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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Herman Talmadge, November 8, 1990. Interview A-0347. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Quixotic efforts by Dixiecrat Party

Talmadge describes Strom Thurmond's 1948 attempt to win the presidency as a Dixiecrat as quixotic. He refused to participate.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Herman Talmadge, November 8, 1990. Interview A-0347. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JOHN EGERTON:
Here's a question I've wondered about a lot. When '48 came, you were running for governor. Strom Thurmond and Fielding Wright bolted the Democratic Party, went off on their own, and you never blinked an eye. I never saw anything in the record to indicate that you even thought about going with them. Why not?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I knew it was a futile effort. Third parties had no chance, and I had already been nominated for governor on the Democratic ticket. I knew I had four years ahead of me to govern this state, and I didn't want to make a blind end run for something like that. So I stayed away from it. Strom Thurmond was a cousin of mine. My mother was. . . .
JOHN EGERTON:
Is that right? Did you lend any visible or even token support to Franklin Roosevelt in that election, I'm sorry, Harry Truman in that election?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Stayed out it completely. Georgia went overwhelmingly for the Democratic ticket. Had I gotten involved, possibly I could have carried the state for Strom Thurmond, but I didn't attempt to do so.
JOHN EGERTON:
Over next door in Alabama. . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
It went for Thurmond. South Carolina went for Thurmond, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas.
JOHN EGERTON:
In Alabama, even though Jim Folsom was the governor, and was, you know, pretty far more toward the left than. . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
He was a real liberal, yes.
JOHN EGERTON:
And yet they couldn't even get the Democratic Party on the ballot in Alabama. How do you read all that? I mean, that was a real salad bowl of mixed up stuff that year, wasn't it?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes, it was.
JOHN EGERTON:
But your conviction was that you could steer a course independent of the national Democratic Party and the Dixiecrats?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Well, I didn't steer any course. I just was the Democratic nominee and making plans to take office. I didn't participate in the general presidential elections at all.
JOHN EGERTON:
I see. Would you characterize your views at that time as being identical or similar to those of [the Dixiecrats]?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Well, they were sympathetic with Thurmond, but I knew it was a useless chase. I believe that they call it Don Quixote chasing windmills. I didn't want to get involved in it.