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Georgia Government Documentation Project: M

A guide to the Georgia Government Documentation Project oral history collection.

Series M. E.D. Rivers

Series M. E.D. Rivers (P1992-18)

Interviews by Jane Herndon

Eurith Dickinson "Ed" Rivers served as Georgia governor from 1937 to 1941. He also served in the state House of Representatives and was Speaker of the House. The interviews in this series were conducted by Jane W. Herndon and used as material for her doctoral dissertation at the University of Georgia in the early 1970s. The dissertation covered E. D. Rivers's political life and the impact of his administration in Georgia politics from the 1920s to the 1940s. Other topics include the New Deal and Gov. Eugene Talmadge.

For Availability Information, see the Finding Aid.

Series M Oral Histories

Arnall, Ellis (P1989-37)

Interviewed by: Jane Walker Herndon

July 24, 1971, September 16, 1971

No Transcripts


Among topics discussed: Arnall's support of Carmichael in the 1946 governor's race; politics; Roy Harris; the nomination of Harry S Truman for Vice President in 1944; Franklin D. Roosevelt's political philosophy; diplomacy (the U‑2 incident); John F. Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs;   E. D. Rivers's administration; Arnall's destruction of records when leaving office; three‑governor controversy; James Cox and Rivers; 1938 governor’s race; Jimmy Carter; Rivers and the highway department; Jim Gillis; Lint Miller; Marvin Griffin. Political loyalty; egotism in politics; the waning power of the Ku Klux Klan in politics; George Hamilton and E. D. Rivers in the Klan; Hiram Evans; the rights of states to receive anti‑trust settlements; Rivers's racist attitudes; blacks' place in society. Gallogly pardon case; extradition of Gallogly; Rivers and Governor Cox; newspaper's attempts to smear Rivers; political power of newspapers; political accountability of the Rivers administration; 1945 constitution;  political break between Arnall and Rivers;  New Deal; Franklin D. Roosevelt; Rivers's base of financial support; costs of campaigns; racial attitudes in the 1942 governor’s race; white primary; financing political campaigns; Coca‑Cola; Arnall's financial support; primary political supporters; newspaper advertising; rising costs of political advertising; freight rates; northern colonialism; prejudice; Georgia v. Pennsylvania; the South and industrialization; Rivers support; Rivers as a politician; Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Among topics discussed: E.D. Rivers in the Georgia Assembly; Woodmen of the World; Rivers's family; Young Harris College; Arnall in the assembly; Rivers as speaker of the House; formation of the Rivers faction in the Democratic Party; Eugene Talmadge; Charlie Redwine; Rivers and the New Deal; the New Deal in Georgia; Arnall as President of the Senate; accomplishments of the Rivers administration; sales tax; highway department; Fred Scott and highway department bids; Rivers' relationship with Roy Harris and Arnall; New Deal special session; the fight to repeal prohibition; Franklin D. Roosevelt; abolishing prohibition as part of the New Deal; "little New Deal"; Harry Hopkins; financing for the prison at Reidsville; the Depression; Franklin D. Roosevelt at Warm Springs, Georgia; Rivers and the election of 1938;  Talmadge as a New Deal foe; Franklin D. Roosevelt and Walter George; Franklin D. Roosevelt and the federal highway funds; Roosevelt's mistakes; sales tax; homestead exemptions; Rivers and the highway department; Lint Miller; Jim Gillis; Fred Scott; Rivers as governor; pardons; Marvin Griffin; pardon racket; parole cases; Pat Avery as a parole lawyer; political corruption in Rivers administration; rumors of Rivers's drinking; assessment of Rivers administration; Rivers's early career; Rivers's break with Talmadge; Rivers's home life; Rivers's early life; Rivers after leaving office; Roy Harris; Arnall's legal career; Roy Harris; Rivers as speaker of the House; Woodmen of the World; Rivers after politics; Arnall's relationship with Rivers; Carl Sanders; Doctor Evans; Henry Grady Hotel; federal and state investigations of the highway department; Fred Scott.


Dean, Braswell (P1989-28)

Interviewed by: Jane Walker Herndon

August 13, 1971

No Transcript


Braswell Dean (1893-1981) served in the United States Congress from 1933‑1939, representing Georgia's eighth district.

Among topics discussed: Department of Public Welfare; social security; George Dean bill; vocational training in retail distribution; Ellis Arnall; welfare benefits to a child born to parents of different races; Albany tornado; commencement exercise at Dougherty High School (Albany); Dean's relationship with E. D. Rivers; reaction to welfare benefits to aforementioned baby; highway department; Lint Miller; River's drinking; Carl Vinson; Herndon's choice of Rivers as a topic. 1936 governor's race; accusations that Rivers courted Republican vote; Dean's view on attributes of a good husband; Rivers at Young Harris College; Rivers's political views; Jim Wells; vocational education; keynote speech at Rivers's 1936 convention address; the Republican party in Georgia; accusations of Rivers's Republican support; Rivers's early interest in politics; Rivers's personal characteristics; corruption in state departments; the Henry Grady Hotel; Rivers's weaknesses; highway department; corruption in Rivers' administration; Pressure for Dean to run for governor; Eugene Talmadge; corruption; public life; Marvin Griffin and John Greer's place in Rivers's administration; pardons and paroles; Rivers's daughter working for Lyndon B. Johnson; indictment against Rivers; Rivers's friends; Dean's resignation.


Griffin, Marvin (P1989-29)

Interviewed by: Jane Herndon

August 21, 1971

47 pp.


Marvin Griffin (1907-1982) served as Georgia's Adjutant General from 1944‑1948, as lieutenant governor from 1949‑1955, and as governor of Georgia from 1955 to 1959.

SEE also Griffin interview in series A.

Among topics discussed: How Griffin became E. D. Rivers's executive secretary; Rivers's personality; Rivers as a New Deal advocate; factionalism in Georgia politics; Griffin's 1954 gubernatorial campaign strategy; politics under the county unit system; the popular support for Eugene Talmadge; Ellis Arnall; the political break between Arnall and Rivers in 1946; reasons for Rivers's 1946 gubernatorial bid; the 1946 governor's race; Rivers's entry into politics; Rivers as a politician; Roy Harris; the 1936 governor's race; Lint Miller; Rivers as governor; modern politics; Francis Powers; Bay of Pigs; Jim Gillis; Thomas Camp; the 1936 George‑Talmadge Senate race. Federal intervention in state affairs; Rivers's drinking; Huey Long speaking to the Georgia House of Representatives; James Hamilton Lewis; sales tax; prohibition; school buses; pardons; Carl Sanders; pardons; Griffin's retirement.


Harris, Roy (P1989-30)

Interviewed by: Jane Walker Herndon

August 10, 1972; August 20, 1972

75 pp.


Roy Harris (1895-1985) was a force in Georgia politics from 1938 to 1954.  He served as the campaign manager for four Georgia governors: E.D. Rivers, Ellis Arnall, Herman Talmadge, and Gene Talmadge.  He served in the Georgia House from 1921‑1927 representing Jefferson County and in the Georgia Senate in 1931,  representing the 18th district.  He also served in the Georgia House from 1933‑1946, representing Richmond County, serving as Speaker of the House from 1937‑1946.

Among topics discussed: Harris and E.D. Rivers in the Assembly; Rivers's 1928 campaign for governor; Rivers as Speaker of the House; financial problems of the campaign; Fred Wilson; Walter George; 1930 governor's race; Zell Miller's father; "Young Harris crowd"; 1936 governor's race; John Greer; Downing Musgrove; Charles Redwine; the three R's (Roosevelt, Russell and Rivers); the New Deal in Georgia; Minimum Foundation program; the highway department; seven month schooling; ALTO and the fight over the mental hospital in Milledgeville; Rivers's mistakes in office; financing programs; Rivers and Harris; Rivers's radio interests; Robert Patton; Rivers financial success in the media; political corruption; how Ellis Arnall and Carl Sanders made money as Governor; raising money during a campaign to avoid future graft; sales tax; raising money for Rivers programs; Herman Talmadge and the sales tax; Rivers other campaigns; race as a political issue; the 1946 governor's race; raising money from farmers; the Arnall‑Rivers split; factionalism in Georgia politics; Harris as a gubernatorial candidate; Harris‑Arnall split over desegregation; Arnall's amendment to succeed himself; Eugene Talmadge; Jim Gillis; three‑governor controversy; Herman Talmadge campaign for governor in 1948; repealing prohibition; Arnall and Rivers support M.E. Thompson in 1948; possible Talmadge‑Thompson coalition; Herman Talmadge's drinking problem; Rivers's intolerance for liquor; Rivers's weakness for women; Lint Miller and the highway department; Jim Gillis; John Greer; Rivers's trial in Fulton county; Brick Blaylock; Dr. Hiram Evans; Lint Miller; Marvin Griffin and Roy Harris; Ernest Vandiver; political backstabbing; Ed Kelley and the Chicago machine; Georgia politics; Gene Cox, Walter George and the wives and mistresses; pardons; parole cases; what a parole meant financially; bug racket (numbers lottery); gambling in Georgia; Rivers‑Talmadge campaign money in 1936 and 1938; taking people to the polls; buying counties; grouping counties for campaigning; campaign espionage in the 1942 campaign; how Arnall won the 1942 election; the 1945 constitution; the succession amendment; Arnall's bitterness over defeat; campaign expenses; political conferences for campaign conferences; men and women; Rivers's national political aspirations; Rivers' honesty; Herman Talmadge's opinion of Rivers; Hubert Humphrey; Rivers's mistakes; pardons; making money in the Rivers administration; highway contractor's contributions; campaign money and favors; 1946 contributions to Talmadge campaign; 1966 senatorial race and campaign contributions; speaking for Talmadge in 1946; Talmadge supporters; George Wallace. 


Harris, Roy (P1989-30)

Interviewed by: Jane Walker Herndon

August 14, 1972; August 20, 1972

50 pp.


Among topics discussed: Franklin D. Roosevelt as Machiavelli; Roosevelt and Walter George; Roy Harris's support of George; money and politics; Rivers support from big business (Coca‑Cola); Hughes Spalding;

Fred Wilson; 1930 Rivers‑Richard Russell race; Grand Jury association; McDougall construction; Harris's testimony before the grand jury; John Boykin; campaign money; 1935 appropriations bill; Rivers taxing and spending; sales tax under Herman Talmadge; the time lag between tax levies and tax collections; Rivers and the highway department; Rivers's knowledge of the misappropriation of highway funds; loyalty; the 1948 Governor’s race; campaign money; M.E. Thompson; Rivers in 1946 governor's race; three‑governor controversy; 1948 Governor’s race; 1939 investigation of Rivers; Herman Talmadge as a lame duck governor; Talmadge's drinking; sales tax bill fight; Harris's control over House; the New Deal in 1939; highway contractors; Rivers's mistakes; Rivers and the newspapers; Rivers finances when leaving office; political gift giving; Marvin Griffin; James Spivey; pardons; grand jury investigations; John Boykin's investigation of Talmadge "crowd"; charges against Rivers; Atlanta newspapers attacking Harris; Arnall's succession amendment; county unit system; the New Deal; corruption; 1930 governor's race; timing in politics.


Lewis, John (P1989-32)

Interviewed by: Jane Walker Herndon

October 16, 1971

No Transcript


John Lewis, from Hancock County, served in the Georgia assembly during the 1920s,  1930s, and 1940s.

Among topics discussed: (The tape isdifficult to understand) Service on legislature with Rivers; early career of Lewis as purchasing agent, director of State Hospital Authority; contrast between 1936 and 1938 gubernatorial election; Rivers's candidacy for ambassadorship to Mexico; 1947 special election of Herman Talmadge by Georgia General Assembly; Rivers's early career; Rivers's education at Young Harris College; Rivers's marriage to Lucille Lashley.


Musgrove, Downing (P1989-33)

Interviewed by: Jane W. Herndon

August 11, 1971

No Transcript


Downing Musgrove (d. 1995) served as the secretary to E.D. Rivers from 1937 to 1940.

SEE also Musgrove interview in series B.

Among topics discussed: E.D. Rivers; tax structures; Rivers as a lawyer; Musgrove's relationship with Rivers; the "4 R's" campaign; Franklin D. Roosevelt; Walter George; the 1938 governor's race; Jim Gillis; the Atlanta press's treatment of Rivers; Gallogly (pardons); Governor Cox; the prison system in Georgia; pardons; the Depression's effect on the prison system; the Depression in Atlanta; the origins of the Rivers faction; Eugene Talmadge; the Rivers faction; Rivers as a speaker; Rivers's abilities as a courtroom lawyer; Rivers's honesty. The 1934 governor's race; Rivers's relationship with Assembly; reasons for Rivers entry into the 1946 governor’s race; three‑governor controversy ; Rivers's counties; campaigning under the county unit system.


Patten, L. L. (P1989-34)

Interviewed by: Jane Walker Herndon

August 11, 1971

No Transcript


L. L. Patten served on the highway board under the Rivers administration, from 1939 to 1940.  He also served Lanier County in the Georgia House of Representatives from 1929 to 1931, and served in the Georgia Senate from 1937 to 1938.

Among topics discussed: Lint Miller; pardons; Marvin Griffin; Roy Harris; Rivers's financial supporters; the 1936 governor’s race; Patten's Senatorial race in 1936; Rivers life after politics; political loyalties; Herndon's dissertation; 1936 supporters. Brick Blaylock; George Duckworth; John A. Boykin; Rivers's mausoleum; Rivers's newspaper; Eugene Lashley; Rivers in the legislature [this point is the start of the interview]; Jim Gillis and the highway department; Rivers and Gillis; Pattens appointment to the highway board; Lint Miller; reasons for split between Rivers and Miller; Miller's political ambitions; Rivers as an attorney; Rivers as a speaker. Ralph McGill's opinion of Rivers; Rivers's treatment of others; Rivers's last major speech; Marvin Griffin at Rivers's funeral; school buses; "little New Deal"; education reform; tax reform; corruption in the Rivers administration; the I.R.S.; Rivers's political enemies; Rivers's life after politics; Rivers's will; Rivers's family; creation of Lanier County.


Roquemore, W.A. (P1989-35)

Interviewed by: Jane Herndon

August 10, 1971

60 pp.


W.A. Roquemore (1923-2005) was an associate of E.D. Rivers.

Among topics discussed: Finances; perceptions of E.D. Rivers; playing cards; drinking habits; Carroll Downs; highway board; Marvin Griffin; L.L. Patten; E.D. Rivers before his death; political philosophy; political service; political attacks; Rivers as a public speaker; minimum wage bill; political ethics. E.D. Rivers in business; perceptions of Representative Miller; installation of sewer system; John Lee Miller. Knowing E.D. Rivers; perceptions of E.D. Rivers; Rivers's generosity; Ellis Arnall; Talmadge faction; Rivers's political philosophy; education; building schools; road paving program; "Sales Tax Eddie"; leadership; rush to achieve goals; Rivers's news coverage; selling pardons; campaigning against Talmadge; Air Force career; Franklin Roosevelt; Dwight Eisenhower; Jack Kennedy; Richard Nixon; Lyndon Johnson; Rivers as a Democrat. Rivers's personality; politics in 1946 governor's race; named ambassador to Mexico; financing a campaign; increasing wealth as governor.


Thompson, M.E. (P1989-36)

Interviewed by: Jane Walker Herndon

August 12, 1971

No Transcript


M.E. Thompson (1903-1980), elected lieutenant governor in 1946, served as governor of Georgia from 1947 to 1949 after the death of Eugene Talmadge.

SEE also Thompson interview in series A.

Among topics discussed: Rivers's education; Young Harris College; 1928 governor's race; "Blue Ridge chickens"; education reforms; "Little New Deal"; sales tax; highway‑building program; scandal over pardons and paroles; Rivers and Judge Beckwith; appointment of Charles Reed to Supreme Court. Comparison of Ellis Arnall and Rivers; scandals in highway department; use of road building for political gains; Rivers and Democratic National Committee;  Grassroots Politics in Georgia; race as issue in Georgia politics; Rivers and the Ku Klux Klan; Dr. Howard Nevins; John Greer; Greer's management of Thompson's 1950 campaign; 1938 Rivers campaign; impact of President Roosevelt on election. Political corruption at county level; 1936 Senate race; "Four R's"‑Roosevelt, Russell, Rivers, Roberts; Thompson's early career in education; busing; Talmadge's equalization of teachers' salaries regardless of race; Thompson's relationship with Talmadge; county unit system; 1948 attempt to ban Harry Truman from Georgia presidential ballot; special session of  Georgia legislature; E.D. Rivers; Rivers's impact on 1950 gubernatorial election; Rivers's ability as public speaker; highway politics; Jim Gillis and Rivers.  

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