Many Americans remember Senator Sam Ervin as the affable, Bible-quoting, old country lawyer who chaired the Senate Watergate hearings in 1973. His down-home stories from western North Carolina, his reciting literary passages ranging from Shakespeare to Aesops fables, and his earnest lectures in defense of civil liberties and constitutional government contributed to the downfall of President Richard Nixon and earned Senator Ervin a reputation as the last of the founding fathers. Yet for most of his twenty years in the Senate, Ervin applied these same rhetorical devices to a very different purpose. Between 1954 and 1974, he was Jim Crows most talented legal defender as the Souths constitutional expert during the congressional debates on civil rights. The paradox of the senators opposition to civil rights and defense of civil liberties lies at the heart of this biography of Sam Ervin. Drawing on newly opened archival material, Karl Campbell illuminates the character of the man and the historical forces that shaped him. The senators distrust of centralized power, Campbell argues, not only helps explain his ironic reputation as a foe of civil rights and a champion of civil liberties, but also suggests a historical analogy his admirers did not intend....Just as the federalism of the southern delegation to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 had at its core the preservation of slavery, the conservative constitutional philosophy espoused by Ervin in the 1950s had at its core the protection of Jim Crow segregation. Campbell demonstrates that the Watergate scandal cannot be dismissed simply as the moral failure of a particular president or the byproduct of partisan politics. He shows the scandal to be, instead, the culmination of an escalating series of clashes between the imperial presidency of Richard Nixon and a congressional counterattack led by Senator Ervin. The central issue of that struggle, as well as so many of the other crusades in Ervins life, Campbell says, remains a key question of the American experience today: how to exercise legitimate government power while protecting essential individual freedoms.