James Francis Byrnes - History

James Francis Byrnes - History

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James Francis Byrnes

1879- 1972

Supreme Court Justice,

Secretary of State

James Francis Byrnes was born in Charleston, South Carolina in 1879. He had a long and diverse political career, serving in the House of Representatives from 1911 to 1925, and in the Senate from 1931 to 1941. As a Senator during Roosevelt's first term, he was the President's leading supporter on Capitol Hill.
In 1941, Roosevelt appointed him to the Supreme Court, but Byrnes resigned to head the Office of Economic Stabilization. He then became director of the Office of War Mobilization. Byrnes was often referred to as "assistant president for the home front." He served under President Truman as Secretary of State from 1945 to 1947. He concluded his political career as a Governor of South Carolina from 1951 to 1955.

James F. Byrnes High School was built in 1955 at a cost of $1,000,000. The school was named after James F. Byrnes, the most distinguished South Carolinian of his time. [ citation needed ] He served in the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, was a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Director of War Mobilization during World War II, U.S. Secretary of State under President Harry Truman and completed his political career as Governor of South Carolina 1951–1955.

When the school was built there were 21 teachers and 500 students in grades 9–12. Perry Bernard Irby graduated in 1966, becoming the school's first African-American graduate. In 1969, the school officially integrated, moving all the African-American students from Florence Chapel School to Byrnes. In 2007, the ninth grade moved to a separate facility. [2]

Mascot Edit

The mascot for Byrnes High School has been the Rebel since 1955. The school received national media attention in 1991 for sporting events featuring displays of a Confederate soldier as the Rebel mascot while the school's band played "Dixie" and students waved Confederate flags. [3] Students were suspended for wearing clothing sporting Confederate flags in school and some parents filed a federal lawsuit. Following the Charleston church massacre in 2015, there were renewed calls to remove the Rebels name. [4] [3]

Athletics Edit

The Rebels have won a total of forty-two state championships in all sports. [5]

Football Edit

The Byrnes High School football team has won 11 state championships in football, including four under Bobby Bentley. [5] The Rebel football team competes on Nixon Field, located behind J. F. Byrnes High School. The field is named in honor of D. M. Nixon. Mr. Nixon was a former superintendent of District Five Schools and served from 1956 until his retirement in 1965. [6]

In 2008 the Rebels began the season as the number one team in the country according to the USA Today newspaper and held that spot until a regular season loss dropped them in the polls. They regrouped and won their ninth state championship to finish that season. In 2009, Byrnes began the season as the No. 2 ranked team in the nation according to Also in 2009, the Rebels played the defending national champions, St. Thomas Aquinas High School of Fort Lauderdale, FL on October 2, 2009. St. Thomas Aquinas defeated Byrnes by a score of 42–34. Byrnes won their 11th state title in 2011. [5]

Introduced in 2016, Colonel Rhea Dobson started Marksmanship at Byrnes for AFJROTC.

James Byrnes

James Byrnes rose from an obscure childhood in South Carolina to become the only person ever to reach the highest ranks of all three branches of the federal government. In 1944, he came close to obtaining the Democratic nomination for vice-president, which would have made him, rather than Harry S. Truman, president upon the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt, in 1945. James Francis Byrnes was born on May 2, 1882, in Charleston, South Carolina. His father had died shortly before, leaving his mother to take care of the family. Byrnes left school at the age of 14 to help provide for the family. With the skill at shorthand that he had by then acquired, he obtained a position as a court reporter in 1900. From 1903 to 1907, he served as editor of the Journal and Review in Aiken. There he met, and married in 1906, beautiful Maude Busch, a recent graduate from Converse College, which graduated "superior and gracious ladies,” Byrnes said. By studying law, Byrnes learned enough to be admitted to the South Carolina Bar and served as Second Circuit Solicitor from 1908 until 1910, when he was elected to the United States Congress as a Democrat at the age of 31. He was re-elected every two years until 1924, when he ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat for the U.S. Senate. After six years practicing law in Spartanburg, South Carolina, he tried again and was elected to the Senate in 1930. In 1941, Roosevelt wanted Byrnes for the U.S. Supreme Court, and Byrnes obliged. He resigned from the Senate and accepting the position of Associate Justice, in which he wrote approximately 16 decisions. Possessing strong ideals about the court’s purpose in interpreting laws, Byrnes said, "My belief is that it is the duty of a judge to declare what is the law and not what he thinks the law should be." A year later, Roosevelt decided that he needed Byrnes more in the executive branch, so Byrnes resigned from the court and became Director of Economic Stabilization. In that role, he was responsible for the control of domestic prices, rents and wages. Later he ran the Office of War Mobilization, with the responsibility to procure, transport, and distribute goods and services to both civilians and the military. In the summer of 1944, Roosevelt was looking for a replacement for Henry A. Wallace to run with him as the vice-presidential candidate. Byrnes had become known as the "Assistant President" and his name was frequently mentioned, but there were objections because of his conservative Southern orientation. Harry S. Truman had not sought the position, and had in fact drafted an acceptance speech for Byrnes to use at the convention. However, Roosevelt decided Truman would be a better choice. FDR asked Byrnes to accompany him to the Yalta Conference in February 1945. Byrnes played a role when FDR sought his advice. At the conference that also included Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill, the Big Three discussed reparations, contributions, and the Lend-Lease program. Byrnes continued for a while in the administration, resigning in early April 1945, as the war wound down. He returned to Spartanburg to practice law again when Roosevelt died. Byrnes returned to Washington as a presidential advisor to Truman, and in July, Truman promoted him to Secretary of State. Byrnes regarded the Soviet Union as America's principal adversary and believed that his country's possession of the atomic bomb would persuade the Soviets to comply with American demands during negotiations. There is little evidence that it did. As Secretary of State, Byrnes visited Moscow in December 1945. While there, he concluded that the new governments in Romania and Bulgaria were meeting the requirements of the Yalta Conference, so he recognized them. Truman was furious that Byrnes had taken this step without consulting him, and although he eventually went along with his secretary of state, an estrangement began to develop. Byrnes stayed in the cabinet until January 1947. Once again, he took up the practice of law in Spartanburg, but once again he could not remain on the political sidelines. In 1950, he was elected governor of South Carolina, the oldest man ever to hold that office, at age 79. Although as a Southern politician he was virtually obliged to oppose racial integration, he still took steps during his term to advance education in South Carolina by first proposing a three percent sales tax to upgrade schools for whites and blacks. While Byrnes upheld the segregation laws, he felt those laws could only be considered fair by making black schools equitable with white schools. Therefore, during his term as governor, Byrnes allocated two-thirds of the revenue from the sales tax to black schools. He also consolidated school districts from 1,200 to 102, enabling the remaining districts to make improvements with the additional funding made available. Byrnes finally retired from public life at the end of his term as governor in 1955. He wrote two books: Speaking Frankly and an autobiography, All in One Lifetime. From the book proceeds, he and Maude began the James F. Byrnes Foundation, which continues to provide college scholarships. He died on April 9, 1972, and is buried at Trinity Episcopal Church, across the street from the South Carolina Statehouse. So well-respected was Byrnes for his public service that General Lucius D. Clay said in his eulogy:

Byrnes, James Francis

Over his lifetime Byrnes held many public positions, coming closer than any other South Carolinian in the twentieth century to obtaining the national political influence wielded by John C. Calhoun in the nineteenth century. Byrnes left a series of political legacies in South Carolina, the nation, and the world. His advocacy of highway and New Deal legislation provided numerous material benefits to South Carolinians. His services to President Roosevelt had a major impact on the national economy during World War II. His role as secretary of state was instrumental in defining postwar foreign policy. In the 1950s and 1960s Byrnes’s support of Republican presidential candidates was a key factor in the party’s revitalization in the South.

Congressman, U.S. senator, U.S. Supreme Court justice, U.S. secretary of state, governor. Byrnes was born in Charleston on May 2, 1882, the son of James Francis Byrnes, an Irish Catholic city clerk, and his Irish Catholic wife, Elizabeth McSweeney. Seven weeks before his birth, Byrnes&rsquos father died of tuberculosis, leaving &ldquoJimmy&rdquo to be reared by his widowed mother. She had gone briefly to New York to learn dressmaking in order to support him, his sister, an invalid grandmother, an aunt, and a nephew. In his early teens Byrnes left school to work in a Charleston law office to help support the family. His public career began in 1900 when Judge James Aldrich of Aiken appointed him court stenographer for the six-county Second Judicial Circuit. When not traveling to circuit court sessions between Aiken and Beaufort, Byrnes studied law in Judge Aldrich&rsquos office, and by 1904 he was licensed to practice law. He began singing &ldquobarber shop tenor&rdquo in the choir of Aiken&rsquos St. Thaddeus Episcopal Church, where Maude Busch, a Converse College student, also sang and attended church. With the blessings of his mother and against the advice of his local parish priest, he married &ldquoMiss Maude&rdquo on May 2, 1906, and soon after converted to the Episcopal faith. Much to their regret, the marriage was childless.

Over his lifetime Byrnes held many public positions, coming closer than any other South Carolinian in the twentieth century to obtaining the national political influence wielded by John C. Calhoun in the nineteenth century. In 1908 Byrnes was elected circuit court solicitor. At that time solicitors spent part of the year in Columbia assisting legislators in bill drafting. Building on political connections from the circuit court and the legislature, he was elected U.S. congressman and served for fourteen years (1911&ndash1925). He was elected the first time by fifty-seven votes in a primary runoff after campaigning as &ldquoa live wire&rdquo and &ldquoa self-made man.&rdquo

During his time in the U.S. House, he formed close relationships with Democratic leader Champ Clark from Missouri and Illinois Republican &ldquoUncle&rdquo Joe Cannon. From them he learned how to manage legislation. Byrnes helped establish the first national highway system, including U.S. Highway 1 through his hometown of Aiken, based on payments to states for roads used by mail carriers or in interstate commerce. For Byrnes, federal aid to the states to offset their costs in maintaining national government responsibilities was consistent with the Constitution. Byrnes worked on House appropriations, especially financing military operations during World War I, and came to know Franklin D. Roosevelt. Byrnes was also instrumental in passage of the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, which consolidated the power of the House Appropriations Committee and created a director of the budget.

In 1924 Byrnes was defeated in a bid for the U.S. Senate by Cole L. Blease. Some Bleasites exploited anti-Catholic feelings in the upstate by circulating a political ad from a Charleston newspaper in which twenty former altar boys at St. Patrick&rsquos Catholic Church had endorsed Byrnes. Byrnes&rsquos adamant refusal to join the revived Ku Klux Klan may have also contributed to his defeat. Afterward, Byrnes took up the practice of law with Sam J. Nicholls and Cecil C. Wyche in Spartanburg. He moved from Aiken because he felt awkward charging fees to his neighbors and political supporters.

Byrnes unseated Blease in 1930 and was elected U.S. senator in 1936. Byrnes had maintained his earlier association with Roosevelt, advising him to run for governor of New York in 1924 and supporting his run for the presidency in 1932. As a senator, Byrnes became an influential advocate of President Roosevelt&rsquos New Deal programs, helping to write many of the emergency economic laws in &ldquothe first 100 days&rdquo of Roosevelt&rsquos administration. He was instrumental in securing federal funding for the Santee Cooper project. In the 1936 election, Byrnes pointed out that South Carolina had gotten about $24 in federal assistance for each dollar it had paid in federal taxes.

In 1941 Byrnes resigned from the Senate when Roosevelt appointed him associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. While a justice, Byrnes was responsible for fifteen or more decisions. Edwards v. California was his first. Based on the Commerce Clause, this opinion reversed a state court conviction of a man who brought his wife&rsquos unemployed brother into California. At the time, California law forbade knowingly bringing an indigent into the state. In another Byrnes opinion, Ward v. Texas, the Supreme Court reversed a state court murder conviction of an uneducated African American due to an extorted confession. The accused man was subsequently acquitted.

Sixteen months after joining the Supreme Court, in October 1942 Byrnes resigned so that President Roosevelt could appoint him director of the Office of Economic Stabilization, which coordinated federal efforts to control the inflationary effects of increased war spending. In May 1943 Byrnes became director of war mobilization, a position with enough powers to earn him the nickname &ldquoAssistant President.&rdquo Like Bernard Baruch, who had served President Woodrow Wilson in a similar capacity during World War I, Byrnes was responsible for unifying the nation&rsquos industrial production pro- grams for World War II.

With such a distinguished record, Byrnes was widely rumored to be Roosevelt&rsquos nominee for vice president in 1944. His chances failed after he was opposed by Catholic political leaders who characterized him as a deserter to his native church, by northern minorities who feared him as a segregationist, and by organized labor who opposed his anti-labor-union, right-to-work views. In January 1945 Byrnes accompanied Roosevelt to Yalta for the conference with Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin.

After Roosevelt&rsquos death, Byrnes served as U.S. secretary of state under President Harry Truman from July 3, 1945, until January 20, 1947. His activities were central in defining postwar U.S. foreign policy. Along with President Truman, he was one of four representatives at the Potsdam Conference near Berlin in July 1945, and he confronted ongoing issues among the Allies and the Soviets. A September 1946 speech by Byrnes at Stuttgart, West Germany, countered European fears that the United States would return to isolationism and retreat as a world power. Byrnes reassured the German people that the United States would help reestablish their nation on a sound basis and assist in plans for a provisional government. He also restated the United States&rsquo commitment to maintain troops in Germany. This had the effect of blunting Soviet claims that only they favored German recovery and self-government. The French and the British were also encouraged to accept the Truman administration&rsquos policies for rebuilding postwar Europe, since it was evident that the United States would not sacrifice them for an exclusive American-Soviet friendship.

Byrnes subsequently feuded with Truman over the politics of foreign policy, the appointment of his successor as secretary of state, and a speech at Washington and Lee University in which Byrnes criticized the power of the national government. He returned to Spartanburg but practiced law with a Washington, D.C., firm until spring 1949. Displeased with Truman and the national Democratic Party, Byrnes supported Strom Thurmond&rsquos 1948 &ldquoDixiecrat&rdquo bid for president. In the process, he ruptured his old friendship with state senator Edgar A. Brown, whom he had known years before in Aiken.

Nevertheless, Byrnes was elected governor in 1950 in a &ldquowelcome home&rdquo atmosphere. He proposed some reforms, including more funds for the state hospital for the mentally ill. Central, however, was his position on racial segregation and public education. In his inaugural address in 1951, Byrnes proposed a sales tax to provide &ldquosubstantial equality&rdquo in segregated public school facilities. The legislature subsequently passed a three-percent general sales tax to pay for new school buildings, better school bus transportation, and more organized school districts in an effort to upgrade education for African Americans. As an advocate of the &ldquoseparate but equal&rdquo policy, Byrnes remained a segregationist. Critics saw his stance as a lost opportunity for perhaps the only political leader in the region with sufficient national stature, a &ldquomodern day Calhoun,&rdquo to exercise the leadership to end racial segregation. Instead, Byrnes blamed &ldquoNegro agitators&rdquo and &ldquoWashington politicians&rdquo and even threatened to abandon the public school system rather than desegregate. His politics became more and more distant from the national Democratic Party. In 1952 he endorsed Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Republican presidential candidate, and invited &ldquoIke&rdquo to speak from the State House steps in Columbia. Byrnes supported Eisenhower in 1956 and Richard M. Nixon in the 1960 presidential election.

Byrnes wrote two autobiographies, Speaking Frankly (1947) and All in One Lifetime (1958). The royalties were donated to the Byrnes Foundation, which granted college scholarships to South Carolina orphans. Byrnes left a series of political legacies in South Carolina, the nation, and the world. His advocacy of highway and New Deal legislation provided numerous material benefits to South Carolinians. His services to President Roosevelt had a major impact on the national economy during World War II. His role as secretary of state was instrumental in defining postwar foreign policy. In the 1950s and 1960s Byrnes&rsquos support of Republican presidential candidates was a key factor in the party&rsquos revitalization in the South.

After several years of declining health, Byrnes died in his Columbia home on April 9, 1972. He was buried in the Trinity Episcopal Church cemetery.

Byrnes, James F. All in One Lifetime. New York: Harper, 1958. &ndash&ndash&ndash. Speaking Frankly. New York: Harper, 1947. Clements, Kendrick A., ed. James F. Byrnes and the Origins of the Cold War.

James Francis Byrnes

Charlestonian by birth, this great statesman served his country as Congressman (1911-25) Senator (1931-41) Supreme Court Justice (1941-43) Head of WWII Office of Economic Development (1942-43) Director of War Mobilization where he was generally regarded as Special Assistant to the President (1943-45): Secretary of State (1945-47) and finally, Governor of South Carolina (1951-55).

Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, World II. A significant historical year for this entry is 1995.

Location. 32° 46.537′ N, 79° 55.879′ W. Marker is in Charleston, South Carolina, in Charleston County. Marker is on Meeting Street, on the left when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Charleston SC 29401, United States of America. Touch for directions.

Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Judge J. Waties Waring (a few steps from this marker) Sol Blatt, Jr. (a few steps from this marker) Ernest F. "Fritz" Hollings (a few steps from this marker) Poyas-Mordecai House (within shouting distance of this marker) Constitutional Convention of 1868 (within shouting distance of this marker) The South Carolina Society (within shouting distance of this marker)

John Cordes Prioleau House (within shouting distance of this marker) U.S. Courthouse and Post Office / Briggs V. Elliott (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Charleston.

Also see . . . Biography of James Francis Byrnes. US Department of State Office of the Historian website. (Submitted on September 1, 2013, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey.)


Cut text due to tight binding.

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James Francis Byrnes

James Francis Byrnes (1882-1972) served as governor of South Carolina from 1951-1955.

"B" is for Byrnes, James Francis (1882-1972). Congressman, U.S. senator, U.S. Supreme Court justice, U.S. secretary of state, governor. Over his lifetime, Byrnes—a native of Charleston--held many.

This lesson consists of film and videotapes taken from events in Mr. Byrnes' career. We are fortunate in this program that we can actually see and hear Mr. Byrnes himself. The news films were.

Born in Charleston in 1879, Governor James Byrnes (1879-1972) attended local schools. Because of his father's death, Byrnes had to begin working early in life to help support his mother. He worked as.

James Francis Byrnes (see Governor James Byrnes) rose to prominence in South Carolina and the nation, first in the House of Representatives, and then in the Senate. A supporter of Roosevelt's New Deal.

This monument honors James F. Byrnes 1879–1972, who served as South Carolina congressman, senator, governor, and secretary of state of the United States.

James Francis Byrnes - History

St Patrick's Parochial School, Charleston: Withdrew at 14)
Byrnes was awarded honorary LL.D. degrees from John Marshall College, University of South Carolina, Columbia University, Yale University, and Washington and Lee University

U.S. House of Representatives: 1911-1925
U.S. Senate: 1931-1941
U.S. Supreme Court: 1941-1942
U.S. Secretary of State: 1945-1947

Byrnes accompanied President Franklin D. Roosevelt to the Yalta Conference.
Byrnes accompanied President Harry Truman to the Potsdam Conference in 1945.
Byrnes authored Speaking Frankly and All In One Lifetime .
The James F. Byrnes Foundation, which grants college scholarships, was established in 1948.

1950: James Francis Byrnes, Jr. was elected governor without opposition, receiving 50,633 votes.

November 7, 1950: At age 68, James Francis Byrnes, Jr. was the oldest person ever to be elected governor of SC James Francis Byrnes, Jr. was born on May 2, 1882 in Charleston, SC. His father, James Francis Byrnes, died of tuberculosis six weeks before he was born. His mother, Elizabeth McSweeney Byrnes, was an Irish-American dressmaker. At the age of 14, he left St. Patrick's Catholic School to work in a law office, and became a court stenographer.

James Francis Byrnes, Jr. never attended high school, college, or law school. In 1900, when his cousin Gov. Miles Benjamin McSweeney appointed him as a clerk for Judge Robert Aldrich of Aiken, he needed to be 21. Byrnes, his mother, and Gov. McSweeney just changed his date of birth to that of his older sister Leonora. He later apprenticed to a lawyer – a not uncommon practice then – read for the law, and was admitted to the South Carolina bar in 1903.

In 1906, James Francis Byrnes, Jr. married Maude Perkins Busch of Aiken, SC, and they had no children.

In 1908, James Francis Byrnes, Jr. was appointed Solicitor for the 2nd Circuit of South Carolina, serving until 1910. Byrnes was a protégé of former governor and U.S. Senator Benjamin Ryan Tillman, and often had a moderating influence on the fiery segregationist Senator.

In 1910, he narrowly won the state's 3rd U.S. Congressional District in the Democratic primary, then tantamount to election. Byrnes proved a brilliant legislator, working behind the scenes to form coalitions and avoiding the high-profile oratory that characterized much of Southern politics. He was a champion of the "good roads" movement that attracted motorists and politicians to large-scale road building programs in the 1920s. He became a close ally to President Woodrow Wilson, and Wilson often entrusted important political tasks to the capable young representative rather than to more experienced lawmakers.

After his U.S. House of Representatives term ended in 1925, Byrnes was out of office. He moved his law practice to Spartanburg, in the industrializing Piedmont region. Between his law practice and investment advice from friends such as Bernard Baruch, Byrnes became a wealthy man, but he never took his eyes off of a return to politics. He cultivated the Piedmont textile workers, who were key Blease supporters. In 1930, he challenged Blease again. Blease again led the primary, with 46 percent to 38 percent for Byrnes, but this time Byrnes won the run-off 51 to 49 percent.

During his time in the U.S. Senate, James Francis Byrnes, Jr. was regarded as the most influential South Carolinian since John C. Calhoun. He had long been friends with Franklin D. Roosevelt, whom he supported for the Democratic nomination in 1932, and made himself the President's spokesman on the U.S. Senate floor, where he guided much of the early New Deal legislation to passage. He won an easy reelection in 1936, promising:

"I admit I am a New Dealer, and if [the New Deal] takes money from the few who have controlled the country and gives it back to the average man, I am going to Washington to help the President work for the people of South Carolina and the country."

Since the colonial era, South Carolina's politicians had dreamed of an inland waterway system that would not only aid commerce, but also control flooding. By the 1930s, Senator Byrnes took up the cause for a massive dam-building project, Santee Cooper, that would not only accomplish those tasks but also electrify the entire state with hydroelectric power. With South Carolina financially strapped by the Great Depression, Senator Byrnes managed to get the federal government to authorize a loan for the entire project, which was completed and put into operation in February of 1942. The loan was later paid back to the federal government with full interest and at no cost to SC taxpayers. Santee Cooper has continued to be a model for public-owned electrical utilities world-wide.

In 1937, Byrnes supported President Roosevelt on the highly-controversial court packing plan, but voted against the minimum wage law of 1938 that would have made, as he argued, the textile mills in his state uncompetitive. He opposed President Roosevelt's efforts to purge conservative Democrats in the 1938 primary elections. On foreign policy, Byrnes was a champion of President Roosevelt's positions of helping Great Britain and France against Nazi Germany in 1939�, and of maintaining a hard diplomatic line against Japan.

Senator Byrnes played a key role in blocking anti-lynching legislation, notably the Castigan-Wagner bill of 1935 and the Gavagan bill of 1937. Byrnes even claimed that lynching was necessary "in order to hold in check the Negro in the south", saying "rape is responsible, directly and indirectly, for most of the lynching in America."

In part as a reward for his crucial support on many issues, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed James Francis Byrnes, Jr. an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court in July of 1941. He was the last Justice appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court who had been admitted to practice by reading law he did not attend law school. Byrnes resigned from the court after only fifteen months to head the Office of Economic Stabilization.

President Roosevelt brought James Francis Byrnes, Jr. to the Yalta Conference in early 1945, where he seemed to favor Soviet plans. After Roosevelt died, Harry S. Truman was elevated to the Presidency, and he appointed James Francis Byrnes, Jr. as Secretary of State on July 3, 1945. He played a major role at the Potsdam Conference, the Paris Peace Conference, and other major postwar conferences. According to historian Robert H. Ferrell, Byrnes knew little more about foreign relations than Truman. He made decisions after consulting a few advisors, such as Donald S. Russell and Benjamin V. Cohen. Byrnes and his small group paid little attention to the State Department and similarly ignored the President.

In 1950, at the age of sixty-eight, James Francis Byrnes, Jr. was elected governor of South Carolina, serving from 1951 to 1955, in which capacity he vigorously criticized the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

Ironically, Gov. James Francis Byrnes, Jr. was initially seen as a relative moderate on race issues. Recognizing that the South could not continue with its entrenched segregationist policies much longer but fearful of the U.S. Congress imposing sweeping change upon the South, he opted for a course of change from within. To that end, he sought to fulfill at last the "separate but equal" policy which the South had put forward in several U.S. Supreme Court civil rights cases, particularly in regard to public education.

Gov. Byrnes poured state money into improving black schools, buying new textbooks and new buses, and hiring additional teachers. He also sought to curb the power of the Ku Klux Klan by passing a law that prohibited adults from wearing a mask in public on any day other than Halloween he knew that many Klansmen feared exposure, and would not appear in public in their robes unless their faces were hidden as well. Byrnes hoped to make South Carolina an example for other Southern states to follow in modifying their "Jim Crow" policies. Nonetheless, the NAACP sued South Carolina to force the state to desegregate its schools. Byrnes requested Kansas, a northern state which also segregated its schools, to provide an Amicus curiae brief in supporting the right of a state to segregate its schools. This gave the NAACP's lawyer, Thurgood Marshall, the idea to shift the suit from South Carolina over to Kansas, which led directly to Brown v. Board of Education.

The SC Constitution limited governors to one four-year term, and James Francis Byrnes, Jr. retired from active political life following the 1954 election.

In his later years, James Francis Byrnes, Jr. foresaw that the American South could play a more important role in national politics. To hasten that development, he sought to end the region's nearly automatic support of the Democratic Party, which Byrnes believed had grown too liberal and took the "Solid South" for granted at election time, yet otherwise ignored the region and its needs. In time, he switched his own affiliation to the Republican Party, and South Carolina within two decades of his death had become a solid Republican state.

Byrnes endorsed Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952, segregationist candidate Harry Byrd in 1956, Richard M. Nixon in 1960 and 1968, and Barry Goldwater in 1964. He gave his private blessing to U.S. Senator James Strom Thurmond of SC to bolt the Democratic Party in 1964 and declare himself a Republican, but Byrnes himself remained a Democrat.

In 1965, Byrnes spoke out against the punishment and humiliation of SC U.S. Representative Albert W. Watson, who had been stripped of his congressional seniority by the House Democratic Caucus after endorsing Barry Goldwater for president. Byrnes openly endorsed Watson's retention to Congress in a special election held in 1965 against the Democrat Preston Callison. Watson secured $20,000 and the services of a GOP field representative in what he termed "quite a contrast" to his treatment from House colleagues.

In 1968, Byrnes secretly advised Nixon on how to win old-time Southern Democrats to the Republican Party.

James Francis Byrnes

James Francis Byrnes was born on May 2, 1879 in Charleston, South Carolina. Byrnes’ father died before he was born, and he was raised by his mother, who was a dressmaker. He left school at the age of fourteen to begin working in a law office. Eventually, he became a court stenographer. Byrnes went on to apprentice as a lawyer and then he sat for the bar, which he passed in 1903.


After passing the bar, Byrnes became the district prosecutor in 1908. He then served on the U.S. House of Representatives from 1911 until 1925. After finishing his tenure with the House, Byrnes ran for a Democratic Senate position, which he did not win. After losing the Senate election, Byrnes returned to private practice until 1931.

In 1931, Byrnes again ran for the U.S. Senate, and this time he was elected. He served on the Senate until 1941. During his time with the Senate, Byrnes helped the President Roosevelt’s New Deal through Congress.

Supreme Court

James F. Byrnes served one year and two and a half months on the Supreme Court. The only other Justice who served on the Court for less time than was Byrnes was John Rutledge, who served for a year and eighteen days. He began his tenure with the Supreme Court in July of 1941 and resigned in October 1942. During his short time on the Court, Byrnes wrote sixteen opinions. Byrnes believed strongly that it was the Court’s job to interpret laws, not to make them.

Byrnes chose to resign because he missed the political action he had been a part of as a member of the legislature.

Later Years

After his resignation from the Supreme Court, he was named Director of the Office of Economic Stabilization. In 1943 he was named Director of the Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion.

Byrnes attended the Yalta Conference with Roosevelt in 1945. After President Roosevelt’s death in April 1945, Byrnes went back to South Carolina until President Truman named him Secretary of State a few months later. He later accompanied President Truman to the Potsdam Conference in his capacity as Secretary of State. It was under Byrnes’ advice that the two atomic bombs were dropped on Japan during World War II. Byrnes remained the Secretary State until 1947 when he resigned after some disagreements with the President.

In 1947, Byrnes was named Time Magazine’s Man of the Year for the year 1946.

Byrnes was elected Governor of South Carolina in 1951. During his time as Governor he supported separate but equal education for African Americans. Byrnes poured money into African American schools to do what he could to make them equal to the schools white children attended. South Carolina had a one-term limit for Governor and as such, Byrnes stepped down in 1955.

Byrnes’ ‘Speech of Hope’ on German autonomy (1946)

In September 1946 James F. Byrnes, the United States Secretary of State, addressed an audience in Stuttgart. This became known as the ‘Speech of Hope’ because it promised Germans an eventual return to self-government:

“I have come to Germany to learn first hand the problems involved in the reconstruction of Germany – and to discuss with our representatives the views of the United States Government as to some of the problems confronting us. We in the United States have given considerable time and attention to these problems because upon their proper solution will depend not only the future well being of Germany, but the future well being of Europe…

The American people want peace. They have long since ceased to talk of a hard or a soft peace for Germany. This has never been the real issue. What we want is a lasting peace. We will oppose soft measures which invite the breaking of the peace.

In agreeing at Potsdam that Germany should be disarmed and demilitarised, and in proposing that the four major powers should by treaty jointly undertake to see that Germany is kept disarmed and demilitarised for a generation, the United States is not unmindful of the responsibility resting upon it and its major Allies to maintain and enforce peace under the law.

Freedom from militarism will give the German people the opportunity, if they will seize it, to apply their great energies and abilities to the works of peace. It will give them the opportunity to show themselves worthy of the respect and friendship of peace-loving nations – and, in time, to take an honourable place among members of the United Nations.

It is not in the interest of the German people or in the interest of world peace that Germany should become a pawn or a partner in a military struggle for power between the East and the West…

We favour the economic unification of Germany. If complete unification cannot be secured, we shall do everything in our power to secure the maximum possible unification…

It is the view of the American Government that the German people throughout Germany, under proper safeguards, should now be given the primary responsibility for the running of their own affairs.

More than a year has passed since hostilities ceased. The millions of German people should not be forced to live in doubt as to their fate. It is the view of the American government that the Allies should, without delay, make clear to the German people the essential terms of the peace settlement which they expect the German people to accept and observe. It is our view that the German people should now be permitted and helped to make the necessary preparations for setting up a democratic German government which can accept and observe these terms.

From now on thoughtful people of the world will judge Allied action in Germany not by Allied promises but by Allied performances. The American government has supported and will continue to support the necessary measures to de-Nazify and demilitarise Germany, but it does not follow that large armies of foreign soldiers or alien bureaucrats, however well motivated and disciplined, are in the long run the most reliable guardians of another country’s democracy.

All that the Allied governments can and should do is to lay down the rules under which German democracy can govern itself. The Allied occupation forces should be limited to the number sufficient to see that these rules are obeyed…

The United States cannot relieve Germany from the hardships inflicted upon her by the war her leaders started. But the United States has no desire to increase those hardships or to deny the German people an opportunity to work their way out of those hardships so long as they respect human freedom and cling to the paths of peace.

The American people want to return the government of Germany to the German people. The American people want to help the German people to win their way back to an honourable place among the free and peace-loving nations of the world.”

Watch the video: Marshall Succeeds Byrnes 1947 (December 2022).

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