Title: Oral History Interview with James E. Holshouser Jr., June 4, 1998. Interview C-0328-4.
Interviewer: Fleer, Jack
Interviewee: Holshouser, James E.
Abstract: Elected to the governorship of North Carolina in 1972, James E. Holshouser Jr. was the first Republican chief executive of that state since 1896. In this interview, the fourth in a series of four interviews with the former governor, Holshouser looks back on his political career, answers some broad questions about his impressions of his administration's successes and failures, and the operation of state government. Holshouser seems most proud of the "little things" he accomplished, including preventing the damming of the New River—which flows near his hometown in western North Carolina—and the creation of an ombudsman's office. He also reflects, however, on his efforts to build a two-party system in the state—a job that in essence required shoring up the Republican Party, since the Democratic Party had enjoyed decades of dominance. While Holshouser and others managed to make the Republican Party a force in North Carolina even as it struggled through the Watergate scandal of the early 1970s, its new strength brought new complications, such as the rise of the religious right and the libertarian wing of the party. Holshouser believes in the Republican Party, but ends this interview wondering about these factions and what they signify for the party's future.