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Title: Oral History Interview with Herman Talmadge, July 15 and 24, 1975. Interview A-0331-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Talmadge, Herman, interviewee
Interview conducted by Nelson, Jack
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Mike Millner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2006
Size of electronic edition: 212 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2006.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2006-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2006-12-31, Mike Millner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Herman Talmadge, July 15 and 24, 1975. Interview A-0331-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series A. Southern Politics. Southern Oral History Program Collection (A-0331-1)
Author: Jack Nelson
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Herman Talmadge, July 15 and 24, 1975. Interview A-0331-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series A. Southern Politics. Southern Oral History Program Collection (A-0331-1)
Author: Herman Talmadge
Description: 199 Mb
Description: 59 p.
Note: Interview conducted on July 15 and 24, 1975, by Jack Nelson; recorded in Washington, D.C.
Note: Transcribed by Joe Jaros.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series A. Southern Politics, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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Interview with Herman Talmadge, July 15 and 24, 1975.
Interview A-0331-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Talmadge, Herman, interviewee


Interview Participants

    HERMAN TALMADGE, interviewee
    JACK NELSON, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
JACK NELSON:
This is Jack Nelson in Washington, D.C. on July 15, 1975, interviewing Senator Herman Talmadge for the Southern Oral History Program. We are now at Senator Talmadge's apartment on New Mexico Avenue at 6:00 a.m. and I think that Senator Talmadge has just come back . . . have you already been on the job?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I got up at 2:40 and the first thing that I did was to have breakfast, I read a little more than an hour from Patton's papers here, 1945, and at 4:20, I went out and ran and walked about two and a half miles and came back and cooled off and after about forty-five minutes and went in to take a shower and was just getting dressed as you rang the doorbell at six.
JACK NELSON:
Well, 2:40 is about an hour earlier than you usually get up?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes, about an hour earlier than I normally get up.
JACK NELSON:
Does that just mean that you went to bed earlier or what?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I went to bed about 8:30, I woke up earlier and couldn't go back to sleep.
JACK NELSON:
I think that you've told me before that you go to bed with the chickens and get up with the chickens.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I beat them up.
JACK NELSON:
Yes, beat them up. [laughter]
Senator, would you go back to when you really first became aware of politics and so forth. I know that you were thirteen years old, I believe, in 1927 when your father, Eugene Talmadge, was first elected Secretary of Agriculture.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes, he was elected Commissioner of Agriculture in 1926.
JACK NELSON:
I meant Commissioner.

Page 2
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Prior to that time, he had run for local office three times and was defeated. He ran for the legislature, the House of Representatives twice and the State Senate once. My father was somewhat of a maverick and they had a courthouse political machine in Telfair County and they knew that my father wouldn't take orders and they didn't want him to go to the legislature and he didn't go. However, when he ran for statewide office, they got behind him and supported him and supported him loyally until his death, in all of his races thereafter.
JACK NELSON:
When were you first really caught up in his political career? Even in his earlier races when he lost?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Of course, I knew little about them at that time, I was quite young. The first time, I guess that I was really reasonably active in his political career was the first race for Commissioner of Agriculture in 1926. At that time, I was twelve years old, about thirteen about the time that he was elected and I remember his famous debate with J.J. Brown in McRae, Georgia, I attended that. We had sent some wagon loads of water melons up there to help feed the crowds. After the debate was over, my father and Mr. Brown were shaking hands and he introduced Mr. Brown to me and I went and got him the biggest watermelon out of the pile and he said, "Give it to my chauffer over there and have him put it in the car."
JACK NELSON:
Can you tell us something about the debate?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Well, of course, J.J. Brown at that time was one of the most powerful political factors in the state. He had a vast organization of employees that did little but politic and they were selected from influential families and because of their political awareness. They were supposed to be an unbeatable machine. My father was an unknown country lawyer and farmer there that lived five miles south of McRae, Georgia. No one took

Page 3
him seriously at the outset. Mr. Brown made the mistake of challenging him into a series of debates, the first one in my father's hometown of McRae, the second one in Mr. Brown's hometown of Elberton, Georgia, the third one in neutral territory in southwest Georgia at Dawson, Georgia and my father was a very forceful debater and speaker. He just cut Mr. Brown to ribbons in all three debates. The press gave it a good deal of prominence and that was what elected my father Commissioner of Agriculture.
JACK NELSON:
Were you active in his later campaigns as well?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes. About the time that he ran for governor, in 1932, I had just finished my freshman year at the University of Georgia and one of my duties was to advertise his speeches. In those days, you would go to all the little towns around there and nail up placards, paste signs on trees and on the placards in courthouses and things of that nature. I remember one time that I was advertising a speech that he was to make at Cedartown, Georgia. I went in the meat market. In those days, the meat markets had sawdust on the ground and had a big round trunk of a tree there that they used as a table to cut up the meat when the housewives would come in to buy it. I handed this butcher a circular there announcing my father's speech and he said, "I wouldn't vote for that goddamned son of a bitch for nothing." I didn't know whether to hit him or run or what to do. I learned then that all you can do is turn the other cheek. So, I walked on out and kept on delivering circulars. Then, thereafter, in 1934 when he was seeking reelection as governor, I made my first political speech. I had a friend in college named Aubrey Evans from Sycamore, Georgia, and he decided to have a big Talmadge rally down in Turner County, near Sycamore. We had an old cotton warehouse

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and he had three or four hundred people there with a great big sign, "Welcome, Herman Talmadge". I was only twenty years of age.
JACK NELSON:
This was sort of heady stuff.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes, it was heady stuff. That was my first political speech.
Incidentally, Turner County is the county where I afterwards met my wife, Betty, and I must say that my father carried the county overwhelmingly but I don't think that any of it was attributable to my speech. At that time, he carried every county in the state except Fulton, DeKalb and Clarke.
JACK NELSON:
Did he ever carry Fulton and DeKalb?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes. He never did carry DeKalb for governor. He carried Fulton in one of his races for governor and strangely enough, he was always very strong in Clarke County until he and Abit Nix ran against each other for governor in 1932. My father had a good many relatives in Clarke County named Talmadge. They were widely respected students, he had been a student there and was known by a good many of the families. My grandfather had been a student there and he was known to a good many of the families. So, he was very popular until he defeated Mr. Nix, who was Clarke County's favorite son. Thereafter, my father never carried Clarke County as long as he lived. I didn't carry it in my first two races for governor, but Abit Nix got to be my friend and he introduced me when I ran for the United States Senate and I carried Clarke County that time and I have carried it every race that I have made since.
JACK NELSON:
Didn't your father used to have . . . I can remember some of the quotes attributed to him about never wanting to carry a county that had streetcars in it?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
You know, it's strange how thing alleged to have been said become facts and become history. Now, here is what happened. The first

Page 5
speech that my father made after he was nominated for governor in 1932 was at a fair in Chattooga County at Summerville, Georgia and he stated that he didn't carry any counties where streetcars ran and that statement of fact came to be a legend and he was afterwards quoted as saying that he didn't want to carry any counties where streetcars ran.
JACK NELSON:
It didn't sound like a statement that any politician would make.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
No politician would ever make a statement like that. As a matter of fact, he carried many counties where streetcars ran. He carried Richmond County most of the time. He carried Chatham County most of the time and he carried Muscogee County most of the time. Streetcars ran in all those counties.
JACK NELSON:
What about your father, Senator Talmadge, can you describe what you think his impact on the state was?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Before I get into that, let me give you another myth that was alleged to have been a statement of my father's and that was not a fact. He has repeatedly been quoted as having said that "The farmer has only three friends: God Almighty, Sears Roebuck and Gene Talmadge." He never made that statement. Some individual, in introducing him to an audience once, made that statement and it was attributed to my father. Well, getting back to my father as an individual . . .
JACK NELSON:
Were there other myths? I'm sure that there were.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Oh yes, many of them, but I don't recall any at the moment except those two. I've read them both a thousand times and I don't know how things can get so . . . the press will pick it up once or twice, you know and then some fellow will write an article about it and he will quote from the

Page 6
press and then some man will come along and write a book about it and he will pick it up from the articles and after one or two errors, it becomes embedded in history as a statement of fact.
JACK NELSON:
I wouldn't doubt that there are a few about you like that.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Oh, I'm certain of it. I remember one about me. I am alleged to have written the then Attorney General Eugene Cook whether or not, after I had served an unexpired term as governor, whether I could seek a full term as governor. I was alleged to have ended it up by adding another paragraph that "If I am ineligible to run for governor, am I eligible to run for Attorney General?" [laughter]
JACK NELSON:
I remember that. You never wrote that? It was a good story.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
It was a good story. [laughter] Getting back to my father, my earliest memory of my father was that we had a white horse named Maude and a buggy in those days. I was born in 1913 and I guess that this must have been probably 1917 or even 1918. As a young boy, we lived on a farm and I would walk about on the farm and I remember one time that my father picked me up out of the road, I had gone to meet him as he was coming back from town and I laid down in the road and went to sleep. He picked me up in the buggy and brought me on home. In those days, times were awfully hard in southeast Georgia. Most of neighbors had only one crop and that was cotton. We did raise some hogs and cows and we started trying to protect our timber early. Most of them burned it up early in those days to get grass for grazing cattle. Some of my earliest recollections were fighting fire. My father some days would go to town and practice law and try cases and some days he would put on his overalls and go to the fields and plow. We ran what was commonly referred to as a "twelve horse" farm in those days. As

Page 7
farms went in our section, that was a relatively large farm. Most of them had two and three and four horse farms and some of them, one horse farms. About half the people in that area at that time were tenant farmers or sharecroppers, as they were known at that time. Times were extremely hard. My father was a very forceful and vigorous man. He was also quite an athlete. I would remember that as a young man he would sometimes take a plow line in the yard and jump the rope. I remember that when he was about forty years old, he could jump the rope about as high as his head. He was about five feet nine or ten, I guess that he was five feet, ten inches tall.
JACK NELSON:
And he was quite slim, too, as I remember.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes. In those days, when he ran for Commissioner of Agriculture, 1926, he was about thirty-nine years old and at that time, he weighed about 125 pounds.
JACK NELSON:
How about later, though?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes, later on, he gained a good bit of weight. I think that the heaviest that he ever was was about 180 pounds, probably in his second or third term as governor of Georgia. Then shortly before he died, as a matter of fact, I remember the incident very well . . . I had returned from my first tour in the South Pacific, about twenty-two and a half months in the South Pacific. I had twenty days leave and I spent that time with my family at McRae, Georgia and my wife's family at Ashburn, Georgia. We had a young son that I never saw until he was fourteen and a half months old and I spent most of that time getting acquainted with him. But then my father was hale and vigorous. That was in 1943, about June, I guess. Then the next time that I saw him, my next tour of duty was as executive officer of a preliminary detail for an attack transport. Our ship was commissioned

Page 8
and we served for a time as the auxilary training vessel afloat for the Atlantic fleet. We would take green crews out for a week, out from Newport. One of the trainees would stand watch alongside one of our ship's crew and perform the duties exactly as we did and get a week's routine of a ship. Then, we were ordered back to the Pacific and we had ten days of availability in the Norfolk Navy Yard to get a combat information center in the ship . . . that's radar. We were equipped to carry a flag and while I was there, Betty and my father came up to visit with me and I was occupying flag quarters, because we had no flag aboard the ship. The officer of the deck sent the message up to my quarters and told me that my wife and father were on the quarter deck. So, of course, I rushed down to meet them and took them up to my quarters there and when I got to where the lights were bright, I saw that my father had lost about twenty pounds of weight, his color had changed, his hair was a little grey and it was rather shocking after three or four months absence to see how he could have changed so drastically in such a short period of time. His weight had dropped from probably 170 pounds to around 150. I remarked that he looked bad and asked him when he had had a physical examination. He said that he hadn't had one and I suggested to him that he ought to have one because I felt that he needed a checkup. Something evidently was wrong. His appearance had changed so drastically in only about three months time. Well, that was, I guess, the late winter of '44. Obviously, cirrhosis of the liver had set in by that time and he died about thirty months later.
JACK NELSON:
Can you go back to something that you were mentioning to me before we began the interview, about the book that was written on your father as a "wild man from Sugar Creek." You said that you thought, I

Page 9
believe, that the book captured your father's personality, but not a lot more about him.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
That's right. First let me get back to Williams' Huey Long. I thought that it was one of the greatest biographies that I ever read and when I picked it up, I could barely put it down. I had read many books on long and knew him personally, every article that I could lay my hands on. He was a very colorful individual. He was one of my heroes when I was in college and I subscribed to The American Progress, which was his political newspaper, to read about him. Williams had done oral interviews for a period of ten years to write the biography of Long. Almost every sentence had a footnote giving the source. He had sought out all of Long's contemporaries, his friends and foes and neutral people and did a thorough, I thought, well rounded biography of Long, projecting the good and the bad. Before Anderson's Book was published, he sent me some proofs and I read it and he didn't get the Eugene Talmadge that I knew. The first instance, whereas Williams had probably interviewed three thousand people, or approximately that, I think that Anderson had interviewed less than a hundred and some of his sources that he quoted were anonymous, which Williams never did. A good many inaccuracies were in the book and he didn't get the Eugene Talmadge that I knew. He did get color, the flavor of my father, but that was about all.

Page 10
JACK NELSON:
What do you think was missing from it?
If people tried to look back now and see what Eugene Talmadge, what impact he had on the state and on politics generally in this country, what do you think . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Well, he really dominated the politics of Georgia from 1926 until he died in 1946. In fact, he dominated it for a time after his death. I would never have been elected governor of Georgia by the legislature or by the people had I not been Eugene Talmadge's son. My father had a following of about a third of the people who thought that he could do no wrong. There was about another third of the people in the state that thought he could do no right. Then, there was about another third that would support him when they thought he was right and oppose him when they thought he was wrong. That was the reason that he could have so many ups and downs in his political career. I don't know of anyone in the history of Georgia that could have been defeated for the Senate by Russell, defeated for the Senate by George and then come back and be elected governor in 1940 and then have been defeated by Arnall in 1942 and then come back and be elected governor again in 1946. Had he not had that solid support that was with him and then when the issues would change somewhat in my father's favor and the third of the people that were neither strong Talmadge people nor strong anti-Talmadge people would tend to support my father, he would win. When they would leave him, he would lose. So, he dominated the politics of the state for more than twenty years, probably to a greater degree than any other man in the history of the state unless it was Tom Watson. Tom Watson made and unmade governors for a period of about ten or fifteen years and then was elected to the United States Senate in 1920 and died in office in the Senate in 1922. Both of them had strong followings that would do most anything that they said.

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My father could influence his friends to support other candidates and so could Watson. They are probably the only two individuals in the history of the state that could do that, translate their own following, or project it to aid other candidates.
JACK NELSON:
Of course, some of the Georgia political leaders have never really tried that. I think that you usually stayed away from other people's politics as a general rule.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
That's right.
JACK NELSON:
Although I do think that you did help Senator Nunn.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes, I helped Senator Nunn and I helped Marvin Griffin. I campaigned openly for Senator Nunn. I did not campaign openly for Marvin Griffin. I did pass the word that he was the most likely choice that could win. Fred Hand was a close friend of mine and if I could have appointed the governor, I think that I would have selected Fred Hand in preference to Marvin Griffin. But Fred was a rather cold and aloof sort of fellow that didn't take on with the voters.
JACK NELSON:
Going back to your father's career, what about the people in Georgia who were his leading political allies? Did he have any over a period of years?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes, but very few of them, however, were politicians Politicians, as a rule, didn't support my father. Those were the days of the courthouse rings and the county unit systems and the politicians wanted governors, when they had to do something in their county, they could be a deputy governor of their particular county. In other words, a strong man politically in Tailferr County for a long time was Zack Cravey and then Henry Williams. And we had other strong men like that in counties, both

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urban and rural. They were the recognized political leaders in those areas. They tended to avoid my father because he was somewhat of a maverick and an independent and they couldn't dictate the policies in the county, the employees in the county and they didn't trust my father for that reason. He was just as apt to take the advice of the two horse farmer as he was that of the sherrif of the county. As a general rule, the local politicians weren't natural Talmadge allies. In some of the counties, my father was so strong, commanding such huge support from counties that the county politicians had to support him whether they liked it or not. But he did have some close allies, Charlie Redwine of Fayette County, who was a politician, a farmer, a banker, a political leader in that county for many years. James S. Peters of Manchester, Georgia, who was a banker, political and civic leader in that area. But it was largely the masses who followed my father. Many, many times, when I was managing his campaigns, I managed his campaign in 1938 for the Senate against Senator George, we lost that one. I managed his campaign for governor in 1940, we won that one. I managed his campaign for governor in 1946, we won that one. In many counties, we didn't have a single political leader in the county for us. Under those conditions, I would pick out some small town merchant or some farmer. We would never officially appoint a Talmadge campaign manager in a county because if you did that, you immediately allienated the voters who didn't like that individual. So, I just had one in my mind who was the political manager in that county and it was never officially announce, but he would be the man that I would deal with. County after county, we would carry them overwhelmingly where there wouldn't be a single political leader in the county supporting myfather.
JACK NELSON:
What about the earlier part of his career? Even then he didn't really have political alliances with public figures?

Page 13
HERMAN TALMADGE:
No, particularly in his early campaigns. When he ran against Brown, I imagine that Brown had practically every political leader in the state supporting him because they first thought that he was invincible. He had ties to most of the county officials, through employees, relatives, friends, things of that nature. When my father ran for governor in 1932, there were very few local political leaders that were supporting him because he was always an independent minded man and a maverick. Politicians like to support candidates that they can control, at least when it comes to doing what they want done in their individual counties. Now, in 1934, when my father was seeking reelection as governor, it was a foregone conclusion that he was going to be reelected, it was just a question of degree. Politicians like winners, he probably had most of the county officers with him at that time. In 1936, when he was running against Senator Russell, he jumped on Roosevelt, alienated a lot of people and made a lot of them mad and he had very few politicians with him at that time. The same thing was true when he opposed Senator George. In 1940, he was making somewhat of a comeback, Governor Rivers had fouled things up to a certain degree. The state was heavily in debt and couldn't pay the state employees, couldn't pay the school teachers and then a good many politicians gravitated to my father in the 1940 campaign. Then in 1942, I was off in the Pacific in the Navy at that time. Most of the politicians had left him as a result of his alienation of the newspapers and many political leaders with the Cocking Affair and the discrediting of the University of Georgia . . .
JACK NELSON:
The Cocking Affair. That was . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
That was a professor over at the University of Georgia that he fired.
JACK NELSON:
Oh, yes.

Page 14
JACK NELSON:
Can you go back to the book, The Wild Man From Sugar Creek, where did he get the title?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
As the result of a magazine article. They wrote many magazine articles about my father in his days as governor in '33 to '37.
JACK NELSON:
Was this partly as a result of his being such a colorful political character?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes, that and everything else and the fact that he was the only Democratic governor in the United States that didn't like the New Deal and he had had his wars with Roosevelt and Gollier's Magazine or some such news magazine as that would send their writer down to do a story on him. I've forgotten which magazine that "wild man from Sugar Creek" first appeared. Probably Collier's.
JACK NELSON:
I suppose that it also had to do with the fact that he was a very outspoken segregationist and in those times . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Well, as a matter of fact, everyone was a segregationist at that time in the South. I don't think that segregation ever got to be an issue in any of his campaigns . . .
JACK NELSON:
Well, it was only an issue in the North, right?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes.
JACK NELSON:
It was an issue in the North and . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
And it wasn't much of an issue then. I don't think that segregation ever got to be an issue in any of his campaigns until his campaign for reelection as governor in 1942. Some people over at the University of Georgia got Dr. Cocking, who was the Dean of the College of Education, as I recall, at the University at the time, with promoting integration in the

Page 15
colleges of the University system. That was the charge that was leveled against Dr. Cocking and he was dismissed from his position there and the Southern Accrediting Association disaccredited the University of Georgia and the papers played it up and the students thought that they had drilled a hole in their heads and drained them of what learning they had had and things of that nature. It got to be the biggest cause celebre, one of the biggest in the state and resulted in my father being defeated for reelection for governor in '42. But even in those days . . .
JACK NELSON:
There's no question in your mind that that was the reason for his being defeated?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
None whatever. He would have been overwhelmingly reelected except for that issue.
JACK NELSON:
Did he ever regret having done that?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Well, I knew that it was a tragic political mistake and I tried to disuade him and so did my mother, but once that my father made up his mind, he was the most stubborn independent minded man that I ever knew in my life. If he thought that the whole world was against him and he thought that he was right, he would head right down the same path.
JACK NELSON:
Well, did he realize at that time that it would be a political liability to do that?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I don't know whether he did or not. Certainly he did subsequently.
JACK NELSON:
You certainly told him, though.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes, I did.
JACK NELSON:
And so did your mother?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes.

Page 16
JACK NELSON:
Your mother is Miss Mitt?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes, she is still living. She's ninety-five years of age and her mind is still sharp, she's still active physically and she works everyday.
JACK NELSON:
She advises you politically?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Oh yes, sure. It's good advice, too.
JACK NELSON:
I'm sure it is. Can you say something about her part in your father's campaigns?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Well, primarily in the early days, she stayed home and ran the farm when my father was Commissioner of Agriculture. When she was governor, she had taken over the operation of the farms down in Tellfair Counties and continued that until he left as Commissioner of Agriculture. Then subsequently, my father acquired some farms and he didn't do much row croping on his, he would raise beef cattle primarily and my mother would run her farms and my father would run his. She would travel around with him for his speeches. When he served as governor, she moved to the executive mansion and of course, acted as his hostess and wife there. But when he was not governor, she would be down at the farm in McRae, looking after the farms and my father would practice law in Atlanta and commute back to McRae on weekends. That was the usual routine.
JACK NELSON:
Was she really active politically other than . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Oh yes, she was very active and a very good politician.
JACK NELSON:
She went on the stump with your father?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
She wouldn't make speeches, but she would sit on the platform with him. My mother was a Thurmond, a cousin of Strom Thurmond, about a second cousin, I believe. She moved from South Carolina to Long Pond, a

Page 17
community in Montgomery County when she was a young girl. She went to work as a telegraph operator and depot agent for what is now . . . then it was the Seabord Railroad, I believe that it has been acquired by Central of Georgia since then, or Southern, I don't know which, at Ailey, Georgia. she married a Peterson, had a son named Peterson and her husband died when she was very young and she was a young widow when my father went to Montgomery County to practice law and they were married in Montgomery County. He practiced law over there for a year or two and then they moved over to Telfair County, first to McRae, Georgia. The home burned in McRae and then they moved out on the farm.
JACK NELSON:
Now, you have always been very close to your mother.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes.
JACK NELSON:
Can you say anything about her impact on your own career? Did she encourage you in politics early in the game or did she see how rough and tumble it was and maybe wanted to dissuade you from it?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Well, as a matter of fact, when I was in grammar school or grade school, or high school, and we would study about the history of this country and the U.S. Senate and the Haney and Webster and Calhoun debates and the part that the Senate played in our government, my only early political ambition was to be a U.S. Senator. Strangely enough, my first ambition, I think, was to be a preacher. I would read these Biblical stories about Daniel in the lion's den and things of that nature. I first thought that I wanted to be a preacher and then I got further advanced and reading about the Senate and thought that if I ever got into politics, I wanted to be a United States Senator. Then, after I got out of law school and started practicing, about everytime that I would get my practice going to where I could make a living,

Page 18
another political campaign would come along and I would have to drop my law practice and assist my father with his political campaigns. That was true in 1938, true again in 1940 and then after he got elected and was in office and I helped him organize his government and one thing and another, war clouds were advancing on the horizon and I saw that pretty soon I was going to be in the service. So, I started looking around and I didn't want to go in as a common foot soldier if I could avoid it, so I got a commission in Naval Intelligence as a result of my law degree in April, 1941. I was called to active duty for some temporary training in New York in May and June, 1941 and then called to active duty in September, 1941 in Atlanta, Georgia in the office of Naval Intelligence there. My mobilization billet was Cable Censor's Office, New York. Well, as soon as the Japanese hit Pearl Harbor, I was courting Betty at that time and we had planned to be married after a year, probably sometime in June. But after the Japanese hit Pearl Harbor on December 7, I knew that I would be called to active duty and transferred from Atlanta to New York shortly, so we got married, I believe, on December 23, 1941. I was transferred to New York, I guess, in January of 1942. Then when I got off in the South Pacific, standing those lonely watches, I knew that my father had spent a good deal of money educating me to be a lawyer and I thought that I had at least average ability. Everytime that I started practicing and was succeeding fairly well, either a political campaign or a war would interfer with my law practice and I decided then and there that when I got back to Georgia, I was not going to let anything interfer my practice of law. I was going to get involved seriously and thought that I would do well with it. So, when I got back, I found that my daddy was running for governor for the fourth term. And like any dutiful son, I pitched in to

Page 19
help him.
JACK NELSON:
Now, by this time, you had already seen this change in his health?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes. I didn't realize it was as serious as it was and no one else did. I managed his campaign in 1946 and he was elected and died in December just before he was supposed to take office for the fourth term as governor in 1947.
JACK NELSON:
How quickly did his health seem to deteriorate?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Well, he campaigned more vigorously and harder in that '46 campaign than any campaign in his life time. I saw that it was necessary, the Negroes were voting in large numbers for the first time in the history of the state. The white primary had been outlawed and they were supporting Mr. Carmichael unanimously. All the press was supporting Mr. Carmichael . . .
JACK NELSON:
That's James Carmichael.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
James V. Carmichael, he's dead now, from Marrieta, Georgia, a very fine man. The newspapers were almost unanimously opposed to my father. The only exception in the daily papers, I believe, was the Savannah Press, they were supporting my father and a few little weeklies were supporting my father, but 95% of all the press in Georgia was supporting Mr. Carmichael. The Negroes in a solid bloc were supporting Mr. Carmichael.
JACK NELSON:
What percentage of the electorate would they have been at that time?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Oh, probably 20%.
JACK NELSON:
They would have been 20% of the registered voters?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes.
JACK NELSON:
Which was relatively high in the Deep South?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Oh, very high, yes. And all of the state machinery was

Page 20
behind Mr. Carmichael. Ellis Arnall was governor and he was supporting him. All of the money was supporting Mr. Carmichael. I was working night and day. We had a new ally in Roy Harris at that time, I was managing the campaign and during the latter days of the campaign, Roy and I shared it. I had him in the hotel up there dealing with the politicians and I was setting up speaking schedules and getting out letters of publicity and things of that nature, setting up schedules.
JACK NELSON:
Now, at that time, Roy Harris was publishing the Augusta Courier and . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
He had started publishing his little Augusta Courier and he was at that time, speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives and had been quite a very effective political leader in his own right, particularly in managing his own campaigns. He had been primarily involved in managing all the anti-Talmadge campaigns. He had managed Ed Rivers' campaigns for governor and he had managed Ellis Arnall's campaigns for governor and he was identified as a campaign manager for the other side and of course, I was the campaign manager for my father. So, our knowledge pooled together was highly effective in our campaign.
JACK NELSON:
How did you happen to lure him over?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
He got sore with Ellis Arnold about some of his views, segregation and other things.
JACK NELSON:
Was it after Ellis had written the book, The Shore Dimly Seen?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes. And also when Ellis had made all these attacks on the state and Roy, I think, wanted to be governor and Ellis had tried to amend the constitution so that he could be governor again and Roy stopped

Page 21
that in the House of Representatives. I had my father speaking one day in south Georgia and the next day in extreme north Georgia. He would make two or three speeches a day and ride half the night.
JACK NELSON:
I was going to say, that's an awfully large state.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
It was a very heavy speaking schedule, a man killer and he carried it through. There were very few speaking engagements that he missed.
JACK NELSON:
Did he fly at all?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
No, in those days, he went by automobile. I pinch hit for him a few times on some of his speeches and when he had a cold, something of that nature. Then, when the campaign was over, he was quite restless. He made a trip to Mexico and made a trip out to Yellowstone Park and then he made a trip, I believe, down to Jacksonville Beach. I got a call from Jacksonville Beach that he had had a hemorrhage down there. It was shortly before the Democratic convention where he was supposed to accept the nomination as governor. I got a plane there, had to fly through Augusta, Georgia. From Atlanta to Augusta and from Augusta to Savannah and from Savannah on down to Jacksonville. I got there and got to the hospital, I had no idea that it was going to be serious, but we had the Democratic convention coming up in about two days . . .
JACK NELSON:
And this would have been in what month?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I guess October, 1946. So, the doctor told me that he didn't think that it was anything serious at all and that he had had a hemorrhage and losing blood from a vein and said that he was going to have to stay in the hospital for a few days, however. So, I knew that he couldn't be present for the Democratic convention. So, I went back to the hotel and

Page 22
got a public stenographer and dictated his acceptance speech for the Democratic convention and had it prepared and took it back and read it to him and he said that that was all right, he wanted me to deliver it. So, I delivered his acceptance speech to the Democratic convention in Macon. Well, shortly afterwards, he got out of the hospital and hunted some doves in quail season. In the meanwhile, he was in and out there at the Piedmont Hospital. We had no idea that it was as serious as it was and no knowledge that he was going to die until about two days before he passed away.
JACK NELSON:
In other words, there was no feeling then that he had cirrhosis of the liver?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
They thought that he did have cirrhosis of the liver but they didn't realize that it was as serious as it was.
Meanwhile, prior to the November election, one of my friends who was a county school superintendent in Jasper County . . . he's dead now, I afterwards made him U.S. Marshal after I came to the Senate . . . called my attention to a provision in the Georgia constitution at the time, you know originally, the General Assembly elected all public officers and the same thing was true in many other states. then gradually, that power was delegated to the people. But there was an old provision that had come down from the early constitution that in the event of a failure of election, the General Assembly of Georgia would proceed to elect the governor of Georgia from those then in line from the next highest number of votes. So, I had some lawyers look into the doggoned thing and we decided that if something happened to my daddy, that the General Assembly of Georgia had to elect the governor . . .
JACK NELSON:
Do you recall the lawyers that you checked with?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Oh, Buck Murphy and Sam Hewlitt and W. S. Mann and a good

Page 23
many others and I had studied the thing pretty carefully myself. I reached that conclusion and we reached the conclusion that if my father died before he was inaugurated in January, that the General Assembly would have to elect the governor from among those then living with the next highest number of votes, in the next general election in November. So, I passed the word to about half a dozen Talmadge leaders to get me . . . we knew that Carmichael was going to get some write-in votes because he had opposed my daddy and a lot of people were bitter about him being defeated. We figured that we had to have several hundred write in votes for me.
JACK NELSON:
And that was because the legislature would have to elect from the people who got votes?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
That's right, because that constitutional provision had been called to my attention by a county school supertindent in Jasper County. So, I got several hundred votes in Tellfair County and I think that I got a few hundred in Worth County and a few hundred in Macon County and a scattering number of other counties. And when we had that famous two governor row, it finally wound up that Jimmy Carmichael had four or five hundred write in votes and I had about a hundred more write in votes than he had. So, that's when we had that famous Two Governor Row down there in 1947, when the General Assembly elected me governor by a vote of about two to one. The networks stayed on the air all night, I was inaugurated about one thirty or two in the morning, made an extemperaneous speech to the General Assembly of Georgia that was broadcast all over the United States . . . [laughter]
JACK NELSON:
Did you fully expect to remain as governor or . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes, I thought that I would. In those days, I was pretty naive. I thought that judges, regardless of their political inclinations, would uphold the law as they saw it. I had been taught to respect the courts, I had

Page 24
been trained as a lawyer. Then the General Assembly sent the escort committee down there to see me, to take me to the governor's office. We got to the governor's office and Governor Arnall wouldn't surrender the office. Well, there were about ten thousand people there around the capitol, about 90% of them my friends and they were absolutely furious and if they could have gotten to Governor Arnall, they would probably have physically harmed him. That was shortly after World War II. The Georgia National Guard was loyal to me, they had just returned from combat overseas. Then, they had the Home Guard that Governor Arnall had set up in the absence of the National Guard and the Home Guard was loyal and taking orders from Governor Arnall.
JACK NELSON:
How many members were in the Home Guard?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I don't remember now. But everyone was wondering when the National Guard and the Home Guard were going to start shooting each other. In any event, after Governor Arnall refused to surrender the office, I gave orders to the National Guard to see that Governor Arnall was escorted all the way to Newnan, Georgia and no harm befell him and then when they did that, to come back to the capitol and change locks on the capitol door, the governor's office. I would be in early the next moring and take possession of the governor's office, which I did.
JACK NELSON:
I think that he showed up the next morning, didn't he?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
He showed up . . .
JACK NELSON:
It was Bill Benton wasn't it, that came to the door and . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I had been in the office, I guess, for about an hour and Governor Arnall came in demanding his office. Benton said, "If you want to see the governor, you will have to sit down and wait your turn like everybody else." [laughter]

Page 25
JACK NELSON:
So, he didn't come in, then did he?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
No, he stormed out, took him a seat under the rotunda of the state capitol and he stayed there for a day or two and finally one of my friends in the state Senate, Jimmy Dykes, got one of those huge firecrackers about six inches long and he got up on the floor above Governor Arnall there and lit that firecracker and dropped it right behind Governor Arnall's desk and it it went off, ca-whoom! I think that Arnall thought that somebody was throwing a bomb at him or shooting him or something. [laughter] So, he rushed out of the capitol as fast as he could and went up to his law offices in the Candler Building and didn't come back to the capitol anymore. [laughter]
Meanwhile, I ran the governor's office there for sixty-seven days, we had . . .
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
HERMAN TALMADGE:
. . . there were two of the bonified, two of them in Fulton County there, the Atlanta papers, particularly the Journal, was giving me the devil night and day every issue. Judge Hendrix ruled in my favor. Judge Bond Almand ruled in my favor, both fine judges. Bond Almand was probably the ablest judge Georgia has had in my lifetime. Then the opposition was getting desperate that I had won two cases in a row. Under Georgia law, when you have a forfiture of a bond, the suit must be filed in the name of the governor of Georgia. So, they trumped them up a bond forfiture in Floyd County before Judge Claude Porter's court. He had been a violent anti-Talmadge man, had made stump speeches right and left. He ruled in behalf of M.E. Thompson. So, the three cases went to the state Supreme Court and the state Supreme Court ruled against me by a vote of five to two and when they ruled against me, I knew that I couldn't operate the state and face the court decision. So, I

Page 26
made a statement that the court of last resort was the people and I would take my case to the people. I vacated the governor's office within ten minutes, I guess. We vacated the executive mansion within half an hour and went on back to Lovejoy. I got in my car and campaigned for eighteen months and at the next election, I won the unexpired term. I carried 130 counties and Governor Thompson carried twenty-nine. Interestingly enough, my last campaign contributor was Governor Thompson.
JACK NELSON:
In your last campaigns, right? Let me ask you, I think that you believe to this day that the court was wrong.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I know that they were. I've got proof of it.
JACK NELSON:
You think that the Lester Maddox case is . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
The Lester Maddox case was identical to my own. They had had a failure of election and the General Assembly elected Lester Maddox and the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of Lester Maddox by two and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Lester Maddox five to four. So, twenty years later, I was vindicated by two courts, the U.S. Supreme Court and the state Supreme Court, but eighteen months later, I was vindicated by the people, which was the most important.
JACK NELSON:
Just briefly, Senator, can you say what the Lester Maddox case was. This was where Lester Maddox . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
That was when we had a failure of election. You recall that there was a runover race between Lester Maddox and Ellis Arnall and Ellis Arnall and . . .
JACK NELSON:
Well, Lester Maddox got the nomination?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes. Lester Maddox got the nomination. And then there was a race between Bo Callaway and Lester Maddox.

Page 27
JACK NELSON:
That was the Republican nominee?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
That's right. Bo Callaway was the Republican nominee and Lester Maddox was the Democratic nominee and there were a lot of people unhappy about both of them. They got a write in campaign for former Governor Ellis Arnall and he received, as I recall, about thirty odd thousand votes.
JACK NELSON:
52,000, something like that.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
And Callaway had several hundred more votes, maybe 1500 or 2,000 more votes than Maddox. No one had a majority. So, you had a failure of election and the General Assembly had to elect the governor and the General Assembly was about 90% Democratic, so they elected Lester Maddox.
JACK NELSON:
And they had to elect it out of the two top vote getters in the general election, which was identical to your case.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes.
JACK NELSON:
Did the question ever come up in your case of vote fraud in Telfair County in connection with some of the write in votes?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
There was a lot of publicity about it, but no one . . .
JACK NELSON:
It didn't become part of the litigation, however? That was never raised?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
No.
JACK NELSON:
George Goodwin won a Pulitizer Prize for the Atlanta Journal on . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes, Stanley Brooks, who was an old desk mate of mine down in Telfair County, was a close friend of mine and he was a very strong political leader in Helena, Georgia. He could have gotten me 90% of the votes down there any way that he wanted to, but I guess that he wanted to do it the simple way so he voted them in alphabetical order. [laughter]
JACK NELSON:
And it turned out, I think, that some of the people

Page 28
were dead.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Might have been.
JACK NELSON:
Yes, I think that they called it "tombstone voting" or something. In any event, that is the story behind that. Was there any continuing of rancor between you and Ellis Arnall after you took office?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Not really. Actually, when I ran for the Senate, now Ellis didn't support me for reelection as governor. In fact, he and Ed Rivers had managed M.E. Thompson's campaign to the unexpired term and I had defeated him and they both supported M.E. when he ran against me again in 1950. But when I ran for the Senate, I think that the first contribution that I got was from Ellis Arnall. So, almost all my political opponents at one time or the other, almost without exception, have afterwards supported me.
JACK NELSON:
Now, you were in office as the interim governor while the case was being decided for what? Something like sixty-three days?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Sixty-seven, as I recall.
JACK NELSON:
Well, how did the state operate?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Well, the bankers had agreed to accept certification of B.E. Thrasher on the vouchers there . . .
JACK NELSON:
The state auditor.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes, Thrasher countersigned them and they paid the warrants.
JACK NELSON:
Now, as I remember, didn't Ben Fortson withhold the governor's seal or something?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Well, that really was just an act, because we had no necessity for the seal. The seal would have only been required on official documents like appointments of United States Senators and things like that.

Page 29
JACK NELSON:
The state treasurer, George Hamilton . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
He is alleged to have sat on the seal during all that time.
JACK NELSON:
Sat on it, yes. [laughter]
HERMAN TALMADGE:
But I had no necessity for the seal during that sixty-seven days. I was interested in getting litigation out of the way, the legislature was in session, the state was operating, everybody was being paid . . .
JACK NELSON:
Didn't George Hamilton, the state treasurer, try to prevent some of the payments or something? As I remember, he . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
No. He paid them, as I recall.
JACK NELSON:
But he was in the other . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Oh, he was in the other camp. But the bankers were accepting Thrasher's warrants and that took care of it.
JACK NELSON:
So, you were in sixty-seven days and Ellis Arnall . . . well, M.E. Thompson came in after that.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Actually, the court held that Arnall would hold over and then Ellis resigned and Thompson took over as acting governor.
JACK NELSON:
So then you went back to practice law?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Well, I didn't have much time to practice law, I was busy appealing my case to the court of last resort. I was campaigning.
JACK NELSON:
You continued the campaign then?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes. I was all over the state. I would leave every Monday morning and come back Saturday afternoon. That was the routine until the election was over.
JACK NELSON:
Right. Now, was your mother campaigning with you at that time?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Not until I formally and officially announced and then

Page 30
she made most of my engagements at that time and so did Betty. But during all that period of time, I was working. I didn't launch my campaign formally and officially until later. But George Stewart and I were traveling the state and we were organizing every county in the state and getting as many people registered as we could. I was busy speaking three or four times a week and contacting leaders.
JACK NELSON:
Did George Stewart hold a position at that time?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
No, George Stewart at that time, I believe, was assistant secretary of the Democratic party of Georgia. Iris Blitch was the secretary. I had designated her at my father's convention. And afterwards, I became governor and George Stewart became secretary of the Senate. And I believe also secretary of the party when Iris Blitch came to Congress.
JACK NELSON:
When did the race issue first come up, Senator, in your own political campaigns and how did it come up? Do you recall?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Actually, I don't know that it came up until the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 and I had already served six years as governor of Georgia at that time. We didn't have much of a race issue. We did have the Democratic white primary issue. My father had pledged to restore the Democratic white primary and so did I. So, you could say that the race issue came up then.
JACK NELSON:
Yeah, that was considered a part of it at that time. You had pledged to restore it, but you were never able to . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Well, we repealed the election laws, but the Supreme Court then said that that still wasn't sufficient. They were determined that they were going to outlaw the white primary regardless.
JACK NELSON:
Yes. Now one of the quotes that I think was attributed to you

Page 31
at that time was that "Negroes should not tell white people who to vote for in their primary," or something like that. Would that have been roughly what you would have said?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I expect that I did, yes.
JACK NELSON:
And I have also seen you quoted more recently in the magazine articles that you could look back, as maybe anybody could, on things that you maybe wished you hadn't said or wish you hadn't done, but in the context of the time, you did them.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes. You become older and wiser. Sometimes you said things different and not at all. It is about time that I've got to go to the office. We have been at it about an hour.
JACK NELSON:
Right. That's good. We'll stop.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]
JACK NELSON:
Senator, I did read The Wild Man From Sugar Creek, which really just came out this year. I didn't realize that it was that new and you had told me before we began the interview here something about the witnesses that Mr. Anderson used. I wonder if you could just say something else about that.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
His sources of information, as you saw from reading the book, were somewhat limited. Where he was completely wide of the mark, he quoted anonymous sources. Most of the witnesses that he quoted that were hostile to my father were well educated and highly articulate. Most of the witnesses that he quoted that were favorable to my father were limited in education and some of them were near morons.
JACK NELSON:
I know that you thought very highly of your father. He had a

Page 32
saying, according to Anderson, a lot of people said it, that he "was as mean as cat shit." Maybe he used to say that, but he wasn't necessarily that way.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I never heard him say that. My father was extremely stubborn. Once he made up his mind on an issue, it was pretty well set and concrete. No one could deter him if he firmly made up his mind and was commited to a position.
JACK NELSON:
Anderson also mentioned something about your days at the University of Georgia. Did you get involved in politics there?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes. I was commander of my fraternity, which is the equivalent of being president of it. I was also president of the interfraternity council. Anderson quoted Mr. John Monihan in the book that her husband had to go over to the university several times and get me out of scrapes. That was completely untrue.
JACK NELSON:
This was another case then of . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Pure fabrication. In its entirety.
JACK NELSON:
Another thing that I was very interested in was when you told me earlier that Huey Long was one of the persons that you most admired in life.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I was fascinated by Huey Long's color, his dynamic speaking style, his total supremacy in the state of Louisiana. He was the only man, I think, in the history of the country that ever completely took charge of the judicial, legislative and executive branch of government within his state. I used to subscribe to his newspaper, The American Progress. He had one of the quickest minds that I ever saw. I would read some of the debates in the Senate and sometimes he would take on the entire Senate singlehandedly and I never saw him bested.
JACK NELSON:
On the other hand, probably some of his political philosophy

Page 33
was not . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
His political philosophy at that time even at that time, was alien to my own and as I got in politics and government myself, I don't buy his share the wealth theory and things of that nature.
JACK NELSON:
Also, according to Anderson, I think that he quoted some speech or some comment that Huey Long had made to the press. He was supposed to have had some contempt for your father.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I saw that in Anderson's book. I don't know whether he ever said that or not. Huey in those days sometimes drank to excess. He might have made a derogatory remark while he was under the influence, but I doubt that he had contempt for my father. I thought that they were good friends.
JACK NELSON:
You doubt that there was any enmity between then, then?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
There wasn't any at all. My father didn't buy his political philosophy, although he did support his program to curtail cotton production until we got it out of surplus.
JACK NELSON:
Another thing that I wanted to ask you about was Anderson's writing that your father had sent you to see President Roosevelt and promised that the Talmadges were burying the hatchet and so forth. That was untrue, too?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes.
JACK NELSON:
You didn't go then?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
No.
JACK NELSON:
Now, another thing that he said concerning your father was that he admired Hitler and had read Hitler's book seven times.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I doubt that.

Page 34
JACK NELSON:
You and I talked about the Cocking affair some yesterday. What about the Pittman affair?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
It was somewhat similar. I was off in the Navy at that time and there were some charges made against Dr. Pittman, who was at that time president of the College at Statesboro, Georgia and Dr. Pittman was removed along with Dr. Cocking.
JACK NELSON:
You disagreed with your father, and I think that you told me this when we had the first interview, on a number of occasions. Your political advice to him, at least, was different on the Cocking affair. What about also your disagreeing with him on emphasizing the race issue in the '40s?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Actually, the race issue was never emphasized in any of his races to any great degree. It was a collateral issue in the Cocking affair and probably in the Pittman affair and indirectly was involved in his 1942 campaign for reelection at that time. Now, the race issue was directly involved in the 1946 campaign. Just prior to that campaign, the federal judiciary had outlawed the Democratic white primary that had been in existence in Georgia, I believe, since 1906 until 1946, for a period of forty years. And the principle issue in his 1946 campaign was an attempt to restore the Democratic white primary.
JACK NELSON:
And you really did play and very important part in the '46 campaign.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes, I managed the campaign. I managed three of his campaigns, the campaign in 1938 against Senator George, where we lost. The campaign in 1940 for election of governor to a third term, we won and I managed his 1946 campaign, which we won.

Page 35
JACK NELSON:
Now Anderson apparently was quoting you, Senator, in his book when he said that you had written the platform and you told your father that and that now it was time for him to run.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
That's right.
JACK NELSON:
And that he told you that he thought you were carrying him a little too far with some liberal things. What were the planks that would have been too liberal?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I emphasize that I thought the state was ready to make progress, it was subsequent to World War II, and the state had pretty much stood still throughout the war. Of course, with a total dedication to the war effort. So, we emphasized progress in education and in roads, primarily, and I believe also in natural resources. I had returned from the Navy and I saw that my father was involved in running for governor again. So, along in the spring of the year, I've forgotten the exact time, April or May, I would think, I wrote a suggested platform and took it in to him and told him that if he was going to announce, I thought that we ought to issue that statement in the next Sunday's paper. He looked it over and looked up at me and said, "You are taking me pretty fast, aren't you, son?" I said, "You've got to go fast if you expect to win this one." He signed it and I delivered it to the newspapers, I believe, on Saturday for Sunday release. That's my recollection.
JACK NELSON:
Another thing that I had asked you about just as we were ending the session last week, that you were quoted as saying that times and conditions change and "I am certain that I have said many things that I wouldn't today and done many things that I wouldn't do today." Can you look back over your career, Senator, and think of anything specifically in the context of today

Page 36
that you wouldn't . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I'm sure that I made some harsh statements that I wouldn't make since I have become more mature. The times and conditions have changed. I can't recall any specific instance, but many statements that I've made I'm sure I would not make today.
JACK NELSON:
I was noticing a piece, I don't know whether the New York Post wrote it or wehther it was Reese Cleghorn's piece, but someone's piece about Curtis Atkinson, a black on your staff, being maybe one of the first blacks on the staff of any Deep South Senator. Do you know whether that is true or not?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I don't know, really. I suspect that it was among the earliest, if not the earliest, but I couldn't state that for a fact. Curtis has been on my staff now for approximately six years and he does an outstanding job. He is an able young man. He has two degrees from Columbia University, masters, I believe, and he was teaching in the public school system in Harelson County when he came on my staff. He has an unusual ability to get along extremely well with both whites and blacks and he serves as many white constituents of mine as he does blacks.
JACK NELSON:
What is his job on the staff, Senator?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Oh, he is in the Atlanta office, a liason and handles problems of various communities that are seeking medical centers and school aid, just everything with federal relations. Housing problems, all areas.
JACK NELSON:
Reese Cleghorn did do one piece on you which I think was in the Atlanta Magazine, if I'm not mistaken, in which he said that you had achieved a personal coalition in your followings between such disparate people as say, Dr. King and the Grand Dragon. He was crediting you with an

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awful lot, but do you think that you did eventually in your career begin to . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I don't think that there is any doubt. Of course, as I stated in my previous conversation with you, after my father died, because I was Eugene Talmadge's son, I inherited the support of roughly one third of the state. I inherited also roughly the opposition of one third of the state. There was a middle ground of about a third that was neither pro nor con. I got the majority of that vote when I was elected governor in 1948. I retained about that same majority when I was reelected in 1950. when I came to the Senate in 1956, I think that at that time I had won over the majority of my former enemies. I carried every county in the state in that election and approximately 80% of the vote. Since that time, I have never received less than 72% plus. Since I have been in the Senate, I have received campaign funds and contributions from virtually ever one of my former cheif political enemies. And since Governor Arnall, as I recall, was my first contributor when I sought reelection to the Senate in 1962. Last year, one of my contributors was former governor, M.E. Thompson whom I had defeated three times, twice for governor and once for the United States Senate. So, I think that I have been extremely fortunate in holding the base that I inherited that was my father's loyal supporters and building on that. I think now, according to the polls that I see, that over 80% of the people in Georgia think that I am doing a good job in the Senate. In fact, I had some polls made in anticipation of my last race and the pollster stated that that was the highest rating that he had ever made on any candidate at any time for any public office. About 86% of the people of Georgia gave

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me either excellent or good.
JACK NELSON:
Now, you spend a good deal of time going back to Georgia.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Oh yes, I think that I make more speeches in my homes state than probably any member of the United States Senate. I average at least a hundred a year. For instance, we are taking a recess during the month-of August and I have thirteen engagements in the state during that period of time. I usually schedule all my addresses in Georgia either on weekends or known recess periods. I average getting about the state and making a hundred speeches a year and I think that is as many as any Senator makes in his home state. I don't accept many engagements outside the state, maybe half a dozen or a dozen a year. I have to turn down about 90% of all the invitations that I get within the state. I accept as many as my Senatorial duties permit. They are very diverse groups, all types and kinds in character, citizens within the state, business people, working people, black people, white people, college groups, high school groups and so on.
JACK NELSON:
You must have had an awful lot of invitations that you had to turn down during the Watergate hearings and after the Watergate hearings. I imagine that still comes on.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes, during the Watergate hearings, my mail got up to 3500 letters a day. It averages at the present time 500 to 600 letters a day. Monday is the heaviest mail, it will run 800 to 1000 letters a day. I get invitations all the time that I have to turn down. I turned down one yesterday from Yale University.
JACK NELSON:
Does the mail still come in on a heavy volume partially because of Watergate, I mean nationwide?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
About 60% of my mail, I think, comes from Georgia and about

Page 39
40% nationwide. During the Watergate hearings, I received an enormous volume of mail wanting me to run for President. For the first time, I was invited to make Democratic addresses outside the Deep South. I made the Jefferson-Jackson Day address in Missouri, also made it in Indiana and politicians from throughout the country would come by the office to get photographed with me. That was subsequent to Watergate, not prior to it. I think that I changed my image somewhat nationwide during the Watergate hearings. Most of the people in the nation didn't know much about me except what they had read in Time Magazine, articles of that type. Most of them were not very favorable and when I was on . . .
JACK NELSON:
Also, I was going to say, Senator, you probably inherited some of your father's image nationwide as well as his strength in Georgia.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes. In fact, more nationwide than I did within Georgia because a lot of people in Georgia knew me personally. That was not true outside the state and when they watched me on Watergate and saw that I was fairminded and stuck to the subject and wasn't pompous and didn't try to pontificate and moralize, I think that it made a good impression. I was pleased that two nationally syndicated columnists rated me the highest mark during that hearing and Danny Inoye second. I concurred with that rating. We stuck to the subject and handled it like an investigation should. We asked questions that were pertinent and we didn't moralize and pontificate and get off inside shows and things of that nature.
JACK NELSON:
I would like, later in the interview, go back to Watergate and maybe go into some detail on that.
I was going to ask you, though, you said one time when you were governor that you could make a decision and execute it and that as a Senator, "I can make a decision and talk about it." Would

Page 40
you elaborate on that just a little bit?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes, there is only one governor of Georgia. Under the constitution and laws of Georgia, a vast power is vested in the governor. Most of the General Assembly of Georgia was friendly to me, supporters of mine elected by my supporters and they would go along with virtually any program that I suggested. Well, I could make a decision and pretty well assured that I could get it carried out and made into law and executed by either myself or my department heads. But in the United States Senate, you have 100 individuals. You have to reach a conscensus not only of the 100 individuals in the Senate, but you also have to have a conscensus of the majority of the 435 members of the house and in addition to that, it requires the President's signature. So, your authority, even if you are chairman of a committee and possess enormous power, it is somewhat limited.
JACK NELSON:
You are saying that even if you are chairman of a committee, it is still a very frustrating experience sometimes to get any action, I suppose.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Well, I can give you an example. This year, we decided that the Farm Bill needed revision. We had written it in 1973. Subsequent to that, we had had the Arab Embargo, fertilizer had doubled and sometimes trebled. Prices of herbicides and insecticides and pesticides had doubled or quadrupled. Farm machinery and diesel fuel had gone up tremendously, so we made an effort to raise the target prices and loan levels. It was mostly my bill. We put it through the Senate by an overwhelming majority, well over two to one and then we had to go to conference with the House. The House had a much more modest bill than we had. In an effort to get the President's signature, number one and number two, failing to get the President's signature, hopefully to override the President's veto, we scaled it back to

Page 41
the much more modest version of the House bill and still it failed to override the President's veto in the House by twenty-five votes. That's what I mean by frustrating experiences. Now, we had the votes in my committee and we had the votes in the Senate, but we didn't have the votes in the conference committee and the House didn't have the votes to override the President's veto. So, coming from being cheif executive of the state, I came to be one of 100 Senators. So, my authority was considerably diluted.
JACK NELSON:
Let me ask you, earlier we talked about your father's elections. What about your own elections and then you administration as governor? Could you discuss just a little bit about how you happened to be elected the first time? You went into it in a little detail before, but not totally.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Well, of course, we went into the Two Governors Row. After my father died, under what we thought were the provisions of the constitution, the legislature elected me governor by a vote of about two to one. The Supreme Court of the state voted five to two against me and as soon as they did, I vacated the office and announced that I would carry my case to the people. I got in my car with George Stewart and about eighteen months, we traveled around the state doing preliminary work organizing campaign committees within the various counties and I announced my campaign in the spring of 1946. I opened it at Douglas, Georgia with a barbeque and a huge crowd, I think that there were 15,000 or 20,000 people there. I made speeches all over the state and I was elected to the unexpired term of my father in 1946. I carried 130 counties and Mr. Thompson, who was then acting governor, carried twenty-nine. The popular vote was much closer than that. I got a substantial majority of the popular vote and an overwhelming majority of the county unit vote. Of

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course, I had no opposition in the general election in November and filling an unexpired term, I took office immediately after the votes were counted and consolidated in the general election in 1946. Well, we had to call a special session of the Georgia legislature in 1949 to meet the cost of rising school needs. As I recall, we raised about thirty million dollars in additional revenue and in five days, which was the minimal time possible to pass bills in both the House and Senate. We got the thirty million and the legislature adjourned and went home. We began to make progress then in our educational system. Then, of course, in my first full term, we had tax revision in the state.
JACK NELSON:
Let's talk about your reelection, though. This time, your opposition was . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
M.E. Thompson.
JACK NELSON:
M.E. Thompson again.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I believe that C.O. Baker from Athens also ran and . . .
JACK NELSON:
But it was really a two man race?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
It was really a two man race. As I recall, Baker got about ten thousand votes and Mr. Thompson and I got the rest of them. In that election, as I recall, I carried 122½ counties and Mr. Thompson carried the remainder. It was a little closer than my first election.
JACK NELSON:
What were the main issues in that campaign?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Oh, it was primarily personalities. It was a rehash of the 1946 campaign, primarily.
JACK NELSON:
Then, you were going to talk about the second administration and what you thought were the topics.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Well, my second administration, we revised the tax code of the state and repealed lots of antiquated laws and put in a very broad based

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3% sales tax and at that time, the state started making real progress. We passed the minimum foundation program for education, school building authority. Since we put in that school building authority in Georgia, we've built more new schools than any states in the Union except New York and California. Both of those states have much higher per capital incomes and three to four times the population of Georgia. We raised teacher's salaries, we gave them tenure, we improved the school retirement program for school teachers. We put virtually all the state departments under a merit system rather than a political system, where employees could be fired at random. We also put in a health program, the Hill-Burton Hospital program that built hospitals and health centers throughout the state. We had a vastly expanded highway program . . .
JACK NELSON:
Is this the beginning of the rural roads program?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes, that's right. And we also put in the best conservation program, forest resources, of any state in the Union. We jumped from the 46th position of the then 48 states to number one in a crash program of about eighteen months. We started Georgia on the road to progress at that time and those programs have been continued and improved by every subsequent governor and every subsequent legislature.
JACK NELSON:
Do you look back during that time and think of something that you wish that you had done or hadn't done during that administration? I don't think that anybody ever dwells on what they might have done, but . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I couldn't say right off the top of my head, Jack, that I would have made any changes.
JACK NELSON:
What about during that period, did you have any dealings as governor at that time with President Truman?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
No.

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JACK NELSON:
Did you . . . what was your own evaluation of him?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Well, my evaluation since then has greatly improved on Truman. Like many of my contemporaries at that time, I didn't hold President Truman in any very high esteem. Since that time, I have revised my opinion of him. I think that history is going to be kind to President Truman. He was a man who could make a decision and stick by it and I think that he did what he thought was right. He didn't have a great deal of ability, but he had a good deal of common sense and he had that Missouri stubborness in him and he took responsibility for all of his acts and spoke frankly. I have come to admire him since then.
JACK NELSON:
Were you involved much in national politics at all at the time that you were govenor?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
No.
JACK NELSON:
You stuck pretty well to . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I had more than I could handle in Georgia, really. I have never been ambitious on the national level.
JACK NELSON:
Now, you told me earlier that ever since you were a kid, you had thought of being in the Senate, that you wanted to be a Senator. When did you first really cast an eye toward Senator George's seat?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I guess that it began with the Chicago convention in 1952. We were running Senator Russell then for the presidency and I had appointed a delegation with a very broad base to the convention, including all the members of the United States Senate and Congress from Georgia and people who were leaders in all walks of life in Georgia, not neccessarily my own political followers. In fact, I suspect a third of the delegates at that time were not political followers of mine. In Chicago at the convention, Senator George

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and I were sitting around chatting one day and he said to me, "Herman," . . . I think that he called me "Herman" instead of "Governor," he said, "I do not expect to seek reelection to the United States Senate. Of course, I could conceivably change my mind, but I have no idea that that will occur. I hope that you run to succeed me and if you do, I imagine that your opponent will be former governor Ellis Arnall. I will be delighted to take the stump for you if you would like me to do so." I thanked him and then I got to thinking about running for the Senate. Many of my friends had been talking to me about it and I presumed from 1952 onward that I was looking toward running for the Senate in '56. That was the time when Senator George's term would expire. Of course, I went out of the governor's office in January, 1955 and after I went out of the governor's office, I spent about half of my time practicing law and about half of the time getting ready to run for the Senate. Senator George had changed his position from chairman of the Finance Committee to chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and anyone in that position, I think, gets the impression that they are carrying the fate of the world on their shoulders. That was particularly true at the time, John Foster Dulles was working out all of the national security treaties where we were going to protect every little country throughout the world, we were trying to feed and clothe all these little countries throughout the world and I suspect that John Foster Dulles, who was then the Secretary of State, was instrumental in persuading Senator George to change his mind. Sometime between 1952 and 1956, apparently Senator George did change his mind and decided that he would seek reelection. His health at that time was failing pretty rapidly. He came back to the state . . . he rarely made speeches in the state at all during that

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era, one or two a year maybe and that was about it . . . but he came back and made twelve or fifteen speeches over the state and they would usually invite all the city clubs in the area. If he would speak at Macon, there would be four or five hundred people there at his audiences and some of his speeches were very impressive and others were almost a catastrophe. He would break down and cry and couldn't talk and things of that nature. Then, he went back, he set up a committee, Steve Pace, a former Congressman, was to chair his campaign for reelection. He had a lady from Tocca who was organizing women and then he started calling some of his friends over the state to get a realistic appraisal. It is difficult for a politician to get his friends to tell him teh truth. Most of them tell him what they think that he wants to hear. But for the first time, Senator George's friends thought that they should tell him that he couldn't win and ought not to seek reelection. Well, about that time, I got an invitation to appear on Meet the Press from Lawrence Spivak here in Washington and I accepted. It was published in the paper that I would appear. Senator George thought that I was going to use that occassion to announce for the United States Senate. Of course, I wasn't going to come to Washington to announce for the Senate, I was going to announce before I left Georgia. So, I prepared a statement announcing for the Senate on, I think, about Thursday before the Sunday that I was scheduled to appear on Meet the Press. It was for Friday's release or Saturday's release. Meanwhile, Senator George withdrew about the time that my statement got over to the news services and the paper.
JACK NELSON:
Did he withdraw before or after?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
He withdrew about the time that my statement got to the press and I had to send someone over and pick it up and kill the story after he

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withdrew. And as I recall, I had an engagement to make a speech in Bainbridge, Georgia to the American Legion down there on the date that Senator George did withdraw from the Senate race. The President appointed him Ambassador to NATO. I had an engagement the next day to go over and visit with Moy Monroe, a friend of mine from Waycross, Georgia, who had a cottage at Vernadino Beach. So, the next morning early, I got up and got his telephone and placed calls to forty or fifty of Senator George's principal leaders throughout the state and spent virtually the whole day talking to them. I told them that Senator George had withdrawn from the race and that I would appreciate it if they would support me and virtually everyone of them announced their support. I asked them to issue statements to the press and many of them did. So, that day, we virtually wound up the campaign because Senator George was not going to run. Most of his principal supporters declared for me and then Governor Thompson announced after Senator George withdrew. As I recall, I got around 82% of the votes, even carrying Governor Thompson's home county of Lowndes two to one and one of his wife's first cousins, from the county where he was born and reared, managed my campaign down there and I carried that one handily for the first time. That was Jenkins County.
JACK NELSON:
Let me ask you, did you ever discuss with Senator George again his conversation with you back at the convention?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I never did.
JACK NELSON:
Did you ever discuss or the two of you discuss again the fact that you would be running or your interest in it?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
No.
JACK NELSON:
In other words, that was the last time?

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HERMAN TALMADGE:
That was the last time.
JACK NELSON:
You know, this is just sort of a personal note, but I remember that I was a reporter on the Atlanta Constitution at the time, and I remember seeing you walk down Forsyth Street, not far from the Journal-Constitution Building, in fact I hollered at you across the street, you had two arm loads of groceries. I don't know where you had gotten them, I guess they were groceries, two big sacks in your hands. I was thinking how vigorous and young you were and I was thinking about how old Senator George was and how decrepit he was. This was before he withdrew and I think that most people just thought that he didn't stand a chance.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
He was seventy-nine at the time. I am delighted that he didn't run because Senator George was a great Senator. He was probably the most respected member of the Senate. He had served a long time with great distinction, as I recall, some thirty-four or thirty-five years. If he had run, it would have divided many families and personal loyalties in the state, you would have had fathers against sons and brothers against brothers. I think that I would have defeated him overwhelmingly. I think that I would have gotten some 65% of the vote, that I would have gotten it about two to one. It probably would have left him embittered to have been rejected by the electorate after such long and distinguished service. He was seventy-nine years of age at the time and he died about six months later and certainly, I think that I made the wise decision at the time and I think that Senator George made the wise decision.
JACK NELSON:
What was Senator Russell's position, if any, at that time?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I don't think that he had any position, he was a close friend of both Senator George and myself and I would think . . . he never discussed it with me, but I would suspect that Senator Russell was personally

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relieved that he didn't get caught in a crossfire between Senator George and myself. His relationship with Senator George was good, his relationship with me was good and in my judgement, if that race had developed, I think that Senator Russell would have remained neutral.
JACK NELSON:
Suppose you had had the option of taking on Senator Russell at the time, that would have been a much more difficult race.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes, much more difficult. I think that it would have been close and could have gone either way.
JACK NELSON:
What is your evaluation of Senator Russell?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I think that Senator Russell is one of the all time great Senators that the nation has had.
JACK NELSON:
Do you think that had he not . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I'd also put Senator George in that category.
JACK NELSON:
Do you think had Senator Russell not have been from a Deep South state, that he would have been elected?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes, I think that he would have been President of the United States. In fact, Harry Truman said in his book that if Russell had not been from a southern state, he probably would have been President and I think that's true.
JACK NELSON:
Well, your father lost of course, against him, didn't he?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes. He ran against Senator Russell in 1936 and . . .
JACK NELSON:
Were you involved in that campaign?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes, I made some speeches in that campaign. I was not the manager, but I made some speeches around over the state and performed any service that I thought would be useful.
JACK NELSON:
Was your father's respect for Senator Russell considerable, too?

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HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes, he had a high opinion of Senator Russell.
JACK NELSON:
I was going to ask you about your feeling about another Georgian and maybe that has changed too, somewhat, I don't know. What about Dr. Martin Luther King?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I never knew Dr. King, I don't think that I ever met him personally, that I can recall. He came along at a time when the nation was ready for some change on racial issues. He was a very forceful and aggressive leader and a manificent orator. I never knew him personally. I know his daddy well.
JACK NELSON:
And his daddy, of course, is still living.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
His daddy is retiring and they are holding a dinner honoring him, I believe the first day of August or there abouts, at the Mariott Motel. I have been invited to attend. Senator Nunn and I are doing an hour show for Channel 17 in Atlanta that night and I wrote them that if the dinner was still in progress, I would drop by after Senator Nunn and I get through with our interview.
JACK NELSON:
That's very good, August 1st.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I think it's August 1st.
JACK NELSON:
What about any of the other black leaders in Georgia, Senator? Particularly those who have maybe had some influence as far as the vote among the blacks was concerned, A.T. Walden in Atlanta or any of the others.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Walden was an old friend of mine and I admired Walden greatly. I first got to know him right after I was admitted to the bar in 1936. I was appointed by Judge Hugh Dorsey to defend a young black man who had cut a young white man's throat there on Marietta Street in Atlanta and

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killed him. A.T. Walden showed up down there to help me with the defense. I presume that he had been employed by the NAACP or maybe he volunteered his services, I don't know. I was a young green lawyer and Walden was more experienced than I was.
JACK NELSON:
This was when, again?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
1936. We tried that case together before . . . I've forgotten the judge, but we tried that case and we got him a sentence, I believe, of ten years for manslaughter, which we thought was quite an accomplishment at the time. Walden and I remained friends thereafter. He didn't support me politically, in fact, I dressed him down a few times in some of my campaign speeches in '46. One time when I was governor, he called me and stated that he had to go down to Miller County to defend a black involved in a murder case and he was apprehensive about his life and asked if I would give him protection and I said that I certainly would, "I'll have a state patrol car to take you down there," and I did.
JACK NELSON:
Well now, did you continue any sort of a relationship with Walden thereafter?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes.
JACK NELSON:
Did he support you for the Senate?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I believe he died maybe about the time that I came to the Senate. I don't recall. But our friendship continued from '36 until his death and there is a woman judge now, Mrs. Herndon, who was Walden's law partner and she had been a supporter and friend of mine for many years.
JACK NELSON:
This is what, municipal court judge?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes. A municipal judge of some kind down there in Atlanta.
JACK NELSON:
What about any of the other black leaders that you can think of?

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HERMAN TALMADGE:
I think that virtually all of them now support me. You have black leaders in various sections of the state, I know a great many of them.
JACK NELSON:
I've heard praise of you from people like Julian Bond.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes. Bond's relationship with mine is very cordial and pleasant. I've heard many generous remarks that he has made about me and I am grateful for it. My relationship has not been extremely close with Julian. I have been around him a few times, I've received letters from him a few times. He came by my office during the Watergate Committee hearings and stated that he would like to observe some of them and I took him up there and got him a seat.
JACK NELSON:
What about Leroy Johnson?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Leroy Johnson has been a friend of mine for many years. I first knew Leroy when he was a bartender at the Elks Club in Atlanta, Georgia when I was a young lawyer around there and I presume that Leroy was getting his education at the time. He became a lawyer, the first state senator in the Deep South and my friendship with him has existed from that time to the present. He has called on me several times for modest favors and whenever I could, I have done so.
JACK NELSON:
Has he supported you?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes.
JACK NELSON:
What about any of the other black politicians who are in Georgia now, Ben Alexander?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I know Ben Alexander. I think he supports me.
JACK NELSON:
Any of the others?

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HERMAN TALMADGE:
I think that virtually all of them did in my last two races. In my last race now, when Maynard Jackson ran against me, they were all in his corner at the time and that is understandable.
JACK NELSON:
What is your relationship, if any, with Maynard Jackson?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Oh, it is very pleasant. He calls on me all the time for things for the city of Atlanta and on most occassions, I have been able to deliver. He took a shot at me on this voting rights bill the other day, which I thought was somewhat gratuitous, but that was his business.
JACK NELSON:
What did he say?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
He was denouncing me for trying to make it apply to the nation as a whole rather than restricting it to the southern states. Now, the voter rights man, John Lewis, who probably has had more experience in voter registration than anybody in the United States, supported my position and I quoted him in my speech on the floor of the Senate the day before yesterday. He wanted to make it nationwide.
JACK NELSON:
Have you known John Lewis very well at all, Senator?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I've seen him a few times in recent years. I have not known him a long time, no.
JACK NELSON:
I used to cover him, of course, when he was with SNCC and then when he broke with SNCC because of black power and he has always seemed to me to be a very . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I had an opportunity to visit with him a few weeks ago. Curtis Atkinson, my aide down in Atlanta, Georgia told me that John Lewis wanted to see me and I was going up for a cocktail party at Andy Young's brother's home, Dr. Young, and I said, "Curtis, why don't you just pick up

Page 54
John and you bring him down to the farm and we can drive back together and we can visit at the farm and also in route to Dr. Young's home." So, he said, "Fine," and he did that. Lewis came in and we talked fifteen or twenty minutes at Lovejoy and then it took us forty-five minutes to drive to Dr. Young's home and we had an opportunity to visit during that period and I must say that I was quite impressed with him. He was born and reared in Alabama on a farm, very humble circumstances in the beginning. I found him to be quite a reasonable and impressive young man.
JACK NELSON:
Isn't the Scotts who run the Atlanta Daily World?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes.
JACK NELSON:
Of course, they are Republicans, aren't they, and have been, so I suppose that at least politically, you have had very little relationship with them?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I don't know that I have ever met Mr. Scott. I may have, I've known some of his editors. One of his former editors, I believe that his name is Gordon, is now with the U.S. Information Office and he always comes by to see me when he returns to Washington. I've done several small favors for him. He was very close to Ralph McGill, incidentally. He frequently talks about McGill when he comes to see me and I am very much impressed with him.
JACK NELSON:
What about your relationship with Ralph McGill?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Our relationship was very cordial and pleasant throughout his life. He was quite generous with me in most of his articles, even when the Constitution and Journal were not supporting me. He wrote some impressive things about me during the first race with Mr. Thompson. He moderated a

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debate that Thompson and I had over statewide radio stations in 1948 and when I came to the Senate, he wrote a very impressive article about me. He was writing a syndicated column at that time and I attended his funeral when he died. Our relationship was very pleasant and cordial throughout his lifetime.
JACK NELSON:
What about the other people on the Atlanta papers, Jack Tarver?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I've gotten along well with Jack. When he first came up there and wrote that little cute column from the Vidalia paper, the Macon paper. He first went from Vidalia to Macon and from Macon to the Atlanta papers, he was Biggers' associate at the time . . .
JACK NELSON:
That was George Biggers.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes. And he would take a shot at me a time or two in his early days, he was a clever writer, he would write these cute satirical articles. He denounced me a few times, but our personal relationship for at least fifteen or eighteen years has been very cordial and very friendly and I consider him a friend. Incidentally, George Biggers and I got to be friends about 1952. We went to lunch one day and George said, "Herman," or "Governor," or whatever he called me, "I need a good reporter. Do you know where I can get one?" I said, "I know of two. One of them, I don't know his name, but he is a young Jewish reporter on the Chattanooga Times. He met me at an airplane when I went up there to speak and accompanied me to make a speech somewhere and we chatted and he took voluminous notes and I happened to see the paper and it was about two columns that he wrote about me and every bit of it was 100% accurate. It was the most superb job of reporting that I ever think I saw. The other one that I know is a young

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fellow down on one of the Macon papers who is named Reg Murphy. He is also a superb reporter." A few weeks after that, Murphy joined the Atlanta papers. I don't know whether my recommendation had anything to do with it or not and then Biggers, I think, retired about the time or subsequent to the time that I went out of office as governor. When I ran for the Senate, I think that both Atlanta papers supported me and they have supported me in each one of my elections since that time.
JACK NELSON:
What about other papers across the state?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Virtually all of them support me now.
JACK NELSON:
I was going to say that you do have support pretty widely.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I don't know of any anti-Talmadge newspaper in the state of Georgia now. There was one newspaper in Jeffersonville, Georgia that supported my Democratic opponent in last year's campaign. I think that every other one supported me.
JACK NELSON:
It must be that with the political backing that you do have in the state and have had for quite some time, that you wouldn't have to raise enormous sums of money to campaign.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
No.
JACK NELSON:
Is that true?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
That's true. As a matter of fact, I had a good deal of money left over. I did not solicit any money except that we had two campaign funds. One of them was Georgians for Talmadge, that was headed up by Rogers Wade, who is now my administrative assistant and also the young lawyer down there that used to be with Dick Russell, what's his name . . . Charles . . . he was in my office yesterday, went with Sizemore's firm . . . Charles Campbell, who joined Lamar Sizemore's firm. He was in charge of it. They raised

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modest contributions, tried to limit it to about $100 and that was the active campaign fund. The other that we had in Washington and continued to be in being ever since I've been in politics . . .
JACK NELSON:
Now this was when?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
This was last year, but this campaign fund has been in existence all along. We had some contributions . . .
[END OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[TAPE 2, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE B]
HERMAN TALMADGE:
. . . considerable funds left over in both campaign funds. So, we decided to refund the money to all of them that wanted it and they refunded the money on the Georgians for Talmadge and liquidated that. I think that they got back about thirty or forty cents on each dollar they contributed. The campaign fund that we've got here in Washington, none of them wanted it returned, so we just kept it. We are using it in accordance with the law for any purpose that furthers my political efforts or my office efforts. For instance, I do a weekly radio program that we send to all the Georgia radio stations and about twice a month, I do a television program that we send to all the t.v. stations. I do a weekly newsletter that goes out to virtually every newspaper in Georgia and then I do a mass mailing about once a month. We pay for that out of leftover campaign funds, also entertainment expenses, sometimes I have to give luncheons from time to time. Delegations that come up here from Georgia, we pay that out of the campaign funds.
JACK NELSON:
You mentioned to me after the last interview, and after we had turned the tape recorder off, that James Peters was one of the great men that

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you had known in your life.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Jim Peters is a very great man in my book. He came up from humble origins, he was a country school teacher in Berrien County, Georgia. He was a very successful businessman and he contributed probably more to educational progress than any man in the history of our state. He served as chairman of the Board of Education for twelve or fourteen years, beginning with my administration and lasting until a few years ago. He was a highly successful banker. He owned the telephone system in his area. He had farmed . . .
JACK NELSON:
Where was that, Manchester?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes. He had farmed and he was an intimate friend of Franklin D. Roosevelt, one of his closest personal friends . . .
JACK NELSON:
And also a friend of your father's.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Also a friend of my father's and he was a very high minded man, a deeply religious man, honorable in every respect. He was one of the great men that I have known in my lifetime. He died last year at about ninety years of age.
JACK NELSON:
Now, he had a tremendous impact, I suppose, politically too, didn't he?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes, he had friends throughout the state and particularly in his area where he was known.
JACK NELSON:
Who else did you mention to me as being one of the great people that you have known?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Charlie Redwine.
JACK NELSON:
Yes.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Charlie Redwine was similarly situated over in Fayette County.

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He came up from very humble origins. He and his family owned the bank there and a fertlizer business and the Ford agency, morticians, farmer and just about every facet of life that there was in Fayette County. Charlie Redwine's wife died when she was quite young and left him with several young daughters and Redwine had to be not only a father to those daughters, but a mother too. They were some of the finest girls that I ever knew and I think that was his greatest hallmark. He served in the state legislature, the House and Senate and was president of the Senate at one time, when my father served as governor, in '41 or '42, as a matter of fact. Then he ran for governor against Ed Rivers and was defeated in 1936. He served as my Revenue Commissioner and did an outstanding job.
JACK NELSON:
Charlie Redwine is not living now?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
No, Charlie Redwine died about ten years ago. I attended his funeral in Fayetteville, Georgia. Well, it is about seven o'clock, and I've got to get dressed, Jack.
JACK NELSON:
All right, we'll continue later. Let me ask you something, though, I'll just turn this off . . .
END OF INTERVIEW