Chamblee54

Gene Talmadge

Posted in Uncategorized by chamblee54 on May 14, 2012






There is a quote making the rounds from Jack Murtha. It seems like some of his nephews have been profiting from the family ties. The verbatim is
“If I’m corrupt, it’s because I take care of my district.” This appearance of impropriety is a gift to supporters of military adventure in Babylon. Mr. Murtha…a decorated Vietnam Vet…has been a vocal critic of the wars. His apparent ethical issues give war fans a convenient diversion.
This comment brings to mind a former Governor of Georgia, Eugene Talmadge. He was famous for saying, to cheering crowds,
“Sure I stole, but I stole for you”. PG suspected an urban legend, and decided to see what Mr. Google had to say.
Eugene Talmadge was Agriculture Commissioner before he was Governor. He had some relatives on the state payroll. There was something funky going on with fertilizer. He bought a bunch of hogs, and sent them to Chicago, where he thought he could make more money. After a while, some people started to ask questions. His answer was
“If I stole, it was for farmers like yourselves”. (This is on page 59 of “The Wild Man from Sugar Creek”.
This was in 1931. The depression hit Georgia hard. The wool hat boys were in a world of fertilizer. Mr. Talmadge set himself up as the champion of the dirt farmers, and the enemy of the lyin’ Atlanta newspapers. In 1932 he was elected Governor. He was re elected three times, but died in 1946, before he could serve again. He was replaced by two Governors.

Mr. Talmadge was elected because of the county unit system. Each of Georgia’s 159 counties got a certain number of votes. Three rural counties were the equivalent of winning Fulton County. Mr. Talmadge boasted that he never won a county with street cars.

Mr. Talmadge’s campaigns were legendary. He would speak at the county courthouse, and plants in the crowd would scream questions, like “what about those lyin Atlanta newspapers?”. One of his favorite lines was
“Yeah, it’s true. I stole, but I stole for you, the dirt farmer”.
PG’s aunt went to work at the Trust Company of Georgia in the early fifties. There was a story that the new employees were told. It seems as though Governor Talmadge was in the lobby of the Trust Company, after having a happy lunch. He had to use the restroom, and went to the corner of the lobby to relieve himself.

There is a statue of Gene Talmadge in front of the State Capitol. The plate at the base reads “I may surprise you, but I shall not deceive you”. It remains to be seen what will be carved underneath a statue of Jack Murtha.

This is a repost. Jack Murtha died February 8, 2010. Pictures are from “The Special Collections and Archives,Georgia State University Library”






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