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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with James E. Holshouser Jr., January 31, 1998. Interview C-0328-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Benefitting from his father's good name

A young, naive lawyer, Holshouser thought that if he won a seat in the state legislature, he could help it move forward with restructuring North Carolina's court system. He benefitted from the good name his father had built for himself in their community.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with James E. Holshouser Jr., January 31, 1998. Interview C-0328-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

Well let's talk some about your more obvious political activity. Let's talk a little about that legislative experience that you had. First of all you mentioned earlier that you decided in consultations with your father to consider running for the legislature. Why did that occur? Why did you have that thought?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER, JR.:
I think it was strictly because I thought that court reform issue was going to pass at the referendum. The legislature had approved it in 1961 and it was going to be voted on in 1962. I was confident that it was going to pass and the 1963 legislature would start to implement it. And the legislator we had from our county then was a mixture. He was a lay preacher, a stone mason, a farmer, did several things. But there wasn't anything that I could see that said he was going to be a lot of help to the legislature and work in court reform. And it was because I was young and naive a little bit. I didn't think about how outlandish it might have seemed to some people that, you know, a year and a half out of law school you are filing for the legislature, given the fact that I had never been involved. Now you find people today who are running for local offices while they are still in college. And times have changed in that regard. So this is a different kind of time.
JACK FLEER:
But you saw yourself as being interested in a particular issue, the court reform issue, knowing once again that this would affect your career. Whatever happened on court reform would affect your career and sort of in a sense that was your kind of meaning. I don't mean to be putting words in your mouth. Is that a fair statement that that was your motivation?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER, JR.:
Yes and you know I probably didn't look of it at the time because I wasn't thinking about a political career. But if you think about odds, meaning the odds of my having a political career, coming out of a county of less than 25000 people, out of the mountains, Republican at that, and that just wasn't a background from which people got into political power positions.
JACK FLEER:
Now, what made you think once you decided that you were involved in that important issue of court reform that you could in fact win that election or did you?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER, JR.:
Well I didn't know. That is what my dad and I talked about and the party chairman Clyde Green, our guy in the hardware store, had been an active politician for a long time. He had been involved in the agricultural stabilization work under the Eisenhower administration. He had been a political appointee to it. A paying job so to speak. My dad told me to go and talk to him and see what he thought.
JACK FLEER:
He was the Watauga County Party Chair for the Republican Party?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER, JR.:
That is right. He didn't get publicly involved in that primary but I think he contacted some people and asked them to help me because a lot of people that I didn't even know welcomed me with open arms. I have to say that we talked about family and our role in the community. I think I got a lot of benefit over being my father's son and having the same last name.