The Wild Man from Sugar Creek: Part 2

The year was 1932, it was election time and Eugene Talmadge decided he would throw his hat into the ring for Georgia Governor. It wasn’t long before he dominated the race due to his personality and the strong bonds he built with the farmers while Commissioner of Agriculture in the late 20’s. Talmadge didn’t have as much backing as when he was Commissioner of Agriculture due to the bureaucrats. Plus, the big money urbanites thought snobbishly that Talmadge was ‘too much of a bumpkin and redneck’ for their city tastes. Talmadge wouldn’t forget that, neither.

Campaign Trail 1932

Talmadge was a master on the campaign trail which made his campaigns legendary. He loved the campaigning and so did the poor ruralites. He gave them a good time to have fun after a back-breaking day of work in the fields to hear ol’ Gene speak. He was far and away the most entertaining man running for Georgia governor that year. This shouldn’t be taken in the modern way of bread & circus. You know what I mean, the “muh football” crowd. No, this is more likened to a good old-fashioned Southern revival with some barbecue mixed in. One must remember this was the height of the Great Depression and rural white Georgians had it bad. These were your old-time farmers who worked hard from dawn to dusk to make ends meet.

This was a time for the rural Georgians to come out as a community and have some rare fun and get some free food. The most memorable event was the Telfair County 4th of July rally where huge amounts of flavorsome barbecue were made days in advance for the hungry Talmadgites. Described as “…never before in Telfair County history had such excitement and energy been generated…” (Anderson 68). The place was as packed as any Talmadge rallies would ever be. In fact, one could say this marked a resurgence of interest in politics for rural Georgians. Vocal statesmen are something that we Southern folk crave. Not the weak-kneed, soft-talking neocons like Nancy-boy Lindsey Graham or Gov. Nathan “Double” Deal. Talmadge was the man who the forgotten white Georgian could vent their frustrations, while having a hell of a time doing so. This conjures up the image of Trump and his 2016 campaign. The difference being that Talmadge wasn’t just talk, but was also action. As we’ll come to see, Talmadge was truly our guy!

The campaign issues were little except for the 3 dollar tax which Talmadge zealously supported saying, “I do not know of anything that would help the people more and help business more” and the Cotton Holiday. This was an idea Talmadge got from Huey Long. From then on, Talmadge religiously pushed for it believing it would bump the cotton prices up. Talmadge was a firm advocate of cotton.

By August it was the eve of the White Primary (which basically decided who would win in Georgia since the GOP was non-existent at that time). Talmadge had made over 50 speeches and spoken to over 75,000 Georgians (Anderson 78). He had declared to a mass of farmers that “You farmers haven’t had anyone speak to you since Tom Watson” and a reporter even said, “The statement struck fire from the crowd.” One man yelled, “We got you now Gene!” (Anderson 78). When the White Primary occurred on September 13th, Talmadge dominated – winning 264 against the 146 county votes of all his rivals combined. He won 114 counties out of 159, dominating in rural Georgia.

Governor Talmadge 1933-1937 

On January 10th, 1933, Gene was sworn in as Governor of Georgia. Gene would, from the beginning, be blocked by the do-nothing state legislature, similar to how Trump’s plans are constantly shut down by the Marxist political activist judges in our time. Gene however, wasn’t one to stop at Tweeting and then move on to shilling and fill the rest of his term with tax cuts for the rich. No, Gene had no time to play “4D chess”. One must understand that since Georgia was a one-party state, men were elected on their personality and their personal platform. With Talmadge, this was especially the case. One of the opposing state legislators was quoted as saying “Talmadge was elected on a 3 dollar tag platform and we were not.” (Anderson 31).

Like the modern GOP, the ol’ Democrat party was a big tent party and it was more complex than “tHe DeMoCrATs Are DuH WEEL RacISTS”. So, Talmadge’s platform was soon whipped in the state legislature. “Gene’s planks fell one by one. The House refused to pass his reduced ad valorem and utility rates and his badly needed highway organization bill died in the Senate. The cherished three dollar tag did not survive the Senate either.” (Anderson 85). However, Talmadge was no pushover and would in turn veto 40 out of 200 Bills that the state legislators sent him.

One of the few things passed was a bill for the aging Confederates which no legislator dared oppose and it’s highly doubtful they would if they could. Governor Talmadge heavily pushed for the bill. He was one who heavily gloried (rightly s