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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Terry Sanford, May 14, 1976. Interview A-0328-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

UNC School of Law developed North Carolina leaders

The University of North Carolina School of Law had long served as a social and political network for politicians. Because UNC served as a breeding ground of state leadership, political power was concentrated in Chapel Hill. However, as other state colleges increased their student body, political power was diffused throughout the state.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Terry Sanford, May 14, 1976. Interview A-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

Right, right. The classmates you had in Chapel Hill in law school, did you find that you ran into them very often in political circles later on?
Oh yes. Oh, there's no question that it was the foundation of whatever I did politically. Now, it's also true that I could never have won with that alone. And I greatly broadened the reach through my association with Kerr Scott; with my American Legion; Junior Chamber of Commerce; with getting to know people like Bill Staton, who was a Wake Forest graduate, and with him drawing his circle of friends; Bert Bennett, who was my campaign manager was not a classmate but he was a class or two behind me at Chapel Hill—that's where I knew him.
Even in terms of opposition, I mean, even in terms of just the whole make-up of state politics, it seems that at that point, the influence of Chapel Hill was quite great. People coming through there . . .
It was dominant because most of the leadership had come through Chapel Hill. Therefore, it perpetuated itself. But as more and more people went to school and more and more colleges developed, there was more scattered influence. The second most influential college group at that time was Wake Forest, probably because of the law school. Other institutions really didn't figure very much in terms of any body of leadership. Trinity, Duke's graduates mostly scattered to numerous states, came from numerous states, went to numerous states, and there never was, what I suppose would have been called, a critical mass of Duke people in any one community. We are correcting that now. We are asserting ourselves around the state. But at that time, it was simply not of any particular advantage to have been to Duke, politically. You might have had a good education, probably did, probably had a better one than you had elsewhere. Well, not politically. When I ran for the president of the Young Democrats, which is the first thing that I ran for, I began to put together people in the various counties because this was after the war and there wasn't much of an organization. So, how do you get a Young Democratic club organized, and then how do you get them to let turned out to where the convention was to vote. We just ranged across, for the most part, the people we'd known at Chapel Hill, and Bill Johnson down at Harnett, and Bruce Elmore up in the west. I say, by that time with the American Legion, Bill Staton, who was a Wake Forest man, became one of my early associates. Consequently, we were reaching into the Wake Forest people too.