people;I guess it's what I believe in; I think they're military minded and I think that's essential if you're going to maintain your freedom. You've got to be willing to fight for it. And then I'm proud too because [END OF TAPE 1, SIDE B] [TAPE 2, SIDE A] [START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]
STROM THURMOND:
For instance, people down there seem to think more alike. Well now, during the Vietnam War, you didn't see people down there causing trouble. I remember when I spoke up at Massachusettes, University of Massachusettes, one night, I was lucky to get out of there alive.
JAMES G. BANKS:
Oh really?
STROM THURMOND:
Yeah. Had to rush to the car and they almost turned the car over. That never would've happened in South Carolina.
JAMES G. BANKS:
They may disagree but I don't think they would do that.
STROM THURMOND:
Yeah, that's what I say. You can disagree, but the point is, they're not willing to fight, a lot of 'em. And they did desert, and went to Canada and went to Sweden, a lot of other places. I don't think many southerners were in that group that did that. I think most of them fought. And although they may have disagreed with the situation I think once their country called 'em they felt an obligation; that patriotism is just kind of instilled in 'em.
JAMES G. BANKS:
It's born out by polls. John Reed, at University of North Carolina, did a book you might like to see. Maybe I'll send it to you. It's called "The Enduring South." He went around and asked people about religion, politics, and attitudes and it bears out exactly what you said.
STROM THURMOND:
And that's more or less the Bible Belt of the nation too, you might say.