Ellison Durant Smith (August 1, 1864 - November 17, 1944) was a Democratic Party politician from the U.S. state of South Carolina. He represented South Carolina in the United States Senate from 1909 until 1944.
Smith was born in Lynchburg, South Carolina. Smith attended the University of South Carolina, where he was a member of Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity, and graduated from Wofford College in 1889. Smith served in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1896 to 1900. Smith was unsuccessful in his bid to become a member of the U.S. House of Representatives in 1900. Smith then worked in the Agriculture industry, becoming a figure in the cotton industry (which earned him the nickname "Cotton Ed").
Smith was elected to the United States Senate in 1908. He was re-elected five times. Although from 1920 until 1944, Smith had four close elections, with three of them leading to run-off elections. Smith never won more than 61n Democratic party primaries in this time.
In the 1930s, Smith emerged as an opponent to the New Deal, leading President Franklin Roosevelt to try unsuccessfully to have Smith defeated in the 1938 primary. Smith won re-election in a close election in that year. Cotton Ed Smith lost renomination for the Senate in 1944 to Olin D. Johnston and he died soon afterwards.
At the 1936 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Smith walked out of the convention hall once he saw that an African-American minister was going to deliver the invocation. Smith recalled, "He started praying and I started walking. And from his great plantation in the sky, John C. Calhoun bent down and whispered in my ear -- 'You done good, Ed." Smith often told the story of his walkout on the stump, as Cotton Ed ran on high cotton prices when times were good and on overt racism when times were bad.