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Politics

Remembering 'Senator Sam'

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Courtesy of the NC Museum of History
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Thirty years ago this week, Sam Ervin Jr. passed away. He was 88 years old.

He served in the U.S. Senate for 20 years and is best remembered for chairing the Senate Watergate Committee whose findings helped lead to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. But there was another side to Ervin, a gregarious side.

The senator from North Carolina liked to describe himself as a simple “old country lawyer."

It was clear to all those who watched, or listened to, the Watergate Committee meetings, Ervin’s mind was sharp and his questions fearless.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cv_PsI1dIFg

And his voice, with that North Carolina mountain drawl, helped make Ervin one of the most memorable characters of the time. And a character he was. In 1973, during the height of the Watergate investigation, Ervin took a break and believe it or not, made a record called “Senator Sam at Home.”  Most of the tracks were just Sam being Sam, telling stories, recollections, some jokes. But it also showed his love of the pop music of the day. He, well, sang is too strong a word, spoke the lyrics to this Simon and Garfunkle hit.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcMXi24QE7Y

It was quirky at the time – and may still seem so.

Ervin wasn’t always on the right side of justice, he famously defended segregation, but looking back, this recording still seems a fitting tribute to a man who began his career in the U.S. Senate by standing up to Joe McCarthy in 1954 and doing the same to Richard Nixon nearly 20 years later.