Sam Ervin

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Sam Ervin

Samuel James Ervin Jr. (September 27, 1896April 23, 1985) was an American politician. A Democrat, he served as a U.S. Senator from North Carolina from 1954 to 1974. A native of Morganton, he liked to call himself a "country lawyer", and often told humorous stories in his Southern drawl. During his Senate career, Ervin was a staunch defender of the Jim Crow laws and racial segregation, as the South's constitutional expert during the congressional debates on civil rights. Unexpectedly, he became a liberal hero for his support of civil liberties. He is remembered for his work in the investigation committees that brought down Senator Joseph McCarthy in 1954 and especially for his investigation of the Watergate scandal in 1972 that led to the resignation of Richard Nixon.


  • When people fear surveillance, whether it exists or not, they grow afraid to speak their minds and hearts freely to their government or to anyone else.
    • Quoted in Rick Perlstein, Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America (2008), p. 549
  • Because I can understand the English language. It is my mother tongue.
    • instant reply to Mr. Ehrlichman asking, "How do you know that, Mr. Chairman?" after Senator Ervin insisted that 18 USC 2511 on foreign intelligence would not allow the President of the United States to authorize a burglary to obtain the opinion of Ellsberg's psychiatrist about his intellectual or emotional or psychological state, as claimed by Ehrlichman. Tuesday, July 24, 1973. Presidential Campaign Activities of 1972, Watergate and Related Activities, Phase I: Watergate Investigation, 6, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1973, p. 2576, retrieved on 2017-05-13 

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