Robert C. Byrd and Adoption

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U.S. Senator Robert Byrd of , 2005



Also known as Cornelius Calvin Sale, Jr.

American politician

Byrd was born Cornelius Calvin Sale, Jr. His mother died in 1918 or 1919 during the flu pandemic and his father sent him to live with and be adopted by her sister and brother-in-law, an impoverished mining family in West Virginia. He graduated from high school first in his class but was too poor to go to university full time. Working days and studying nights he eventually opened his own store, while his charismatic Sunday school teaching led to him becoming a prominent religious broadcaster. He entered the West Virginia state legislature in 1948 and the US Congress in 1952, in spite of a history of involvement with the Ku Klux Klan, which he later repudiated. He continued to study, earning several university degrees while in Congress. He worked his way through the chairmanships of several Senate committees, chief whip, etc., to become Senate majority leader in 1977-79 and 1987-88 and minority leader 1980-87. He is famous as a legislative tactician and stayed in the Senate after 40 years until he passed away in June of 2010 due to health issues..


Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia, 1993-97 "Byrd, Robert C(arlyle)," Current Biography Yearbook, 1978, pp. 59-63 Who's Who in America, 1996 "A Biography of Senator Byrd." [Includes portrait]. Available at: and also at: