Harry Flood Byrd, Jr.

Harry F. Byrd, Jr., followed in his father's footsteps to become a newspaper editor, apple grower, and U. S. Senator. Byrd attended Virginia Military Institute, served in World War II, and was elected to the state Senate in 1947. He served in the state Senate from 1948 to 1965, when he was appointed as a Democrat to fill the vacant seat held by his recently retired father. Byrd was subsequently elected to the U.S. Senate in a special election in November 1966. In 1970 Byrd gave up his identification with the Democratic Party and ran as an Independent. He served as an Independent in the U.S. Senate until 1982. Byrd's role in the state Senate was to lead the conservative wing of the Democratic Party in the 1950s and 60s. He fought to keep taxes low and limit state services, offering measures to require the state to return surplus revenue, known as the Byrd Tax Credit Act. He also helped lead efforts to resist desegregation in Virginia schools in the 1956 special session and in later legislatures. Byrd's conservative principles and his turn to Independent status helped pave the way for conservatives to move out of the Democratic Party and eventually into the Republican Party in Virginia and in the South.