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Interview with Carl Sanders, August, 17, 2004

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:11 - Introduction

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Partial Transcript: Hello, I'm George Justice.

Segment Synopsis: Justice introduces Governor Carl Sanders and briefly summarizes Sanders' political achievements and career.

00:01:41 - Growing up in Augusta / Start in politics

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Partial Transcript: Governor Sanders, you grew up in Augusta.

Segment Synopsis: Sanders describes the political domination of the Cracker Party in Augusta during the 1950s. He reflects on his lack of exposure to politics as a child and on his eventual entry into politics as part of the Independent Party campaign that broke up the control of the Cracker Party.

Keywords: Augusta, Georgia; Cracker Party; entry into politics; political machine

00:09:41 - Influence of YMCA / Childhood upbringing during Great Depression

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Partial Transcript: The YMCA has had a great impact on my life.

Segment Synopsis: Sanders reflects on the impact of his involvement in the YMCA, which he credits for helping him eventually win a football scholarship to attend the University of Georgia. Sanders also describes his childhood growing up during the Great Depression, and mentions the work ethic he developed at a young age. He also comments about his view on racial prejudice.

Keywords: Great Depression; YMCA; early education; interracial friendship; middle class background; racial prejudice; work ethic

00:16:20 - Involvement in ROTC, Army Air Corps, and World War II

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Partial Transcript: Tell me about the ROTC and what kind of impact that had on you as a youth.

Segment Synopsis: Sanders recounts the advantage that his high school ROTC training gave him when he enlisted in the army and his anticipation to train as a pilot. Sanders also reflects on the impact the war had on his maturity and decision to study law. He talks about returning to the University of Georgia on the GI Bill and his accelerated graduation from law school and reflects upon his hard work ethic and competitive spirit.

Subjects: Army Air Corps; GI Bill; ROTC; Richmond Academy; World War II; army training; impact of war; law school

00:26:43 - Decision to run for governor

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Partial Transcript: Did you take that competitive spirit with you into politics?

Segment Synopsis: Sanders reflects on his decision to commit full-time to politics and the events that led him to campaign for governor. He also comments how his service and leadership in the Georgia House and the Senate aided him in becoming governor.

Keywords: President Pro Tempore; campaigning; county unit system; governor

00:32:38 - Advocacy for education and school integration

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Partial Transcript: And at that time, the big question was "What are we going to do about the public schools in Georgia?"

Segment Synopsis: Sanders talks about his political advocacy to keep Georgia's public schools open when many Southern leaders wanted to close them in face of desegregation orders. He comments on advising Governor Ernest Vandiver to integrate the University of Georgia. Sanders also discusses his role in increasing the number of junior and community colleges, creating technical schools, and providing alternative, accessible educational programs.

Keywords: Brown vs. Board of Education; University of Georgia integration; education advocacy; public school integration; segregation

00:39:54 - Campaigning for governor / Relationship with John F. Kennedy

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Partial Transcript: Another issue at the top of your agenda early on in was honesty and efficiency in government.

Segment Synopsis: Sanders discusses his campaign for governor which centered around increasing the political honesty and efficiency of the state government. He attributes his election as governor to county level campaigning, aid he received from political supporters, and the abolition of the county unit system. Sanders also discusses his close relationship to President John F. Kennedy.

Keywords: Fort Gordon; John F. Kennedy; Marvin Griffin; county unit system; political campaign; political honesty; political relationships; popular election

00:49:39 - Political relationships

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Partial Transcript: But did that ever create any tensions between you and Lyndon Johnson?

Segment Synopsis: Sanders comments on his close relationship to President Lyndon Johnson and the aid that Johnson appropriated to Georgia to fortify the coast against hurricanes. Sanders also discusses the close relationship between Johnson and Senator Richard Russell, although mentions that he himself did not have a close relationship to Russell. He also recounts an anecdote about Carl Vinson and the funding support Vinson gave to Georgia on his request.

Keywords: Carl Vinson; Georgia coast; Hurricane Dora; Lyndon Johnson; Richard Russell; political relationships

00:56:17 - Goals as governor / Lester Maddox campaign

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Partial Transcript: When you went into the Governor's office, let's talk about goals versus achievements, what did you hope to accomplish when you became governor?

Segment Synopsis: Sanders discuses his goals as governor to reform education and increase industrial and business development, as well as his unsuccessful attempt to rewrite the Georgia Constitution. He reflects on the 1996 gubernatorial race and the series of campaign turns which led to Lester Maddox's selection as Governor. Sanders comments on Maddox's term as governor and laments the decreased executive power that he set as a precedent.

Keywords: 1960's Democratic Party; Bo Callaway; House election decision; Lester Maddox; Southern Democrats; executive power; gubernatorial campaign; indecisive election

01:06:16 - 1970 re-election campaign/ Views on Jimmy Carter's public office

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Partial Transcript: Well, after Maddox's terms as governor, you decided to run again.

Segment Synopsis: Sanders discusses his 1970 race for re-election and campaigning against his Democratic opponent Jimmy Carter. He discusses Carter's smear campaign against him focused on divisive race and class issues and Carter's switch from segregationist to integrationist before and after election. Sanders reflects on Carter's term as governor and, later, as president, and the obstacles he faced in having a successful and efficient term, including the Iran Hostage Crisis, a slow economy, and bad interpersonal relationships.

Keywords: 1970s economic recession; Iran Hostage Crisis; Jimmy Carter; inflation; integration; re-election campaign; segregation

01:17:57 - Personal achievements since Governor

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Partial Transcript: After 1970, you considered one more office in 1972; briefly you considered a run for the Senate, didn't you?

Segment Synopsis: Sanders discusses his decision to not run for the U.S. Senate after the death of Senator Russell and his support of Sam Nunn for the seat instead. Sanders compares the political power between the positions of senator and governor, and reflects on the personal achievements he has accomplished since retiring from politics.

Keywords: Sam Nunn; Senate campaign; law firm; personal achievement

01:22:59 - Political legacy

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Partial Transcript: What is your political legacy?

Segment Synopsis: Sanders defines his political legacy as being the creation of the most progressive administration in Georgia. He discusses Georgia's progressive leadership on issues of race during the Civil Rights Era, which he credits as allowing Georgia to become the leader of the South on social and political issues.

Keywords: Atlanta-Birmingham competition; Civil Rights Era; leadership of the South; political integrity; progressive leadership

01:27:44 - U.S international relations / Criteria of good governance / Conclusion

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Partial Transcript: What do you think is the most critical issue facing us today, politically speaking?

Segment Synopsis: Sanders expresses his concern over the United States' worsening international relations with other countries. He also offers his opinion about the qualities of a good governor and the relationship of the press to the governor. Sanders also mentions Zell Miller's legacy of creating the HOPE Scholarship Program.