Ellison DuRant “Cotton Ed” Smith

Ellison DuRant “Cotton Ed” Smith

Birth
Lynchburg, Lee County, South Carolina, USA
Death 11 Nov 1944 (aged 80)
Lynchburg, Lee County, South Carolina, USA
Burial Bishopville, Lee County, South Carolina, USA
Memorial ID 8184495 · View Source
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US Senator. Known as “Cotton Ed”, during his long tenure in the United States Senate he tenaciously and often times virulently championed southern agriculture, fierce opposition to progressive reforms of the early 20th century, white supremacy over African-Americans. Born in Lynchburg, South Carolina, he graduated from Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina in 1896. He served in the South Carolina State Legislature from 1896 to 1900, and unsuccessfully made an attempt to be elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1901. His efforts and support to advance the South Carolina cotton farming industry gained him much support in the state, where he became a leading figure with the Southern Cotton Association. Elected as a Democrat from South Carolina to the United States Senate in 1908, he soon became a leading figure in advancing legislation that benefited farming and agricultural concerns through the nation, typified by the 1914 Smith-Lever Act that created Federal services to aid and educate in agriculture advances and dissemination of latest information. Conversely, he fought hard against economic and social progressive legislation, opposing reforms such as suffrage for women, Federal minimum wage, voting and economic safe guards for African-Americans and much of the New Deal legislation advanced by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression. Never fully popular through the state of South Carolina, he was re-elected on five occasions, with four of the elections close enough that they came down to run-offs. His overt support of the supremacy of whites in society came to a head at the 1936 Democratic Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania when he walked out of the convention upon discovering an African-American minister was scheduled to give an invocation. After the United States entered World War II, he opposed and voted against much of the legislation designed to mobilize the nation’s war efforts, which vastly favored manufacturing, which in turn would present more labor opportunities for women and minorities, despite the expediency and necessity called for by the war. This contributed to the lowest ebb of his popularity, and in 1944 he lost the Democratic primary to South Carolina Governor Ollin D. Johnston, a political enemy. A month and a half before his last term was over, he died in November 1944 in the Lynchburg, South Carolina home where he was born.

Bio by: Russ Dodge



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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Tim Crutchfield
  • Added: 15 Dec 2003
  • Find a Grave Memorial 8184495
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Ellison DuRant “Cotton Ed” Smith (8 Aug 1864–11 Nov 1944), Find a Grave Memorial no. 8184495, citing Saint Luke Cemetery, Bishopville, Lee County, South Carolina, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .