In the years following his defeat in the 1942 Governor’s race, thanks to lying press, Gene Talmadge would make himself a thorn in the backs of the enemy. Gene knowing, he was free from political pressures that came with high office and getting reelected would harden in his defiance against FDR and the growing liberalization of America during WW 2. In fact, it was around this time Talmadge would be attacked by columnist Ralph McGill for attending a Klan banquet. Talmadge replied to Ralph that “Everyone had a good time, and I wish, Ralph, that you could have been their” (Anderson 212). Ralph by the way was one of the many men who took money from the (((Rosenwald))) Fund and was also an ardent anti segregationist. He was to become well known as an arch-liberal of his day, thus adding more ironic sting to Gene’s response. Talmadge would move further and further to the political right in the years after his defeat. He rightfully saw the expansions of the federal government as a threat to the traditions of the south. He called the feds out for flirting with the cause of black radicals.
“He [Gene] became so isolationist that he even jumped Churchill for meddling in the affairs of the united states senate. And conversely, he said FDR was “dictating” to the foreign lands by trying the New Deal for world regimentation”. he said the New Dealers were working toward a “full-fledged police system over the world”. In his hatred of Roosevelt, his Statesmen carried such headlines as, “Election of Roosevelt Means Promoting of Negroes in Georgia”. (Anderson 213)
It becomes very clear that Talmadge had uncanny abilities to see the threats and their source. Talmadge was a visionary of his times. He saw the disturbing trend of the federal government wanting to police the world to “make it safe for muh democracy”. This egalitarian blind worship of democracy, seen since the end of the Civil War by the Yankees, had taken grip over the whole nation by the 1940s. Thanks to the nonstop propaganda machine being ran by the (mostly) Jewish/Yankee owned newspapers. These were the years in America where “racism” became stigmatized especially in the North. This would set the stage for the Second Reconstruction (commonly called the “Civil Rights Movement”) in the 1950s and 60s. Talmadge had prophesied the things to come.
Talmadge Vs the IRS 1945
Since 1935 (when Talmadge first came out against the New Deal) FDR had sent the IRS to try to bring down Gene Talmadge. Since then they had found nothing on Talmadge. The federal rats had checked around the worlds banks and even were spotted sneaking around on Talmadge’s farm counting his live stock. By 1945 after a decade of secret investigations (that gave them nothing) the investigators came to Talmadge’s law office and gave him a tab of 3,000$ for all the work they had done. Talmadge exploded with anger at the federal interlopers saying “Now you goddamn son of a Bitches have been after me for ten years. Now you go over to the federal courts and get an indictment to make me pay, and I’ll see you in court!” (Anderson 219). The investigators had backed off and were not seen around there again. Talmadge had made a fool of the IRS. A feat in itself considering how many politicians and political activist have been brought down by the IRS.
Battle over the White Primary 1946
It always angers me when thinking over how the Southland has suffered at the hands of the egalitarian US federal government over the years. This can be seen on how the US treated the south after the War ended. To show Georgia and the South its gratitude for fighting in WW2 the US Supreme Court struck down Georgia’s White only Primary on April 1st, 1946. The White Primary was necessary and vital to the stability of the South. Without the Primary blacks would be able to undermine elections and thus elections would end up being a contest on who could hand out the most “gibs”. Governor Arnall had made statements trying to get the people of Georgia to accept the tyrannical court’s decisions. This in its self is hypocrisy when you consider Arnall had ran on the issue of “academic freedom” yet was willing to let judges up in Washington D.C decide Georgia’s fate. While accusing Talmadge of being the next Hitler for throwing out two Yankee leftist educators. Talmadge himself was utterly disgusted with timid Arnall and the changes he made in 1945 to the State Constitution. When Gene heard the news that the Federal Courts were striking down the South’s White Primaries he was infuriated and ready for a fight. Meanwhile, in Atlanta, a battle was brewing between Governor Ellis Arnall and ex-Governor Ed Rivers and Rep. Roy Harris. The three men all wanted to become Governor in 1946. Rivers thought that he had made Arnall and so did Harris. In truth both men played roles in the rise of Arnall to the Governorship. Harris was known as a powerful political Kingmaker for his ability to crown the Governor by making deals with the county political gangs. This would all set the stage for Gene to fully reappear again from the shadows of his farm down in South Georgia. Rumors spread across Georgia that “Ole Gene” would take another shot at the Governorship. Many liberals indeed feared the return of the Wildman. When on January 25th, 1946 when Arnall found out his attempt to get a two-term amendment failed in the Georgia house he was out of the race. The liberal forces in Georgia would begin infighting over who’d be their candidate thus Talmadge’s chances to become Governor grow.
However, Talmadge’s forces began to worry when one of Genes old allies, Tom Linder, had polled more than Gene in some of the test polls. Gene would have to deal with Linder. On March 8th Atlanta was struck by the shocking news that Federal courts in New Orleans had made a mandate allowing blacks to vote in the previously all-White primaries. This would cause massive amounts of fear in the hearts of liberals in Georgia. Now, they would actually be forced to fight or compromise, they could no longer straddle the fence to gain votes. There could be no more fence riding. Roy Harris (who was a Speaker of the General Assembly) called for a session in the Assembly to save the White Primary. Talmadge however was ready to get rid of the whole primary laws and let the Democratic party just do the white primary. (Georgia actually had laws that kept the White-Primary in place, so Talmadge wanted to just abandon the official state laws that the SCOTUS declared illegal and just run the Democratic Party as a private club, thus allowing them to deny blacks a place in the club). This would increase the tensions but when April arrived news that federal Courts had completely abolished the white primary (both in state laws & by the parties) the Georgia election became perhaps the most important in state history. The milquetoast Governor Arnall then came out with a gutless call of compromise by basically telling Georgians to throw in the towel and that it didn’t matter if blacks voted. I wonder if Arnall was naïve or just showing his true colors, that color being yellow. Thus, the stage was set for a legendary showdown, one that would decide the fate of Georgia for the next 2 decades.