Title: Oral History Interview with Herman Talmadge, July 15 and 24, 1975. Interview A-0331-1.
Interviewer: Nelson, Jack
Interviewee: Talmadge, Herman
Subjects: Long, Huey Pierce, 1893-1935 Georgia--Politics and government Georgia--Race relations Press and politics--Georgia
Abstract: This is the first interview in a three-part series with Herman Talmadge, who served as governor of Georgia from 1948 to 1955 before going to the United States Senate from 1957 until 1981. The son of Governor Eugene Talmadge, Herman Talmadge discusses his early career in politics and his perception of southern politics during the mid-twentieth century. Talmadge begins the interview by reflecting on his first awareness of political issues when he helped to campaign for his father during the mid-1920s. In discussing his father's political career (Eugene Talmadge first served as the Commissioner of Agriculture in Georgia before serving as governor from 1933 to 1937 and again from 1941 to 1943), Talmadge places his father within the changing social and political landscape of Georgia. Following his father's unexpected death in December 1946 just after his reelection to the governorship that same year, the younger Talmadge was elected by the legislature to fill his father's seat. His election, however, was highly contested and soon became a notorious scandal dubbed "the three governors controversy" (referred to here by Talmadge as the "two governors row"). Although he firmly believed that he had been rightfully placed in office by the General Assembly, Talmadge was forced out of office by a Georgia Supreme Court ruling before returning in 1948, after being elected in his own right. In discussing that initial gubernatorial campaign, as well as his subsequent campaigns, Talmadge emphasizes the importance of his father's legacy in his own political career, the growing importance of race in southern politics, his thoughts on his political rivals and colleagues, and his relationship with the press. Talmadge also discusses his decision to run for the United States Senate and his growing prominence in national politics during the 1960s and 1970s.