Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Robert W. (Bob) Scott, April 4, 1990. Interview L-0193. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Reflections on gubernatorial accomplishments

Scott reflects on the accomplishments of his gubernatorial administration from 1969 to 1973. While Scott argues that he does not believe history will isolate his administration for any one particularly significant accomplishment, he express great pride in "what didn't happen." According to Scott, the most significant accomplishment of his administration was the work it did to quell racial unrest, with only a handful of skirmishes, during a particularly tumultuous era.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Robert W. (Bob) Scott, April 4, 1990. Interview L-0193. 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

In terms of the time and energy that you spent, politically capital that you spent, would you consider this the most important issue? Or one of several?
BOB SCOTT:
I have asked that question, what was the most important thing that occurred, and it is hard to say, because they are different. Political victoriesߞit ranks right up there with another one, and that was getting the tobacco tax passed. First and last and so forth.
WILLIAM LINK:
That came in one year?
BOB SCOTT:
That was inߞwas it '69 or '71, I've forgotten. I'll find out. But that was taking on another sacred cow. You see, we all have our sacred cows, and the University was one and tobacco was another. I took them both on, and they were political. And I won both. Incidentally, I used that income from the increasedߞfrom the cigarette tax and crown drink tax on it at the same time. I didn't want that, at the time, but I had to take that along with it. And it was used to get the money to start the new public school kindergarten system. So, it was all education-related. But I guess those two were probably the most significant political victories. In terms of long term impact on the state, I don't know that the restructuring of the University has that much direct impact on individuals, I think. It's more of a restructuring from a government standpoint, and it was a little different philosophy of a way of doing business and budgetarily, it ߞI don't know that it saved all that much money. It just saved a lot of scrapping and fighting in the legislature. In terms of impact upon the stateߞthe state and the people of the stateߞsome things we were able to get done and things that didn't get much attentionߞthe environmental package. That was just the coming thing back then, the environmental legislation, so I got that going. Beginning the public school kindergarten; even though we didn't get it put into place all over the state, we got the program started in the eight educational districts in the state. And so I think those had more impact than the restructuring did. But.....
WILLIAM LINK:
But it obviously preoccupied a lot of your time.
BOB SCOTT:
Well, particularly in the last half of the administration, itߞI have often said that my administration is not known, and I don't think that it will go down in history for having any one thing that stands out. Like Terry Sanfordߞthe Education Governor. My father, the Good Roads Governor. I'm not known much for anything. And that doesn't bother me. I'm gratified with what we were able to do, and like most governors, I'm frustrated that I didn't get more done. But, the big story in North Carolina, during that four-year period was what didn't happen, in terms of racial unrest. And we had our problems, don't get me wrong, again A&T, and the so-called Wilmington Tenߞare you a native of North Carolina?
WILLIAM LINK:
No, I am not, my parents are.
BOB SCOTT:
Well, then you know the history about, we had what we call the "Wilmington Ten." We had a few incidents like that. But in the public schools, themselves, we worked hard. God knows, Dr. Craig Phillips sent to the public restruction and his team was working with our office, we strengthened the Good Neighbor Council that Dan Moore had started and really staffed it up, and we had teams all over the state talking, talking, talking. The blacks and whites trying down to dampen down the hot spots and so on. So we spent a tremendous amount of energy and time to those things, and I have always felt that if I had that time and energy to devote to other things, then maybe we would have gotten more visible things done. And, of course, again, as I say, what didn't happen doesn't make the history books. Again, I feel that was a very significant contribution.