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Herman E. Talmadge Collection, Subgroup C, Series III: Civil Rights

Herman E. Talmadge Collection, Subgroup C, Series III: Civil Rights

Descriptive Summary

Title: Herman E. Talmadge Collection, Subgroup C, Series III: Civil Rights
Creator: Talmadge, Herman E. (Herman Eugene), 1913-2002
Inclusive Dates: 1957-1987
Language(s): English
Extent: 23 box(es) (11.5 linear feet)
Collection Number: RBRL102HET_C_III
Repository: Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies
Abstract: Herman E. Talmadge Collection, Subgroup C, Series III: Civil Rights files document aspects of the federal government's expansion over state authority in this area, and Talmadge's efforts against such infringement. Included is constituent correspondence, mainly for the year 1968, dealing with the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy, social unrest, freedom marches, and the Poor People's Campaign. Legislative files contain correspondence, printed materials, and legal opinions pertaining to the Civil Rights Act of 1957, 1964, and 1966, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and busing.

Collection Description

Biographical Note

It was once said if you were not a Talmadge man you were a communist. The Talmadge dynasty began in 1926 when Eugene Talmadge, Herman's father, was first elected Commissioner of Agriculture. Gene would later be elected governor of Georgia to an unprecedented four terms. For over fifty years the Talmadges dominated Georgia politics until Herman was defeated in 1980.

Born on August 9, 1913, on a farm near McRae, Georgia, to Eugene and Mattie Talmadge, Herman attended public schools until his senior year when his family moved to Atlanta. In the fall of 1931, he entered the University of Georgia. By 1936, he had received his law degree and joined his father's law practice.

After serving in the United States Navy during World War II, Talmadge returned to his home in Lovejoy. While continuing to practice law and to farm, Talmadge took over publishing his father's weekly newspaper, The Statesman, and started a ham-curing business.

Talmadge's first involvement in politics was as his father's campaign manager in 1946. Running for an unprecedented fourth term as governor of Georgia, Eugene Talmadge was elected in November 1946, but was in failing health. As a precaution, a small group of Talmadge supporters started a write-in campaign for Herman Talmadge during the general election. When the elder Talmadge died in December 1946, before being sworn in as governor, the Georgia General Assembly elected his son governor by a vote of 161 to 87. But outgoing Governor Ellis Arnall refused to surrender his office unless it was to elected-Lieutenant Governor Melvin E. Thompson. After a period of uncertainty, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that the constitutional portion under which the General Assembly had elected Herman Talmadge did not apply. The court declared M. E. Thompson acting governor until a special election could be held. In September 1948, Talmadge was elected governor and re-elected in 1950, serving until January 1955.

As governor, Herman Talmadge concentrated on improving educational opportunities for children of all races by establishing youth centers, increasing construction of rural roads, and building additional hospitals and health care centers.

When Senator Walter George officially announced his decision not to run for United States Senate, Talmadge started campaigning to take his place. Once again he was opposed by M. E. Thompson, but defeated him in the Democratic primary. With no Republican opposition in the general election in November 1956, Talmadge was elected United States senator.

The civil rights movement of the 1950s ultimately effected equal rights legislation for African-Americans and eliminated segregated public facilities in the South. Although progress toward integrating public schools was achieved, a majority of whites in the South remained adamant in their resistance to desegregation.

As part of that majority, Talmadge had voiced his opposition as early as the 1948 Democratic Convention when President Harry Truman tried to add civil rights to the platform. And in response to the Supreme Court ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education, Talmadge authored a book in 1955 about the wisdom of segregated education entitled You and Segregation.

When Talmadge officially began his term as the junior senator from Georgia in January 1957, he immediately joined the other Southern Democrats in their fight against civil rights legislation. "I never read a civil rights bill that didn't destroy more constitutional rights that it purported to give any group."

In response to the crisis of integrating Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas, Talmadge proposed a constitutional amendment in 1959 that would have permitted the state and local governments to decide whether or not to keep their schools segregated. This proposal was the first acknowledgment from a southern senator that Brown vs. Board of Education was an established fact.

Having won a seat on the Agriculture Committee in 1957, Talmadge wielded his greatest influence on bills that affected American farmers and agriculture. By 1971, he had become chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. Some of his major accomplishments in this area included guiding passage of a series of acts, which established price support programs for peanuts, cotton, wheat, and other commodities.

Talmadge probably achieved his greatest national prominence through his role on the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, which investigated the Watergate scandal and ultimately led to the resignation of the president and vice president of the United States, as well as the conviction of three cabinet members on felony charges. Talmadge thought that the Watergate investigation was one of the most important events in the history of the United States and demonstrated that a republican form of government has a way of correcting the conduct of public officials and alerting others not to make the same mistake.

At the same time he was gaining national recognition, Talmadge was besieged by a series of personal and political tragedies. In 1975, his son Robert drowned in a swimming accident at Lake Lanier; by the fall of 1977, Betty and Herman Talmadge had finalized their divorce; then, in 1978, Talmadge came to grips with a serious drinking problem. Following an alcohol treatment program at the naval hospital in Long Beach, California, he returned to Washington, ready to work, but met with scandal instead. Shortly after returning to the Capitol, Talmadge was accused of misappropriating office funds and campaign donations for his own personal use. The Senate Ethics Committee investigated the allegations and recommended that Talmadge be "denounced" for his reprehensible behavior and sentenced to reimburse the Senate for these controversial funds with interest.

Despite these problems, Talmadge sought his fifth term as senator in 1980, but was rejected by Georgia voters who chose to elect Mack Mattingly to replace him, the first Republican to hold the office since Reconstruction.

Serving twenty-four years in the United States Senate, Talmadge ranked fifth in seniority among Senate Democrats and seventh overall by the time he left office. Herman Talmadge passed away on March 21, 2002.

Scope and Content

Herman E. Talmadge Collection, Subgroup C, Series III: Civil Rights files document aspects of the federal government's expansion over state authority in this area, and Talmadge's efforts against such infringement. Included is constituent correspondence, mainly for the year 1968, dealing with the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy, social unrest, freedom marches, and the Poor People's Campaign. Legislative files contain correspondence, printed materials, and legal opinions pertaining to the Civil Rights Act of 1957, 1964, and 1966, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and busing.

Organization and Arrangement

The civil rights series is organized into nine sections: constituent correspondence, legislation, Legislative Reference Service, speeches, news releases, subject files, Congressional Record, printed legislation, and clippings.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Herman E. Talmadge Collection, Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Georgia.

Processing Notes

Clippings have been copied onto bond paper for protection of content. Artifacts, photographs, books, and audiovisual materials have been separated for preservation purposes and inventoried.

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 permissions. 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

African Americans -- Civil rights
African Americans -- Civil rights -- Georgia
Busing for school integration -- Georgia.
Busing for school integration -- Law and legislation -- United States.
Civil rights demonstrations -- Georgia.
Civil rights demonstrations -- United States.
Civil rights movements -- United States.
Congressional records.
Kennedy, Robert F., 1925-1968 -- Assassination.
King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968 -- Assassination.
Legislative hearings -- United States.
Legislative records.
Legislators -- United States.
Poor People's Campaign.
United States -- Politics and government -- 1951-
United States -- Politics and government -- 1969-1974.
United States -- Race relations
United States. Civil Rights Act of 1957.
United States. Civil Rights Act of 1964.
United States. Civil Rights Act of 1966.
United States. Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Related Collections in this Repository

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Ben Blackburn Papers

D. W. Brooks Oral History Collection

Howard H. (Bo) Callaway Papers

John W. Davis Papers

E. L. Forrester Papers

Georgia State Democratic Executive Committee Papers

Roy V. Harris Papers

Mack F. Mattingly Papers

Erwin Mitchell Papers

Maston O'Neal Papers

John L. Pilcher Papers

Prince H. Preston Papers

Richard B. Russell, Jr. Collection

Richard B. Russell Oral History interviews

T. Rogers Wade Collection of Herman E. Talmadge Materials

S. Ernest Vandiver Papers

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Related Collections in Other Repositories

Governor, Executive Department, Georgia Department of Archives and History

Richard H. Rich papers, Woodruff Special Collections, Emory University

William Berry Hartsfield papers, Woodruff Special Collections, Emory University

Georgia's Political Heritage Program oral history interviews, State University of West Georgia

Georgia Governors roundtable oral history interview, 1985 Oct. 31, Georgia Government Documentation Project, William Russell Pullen Library, Georgia State University

Herman E. Talmadge oral history interview, 1976 June 1, Georgia Government Documentation Project, William Russell Pullen Library, Georgia State University

Series Descriptions and Folder Listing


Subgroup C: United States Senatorial Papers

III. Civil Rights files

( 23 box(es) ) ( (11.5 linear feet) )
The Civil Rights files document aspects of the federal government's expansion over state authority in this area, and Talmadge's efforts against such infringement. Included is constituent correspondence, mainly for the year 1968, dealing with the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy, social unrest, freedom marches, and the Poor People's Campaign. Legislative files contain correspondence, printed materials, and legal opinions pertaining to the Civil Rights Act of 1957, 1964, and 1966, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and busing.
The collection also includes legislative reference service materials, speeches, news releases, subject files, excerpts from the Congressional Record, printed legislation, and newspaper clipping.

A. Constituent Correspondence
These letters between Talmadge and his Georgia constituents date, almost exclusively, to 1968. Covering this important year in civil rights history, the correspondence deals with subjects such as the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., social unrest, freedom marches, and the Poor People's campaign.The correspondence is arranged in reverse chronological order, according to the date of Talmadge's outgoing letter. Clippings that were included with the constituent letters have been photocopied on bond paper.As noted earlier, other civil rights material exist elsewhere in the Talmadge Collection. The researcher will find more constituent correspondence for other years in the Press Office Series.
11Constituent Correspondence, February 10, 1970
12Constituent Correspondence, November-December
13Constituent Correspondence, October
14Constituent Correspondence, September
15Constituent Correspondence, August
16Constituent Correspondence, July
17Constituent Correspondence, 27-30 June
18Constituent Correspondence, 19-26 June
19Constituent Correspondence, 8-18-Aug
110Constituent Correspondence, 7-June
111Constituent Correspondence, 1-6 June
112Constituent Correspondence, 30-31 May
113Constituent Correspondence, 29 May
21Constituent Correspondence, 28 May
22Constituent Correspondence, 23-27 May
23Constituent Correspondence, 21-22 May
24Constituent Correspondence, 18-20 May
25Constituent Correspondence, 15-17 May
26Constituent Correspondence, 14 May
27Constituent Correspondence, 11-13 May
28Constituent Correspondence, 10 May
29Constituent Correspondence, 9 May
210Constituent Correspondence, 3-8 May
211Constituent Correspondence, 1-2 May
212Constituent Correspondence, 17-30 April
213Constituent Correspondence, 15-16 April
214Constituent Correspondence, 6-Mar-60
31Constituent Correspondence, 1964-1967
32Constituent Correspondence, 1967
33Constituent Correspondence, September, 1967
34-6Constituent Correspondence, August, 1967
37Constituent Correspondence, July, 1967
38Constituent Correspondence, June, 1967
39Constituent Correspondence, May, 1967

B. Legislation
These files deal with civil rights legislation that either directly or indirectly involved Talmadge. Using this portion of the series, a researcher will find materials that helped Talmadge prepare for debate on some of the nation's most important civil rights legislation. The files contain correspondence, published articles, legal opinions, and other background material. It covers legislation such as busing, the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Civil Rights Act of 1966.Because the issue of busing has been debated for many years, it was kept together as a distinct unit. Otherwise, the material is arranged by year of the bill or act. The researcher will find materials on civil rights laws, such as those listed above, in other portions of the Collection.
41Press Releases [Busing], 1970-1973
42Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, 1969-1973
43Civil Rights Commission, 1968-1973
44Miscellaneous, 1970-1972
45Correspondence, 1970
46-7Courts, 1970
48Schools, 1970
49President's Message on Civil Rights, 24-Jan-68
410Congressional Record, 1967-1971
411Legislative Reference Service, 20-Jan-1967
51H.R. 2516 - Penalties for Acts of Violence or Intimidation, 1966
52S. 3296 - Civil Rights Act, undated
53-4H.R. 14765 - Civil Rights Bill, undated
55Title I, undated
56Title II, undated
57Title III, undated
58Title IV, undated
59Title VI, 1965
61-3H.R. 6400 - Voting Rights Act, 1965
64-6H.R. 7152 - Civil Rights Act, 1964
67Title III, 1964
71Title VI, undated
72Title VII, 1963
73-4S. 1731 - Public Accommodations Bill, 1963
75H.R. 8601 - Civil Rights Act, 1960 April 7
76H.R. 8315, 1960
77S. 810, 1959 December 11
78H.R. 29 - Poll Tax Repeal, 1959 July 23
79H.R. 3 - Federal Preemption, 1959 June 16
710S. 83 - Presidential Commission on Civil Rights and Department of Justice, 1957
711H.R. 7512 Civil Rights Bill, 1957
712H.R. 6127 - Civil Rights Act, 1957
713H.R. 6127 - Part III-HET Civil Rights Series Page 6, 1957
714S. 3143 - Federal Preemption, 1956 May 10
715H.R. 3769 - Federal Jurisdiction Over Schools, 1955

C. Legislative Reference Service
These files contain information provided by the Library of Congress Legislative Reference Service upon Talmadge's request. This department provided valuable information on a wide range of topics which helped Talmadge prepare his arguments on civil rights legislation. Arrangement is alphabetical by subject. The date provided is when the material was prepared by the Legislative Reference Service.
81Attorney General's Powers, 26-Jun-63
82Civil Rights Act of 1957, H.R. 5700, 30-Jun-67
83Civil Rights Law Enforcement Act of 1966, H.R. 13323-13342, 13991, 5/3/1966
84Civil Rights Act of 1966, H.R. 14765, 1966
85Civil Rights Act of 1966, H.R. 14765, Title IV, 14-Jun-66
86Civil Rights Statutes and Executive Orders, 20-Nov-63
87District Courts Jurisdiction, 14-Mar-57
88Fair Housing, 1963, 1964, 1967
89-10Fair Housing Laws, 20-May-66
811Jury Selection, 1966
812Indian Affairs, 19-May-59
813Orientals, 10-Mar-58
814Segregation, 3-Sep-63
815Smith Act, 30-Jun-58
816Supreme Court Decisions (No Oral Arguments Heard), 23-Sep-60
817Supreme Court (Decisions Overruled), 11-May-59
818Supreme Court (Legal Background of Justices), 8-May-59
819Warren, Earl, 10-Jun-58

D. Speeches
This portion of the Civil Rights Series contains Talmadge's speech notes used in his remarks on the Senate floor. Some of the speeches are incomplete. It is not clear whether the missing portions no longer exist or if they are contained in other portions of the Collection.Unfortunately, most of the speeches are undated. Therefore, there are two separate arrangements in this group. All dated speeches are arranged in chronological order. The library staff has made an effort to determine the subject content of the undated speeches in order to aid the researcher. These are arranged alphabetically by topic.
91Segregation, 1963
92Schools, 1963
93Civil Rights Act of 1964, H.R. 7152, 13-Mar-64
94Title I to V, 25-Mar-64
95-7Title I - Jury Trial Amendments, April, 1964
98Speeches, 5-May-64
99Speeches, 15-May-64
910Speeches, 22-May-64
911Civil Rights Act of 1964, H.R. 7152, 17-Jun-64
912Voting Rights Act of 1965, S. 1564, 30-Apr-65
101Attorney General, Injunctive Powers of
103Civil Rights
104-11Civil Rights Act of 1964, H.R. 7152
1012-14Title II
111-2Title VI
113Federal Powers
114Section 204(a)
115Civil Rights Act of 1966, H.R. 14765
116-8Civil Rights Act of 1967, H.R. 2516
121Civil Rights Cases
122-3Civil Rights Legislation
124-5Constitutional Interpretation
126Courtney, Walter
127Dirksen and Talmadge Amendment
1211-12Jury Trial
131Literacy Tests
133Poll Tax
134-5Public Accommodations Bill, S.1732
137Supreme Court
139Voting Qualifications
1310-11Voting Rights

E. News Releases
This group of materials are statements by Talmadge for release in various newspapers. Also included are radio and television statements. Some of the releases are transcripts of Senate floor speeches or statements made before various Senate committees. Dated releases are arranged chronologically. Undated releases are arranged alphabetically by subject.
141The South and its Future, 2-Dec-49
142-3Civil Rights Act of 1957, H.R. 6127, 1957
144Supreme Court, 18-Jun-58
145Jury Trial, 2-Mar-59
146Federal Jurisdiction Over Schools, 7-Apr-59
147Federal Voting Referees, 18-Feb-60
148Civil Rights Commission, 23-Aug-61
149-10Literacy Tests, 21-Mar-62
1411Executive Order, 23-Nov-62
1412Civil Rights Bill, S. 1731, 15-Aug-63
1413-14Civil Rights Act of 1964, H.R. 7152, 1964
1415Voting Rights Act of 1965, S. 1564, 1965
1416Busing 2/11/1972, 2/11/1972
1417Busing, 2/22/1972
1418Civil Rights Commission
1419Dirksen Omnibus Civil Rights Bill, Part III
1420Federal Judiciary
1421Jury Trial
1422Jury Trial, H.R. 6127
1423Private Housing
1424Schools, Federal Jurisdiction Over, S. 2646
1425-26Supreme Court
1427Voting Rights Act - Mansfield Amendment
1428Work Incentive Program Amendment

F. Subject Files
This portion contains background information on civil rights issues not directly related to specific legislation. Within the files are correspondence and published materials, as well as speeches and news releases by other public figures. Arrangement is alphabetical by topic.
151Bloch, Charles
152Carmichael, Stokley
153Civil Rights - No. 1
154Civil Rights Commission
155Civil Rights Division, Justice Department
156Committee for Emancipation - March on Washington for Jobs
157Consent of Governed Theory
158Cook, Eugene
159CORE-Congress of Racial Equality
1511Economic Status of Negroes
1512Equality and "Biology of the Race Problem" - 1962
1513FEPC-Fair Employment Practices Commission
162Historical Parallels
164Jury Trial
166Kennedy, Ribicoff Statements
168-9Miscellaneous, Civil Rights Speeches, Testimony and Articles
1610Law of the Land
1611NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund
1612Pittman, R. Carter
1613Original Civil Rights Laws
1614Poll Tax
1615Robinson, Hughes Alanzo
1616School Seizure
1618Southern Christian Leadership Conference
171State Control
172Supreme Court I
173Supreme Court II - Cases of Usurpation
174Supreme Court III - Criticism
175Supreme Court Qualifications, Jurisdiction, School Cases
176Supreme Court Jurisdiction
178Voting I
179Voting II

G. Congressional Record
These files are excerpts from The Congressional Record covering civil rights issues. Arrangement is in chronological order.
181Congressional Globe, 1866
182Congressional Record, 1914
183Congressional Record, 1935
184Congressional Record, 1937
185Congressional Record, 1938
186Congressional Record, 1940
187Congressional Record, 1947
188Congressional Record, 1948
189Congressional Record, 1949
1810Congressional Record, 1951
1811Congressional Record, 1954
1812Congressional Record, 1956
1813Congressional Record, 1957
191Congressional Record, 1958
192Congressional Record, 1959
193Congressional Record, 1960
194Congressional Record, 1961
195Congressional Record, 1962
196Congressional Record, 1963
197-9Congressional Record, 1964
1910Congressional Record, 1965 August
201Congressional Record, 1965
202-3Congressional Record, 1966
204-5Congressional Record, 1967
206Congressional Record, 1969
207Congressional Record, 1970
208Congressional Record, 1971
209Congressional Record, 1972
2010Congressional Record, 1973

H. Printed Legislation
This box contains a partial collection of printed bills, acts, resolutions, and amendments that are unmarked. Any that were marked by Talmadge or his staff remain in their original files elsewhere in the Civil Rights Series. Arrangement is in chronological order by date of the legislation.
211H.R. 6127, 19-Jun-57
212H.R. 410, 26-Aug-57
213S. 3, 8-Jan-59
214S. 499, 20-Jan-59
215S.J.Resolution 32, 27-Jan-59
216S. 810, 29-Jan-59
217S. 942, 955-960, February, 1959
218S. 880, 2-Feb-59
219S. 1155, 23-Feb-59
2110S. 1231 - Jury Trial of Criminal Contempts, 2-Mar-59
2111S. 1593 - General Provisions Applicable to Courts, 7-Apr-59
2112S. 2391 - Civil Rights Commission, 15-Jul-59
2113S.J.Resolution 126, 20-Jan-60
2114S. 2868 - Poll Tax, 20-Jan-60
2115H.R. 7152, 26-Feb-64
2116S. 1564, 18-Mar-65
2117H.R. 14765, 11-Aug-66
2118H.R. 2516, 25-Aug-67

I. Clippings
This sub series contains clippings from various state and national newspapers and magazines. The subjects covered are not limited to civil rights issues, but also include other topics of concern to Talmadge. This portion is divided into two arrangements. The first is alphabetical by subject, as they were kept in Talmadge's office. There is also a segment of clippings arranged chronologically by year.
222Double Jeopardy
224Girard College
225Housing (Civil Rights Commission)
226Mallory Bill, H.R. 7053
227McGill, Ralph
228Muslims (Black Supremacy)
2210Obscenity and Adultery
2213State Control
2214Soviet Russia (Voting)
231Supreme Court
232Supreme Court - Cases of Usurpation
233Supreme Court - Criticism
234Supreme Court - Qualifications, Jurisdiction, School Cases
235Voting and Supreme Court
236Voting Tendencies
241Clippings, 1950
242Clippings, 1956
243Clippings, 1957
244Clippings, 1958
245Clippings, 1959
246Clippings, 1960
247Clippings, 1961
248Clippings, 1962
249Clippings, 1963
2410Clippings, 1964
2411Clippings, 1965
2412Clippings, 1966
2413Clippings, 1967
2414Clippings, 1968
2415Clippings, 1969
2416Clippings, 1970
2417Clippings, 1971
2418Clippings, 1972
2419Clippings, 1973
2420Clippings, 1974