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Oral History Interview with James Folsom, December 28, 1974. Interview A-0319. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    James Folsom served as the governor of Alabama for two terms in the 1940s, during which time he worked to change racial politics and improve the plight of black Americans. The interview begins with a review of his personal background and family history, including how his grandfather participated in politics and opposed secession. Folsom explains how he received an education by visiting the courthouse with his father and by working as a merchant seaman. He also worked for the Works Progress Administration during the Depression before campaigning twice for Congress and joining the race for governor in 1942. As governor, he opposed the poll tax, appealed for reapportionment of state funding, and avoided campaign slogans and gimmicks based on racist rhetoric. Instead, he used political folk-style music in campaigning. Folsom voted for Henry Wallace at the Democratic National Convention in 1948 and later supported Harry Truman. He describes how he developed liberal ideas on race and why he believed that race was no longer a viable political issue in the South. Because of his stand on such issues as reapportionment, the state legislature opposed him while he was governor, as did many Alabama newspapers. The interview ends with his reasons for supporting McGovern in the 1972 election and his views on the current political scene.
  • Family history and ancestral migration from New England to the American South
  • Campaign tactics in the gubernatorial race and goals as governor
  • Family history of racially progressive views
  • Views on majority rule, separation of powers, and national political trends
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • Subjects
  • Alabama--Politics and government
  • Alabama--Race relations
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.