Wednesday, March 24, 2004

An amazing chapter of history is presented in the book The Wild Man from Sugar Creek, which tells how Eugene Talmadge opposed Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his New Deal, how Talmadge and a coalition of Southern and Texan politicians and businessmen attempted to prevent F.D.R. from getting re-elected to President in 1936, and how Talmadge alienated the Democrats in his own state of Georgia, even his own supporters, by his tactless and reactionary speech and behaviour.

At one point, the Treasurer of the State, Hamilton, decided that Gene Talmadge had gone too far in his opposition to Roosevelt's New Deal program for federal roads in Georgia, and decided not to allow Talmadge to spend the funds without the approval of the legislature. Hamilton, through Georgia Senator Walter F. George, got F.D.R. to agree to order the Federal Reserve in Atlanta to reserve space for the collateral bonds which Hamilton held on the state depositories. Figuring that Talmadge was going to fire him, "The treasurer carefully drilled his staff on what to do in the event he was thrown out of office. They were to remove all collateral bonds and cash from the state vaults, set the eighty hour time lock on the empty vault,and run for the federal reserve and the local banks, where they were to deposit both bonds and cash.

"Speed was essential because of the closeness of the treasurer's and the governor's offices... (Not long afterward, the governor told his aide, Henry Spurlin "George (Hamilton) won't open the safe, so go over there and tell him he's fired and to get out!"

Spurlin later said, "I went in and found Hamilton sitting at his desk, and I told him he would have to leave his office at once. He pulled a large pistol and placed it on the desk, and said,'I am constitutionally elected to this office, and I have the means to protect it.' I turned around and went back across the hall to the governor's office and told him that George had a big pistol on his desk and was refusing to leave. Gene blew up, and started yelling at the top of his lungs, 'Lindley, Lindley, Lindley!'

About that time, the Adjutant General came walking through the door, and said,'Keep quiet, Governor, I heard you all the way across the street.'

The Governor has his replacement for Treasurer, Tobe Daniel, and locksmiths trying to open the vaults, which were empty, unbeknownst to him.

The story gets better... Read about it in The Wild Man from Sugar Creek, 1975, William Anderson, published by Louisiana State University Press in Baton Rouge.

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