James Eastland

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James Oliver Eastland (November 28, 1904 – February 19, 1986) was an American politician from Mississippi who briefly served in the United States Senate as a Democrat in 1941; and again from 1943 until his resignation December 27, 1978. From 1947 to 1978, he served alongside John Stennis, also a Democrat. At the time, Eastland and Stennis were the longest-serving Senate duo in American history, though their record was subsequently surpassed by Strom Thurmond and Fritz Hollings of South Carolina, who served together for 36 years. Eastland was also the most senior member of the Senate at the time of his retirement in 1978. He compiled a conservative record in support of the conservative coalition.


Early life

Eastland was born in Doddsville, the son of Woods Caperton Eastland, a cotton planter, and Alma Teresa (Austin) Eastland. In 1905 he moved with his parents to Forest where he attended public schools. A lawyer in rural Mississippi, he served one term in the state House of Representatives from 1928 to 1932. In the 1930s, he took over the family's Sunflower County plantation, which eventually grew to nearly 6,000 acres (24 km2). Even after entering politics, he considered himself first and foremost a cotton planter.

Political career

Eastland was first appointed to the Senate in 1941 following the death of Senator Pat Harrison, but did not run in the special election for the seat later in the year; it was won by 2nd District Congressman Wall Doxey. In 1942, Eastland was one of three candidates who challenged Doxey for a full term. Even though Doxey had the support of President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) and Mississippi's senior U.S. Senator, Theodore G. Bilbo, Eastland defeated him in the Democratic primary. In those days, winning the Democratic nomination was tantamount to election in Mississippi, and Eastland returned to the Senate on January 3, 1943.

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