Documenting the American South Logo
Collections >> Oral Histories of the American South >> Document Menu
Oral History Interview with James E. Holshouser Jr., May 9, 1998. Interview C-0328-3. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
Audio with Transcript
  • Listen Online with Text Transcript (Requires QuickTime and JavaScript)
  • Transcript Only (36 p.)
  • HTML file
  • XML/TEI source file
  • Download Complete Audio File (MP3 format / ca. 172 MB, 01:34:02)
  • MP3
  • Abstract
    In 1972, James E. Holshouser Jr. became the first Republican elected governor of North Carolina since 1896. In his four-year term, Holshouser faced the unique challenge of reintroducing the Republican Party to a leadership position in Raleigh. In this interview, he describes that challenge, reflects on his term, and considers some of the changes that took place between his departure from the governor's mansion and the time of this 1998 interview. The most significant challenge Holshouser addresses is the personal strain of a job that demanded constant attention. He remembers disappointments such as his failed effort to shepherd Gerald Ford to the Republican nomination in 1980, and a deteriorating relationship with the media. After he left office in 1977, he observed as the influence of money grew, often disbursed by political action committees pushing an increasing number of different interests; he saw the Republican Party grow in complexity as ideological divisions replaced regional ones; and he watched the decline of the citizen-politician, as politics became a profession rather than a calling. Holshouser also considers his legacy, including his contributions to transportation, health, and the environment. As he reflects on these changes and challenges, Holshouser reveals himself as a consensus-builder and something of a pragmatist, a politician suspicious of ideology and in favor of a robust two-party system. This interview will be useful for students of North Carolina politics and those interested in one of the state's few Republican governors of the modern era.
  • Reflecting on the disappointments of his term
  • Personal pressures of the governorship
  • Personal pressures of the governorship
  • Personal pressures of the governorship
  • The pros and cons of putting the first lady on the state payroll
  • Reflecting on some of the tough times in his governorship
  • Access and power as governor
  • Changes in the GOP since the 1970s
  • Professionalizing political parties
  • A second term for North Carolina's governor diminishes lame-duck status
  • The negative impact of political action committees
  • Supporting a robust two-party system
  • Leadership strategies as governor
  • Holshouser weighs his legacy
  • Limited political corruption in North Carolina
  • Reflecting on his contribution to shoring up the university system in North Carolina
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • 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.