Who Runs Georgia?


Nearly one hundred thousand newly enfranchised blacks voted against race-baiting Eugene Talmadge in Georgia's 1946 Democratic primary. His opponent won the popular vote by a majority of sixteen thousand. Talmadge was elected anyway, thanks to the malapportioning county unit system, but died before he could be inaugurated, whereupon the General Assembly chose his son Herman to take his place. For the next sixty-three days, Georgia waited in shock for the state supreme court to decide whether Herman or the ...
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Nearly one hundred thousand newly enfranchised blacks voted against race-baiting Eugene Talmadge in Georgia's 1946 Democratic primary. His opponent won the popular vote by a majority of sixteen thousand. Talmadge was elected anyway, thanks to the malapportioning county unit system, but died before he could be inaugurated, whereupon the General Assembly chose his son Herman to take his place. For the next sixty-three days, Georgia waited in shock for the state supreme court to decide whether Herman or the lieutenant governor-elect would be seated.

What had happened to so suddenly reverse four years of progressive reform under retiring governor Ellis Arnall? To find out, Calvin Kytle and James A. Mackay sat through the tumultuous 1947 assembly, then toured Georgia's 159 counties asking politicians, public officials, editors, businessmen, farmers, factory workers, civic leaders, lobbyists, academicians, and preachers the question "Who runs Georgia?" Among those interviewed were editor Ralph McGill, novelist Lillian Smith, defeated gubernatorial candidate James V. Carmichael, powerbroker Roy Harris, pollwatcher Ira Butt, and more than a hundred others--men and women, black and white, heroes and rogues--of all stripes and stations.

The result, as Dan T. Carter says in his foreword, captures "the substance and texture of political life in the American South" during an era that historians have heretofore neglected--those years of tension between the end of the New Deal and the explosive start of the civil rights movement. What's more, Who Runs Georgia? has much to tell us about campaign finance and the political influence of Big Money, as relevant for the nation today as it was then for the state.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A new Georgia was about to be born. This is a most interesting account of the pangs of its birth."--The Honorable Zell Miller

"A very useful and illustrative book, both in terms of what it reveals about political conditions in Georgia in the wake of World War II and of the perspective of southern liberal thought in that era.”--James C. Cobb, author of The Most Southern Place on Earth

"After reading this book, who could ever forget the voices of this colorful cast of scoundrels, cynics, and occasional heroes? . . . Anyone interested in the early stages of the civil rights movement—and in the ambivalent white response—will find Who Runs Georgia? essential reading."--Dan T. Carter, from the foreword

"This book reveals a great deal about the nature of southern liberalism in the 1940s. It is interesting and well written."--Numan V. Bartley, author of The Creation of Modern Georgia

Library Journal
In 1947 the authors, then young veterans of World War II, were commissioned by a committee of Georgia liberals and political reformers to travel about the state interviewing politicians, lobbyists, newspaper publishers, and civic leaders in each of Georgia's 159 counties. They were to gather information relevant to the location and exercise of political power in Georgia. This volume consists of the authors' relatively brief report (approximately 85 pages) to their sponsoring committee and summarizes 64 of the dozens of interviews they conducted. The book provides a period snapshot of Georgia politics when a "county unit system" assured rural political dominance and when crude race baiting by politicians of the Talmadge political faction was common. State politics would soon be transformed by federal court reapportionment decisions, urbanization, and the Civil Rights movement. For academic collections on Southern politics and history and for public libraries with patrons interested in the same subject.--Thomas H. Ferrell, Univ. of Southwestern Louisiana, Lafayette
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780820320755
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/1998
  • Pages: 328

Meet the Author

Calvin Kytle is a writer and former editor and publisher whose work has appeared in Harper's, the New York Times Book Review, and Saturday Review. He lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. James A. Mackay served six terms in the Georgia legislature and one term in the U.S. Congress. Retired from his law practice, he lives in Rising Fawn, Georgia.
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Table of Contents

Authors' Preface
Pt. 1 The Way It Is
The Men in the Wings 6
The County Unit System and Whom It Serves 9
You Pay the Bills, You Can Call the Tune 13
Winning Votes Is for Politicians 15
Corporate Members of the Cast 20
The General Disassembly 24
Of Bribes and Barter 30
Me a Lobbyist? 36
Georgia at the Grass Roots 48
But We Don't Play Partisan Politics 54
The White Primary and the "Nigger Bloc" 58
A Sales Tax? Who Cares? 62
Who Loves a Labor Union? 64
What's for Me? 68
Race and the Right to Vote 69
The Vote Shall Be by Ballot 78
Pt. 2 The Interviews
William T. Dean, President Pro Tem of the State Senate 91
Lon Sullivan, Director, Georgia Citizens Council 94
Eugene Cook, Attorney General, Former Commissioner of Internal Revenue 96
Ralph McGill, Editor, Atlanta Constitution 98
Malcolm Bryan, Vice Chairman of the Board, Trust Company of Georgia 101
Roy Emmet, Editor, Cedartown Standard 105
Ben Cooper, Editor, Rome News Tribune 108
J. Roy McGinty, Editor, Calhoun Times 110
W. A. Britton, State Representative, Whitfield County 114
Paul and Warren Akin, Lawyers, Bartow County 117
Dick Kenyon, State Representative, Hall County, and His Law Partner, Bill Gunter 118
J. G. B. Logan, State Senator, Banks County 122
George Ramsey, State Representative, Stephens County 123
Lillian Smith, Author; Paula Snelling, Teacher; and Frank Smith, Rabun County Ordinary 125
Fred Derrick, Chairman, Rabun County Democratic Executive Committee 130
G. H. Moore, State Representative, Lumpkin County 132
Henry Grady Vandivere, Solicitor, Cherokee Circuit 134
Ira Butt, Editor, North Georgia News, Blairsville 136
Mrs. Henry Nevins, Secretary, State Senate 138
Tom Herndon, Former Director, Carroll County Service Council 140
M. E. Groover, State Representative, Troup County 143
O. W. Coffee, Editor, Chattahoochee Valley Times and West Point News 144
Tom Morgan, State Representative, Troup County 146
J. B. Hardy, Editor, Thomaston Times 151
John J. Flynt, State Representative, Spalding County 152
Blanton Fortson, Judge; President, Southern Mutual Life Insurance Company; Candidate for Governor 154
B. O. Williams, Head, Department of Sociology, University of Georgia, Athens 157
Mell Williams, Head, CIO Local, Textile Workers Union of America, Greensboro 159
Miles Walker Lewis, State Representative, Greene County 160
John Bell Towill and Henry Eve, State Representatives, Richmond County 163
Berry Fleming, Novelist; Leader, Augusta Independent League 168
Robert Knox, State Senator, Twenty-ninth District 169
William Morris, Editor, Augusta Chronicle; State Representative, Richmond County; Chairman, State Democratic Executive Committee 171
C. E. Irvin, Business Manager, Paine College 172
Dr. J. M. Kittrell, Optometrist; Chairman, Laurens County Board of Registrars 175
Herschel Lovett, State Representative, Laurens County 182
Lewis Wilson, Mayor-elect, Macon; State Representative, Bibb County 186
Harry Lynwood Wingate, President, Georgia Farm Bureau 189
Grover Byars, Member, Pardon and Parole Board; Chairman, Floyd County Democratic Executive Committee 192
Everett Millican, State Senator, Fifty-second District 193
Joe Rabun, Pastor, McRae Baptist Church 195
George L. Smith II, State Representative, Emanuel County; Speaker Pro Tem of the House 203
Walter Harrison, State Representative, Jenkins County; Mayor Millen 206
Norman Chalker, Editor, Sylvania Telephone 210
Leodel Coleman, Jim Coleman, Worth MacDougald, Statesboro Herald 211
R. W. Gadsden, Educator, Savannah 213
Malberry Smith, State Representative, Chatham County 216
Captain Frank Spencer, Master Pilot, Savannah Bar Pilots Association 219
John J. Sullivan, Alderman, CPL Leader, Savannah 220
Charles Gowen, State Representative, Glynn County 222
Bernard Nightingale, State Representative, Glynn County 225
Jack R. Williams, State Representative, Ware County; Editor, Waycross Journal-Herald 226
Lawson Neel, State Representative, Thomas County 228
Mr. and Mrs. Tom Cottingham, Civic Leaders, Coffee County 230
Clyde Cooper, President, Pelham National Bank 231
Fred Hand, Speaker of the House 234
Delacey Allen, State Commander, American Legion; Lawyer; Politician 238
Henry McIntosh, Editor Emeritus, Albany Herald 240
Robert Elliott, State Representative, Muscogee County 242
The Reverend Mac Anthony, Pastor, First Methodist Church, Columbus 245
Parson Jack Johnston, Pastor, Baptist Tabernacle, Columbus; Editor, Trumpet 246
Theodore J. McGee, Member, Muscogee County Democratic Executive Committee 254
James V. Carmichael, Chief Executive Officer, Scripto Manufacturing Company; Candidate for Governor, 1946 255
Roy Harris, Former Speaker of the House 259
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