John Stennis

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John C. Stennis
Former U.S. Senator from Mississippi
From: November 5, 1947 – January 3, 1989
Predecessor Theodore G. Bilbo
Successor Trent Lott
Former Member of the Mississippi
House of Representatives

From: 1928–1932
Predecessor ???
Successor ???
Party Democrat
Spouse(s) Coy Hines Stennis

John Cornelius Stennis (August 3, 1901 – April 23, 1995) was the Democrat Senator from Mississippi from 1947 to 1989, succeeding the vitriolic racist demagogue Theodore Bilbo. Stennis was opposed to anti-lynching legislation, anti-poll tax amendments, the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1968, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Employment Practices Committee.[1] After the Supreme Court ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education, Stennis proposed maintaining segregation by improving African American schools so that integration could be rendered unconstitutionally unnecessary. Stennis was among 19 Democrat senators who signed the Southern Manifesto in defiance of the Brown vs. Board decision.[2] From 1947 to 1978, he was a senatorial colleague of the similarly-minded James Eastland. He proved himself to be an establishment Democrat through his votes against Joseph McCarthy[3] and Robert Bork.[4]

The Southern Manifesto was signed on a large mahogany conference table in Stennis' office which Stennis used as his desk and referred to as "the flagship of the Confederacy." The table was used by segregationist and co-signer of the Southern Manifesto Senator Richard Russell, Jr. of Georgia before his retirement. After the majority Democrats defeated the Civil Rights Act of 1957, Republicans reintroduced the bill. Senate Democrat Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson told Stennis, "Let's face it. Our a** is in a crack. We're gonna have to let this n***er bill pass."[5][6]

According to former Harvard historian and Johnson staffer Doris Kearns Goodwin, LBJ explained his position thus:

"These Negroes, they’re getting pretty uppity these days and that’s a problem for us since they’ve got something now they never had before, the political pull to back up their uppityness. Now we’ve got to do something about this, we’ve got to give them a little something, just enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference."[7]

According to credible accounts,[8] Johnson went on to say,

"I’ll have those n*****s voting Democrat for the next 200 years.”[9]

Upon Stennis' retirement 1988, Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware honored the longtime segregationist:

"To think that I would be one day on the floor of the United States Senate, being paid such accolades by such a man of character and courage as John Stennis is beyond my wildest dreams. And I mean that sincerely."[10]

Stennis gifted the mahogany conference table upon which the Southern Manifesto was signed and Biden took over Stennis' office space. When Sen. Biden was elected Vice President in 2008, Biden had the flagship of the Confederacy conference table moved into the Vice President's residence.[Citation Needed]

See also


  1. Segregationists. Equal Justice Initiative. Retrieved April 17, 2021.
  2. GPO-CRECB-1956-pt4-3.pdf. Congressional Record. Retrieved April 17, 2021.
  3. S. RES. 301. PASSAGE.
  5. Biography or Autobiography. Past winners & finalists by category. The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 2012-03-24.
  6. Caro, Robert A. (2002). The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Master of the Senate, Volume 3. New York: Knopf. p. 954. ISBN 0394528360.
  7. Goodwin, Doris Kearns (1977). Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream. New York: New American Library. p. 155. ISBN 0451140826
  8. Emery, David (July 24, 2016). Did LBJ Say ‘I’ll Have Those N*****s Voting Democratic for 200 Years’?. Snopes. Retrieved February 14, 2021. (Warning: Article contains inappropriate descriptions and quotes with foul language)

External links