Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Hodding Carter, April 1, 1974. Interview A-0100. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Shifting political landscape in Mississippi

Carter predicts the coming shift in Mississippi political allegiances, as the Republican Party becomes increasingly identified with the South. Old party identities will remain in Mississippi as long as old politicians do, and groups like the Citizens' Council are gaining influence.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Hodding Carter, April 1, 1974. Interview A-0100. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JACK BASS:
What sort of coalition do you see in the Democratic Party coming after the resolution of the differences between the regulars and the loyalists?
HODDING CARTER:
Oh, the blacks, northeast Mississippi, working white population. unknown The coast will provide a lot of strength but will become increasingly a Republican area. I mean the Gulf Coast will. But they'll have big enclaves unknown of party strength and class of economic reasons over in Jackson county. The Hill man who is still there in those damn, little underpopulated counties with no economic future and then whatever tiny strata of professionals may attach themselves to the party.
JACK BASS:
How about your court house Democrats? Are they going to stay in the Democratic Party or are they going to switch over?
HODDING CARTER:
They'll stay but, I mean, you got to figure that most of those boys are within ten years of being gone. I mean there's a big split in age between the guys that have been the powers forever in the state, I mean the court house, and then that whole crew of people who have come along.
JACK BASS:
But who's going to replace that group? Are they going to be Republican or Democrat?
HODDING CARTER:
No, not necessarily. Part of them will be Democrats. I started to say that a lot of the traditional sources for Mississippi leadership will remain Democrats. The young lawyers, you know, coming along and saying that—
JACK BASS:
How about your top level of your financial and business communities?
HODDING CARTER:
When Jim Eastland or John Stennis go out or die they are going to leave the Democratic Party.
JACK BASS:
Does it depend who gets elected to the US Senate whether they are Republicans or Democrats?
HODDING CARTER:
Doesn't make a good god damn.
WALTER DE VRIES:
Who else is going to move into the Republican Party?
HODDING CARTER:
Yeh, they're going to move because, you see, whoever gets elected isn't going to be able to deliver the goodies anymore the way Stennis and Eastland can. A long road they've got to hoe to get up there. Other Republicans? Hell, almost anybody I know. I mean sort of—I'm now talking about the younger business people, the doctor, mason, the whole strata of college educated whites. Almost anybody—
JACK BASS:
So ten years down the road you'll see a new Republican party?
HODDING CARTER:
Almost anybody who went to ole Miss. I mean, that's only semifacetious.
JACK BASS:
So, in the short run you don't see much of a growth? What's the political impact of the Citizens' Council/private school people?
HODDING CARTER:
They are of course the most conservative. They have strength out of all proportion to their numbers simply because they are already financially and politically influential in their community. I mean, shit, here there are twice as many whites in the public schools as there are in the county. Here in Greenville. You sure as hell couldn't tell it by talking to the first 50 white leaders unknown . You'd think the whole goddamn town—whites— were in private schools. That's the reason that the legislature, you know, acts as though those 60,000 kids—or 40, depending on how you look at the statistics—their parents, sometimes you would think, were the only power. Where is all that power coming from? The reason is they are the most articulate and the most influential.