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Oral History Interview with Herman Talmadge, July 15 and 24, 1975. Interview A-0331-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    This is the first interview in a three-part series with Herman Talmadge, who served as governor of Georgia from 1948 to 1955 before going to the United States Senate from 1957 until 1981. The son of Governor Eugene Talmadge, Herman Talmadge discusses his early career in politics and his perception of southern politics during the mid-twentieth century. Talmadge begins the interview by reflecting on his first awareness of political issues when he helped to campaign for his father during the mid-1920s. In discussing his father's political career (Eugene Talmadge first served as the Commissioner of Agriculture in Georgia before serving as governor from 1933 to 1937 and again from 1941 to 1943), Talmadge places his father within the changing social and political landscape of Georgia. Following his father's unexpected death in December 1946 just after his reelection to the governorship that same year, the younger Talmadge was elected by the legislature to fill his father's seat. His election, however, was highly contested and soon became a notorious scandal dubbed "the three governors controversy" (referred to here by Talmadge as the "two governors row"). Although he firmly believed that he had been rightfully placed in office by the General Assembly, Talmadge was forced out of office by a Georgia Supreme Court ruling before returning in 1948, after being elected in his own right. In discussing that initial gubernatorial campaign, as well as his subsequent campaigns, Talmadge emphasizes the importance of his father's legacy in his own political career, the growing importance of race in southern politics, his thoughts on his political rivals and colleagues, and his relationship with the press. Talmadge also discusses his decision to run for the United States Senate and his growing prominence in national politics during the 1960s and 1970s.
    Excerpts
  • Memories of campaigning for his father in the 1920s and 1930s
  • Eugene Talmadge's political legacy in Georgia
  • Impact of the Cocking Affair in 1942
  • The 1947 "Two Governor Row" as described by Talmadge
  • Respect and admiration for Huey Long's leadership style
  • Building a political coalition and turning enemies into allies
  • Comparing political authority as senator versus governor
  • Deciding to run for United States Senate in 1956
  • Former segregationist and civil rights activist agree over changes to Voting Rights Act
  • Political uses of excess campaign funds
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • Subjects
  • Long, Huey Pierce, 1893-1935
  • Georgia--Politics and government
  • Georgia--Race relations
  • Press and politics--Georgia
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.