Ernest Vandiver

Last updated

Vandiver on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I got a call from then-Senator John Kennedy. This was during the campaign. He said, “A judge down in Georgia has incarcerated Martin Luther King. Is there anything that you can do to help get him out? Because it will be helpful to my career.” You may or may not know that Daddy King was supporting Nixon at that time. . . . So I called my brother-in-law and a close friend of mine who had been secretary of state when I was lieutenant governor. His name was George Stewart. George Stewart went out and talked with Judge Mitchell. Judge Mitchell agreed, and I do not know what George told the man. He might have told him that he would get him appointed federal judge or something. Anyway, he agreed that if either Senator Kennedy or Bobby Kennedy would call him personally and ask him to release Dr. King, that he would release him. I called Bobby Kennedy and relayed the message that George Stewart had brought back to me. Bobby Kennedy called Judge Mitchell, and Martin Luther King was released from jail.

Ernest Vandiver, Saving The Soul of Georgia : Donald L. Hollowell and the Struggle For Civil Rights

Vandiver changed from his "No, not one" stance on segregation. Those urging him to change included Ivan Allen Jr. (later mayor of Atlanta), banker Mills B. Lane, Coca-Cola President Robert Woodruff, Griffin Bell (later a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and the United States Attorney General under U.S. President Jimmy Carter), and many others. [6]

Following the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Vandiver said, "All the world is shocked and grieved at the death of our President. I am certain that all Georgians join together in sending our condolences to the grieved family." [7]

Under Vandiver's administration, a United States District Court ordered the admission of two African-American students, Hamilton E. Holmes and Charlayne Hunter, to the University of Georgia. Despite his past support for segregation, Governor Vandiver did not resist the court order, [8] sparing the University of Georgia the national publicity associated with the opposition stands taken in 1962 by Governor Ross Barnett at the University of Mississippi and in 1963 by Governor George C. Wallace at the University of Alabama. After the desegregation of the University of Georgia, [9] Vandiver successfully urged the Georgia General Assembly to repeal a recently passed law barring state funding to integrated schools. [10] He also appointed banker John A. Sibley to head a state commission designed to prepare for the court-ordered school desegregation. [1]

He pledged to maintain the County Unit System, a type of electoral college that had been employed to elect Georgia governors, [11] but it was struck down by a decision of the United States Supreme Court as unconstitutional. He then ordered the Democratic State Central Committee to conduct the 1962 primary by popular vote. [1]

Vandiver's efficiency in running state government permitted a building program and the expansion of state services without tax increases. The state expanded its ports, encouraged tourism, promoted business and industry, expanded vocational-technical education, and authorized programs for the mentally ill. [1]

Later career

In 1966, Vandiver was initially a candidate for governor and had been expected to compete with another former governor, Ellis Arnall. However, Vandiver withdrew for health reasons. [12] When the Democratic nomination went not to Arnall but to the Atlanta businessman Lester Maddox, a strong segregationist, the Democrat Vandiver endorsed in the general election the Republican nominee, U.S. Representative Howard "Bo" Callaway, then of Pine Mountain. Maddox was ultimately elected by the Georgia legislature after election returns failed to produce a winner by majority vote. [13]

Had Vandiver's health permitted him to run for governor in 1966, Callaway would have instead sought reelection to the U.S. House. When Vandiver looked like a potential Democratic nominee, Callaway asked William R. Bowdoin Sr. (1913–1996), an Atlanta banker and civic figure who had chaired a commission on state government reorganization, to run as a Republican gubernatorial candidate. Oddly, Carl Sanders, the term-limited governor, asked Bowdoin to run that year as a Democrat. [14]

In 1972, at the age of fifty-four, Vandiver ran for the United States Senate for a full term to replace his wife's uncle, veteran Senator Richard Russell Jr., who had died in office in 1971. Vandiver finished third behind Sam Nunn and appointed Senator David H. Gambrell in the Democratic primary election. Nunn defeated the Republican Fletcher Thompson, an Atlanta-area U.S. representative even as Richard M. Nixon was sweeping Georgia in the presidential election against the Democrat George S. McGovern.

In his final years, he would express regret at his earlier segregationist positions. "I said a lot of intemperate things back then that I now have to live with," he said in 2002. "All I can say now is that you are of your time." [2]

Marriage and the Russell family

Vandiver was married to Betty Russell, a niece of Senator Russell, who had also served earlier as governor. Russell was popular and powerful in Georgia and helped to promote his nephew-in-law's career.

Vandiver was a son in law of Judge Robert Lee Russell and grandson-in-law of Judge Richard Russell Sr. For information, see Russell family.

Death

Ernest Vandiver died on February 21, 2005, at the age of eighty-six at his home in Lavonia, Georgia. In addition to his wife, he was survived by three children: Samuel Ernest "Chip" Vandiver, III; Vanna Elizabeth (named for her paternal grandmother and mother) Vandiver; and Jane Brevard Vandiver, who as Jane V. Kidd was elected as a member of the Georgia House of Representatives from Athens and in 2007 as the chairman of the Georgia Democratic Party. [1]

Memorials

The stretch of I-85 through Franklin County, Georgia, is named "Ernest Vandiver Highway" in his memory. Vandiver had worked to make sure the highway traversed Franklin County, instead of proceeding further north as originally planned.

On September 26, 2008, the University of Georgia dedicated a residence hall in the East Campus Village to Vandiver.

Related Research Articles

1960 United States presidential election 44th quadrennial U.S. presidential election

The 1960 United States presidential election was the 44th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on Tuesday, November 8, 1960. In a closely contested election, Democratic United States Senator John F. Kennedy defeated the incumbent Vice President Richard Nixon, the Republican Party nominee. This was the first election in which fifty states participated, and the last in which the District of Columbia did not, marking the first participation of Alaska and Hawaii. This made it the only presidential election where the threshold for victory was 269 electoral votes. It was also the first election in which an incumbent president was ineligible to run for a third term because of the term limits established by the 22nd Amendment.

Lester Maddox American politician from Georgia (1915–2003)

Lester Garfield Maddox Sr. was an American politician who served as the 75th governor of the U.S. state of Georgia from 1967 to 1971. A populist Democrat, Maddox came to prominence as a staunch segregationist when he refused to serve black customers in his Atlanta restaurant, the Pickrick, in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He later served as Georgia lieutenant governor under Jimmy Carter.

Richard Russell Jr. 66th Governor of Georgia (1931–1933), U.S. Senator from Georgia (1933–1971)

Richard Brevard Russell Jr. was an American politician. A member of the Democratic Party, he served as the 66th Governor of Georgia from 1931 to 1933 before serving in the United States Senate for almost 40 years, from 1933 to 1971. Russell was a founder and leader of the conservative coalition that dominated Congress from 1937 to 1963, and at his death was the most senior member of the Senate. He was for decades a leader of Southern opposition to the civil rights movement.

Griffin Bell American judge

Griffin Boyette Bell was the 72nd Attorney General of the United States, having served under President Jimmy Carter. Previously, he was a U.S. Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Herman Talmadge American politician (1913–2002)

Herman Eugene Talmadge was an American politician who served as governor of Georgia for a short period in 1947 and then again from 1948 until 1955 then as U.S. Senator from Georgia from 1957 to 1981. Talmadge, a Democrat, was governor at a time of political transition in the state, and he served in the Senate during a time of great political change in the nation as well. Talmadge began his career as a staunch segregationist and was known for his opposition to civil rights, ordering schools to be closed rather than desegregated. However, by the later stages of his career Talmadge had modified his earlier views and his life eventually encapsulated the emergence of his native Georgia from entrenched white supremacy into a political culture where white voters regularly elect black Congressmen.

Eugene Talmadge American politician (1884–1946)

Eugene Talmadge was an attorney and American politician who served three terms as the 67th governor of Georgia, from 1933 to 1937, and then again from 1941 to 1943. Elected to a fourth term in November 1946, he died before his inauguration, scheduled for January 1947. Only Talmadge and Joe Brown, in the mid-19th century, have been elected four times as governor of Georgia.

Ellis Arnall American politician, Governor of Georgia (1907–1992)

Ellis Gibbs Arnall was an American politician who served as the 69th Governor of Georgia from 1943 to 1947. A liberal Democrat, he helped lead efforts to abolish the poll tax and to reduce Georgia's voting age to 18. Following his departure from office, he became a highly successful attorney and businessman.

Bo Callaway American politician and businessman (1927–2014)

Howard Hollis "Bo" Callaway Sr. was an American politician and businessman from the U.S. state of Georgia. Initially a Democrat and a supporter of racial segregation, in 1964 he was the first Republican elected to Congress in Georgia since Reconstruction in the 1800s. In 1966, he narrowly lost a contested election for governor. He later served as Secretary of the Army, appointed by Richard Nixon. He worked with his family to develop what is now Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia and owned Crested Butte ski resort in Colorado.

Carl Sanders American attorney and politician (1925–2014)

Carl Edward Sanders Sr. was an American attorney and politician who served as the 74th Governor of the state of Georgia from 1963 to 1967.

Charles L. Weltner American judge

Charles Longstreet Weltner was an American jurist and politician from the U.S. state of Georgia.

The Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies is an archive of political and historic primary documents relating to the modern American political system. The Russell Library is one of three Special Collections Libraries located in the Richard B. Russell Building on the campus of the University of Georgia in Athens. The address is 300 S. Hull Street. The Russell Library is a department within the University of Georgia Libraries that reports to the University Librarian.

Garland T. Byrd American politician

Garland Turk Byrd was United States Democratic politician from Georgia, who served as the fourth Lieutenant Governor of Georgia from 1959 to 1963.

1966 Georgia gubernatorial election

The 1966 Georgia gubernatorial election was held on November 8, 1966. After an election that exposed divisions within the Georgia Democratic Party, segregationist Democrat Lester Maddox was elected Governor of Georgia by the Georgia General Assembly. The voting also brought future President Jimmy Carter to statewide prominence for the first time. The election was very close.

1958 Georgia gubernatorial election

The 1958 Georgia gubernatorial election was held on November 4, 1958.

Gridiron Secret Society

Gridiron Secret Society, founded in 1908, is a secret society at the University of Georgia. Gridiron has been called "the highest honor a male student may receive on the University of Georgia campus.". It has also been recognized as one of the "Top 10 Secret Member's Clubs" in the world.

The county unit system was a voting system used by the U.S. state of Georgia to determine a victor in statewide primary elections from 1917 until 1962.

1972 United States Senate election in Georgia Election

The 1972 United States Senate election in Georgia took place on November 7, 1972, as one of that year's United States Senate elections. It was held concurrently with the 1972 presidential election. This seat had opened up following the death of Richard B. Russell in 1971. Shortly thereafter, Governor of Georgia Jimmy Carter appointed David H. Gambrell to fill Russell's vacant seat. The Democratic Party nominee was Sam Nunn, a conservative Democrat and member of the Georgia House of Representatives, and the Republican Party nominated Fletcher Thompson, the Representative from the Atlanta-area 5th congressional district of Georgia. In the primary, Nunn emerged victorious from a crowded field of Democratic candidates, including Gambrell and former Georgia Governor Ernest Vandiver. Despite President Richard Nixon defeating George McGovern in Georgia in the presidential election on the same day, Nunn defeated Thompson in the general election 54% to 46%. As of December 2021, this is the earliest Senate election where both major party nominees are still living.

Jane Kidd (politician) American politician

Jane Vandiver Kidd is a retired Georgia politician.

The Atlanta sit-ins were a series of sit-ins that took place in Atlanta, Georgia, United States. Occurring during the sit-in movement of the larger civil rights movement, the sit-ins were organized by the Committee on Appeal for Human Rights, which consisted of students from the Atlanta University Center. The sit-ins were inspired by the Greensboro sit-ins, which had started a month earlier in Greensboro, North Carolina with the goal of desegregating the lunch counters in the city. The Atlanta protests lasted for almost a year before an agreement was made to desegregate the lunch counters in the city.

Roy Vincent Harris was a politician in the U.S. state of Georgia during the mid-1900s. From the 1920s until the 1940s, Harris served several terms in both the Georgia House of Representatives and the Georgia State Senate, and he served as the speaker of the house from 1937 to 1940 and again from 1943 to 1946. Historian Harold Paulk Henderson has called Harris "one of Georgia's most capable behind-the-scenes politicians".

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 "Ernest Vandiver Jr. (1918-2005)". georgiaencyclopedia.org. Retrieved April 28, 2012.
  2. 1 2 Gettleman, Jeffrey (December 22, 2002). "South's leaders in pre-civil rights era reflect on records with regret". SFGate. Retrieved November 11, 2012.
  3. Novotny, Patrick (Fall 2004). "John F. Kennedy, the 1960 Election, and Georgia's Unpledged Electors in the Electoral College". Georgia Historical Quarterly. 88 (3). Retrieved June 22, 2016.
  4. Howard Zinn, You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train (Boston, Massachusetts: Beacon Press, 1994, 2002), p. 28)
  5. Daniels, Maurice Charles (2013). Saving the Soul of Georgia : Donald L. Hollowell and the Struggle for Civil Rights. Athens: University of Georgia Press. p. 118. ISBN   9781306117685.
  6. Young, Neely (June 2015). "An Old, Sweet Song". Georgia Trend. 30 (10): 8. Retrieved June 22, 2016.
  7. Murphy, Reg (November 23, 1963). "Governor Leads All Georgians Into Deep Mourning". The Atlanta Constitution.
  8. Rasmussen, Patty (2005). "Right Man, Right Time". Georgia Trend. 20 (7): 18. Retrieved June 22, 2016.
  9. Pratt, Robert A. (2002). We Shall Not Be Moved : The Desegregation of the University of Georgia. Athens: University of Georgia Press. ISBN   9780820323992 . Retrieved June 22, 2016.
  10. "Grace in Georgia". Time. Vol. 77, no. 5. January 27, 1961. Retrieved June 22, 2016.
  11. Henderson, Harold Paulk (2000). Ernest Vandiver, Governor of Georgia. Athens: University of Georgia Press. p. 40. ISBN   978-0820322230 . Retrieved June 22, 2016.
  12. "Georgia and the Pursuit Of Reasonableness". New Republic. Vol. 155, no. 14. October 1, 1966. p. 11. Retrieved June 22, 2016.
  13. Billy Hathorn, "The Frustration of Opportunity: The Georgia Election of 1966", Atlanta History: A Journal of Georgia and the South , XXI (Winter 1987–1988), pp. 42, 47
  14. Atlanta History, p. 44
Ernest Vandiver
Ernest Vandiver (1962).jpg
Ernest Vandiver (1962)
73rd Governor of Georgia
In office
January 13, 1959 January 15, 1963
Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic nominee for Governor of Georgia
1958
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Lieutenant Governor of Georgia
1955–1959
Succeeded by
Governor of Georgia
1959–1963
Succeeded by