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Harry F. Byrd, Sr.

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“To serve Virginia is the greatest honor any person can have."

Harry Flood Byrd, Sr., 1887-1966.  Senator from Virginia.  Typed Letter Signed, Harry, one page, 8" x 10½", March 6, 1958, on stationery of the United States Senate, Committee on Finance, March 6, 1958.

Byrd, a Democrat, thanks Arthur Clarendon Smith, Jr., president of the Washington, D.C., Democratic Club, for his letter.  In full:  “After reading your letter, which touched me deeply, I wondered how I could find words to answer it.  I can only say thank you from the bottom of my heart.  /  To serve Virginia is the greatest honor any person can have.  /  I will do my utmost to merit your confidence and friendship, which I value so highly.  /  Mrs. Byrd joins me in wishing the best of everything for you."

Byrd, a fiscal conservative, represented Virginia in the United States Senate for more than 30 years.  A former governor of Virginia from 1926-1930, he was appointed to the Senate on March 4, 1933, and subsequently elected on November 7, 1933, to fill a vacancy.  He was reelected in 1934, 1940, 1946, 1952, 1958, and 1964, and he served until he resigned on November 10, 1965.  During his tenure, he chaired the Senate Committee on Rules, Committee on Finance, Joint Committee on the Reduction of Nonessential Federal Expenditures, and Joint Committee on Internal Revenue Taxation. 

Byrd was a States Rights candidate for president in 1956.  Four years later, in the closely contested 1960 presidential race, Byrd won 15 electoral votes:  all eight in Mississippi, six of 11 in Alabama (John F. Kennedy won the other five), and one of eight in Oklahoma (Richard Nixon won the other seven). Interestingly, two vice presidential candidates got electoral votes with Byrd in 1960—Strom Thurmond, the 1948 States Rights presidential nominee, got 14 from Mississippi and Alabama, and Barry Goldwater, who would become the Republican presidential nominee in 1964, got one from Oklahoma.

Byrd was the older brother of Arctic and Antarctic explorer Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd.  He was also the father of Harry Flood Byrd, Jr., who succeeded him in the Senate.  The son was appointed as a Democrat but was reelected as an Independent in 1970 and 1976 and served until January 2, 1983.

This letter has some toning around the edges, and Smith has initialed it above the inside address, but otherwise it is in fine condition.






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