Harry F. Byrd
|Harry F. Byrd|
|Former U.S. Senator from Virginia|
From: March 4, 1933 – November 10, 1965
|Predecessor||Claude A. Swanson|
|Successor||Harry F. Byrd, Jr.|
|Former Governor of Virginia|
From: February 1, 1926 – January 15, 1930
|Lieutenant||Junius Edgar West|
|Predecessor||Elbert Lee Trinkle|
|Successor||John Garland Pollard|
|Former State Senator from Virginia's 26th District|
From: January 9, 1924 – February 1, 1926
|Predecessor||James M. Dickerson|
|Successor||Joseph S. Denny|
|Former State Senator from Virginia's 10th District|
From: January 12, 1916 – January 9, 1924
|Predecessor||Frank S. Tavenner|
|Successor||Marshall B. Booker|
|Spouse(s)||Anne Douglas Beverley|
Harry Flood Byrd, Sr. (June 10, 1887 – October 20, 1966) was a senator from the state of Virginia from 1933 to 1965. A staunch opponent of desegregation, he was a Southern Democrat who led the Byrd Organization, a political machine during the 20th century that dominated statewide politics in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Having been a member of the Conservative Coalition, Byrd was also remembered as a leader against New Deal initiatives spearheaded by FDR.
Harry Flood Byrd was born on June 10, 1887 to Richard Evelyn Byrd and Eleanor Bolling Flood in Martinsburg, West Virginia. Reared in Winchester along with his brothers, Byrd's lifelong prominence would root to the Southern culture he was raised with there. Quitting school at the age of fifteen, he managed to take over the family newspaper that had been failing, and transformed it into an enterprise that was profitable.
Early political career
At the age of 21, Byrd began his political career by serving an appointed term on the Winchester City Council. Losing election to a second term in the position, he would no longer take any elections for granted in the rest of his lifetime.
In 1915, Byrd was elected to the Virginia State Senate, and would serve for eight years from the 10th district and two years from the 26th district. Here, he was known for favoring prohibition, having an expertise on fiscal matters, in addition to being an opponent of women's suffrage.
Governor of Virginia
After having experience in running a Democrat political machine, Byrd garnered the experience that propelled him to successfully run in the 1925 Virginia gubernatorial election, defeating G. Walter Mapp in the primary and later Republican S. Harris Hoge in the general election held in November that year.
A fiscal conservative who favored a business-like approach to running government, Gov. Byrd was known for having centralized executive powers, re-organized the state government overall, utilized an authorized survey to reduce the number of elected state officers from eight to three, abolished a number of state agencies, and altered the statewide tax system that left the income tax to the state while allowing precincts/localities to enact taxations on personal property and real estate. All this had generated a surplus of four million dollars for the treasury, and the policies leading up to such was met with overall approval from the Virginia legislature.
Following two lynchings in Virginia during Byrd's gubernatorial tenure, the governor pushed the state legislature to pass tough anti-lynching bills; while this was done, the assembly also passed a law without the signature of the governor that segregated all statewide public assemblies.
In 1913, Byrd married Anne Douglas Beverley and had four children; of them, his son Harry F. Byrd, Jr. replaced him in the Senate upon his death in 1966.
- The New Deal and the States: Roosevelt Versus the Byrd Organization in Virginia
- Byrd, Harry Flood - Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress
- Harry F. Byrd (1887–1966) - Encyclopedia Virginia