"I thought of myself in the Senate as a conservative liberal trying to restrain the extremists of the right and left. But being a moderate is like being a peacemaker -- you are blessed out by both sides." James F. Byrnes
At the age of 31, Mr. Byrnes was elected to the United States Congress. During the fourteen years he served, he became associated with many important people, including Speakers of the House Joe Cannon and Champ Clark. He also worked closely with several Presidents. Woodrow Wilson consulted him often when considering legislation.
Mr. Byrnes made several important contributions while he served in the House. One of his main interests in his earlier years was the improvement of public roads. Later, he worked closely with Carter Glass to pass the Federal Reserve Act. This act is still part of our banking laws. Mr. Byrnes also served on the House Appropriations Committee, which gave him valuable financial experience in government.
By 1924, Byrnes was faced with the decision of whether to be a candidate for the U.S. Senate or to return to practicing law. He finally decided to run for the Senate seat. The campaign was a tough fight, and he lost narrowly to Senator Cole Blease, the incumbent. This was Mr. Byrnes' only election loss during his entire political career. He left Washington shortly afterwards to practice law in Spartanburg, S.C.
In 1930, however, Mr. Byrnes felt compelled to try for the Senate seat once again. He won this election and thus resumed his political career. While serving in the Senate, Mr. Byrnes played a vital role in passing the New Deal legislation of Franklin Delano Roosevelt which helped the country survive the Great Depression. FDR consulted Byrnes several other times while he was in office and once even suggested that Byrnes be nominated as his running mate during a reelection campaign.
Mr. Byrnes once said that he enjoyed his service of eleven years in the U.S. Senate the most of all the political arenas in which he practiced. In fact, he believed that politics had become part of his blood. It indeed came naturally to him.
In return for their generosity and support, Mom and Pop Byrnes asked only two things from us: become the very best people we could become in life, and make sure their legacy of family continues for those who come after us.
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The James F. Byrnes Foundation
Post Office Box 6781
Columbia, SC 29260-6781
Tel.: (803) 254-9325