Bilbo, Theodore Gilmore
(1877-1947)
   Born in Juniper Grove, Mississippi, Theodore Bilbo attended Peabody College in Nashville from 1897 to 1899 but left without graduating. After teaching briefly, he also attended Vanderbilt Law School in 1905 but again left without graduating. Nonetheless, he was admitted to the bar in 1907 and, a Democrat, he was elected to the state senate in 1907 but expelled in 1910 for his involvement in an election scandal. In 1911, Bilbo was elected lieutenant governor, and in 1915 he became governor despite further charges of political corruption. He was a progressive governor who raised taxes and increased appropriations for education and a state highway system. He failed to win reelection in 1923 but was successful in 1927. Bilbo was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1934, where, unlike many other southern Democrats and, although an outspoken racist, he remained a staunch supporter of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal. He was reelected in 1946 but was denied his seat by the Senate because of charges that he had advocated violence against black veterans who tried to register to vote. He died of cancer shortly after.

Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . . 2015.

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