"S" is for Smith, Ellison Durant (1864-1944)

May 31, 2019

Credit SC Public Radio

"S" is for Smith, Ellison Durant (1864-1944). U.S. Senator. Smith represented Sumter County in the legislature from 1897-1901. After losing a bid for Congress, he began working with several agricultural organizations. In 1905, traveled the Southeast for the Southern Cotton Association--organizing growers and polishing his oratorical skills. In 1908 he stunned the political establishment by winning election to the United States Senate—where he remained for thirty-six years. Smith’s passionate defense of cotton growers led a reporter in Colliers magazine to describe him as a “press agent for King Cotton.” His constituents dubbed him “Cotton Ed” Smith. While identified with cotton for his first four terms, he became best known as a champion of racial segregation later in his career. Ellison Durant Smith died several months after his defeat in the 1944 Democratic primary.