Republican Senator from Mississippi

Trent Lott was born in Grenada County, Mississippi on October 9, 1941. His father was a sharecropper farmer who later became a shipyard worker and his mother was a schoolteacher. He received both his Bachelor of Science in Public Administration degree (1963) and his Juris Doctorate (1967) from the University of Mississippi in Oxford.

His wife is named Patricia Thompson Lott. She is from Pascagoula, Mississippi. They have a son, Chet, and a daughter, Tyler. The also have three grandchildren: Trent, Shields Elizabeth, and Lucie Sims.

The Senator’s first political position, starting in 1968, was as Administrative Assistant to U.S. Representative William Colmer, D-Mississippi. He was first elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1972 where he served until 1988 when he was elected to the United States Senate. He as been re-elected to two more senate terms: in 1994 and 2000.

Trent Lott is the Senate Republican Leader. He was the Majority Leader from June 12, 1996, until June 5, 2001 when the Republicans had control of the Senate.


His website and contact info:

Telephone: (202) 224-6253
Office: 487 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Trent Lott has long been suspected by many of his political opponents of being a closet racist. His past association with the Council of Conservative Citizens has been used to bolster this claim, and, at a celebration in honor of the centenarian Senator from South Carolina, Strom Thurmond, Lott added a bit of fuel to the fire.

During his tribute, Lott noted that Mississippi, his home state and mine, was one of four states Thurmond carried during his Dixiecrat presidential campaign. He mentioned how proud he was of that, and said the country wouldn't have all these problems right now if the rest of the country had followed its lead. In 1948, Strom Thurmond ran a candidacy whose sole issue, really, was segregation. He said he would protect "the homes, schools and churches" of whites from the negro. He maintained that the white race was naturally superior and should maintain that natural superiority in law.

Lott was immediately attacked for his comments, by blacks and whites, liberals and conservatives alike. He has since said that it was a poor choice of words and he only meant to give tribute to a dear friend, rather than express his desire to rescind the entire Civil Rights Movement.

kto9 added that Lott filed a friend of the court brief backing Bob Jones University when that institution was attempting to keep federal funding despite the segregationist policies of the administration. He also added that Lott used similar language regarding Strom Thurmond in 1980.

Senator Trent Lott stepped down as Senate Majority Leader late last week amid the controversy surrounding racially insensitive remarks he made at fellow Senator Strom Thurmond's one-hundredth birthday celebration. He stated that the country would have been better off if it had elected Thurmond President in 1948, who ran as a Dixiecrat on an almost exclusively segregationist platform. Lott claimed that his remark was an isolated mistake caused by "winging" a speech. However, when you take a closer look at Lott's life, you will quickly discover that these remarks are only the latest in a long series of remarks and policies that show the true nature of Lott, that he is a blatant racist:

While one or even several of these events might be explained away by coincidence, taken together, they paint a picture of a racist man still stuck in the past.


  • Newsweek's December 23, 2002 edition (Article entitled "Ghosts of the Past")

Chester Trent Lott, a good Southern boy with a good Southern name (you can just hear his mama hollerin', "Chesta Trent, you getcho ass in heah fo' supper rawt now"), was born into extreme Mississippi poverty on October 9, 1941. His father, a sharecropper, could barely provide for them, scratching out an existence on cotton land so bad that, in the words of the locals, "the only thing you can grow on it is old". Eventually his father took a job as a pipefitter in Pascagoula, Mississippi and the family of three moved to the place that Lott would consider home for the rest of his life.

Though the poverty was less extreme in Pascagoula, the Lotts were always poor. This didn't stop Trent, as he liked to be called, from becoming one of the popular kids at school. His talent for politics, for making other people feel good about him by telling them what they wanted to hear, manifested early. Though he played tuba in the band, not the highest status position in most American high schools, he was also class president and was voted most likely to succeed and most popular.

His success continued in college, where he rapidly rose to a leadership position in his fraternity's national organization. He earned a B.S. in Public Administration from the Ole Miss University in 1963, graduating with honors. He remained in school and earned his J.D. in 1967. On the basis of his schoolwork and the connections gained during law school and in the fraternity he quickly landed a job as a top aide in the office of longtime Mississippi congressman and committed segregationist, William Colmer. He was ambitious, intelligent, and, now, well-connected. Running for Congress must have seemed like the most logical next thing to do.

In 1972, Lott was elected to the first of eight terms in the House of Representatives, filling the seat from Colmer's old Pascagoula district (with Colmer's endorsement, though Lott ran as a Republican and Colmer had been a Democrat his entire life). As may have been expected from his performance in high school and college, he rose steadily through the ranks, eventually attaining the leadership position of Republican House Whip. In 1988 he was elected to the Senate by the people of Mississippi, for whom he had brought home billions of dollars in government spending over the preceding 16 years. In 1996 the position of Republican leader in the Senate was opened up by Bob Dole's departure for his ill-fated presidential campaign. Lott was selected by Senate Republicans to replace him, completing his rise from dirt-poor sharecropper to the leadership of America's highest elected body.

That he has been astonishingly successful is beyond doubt; starting from abject poverty, Trent Lott rose to the position of Senate Majority Leader. Lott's success, though, is not rooted in any grand principle or overriding philosophical or intellectual commitment. In fact, Lott provides an object lesson in what most people think is wrong with American politics and society. Lott achieved his success not so much through the force of his actions, but through the grind of daily politics; where others bravely step forth to offer real solutions to the problems that face America, Lott can be counted upon to always resist change, to always work for the status quo. He advanced not through what he did, but through what he didn't do: make enemies by taking positions that allowed for no compromise.

This, not at all complimentary, view is held up by his legislative record. In his first term in the House, for instance, he introduced no legislation that was enacted into law and proposed no amendments that were added to pending bills, whether those bills passed or not. In that first term the best predictor of where Lott would vote on any issue was whether it would send federal spending back to his home district in Mississippi. He was elected to bring home the bacon and that is exactly what he did.

Subsequent House terms were little better, at least if your judgment of a politician is how well and how frequently he stands on principle and fights the good fight for the right cause. Though he did eventually introduce legislation that actually passed, it tended to be of the bring-home-the-bacon kind. Through 16 years of House work Lott biggest accomplishments were defense contracts to firms with Mississippi operations, tariffs to protect Mississippi textile and agricultural workers, and increases in federal unemployment and medical benefits to unemployed Mississippians.

He pushed his pork through the old-fashioned way, too. "Scratch my back and I'll scratch yours" is Lott's modus operandi. Time after time he has compromised on his stated small-government, low-regulation principles when it will allow him to bring home more money to the constituents. Nary an appropriations bill has cleared a Lott-chaired committee without millions of dollars of spending, targeted at Mississippi, having been inserted.

Another view exists, of course. This view says that while ideological purity, principled defense of an unpopular cause, and a willingness to go down fighting are traits to be admired, they do little to actually *get* *anything* *done*. At the end of the day, most people are better off if they only get 50% of what they want but only have to give 50% of what the other guy wants than they would be if nothing was done and whatever situation was left to sort itself out. Radical pragmatism, we could call this, and it is the dominant reality of American politics. With 300 million or so residents, it is simply impossible to find any action that is ideologically acceptable to all of them--compromise is the only way to actually get the real world to change.

From this view, Lott has been not just tremendously successful personally, but has brought great benefit to a huge number of the people who elected him. He has been a model representative of his people and is evidence of the system working the way it is supposed to. He, and politicians like him, are the grease that allows the gears of our nation to turn. It may not be pretty, but some will say the old rule about sausage surely applies.


Biographical data from-


Complete legislative record available from

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