Skip to comments.Thurmond's mixed-race daughter seeks to join Daughters of Confederacy
Posted on 07/02/2004 4:17:36 PM PDT by churchillbuff
There was a story that the late U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond never tired of telling his fellow members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. It was about how, in April 1865, after the tattered survivors of Gen. Robert E. Lee's army stacked their rifles in surrender at Appomattox, his grandfather, George Washington Thurmond, walked more than 300 miles back to his farm in Edgefield County, S.C.
Now, Thurmond's mixed-race daughter, Essie Mae Washington Williams, is taking action to claim her share of that heritage. She's planning to apply to join the United Daughters of the Confederacy, a 109-year-old organization whose membership is limited to women who can prove they have a Confederate ancestor.
One of the group's purposes is preserving Confederate symbols. In South Carolina, it opposed removing the Confederate battle flag from atop the State House. The flag was moved to the capitol grounds in 2000.
Williams realizes that the UDC traditionally has not been viewed warmly by African Americans, said her attorney and spokesman, Frank Wheaton of Los Angeles.
"Certainly she is aware of what the history represents," Wheaton said. "But because of who she is and what she represents to America, she also understands her responsibility to try to make it better for everyone."
She will be welcome in the UDC, the organization's top officer said Thursday.
"We have been in touch with her, and we are waiting now for her decision as to whether she would like to apply," said President General Patsy Limpus. "We have given her a worksheet, and we are waiting for her to get back with us."
Thurmond was 22 when Williams, now 78 and living in Los Angeles, was born to a 16-year-old black maid, Carrie Butler, who worked at his family's Edgefield home. Although the story of their relationship had circulated in South Carolina for years, neither Thurmond nor Williams would ever publicly confirm it during his lifetime. Thurmond died in June 2003 at age 100.
She made her story public at a Columbia news conference in December. Thurmond's four other children, all by his second wife, Nancy, have acknowledged her membership in the family.
As the Dixiecrat candidate for president in 1948 and later in the U.S. Senate throughout the 1950s and '60s, Thurmond argued forcefully in defense of the rigid system of legal separation of the races then in effect in the South. He later moderated his views, but remained a hero to whites who revere the Confederacy and its trappings.
In a statement issued by Wheaton, Williams said, "Through my father's line, I am fortunate to trace my heritage back to the birth of our nation and beyond. On my mother's side, like most African Americans, my history is broken by the course of human events."
She is also seeking membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution, Wheaton said. Her male relatives also are seeking membership in the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Wheaton said.
On Thursday, Williams' name was added to Thurmond's monument on the south side of the State House grounds.
It took two hours to engrave "Essie Mae" on its own line, under the names of the late senator's other children. S.C. lawmakers passed legislation in May to add Williams' name to the statue.
The lady sure does has class I have to say.
Lord have mercy.
I agree that as a 78-year old retired teacher she is well spoken and seems to have real interest in her heritage, which I aplaud. I hope that other folks don't use her, but I sense she just may be a together person trying to sort out her roots and ancestry. If so more power to her!
Miss Essie is a very lovely lady and would be more than welcome, I should think. (I say this as a Southerner.)
Now, if Hillary could prove she was related to a Confederate, we'd all try very, very hard to be very nice, but, bless her heart, she's just has so much to learn about being not only a lady, but having that, you know, humanity that we all know women should have but some are lacking after all.....that tiny, eensy touch of, oh, shoot, what can you call it, class, maybe, that makes trashiness and rudeness and being just plain ethically challenged sort of eccentric.
I know she lived in Arkansas, but really, after all, the only men who can get away with Bill's behavior and not make his wife look like a complete fool are very rare and poor Hillary just looked the fool she is, bless her heart.
But, I'd try......
I agree... personally I can't imagine living back then and some choices people had to make. Thank god this is year 2004 and it's a free USA this July 4th no matter what the liberals say.
"....It was about how, in April 1865, after the tattered survivors of Gen. Robert E. Lee's army stacked their rifles in surrender at Appomattox, his grandfather, George Washington Thurmond, walked more than 300 miles back to his farm in Edgefield County, S.C...."
My great-great grandfather, one Colonel Terry, Virginia Militia, was with Lee at Appomattox, and rode home on the back of Lee's horse.
Good for her!
"Thurmond's four other children, all by his second wife, Nancy, have acknowledged her membership in the family. "
Dignity comes in all colors, and the Thurmond family has it.
There is another son of South Carolina, Jesse Jackson, who never got the memo.
There is another son of South Carolina, Jesse Jackson, who never got the memo.
*** Who for all his bloviating about race, advised his own son to sweep his own love children under the rug. This story about the Thurmond family could have gone a bad route, but it didn't and just shows everyone how far we have come and that CLASS still wins over mean spiritedness.
It would be wonderful to her her join the DAR. And it would be a reminder to those who increasingly promote the myth that full assmiliation is not possible and instead promote the idea of a balkanized mosaic of cultures, most of them in opposition to the traditional main stream of American culture. Anyone, from any background, if they so choose, can assimilate into the traditional core of our culture. Borders, language, culture.
My mother still has her citizenship manual that was given to her when she came to this country. 'courtesy of the DAR' and in bold letters 'printed in english only'.
Whether her parents were married or not, she's still a "Daughter of the Confederacy." Good for her. (If you look far enough back into just about *everybody's* family tree, you'll find a couple "wrong side of the sheets" ancestors.)
Did your mom have to go through a waiting process or citizenship tests?
You go girl!
Waiting yes... she came on a guest worker visa. She had to be prescreened, and also was not allowed in without the requisite shots,etc. It was very different back in the Sixties.
If you are interested in becoming a member, please send your name, mailing address, and telephone number to:
UDC Memorial Building
328 North Boulevard
Richmond, VA 23220-4057
The Business Office will see that you are referred to a Chapter near you. Written or e-mail inquiries directed to the General Organization must include name, mailing address, telephone number, and e-mail address (if any).
Data from a tombstone is not acceptable as proof of military service but may be used as proof of birth and death dates. Proof of applicant's relation to Confederate ancestor must be established through birth, marriage, and death certificates.
I hope someone will extend an invitation to her.
If Ms. Williams can meet whatever proof of ancestry is required by whatever local chapter she's applying to, they ought to let her join just like anybody else. If Thurmond himself and his other children acknowledge the kinship, and her name, by act of the SC legislature, is added to Thurmond's memorial, it ought to be good enough for the UDC.
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