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Ellison D. Smith

In office
March 4, 1909 – November 17, 1944
Preceded by Frank B. Gary
Succeeded by Wilton E. Hall

Born August 1, 1864(1864-08-01)
Lynchburg, South Carolina
Died November 17, 1944 (aged 80)
Lynchburg, South Carolina
Political party Democratic
Residence Lynchburg

Ellison DuRant "Cotton Ed" Smith (August 1, 1864 - November 17, 1944) was a Democratic Party politician from the U.S. state of South Carolina. He represented South Carolina in the United States Senate from 1909 until 1944.

Smith was born in Lynchburg, South Carolina. Smith attended the University of South Carolina, where he was a member of Kappa Alpha Order Fraternity, and graduated from Wofford College in 1889. Smith served in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1896 to 1900. Smith was unsuccessful in his bid to become a member of the U.S. House of Representatives in 1900. Smith then worked in the Agriculture industry, becoming a figure in the cotton industry (which earned him the nickname "Cotton Ed").

Smith was elected to the United States Senate in 1908. He was re-elected five times, although from 1920 until 1944, Smith had four close elections, with three of them leading to run-off elections. Smith never won more than 61% in Democratic party primaries in this time.

In the 1930s, Smith emerged as an opponent to the New Deal, leading President Franklin Roosevelt to try unsuccessfully to have Smith defeated in the 1938 primary. Smith won re-election in a close election in that year. Cotton Ed Smith lost renomination for the Senate in 1944 to Olin D. Johnston and he died soon afterwards, even before his Senate term had expired.

Smith opposed the woman's suffrage movement, and specifically the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution. Tying the amendment to black suffrage, he warned on the Senate floor "Here is exactly the identical same amendment applied to the other half of the Negro race. The southern man who votes for the Susan B. Anthony Amendment votes to ratify the Fifteenth Amendment."[1]

At the 1936 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Smith walked out of the convention hall once he saw that a "Negro" minister was going to deliver the invocation. Smith recalled, "He started praying and I started walking. And from his great plantation in the sky, John C. Calhoun bent down and whispered in my ear – 'You done good, Ed.'"


  1. ^ Cong. Rec., 58:618 (June 4, 1919)
  • David Robertson, Sly and Able: A Political Biography of James A. Byrnes, pp. 150, 190-196, 269-298, 328, 337, 342, 495-496, 533 (New York: W.W. Norton 1994) ISBN 0-393-03367-8.

External links

United States Senate
Preceded by
Frank B. Gary
United States Senator (Class 3) from South Carolina
March 4, 1909–November 17, 1944
Served alongside: Benjamin Tillman, Christie Benet, William P. Pollock, Nathaniel B. Dial, Coleman Livingston Blease, James F. Byrnes, Alva M. Lumpkin, Roger C. Peace, Burnet R. Maybank
Succeeded by
Wilton E. Hall
Honorary titles
Preceded by
William E. Borah
Dean of the United States Senate
January 19, 1940–November 17, 1944
Succeeded by
Kenneth McKellar


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