States' Rights Democratic Party (Dixiecrats)
Founded 1948 (1948)
Dissolved 1948 (1948)
Preceded by Democratic Party
Succeeded by Democratic Party
Ideology States' rights
Racial segregation
White supremacism
Politics of the United States
Political parties

The States' Rights Democratic Party (usually called the Dixiecrats) was a short-lived segregationist political party in the United States in 1948. It originated as a breakaway faction of the Democratic Party in 1948, determined to protect what they portrayed as the southern way of life beset by an oppressive federal government,[1] and supporters assumed control of the state Democratic parties in part or in full in several Southern states. The States' Rights Democratic Party opposed racial integration and wanted to retain Jim Crow laws and white supremacy in the face of possible federal intervention. Members were called Dixiecrats. (The term Dixiecrat is a portmanteau of Dixie, referring to the Southern United States, and Democrat.)

The party did not run local or state candidates and after the 1948 election as its leaders generally returned to the Democratic Party.[2] The Dixiecrats had little short-run impact on politics. However, they did have a long-term impact. The Dixiecrats began the weakening of the "Solid South" (the Democratic Party's total control of presidential elections in the South).[3]



By the 1870s the South was heavily Democratic in national and presidential elections, apart from pockets of Republican strength. It was the "Solid South". The social system was based on Jim Crow, a combination of legal and informal segregation that made blacks second-class citizens with little or no political power anywhere in the South.[4]

In the 1930s, the New Deal under Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a realignment occurred. Much of the Democratic Party in the South shifted towards economic intervention. Civil rights for blacks was not on the New Deal agenda, as Southerners controlled the key positions of power in Congress. Jim Crow was indirectly challenged as two million blacks served in the military during World War II, receiving equal pay in segregated units, and equally entitled to veterans' benefits. The Republican Party, nominating Governor of New York Thomas E. Dewey in 1944 and 1948, supported civil rights legislation that the Southern Democrats in Congress almost unanimously opposed.[5][6]

1948 presidential election

1948 electoral votes by state. The Dixiecrats carried Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and South Carolina, and received one additional electoral vote in Tennessee.
See also main article, United States presidential election, 1948

When Roosevelt died, the new president Harry Truman established a highly visible President's Committee on Civil Rights and ordered an end to discrimination in the military in 1948. Additionally, the Democratic National Convention in 1948 adopted a plank proposed by Northern liberals led by Hubert Humphrey calling for civil rights, 35 southerners walked out. The move was on to remove Truman's name from the ballot in the South. This required a new party, which the Southern defectors chose to name the State's Rights Party, with its own nominee: South Carolina Governor J. Strom Thurmond. The Dixiecrats held their convention at Municipal Auditorium in Birmingham, Alabama,[7] where they nominated Thurmond for president and Fielding L. Wright, governor of Mississippi, for vice president. The Dixiecrats did not expect to win the presidency outright; rather, they thought that if they could win enough Southern states then they would have a good chance of forcing the election into the House of Representatives where they believed Southern bargaining power could determine the winner. To this end Dixiecrat leaders worked to have Thurmond-Wright declared the official Democratic ticket in Southern states. They succeeded in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina. In other states, they were forced to run as a third-party ticket.

In Arkansas, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Sid McMath vigorously supported Truman in speeches across the state, much to the consternation of the sitting governor, Benjamin Travis Laney, an ardent Thurmond supporter. Laney later used McMath's pro-Truman stance against him in the 1950 gubernatorial election, but McMath won re-election handily.

Efforts by Dixiecrats to paint other Truman loyalists as turncoats generally failed, although the seeds of discontent were planted which in years to come took their toll on Southern moderates.

On election day 1948, the Thurmond-Wright ticket carried the previously solid Democratic states of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina, receiving 1,169,021 popular votes and 39 electoral votes. Progressive Party nominee Henry A. Wallace drew off a nearly equal number of popular votes (1,157,172) from the Democrats' left wing, although he did not carry any states. The split in the Democratic Party in the 1948 election had been expected to produce a victory by GOP nominee Dewey, but Truman defeated Dewey in an upset victory.

Subsequent elections

The States' Rights Democratic Party dissolved after the 1948 election, as Truman, the Democratic National Committee, and the New Deal Southern Democrats acted to ensure that the Dixiecrat movement would not return in 1952 presidential election. Some local diehards, such as Leander Perez of Louisiana, attempted to keep it in existence in their districts.[8] Regardless of the power struggle within the Democratic Party concerning segregation policy, the South remained a strongly Democratic voting bloc for local, state, and federal Congressional elections, but not in presidential elections.

See also


  1. ^ Lemmon, Sarah McCulloh. "Ideology of the 'Dixiecrat Movement," Social Forces Vol. 30, No. 2 (Dec., 1951), pp. 162-171 in JSTOR
  2. ^ John F. Bibby and Louis Sandy Maisel, Two parties--or more?: the American party system (1998) p 35
  3. ^ Kari Frederickson, The Dixiecrat Revolt and the End of the Solid South, 1932-1968 (2001) p. 238.
  4. ^ Perman (2009) part 4
  5. ^ Glenn Feldman, "Southern Disillusionment with the Democratic Party: Cultural Conformity and 'the Great Melding' of Racial and Economic Conservatism in Alabama during World War II," Journal of American Studies Aug 2009, Vol. 43 Issue 2, p199-130
  6. ^ Simon Topping, "'Never Argue with the Gallup Poll': Thomas Dewey, Civil Rights and the Election of 1948," Journal of American Studies 2004 38(2): 179-198
  7. ^ J. Barton Starr, "Birmingham and the 'Dixiecrat' Convention of 1948," Alabama Historical Quarterly;; 1970 32(1-2): 23-50
  8. ^ Glen Jeansonne, Leander Perez: Boss of the Delta (Jackson, MS:University Press of Mississippi, 1977) pp. 185-189.

Further reading

  • Bass, Jack, and Marilyn W. Thompson. Strom: The Complicated Personal and Political Life of Strom Thurmond (2006)
  • Black, Earl, and Merle Black. Politics and Society in the South (1989)
  • Buchanan, Scott. "The Dixiecrat Rebellion: Long-Term Partisan Implications in the Deep South" (2005). Politics and Policy 33(4):754-769.
  • Cohodas, Nadine. Strom Thurmond & the Politics of Southern Change (1995)
  • Frederickson, Kari. The Dixiecrat Revolt and the End of the Solid South, 1932–1968 (2001) 311 pp. ISBN 0-8078-4910-3. the major scholarly study online edition
  • Karabell, Zachary. The Last Campaign: How Harry Truman Won the 1948 Election (2001)
  • Lemmon, Sarah McCulloh. "Ideology of the "Dixiecrat" Movement," Social Forces Vol. 30, No. 2 (Dec., 1951), pp. 162–171 in JSTOR
  • Perman, Michael. Pursuit of Unity: A Political History of the American South (2009)

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Dixiecrat — Präsidentschaftskandidat Strom Thurmond Die States Rights Democratic Party, deren Mitglieder gemeinhin Dixiecrats (dt: Dixiekraten) genannt werden, ist eine ehemalige US amerikanische politische Partei. Ihr Spitzenkandidat Strom Thurmond nahm an… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Dixiecrat — in U.S. politics, 1948, from DIXIE (Cf. Dixie) + ending from DEMOCRAT (Cf. Democrat) …   Etymology dictionary

  • Dixiecrat — ☆ Dixiecrat [dik′sēkrat΄ ] n. [ DIXIE + (DEMO)CRAT] a member of a party of Southern Democrats opposed to the civil rights platform of the Democratic Party in 1948 …   English World dictionary

  • Dixiecrat — Le terme Dixiecrat désignait autrefois aux États Unis le States Rights Democratic Party (Parti démocrate pour le droit des États) mais continue à être employé pour désigner les élus démocrates conservateurs du Sud. Le terme historique de… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Dixiecrat — noun Date: 1948 a dissident Southern Democrat; specifically a supporter of a 1948 presidential ticket opposing the civil rights stand of the Democrats • Dixiecratic adjective …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Dixiecrat — Dixiecratic, adj. /dik see krat /, n. a member of a faction of southern Democrats stressing states rights and opposed to the civil rights programs of the Democratic party, esp. a southern Democrat who bolted the party in 1948 and voted for the… …   Universalium

  • Dixiecrat — noun a) a member of the Democratic Party of the United States of America, from the southern United States, one of the former territories of the Confederate States of America, who hold socially conservative viewpoints, and supports racial… …   Wiktionary

  • Dixiecrat — o demócrata de los derechos de los estados En EE.UU., grupo separado de demócratas de derecha, en la elección de 1948. Organizados por sureños que se oponían al programa de derechos civiles de los demócratas, sus miembros se reunieron en… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Dixiecrat — Southern Democrat …   Eponyms, nicknames, and geographical games

  • dixiecrat — dix·ie·crat …   English syllables

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