STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith pushed resolution praising Confederate soldier's effort to 'defend his homeland'

Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith once promoted a measure that praised a Confederate soldier's effort to "de...

Posted: Nov 26, 2018 12:24 PM
Updated: Nov 26, 2018 12:24 PM

Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith once promoted a measure that praised a Confederate soldier's effort to "defend his homeland" and pushed a revisionist view of the Civil War.

Hyde-Smith, a Republican, faces Mike Espy, a Democratic former congressman and agriculture secretary, in Tuesday's runoff in Mississippi -- the final Senate race to be decided in 2018. The measure, which was unearthed by CNN's KFile during a review of Hyde-Smith's legislative history, is the latest in a series of issues that have surfaced during her campaign, many of which have evoked Mississippi's dark history of racism and slavery.

Cindy Hyde-Smith

Civil wars

Confederate flag and monuments controversy

Continents and regions

Discrimination

Education

Education systems and institutions

Mike Espy

Mississippi

North America

Political Figures - US

Primary and secondary education

Racism and racial discrimination

Societal issues

Society

Southeastern United States

The Americas

United States

Unrest, conflicts and war

Conflicts and wars

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Legislative bodies

Politics

US Civil War

Elections (by type)

Elections and campaigns

State elections

State legislature elections

As a state senator in 2007, Hyde-Smith cosponsored a resolution that honored then-92-year-old Effie Lucille Nicholson Pharr, calling her "the last known living 'Real Daughter' of the Confederacy living in Mississippi." Pharr's father had been a Confederate soldier in Robert E. Lee's army in the Civil War.

The resolution refers to the Civil War as "The War Between the States." It says her father "fought to defend his homeland and contributed to the rebuilding of the country." It says that with "great pride," Mississippi lawmakers "join the Sons of Confederate Veterans" to honor Pharr.

The measure "rests on an odd combination of perpetuating both the Confederate legacy and the idea that this was not really in conflict with being a good citizen of the nation," said Nina Silber, the president of the Society of Civil War Historians and a Boston University history professor.

"I also think it's curious that this resolution -- which ostensibly is about honoring the 'daughter' -- really seems to be an excuse to glorify the Confederate cause," Silber said.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans, according to the group's website, is a "historical, patriotic, and non-political organization dedicated to insuring that a true history of the 1861-1865 period is preserved." The group says on its website that "The preservation of liberty and freedom was the motivating factor in the South's decision to fight the Second American Revolution."

The concurrent resolution was approved by Mississippi's House and Senate. Hyde-Smith served as a state senator from 2000 to 2012. She was a Democrat before switching parties in 2010, citing her conservative beliefs. Hyde-Smith's campaign did not respond Saturday to a request for comment on the resolution.

News of the 2007 measure comes amid increased scrutiny of Hyde-Smith's past after a series of recordings surfaced that featured her making comments about attending a "public hanging" and suppressing the votes of students in the state.

Hyde-Smith was recorded telling supporters in Tupelo earlier this month that she'd be "on the front row" if one of her supporters there "invited me to a public hanging" -- a phrase her campaign called an "exaggerated expression of regard." The same progressive blogger who published the video later published one in which she told a small group at Mississippi State University that suppressing the votes of students at other colleges was "a great thing." Her campaign said it was a joke.

On Friday, the Jackson Free Press reported that Hyde-Smith attended a private high school that was founded in 1970 so that white parents could avoid attempts to integrate schools by sending their children to schools without black students. Hyde-Smith's daughter later attended a similar private school established around the same time, according to the Free Press.

Hyde-Smith campaign spokeswoman Melissa Scallan, when asked to comment on the report, attacked the "liberal media," saying in a statement, "They have stooped to a new low, attacking her entire family and trying to destroy her personally instead of focusing on the clear differences on the issues between Cindy Hyde-Smith and her far-left opponent."

The 2007 resolution wasn't the only legislation Hyde-Smith backed that would elevate Mississippi's Confederate history. The Washington Post reported that in 2001, Hyde-Smith introduced a bill as a state senator to rename a stretch of highway to what it had been called in the 1930s: the Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway, after the president of the Confederacy.

And in photos posted to her Facebook account in 2014, Hyde-Smith was pictured posing with Confederate artifacts during a visit to Beauvoir, the home and library of Davis. The caption on the post read, "Mississippi history at its best!"

Mississippi still displays the Confederate battle flag within its state flag. But more critical attention has been paid toward Confederate monuments, symbols and icons in recent years, particularly after the Charleston, South Carolina, church shooting and white supremacists' march in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Hyde-Smith and Espy debated Tuesday night. But otherwise, Hyde-Smith's campaign has kept her mostly out of public eye and away from the press -- eschewing the usual event-after-event sprint to Election Day -- as controversy over racially insensitive remarks she'd made earlier this month swirled.

Several companies that donated to Hyde-Smith's campaign, including Walmart, have publicly withdrawn their support for the senator over the "public hanging" comment.

In her debate with Espy, Hyde-Smith said she would "certainly apologize" to anyone who was offended by her remark about attending a "public hanging." But she quickly pivoted into attack mode.

"I also recognize that this comment was twisted and it was turned into a weapon to be used against me," she said.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 119336

Reported Deaths: 3328
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds8109180
DeSoto734280
Harrison553785
Jackson488488
Rankin412386
Madison388094
Lee368682
Forrest313478
Jones298484
Washington2644100
Lauderdale2611135
Lafayette256043
Lamar234040
Oktibbeha206055
Bolivar205279
Neshoba1883111
Lowndes182862
Leflore173088
Panola172241
Sunflower165949
Warren156656
Monroe154873
Pontotoc151520
Marshall150530
Lincoln144859
Pike140956
Copiah139936
Scott128129
Coahoma126537
Union126025
Yazoo124534
Simpson124049
Grenada123139
Tate123039
Pearl River117960
Itawamba117827
Leake117042
Holmes115160
Adams110245
Prentiss109520
Alcorn105012
Wayne103422
George103020
Covington99729
Marion96944
Tippah95124
Hancock88128
Newton88128
Chickasaw87028
Winston85921
Tallahatchie85826
Tishomingo83141
Attala80927
Clarke78353
Clay71522
Jasper69817
Walthall64827
Calhoun63613
Smith60816
Noxubee60317
Yalobusha56616
Montgomery56523
Lawrence55314
Claiborne54216
Tunica53917
Perry52823
Carroll50912
Stone49814
Greene48218
Humphreys45817
Amite43413
Jefferson Davis42412
Quitman4246
Webster38213
Benton36911
Wilkinson34321
Kemper33415
Sharkey29115
Jefferson28110
Franklin2533
Choctaw2096
Issaquena1074
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 162720

Reported Deaths: 2735
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson23940385
Mobile17123319
Tuscaloosa10602141
Montgomery10503199
Madison955798
Shelby760565
Baldwin676869
Lee664965
Calhoun476562
Marshall447451
Etowah441952
Morgan430835
Houston423934
DeKalb355429
Elmore327858
St. Clair311342
Limestone297031
Walker287493
Talladega276437
Cullman266525
Lauderdale240543
Jackson225317
Autauga212631
Colbert210232
Franklin209432
Blount200925
Russell19833
Chilton192332
Dallas189227
Dale184952
Coffee183611
Covington177329
Escambia175831
Clarke138717
Chambers138047
Tallapoosa137287
Pike136414
Marion110931
Barbour10559
Marengo104622
Butler101941
Winston94713
Geneva9427
Pickens89018
Lawrence88533
Bibb86115
Randolph84616
Hale78130
Cherokee76414
Clay76312
Washington75812
Henry7316
Lowndes72128
Monroe66310
Bullock65117
Crenshaw61230
Fayette59913
Perry5996
Cleburne5799
Conecuh57213
Wilcox57112
Macon54320
Lamar5235
Sumter48621
Choctaw39512
Greene34516
Coosa2173
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 59°
Columbus
Clear
58° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 58°
Oxford
Clear
55° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 55°
Starkville
Clear
55° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 55°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather