Eugene Talmadge ran for Georgia governor five times. He won four. He served three and was, to put it mildly, quite a character.
Born near Forsyth in 1884, he was known as the farmer’s champion. “I can carry any county,” he boasted, “that ain’t got street cars.”
Talmadge fired elected officials who resisted his authority. Others were thrown out of their offices. Literally. He ordered the board of regents to fire two University of Georgia professors who supported integration and Georgia’s colleges lost accreditation. While critics called Talmadge a dictator, he insisted that he did it all for the common man, telling farmers: “Sure I stole, but I stole for you!”
The fierce segregationist hated President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, in part because it helped black Americans. When he died in 1946 after being elected to his fourth term, Time magazine said that few men had appealed so successfully to ignorance and bigotry.
The wild man from Sugar Creek was inaugurated for his first term as governor on January 10, 1933, Today in Georgia History.
Today in Georgia History is a joint collaboration of the Georgia Historical Society & Georgia Public Broadcasting.