The United States Senate is a marvelous and imposing palace of government, run by what one person calls the “grandees ,” almost mostly men who have been in power for years. 

We lost another gentle Southerner, a “grandee” himself, the other day, as Ernest “Fritz” Hollings of South Carolina passed away at age 97. A former governor who had the level-headed insistence that South Carolina integrate its colleges without incident, he went on to serve 38 years in the Senate.

Long grey beared US Capitol Building

Among his many accomplishments, Hollings was credited with the creation of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, toughening port security and, in his last term, setting up airport security after the 9/11 attacks. He also helped develop some of the nation’s most important environmental regulations.

In the early 1980s, he sponsored landmark legislation to cap runaway federal spending, the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act, but soon grew disgusted with those who found ways around such laws.

Senator Hollings remained an erudite, thoughtful person, not wanting credit for himself. In 2015, when in retirement, Hollings asked that his name be removed from Charleston’s federal courthouse in favor of J. Waties Waring, the judge who orchestrated the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling that desegregated public schools.

Looking at the Senate as a whole,  Russell Baker, in a book, said Senator Robert Byrd (who served 51 years in the Senate) was a throwback to the days when “a senator was somebody,” when “the upper chamber’s grandees were men named Goldwater (18 years in the Senate); Humphrey (22); Symington (23); Dirksen (26); Fulbright (31); Kerr (14); Bridges (24); Long (38), Stennis (41); Thurmond (47);—some of them southerners and racist, but all of them feeling that they had a role at least equal to whoever occupied the White House.

With that in mind, let’s list here those “grandees,” with long service. Note that Georgia Sen. Richard Russell is among these “grandees.”

Longest terms in the Senate, as of January 14, 2019:

1. Robert C. Byrd (D-WV)Jan 3, 1959 to Jun 28, 201051 years, 5 months, 26 days
2. Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI)Jan 3, 1963 to Dec 17, 201249 years, 11 months, 15 days
3. Strom Thurmond (R-SC)Dec 14, 1954 to Apr 4, 1956
and Nov 7, 1956 to Jan 3, 2003
47 years, 5 months, 8 days
4. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA)Nov 7, 1962 to Aug 25, 200946 years, 9 months, 19 days
5. Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT)Jan 3, 1975 to present44 years
6. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)Jan 3, 1977 to Jan 3, 201942 years
7. Carl T. Hayden (D-AZ)Mar 4, 1927 to Jan 3, 196941 years, 9 months, 30 days
8. John Stennis (D-MS)Nov 5, 1947 to Jan 3, 198941 years, 1 month, 29 days
9. Ted Stevens (R-AK)Dec 24, 1968 to Jan 3, 200940 years, 10 days
10. Thad Cochran (R-MS)Dec 27, 1978 to April 1, 201839 years, 3 months, 6 days
11. Ernest F. Hollings (D-SC)Nov 9, 1966 to Jan 3, 200538 years, 1 month, 25 days
12. Charles E. Grassley (R-IA)Jan 3, 1981 to present38 years, 11 days
13. Richard B. Russell (D-GA)Jan 12, 1933 to Jan 21, 197138 years, 10 days
14. Russell Long (D-LA)Dec 31, 1948 to Jan 3, 198738 years, 3 days
15. Francis E. Warren (R-WY)Nov 18, 1890 to Mar 3, 1893
and Mar 4, 1895 to Nov 24, 1929
37 years, 4 days
16. James Eastland (D-MS)Jun 30, 1941 to Sep 28, 1941
and Jan 3, 1943 to Dec 27, 1978
36 years, 2 months, 24 days
17. Warren Magnuson (D-WA)Dec 14, 1944 to Jan 3, 198136 years, 20 days
18. Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE)Jan 3, 1973 to Jan 15, 200936 years, 13 days
19. Pete V. Domenici (R-NM)Jan 3, 1973 to Jan 3, 200936 years
19. Carl Levin (D-MI)Jan 3, 1979 to Jan 3, 201536 years
19. Richard Lugar (R-IN)Jan 3, 1977 to Jan 3, 201336 years
19. Claiborne Pell (D-RI)Jan 3, 1961 to Jan 3, 199736 years
23. Kenneth D. McKellar (D-TN)Mar 4, 1917 to Jan 3, 195335 years, 10 months
24. Milton R. Young (R-ND)Mar 12, 1945 to Jan 3, 198135 years, 9 months, 22 days
25. Ellison D. Smith (D-SC)Mar 4, 1909 to Nov 17, 194435 years, 8 months, 13 days

Source: U.S. Senate 

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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared at the Gwinnett Forum. Image Credit: the long, grey-bearded US Capitol (west side) is a composite image created by LikeTheDew.com using a base image of the capitol by Martin Falbisoner (Wikipedia.org/CC);
Elliott Brack

Elliott Brack

Elliott Brack is a native Georgian and veteran newspaperman. He published the weekly Wayne County Press for 12 years; was for 13 years the vice president and general manager of Gwinnett Daily News, and for 13 years was associate publisher of the Gwinnett section of The Atlanta Journal and Constitution. He now publishes, in retirement, Web sites on Gwinnett County, http://www.gwinnettforum.com, and Georgia news, http://www.georgiaclips.com.