Project Director

Eckelmann Berghel, Susan

Department Examiner

Strickler, Jeremy; Johnson, Mark


Dept. of History


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


A consideration of the life and politics of Senator Harry F. Byrd provides further evidence that some Southern legislators broke with the national Democratic Party as early as the 1940s and articulated the main tenets of contemporary Southern conservative politics. A consideration of the internal struggles of the Democratic Party in Virginia within the context of the broader political landscape highlights the significance of Byrd’s career in the Senate and his role in the national Democratic party. In addition, this thesis will consider why Senator Byrd decided to remain in the Democratic party for the entirety of his career when so many of his Southern colleagues were changing party affiliations. I maintain that while Byrd’s policies resembled that of a nominal Democrat and perhaps even a reluctant Republican, his political loyalty remained with the Democratic Party. Byrd’s political career married fiscal and social conservatism all the while facing pressure from those within his party to submit to the tide of liberalization that would sweep over the Democratic caucus during his time in the Senate. In much the same way that he would be caught in between the Democratic and Republican parties, Harry Byrd’s fiscal policies failed to shift across the decades as he moved from state to national government. In some ways Byrd’s anti-deficit anti-debt policies served as a Dixiecrat’s warning shot of fiscal conservative movements to come.


I would like to thank Dr. Susan Eckelmann Berghel for the time and effort she has poured into mentoring me over this past year. I could not have asked for a more caring or passionate thesis director. Throughout this process she pushed me to keep going and was a constant voice of reassurance. She has been a great mentor to me, and she is someone who truly embodies all that is good and noble about the study of history. I would also like to thank Drs. Mark Johnson and Jeremy Strickler for so generously taking the time out of their busy schedules to offer their input on multiple drafts. At both the early and late stages of this work the insight their feedback provided was extremely valuable to the final product. I would also like to thank all those at the UTC History Department who have helped mold my work as a historian. I have been blessed to have associated with such a supportive community of scholars and mentors.


B. A.; An honors thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Bachelor of Arts.




Party affiliation; Politicians--Virginia


Byrd, Harry F., Jr. (Harry Flood), 1914-2013


Harry Byrd; Democrat; South; Conservative; Machine; Segregationist


United States History

Document Type



77 leaves