Talmadge, Eugene

Talmadge, Eugene, 1884–1946, governor of Georgia (1933–37, 1941–43), b. Forsyth, Ga. In his second term as governor (1935–37) of Georgia, his staff was forbidden by Harry Hopkins to disburse federal relief funds, and Talmadge became violently opposed to the New Deal. Twice defeated (1936, 1938) for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate, he became governor again in 1940. His dismissal (1941) of several educators in the state university system who had advocated racial equality in the schools aroused much resentment, and in 1942 he lost the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. Talmadge, however, had strong support among the rural counties and became governor-elect again in 1946. He died before taking office.

His son, Herman Eugene Talmadge, 1913–2002, b. McRae, Ga., practiced law for a time with his father. He won a special election for governor in 1948 and was reelected in 1950. After the 1954 Supreme Court decision on school desegration, he was a staunch opponent of integration. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1956 and was reelected three times. He was one of the members of the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, which investigated (1973–74) the Watergate affair. In 1979 he was censured for mishandling both his office and campaign finances. Although the Justice Department (1980) chose not to prosecute him, he lost his 1980 bid for a fifth term.

See W. Anderson, The Wild Man from Sugar Creek (1975).

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