Sam Ervin – Biography


Samuel James “Sam” Ervin Jr. (1896 – 1985), American lawyer and public official. He was born in Morgantown, N. C., on Sept. 27, 1896. He received a B. A. from the University of North Carolina (1917) and a law degree from Harvard (1922). He served in the infantry during World War I and was twice wounded. Ervin practiced law in North Carolina and served in the state legislature, as judge of the Burke county criminal court, as judge of the state superior court, in the U. S. House of Bepresentatives, and on the state supreme court. He entered the U. S. Senate in 1954.
Samuel James "Sam" Ervin Jr.
In the Senate, Ervin became the leading authority on the U. S. Constitution, which he called “the finest thing to come out of the mind of man.” A defender of individual liberty, he served on the committee that recommended censure of Sen. Joseph McCarthy in 1954. Ervin opposed surveillance of civilians by the Army, computerized data banks, and a “no-knock” crime bill. In 1973 and 1974 he headed the committee investigating the Watergate affair. He fought President Nixon’s efforts to withhold evidence and testimony on the ground of executive privilege. At the nationally televised hearings, Ervin often interjected pithy comments and quotations from the Bible. He retired in 1975.

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