March 14, 1986

Professor Steely: I am Mel Steely in the History Department, and this is Don Wagner, Political Science Department. This is March 14, 1986. We are here today interviewing Senator Herman Talmadge as part of his videotaping history, and today our topic is going to be on great and interesting Georgians that the Senator has known. Senator, what we'd like to do is just give you a series of names and let you react to them and tell us a little bit about your experiences with them and what you know about them and kind of make at the end of your discussion of each one just a little statement about how you feel they figure into Georgia history, what's their place in Georgia history. Let's start off with, probably one you knew very well, Senator Richard Russell.
Senator Talmadge: Well, I knew Senator Russell from nineteen-hundred and twenty-seven up until his death. I was a page when he was Speaker of the House of Representatives. Senator Russell was totally devoted to his duties. He remained a bachelor all of his life. He read a great deal, particularly history. He was an authority on the Civil War campaigns. He was a great student of government. He was a diligent and hard worker, highly conscientious. I admired him greatly. He served the longest period of time in the history of the state from Georgia in the United States Senate.
Professor Steely: Was your relationship with him in the Senate a warm and cordial one?
Senator Talmadge: Very warm and cordial. Senator Russell was never extremely close to any individual. He was somewhat formal in his dealings with all individuals, members of his staff, members of his family, and everyone else. He was as close to me, I guess, as he was to any member of the Senate. Our relationship was extremely warm, cordial, and pleasant. We thought alike. We seldom discussed how we were going to vote on bills, but ninety-seven or eight percent of the time, we wound up voting the same way. His views and mine were almost the same on virtually all issues. He was Governor of the state at a time during the depths of the depression when people were hungry and without jobs, and he had a real consolidation of the state government during his time as Governor. He abolished innumerable boards and bureaus and consolidated the functions of government. He consolidated all the colleges within the state. Prior to that time, all of them were independent with a separate Board of Governors, and he put them all under the Board of Regents and consolidated them. He made a fine Governor and a fine Senator.
Professor Steely: He is, oftentimes, listed as one of the great strategists of the southern position in the Senate, but you seldom hear people talking about him being a great filibuster. Did...did he speak a lot, or did he just kind of move things behind the scenes?
Senator Talmadge: Well, he organized all the filibusters that we had during the period that I was there and those that the southerners had prior to that time. He was...ah... opposed to all of the forced legislation that...ah... people outside the south tried to bring upon the south during the time of his career,and...ah....he was a master at parliamentary procedure of the Senate. He knew the rules far better than any member of the Senate probably dating back from his career as Speaker of the House. He had to know the rules of the House to be Speaker and probably got interested in rules of procedure from that point of view. And he organized all of the southern filibusters that we had during the period that I served in the Senate.
Professor Steely: Did he speak much himself during the filibusters?
Senator Talmadge: He...ah...spoke from time to time, but he didn't... ah...speak as much as the rest of them. He filibustered from time to time, but...ah...most of the people that spoke often on the floor of the Senate had great influence. Senator Russell didn't make a speech normally on the floor of the Senate unless he had something to say. Of course, if he was filibustering and wanted to take up time, that would be an exception to the rule.
Professor Steely: What ah...
Professor Wagner: Let me ask him a question. What kind of President do you think Senator Russell would have made, Senator Talmadge?
Senator Talmadge: He would have made a great President. When he started in the Senate, he was the youngest member of the Senate. He was elected Governor of Georgia at the age of 33, the youngest Governor in the history of the state, and I was the next youngest Governor in the history of the state. He went to Washington during the depths of the depression, and he was a great follower of Roosevelt in the beginning when he thought the government could solve all problems real or imagined. But after he served in the Senate a in period of eight or ten years, he saw that the federal government and federal law was not the answer to all the people's problems. So, the longer he served in the Senate, the more conservative he got.
Professor Steely: So, he was viewed as something of a liberal Governor. Well, liberal is probably too strong a word
Senator Talmadge: He was a liberal Governor, and in the early days of his senatorial career, he was considered a liberal Senator. When my father ran against him in nineteen-hundred and thirty-six, the issue was...ah... liberalism versus conservatism. And in those days, Senator Russell carried the liberal banner--the Roosevelt banner, and my father was the opposite, but ...ah...the longer Senator Russell stayed there, the more he realized that government was not the answer, the ultimate answer, of all problems.
Professor Wagner: I've often heard him compared to Harry Byrd in the terms of his governorship that both of them performed great...brought about great reforms in state government--Byrd in Virginia and Russell in Georgia.
Senator Talmadge: That's true. Harry Byrd was a liberal when he was Governor and the most conservative man in the Senate when I served on the Senate Finance Committee of which he was chairman.
Professor Steely: The other person that has gone far with...ah... governmental reforms was Jimmy Carter. When he ran for President in 76, that was kind of the keystone of what he was talking about as being able to handle the federal government based on what he had done in state government. would you compare the reform...the impact of his reforms and Russell's reforms.
Senator Talmadge: Jimmy Carter's reform of the state government wound up with greater number of employees, and Dick Russell's reform wound up with less number of employees. That's the best comparison I know.
Professor Steely: How about...ah...your immediate predecessor, Senator Walter George. What do you remember about him?
Senator Talmadge: Senator Walter George was...ah...raised in Webster County a family of poverty. He was...The family were sharecroppers. He was a brilliant student and attracted attention at a very early age and...ah... somehow managed to go to Mercer and get an education. He graduated from Mercer Law School. He started practicing law at Cordelle, Georgia. He married into a wealthy family. Was elected Solicitor General of his circuit and then Judge of his circuit and then on the Court of Appeals in Georgia and finally in the United States Senate. Senator George was greatly admired by his colleagues and greatly admired by the citizens of Georgia. He served the second longest period in the history of our state in the United State Senate. He served as Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and also Chairman of the Finance Committee. He was...ah...considered the statesman in the Senate, in the state, and in the nation.
Professor Steely: When you were Governor, he was still in Washington, of course. Did you have much dealings with him at that time?
Senator Talmadge: Not a great deal. My closest association with Senator George was when we both attended the national convention in Chicago in nineteen-hundred and fifty-two when we were trying to nominate Senator Russell for President of the United States. When I had problems on the federal level when I was Governor of the state, I knew that Senators were busy people, and I knew that they were going to delegate those problems to their subordinates anyway, so I didn't call on Senator Russell per se or Senator George per se. I knew Leman Anderson, who was Senator Russell's administrative assistant. We were close friends. And I knew, in the final analysis, the Senators were going to delegate that problem to someone with more time than they had, so I'd call Leman Anderson direct and bypass Senator Russell and Senator George.
Professor Steely: You did that instead of working with the individual Congressman or something?
Senator Talmadge: That's right.
Professor Steely: So, your contact with George really was not an extensive one?
Senator Talmadge: No, it was not. It was pleasant and primarily social.
Professor Steely: Did you find that to be true when you were in the Senate that the Governors that came after you had pretty much the same attitude that you did?
Senator Talmadge: Well, most of the Governors while I was in the Senate would contact me directly. They had...ah...didn't realize how busy Senators were, I presume, and they thought Senators would run every errand that was called to their attention. (Laughter) So, they would usually call me on the telephone or send me a telegram or write me a letter. And, of course, 99 percent of the time, I had to detail it to a subordinate. I was leaving maybe to go to the Finance Committee. I didn't have time to run down an errand in the Department of Agriculture or some other federal agency, so I'd detail some competent individual on my staff to handle it. But the Governors that called on me thereafter apparently never learned that procedure about Senate operations.
Professor Steely: I had talked to one of your successors in the Governor's office, and his opinion on it was that if you called the Senator himself, he's not going to do it, but if he tells his aide personally to go do it, it means a lot more than just calling the aide, because once the boss has told him to do it, then he'll go do it.
Senator Talmadge: There may be some truth in that, but I always found that I could get the same sort of efficient service by calling the aide directly.
Professor Steely: How about Ralph McGill? What do you remember about Ralph McGill?
Senator Talmadge: I first...ah...met Ralph when he was Sports Editor of the Atlanta Constitution. Ralph had a great...ah... talent for writing and then he became editor of the Atlanta Constitution. During the two Governor row, he was editor of the Atlanta Constitution. He gave me fair treatment, and we were personal friends. We were never...ah...extremely close. Ralph had the reputation of being the outstanding southern liberal. He was proud of that reputation. He wrote a column for the Atlanta Constitution that was extremely widely read, and he was an extremely gifted writer.
Professor Steely: You would not have viewed him then as an enemy of any sort?
Senator Talmadge: No, I didn't consider him an enemy. His philosophy, at the time, was out of sync with my own and out of sync with 95 percent of the white people in the state, but he was an extremely gifted editor.
Professor Steely: Were you able to work with him in the sense that I know some reporters develop a rapport with political figures. They can come into your office or meet you in a dining room or something and you can sit and just talk kind of unvarnished, off the record. Was McGill the kind of man that you could do that with?
Senator Talmadge: Well, McGill never came in my office in the capacity of a reporter. He was editor of the Atlanta Constitution at that time. When I ran for Governor in nineteen-hundred and forty-eight, acting Governor M. E. Thompson and I had the joint debate, and Ralph McGill was a moderator of that debate at that time. He handled it well. Now, my rapport with...ah... reporters that covered the Governor's office, with rare exceptions throughout my career as Governor, were very good. They knew they could call me anytime day or night to come in the Governor's office anytime day or night, and I rarely found one that betrayed any confidence or trust that I placed in them.
Professor Steely: How about Jimmy Bentley?
Senator Talmadge: Jimmy Bentley was a student at the University of Georgia when I ran for Governor. In 1948, he organized the students over there, and every time I made a speech within 50 or 75 miles of Athens, he'd have two or three busloads of students over there. And...ah...after he graduated from college, I gave him a job in the Governors office and, thereafter, promoted him to executive secretary. He was the youngest executive secretary of any Governor in the United States; 23 I believe. He handled his duties in an exemplary manner. Our friendship dated back for several generations. I knew his father and his grandfather before I knew Jimmy.
Professor Steely: Did you find him a very capable person?
Senator Talmadge: Very capable. He was highly intelligent, very capable, and he carried out the assigned functions in an exemplary manner.
Professor Steely: After you had gone on to Washington, his career extended somewhat. He went on into the Comptroller General's office and then switched parties to run for Governor. Did he discuss this with you at all?
Senator Talmadge: Yes, he did. As a matter of fact, he came to Washington in his capacity as President of the Insurance Commissioners Association of the nation. He came by to see me and visited with me for some time, and he told me what he and several other of the state House officers were planning to do--switch parties during the...ah...Goldwater campaign, as I recall. And I spent about an hour trying to talk him out of it...trying to talk Bentley out of it. Bentley was the only one that came by the office; the rest of them were in Georgia. But all of them were warm friends of mine, political associates of mine, and I tried to convince them that it was...tried to convince Bentley that it would be a mistake to join a minority party when he was already a member of a majority part, that he didn't have to change his views, stay within the party and fight for them. But I reached the conclusion from what Jimmy told me at that time that their talk and organization and agreements had gone too far to back out.
Protessor Wagner: Was it part of his...his reasoning and changing parties that...was it that he could not support President Johnson but...ah...could support Senator Goldwater?
Senator Talmadge: That was part of it, and...ah...he just thought the Democratic party had gone so beyond his thinking that he could no longer be a member of it. I pointed out to them that the Democratic party was a great tent with people of widely different philosophies in it. The Republican party was the same way. That we had Harry Byrd in the Democratic party and Hubert Humphrey in the Democratic party and Earl Warren in the Republican party and Jacob Javitz in the Republican party and Strom Thurmon in the same party.
Professor Steely: This was about the time that the Democratic party in Georgia had the...ah...oath that you had to take, and...ah...Charles Welter, who was a Congressman, Democratic Congressman, at the time...ah...refused to run for re-election rather than to have to take an oath to support all Democrats and to vote for all Democrats, because, as I remember, he was objecting in the...ah. . .Lester Maddox...
Senator Talmadge: He didn't want to support Lester Maddox. An out-of-states man.
Professor Steely: Was there anyone else in the party that was that troubled that they would want to leave it.
Senator Talmadge: The only one that talked to me about switching parties that were elected officers of the state government as Democrats was Jimmy Bentley. Now, when they made that switch, I, I think it was when Thurmon switched from the Democratic party to the Republican party (Professor Steely: Nixon's early years.), I guess I got at least a thousand maybe twenty-five hundred letters and telegrams urging me also to switch, and I wrote them back that the party of Jacob Javitz and Earl Warren was no more attractive to me than the party of Ted Kennedy and...ah...Hubert Humphrey.
Professor Steely: Have you seen the parties change since that time to where a Republican party that could have a Jacob Javitz and an Earl Warren in it just doesn't exist any more.
Senator Talmadge: No, they still cover the gamut from A to Z--both political parties. They call themselves liberals and middle-of-the-roaders, and Democrats, and both parties are full of them. Now and then, you will see some strange philosophy come out of each party.
Professor Steely: Why do you think Jimmy Bentley lost the nomination for Governor when he ran?
Senator Talmadge: The Republicans wouldn't accept him, and the Democrats wouldn't forgive him.
Professor Steely: Ah...Tell us about Crawford Pilcher.
Senator Talmadge: Crawford Pilcher was my floor leader in the Senate when I was Governor of Georgia. He was an able lawyer, a fine parliamentarian. He made a great floor leader, and I, afterwards, appointed him to vacancy on the Public Service Commission.
Professor Steely: Was he the kind of man that...ah...stayed with you through all of your troubles?
Senator Talmadge: Yes. He was not the type fellow that would run when the clouds got gloomy.
Professor Steely: Had he been with your Dad before you?
Senator Talmadge: No. I think he had supported my father off and on, but...ah...he was actively associated with the Rivers organization at one time and maybe the Arnall organization. He probably supported my father at times, too.
Professor Steely: What made you make him your leader?
Senator Talmadge: Because he was a competent fellow and had been active in my campaign and would...ah...was a good parliamentarian and would make a good floor leader in the Senate.
Professor Steely: How about Lowell Conner?
Senator Talmadge: Lowell Conner was on the State Patrol when I was elected Governor of Georgia, and I had a state patrolman driving me named George Haralson from Wheeler County. And George was the best driver I ever saw but, strangely enough, was killed in an automobile accident. And when he was killed in an auto accident, Lowell Conner volunteered to take the job as driver. Most of the troopers thought it was a cinch. They didn't know I worked them about 18 hours a day. So, Conner came on board as my chauffeur primarily in the early days. He, afterwards, became a very close friend and a very close companion, hunting companion and friend. And when I went to the United States Senate, he wanted to go to Washington with me. I took him in the capacity of an aide. And...ah...when Ernie Vandiver was elected Governor, he made him Deputy Director of the State Highway Patrol. He served as Deputy Director of the Department of Corrections under Lester Maddox. When Carter was elected Governor, he fired him, and I put him in charge of my Atlanta office, and he stayed in charge of the Atlanta office until I left the Senate.
Professor Steely: So, a good part of his career has been directly associated with you, then. (Senator Talmadge: Associated with me, yes.) From the stories of people that have been around the Talmadge group and all, he is one of the more colorful people.
Senator Talmadge: He is a thoroughly self-made boy. He came from a family of very humble origins. He has a great degree of integrity. He's conscientious, sincere, and willing to work. A fine man and fine friend.
Professor Steely: Tell us a little bit, talking about close friends and all, about John P. Duncan.
Senator Talmadge: John Duncan and I were in the University of Georgia together. Our friendship started at that time. Ah...He was from Buena Vista, Georgia. When I became active in politics, he was president of the bank at Buena Vista. He was actively campaigning in my behalf, and I appointed him on the State Board of Education when I was Governor of Georgia, and he served there with distinction.
Professor Steely: He went on to get involved in railroads; didn't he?
Senator Talmadge: Oh, that's a different Duncan from what I was thinking of. There's two John Duncans. The other John Duncan, that you're thinking of, was a candidate ...was active in my campaign in nineteen-hundred and forty-eight, and he organized a rally for me at Quitman, Georgia. And...ah...he had been president of the Farm Bureau afterwards. And...ah...when Kennedy was elected President, Kennedy appointed John Duncan Assistant Secretary of Agriculture, and he served in that capacity with distinction. And when he retired from that particular job, he was appointed as an agricultural representative of the Southern Railroad and served there until he retired some two or three years ago. Ah...John Duncan is now living, I believe, in Virginia most of the time. He commutes down to Quitman sometimes where he still has farming interests, and I believe he is a Director of a bank down there. He has a home there. And he's a very fine man and made a fine officer.
Professor Steely: He was described as one of of the closest hunting companions.
Senator Talmadge: Yes, I've hunted and fished with him, also. And he's a fine gentleman in every sense of the word.
Professor Steely: How about Garland Byrd?
Senator Talmadge: Garland was the youngest member of the Legislature when I was elected Governor. I believe it started off maybe in the two Governor row. He was the youngest member of the Legislature during the two Governor row. He supported me vigorously. Garland, at that time, I think, was 21 years of age. He had been a combat veteran in Europe. As a matter of fact, I believe he received a combat commission. I think he was an enlisted man, and some act of bravery caused him to be commissioned to lieutenant. He went on serve afterwards as Lieutenant Governor, and he is now a very outstanding lawyer in Macon and Butler, Georgia.
Professor Steely: And he wasn't Lieutenant Governor while you were in was he?
Senator Talmadge: No. He served as Lieutenant Governor, I believe, during the time Ernest Vandiver was Governor.
Professor Steely: But stayed pretty loyal to the Talmadge people?
Senator Talmadge: Yes, yes. He has always been a personal and political friend of mine.
Professor Steely: How about Fred Hand?
Senator Talmadge: Fred Hand was a member of an extremely prominent family down in...ah...Miller, Georgia. They had one of these great big stores that covered at least one city block. connection with it was a bank and cotton gin and selling fertilizer and...ah... They'd sell you a coffin or a needle, whatever you wanted. One of those great family stores that few remain in the country now. Fred had served in the Legislature from time to time. And...ah...he was Speaker of the House during the two Governor row and supported me vigorously during that campaign and served as Speaker throughout the tine that I was Governor of Georgia and served with great distinction.
Professor Steely: Was he the one that actually, when they were trying to decide who was going to preside over the vote in that row, is he the one that seized the gavel away from...
Senator Talmadge: Yes. He was reported to have taken the gavel away from Bill Dean and said that it was his responsibility to preside and did.
Professor Steely: That wasn't necessarily true. I think the question was open; wasn't it? They didn't have any...
Senator Talmadge: I don't think there was any rule on it. I think one of the best stories I've ever heard about Fred Hand and also Chief Justice Ducworth. Ducworth wrote the decision throwing me out during the two Governor row, and he and Fred Hand ran into each other around the Henry Grady Hotel, and they were having a rather heated argument. One of the bellboys is reported to have said, "Good god almighty, Mr. Chief Justice and Mr. Speaker are about to get into a fight." (Laughter)
Professor Steely: Well, of course, they didn't actually do that. From what they say though, in those early years, heated controversy was the norm around the Capitol. People seemed to enjoy it. I watched them later at the state Capital, particularly in the last few days of a session, getting very heated and all but calling each other names and then going off and having a drink together.
Senator Talmadge: Sure, they're like lawyers. In the contest there is no certain image involved. Fred had an outstanding career as...ah...Speaker and as a legislator. He was the author of the School Building Authority that built more new classrooms in Georgia than any state in the union except New York and California, and both of those states had about three or four times our population and much greater per capita income.
Professor Steely: We had made a distinction earlier between the phrase segregationist and racist. Ah...This next person, Roy Harris, is often viewed as a racist as opposed to a segregationist and has been held up as a symbol of all that was evil in Georgia on many occasions, and yet he just read his biography, and he has an extremely distinguished career. What...what do you remember about this man?
Senator Talmadge: I don't know what you mean by a racist unless it is someone that hates blacks or hates Chinese or hates white people or Indians or somebody else. I don't know that I ever saw more than two or three of them in my life, and I always thought they were somewhat nutty. Now, when you talk of segregation, you have to put it in its proper time frame. There are few segregationists now. In the time when Roy Harris was Speaker of the House, 95 percent of the white people in Georgia were segregationists, and the same thing was true of all of the southern states. It had been the tradition in our country for 200 years and been in the laws of our land and decisions of the court for...ah...decades, also. So, it was the norm in those days to be a segregationist. I don't think Roy Harris ever hated anybody in his life. I think, if you want to...ah...use the proof of that, a black mayor appointed him city attorney shortly before he died. That's the best evidence I know that Roy Harris had no hatred for blacks.
Professor Steely: What kind of political leader was he? It is often said that he and Fred Hand and you and others would...would meet in, I believe it was in Roy's hotel room down at the old Henry Grady, and two of y'all would kind of plan or three of you would kind of plan what you were going to be doing the next day and the next week and handle strategy.
Senator Talmadge: Well, Roy was one of my campaign leaders when I ran for Governor. Ernie Vandiver was my campaign manager. Of course, I'd be out stumping six days a week. When we'd get a chance, we'd have a few of the key leaders like Vandiver and Roy Harris, and we'd make plans about the next week and discuss serious issues and things of that nature. Roy Harris, in his heyday, had the best knowledge of the politics of the state of any man I ever knew. He knew intimately all of the political leaders in 159 counties in Georgia, and he knew whether they were associated with the Talmadge group, with the anti-Talmadge group. Those people knew Roy. They had confidence in Roy. Roy a considerable degree, instrumental in the election of several Governors. He managed the campaign for Ed Rivers when he was elected Governor. He managed the campaign for Ellis Arnall when he was elected Governor. He helped me manage my daddy's last campaign in '46 when he was elected Governor. He was actively involved in the management of my campaign in nineteen-hundred and forty-eight when I was elected Governor. So, in his heyday, he had the best knowledge of Georgia politics of anyone I knew. And during his legislative career, practically all of the legislation that was passed improving education in the state was Roy's handiwork. He was a great political leader, and it is unfortunate that the news media gave him the title of "Mr. Racist" late in life. Of course, that was not true.
Professor Wagner: What's your appraisal of George L. Smith, Senator?
Senator Talmage: George L. Smith I had known from our university days. His father was a country doctor down in Swainsboro, Georgia. He was elected Speaker Pro Tem with my support during the two Governor row. He served as Speaker Pro Tem throughout the administration of Herman Talmadge as Governor and, afterwards, became Speaker of the House. And he was the first of the so-called independent Speakers of the House when the legislature started assuming independence. Up until about the time of Lester Maddox, the legislature was pretty thoroughly dominated by the Governor. The Governor would announce his choice for Speaker of the House. His supporters would rally behind that choice, and...ah...the Governor dominated the legislative proceedings of the state. Until Lester Maddox was elected Governor, George L. Smith was Speaker of the House, and we've had true legislative independence in Georgia since that time.
Professor Wagner: How about, speaking of a name that is still in Georgia politics, still a prominent person in the Senate, Culver Kidd. Have you known...have you known Culver Kidd for a long time?
Senator Talmadge: Oh, sure. I knew Culver. He was at Georgia Tech when I was a student at the University of Georgia. Our friendship dates from that time. He was a strong supporter of mine during the two Governor row and throughout my administration as Governor. I guess he's the most senior member of the Senate, either he or Hugh Gillis. And he knows procedure in the Senate. They call him "the silver fox ," and he'd be a difficult adversary to have in the Georgia State Senate.
Professor Wagner: Do you think all of the things that are attributed to him in terms of parliamentary skill and tactics are deserved? His reputation as silver fox is from two things as I understand it. One is his alleged...ah...
Senator Talmadge: Mane?
Professor Wagner: Right, and...ah...and his parliamentary skills. Were those evident when you were...when you knew him when he was...
Senator Talmadge: Well, he didn't have the experience in those days that he has now. He has been consistently in the legislature since that time, and you learn to do things by doing, you know. Culver was a leader when I was...when he was in the legislature but not in the position of prominence that he holds today.
Professor Wagner: I know one extraordinary incident in his career, as far as I know, I don't think there's another example in American history of a sitting President taking time from his duties to come down and testify against the State Senator during...ah...I don't know if that was a trial or a grand jury proceeding, but I remember when President Carter did exactly that, and that, I think that was attributed to the relationship they had when Carter was Governor. They were not friends.
Senator Talmadge: Yes. He was not a Carter supporter (Professor Wagner: No, that's right.), and he was indicted for some offense; I've forgotten what it was. (Professor Wagner: I don't recall either.) And he was acquitted by the court and the jury of that offense. And I was talking to some of Culver's lawyers, Claude Ross and Denmark Groover, went up and took the Presidents deposition by videotape when he was President of the United States. They deposed him, and he was a witness at that time in the proceedings.
Professor Steely: Was Denmark Groover a lawyer for Culver?
Senator Talmadge: Yes. My recollection is Denmark and...ah...Claude Ross
Professor Steely: Was of your associates in the early days.
Senator Talmadge: Yes. Denmark came to the legislature, I think, when I was Governor, and...ah...he was a very able fellow, a very able lawyer, and he served in the legislature off and on now for 30 years or more.
Professor Steely: I think Denmark Groover and Columbus Roberts have two of the best names of politicians. Those names always just kind of stick with me.
Professor Wagner: Denmark. I've never heard of anyone else with the first name Denmark either.
Professor Wagner: How about Jim Gillis?
Senator Talmadge: Jim Gillis was a most unusual man. He was elected to the legislature down in...ah...Montgomery County back in the days when they were still creating new counties. And...ah...Gillis created Treutlin County. He cut it out of two or three contiguous counties there. The Gillis family has pretty well dominated Treutlin County since that time. I was talking with Jim once, and I said, "Jim, how did you happen to get in the timber business?" He said, "Well Governor, when I graduated from the University of Georgia, the only people in my county that had any money were the sawmillers and the turpentine people." And he says, "I decided I better get in one or the other businesses." He says, "I started off turpentining." And he says, "Pretty soon, I found how fast these pine trees would grow." And he started planting them back long before the days of conservation. He was one of the pioneers in planting pine trees in Georgia. He was a very far sighted man, a man of...ah...of great...I admired him greatly. He had thousands of friends throughout the state that had the same admiration for him. He was shy. Jim always wanted to run for Governor of Georgia, but he was afraid to undertake it, because he couldn't make a speech. And, I think for that reason, he never ran. He would have run a good race had he announced. And...ah...he served as Chairman of the Highway Board when I was Governor of Georgia and also served as Chairman of the Highway Board, I believe, under Ernie Vandiver and...ah...Carl. Sanders, and maybe Lester Maddox. And when Carter reorganized the state government, I believe he got rid of Mr. Gillis. He retired to private life at that time. It was one of those families like you see occasionally in Georgia where the family runs the bank and the motor company and the oil business and the large farming interests. They have about 25,000 acres of land down there in Treutlin County, and it's quite an empire they have there and a very fine family. I was in college with Jim, Jr., who is about my age.
Professor Steely: Was the position of Chairman of the Highway Board a more powerful position than it is today? Today, the Commissioner of the Department of Transportation is the position to aspire for.
Senator Talmadge: That's right. You have a Board of Directors that run the Highway Department now, and I don't know how it breaks down. Tom Moreland is sort of the Executive Director of the Board of Directors, and I presume he's probably as powerful as Jim Gillis was in his day. During my time, we had a three-man board--one representative from middle Georgia, one from south Georgia, and one from north Georgia. Gillis was the representative from south Georgia.
Professor Steely: And the Chairman?
Senator Talmadge: Yes.
Professor Steely: Did the Governor appoint the Chairman pretty much?
Senator Talmage: Yes, subject to confirmation by the Senate.
Professor Wagner: I have a friend whose wife went to work for state government about six years ago, and she, at the time, didn't think people who...politicians who ran for offices worked all that hard. She has come to appreciate Tommy Irvin as the hardest working person she ever...she has ever met. And...ah...I was wondering what your appraisal of Tommy Irvin was.
Senator Talmadge: Well, I've known Tommy since he was a country boy from up in Habersham County. His daddy died when he was very young, and he had to make a living for the family, and I'm not sure if Tommy even finished high school. He is a self-educated man. He's a fine businessman, and he has made an outstanding Commissioner of Agriculture. Anyone that assumes a politician doesn't have to work hard is in for a rude awakening. Now, there are two types of politicians--one that takes the duties seriously. And if they take their duties seriously, they have to work eighteen hours a day, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks in the year. It's the hardest work I have ever undertaken in my life. There is never enough time to catch up. There is only three things I know of that are comparable to holding a public office and doing your job. One is combat in war; another is fighting fire; and the third is killing rattlesnakes; and I've done some of all of them. Now, the other type politician, say a fellow in the Senate, if he wants to let his staff run his job, and he just wants to enjoy the social life, why he can go to four or five buffet dinners and cocktail parties in Washington every night, go to Europe or Asia or South America on a junket every two or three weeks. Now, we have that type. But if he takes his job seriously, he is working all the time and never can catch up.
Professor Wagner: She works for the State Department of Agriculture, and she...she expected that others would do most of the work, and she...
Senator Talmadge: Tommy does it himself. Of course, he has to delegate necessarily a great deal of it. But in addition to discharging his duties as Commissioner of Agriculture, his...ah...job necessitates that he attend dozens of meetings a week--farm groups and things of that nature--looking after the interests of the farmers. So, he's in south Georgia one day, north Georgia the next day, middle Georgia the next day and looking after his interests in the legislature constantly. He probably works 18 hours a day.
Professor Wagner: She said he knows everything about that department. He's on top of everything.
Senator Talmadge: He does. He probably knows more individual Georgians now than anybody in state government. At one time, I think I knew more, but after I spent 24 years in Washington, I lost contact with a lot of them. A lot of them grew up; a lot of them died.
Professor Steely: Did he work closely with you while you were in Washington?
Senator Talmadge: Yes. I would hear from Tommy frequently about the interests of Georgia agriculture, and I valued his advice greatly.
Professor Wagner: How about Phil Campbell?
Senator Talmadge: Phil came to the legislature by beating a Talmadge man in Okonee County about nineteen-hundred and thirty-two or three...wait a minute...nineteen-fifty I guess. My father had fired his daddy as Director of Extension, I believe, when he was Governor of Georgia. So, Phil was on the other side politically. My candidate was defeated by Phil in Okonee County, and Phil and I got to be great friends. He worked with me closely, and I worked with him closely. I worked with him when he was Under Secretary of Agriculture, and I admired him greatly.
Professor Wagner: What do you recall of Eugene Cook?
Senator Talmadge: Gene Cook was Attorney General when I was elected Governor. He had been allied with the Ellis Arnall political faction and violently opposed to me during the two Governor controversy. And...ah...there was a little bad blood politically between the two of us when I was inaugurated as Governor. But Gene worked with me satisfactorily, and I came to admire him greatly. And...ah...when he passed away, we were warm, close friends. His son, who is now in business at Griffin, is still a good friend of mine.
Professor Wagner: What...what would be your appraisal of Osgood Williams?
Senator Talmadge: Osgood and I were in the University of Georgia together. He was one year ahead of me, I think, in law school. He...ah...went back to Toliver County to practice law, Crawfordville, Georgia. And they had a political boss down there by the name of Ralph Duluth. And Ralph Duluth hated the Talmadges, so Osgood came to the legislature as a violent anti-Talmadge man. We, afterwards, became warm friends. Ernie Vandiver appointed him on the Superior Court bench in Fulton County, and we exchanged greetings and he attends my birthday parties and I hold him in high esteem.
Professor Steely: Is that the way most people got on the bench at the time?
Senator Talmadge: Yes. Usually, you very rarely have someone just announce and run for a judgeship and get elected. Particularly on the statewide level. Either an incumbent judge will retire or die, and then the Governor will fill the vacancy. And almost without exception, whoever he appoints to fill the vacancy goes on to a long judicial career. I served a little over six years as Governor, and I probably appointed ...ah..oh, 50 attorneys, prosecuting attorneys, and judges, and only one of them was defeated for re-election. That was the Solicitor General, and I pointed out to him he was unlikely to get re-elected at the time I appointed him. He says, "Well, if you'll appoint me, I'm willing to assume that risk." That was the only exception I had in six years--one prosecuting attorney. All the judges were re-elected and all the other prosecuting attorneys.
Professor Wagner: John Greer, I believe, is still active. Is he not still in the Senate, Mel? (Professor Steely: Yes, he's still there.) He's one of the more senior members of the State Senate. What do you recall of him, Senator--John Greer?
Senator Talmadge: Oh yes, John is in the House now. (Professor Wagner: House. Im sorry. That's right.) John has had a remarkable career. John was born and reared down in Lanier County, Lakeland, Georgia, and...ah...he grew up down there with the Ed Rivers faction. And Ed Rivers appointed him, I believe, purchasing agent or some job with the State Highway Department when he was Governor. And...ah...he had some problems with that, and then after Ed went out of office as Governor, John represented Lanier County in the House for a long period of years, and then John moved to Atlanta and was elected to the legislature from a district in Fulton County and now represents a district in Fulton County in the State House. I guess John is probably the oldest member of the House and probably has served about as long as any member of the House. I would guess John's consecutive legislative service must be 25 to 30 years.
Professor Steely: His daughter, now, is quite influential, I understand.
Senator Talmadge: Yes, his daughter works for the Governor over there, (Someone said: Gracie.) and her name is Gracie Phillips. Her husband is a prominent lawyer in Atlanta, and she is extremely close to Joe Frank Harris, and Joe Frank relies on her heavily for his administration.
Professor Wagner: What do you recall of Durwood Pyle?
Senator Talmadge: Durwood Pyle of the brightest lawyers around Atlanta when I was elected Governor of Georgia. He was a friend and supporter of mine. He was known, somewhat, as a lawyer's lawyer. He was a great scholar and a great student. And Marvin Griffin, afterwards, appointed him on the Superior Court bench in Fulton County, and he served there a number of years and, I believe, retired some six years ago.
Professor Wagner: Ah...Homer Flynn is another name that's often mentioned. What do you recall of him?
Senator Talmadge: Well, Homer Flynn was a close friend of mine, and I gave him a job in the Adjutant General's Department when I was Governor of Georgia. He served over there not only in my administration but also in the administration of Ernie Vandiver and Marvin Griffin and, I think, Lester Maddox and retired a number of years ago with the rank of Brigadier General or Major General; I don't remember which. He's in the real estate business in Atlanta, Georgia now.
Professor Steely: He...he wasn't the man in charge of the guard during the two Governor row; was he?
Senator Talmadge: No. Ah...Marvin Griffin was Adjutant General during the two Governor row, and...ah...
Professor Steely: So, he wasn't involved at all at that point.
Senator Talmadge: No, Homer wasn't involved in that a bit.
Professor Wagner: Do you want to take a break for a few minutes?
Professor Steely: Is it time?
Senator Talmadge: Yes, we've been running nearly an hour.
Professor Steely: Lets look a little bit now at some of the business men, industrial giants, in Georgia that you were acquainted with. What do you remember about Bill Flowers?
Senator Talmadge: Bill Flowers...ah...I don't know when he and I became friends, sometime during the period when I was Governor, and he started inviting me to hunt with him. He knew I liked to quail hunt. I visited with him down at his plantation probably 20 or 25 times quail hunting, duck hunting, dove hunting. He's a man I admired very greatly. We thought alike politically. And he started off with a small bakery there in Thomasville, and he pyramided it into what is now the fourth largest bakery operation in the United States, Flowers Industries. And the stock has multiplied several dozen times in the last 25 to 30 years. If you'd bought a thousand dollars worth of his stock back about 1950, you'd be a wealthy man today. I haven't seen Bill in recent years. He's a great man. He served in the Georgia State Senate at least one term. I don't know why he wanted to serve in the legislature, but he did. He was a great businessman, a great citizen, and a great friend.
Professor Steely: How about J. B. Fuqua?
Senator Talmadge: I never knew J. B. very well. He has a remarkable background. He served, I believe, in the Coast Guard as an enlisted man. He was an electrician mate of some sort. He came to Augusta, Georgia as some sort of electrical engineer for a small radio station. He pyramided that into...ah...owning television stations, radio stations, other businesses, multi- million dollar business today. He is a highly successful businessman. He served in the state legislature at least one term, maybe more, and was Chairman of the Democratic Party when Carl Sanders was Governor of Georgia.
Professor Steely: Did men like Flowers and Fuqua consult with you much on politics and legislation, or did you talk with them about it, or was it pretty much a personal relationship?
Senator Talmadge: I don't recall that we ever discussed legislation. I know Flowers and I discussed politics, and...ah...he was very much interested in a constitutional amendment to require balanced budget. Bill knew I was authoring that, and he made speeches around over the country and wrote letters...ah...urging its support. I don't recall that I ever talked legislation with J. B.; I may have. I'm sure I talked politics with him on more than one occasion.
Professor Steely: Ah...How about Ovid Davis?
Senator Talmadge: Ovid was...ah...with the Coca-Cola Company, when I first knew him, in charge of public relations and, afterwards, president of the State Chamber of Commerce. He and I became warm friends. He was a country boy from Steelmore in Emmanuel County, Georgia and recently retired as the man in charge...the vice president in charge of public relations at the Coca-Cola Company.
Professor Steely: He served as essentially a lobbyist for them, a very high level lobbyist. (Senator Talmadge: Yes, that's right.) Was he good at what he did?
Senator Talmadge: He was very good. He...ah...didnt come to see you often. Ah...He'd come in just a social visit most of the time. If he had any matter that he was interested in, I don't recall we ever talked legislation involving Coca-Cola; we may have. I don't recall that we did. He'd come by to see me two or three times a year when he was in Washington and also when the Chamber of Commerce would have dinners there.
Professor Steely: How did he get you to do what he wanted you to do?
Senator Talmadge: I don't recall that he ever asked me to do anything. He may have. Of course, being a Georgia Senator, why, if Coca-Cola had a major issue there, I was inclined to try to help Coca-Cola. It was the biggest business, I suppose, in the state, worldwide. One of the initial multinational corporations. And.,.ah...Coca-Cola had done a lot for Georgia, particularly Bob Woodruff. Woodruff and I were personal friends. I'd hunted with him down at...ah...his plantation in Baker County. So, if Coca-Cola had something that was fundamentally right, it wouldn't require much lobbying to get me to help.
Professor Steely: How about Alan Kemper?
Senator Talmadge: Kemper was Ordinary of Clayton County back in the days when Clayton was still a small, rural farming county. When I got out of the Navy, my daddy gave me a farm down at Lovejoy, and Alan Kemper and I got to be good friends. And he'd come down and visit with me at Lovejoy from time to time. And he was actively involved in my campaign for Governor of Georgia, and...ah...I first appointed him to head up the Institutions at Milledgeville when I was elected Governor and we had some problems down there, and I transferred him as Director of the Department of Welfare when I was Governor. He did an outstanding job in both capacities.
Professor Steely: What happened after you left? Did he just retire from politics?
Senator Talmadge: My recollection is he stayed on for a time under both Marvin Griffin and maybe Ernie Vandiver. He's back at Jonesboro now. He is still practicing law, and he runs a savings and loan association down there, also, in the community of Jonesboro.
Professor Steely: Another famous name from your time as Governor, Charlie Redwine, Charles Redwine.
Senator Talmadge: Charlie Redwine was one of the great men that I have known in my lifetime. His wife died when he had...ah...three or four infant daughters. Charlie Redwine had to act as mother and father to those daughters. They were beautiful girls, lovely girls, fine girls. And Charlie was one of those men like you see in rural Georgia from time to time that runs everything in the county--the bank and the principal store and the ferilizer business and the automotive agency and so on. And Redwine ran that in Fayette County. And when I was elected Governor...he'd been President of the Senate under my daddy's administration and had served in the State Legislature, and I appointed him Revenue Commissioner when I was elected Governor of Georgia. He was a man of unimpeachable integrity and a fine gentleman in every sense of the word.
Professor Steely: How important...ah...How powerful was a Revenue Commissioner in those days?
Senator Talmadge: Revenue Commissioner was a very powerful...ah... agency. They could grant liquor and beer licenses at will, revoke them at will. They collected all of the tax money practically that the state operated on. Large personnel employment. So, I considered it the most important, that and the Highway Board, the two most important...ah...appointed positions that I had. And I picked what I thought were the two best possible men that I could get for those jobs.
Professor Steely: Another public servant...ah...Arthur Bolton. What do you remember about Mr. Bolton?
Senator Talmadge: Arthur was in the State Legislature when I was Governor, and he didn't become Attorney General until after I left. I never knew Arthur too well, and...ah...he became prominent, of course, as Attorney General.
Professor Steely: From Griffin, Georgia; I believe.
Senator Talmadge: Yes.
Professor Steely: How about one of your old adversaries that became quite prominent, Maynard Jackson.
Senator Talmadge: Well, Maynard...ah...was completely unknown when he suddenly announced for the United States Senate against me, I believe, in 1968, if my memory serves me correctly. And I didn't pay too much attention to the race and didn't conduct a race per se. But Maynard was activea campaigning and making speeches over the state. He gives me credit for his political career which I presume is correct. He achieved enough notoriety out of running against me in '68 to run for Vice Mayor of Atlanta four years later...ah...two years later and got elected Vice Mayor and then Mayor of Atlanta and served as Mayor for a couple of terms, and now he's a partner in a prominent law firm, I believe, in Chicago.
Professor Steely: He still travels down here and has some Influence in the Atlanta community--political community.
Senator Talmadge: Yes, that's correct.
Professor Wagner: With the National Democratic Party, (Professor Steely: That's true.) National Committee of the Democratic Party, too. I remember just in the last...
Professor Steely: Just a week or so.
Professor Wagner: Right. He was the only negative vote...ah...for holding the party convention in Atlanta; wasn't that the question.
Senator Talmadge: I don't remember. (Professor Wagner: Something like that.)
Professor Steely: I think the issue, at the time, ah...was the primary. (Professor Wagner: Regional primary.) It was not just the regional primary but whether or not you are going to go with the plurality or majority in,..ah...the question of runoff elections, and Maynard was one of those who didn't want to compromise on the idea of doing away with runoff elections, and others said maybe you should do that. I think it is the issue that Jesse Jackson brought up in the last campaign. Ah...How about Martin Luther King, Jr. He's the only Georgian that has ever been a Nobel Peace Prize winner.
Senator Talmadge: I never knew him. I guess I met him at some time or another, but I don't recall doing so. I knew his father very well. I visited with his father, and his father and I were good friends. He'd always..."How is my Senator?" was the way he would treat me. And...ah...we were close, and I never knew Martin Luther King, Jr. except I read about him in the paper and I saw him on television. He created, as you know, a tremendous impression among blacks. And...ah..the blacks and a lot of white liberals give him credit primarily for breaking down segregation. I think the credit is probably overemphasized, because it was breaking down at the time. But he dramatized it very dramatically, and...ah...won esteem worldwide in liberal and black circles and white circles too for that matter.
Professor Steely: You were in the Senate at the time when...ah...the Kennedy's were very strong supporters of Mr. King's but, at the same time I think, had begun an investigation as to his contacts with the Communist party. Do you remember much about that, Senator? What was your impression of all of that?
Senator Talmadge: Yes, I've seen some allegedly F.B.I. transcripts about tapes they made on Dr. King in those days, was pretty widely circulated at the time in some circles.
Professor Steely: Did you feel, in your own mind, that...that he did associate with communists?
Senator Talmadge: Well, I think he was like most people in politics; he takes help from whatever quarter he can get it. Now, I am sure the communist infiltrated heavily there, because it was dissension. They like dissension, and that was right down their alley.
Professor Steely: But you wouldn't go so far as to say that you thought he was a communist?
Senator Talmadge: No, I wouldn't think Dr. King was a communist by any means. I think he was a dedicated American. Many of his philosophies were different from my own, but he will be remembered primarily because of his dramatic leadership of the blacks in their cause to destroy segregation.
Professor Steely: When did you first meet his father, Daddy King, Martin Luther, Sr.?
Senator Talmadge: I don't remember. While I was in the Senate, it was after I became Governor...I mean, I was no longer Governor, and...ah...Dr. King, Sr. was born and reared in Henry County where I now live. And he came up in a very humble way. He managed to get himself educated and became a leading pastor in Atlanta there, and I always thought highly of Dr. King, Sr.
Professor Wagner: Were there any other black ministers, long-time black ministers, in Atlanta other than...ah...Martin Luther King, Sr. that you can recall? I'm trying to think of one, because there's a street named after him. He's still alive.
Senator Talmadge: I can't think of his name right now, but I've been in his church a few times. You see him on television from time to time. He's the best preacher I know, white or black, in Atlanta. And I can't recall his name.
Professor Wagner: And I can't think of his name...I couldn't think of it when we put the list together either. I might think of before we're out of here, but he...
Senator Talmadge: The president of...ah...Dr. Sweet was a great friend of mine, the President of Morris Brown. And...ah... I can't...If you hadn't asked me, I could think of the name of that other preacher.
Professor Steely: Maybe it will come to you. How about Benjamin Mays? You said you didn't know him very well.
Senator Talmadge: No, I had met him, but I didn't know him well. He was President of Morehouse College and...ah...made it into a very distinguished institution where they had graduates like Martin Luther King and...ah...others. And...ah...he served as Chairman of the School Board in Fulton County for many his latter years of his life. And he was instrumental, along with Hugh Spalding, in developing a black hospital in Atlanta that was created when I was Governor called the Hugh Spalding Pavilion, I believe. Maybe it was associated with Grady Hospital in some way. Mays was largely instrumental in that.
Professor Steely: Was Spalding involved in anything besides law?
Senator Talmadge: Yes, I appointed him Chairman of the Board of Regents when I was Governor, and...ah...during all of the difficult days of transition from segregation to no segregation, there was never a dissenting vote on the Board of Regents as long as Hugh Spalding was Chairman of it. I frequently made the statement that he ought to have been appointed Ambassador to the Soviet Union.
Professor Steely: Was he that good a negotiator?
Senator Talmadge: He was excellent, superb. He was an outstanding man, one of the great men I've known in my lifetime. (Professor Steely: He's one of those people.) He not only headed the largest law firm in the South at that time but also was interested in civic affairs. Ah...he was my Chairman of the Board of Regents when I was Governor. He resigned...ah...from that while I was Governor to take over the modernization of Grady Hospital and things of that nature.
Professor Steely: How 'bout Senator Leroy Johnson, the first black Senator in Georgia?
Senator Talmadge: Leroy...ah...came to see me shortly after he was elected. I didn't remember him. He said he was a waiter out at the Elks Club at one time when he was working his way through college. I always thought well of Leroy. He would call on me from time to time for various things. And...ah...our relationship was cordial and pleasant.
Professor Wagner: There's another fairly prominent black...ah...I think he was nominated for president...ah...he wasn't the nominee of the party, but his name was put in for nominee...ah,..nomination to the Democratic Convention some years ago, but he was too young. Now I understand he's running for Congress in Atlanta and that's Julian Bond. Have ever had any contact with him?
Senator Talmadge: Not a great deal. Julian is highly articulate and a handsome fella. He makes a tremendous income lecturing the college circuit and...ah...he was...he nominally won fame, I guess, by being nominated for Vice President at the Democratic Convention when they refused to seat some delegations from other states. Since that time, Julian has been primarily a lecturer on the college circuit. He is highly articulate, attractive, good-looking. He's been in my office a time or two. Came by once and wanted me to take him over to the Watergate hearings, and I carried him over there for that. I haven't had too much association with him.
Professor Wagner: I would think he would have to take a cut in income to be a member of Congress given what he...cause there are limits...
Senator Talmadge: He will. On the rules of the House, he'll have to take an income cut...reduction.
Professor Wagner: You mentioned ...ah ...Mr. Woodruff before...
Professor Steely: Let me do one (Professor Wagner: Sure.) thing on Julian before we go. His original career, when he first got elected to the House in the mid-sixties, was frought with controversy. He had made some statements about not being willing to serve in Vietnam, and people viewed him, if not as a communist, certainly as a disloyal American, and tried to prevent him from being seated. What is your view of all of that, sir?
Senator Talmadge: Well, he was refused a seat, you know, in the House by resolution. He had...ah...indicated his sympathies with South Vietnam...with North Vietnam, or it appeared that way. They figured he was not only a law breaker and a draft dodger but a disloyal American. And the House refused to seat him, and the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the House and ordered him seated, and it made...created a martyr out of him. That's one reason I think he's been so popular on the lecture circuit on college campuses.
Professor Steely: What was your own personal view of that at the time?
Senator Talmadge: I didn't know enough about it at the time to express an opinion. I was in the Senate. But I had always understood the law to be clear. That any legislative body was judge of who they wanted to seat. I thought the Constitution was rather implicit in that direction, but the Supreme Court of the United States held otherwise, as they have done in many instances.
Professor Wagner: They made the same kind of judgement with... concerning Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.
Senator Talmadge: Yea, that's right. They held the only qualification was age and residence, and that was it...under that provision, I guess you could be a convicted felon and still serve.
Professor Wagner: Given that decision, I think that's the case. Ah...I started to say before, you mentioned, when Mel asked you about Ovid Davis, you mentioned Robert Woodruff, and...ah...I thought you might want to elaborate on your relationship.
Senator Talmadge: Woodruff was one of the great men I've known in my life. I guess from a charitable standpoint he has done more for Georgia than any other human being in the history of our state. A friend of mine...ah... put together the Woodruff properties down in Baker County. He was interested in farming down there and quail hunting. And Richard Tift assembled a large tract of land for him down in Baker country, I presume about the early twenties, and Woodruff used it as a retreat for pleasure. He'd go down there and hunt and fish. And he also farmed. And about 65 percent of the population at that time was black, and there was a lot of hookworm and malaria down there, successfully. And...ah...I've been a guest down there on a number of occasions quail hunting with him. And anything that required real money in Georgia in the way of charity they knew the only place to get it was from the Woodruff Foundation, which had been Coca Cola money for two or three generations, and they usually referred to him as "Mr. Anonymous." He never wanted to be known. The Woodruff Museum of Fine Arts, he gave the money for that. There's a park right there at Five Points, he gave the money for that. One-hundred and three and three million dollars I believe at one lick to Emory University. So I held him in very high esteem. Our visits were social. I don't recall that he ever asked me to do anything his life. Yeah, one thing, he said after I got elected; he said, "Please don't build a road through my property." It wound up I built a road through his property, from Newton to Caukwood as I recall. (Laughter) But he didn't get mad with me about that, and I appreciated his friendship.
Professor Wagner: I know you can't...I don't think there's a college or university...a private college or university campus in the state that hasn't got some building that he didn't build. (Senator Talmadge: That's true.) Atlanta University's library is the Woodruff Library, the Emory University...
Senator Talmadge: Almost anything you can think of in the way of a worthy charitable purpose, he's been a heavy contributor. Woodward Academy for instance.
Professor Wagner: That's right. Woodward Academy; I didn't even think of that.
Professor Steely: He is almost always listed, when people get to talking about the movers and shakers...ah...certainly in charitable works and the business field, but he is also mentioned frequently by those with a conspiratorial bent of the people who controls politics in Georgia. Earlier you re...denied that.
Senator Talmadge: I don't know that he ever got interested in politics personally. I know the largest contribution he ever gave me was twenty-five hundred dollars, and I never heard of him being active in anyone's behalf with possibly the exception of Ivan Allen when he ran for Mayor of Atlanta. If he was active in politics, it was restricted to the Atlanta area. He certainly was not active on the state level. Now he might have been on the federal level. He and Eisenhower were good friends. Eisenhower used to go down to hunt at the Baker County plantation, so I presume he probably contributed to Eisenhower's campaign. And...ah...but on the state level I never heard of him getting involved in state politics in my life.
Professor Wagner: Do you know of any other presidents he was close to other than Eisenhower?
Senator Talmadge: I do not.
Professor Wagner: Was that...did that develop out of Eisenhower's interest in golf and...
Senator Talmadge: Probably...I don't know that Woodruff was a golfer, but Eisenhower was an avid quail hunter, and Woodruff was too. So Woodruff probably invited him to come down quail hunting with him. He'd been to Thomasville area, you know, hunting from time to time, and that's probably how he and Woodruff met, during quail season there, and probably became friends hunting quail.
Professor Wagner: Oftentimes, these...what you know to be, from your own knowledge, innocent relationships are blown out of proportion by...ah...people who like to draw conclusions that are sinister. Ah...another prominent Georgian industrialist from here in our own area in West Georgia is Roy Richards. I'm sure...I know you knew him for years. What would be your appraisal of Roy Richards?
Senator Talmadge: When I first knew Roy Richards, he was a country boy down here in Carroll County, going to Georgia Tech. And when he got out of Georgia Tech, his first job was hanging REA power lines in rural areas. And...ah..he was a dedicated hard working fella, and he started getting into businesses for himself. I remember one time I ran into him in the lobby of a hotel in Buenos Aires, and...ah...I said, "Roy, what in the hell are you doing down here?" He says, "I've got a little plant down here in...Ah...I've forgotten the name of the place. I said, "Well, tell me this, how can you run a business that has inflation of two-hundred percent a year?" And he says, "Just as soon as we get our hands on a crusando, we'll put it into something real." (Laughter) Now the last time I saw him he told me he'd gotten rid of that plant in Brazil. But Roy was a remarkable man working with the Georgia Tech School of Engineering and others probably. He developed a continuous casting system for copper. He brought a lot of business into Carrollton, Carroll County, and...ah...he's probably more than any other individual, responsible for the progress and economic increase in Carroll County and this area of the state. He was a very remarkable man. I knew him well. He used to invite me over to his fourth of July parties that he would have. It would be a patriotic occasion. He was a very patriotic, dedicated American.
Professor Wagner: How involved in politics was he?
Senator Talmadge: Only in a limited way. He always supported me. And I think his contributions were modest. I don't remember what they were. And occasionally, I'd hitch-hike his plane to give somewhere to make a speech. He'd make it available if I needed it. And that was about the extent of his activity.
Professor Wagner: Another one from this general area was Warren Sewell. well did you know him and what did you think of him?
Senator Talmadge: I knew Warren Sewell very well. I've forgotten when he and I became friends, but while I was in the Senate, he pretty well supplied me in clothing. He'd send me about two suits a year that were made down at Bremen, Georgia. And our friendship was close. I'd drop by and see him from time to time. Roy was a very.. .ah. . .charitable fellow particularly in the Baptist faith. He made substantial contributions to the Catholic charities, hospitals, churches, schools, things of that nature. He was one of the pioneers in the garment industry over at Bremen, Georgia making suits over there.
Professor Wagner: Was he involved...was he involved in politics to any great degree...ah...
Senator Talmadge: Only in a limited way. A County Clerk of a County Commission can be much more helpful in a political campaign than a rich man like Sewell can be.
Professor Wagner: Another person who is a native of this area, but I don't think he made his the West Georgia area, was D. W. Brooks.
Senator Talmadge: D. W. was also one of the great men that I have known. He started that co-op. He was a professor on the Ag. the Ag. School up at the University of Georgia, and he had a bright career. Ah...Dr. Sewell was president of the Ag. School, and when he told Dr. Sewell that he was going to leave, why Dr. Sewell tried to prevail on him to stay there. He says, "You've got a bright future here. You'll be my successor," and so on. But he was interested in a trying to do something for the farmers who were broke and many of them hungry during the depths of the Depression, so he started that...ah...Gold Kist Co-op down here in Carroll County I think with a total capital of something like six-thousand dollars or some...fifteen-hundred dollars or some ridiculously trivial amount...sum. But...ah...D. W. Brooks is the best agricultural economist I ever knew. He's the best agricultural marketing man I ever knew. He knew about production also. He was extremely well rounded, was my hope in his prime that he could be Secretary of Agriculture, because I thought he was the best qualified man in America for that job. I don't know that he was ever offered it, but he served on several presidential commissions, and he was one of the most able men that I have ever known in my life.
Professor Wagner: He's a great contributor to the University of Georgia too; I know this.
Senator Talmadge: I know he is. And also Emory. And the Methodist church.
Professor Wagner: Let me...let me throw a name at you that we don't have on the list here, and that's Ted Turner of...of businessmen who are famous in Georgia. I don't know how we forgot him. It just occurred to me while we were sitting here.
Senator Talmadge: I've never known Ted very well. One time, when I was filming something at Channel 17 back before he got into satellite business and...ah...began acquiring additional companies, I dropped in Ted's office and visited with him there, was a much more modest operation then than he has now. Another time, he was in Washington, and Strom Thurmon had invited him to lunch. And Strom invited me to join them for lunch, and I did there in the Senate Dining Room. And to my knowledge, that's the only two times I was ever around Ted Turner in my life.
Professor Wagner: He owns a huge plantation in South Carolina.
Senator Talmadge: I know he does. Yes.
Professor Wagner: Let's see. Ah...let's skip over one I'll come back to. Ivan Allen is another prominent...ah...businessman politician.
Senator Talmadge: Ivan was in Georgia Tech at the same time I was in the University of Georgia, and when I left the office as Governor, I was elected president of the University of Georgia Alumni Association. And particularly when I was Governor, I saw that the two major centers of learning that would benefit our state's growth and productivity in the future was the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech. I was about a third generation University of Georgia alumnus myself, and back in the old days, I could shout "To hell with Tech" as good as anybody, (laughter) but when I became Governor, it was one of the institutions that I had to look after. And at the Georgia Tech game, I'd spend half the game in the Georgia box and the other half in the Georgia Tech box. So, after I became head of the University of Georgia Alumni Association, at the same time, Ivan Allen was elected president of the Georgia Tech Alumni Association. (Professor Steely: You lost your mike there, Senator.) Bobby Troutman was working with me in the University of Georgia Alumni Association, and he and I conceived the idea that we ought to work cooperatively. That...ah...prior to that, there'd been bitter rivalry between the two institutions, bitter partisanship between the two institutions, and we achieved the idea of organizing a joint fund raising effort to make money available where we could have funds to contribute to outstanding professors. If we had someone that was good say in the Law Department, Harvard University wanted him, and Harvard would say, "Look-a-here, you can come here, and I'll pay you $8,000 more than you're earning down there." And the state didn't have the resources to supplement that. So, we conceived this idea of the joint Georgia Tech-Georgia fund, and we organized it all over the state, and we had...ah...meetings in every congressional district in Georgia, and it's been continuing since that time and working highly successfully, and from time to time, some of the presidents of the institutions tell me how helpful it's been to them to keep some outstanding professor that they'd otherwise lose without that assistance.
Professor Wagner: Those are those Alumni Foundation chairs that are awarded to faculty members?
Senator Talmadge: Yes.
Professor Steely: Like Callaway chairs.
Professor Wagner: No, that's a different foundation. There is a...a Alumni Foundation professorships. There are a number of those. I or eight University of Georgia who hold those. Speaking of somebody who holds a chair at the University of Georgia, what are your recollections of Dean Rusk. He's the Sibley Foundation chair in international law.
Senator Talmadge: I never knew Dean Rusk until he was Secretary of State during the Carter Administration and in the Johnson Administration. Ah...he has a large family in Cherokee County and that area of the state. They'd always been friends of mine and supporters of my daddy. Largely small farmers. And...ah...I got to know Dean Rusk when he was Secretary of State and thought highly of him. Ah...since I have been... since he's been at the University, I've been over to the University Law School from time to time, and now and then, I've dropped by to visit with Dean Rusk. And I used to get a letter from him occasionally when I served in the Senate.
Professor Wagner: Well, I think he was...he became Secretary when John Kennedy was...ah...elected.
Senator Talmadge: He was...yes, that's right.
Professor Wagner: And I often wondered what...what it was about him that recommended him to John Kennedy, and I assumed it was you or Senator Russell.
Senator Talmadge: I don't know except he was president of some foundation at the time. (Professor Wagner: Oh, that's right.) Now, prior to that...prior to that, he'd been in the...ah...military during World War II, you know, and I believe he held some minor job maybe in the State Department. And he Kennedy as head of some foundation; I've forgotten what.
Professor Steely: Rockefeller or Ford, I believe.
Senator Talmadge: Rockefeller or Ford or something of that nature.
Professor Wagner: Yea,'re absolutely right. I...I was thinking that it was either you or Senator Russell who'd recommended him, but I think you're right. It was...he was president of one of those foundations.
Senator Talmadge: That's right.
Professor Steely: What kind of Secretary of State do you think he made?
Senator Talmadge: Well...ah...anytime you reflect on that era, the... the Vietnam issue always gets involved, and that will cloud the future throughout that period with, "He's the fellow that got us in the Vietnam mess." I don't know. I didn't serve on the Foreign Relations Committee. I was not eminently involved in foreign relations. I always had a high opinion of him personally. I thought he was articulate and intelligent, but I couldn't guess whether he made a good, bad, or indifferent Secretary of State.
Professor Wagner: Mills Lane is another businessman whose name always...almost always comes up in connection with politics. What...what's your recollection of Mills Lane?
Senator Talmadge: Mills became president of the C & S Bank about the time I was elected Governor of Georgia, and we were both about the same age. I don't think Mills ever got seriously involved in politics until after I left as the Governor. I remember back during the 1950 of my friends went over and called on Mills and wanted some money for my campaign, and Mills said he had friends on both sides and didn't contribute. And I had a lot of banker friends all over the state that were helping me like the devil, and they wanted deposits, and I started hitting the C & S Bank pretty hard to send them some money from time to time. And...ah...Mr. Herschel V. Jenkins came up to see me with Ben Tolberton from Sandersville, Georgia. They walked in the Governor's office there one morning and said, "Governor, you've been hitting C & S Bank pretty hard about money recently." I recited why. I said, "Yes. I'm trying to help some friends that helped me in my campaign, and Mills didn't help." (Laughter) Says, "Well, you know who the largest stockholder in the C & S Bank is?"He says, "Herschel Jenkins." He says, "He helped you; didn't he?" I said, "He sure did." He says, "You know who the second largest stockholder in the C & S Bank is?" I says, "No." He says, "It's me, Ben Tolberton." He says, "I helped you; didn't I?" I says, "You sure did." So, I started going lighter on the C & S Bank after that. (Laughter) But Mills was dedicated to build a great city. He visualized Atlanta as...ah...there wasn't any stopping its growth. And if anyone had a loan involving real estate development in Atlanta, he'd lend them the money. He didn't think there was any way to lose. And when we had the real estate collapse of nineteen-hundred and seventy-three, he had so many bad loans out in Atlanta it almost broke the C & S Bank.
Professor Steely: That's right.
Senator Talmadge: So, he retired. Now, Mills single-handedly let them have the money to build...ah...the...ah...arena there, the athletic center, in Atlanta when Ivan Allen was elected Governor and things of that nature. And...ah...he got active in state politics; it was after I left the office as Governor. Now, I knew he was extremely active in Ivan's campaign. He sent out postcards...ah...around there by way of poll and sort of drafted Ivan to run and I presume was his strongest supporter. He meant a lot to the city of Atlanta and developed a great bank. His enthusiasm almost bankrupted it, but it came back, and it's doing extremely well now.
Professor Wagner: What do you recall of James V. Carmichael?
Senator Talmadge: Jimmy Carmichael was in the legislature during my daddy's...ah...service, I believe, in 1939 and '40. And I became acquainted with him about that time. I suspect he was in Emory at the time I was in Georgia. And...ah...he was involved in the legislature actively when...ah...Ed Rivers was Governor of Georgia. And he opposed my father as candidate for Governor in nineteen-hundred and forty-six. He was a candidate for the Democratic nomination. And he had headed up the Bell Bomber Plant there at Marietta during the war years. And Jimmy was a very formidable candidate. He got some 12 or 15,000 more popular votes than my daddy did in the Democratic primary, but he lost in the unit vote. And...ah... after that, his...ah...he had infantile paralysis. His health declined rapidly. And he had a son that was in Woodworth Academy with my son, Robert. They became great friends, and Jimmy's son used to come down and spend the weekend with Robert on the farm down at Lovejoy. I haven't seen or heard from the young fellow since Jimmy passed away. I don't know where he is now. But Jimmy died about, oh, ten or twelve years ago.
Professor Wagner: What do you recall of Hugh Howell?
Senator Talmadge: Hugh Howell was a prominent Atlanta lawyer, a good friend of my daddy's, and I guess If my father had a campaign manager in nineteen-hundred and thirty-two, Hugh Howell was probably it. And he became Chairman of the Democratic Executive Committee, and...ah... Hugh Howell, afterwards, ran for Governor in nineteen-hundred and thirty-six. He was defeated by Ed Rivers. He was a good friend of mine. He was very active in...ah...the...ah...Masonic Order, the Yaarab Temple. He was Potentate of it at one time. And... ah...he was active in the Old Warhorse Organization there. And a good friend of mine. His son is a retired Admiral in the the Naval Reserves. He's also a warm friend of mine.
Professor Steely: We've talked about Ivan Allen Mayor of Atlanta and also about Maynard Jackson. Tell us about your thoughts on William B. Hartsfield. What do you remember about him? The only man to have an ape named after him, as I remember. (Laughter)
Senator Talmadge: Well, Hartsfield was one of the perennial politicians in Atlanta, and he was a master at it. When he was elected Mayor of Atlanta, it was just a big country town, and he had...he was an aviation enthusiast. He could visualize better than anyone in our area the future of aviation. And he knew if Atlanta was going to grow, it had to have adequate educa...ah... aviation service. So, he was busy expanding what's now Hartsfield Airport all the time. And it contributed immeasurably to the city of Atlanta's growth and to Georgia's growth. Bill was a master politician. He stayed in office...ah...virtually all the time. I don't recall that he was ever defeated except one time, and he was defeated for Mayor back about nineteen-hundred and forty, as I recall. The man that defeated him, after serving a while as Mayor, resigned and...ah...joined the service forces and want to war, and then Hartsfield came back and was elected every time thereafter.
Professor Steely: Um-hum. Was that Kelly?
Senator Talmadge: No. Ah...I can't think of his name. Still living.
Professor Steely: Um-hum.
Senator Talmadge: He'd been in the State Senate when I was Governor, the man that beat Hartsfield, and I can't think of his name.
Professor Steely: Well now, your father hardly ever carried Fulton County or the city of Atlanta. Was Hartsfield an ally of your's, or did he just stay out of it or an enemy or what...what was his role?
Senator Talmadge: He supported my father from time to time. And...ah ...back during the days when I was running for public office, we had...ah...a good deal of controversy, and I suppose he was on the other side.
Professor Steely: Um-hum. How about Tom Lender?
Senator Talmadge: Tom Lender was a turpentine fellow and in the legislature down in Jeff Davis County in 1926. And he's one of the individuals that prevailed on my father to run for Commissioner of Agriculture against J. J. Brown. father was elected Commissioner of Agriculture and made Tom Lender his assistant. 1926. And then after my daddy was elected Governor in nineteen-hundred and thirty-two, he ran Tom Lender for Commissioner of Agriculture in '34, and he was elected. And then in nineteen-hundred and thirty-six, when all the Talmadge ticket was fighting Roosevelt, they all got beat in this race against Dick Russell. And then he picked up Tom Lender again and made him Commissioner of Agriculture in nineteen-hundred and forty. And Tom served there until...ah...he ran for Governor in nineteen-hundred and fifty-four. Of course, Marvin Griffin defeated him, and Tom want out of office at that time.
Professor Steely: Um-hum. How about Jim Peters, James Peters?
Senator Talmadge: Jim Peters was one of the great men I've known in my lifetime. He was a country school teacher down in Berrien County, and...ah...he managed to get up to Manchester. I don't know how. He had the foresight to start him a telephone business in the rural area and also start him a bank in the rural area. And both of them were highly successful. Jim Peters was a civic-minded citizen in every sense of the word. He served as Chairman of the Democratic party longer than anyone, I guess, in the state. He was Chairman for my father and for me, a total of ten years as Chairman of the Democratic party. He was also Chairman of the State Board of Education when I was Governor and interested in improving education. He was a fine gentleman in every sense of the word, civic-minded, dedicated, loyal, patriotic.
Professor steely: Um-hum. Let's look at some of the Georgians who were on the national scene a little bit...ah...maybe the series of...ah...congressmen. Probably the most outstanding one would be Representative Carl Vinson. What do you remember about him?
Senator Talmadge: Vinson served in the Congress for 50 years, longer when he retired than any congressman in the history of the state. He'd been a judge prior to that. I guess his most memorable campaign was against Tom Watson. Tom Watson and he were in the same congressional district, and everybody thought Watson was going to beat him badly. There was one country preacher down there in one of the counties that was strongly supporting Watson. Vinson stopped by to see him. The preacher says to Mr. Vinson, he says, "There's no need in you wasting your time here with me." He says, "You know I'm for Watson." He says, "There's nothing you can do that can change my mind." He says, "Preacher, I didn't come by here to ask for your support." He says, "I came by here to get you to pray for me." Both of them got down on their knees, and he prayed for Carl Vinson and wound up, before the campaign was over, he supported him. (Laughter) That's the sort of politician Carl Vinson was.
Professor Wagner: Divine intervention.
Senator Talmadge: He became Chairman of the Naval Affairs Committee and ...ah...was primarily the author of the two-ocean navy. And when I got out there fighting in World War II and couldn't see anything, we had heavy in the whole South Pacific except one antiquated aircraft carrier and one mottled battleship, and the Japanese Navy was running rampant all over the Pacific at that time. I'd almost pray for Carl Vinson every night, (laughter) because I knew it wasn't long before the carriers and the cruisers and the battleships were going to be in the South Pacific, and they were. And Vinson was the father of that along with...ah... Roosevelt, of course, and his appointees as Secretary of the Navy. He was a master diplomat, a master politician, supreme autocrat in his committee. When he thought he was right, why, he'd go forward with it and did.
Professor Steely: But you were aware of his importance and what he was trying to do even while you were in the Navy.
Senator Talmadge: That's right. I knew the two-ocean Navy was coming give us time.
Professor Steely: How about Robert Stevens?
Professor Wagner: Let me ask him one more question about Vinson. Could somebody like...could somebody operate in Congress today the way Carl Vinson did?
Senator Talmadge: No. Instead of one big Caesar, they've got a multiplicity of little Caesars in the Naval Affairs Committee now. They've got a subcommittee on this and a subcommittee on that and a subcommittee on something else, and all of them got a big staff with little empires of their own, and the chairman of the committee sits there at the sufferance of the little Caesars and their subcommittees, and that's what practically destroyed Congress and makes them ineffective at the present time. There was a time when the Speaker of the House and four or five of the principal chairmen could get together and say let's do this and that and the other, and they'd agree on it, and it would be done. But now no more.
Professor Wagner: You don't see a...any possibility of those days returning either; do you? I think we talked about that.
Senator Talmadge: No. I can't see the little Caesars surrendering their power.
Professor Wagner: Do you think that has made the Congress more or less effective in terms of...
Senator Talmadge: Less effective and less responsive.
Professor Wagner: And at the same time, the executive branch has...has assumed some of the powers.
Senator Talmadge: That's right. You've got so much polarization in the country now until the Congress has gotten like a glacier. It is fossilized and frozen there and incapable of moving.
Professor Steely: How about Congressman Robert Stevens?
Senator Talmadge: Bob Stevens and I were in the University of Georgia togther, the same class. We have been friends since that time. Bob is a direct descendant from Alexander Stevens, the Vice President of the Confederacy. His daddy was a country doctor at Washington, Georgia. And Bob was in the Congress before I got there and served in the legislature when I was Governor. He originally came to the legislature as an anti-Talmadge man. He and I got to be great friends. We were friends in the Congress. And Bob is a very wise fellow and the most humorous man I ever knew. You sit around him, and he'll just keep you laughing with one story right after another. And I've known him for 50 years and never heard him repeat one.
Professor Steely: Was he a pretty effective Congressman?
Senator Talmadge: Yes, he was. He was on the Banking and Currency Committee of the House for years and years and years, and there was some old fellow there that was Chairman of it that never would die and never would quit, so Bob never got to be Chairman of the Committee.
Professor Wagner: Did he know...was Alexander Stevens his grandfather did you say?
Senator Talmadge: He was a direct descendant of Alexander Stevens; (Someone Said: Oh, Alexander Stevens.) I've forgotten the relationship.
Professor Steely: One of the, I guess the only woman Congressman...ah...Congresswoman from Georgia, Iris Blitch, do you remember her?
Senator Talmadge: Oh yes. Iris...ah...served in the legislature when I was Governor of Georgia. He was...she was one of my floor leaders, and I made her Secretary of the Democratic Party. And...ah...when she decided she wanted to run for Congress, she came by to see me, (I was still Governor.) and I tried to dissuade her from running. She was going to oppose Don Wheeler. I said, "Iris, I just don't believe those fellows down there will vote for a lady for Congress." And I couldn't dissuade her. She ran and was elected and served in the Congress...ah...effectively there for five to six terms.
Professor Steely: How about Paul Brown?
Senator Talmadge: Paul Brown was one of the great men I served with in the Congress of the United States. He also was there for about 30 years and never got to be Chairman of his Committee, because someone lived longer than he did and served longer than he did. Paul was one of the giants in the House in those days, and it was interesting to see he and Vinson get together. They were always sort of pulling each other's leg, and sometimes we would have a dinner party and invite the Georgia delegation to our home, and it was interesting to observe Carl and Paul together.
Professor Steely: Was Vinson as humorous a man as Paul?
Senator Talmadge: No. Paul was more humorous, and...ah...Vinson was pretty blunt with his humor.
Professor Steely: Now, for a very old and close friend of your's, Congressman Flint, Jack Flint.
Senator Talmadge: Jack and I first became friends in nineteen-hundred and twenty-seven when...ah...his father was in the legislature, my daddy was Commissioner of Agriculture, and Dick Russell was Speaker of the House. Jack and I served as pages in the House for about a week together there, and we were the only two pages interested in what was going on in the House. The rest of them would be in the Capitol dome, and Jack and I would be running errands for members there, and we got to playing jokes on some of the members once. There was an old fellow named Stokes from Twiggs County in the legislature, and he wore a red rose in his lapel every day. And Stokes looked upon himself as a great orator. And Jack and I framed up a letter saying, "Mr. Stokes: You are such a magnificent orator. I'm the lady dressed in red in the gallery. Will you please make a speech for me?" (Laughter) One of us slipped that note to Mr. Stokes, and he turned around and looked at the lady in red in the gallery there. In a few minutes, his booming voice said, "Mr. Speaker..." So he went up to the podium and made a speech. So, Jack and I entered the University about the same time, and we were friends there. Then, the war years came on. He was in the Army, and I was in the Navy. And then after the war, he got elected to the legislature from Spalding County, and I was involved in the two Governor row, and Spalding County was an anti-Talmadge county at the time. And Jack supported me, and the people down there almost lynched him, but he survived and was re-elected and ran for Solicitor General, and I helped him get elected as Solicitor. He helped me in all my races, and I helped him get elected to Congress.
Professor Steely: Was he a pretty good Congressman? Pretty effective?
Senator Talmadge: Yes, Jack Flint was an able fellow, highly articulate, a good orator, conscientious, dedicated. I thought he made an excellent Congressman.
Professor Steely: I understand he stayed in very close touch with the folks back home as kind of a hallmark of his.
Senator Talmadge: He did. He came home virtually every weekend, and he was over the district all the time. And...ah...he answered his letters punctually. He was available to make speeches whenever they wanted him to and things of that nature.
Professor Steely: How about Phil Landrum?
Senator Talmadge: Phil...ah...was M. E. Thompson's executive secretary, and we had many political battles. And Phil was elected to Congress before I went to the Senate, and we became very warm friends. As a matter of fact, he called me the other night. I admire Phil greatly. He made a good Congressman. Unfortunately, he changed committees as so many members of our delegation did. Jack Flint did the same thing. And when you change committees, you lose your seniority on that committee. You start off denovel on the committee on which you go. So, Jack never attained a great deal of seniority, and Phil Landrum, even though he served in the House about 20 or 24 years, was just getting to where he was on the Conference Committees of Ways and Means when he retired, and I was on the Conference Committees of Finance, parallel committees, and when he and I would get on the Conference Committee together, about maybe ten people, and Georgia had two votes out of the ten, we could do pretty well looking after our interests. I hated very much to see him retire. And...ah...he was extremely popular in his district. He could have stayed there until he died if he wanted to.
Professor Steely: How about Ed Jenkins?
Senator Talmadge: Ed Jenkins is an outstanding Congressman. He worked for Phil and...ah...succeeded Phil in the House and was fortunate enough to get on the Ways and Means the first year he was in the Congress, which is very unusual, probably because of Phil's influence with the Committee. And...ah...Ed is one of the most able members of the Congress.
Professor Steely: Well now, didn't Wyche Fowler come in about the same time. Your term with him kind of overlapped for a few years there didnt it? Or did you know Wyche?
Senator Talmadge: No, I guess Wyche was there maybe a couple of years before I left or maybe four. Ah...he was there, I think, briefly before I left. I knew Wyche very well. He had been Vice Mayor of Atlanta and...ah... had worked for Weltner up there when Weltner was a Congressman and then was elected to Congress in his own right.
Professor Wagner: I was just going to say that you've got a remarkable memory, Senator. He was an administrative assistant to Weltner when he was in his 20s; Fowler was in his 20's.
Professor Wagner: Is it time for a break?
Professor Steely: All right, let's take a break then.
Professor Wagner: Senator, what do you recall of Representative Doug Bernard?
Senator Talmadge: When I first knew Doug, he was executive secretary to Carl Sanders when Carl was Governor. Afterwards, he came to the Congress. I always had an extremely high opinion of him. He was trained as a banker and got on the Banking and currency Committee of the House where he had outstanding knowledge. He has made a very able and effective Congressman in my judgement.
Professor Wagner: Another one who has made...made quite a name for himself in the Carter administration, and in some significance in when he was elected to Congress, I think he was the first black from the south elected to Congress since reconstruction was Andrew Young, and from a majority white district at that. What do you recall of him?
Senator Talmadge: I've known Andy for I guess since his first race for Congress. He was defeated the first time. And I've been impressed with him. He is extremely articulate. And...ah...I remember one time when they had some sort of religious occasion there in Atlanta, sort of a Billy Graham type thing, and had several hundred business leaders there, they had...ah...Andy and myself to speak. And, of course, I was in Andy's environment, and he presumably had better knowledge of the Bible than I did. But I had a prepared speech that I thought was pretty good, and he spoke extemporaneously, and I thought his was superb. So, he could adapt himself to the occasion extremely well. Of course, when he was up there at the U.N., he put his foot in his mouth from time to time. But serving the constituents that he does, I think he gets along well.
Professor Wagner: What would you be...what would be your assessment of his...ah...tenure as Mayor of Atlanta?
Senator Talmadge: Well, that's what I've mentioned. He has got a diverse group of people there, and he has been doing everything he could to promote the city of Atlanta and has made a lot of growth internationally and commercially.
Professor Wagner: There was great fear apparently on the part of the business community when he was elected, and most of them supported his opponent, Sidney Marcus, at the time. (Senator Talmadge: That's right.) He seems to have turned that around.
Senator Talmadge: I think that's correct. The last race he made I don't think he had any serious opposition.
Professor Wagner: Howard Callaway is another...
Senator Talmadge: I've known Bo for many, many years. As a matter of fact, I used to hunt...I used to fish with his daddy down at Blue Springs. And...ah...his father was on the Board of Regents; appointed by former Governor Ellis Arnall as I recall. And...ah...he came in to see me one day when I was Governor, and he said, "Herman (or Governor or whatever he called me)." He says, "The doctor says I've got glaucoma." He says, "I've got to leave the Regents." He says, "I've got a son that you know." He says, "He was a combat veteran in Korea, commander of a platoon of South Koreans, graduate of West Point." He says, "I wish you'd appoint him in my place." I said, "Well, Cason, I know your son, and I think he is well qualified. I'll be glad to do it." So, I appointed ...I accepted his father's resignation, and I appointed Bo on the Board of Regents. And he served in an outstanding manner. Then, when we had the Goldwater campaign for the presidency, why, Bo switched political parties and, afterwards, was elected Congressman from the 3rd district, I believe, as a Republican. I always had a very high opinion of Bo, and I think he was extremely conscientious and did a good job.
Professor Wagner: He seems to have done well as a businessman and Republican organizer in Colorado for most news accounts.
Senator Talmadge: That's right. He ran for the Senate out there and got beat. And...ah...if Bo had stayed in the Democratic party, he probably could have been elected Governor of Georgia or go on to the Senate.
Professor Wagner: He really got...I think he got more votes than...ah...Maddox did in 66 but not 50 percent.
Senator Talmadge: He did. He got flat plurality, and then they threw it into the House of Representatives...into the Legislature, and the legislature, being overwhelmingly Democratic, elected Maddox.
Professor Steely: That was when Ellis Arnall had the write-in campaign at two percent of the vote. Now Bo was Secretary of the Army for a brief period under Nixon; wasn't he? He left under something of a cloud. Do you remember what the situation was? Do you remember that?
Senator Talmadge: Yes, there was an extremely partisan Senator from Colorado who tried to make Bo Callaway an issue and claimed he got preferential treatment by developing a ski slope out there. I don't think it was true at all, and that partisan Senator was, afterwards, defeated. He only served one term. And it was just one of those things where somebody tries to make political capital at the expense of somebody else.
Professor Wagner: Since we mentioned Bo Callaway, lets talk about Cason Callaway at this point too. You mentioned that appointed him to the Board of Regents. What were his...
Senator Talmadge: No, I think Ellis Arnall appointed him to the Board, and I appointed his son.
Professor Wagner: That's right.
Senator Talmadge: I knew Cason Callaway from about the time he started his farming operations which I believe was about 1940. Cason, you know, had been from a very wealthy family in LaGrange, and he retired when he was about 40 years of age from managing the mill over there that his daddy founded; I guess it was his daddy founded that mill. And then he was very much interested in the economic plight of the Georgia farmer. And Cason thought, with some capital and expertise, that farming could be made successful in Georgia. So, he went around to most of the counties in the state andpicked out a group of seven or eight business people that could spare a little capital, and they'd put a thousand or two dollars a piece in some farming operation and get some fellow to farm it, and Cason Callaway would provide the expertise advice about what they ought to do to make a living. Well, most of those farms lasted only five to ten years. They fell by the wayside. Farming is not quite that simple. But Cason did a great deal for the state, developed that Callaway Gardens there. Of course, Bo took up where he left. And I think the most beautiful place in the state, one of the most beautiful places in the nation, as a tourist resort, is Callaway Gardens. I had great admiration for Cason Callaway. He was a loyal, patriotic, conscientious American interested in the progress of his state.
Professor Wagner: Another member of Congress that...ah...that you knew well was Bo Ginn. How would you assess his service to the nation?
Senator Talmadge: Well, Bo first was up there with Elliott Hagan as his assistant when I got to the Senate. And, of course, I got to observing the Georgia delegation, and I knew Bo, and I knew most of what took place in Hagan's office Bo was responsible for. And...ah...when I had a vacancy (Ken Turner, my administrative assistant, retired after about...after I'd been in the Senate a few years.), and Bo wanted the job, and he was the fellow I had my eye on all the time. And I've had, over my 24 years in the Senate, I guess, some four administrative assistants. Bo was the best one I ever had. He was politically savvy. He was highly intelligent. He was articulate. And he knew what my views were on every issue. His job was to run the staff and see that it functioned smoothly, and he did so.
Professor Wagner: Do you think he would have made a good Governor?
Senator Talmadge: Yes, I think he would have made a good Governor.
Professor Wagner: Another member of Congress who is in the news...ah... a great deal of the time in the last three or four years; in fact, he was in a debate on the McNeil Lehrer national news program just two nights ago over whether or not Congress should support aid to the rebels in Nicaragua, (He was defending that point of view, supporting the President.) is Congressman Gingrich. What would be your assessment of him?
Senator Talmadge: I've known Newt since he was elected to the Congress to succeed Jack Flint. As a matter of fact, I met him before then. The first time I met him I believe I came down here to West Georgia College for some function. Newt was running against Flint I believe for the first time. He was making a speech, and I didn't want to burst in while Newt was speaking, so I stood there at the door and listened to his speech until he concluded and then went on in to make mine. My relationship with Newt has been pleasant and cordial. We are of different parties, of course, but I don't wear my partisanship on my sleeve. And...ah...he has done an outstanding job of projecting his views in the national news media. He takes advantage of public T.V. and the news media, and he has developed quite a following nationwide espousing the views that he believes in.
Professor Steely: You're supposed to go to Governor Slayton now.
Professor Wagner: Oh, I'm sorry. Another name we...we should have had on the list, before I get to Governor Slayton, is...ah...Ben Fortson who held office in the state of Georgia as long as almost anyone I would guess.
Senator Talmadge: Ben was in the legislature when I first knew him during the administration of Ellis Arnall, and afterwards, he was elected Secretary of State and served as Secretary of State a long time. And our relationship was always cordial and pleasant. Ben was a very popular public servant and a strong partisan Democrat.
Professor Wagner: Now, we have a list of Governors. I think you've known almost every Governor or known of every Governor In the 20th century, and some of these I'm you're...ah...appraisal of will be relatively short. Not that it isn't important or they weren't important, but there are so darn many of them. How about Governor Slayton?
Senator Talmadge: Governor Slayton...ah...practiced law when I was admitted to the bar in Atlanta in nineteen-hundred and thirty-six. I used to visit with him occasionally, and now and then he was representing insurance cases. In those days, if you filed suit that was covered by insurance, there was a good chance that Governor Slayton would be defending on behalf of the insurance company. And I had a chance to visit with him on more than one occasion. He was articulate, highly intelligent, a fine lawyer. He had been Governor of the state, I believe, from 1910 to about 1914 or there abouts. And...ah...that was during the Leo Frank case. (Someone Said: That's right.) And while he was Governor, he was a very popular Governor. While he was Governor, he commuted the sentence of Leo Frank to life imprisonment, and a mob took Leo Frank out of the prison and lynched him. And...ah...Slayton was so unpopular until they marched on the executive mansion. And a friend of mine, who was an officer in the National Guard, Judge Al Hinson, had to call out the troops to protect the Governor from the lynch mob. And Slayton took a trip around the world thereafter. He came back to practice law. He ran for the United States Senate in 1928 as I recall maybe against...ah...William J. Harris if I remember correctly and carried one-half of Evans County. He spent a huge sum of money. But he was a very...ah... determined man and a very courageous man, and I always admired him a great deal.
Professor Wagner: Do you think he was right in the Leo Frank case given what the parole board...
Senator Talmadge: I never studied it enough to determine the correctness or incorrectness of it. I know what I've read about the trial, it would have been reversed on appeal today. It was almost a mob scene at the time of the trial. And...ah...Watson had been fanning the flame in his newspaper, and...ah...there was a good deal of anti-Semitic feeling in the state at the time. The Ku Klux Klan was pretty strong. So, it was a highly courageous act on Slayton's part to do that.
Professor Wagner: Governor Dorsey.
Senator Talmadge: Dorsey was prosecuting attorney in the Leo Frank case, and that's what elected him Governor probably. He succeeded Slayton. And...ah...when I first was admitted to the bar, Governor Dorsey was on the Superior Court bench in Fulton County, and I was hanging around Judge Hulett's office at the time trying to get some legal experience, and he said, "Herman, you go down there and see Judge Dorsey and tell him to appoint you on some cases, so you can get some trial experience." The first thing I knew I had three murder cases back to back, all without any compensation, appointed by Dorsey. One of them was being personally tried by...ah...the Solicitor General at the time. My client that I was representing had murdered a streetcar motorman, and you can imagine the sentiment there with the whole Georgia Power Company arrayed against us, and...ah... then...ah...with the Solicitor General coming in to prosecute the case personally, and I was a young, inexperienced lawyer just out of law school. (Laughter) You can imagine what a tussle I had. Slayton would try to get some evidence in that was inadmissible...or rather the Solicitor General (Boykin was Solicitor General at the time.)...and he was mean and viscous too and experienced. And I'd object, and Humphrey would uphold my objection, you know, and Boykin would come back in a different way with the same thing, and I'd object again. Finally, Humphrey said to Boykin, "Mr. Boykin, I've ruled on this matter two or three times already, and I don't want you to try to put it in evidence anymore." (Laughter) So, my client was convicted and sentenced to be electrocuted. We appealed it to the Supreme Court of the United States, and we got one vote for us. That was Chief Justice Richard B. Russell, Sr. I was introduced to a tough trial area in a hurry by Judge Dorsey.
Professor Wagner: That's a funny story. How about Governor Hardwick?
Senator Talmadge: Hardwick served in the House, the Senate, and Governor of Georgia, and...ah...he was known in the Senate as the gamecock. I think he served only one term. And he also was in the same congressional district that...ah...Tom Watson was, and he and Watson were running for Congress down there one time, and they agreed to a joint debate. And the way the joint debate wound up, one of them was speaking on one side of the courthouse at the same time the other one was speaking on the other side. And I remember the first Governor I ever saw was Tom Hardwick. He was running for re-election, I guess, in 1922, and he'd made the Ku Klux Klan mad with him, and he'd made organized labor mad with him. My father was a big Hardwick supporter. We went out to Helena where he was speaking, and my daddy introduced Hardwick and Hardwick got through speaking. I remember this was a great honor that happened to my daddy to introduce the Governor of the state. I was about nine years old at the time. He got through speaking (It was hot as the dickens in July or August), and he pulled a wool sweater on. I looked at him, and I said, "Governor, what you putting on a sweater in the summertime for?" And he says, "It keeps me from taking a cold, son." I found out how important it was about 50 years...30 years later myself.
Professor Wagner: You've mentioned Tom Watson, now, about four times in this conversation we've had. Did you...did you see him or know him or...
Senator Talmadge: No. Tom Watson died in the Senate in nineteen-hundred and twenty-three when I was ten years old. So, most of what I know about Watson I've heard and talked with people. But he dominated the politics of the state for 20 or 25 years. He had about a third of the people in Georgia that wanted to see him in hell, about a third of the people in Georgia that wanted to see him in heaven, and about a third that didn't care. And he could take that third that would follow him to the gates of hell and he made and unmade Governors in Georgia at will every two years.
Professor Wagner: What was your father's assessment of Tom Watson?
Senator Talmadge: I think he was an admirer of Watson's.
Professor Wagner: I know they are two of, what is it, five people who have statues down on the Capitol ground--Russell and Talmadge and Watson and whose the... (Professor Steely: Gordon.)...Gordon.. .(Senator Talmadge: Gonna be Gordon.)...Is Gordon the one on the horse? And the one with his wife. Who is that; is that Oglethorpe?
Professor Steely: No, that's...ah...(Senator Talmadge: Russell.)...No, the one with his wife, there's one.. .Brown. Governor Brown.
Professor Wagner: Brown, that's right.
Senator Talmadge: Joseph E. Brown. Incidentally, Joseph E. Brown and his son were both Governors and Gene Talmadge and I were both Governors--the only two father-son combinations in the history of the state. The both of them elected. (Someone Said: Big Joe and Little Joe.)
Senator Talmadge: Big Joe. Watson elected Little Joe.
Professor Wagner: How about Governor Walker?
Senator Talmadge: Ah...Cliff Walker served as Governor in nineteen-hundred and twenty-four to twenty-eight, and I knew him afterwards when he was running the Woodrow Wilson School of Law, and he, afterwards, became...ah... attorney for the Labor Department when Ben Huett was Commissioner of Labor. And...ah...Walker served for four years. I don't think much happened one way or another during the period of time that he served, but he had ...he defeated Tom Hardwick and was re-elected. And I knew him when he was practicing law around Atlanta and around the Woodrow Wilson School of Law.
Professor Wagner: Governor Hardeman was the predecessor of his.
Senator Talmadge: Hardeman was a doctor from up in Jefferson County--Commerce, Georgia. He owned a cotton mill, and he was quite wealthy. And he decided he wanted to be Governor. And he ran five times, spending huge sums every time he ran, and got elected the last time he ran in nineteen-hundred and twenty-six or eight, twenty-six it was. He was elected in 1926, and his career was rather quiet. The main thing people remember about him, he was a phrenologist, I believe you call them. He could feel the bumps on a man's head and tell whether or not he had criminal tendencies.
Professor Steely: Well, that's not a bad thing to have in politics. Check all the people you are going to appoint and feel their heads.
Professor Wagner: Is that what he did when he appointed people to office?
Senator Talmdge: I don't know whether he did that or not. I knew him casually. He was a fine looking man from a wealthy family, and his family still runs that Harmony Grove Cotton Mill up at Commerce, Georgia. About the third generation is running it now.
Professor Wagner: Did he make any significant contributions?
Senator Talmadge: Not to my knowledge.
Professor Steely: Senator, we've talked about your dad on a couple of occasions, but I don't think it would complete the process if we didn't have you at least assess his tenure as Governor and his impact on the state.
Senator Talmadge: I don't know that his son could be the most unbiased opinion about his father, daddy, I thought, was the greatest man alive. He...ah...was extremely stubborn once he made up his mind. No power on the face of the earth could change it. He was...(changing tape)...He was the most gifted orator I ever knew. He on a crowd of people just like a skilled musician. He would talk back and forth with them, and they'd come out to him by the thousands. And...ah...he introduced...I guess he was the first one to use country musicians. They ridiculed him at the time. Country musicians are popular now, the most popular musicians we have. But Fiddlin' John Carson would travel with him, and he'd entertain the crowds until my daddy could get there. And he had this gift of just being able to go to sleep any time he wanted to. He could sit in a chair or sit on a stool, go to sleep, and he'd be sleeping until we'd get to the city limits somewhere, and I'd wake him up. He'd be on the stump five minutes later fresh. And...ah...when you're in military campaigns, political campaigns, things of that nature, that is a tremendous gift. And...ah...he had...the masses of Georgia would follow him. There has been only two modern people, I guess two in the whole history of the state, where the masses of the people of this state either loved or hated them. That was my daddy and Tom Watson. And I still run into people now and then...ah...old Talmadge folks that would...ah... fight their brothers about my daddy or anybody else. And...ah...they developed almost a cult. If you were a Talmadge man, why, you were all right in that area. There were areas in Georgia if you wanted to pick a fight in a hurry, you could just go in and stop and say, "To hell with Talmadge." And they'd come out and give you a whipping right quick. The same thing was true of Thomas E. Watson.
Professor Wagner: You really...At that particular time, that was a time in the United States where there were gifted orator politicians with your father and Huey Long and Franklin Roosevelt. And LaFollette of Wisconsin was another one who was....
Professor Steely: William Jennings Bryan.
Professor Wagner: Well, that's a little earlier.
Professor Steely: Well, there was Tom Watson. Watson and Bryan were contemporaries.
Professor Wagner: Well, that's true, but I was thinking of Huey Long. There's a new film out about Huey Long. It hasn't gotten to Atlanta yet, but it's supposed to be...
Senator Talmadge: I want to see that. I've read...ah...
Professor Wagner: It's a documentary rather than a fictitious...
Senator Talmadge: I want to see that. My father was an old fashioned Jeffersonian politician. He believed that the least governed people were the best governed, and every chance he ever had to reduce the size of government, reduce taxes or government involvement in anything, he did it. And of course, he and the Roosevelt administration had a collision in the thirties and defeated my daddy. daddy was the most popular man in those days in the history of the state. Some fellow he wanted defeated he could just send word to about four folks and say leave him home next time, and he wouldn't come back to the legislature. Somebody he wanted elected, "I hope you boys will vote for this man right here." And he'd be elected. That was how popular he was in the state at that time.
Professor Steely: I don't think we've had anybody quite like that since then.
Senator Talmadge: Oh no. Nobody could probably do it today.
Professor Steely: How about Ed Rivers?
Senator Talmadge: Ed Rivers was a most unusual fellow. He and I were great friends back when he was my daddy's friend and afterwards. Ed came to Little Young Harris College from Arkansas. I don't know how he got there. And when he graduated from Young Harris, he made the reputation as a debater and a speaker at Young Harris, and he went down to Cairo, Georgia to practice law. And from there, to Lakeland, Georgia and served in the House and Senate on a few occasions. He ran against Dr. Hardman for Governor in 1928 and was defeated. He ran for Governor again in nineteen-hundred and thirty and was defeated again and then was elected Governor of Georgia in nineteen-hundred and thirty-six on Roosevelt's coattails when the New Deal was extremely popular in the state. This was the same time Dick Russell defeated my daddy. Ed could make a speech on any side of any subject with or without notice--a very effective one. But it always had that hollow ring in it, sort of lack of sincerity.
Professor Steely: How about Ellis Arnall? One of the more colorful fellows.
Senator Talmadge: Ellis and I became friends. I think he finished the University about a year before I entered. He had been president of the Intrafraternity Council over at the University of Georgia, and I later was elected to the same job. And...ah...Ellis went to the legislature In 1933 the same day...year my daddy was elected Governor, I believe. And he was elected Speaker Pro Tem of the House when Ed Rivers was elected Speaker. And then, of course,...ah....Ed Rivers appointed him Attorney General later, and he ran against my daddy for Governor in nineteen-hundred and forty-two and was elected Governor. And...ah... we'd been friends but bitter political enemies, and our friendship has become stronger since both of us has gone out of office. I see him and hear from him from time to time now.
Professor Steely: I understand he was quite successful in business.
Senator Talmadge: Very much so. He's made a lot of money. After he left the office as Governor, he started a law office there in Atlanta, and it's one of the most substantial and successful law firms in Atlanta now.
Professor Steely: How about M. E. Thompson? He is kind of the reverse of Arnall.
Senator Talmadge: My first relationship with M. E. Thompson was nineteen-hundred and twenty-eight when I was a debater for McRae Helena High School, and M. E. Thompson brought his Hawkinsville debate team down to McRae to debate us. And I think the issue was a hundred million dollar bond issue for roads. We had the affirmative side of the issue. And Thompson was the principal of the visiting high school, so he presided. And we defeated M.E.'s team that night. He had two great big seniors, football players, both of them about six feet tall and weighed about a hundred and eighty pounds. And I had a little squeaky voice colleague in the tenth grade, weighed about eighty pounds. And I was a little fellow weighed about a hundred, I guess. But we won the debate, and we didn't realize, I certainly didn't, that a little bit later that M. E. and I would be contending for the governorship. He was...ah... elected Lieutenant Governor in nineteen-hundred and forty-six. My daddy died before he could take office. And M. E. and I had a big row about who should succeed to the Governors office. The legislature selected me. The court decisions were three to two in my favor in the lower court. The Supreme Court ruled against me, the state Supreme Court, by a vote of five to two. That decision was reversed in the Callaway case 20 years later, Callaway-Maddox case, where it went to the Supreme Court. It was five to four in Maddox's case in the Supreme Court and five to two in the state Supreme Court. So, I was vindicated by the people 18 months later and by the courts 20 years later.
Professor Steely: Do you think Thompson made a pretty fair Governor? He carried through a lot of the things that you had actually put into effect when you were in there temporarily.
Senator Talmadge: Well, he did the best he could under very adverse circumstances. He was limited as to amount of money, and I was harassing him all the time. The legislature was hostile to him. So, he was just a caretaker for about 18 months is what it amounted to.
Professor Steely: How about Marvin Griffin, probably one of the most colorful Governors that we have ever had.
Senator Talmadge: Yes. Marvin was...ah...Adjutant General back in the famous two Governor row. And...ah...he was for me. And we ran together as a team. I ran for Governor in forty-eight, and he was my candidate for Lieutenant Governor. The same was true in nineteen-hundred and fifty. And in nineteen-hundred and fifty-four, he was elected Governor to succeed me. He was the best story teller I ever heard in my life. He could keep you laughing all the time relating incidents, most of them true. And he'd never repeat himself. He was a magnificent stump speaker. He did many worthwhile things when he was Governor of the state, but he let some people hang around him that had sticky fingers, and it made his administration look bad.
Professor Steely: Was he a better storyteller than Stevens?
Senator Talmadge: Yes. Stevens would just tell you jokes, but Marvin would tell about old Sam Jones doing so and so, something that really happened.
Professor Steely: I'll bet it was interesting watching the two of them get together at times.
Senator Talmadge: Oh, it was.
Professor Steely: Ah...How about Ernest Vandiver?
Senator Talmadge: Ernie was...ah...his daddy was a big Talmadge man, and...ah...Ernie was active in my daddy's campaign in nineteen-hundred and forty-six as a youngster. I think he was still a University student at the time. When I ran for Governor, Ernie was my campaign manager, and I made him my Adjutant General. Ernie was a man of great integrity and...ah...did a fine job as Governor of the state under very trying circumstances. He'd been elected Governor on a segregation platform and had to make a decision whether to close the schools or let then operate, and he chose to let them operate.
Professor Steely: Did he consult much with you during this period?
Senator Talmadge: No.
Professor Steely: After he went out, he was replaced by Carl Sanders who is generally viewed as the...ah...bright, young hope of the Democratic party in the south for the modern period. Is that an accurate assessment, do you think?
Senator Talmadge: Well, Carl, you know, started off running for Lieutenant Governor. And then...ah...Marvin Griffin announced for Governor, and I guess, he thought he could defeat Marvin. So, he elevated his sights to the governorship and was elected Governor and .. .ah... did many fine things and I thought made a good Governor.
Professor Steely: Did you have much contact with Sanders on a personal basis?
Senator Talmadge: Now or then?
Professor Steely: While you were in the Senate.
Senator Talmadge: Yes, some. Not a great deal. Most all Governors, you know, want to be their own masters. They don't look to Washington for any guidance. And...ah...if they'd ask for advice, I'd give it. But I didn't try to intrude to peddle it. I found that gratuitous advice is the cheapest commodity on the face of the earth, because there are some many givers and so few takers.
Professor Steely: Now, he...ah...he ran for Governor a second time against Jimmy Carter and lost to Carter. Why do you think he lost that race?
Senator Talmadge: He'd achieved a reputation of being too liberal, and Carter ran in the George Wallace image, and that's what elected him. You can't get ahead of the people in the election. You've got to take them as they are. You don't have time to educate them in 90 days.
Professor Wagner: Do you think that was a fair campaign, if that's a word to use, by Carter against Sanders? I remember "Cufflinks Carl" was...ah...the Carter people called.
Senator Talmadge: There were many things during that campaign that...ah...Sanders complained bitterly about. I don't know whether Carter instigated it or not. No way of knowing.
Protessor Wagner: Well, he suggested, among other things, that Sanders is a...was a wealthy lawyer who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and he, Jimmy Carter, on the other hand, had worked his way up from practically nothing.
Senator Talmadge: Well, it was just the reverse. Carter's daddy was well fixed, and Sanders's father drove a truck for a living.
Professor Wagner: That is exactly right. I thought it was...The reason I asked you the question is because I thought that was one of the things that the press, the Atlanta press in particular, never took the time to correct that image. And it was the image, because Sanders appeared to be such a sophisticated person. He had come from a humble background.
Senator Talmadge: I thought Jerry Rafshoon's advertising on television was most effective in that campaign also.
Professor Steely: And the picture they circulated of Sanders with his basketball players, the five black basketball players, pouring the champagne on his head. He...he was associated with the Atlanta Hawks at the time.
Senator Talmadge: That's right. And implicating that Sanders got rich at the public cost.
Professor Steely: That's true. How about...ah...Sanders successor, Lester Maddox? What's your assessment of Lester?
Senator Talmadge: I've known Lester for many years and used to go out there when I was Governor sometimes and eat at his restaurant right on the edge of the Tech campus. He served good country food, vegetables and things of that nature, that I liked. I didn't think he had any chance on earth getting elected Governor when he started, and...ah...but the people considered him somewhat of a martyr. They thought the government had taken his business away from him by passing integration laws, and that martyrdom elected him. Lester did the best he could and, I think, did many fine things.
Professor Steely: How about Carter as Governor--Jimmy Carter?
Senator Talmadge: Ah...I thought Carter went sort of overboard in reorganizing the state government. Frankly, I thought he made it more cumbersome and less effective than it was, but...ah...he went out of office popular enough to get elected President of the United States, so I presume the people didn't think he was too bad.
Professor Steely: How about George Busby? What would be your assessment of him as a Governor.
Senator Talmadge: I thought George made a good Governor. He, unfortunately, messed it up by trying to claim pension rights that he wasn't entitled to after he left office. (Laughter)
Professor Wagner: Ah...One industrialist we did not mention before I thought should be mentioned, and I don't really know if you knew him at all, Senator, is Mr. Garrett of Delta Airlines, the man that built Delta Airlines.
Senator Talmadge: I knew him casually. Ah...You've got the wrong man about who built it.
Professor Wagner: That's right. I tried to think of his name.
Senator Talmadge: Woolman, C. E. Woolman.
Professor Wagner: Woolman. That's right. Garrett is chairman of the Board now.
Senator Talmadge: I knew Woolman extremely well. Woolman was one of the great industrial leaders that I ever knew in my life. He started off with a cotton dusting operation in Louisiana, (Professor Wagner:Exactly.) and he expanded that airline to what it is today. And during the days of Woolman and until recently, it was probably the best run airline in the United States. Now, they've got lots of competition now they never did have. If some fireman decides he wants to start an airline now, all he has got to do is get him a junk plane and get in the air. That makes it a little more difficult to operate an airline now than it did 20 years ago.
Professor Wagner: Well, Garrett is the man who has been Chairman. You're right; you're absolutely right. Garrett has been Chairman of the Board for about 25 years.
Senator Talmadge: That's right. I think he has done a good job. I didn't know...ah...Garrett as well as I knew Woolman.
Professor Wagner: I'm going to reorder some of these people we have left. We've got about six names left. Ah...Senator David Gambrell is a member of a prominent family serving the Senate a short time.
Senator Talmage: I knew David's father, and I have known him since he was a young lawyer around town. I held him in very high esteem. David was a good lawyer and made a fine Senator. Unfortunately, he didn't have the type personality that suits itself to politics, and...ah...if he'd had his wife's personality, with luck he'd still be in the Senate today.
Professor Wagner: How about Hamilton Jordan? He was...ah...Carter's right-hand man and wants to be a Senator now.
Senator Talmadge: I never knew Hamilton extremely well. I knew his granddaddy very well, and...ah...I've been around Hamilton a few times. What I know about him I...I hold in high esteem. I don't know what his chances are to get elected.
Professor Wagner: Do you think he'd make a good Senator if he did?
Senator Talmadge: I don't know.
Professor Wagner: How about Speaker Murphy, Tom Murphy?
Senator Talmadge: I've got a very high opinion of Tom Murphy. There are few people today that stand in their own shoe leather, and Tom Murphy is one who does. He's got guts, and he's got courage, and that's a rare commodity today.
Professor Wagner: Do you think he has been a good Speaker and served the state well?
Senator Talmadge: Yes, I think he has. In fact, he has been the most stable force in state government for 20 years.
Professor Wagner: He certainly has been a powerful Speaker.
Senator Talmadge: That's right.
Professor Wagner: How about Governor Harris who used to be considered Murphy's protegee?
Senator Talmadge: I've known Joe Frank Harris for over 20 years. I've held him in very high esteem. He's not a colorful fellow, but he's a good, solid, and in my judgement, conscientious man and is doing a good job.
Professor Wagner: Not exactly the most stimulating speaker in the world.
Senator Talmadge: We haven't had one since Carl Sanders that could make a speech.
Professor Wagner: That's probably true. Including Carter. (Senator Talmadge: That's right.) Well, lets close on Senator Nunn. You've known Senator Nunn a long time.
Senator Talmadge: I've known Sam and his family, I guess, since he was born. His daddy was a good friend of my fathers. The only time they ever differed was when he ran against Senator George, and...ah...Sam's father managed every campaign I ever had in Houston County as long as he lived. After Sam graduated from Emory Law School, he had a brief, short period of duty up there under his great uncle Carl Vinson's stewardship when he was Chairman of the Naval Affairs Committee. And Sam used to come by and visit with me knowing of the friendship of his daddy and I. And he asked my advice. He says, "Now, I can join a law firm in Atlanta or go back to Perry and practice law. Which do you think I ought to do?" And I says, "Sam, you'll make more money in Atlanta, but you won't enjoy life as much." I says, "Your daddy is the most prominent lawyer in his section of the state. He's not getting any younger. He's widely esteemed and beloved in that area. When he passes away, you'll inherit his law practice. You will make a good living. You can hunt and fish whenever you want to. You can go to the Georgia Legislature whenever you want to." I didn't tell him he'd be in the United States Senate in ten years, but that's what happened. I don't know whether my advice had anything to do with it or not, but he went back to Perry and did just that. Sam is a good student. He's a hard worker. He's making a good Senator. He's conscientious, and...ah...he's working in the role of Dick Russell. He's building up his seniority. He doesn't talk unless he knows what he's talking about. He doesn't try to scatter his attention to everything on the subject, be an expert in everything. He's trying to learn about defense, and he's doing a good job of it.
Professor Wagner: He's rumored, quite widely, as...ah...a candidate for President...ah...Vice President for a while, and then one commentator said, "Why Vice President when he's...there isn't anybody that's conspicuously more competent than Nunn is. Why not a candidate for President?" He and Rob of Virginia I know of southern politicians are rumored as a Democratic nominee. What do you think his...One, what do you think his chances are, and how do you think he'd do if he were elected.
Senator Talmadge: I think if he were elected, he'd make a good President. His chances are so unknown no one has any idea what the possibility is. When he announced for the Senate, his chances were zero. When Carter announced for President, his chances were zero and were the laughing stock of the state and the country. So, no one knows what can happen in the political arena.
Professor Wagner: Well, I want to thank you Senator. I don't think we've got any names left unless Mel has got one.
Professor Steely: I've got one last question before we close. Every body we've talked about you've held in high esteem and admired greatly. Is there anybody you ran across you didn't hold in high esteem and didn't really admire very much.
Senator Talmadge: The older I get the more tolerant I get in my views. (Laughter) I'll have to tell you. Ellis Arnall introduced me many years ago, after he had been Governor and I was in the Senate, and he's got a client that is Insurance Association. He invited me about ten years ago to address them and introduced me in glowing terms, you know, what a great Senator I was and all like that, and my response after I started to speak was the older Ellis got, the wiser he got. (Laughter)
Professor Steely: Can you think of anybody that we've missed that need to touch on here before we finish?
Senator Talmadge: Oh, we've missed thousands of them, but there is no beginning and no ending to the list.
Professor Steely: Okay. Alright, thank you very much, Senator.
Senator Talmadge: Thank you.