An outspoken populist known for his racist demagoguery, Theodore Bilbo was born on a farm near Poplarville, Mississippi. He was educated at Peabody College in Nashville, studied law at Vanderbilt University, and attended the University of Michigan. He taught school in Mississippi and was admitted to the practice of law. Elected to the Mississippi Senate in 1908 and lieutenant governor four years later, he served two terms as governor, from 1916-1920 and 1928-1932. Bilbo was also elected to the U. S. Senate in 1934, 1940, and 1946, although he died before taking office his final term. Among the progressive political positions he supported were the construction of the state highway system, a juvenile reformatory, the tuberculosis sanitorium, a charity hospital, and night schools for adults. He had a reputation for his fiery temper and his support of segregation and white supremacy. He acknowledged his membership in the Ku Klux Klan.