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Thomas Gresham Collection of Lester Maddox Speech/Press Files

Thomas Gresham Collection of Lester Maddox Speech/Press Files

Descriptive Summary

Title: Thomas Gresham Collection of Lester Maddox Speech/Press Files
Creator: Gresham, Thomas Talmadge, 1922-1990.
Inclusive Dates: 1960-1971
Language(s): English
Extent: 5 box(es) (5 linear feet), including 7 photographs
Collection Number: RBRL022TGLM
Repository: Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies
Abstract: The collection consists primarily of speeches and press releases written by members of Governor Lester Maddox's press department. Thomas Talmadge Gresham drafted over 200 speeches during his tenure as a speechwriter for the Governor from 1968 to 1970. Also included are research files maintained by Gresham and various other press department office files, including schedules and assignments. There are also seven photographs and a few pieces of memorabilia from Maddox's gubernatorial years.

Collection Description

Biographical Note

Thomas Talmadge Gresham:

Thomas Talmadge (Tom) Gresham was born in Rome, Georgia on December 15, 1922. After serving in the Army during World War II, he attended the University of Georgia on the G.I. Bill and attained his B.A. in journalism in 1948. After teaching high school for two years, Mr. Gresham worked for the Knoxville Journal. From early 1968 through 1969, he was a speechwriter for Lester G. Maddox and worked in the governor's press department. The piece he wrote for his audition to attain the position was a speech for "a predominantly negro audience" and is located in the office files series. Over the course of his position under Governor Maddox, he wrote or drafted over 200 speeches. During the Jimmy Carter administration, Gresham was a communications officer in the Georgia Department of Highway Safety. Mr. Gresham died of a sudden heart attack in 1990, and was buried in Arlington Cemetery near his longtime home in Sandy Springs, GA.

Thomas T. Gresham married Wymbreth Gresham and had two children, Vincent Thoreau Gresham and April Gresham Maranto.

Lester G. Maddox:

Lester G. Maddox was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on September 30, 1915, to Dean and Flonnie Maddox. He was educated in the Fulton County public school system but dropped out of high school in order to pursue a career (either "to start working" or "to pursue a career in something"). In 1936, he married Virginia Cox and the couple eventually had four children. In 1944, Maddox opened a short order grill in Atlanta that he sold a year later at a profit. Maddox continued to hold jobs in the grocery business and real estate until 1947 when he opened a restaurant, the Pickrick. Maddox achieved great success with the Pickrick and expanded it nine times over the course of fifteen years. His business was bolstered by clever advertisements, entitled "Pickrick Says," that ran in Atlanta newspapers. After the 1954 Brown vs. the Board of Education school desegregation ruling, Maddox's advertisements became more political, earning him greater notoriety.

Maddox's outspoken response to desegregation led him to enter politics. In 1957, he campaigned for mayor of Atlanta as an independent, segregationist candidate. Maddox lost the election. Four years later, in 1961, he once again lost his bid for the mayor's office. Maddox faced his third defeat in 1962, after running for lieutenant governor. Although his campaigns were not successful, they made him a well-known figure in Georgia.

It was Maddox's open defiance of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that thrust him into the national spotlight. Not only did Maddox refuse to serve three black students in his restaurant, but he also chased them out with a gun while his customers wielded axe handles. He contended that both his business and property were being threatened. The students sued Maddox. The court ruled that Maddox had to desegregate the Pickrick within twenty days. Rather than accept the ruling and integrate his restaurant, Maddox closed the Pickrick.

In October 1965, he announced that he would seek the Democratic nomination for governor. True to his reputation, Maddox ran a grassroots campaign whose platform supported segregation and opposed federal encroachment on state and individual rights. Maddox came in second to Ellis Arnall in the Democratic primary and defeated Arnall in the runoff. In the General Election, the Republican candidate, Howard "Bo" Callaway, received more votes but fell short of the majority due to a write-in campaign for Arnall. The election was, therefore, sent to the General Assembly, which elected Maddox on the first ballot. The new governor was sworn in on 10 January 1967.

It was during Maddox's term that the newly independent legislature came to dominate the state government. They found in their governor an executive who believed in legislative independence. However, Maddox was able to increase funding for the university system as well as state teachers salaries. He attempted to raise money for state education, welfare and mental health with a one-cent sales tax, but could not push it through the state legislature. Maddox succeeded in passing funding for much needed prison reforms which included upgrading fire and health standards, training for guards, and improved living conditions and treatment for inmates.

While Maddox appointed many African Americans during his term in office, he did not give any of them positions of great power or responsibility. He continued to be an outspoken opponent of school desegregation as well as busing. He encouraged private segregated schools and favored freedom of choice in schools rather than strict segregation. Maddox was a staunch supporter of the U.S. war in Vietnam because he feared expansion of communism abroad. At home he continued to warn Georgians of the ever-present threat of communist and socialist influences.

On August 17, 1968, Maddox announced that he would seek the Democratic nomination for president, but withdrew before any ballots were cast. He resigned rather than compromise on the number of African-American delegates from Georgia. In 1970, Maddox once again gained national attention. While in Washington, D.C., testifying against the strengthening of the Voting Rights Bill, Maddox passed out souvenir axe handles in a U.S. House of Representatives restaurant. This led to a confrontation between the governor and an African-American congressman from Michigan, Charles Diggs, Jr.

Since the Georgia constitution barred him from seeking consecutive terms as governor, Maddox was unable to run for that office again. He attempted to have the law overturned, but was unsuccessful. In order to remain in politics, Maddox ran for lieutenant governor and won in 1970, making him the first former governor to become lieutenant governor. During his term Maddox clashed regularly with Governor Jimmy Carter, whom he felt was too liberal. In 1974, he ran against George Busbee for governor and lost. Maddox continued to be active in politics and in 1976, the former governor ran for president as the American Independent Party candidate. Many saw his campaign as an expression of his opposition to and dissatisfaction with his political rival, Jimmy Carter, also a candidate for president in 1976. Maddox lost this election as well, receiving only 170,000 votes.

After this campaign, Maddox stayed out of politics until 1990, when he made his last bid for political office. On January 25, 1990, he made a formal announcement from the State Capitol that he would once again run for governor of Georgia. Maddox ran a small, grass-roots campaign and lost the Democratic primary with only three percent of the vote.

After exiting from the political scene, Maddox spent most of his time at home in Marietta, Georgia, caring for his wife, Virginia, who died on June 24, 1997. Lester Maddox died in an Atlanta hospice on June 25, 2003.

Scope and Content

The collection consists primarily of speeches and press releases written by members of Governor Lester Maddox's press department between 1968 and 1970. Also included are research files maintained by Gresham and various other press department office files, including schedules and assignments. There are seven photographs and a few pieces of memorabilia from Maddox's gubernatorial years.

Organization and Arrangement

The files are organized into five series: speech/press files; research files; office files; photographs; and memorabilia. The speech/press files are arranged chronologically by month and year.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Thomas Gresham Collection of Lester Maddox Speech/Press Files, Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Georgia, 30602-1641.

User Restrictions

Library acts as "fair use" reproduction agent.

Copyright Information

Before material from collections at the Richard B. Russell Library may be quoted in print, or otherwise reproduced, in whole or in part, in any publication, permission must be obtained from (1) the owner of the physical property, and (2) the holder of the copyright. It is the particular responsibility of the researcher to obtain both sets of permission. Persons wishing to quote from materials in the Russell Library collection should consult the Director. Reproduction of any item must contain a complete citation to the original.

Finding Aid Publication

Finding aid prepared on: 2008.

Related Materials and Subjects

Subject Terms

Georgia -- Politics and government -- 1951-
Governors -- Georgia -- Election.
Gresham, Thomas Talmadge, 1922-1990.
Maddox, Lester G., 1915-2003.
Presidents -- United States -- Election -- 1968.
Presidents -- United States -- Election -- 1976
Press releases.

Related Collections in this Repository

Clifford Baldowski (Baldy) Editorial Cartoons

Clifford Hodges Brewton Collection of Lester G. Maddox Speech/Press Research Files

Lester G. Maddox Biographical File

George L. Smith II Papers

Howard H. (Bo) Callaway Collection

Harold Paulk (Hal) Henderson, Sr. Oral History Collection

William H. (Bill) Burson Papers

Reflections on Georgia Politics Oral History Collection

Carl E. Sanders Papers

S. Ernest Vandiver, Jr. Papers

Roy Vincent Harris Papers

Related Collections in Other Repositories

Governor, Executive Department Papers, Georgia Archives

Georgia Government Documentation Project, Series A: Georgia Governors oral history collection, Special Collections, Georgia State University

Lieutenant Governor, Georgia Archives

Bill Shipp Oral History Interview, Ray Moore Oral History interview, 1987 May 8, Politics and the Media Oral history Collection, 1987-1993, Special Collection Department, William Russell Pullen Library, Georgia State University

Series Descriptions and Folder Listing


I. Speeches and Press Releases

51 folder(s)
This series is arranged chronologically and consists of the various speeches, drafts, and press releases composed by Thomas Gresham, Bob Short, Jack Thomas, and other members of Governor Lester Maddox's press department from 1968 to 1970. Copies and drafts of speeches made to the Georgia General Assembly include inaugural addresses, the State-of-the-State addresses, and budget messages. There are also remarks to numerous schools, colleges, businesses, and civic and social organizations including the American Legion, Kiwanis Club, Rotary Club, Lion Club, American Turpentine Farmers, Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, and Georgia Bar Association.
11Speeches and Press Releases, 1967 January
12Speeches and Press Releases, 1967 February
13Speeches and Press Releases, 1967 March
14Speeches and Press Releases, 1967 April
15Speeches and Press Releases, 1967 May
16Speeches and Press Releases, 1967 June
17Speeches and Press Releases, 1967 July
18Speeches and Press Releases, 1967 August
19Speeches and Press Releases, 1967 September
110Speeches and Press Releases, 1967 October
111Speeches and Press Releases, 1967 December 20
112Speeches and Press Releases, 1968 January
113Speeches and Press Releases, 1968 February
114Speeches and Press Releases, 1968 March
115Speeches and Press Releases, 1968 April
116Speeches and Press Releases, 1968 May 2-14
117Speeches and Press Releases, 1968 May 17-31
118Speeches and Press Releases, 1968 June 1-13
119Speeches and Press Releases, 1968 June 14
120Speeches and Press Releases, 1968 June 16-30
121Speeches and Press Releases, 1968 July 1
122Speeches and Press Releases, 1968 July 18-31
123Speeches and Press Releases, 1968 August 1-12
124Speeches and press releases, 1968 August 12-15
125Speeches and Press Releases, 1968 August 16-31
126Speeches and Press Releases, 1968 September
127Speeches and Press Releases, 1968 October 1-14
128Speeches and Press Releases, 1968 October 14-31
21Speeches and Press Releases, 1968 November 1-12
22Speeches and Press Releases, 1968 November 13-30
23Speeches and Press Releases, 1968 December 1-12
24Speeches and Press Releases, 1968 December 13-31
25Speeches and Press Releases, 1969 January 1-16
26Speeches and Press Releases, 1969 January 21-31
27Speeches and Press Releases, 1969 February
28Speeches and Press Releases, 1969 March
29Speeches and Press Releases, 1969 April 1-11
210Speeches and Press Releases, 1969 April 12-18
211Speeches and Press Releases, 1969 April 20-30
212Speeches and Press Releases, 1969 May 2-7
213Speeches and Press Releases, 1969 May 8-17
214Speeches and Press Releases, 1969 May 18-29
215Speeches and Press Releases, 1969 June 1-12
216Speeches and Press Releases, 1969 June 13-30
217Speeches and Press Releases, 1969 July 1-14
218Speeches and Press Releases, 1969 July 15-31
31Speeches and Press Releases, 1969 August
32Speeches and Press Releases, 1969 September
33Speeches and Press Releases, 1970 July
34Speeches and Press Releases, 1970 August
35Speeches and Press Releases, 1970 September
36Speeches and Press Releases, 1970 October

II. Research Files

20 folder(s)
This series includes various research material including speeches from other political leaders, notes, biographical material, copies of Governor Maddox's remarks and proclamation, and articles and clippings. There is also press material for various state programs including the Governor's Action Program for Highway Safety, New Day in Georgia Program, and the Annual Governor's Conference.
37Speech Materials [includes notes, clippings, speeches, etc. Topics include communism, states' rights, and race relations], 1960-1969
38Fact Sheets [about speaking engagements], 1967-1970
39Biographical Data [includes interviews, various speeches, notes], 1967-1970
310Governor's Remarks (Folder 1 of 2), 1967-1970
311Governor's Remarks (Folder 2 of 2), 1967-1970
312[Clippings and Pamphlets], 1967-1970
313[Governor Proclamations and Executive orders], 1967-1970
314[Letters and Memos from Gov. Maddox], 1967-1970
315[Letters and Press releases sent to Gov. Maddox], 1967-1970
316[Speeches and Presentations from Various People] (folder 1 of 2), 1967-1970
317[Speeches and Presentations from Various People] (folder 2 of 2), 1967-1970
318News Releases, 1967-1970
319Governor's Action Program for Highway Safety, 1968 December 18
320"New Day in Georgia" Program, 1968
321Third Annual Governor's Conference, 1969 December 12
OS1The Saturday Evening Post [oversize], 1967 April 22
OS1Esquire [oversize], 1967 October
324U.S. News and World Report, 1968 June 3
325"The Citizen"- Simmons Reviews Evans New Book, "the Usurpers" vol. 13, no. 3, 1968 December
326ATLANTA vol. 8 no. 11, 1969 March
OS1Life Magazine [oversize], 1969 May 23

III. Office Files

8 folder(s)
This series includes Governor Maddox's speech schedules, press department speech assignments, and inter-office material. Also included are several folders of handwritten notes and drafts of speeches and press releases.
328[Audition Speech for speechwriter position with Gov. Maddox by Gresham], January 1967
41Speech Assignments, 1967-1970
42Governor's Schedules (folder 1 of 2), 1967-1970
43Governor's Schedules (folder 2 of 2), 1967-1970
44Correspondence- Gresham, 1967-1970
45Executive Office- Personnel, 1967-1970
46[Contacts around Georgia], 1967-1970
47[Print proofs, Messages to the 1969 Georgia General Assembly], 1969
48[Memorandum to Governor Maddox from Gresham salary increase and working conditions], 1969 April 4

IV. Photographs

7 photograph(s)
This series includes black and white photographs of Governor Lester and Virginia Maddox and one of Thomas Gresham. One image depicts Governor Maddox and the Barrow County Sheriff, Howard Austin, pouring out confiscated moonshine.
49Unidentified man and woman at Governor Maddox's desk, circa 1967-1969. (1 (8x10") b/w)
410Lester and Virginia Maddox, circa 1967-1969. (1 (8x10") color)
411Governor Maddox pouring out confiscated moonshine with Barrow County Sheriff, Howard Austin, and group of deputies, circa 1967-1971. (1 (8x10) b/w)
412Photo of Governor Maddox and wife, circa1967-1971. (1 (8x10) b/w)
413Group photo of the Georgia General Assembly including Jimmy Carter, circa 1967-1971. (1 (8x10) b/w)
414Photo of Gresham at work, circa 1967-1970. (1 (4x3.5) b/w)

V. Memorabilia

6 folder(s)
This series is comprised of memorabilia retained by Gresham including "Maddox Country" signs, "Maddox '68" bumper sticker, and a "Maddox for President" envelope.
415Georgia Department of State Parks Complimentary pass for tent camping for Thomas T. Gresham, 1968
416Maddox '68 Bumper Sticker, 1968
417[Invitations], 1967-1971
418Photoplate, 1967-1971
OS1"This is Maddox Country" signs [oversize], 1967-1971
420Envelope "Maddox for President", 1968