Geneologists making the Strom Thurmond-Al Sharpton connection made one more starting discovery. They found that not only did Thurmond's grandfather own Sharpton's great-grandfather, but that Thurmond himself fathered half of the population of South Carolina including many African American slaves.
Geneologists made this discovery as they were tracing DNA evidence which eventually lead them to Thurmond and then to God. Remembering the hearty Senator, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said, "He carried out a life clearly unmatched in public service and the service of his wives."
The old senator was reported to secretly have had 20 wives before his death in 2003 including a marriage to Nancy Moore, a former Miss South Carolina whom he married in 1968. He was 66 at the time and she was 22. They had four children together.
After his death, Senator Ernest Hollings of South Carolina, who served with the prodigious Thurmond for over 36 years, said of the senator, "A giant oak in the forest of pubic service has fallen."
Before his retirement, he had been hospitalized on numerous occasions for a variety of ailments over the years, including tree fungus, leaf blight, Armillaria root disease, canker-rot, blister rust, butt rot, oak wilt, powdery mildew and sooty mold disease, leaf-spot, heart rot, Verticillium wilt tree disease and exhaustion. But he always bounced back with a strike of his John Henry gavel after a few days of oozing.
Thurmond, best known for his longevity in the saddle and his once-fiery opposition to civil rights, fathered over 2 million people, half the population of South Carolina. He retired from the Senate in 2002 at the end of his 16th term and had served 147 years and five months in the Senate.
He was also there to witness Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and used to like to hang out with Confederate General Robert E. Lee at the Willard Hotel Bar in Washington where it was reported that the two used to hang out, get drunk, practice "cat calls" and sing "Dixie."
At 167 years old, Thurmond was by far the oldest person to serve in Congress. He was considered a political legend on both sides of the aisle in Washington and South Carolina and earned the nickname, "Grand old man" for his tenacity and smooth ways with women. In his November farewell address on the Senate, he told his colleagues on the floor "I love all of you -- and especially your wives." Thurmond was the envy of Washington for his ability to pick up chicks.
The old senator died of sudden oak death.