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University of Arkansas Press
Promises Kept: A Memoir

Promises Kept: A Memoir

by MCMATH SIDNEY S., Sidney S. Mcmath


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Promises Kept: A Memoir

Winner of the 2006 Booker Worthen Literary Prize and the 2004 Ragsdale Award.

Sidney Sanders McMath was a pivotal figure not only in Arkansas history but in the history of the Democratic Party and of American law. Still vibrant and engaged in his nineties, he sets out his story in full for the first time: how he rose and fell in public office, and rose again as a lawyer seeking justice for ordinary people.

McMath divides his story into four parts. In the first, he describes how his early life in rural Arkansas sparked his commitment to people. The second section describes his service to democracy in the military, including his commission in the U.S. Marines, a battlefield promotion in the Pacific and other honors, and his subsequent advancement to the rank of major general.

The revealing third section details McMath’s extraordinary life in politics, starting with his explosive debut in 1945, when he and other recent veterans dethroned one of Arkansas’s most powerful and corrupt political machines. Later, as a two-term governor, he fulfilled this promise of reform and modernization: he brought the first roads and electricity to rural areas, fought the poll tax, and built the state’s first medical center. He also helped change the party’s rules so that black citizens could vote in primaries. McMath describes how he worked with President Truman to keep the segregationist Dixiecrats from taking over the Democratic Party—and the presidency.

But here his story takes a dramatic turn: political opponents alleged bribery in his highway program, and although no indictments were handed down, McMath’s political career ended. Arguing his case for the first time in fifty years, he sets the facts straight.

McMath turned to the practice of law to fight for the people he had represented as governor. In the concluding section of the book he describes some of his most important cases, examples of how he put his life’s experience, knowledge, and integrity in the service of those who had few resources. These stories show exactly why he has been honored with membership in such exclusive groups as the Inner Circle of Advocates as well as the presidency of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers.

Promises Kept shows us the excitement and the hard choices of real democracy, offering compelling human stories, new information on past conflicts, and the crucial perspective of a man at the center of history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781557287540
Publisher: University of Arkansas Press
Publication date: 11/28/2003
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 474
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.60(d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsix
Part 1.Roots
I.The Old McMath Homeplace3
II.John Ray Sanders9
III.Papa Rudd15
IV.The Confederacy and Reconstruction21
V."Mother Mae"25
VI."Old Judd"29
VIII.The Jack Parham Place37
IX."Uncle Spooks"39
XI.Foreman and Taylor47
XII.Home Again51
Part 2.Duty Calls
I.Hot Springs63
II.Elaine Broughton75
III."The Old Breed"81
IV.My Hometown87
V.The Pull of the Corps91
VI.American Samoa99
VII.In the Mood107
VIII.New Zealand109
IX.Guadalcanal--The Solomon Islands113
XI.Coconut Grove155
XII.Anne Phillips159
Part 3.Politics and After
I.The GI Revolt167
II.Prosecuting Attorney181
III.My Race for Governor of Arkansas191
IV.The Governor's Mansion213
V.My First Term225
VI.My Second Term245
VII.Power Versus the People267
VIII.A Race for the Senate295
IX.Little Rock Central High School, 1957301
XI.A People's Law Firm319
XII.Betty Dortch Russell325
Part 4.Conclusion331
"A Nation's Prayer"337
AppendixesCases That Made a Difference
I.Get the Facts341
II.Let the Jury Decide349
III.Sauce for the Goose357
IV.A Subsequent Shock Shows How: Admissibility363
V.Guns Don't Kill: Fleeing Fugitives Do369
VI.Advertisements That Prey: Negligent Inducement373
VII.Justice Weeps: A Petition for Redress383
VIII.A Scream in the Night389
IX.Death Takes a Holiday397
X.Poisoning a Neighbor's Well403
XI.Willful, Wanton, Reckless Disregard for Safety--A Policy Decision415
XII.Insult and Outrage--Defamation--Projecting an Innocent Person in a False Light423
XIII.Gee, Dad, That's a Lot of Tomatoes431
XIV.The Wrong Road Taken449
XV.Seek Justice, Plead for the Widow, Champion the Fatherless, Relieve the Oppressed--And Put the Money in Trust459

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