Senator Huey Long, the fiery and colorful senator from Louisiana, made the filibuster famous between 1932 and 1935 when he utilized it several times to stall legislation that he considered unfair to the poor. Long frustrated his opponents and entertained the Senate gallery by reading Shakespeare, reciting shrimp and oyster recipes and talking about “pot-likkers.” An amendment to Senate Rule 19 later required that debate on legislation be germane to the issue being debated.
About 9 p.m. on August 28, 1957, Senator Strom Thurmond rose before the Senate and announced, “Mr. President, I rise to speak against the so-called voting rights bill, H.R. 6127.” His own staff had not been informed about Senator Thurmond’s intentions to filibuster the bill, but they knew something was up when they saw Thurmond gathering considerable reading material.
Senator Thurmond had prepared himself for a long filibuster on the Senate floor. Earlier in the day he had spent time in the Senate steam room, dehydrating himself so that he would absorb all the water he drank without having to visit the restroom. His wife packed a steak sandwich lunch for him and she stayed in the family gallery throughout the night. Thurmond brought a quantity of malted milk tablets and throat lozenges from his office.
Senator Thurmond began his filibuster by reading each state’s election statutes. He later read and discussed an opinion by Chief Justice Taft. He also read and discussed the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and Washington’s Farewell Address. His staff, concerned for Senator Thurmond’s health, was finally successful in getting him to leave the floor.
After 24 hours and 18 minutes, a record that still stands, Senator Thurmond concluded his remarks with, “I expect to vote against the bill.” The bill was defeated.
The use of the filibuster has increased from 16 filibusters in the 19th century to 66 in the first half of the 20th century to 195 in the period from 1970 to 1995. It is likely that the filibuster will continue to play an important role in the American political process.
Nope, not American Government. I seriously dread that one, but I’m afraid I won’t be able to avoid it. 😦
I’m studying the political science parts of the Social Sciences and History test. Reading these famous filibuster stories help me better understand how filibusters work, as well as keeping a bit of my interest. I need all the help I can get with the non-history parts of this test; I have less than no interest in the areas of political science, sociology, economics (at least the stuff I’ve got to study for this test. Tell me again how Keynesian economics make sense in any way? No, don’t; I haven’t really looked at it yet… Yes, I’m avoiding it, but I’ll get to it.), psychology (double… triple… quadruple YUCK!), geography (on the Peterson’s practice test, it focused more on trade winds and tropics… like capricorn and cancer and whatnot. I don’t know that I can do that very well. I might actually be able to identify countries.), anthropology (I’m not even entirely sure what that is!).
I read that this test was more than the 40% history CLEP says it is. I’ve seen a lot of people say it was more like 50-60% history. I’m really hoping they’re right.
Okay, I’m done ranting about this test for now. I just thought I’d share those filibuster stories; they made me grin, especially the first one! I can just picture a respectable senator taking the floor and then starting to talk about pot-likkers! I wonder if any of the senators listening wrote down the shrimp and oyster recipes he recited… 😀