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Herman Talmadge

Herman Talmadge

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Herman Eugene Talmadge was an American politician
Politics of the United States
The United States is a federal constitutional republic, in which the President of the United States , Congress, and judiciary share powers reserved to the national government, and the federal government shares sovereignty with the state governments.The executive branch is headed by the President...

 from the U.S. state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 of Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

. He served as governor of Georgia briefly in 1947 and again from 1948 to 1955. His term was marked by his segregationist
Racial segregation
Racial segregation is the separation of humans into racial groups in daily life. It may apply to activities such as eating in a restaurant, drinking from a water fountain, using a public toilet, attending school, going to the movies, or in the rental or purchase of a home...

 policies. After leaving office Talmadge was elected to the U.S. Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

, serving from 1957 until 1981.

Talmadge was born in McRae, Georgia
McRae, Georgia
McRae is a town in Telfair County, Georgia, United States. Based on the 2000 census, the town has a total population of 2,682. Between 1990 and 2000, the town experienced a population decrease of 10.8%, compared to the state growth during this period of 26.4%. The town is the county seat of...

, the only son of Eugene Talmadge
Eugene Talmadge
Eugene Talmadge was a Democratic politician who served two terms as the 67th Governor of Georgia from 1933 to 1937, and a third term from 1941 to 1943. Elected to a fourth term in 1946, he died before taking office...

, who served as Governor of Georgia during much of the 1930s and '40s. He earned a law degree from the University of Georgia
University of Georgia
The University of Georgia is a public research university located in Athens, Georgia, United States. Founded in 1785, it is the oldest and largest of the state's institutions of higher learning and is one of multiple schools to claim the title of the oldest public university in the United States...

 in 1936, where he had been a member of the Demosthenian Literary Society
Demosthenian Literary Society
The Demosthenian Literary Society is a debating society at The University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia. It was founded in 1803 by the first graduating class of the University's Franklin College. The society was founded on February 19, 1803 and the anniversary is celebrated now with the Society's...

 and Sigma Nu
Sigma Nu
Sigma Nu is an undergraduate, college fraternity with chapters in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Sigma Nu was founded in 1869 by three cadets at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia...

Fraternities and sororities
Fraternities and sororities are fraternal social organizations for undergraduate students. In Latin, the term refers mainly to such organizations at colleges and universities in the United States, although it is also applied to analogous European groups also known as corporations...


The younger Talmadge saw combat in the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. On his return from the South Pacific as a lieutenant commander, Herman ran his father's successful campaign for governor in 1946. Supporters of Eugene Talmadge were unsure of Eugene's chances of surviving until he was sworn in, so they did some research into the state constitution and found that if Eugene died, the Georgia General Assembly
Georgia General Assembly
The Georgia General Assembly is the state legislature of the U.S. state of Georgia. It is bicameral, being composed of the Georgia House of Representatives and the Georgia Senate....

 would choose between the second and third place finishers. The elder Talmadge ran unopposed, so they arranged for write-in votes for Herman as insurance. In December 1946, the elder Talmadge died.

Supporters of the deceased Governor-elect, stopped a challenge from the Lieutenant Governor-elect, Melvin E. Thompson
Melvin E. Thompson
Melvin Ernest Thompson was an American educator and politician from Millen in the U.S. state of Georgia.Thompson was born in Millen, Georgia to Henry J. And Eva Thompson. He graduated from Emory University in 1926 and earned a Master of Arts from the University of Georgia in 1935. He also earned...

. Thompson claimed that he should be sworn-in as Governor, in Eugene Talmadge's place. The state legislature elected Herman Talmadge to become Governor. Thompson appealed to the State supreme court. Meanwhile, Governor Ellis Arnall
Ellis Arnall
Ellis Gibbs Arnall was an American politician, a progressive Democrat who served as the 69th Governor of the U.S. state of Georgia from 1943 to 1947.-Education:...

 refused to turn over power due to the uncertainty of whom the next Governor would be, so on January 15, 1947, both men sat in the Georgia State Capitol
Georgia State Capitol
The Georgia State Capitol, in Atlanta, Georgia, in the United States, is an architecturally and historically significant building. It has been named a National Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is the main office building of Georgia's government...

 claiming to be the Governor. The next day, Talmadge took control of the Governor's office and arranged to have the locks changed. Arnall soon relinquished his claim and supported Thompson's claim.

Soon afterwards, the Supreme Court of Georgia ruled that the legislature had violated the state Constitution
Georgia (U.S. state) Constitution
The Constitution of the State of Georgia is the governing document of the U.S. state of Georgia. The constitution outlines the three branches of government in Georgia. The legislative branch is embodied in the bicameral General Assembly. The executive branch is headed by the Governor. The judicial...

 by electing Talmadge governor and that Thompson was the legitimate Governor of Georgia. Talmadge soon gave in to the court decision and prepared for the special election in 1948, in which Talmadge defeated Governor Thompson. Talmadge was then elected to a full term in 1950. During his terms, Talmadge encouraged industry to move into Georgia while he was also a staunch supporter of racial segregation
Racial segregation
Racial segregation is the separation of humans into racial groups in daily life. It may apply to activities such as eating in a restaurant, drinking from a water fountain, using a public toilet, attending school, going to the movies, or in the rental or purchase of a home...


Talmadge was barred by law from seeking another full term as Governor in 1954. He was elected to the United States Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 in 1956. That same year, a "faithless elector
Faithless elector
In United States presidential elections, a faithless elector is a member of the Electoral College who does not vote for the candidate they have pledged to vote for...

" from Alabama
Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...

 cast a single Electoral College
United States Electoral College
The Electoral College consists of the electors appointed by each state who formally elect the President and Vice President of the United States. Since 1964, there have been 538 electors in each presidential election...

 vote for Talmadge as Vice President of the United States
Vice President of the United States
The Vice President of the United States is the holder of a public office created by the United States Constitution. The Vice President, together with the President of the United States, is indirectly elected by the people, through the Electoral College, to a four-year term...

. During his time as U.S. Senator, Talmadge remained a foe of civil rights
Civil rights
Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from unwarranted infringement by governments and private organizations, and ensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression.Civil rights include...

 legislation. After President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Civil Rights Act of 1964
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a landmark piece of legislation in the United States that outlawed major forms of discrimination against African Americans and women, including racial segregation...

, Talmadge (along with more than a dozen other southern Senators, including Richard Russell
Richard Russell, Jr.
Richard Brevard Russell, Jr. was a Democratic Party politician from the southeastern state of Georgia. He served as state governor from 1931 to 1933 and United States senator from 1933 to 1971....

 and Russell Long) boycott
A boycott is an act of voluntarily abstaining from using, buying, or dealing with a person, organization, or country as an expression of protest, usually for political reasons...

ed the 1964 Democratic National Convention
1964 Democratic National Convention
The 1964 Democratic National Convention was the 1964 presidential nominating convention of the Democratic Party. It took place at the Atlantic City Convention Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey from August 24 to 27, 1964. Incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson -- who had been Vice President under...

 in Atlantic City
Atlantic City, New Jersey
Atlantic City is a city in Atlantic County, New Jersey, United States, and a nationally renowned resort city for gambling, shopping and fine dining. The city also served as the inspiration for the American version of the board game Monopoly. Atlantic City is located on Absecon Island on the coast...

. With the help of Richard Russell, Talmadge was appointed to the Agriculture Committee during his first year in Washington and to the Senate Finance Committee shortly thereafter. Talmadge would eventually be named chairman of the senate Agriculture Committee. He sponsored bills to help farmer
A farmer is a person engaged in agriculture, who raises living organisms for food or raw materials, generally including livestock husbandry and growing crops, such as produce and grain...

s, an important constituency, and served on the Senate Watergate Committee
United States Senate Watergate Committee
The Senate Watergate Committee was a special committee convened by the United States Senate to investigate the Watergate burglaries and the ensuing Watergate scandal after it was learned that the Watergate burglars had been directed to break into and wiretap the headquarters of the Democratic...


On October 11, 1979, Talmadge was "denounced" by an 81-15 vote of the Senate for "improper financial conduct" between 1973 and 1978, after accepting reimbursements of $43,435.83 for official expenses not incurred, and for improper reporting of such as campaign expenditures.

Talmadge also went through a divorce
Divorce is the final termination of a marital union, canceling the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and dissolving the bonds of matrimony between the parties...

 from his wife and a tough primary
Primary election
A primary election is an election in which party members or voters select candidates for a subsequent election. Primary elections are one means by which a political party nominates candidates for the next general election....

 challenge from Zell Miller
Zell Miller
Zell Bryan Miller is an American politician from the US state of Georgia. A Democrat, Miller served as Lieutenant Governor from 1975 to 1991, 79th Governor of Georgia from 1991 to 1999, and as United States Senator from 2000 to 2005....

 in 1980. Talmadge defeated Miller but lost to Mack Mattingly
Mack Mattingly
Mack Francis Mattingly served one term as a United States senator from Georgia, the first Republican to serve in the U.S. Senate from that state since Reconstruction.-Early life:...

 in the general election, making Mattingly the first Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 to represent Georgia in the Senate since Reconstruction.

After his defeat, Talmadge retired to his home where he died at age 88. Talmadge fathered two sons, Herman E. Talmadge Jr. and Robert Shingler Talmadge.

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