Theodore G. Bilbo's Senatorial Career: The Final Years, 1941-1947

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

John R. Skates

Advisor Department



This study was an examination of Theodore G. Bilbo's final years as a member of the United States Senate to determine the circumstances that made him such a controversial public figure on racial matters after World War II. Another purpose of the research was to uncover the part his racial rhetoric played in initiating the Senate's investigation into his conduct in office during the latter part of 1946. The major source for this project was the Theodore G. Bilbo Collection, housed at the University of Southern Mississippi. This archive contains all of the senator's correspondence for the period under investigation. Other sources of information were the Bilbo Papers at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History in Jackson, Mississippi, and the records of the Senate Investigating Committees in the National Archives at Washington, D.C. The dissertation begins with an opening chapter that summarizes the senator's political career from 1908-1940 followed by a chapter detailing his campaign for re-election to the Senate in 1940. Chapters Three through Six form the heart of the paper, with emphasis on Bilbo's increasing militance in opposition to equal rights for blacks. The seventh chapter is a detailed examination of the two Senate investigations conducted against Bilbo and the movement to bar him from taking the oath for a third term in January 1947. In the final chapter the author concludes that Bilbo's political problems during his final years in the United States Senate are traceable to his racial pronouncements after World War II. Bilbo's use of race as a political tool to win re-election to a third term fixed his place in history as one of the most notorious racists.