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THE 1960'S POLITICAL TRANSFORMATION OF GEORGIA POLITICS

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A brief summary of the role of Senator James P. Wesberry, Jr.

THE 1960s POLTICAL TRANSFORMATION
OF GEORGIA POLITICS
In the mid-1960s, Atlanta & Georgia politics changed forever when the Fulton County delegation to the Georgia Senate increased from one to seven and that of the House of Representatives increased from three to twenty-four members. Three cases, Baker v. Carr (1962), followed by Wesberry v. Sanders (1964), and Reynolds v. Sims (1964), a series of Warren Court cases applied the principle of "one person, one vote" to U.S. legislative bodies. It was the Mayor of Millington, Tennessee (a northern suburb of Memphis), Charles W. Baker who took to the American court system to express his grievance that the State of Tennessee had not performed a mandated redistricting (let alone a formulated one) since the beginning of the twentieth century. In the case, Baker v. Carr (1962), while certain U.S. Supreme Court justices felt it was not the place of the court to involve itself in such an overtly political matter such as reapportionment (i.e. Felix Frankfurter), others asserted that the Guarantee Clause of the U.S. Constitution [Article IV, Section 4] "The United States shall guarantee to every state in this Union a Republican Form of government & the Citizenship Clause [Amendment XIV, Section 1]...[no State shall] deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws" provided sufficient grounds for intervention (thereby reversing the opinion of the District Court). Noting the evidence demonstrating enormous population imbalances between the various Tennessee legislative districts (which gave enormous power to rural, sparsely-populated areas over urban ones), it was ruled that the plaintiff's concerns and observations were legitimate.

Opening the doors for the unprecedented abolition of Georgia's county unit system, Baker v. Carr created numerous channels for advocates of legislative and political reform to strike "while the iron was hot" as the Warren Court appeared to be pushing the momentum of change in their favor. At first, under Baker v. Carr only one chamber was required to be fairly apportioned. Because the Georgia House contained 205 members while the Senate contained 54, it was deemed easier to reapportion the Senate and the Fulton County Senate delegation was increased from one (actually originally shared by rotation with two other counties) to seven members. (G. Everett Millican followed by Charlie Brown had served as the Fulton Senator).

In 1964 six new Senators were added representing Fulton County while Charlie Brown was reelected. The new Senators were former mayor of College Park Frank Coggin; insurance executive Dan MacIntyre (the only Republican); well-known businessman Oby T. Brewer; Attorney Leroy R. Johnson (the first Negro elected to the Georgia Legislature since Reconstruction years); James P. Wesberry, Jr., a Certified Public Accountant; and Attorney Joe Salome, a former Georgia Tech football star. Unfortunately, Wesberry had participated in a unique write-in movement against the new Lieutenant Governor Peter Zack Geer, a strong segregationist, who never forgot his opposition and usually referred all bills he introduced to his "deep freeze." There had only been three Representatives {Wilson Brooks, Ralph McClelland Jr., and Jack Etheridge in 1964}.

But in 1966, as a result of the second legislative case of Reynolds v. Sims that required both Houses to be reapportioned Fulton County welcomed twenty-four new individuals to its legislative ranks. These included aircraft dealer Guy Hill; renowned banker and member of the south Fulton political dynasty, Young Longino; Atlanta Alderman, Rodney Mims Cook; powerful realtor, Goodwyn "Shag" Cates; southside marine dealer G.D. Adams; East Point recreation superintendent, Richard "Dick" Lane; attorney, Charlie Carnes; attorney and proud Greek-American, Nick Lambros; Master Manufacturing Co. President, Bill Sims; Minority Whip, Republican Mike Egan; lodge operator, prominent investor, and Renaissance man, Kiliaen V.R. 'Kil' Townsend; former American Tire Company President and realtor, Haskew Brantley; and African-American civil rights activists, Julius C. Daugherty, Benjamin Brown, Julian Bond, & Grace Towns Hamilton (among several others).

A breakthrough occasion in state politics, the diverse mix of brilliant and colorful personalities was one of the most dynamic in Georgia
history; to this day, it is doubtful that such a vibrant combination of individuals has come to represent any portion of the state ever since. At the heart of this massive transformation was a remarkable and profoundly-intelligent man named Mr. James Pickett "Jim" Wesberry (b. September 22, 1934) a former page in the U.S. House of Representatives [1949-1951], the overseer in charge of federal pages [1950-1951], member of the Georgia State Senate [1963-1967] and the plaintiff in the politically-shattering case, Wesberry v. Sanders (1964). Recalling that the biggest distinction in the early-1960s in Georgia government was the urban-rural divide between Atlanta and the rest of the state, Jim Wesberry emerged as one of the strongest proponents of eliminating the outdated and archaic county unit system. Employing his legal force to mount an official challenge to the established order of reapportionment against Governor Carl Sanders (the defendant in the case), Wesberry pushed his case forward all the way to the highest judiciary in the nation; he won a 6-3 victory with Justices John M. Harlan II, Tom C. Clark, & Potter Stewart dissenting (some only in part).

Although his case reaffirmed that Georgia and many other states in America had constituencies that were unequal in population, Wesberry painfully broke the hearts of his many friends and acquaintances whose political existences hinged on the county unit system's preservation. Among these was U.S. Rep. James C. Davis: the high-profile congressional opponent of voting rights for the District of Columbia and the man for whom Wesberry had paged as an adolescent in the United States' Congress (and who would lose re-nomination during the following election cycle to Charles Weltner). While Wesberry still illustrates the far-reaching impact of his case (including its mandating of decennial reapportionment of the U.S. House of Representatives which continues to this day), he remarked that it was only one component which comprised a rolling tidal wave of major changes coming to Georgia. With the eight-fold expansion of the two Fulton County legislative delegations, however, he noted that it had been, unquestionably, the greatest structural change of his political career.

Upon his election Wesberry found that he was in a rather historic situation. He represented the 37th District, seated beside him in the Senate was Senator Leroy Johnson of the 36th District who had made national news as the first Negro Senator elected in Georgia since the Civil War. Their photo together came out in Time Magazine. They had not known each other before running for office, had crossed paths at political meetings during the campaign, but were barely acquainted. A supporter suggested to Wesberry that he visit Johnson to congratulate him on election night when the results were announced. He thought that was a great idea and did so. Thus began a very close friendship between the two rather controversial Senators that, in fact, made Wesberry far more controversial.

Many of the newly elected Senators were reluctant to become close to, or even be seen with Senator Johnson as this was still the era of widespread segregation of the races. Some Senators and most of the House members saw Wesberry as a traitor to his race. They would only nod at Johnson and would ignore Wesberry completely. The two had no choice but to become close friends. Soon they were joined by Senator Joe Salome and the three integrated most all of the previously segregated places around the Capitol building. Gradually more and more Senators realized that Senator Johnson was a serious and highly educated and qualified leader and began to accept him. Most were slower to accept Wesberry but finally did by the end of the first session of the newly reapportioned Senate.

In the 1965 elections a second Negro Senator Horace Ward was elected as well as a second Republican, Fletcher Thompson, whose father was a good friend of Wesberry. Thus, as the second reapportioned session started in 1966, Wesberry was elected by his fellow Senators as the first chairman of the Fulton County Senate Delegation. He used his contacts with County officials whom he had known as county auditor to get the delegation a small office in the Capitol, a secretary and portable dictation machines for their correspondence.

But Wesberry was still held back because of the enmity of Lieutenant Governor Geer whom he had opposed two years earlier. As then-Sen. Wesberry mounted a plane bound for Lima, Peru in May of 1967 (making a most mysterious and enigmatic departure from a sphere of illustrious and dubious politicians at the Gold Dome), he forever left behind any influence that he could directly exert over Georgia politics; for the individual who had left such a lasting mark on state and federal history and was poised for further advancement, his departure prompted a slew of inquiries and public rumors.

Known to some as the 'most controversial politician in Georgia since Gene Talmadge' and to others as a 'gadfly to rural legislators,' Jim Wesberry now a resident of the suburban parish of Cumbayá on the outskirts of the Ecuadorian capital of Quito (where he has lived since his invitation to work in the office of the nation's Comptroller General as part of a greater reformation effort) Wesberry disappeared and reappeared all over the map as he tackled international and domestic corruption, formed his strategic alliances, and discerned his enemies. Discussing his life's long and adventure-filled journey back from his formative years, Wesberry stated, "Before I ever knew the role Hispanic & Spanish-speaking countries would play in my life, the only place I had been to in Latin America was Cuba; there, I had traveled to my wife's hometown of Victoria de Las Tunas. Located approximately 170 miles northwest of Guantanamo, the medium-sized city in Las Tunas Province later had its name changed to simply, 'Las Tunas' in 1976. Recognized as one of the largest bastions of support for the Cuban Revolution, the town was abuzz with political and revolutionary activity when we visited there between September-January, 1952 during the regime of American-backed military dictator, Fulgencio Batista (also known by his title, El Hombre meaning, 'The Man'). Not a particularly unpopular figurehead, Batista was later rejected by the citizenry amid an inflamed landscape of political and social instability, unrest, and corruption. When I eventually returned to Cuba in 1959, Fidel Castro had already been sworn-in as the 15th Prime Minister of Cuba with, as many would precipitously remark, the 'support of all loyal countrymen.' With everyone in my wife's family supporting Castro (including my brother-in-law who had even participated in guerrilla warfare in the mountains with the revolutionary himself), it was surprising that I did not come back to the Caribbean nation until resigning my seat in the Georgia State Senate. But truthfully, ever since I'd left Cuba in 1959, I kept it in the back of my mind for a few miscellaneous reasons.

As a result of my ineptitude in raising funds as a politician, I had accumulated a multitude of 'political debts' whose repayment would be daunting. Exploring the prospect of utilizing the foreign-earned income exclusion from taxes to my benefit, I pondered where to go in the time prior to stepping down from my position in the General Assembly in the aftermath of the controversial 1966 gubernatorial election in Georgia. As fate would hold, we migrated down to Lima where with some effort, I managed to pay off these debts within a period of roughly two years. It was an alleviating but bittersweet sigh of relief."

In the early-1930s, the late-Rev. James P. Wesberry LL.D. (1906-1992) was sent to preach over at a small Baptist church in the town of Bamberg, South Carolina (located halfway between the cities of Augusta & Charleston) in the early portion of his preaching and ministerial career. Within a short time, Rev. Wesberry had his son, the former Georgia State Senator in 1934 at the Baptist Hospital in the capital city of Columbia – the ancestral home of the broader Wesberry family. With his wife's untimely passing just seven years later, Rev. Wesberry moved his family toward the end of World War II to 1791 Meadowdale Avenue in the Morningside neighborhood of Atlanta. A pastor in Medford (Massachusetts), Kingstree (South Carolina), Bamberg, Soperton, Georgia , and at Morningside Baptist Church on Piedmont Avenue (a prestigious religious institution where preachers themselves possessed a status equivalent to that of the city and state's most respected politicians),

Rev. Wesberry served notably as Acting Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives in 1949. There, it seemed his presence obscured the image of him as an upstanding and noble pastor with another illustration as a brilliant and well-spoken statesman. Indeed, if he would have acted on his deep-seeded desire to go into politics, the available insights from history show he would have been in humble terms, afforded an 'above-average chance.' At high noon on Tuesday, August 16, 1949 (just hours prior to the tragic automobile accident on Peachtree Street that resulted in the death of author, Margaret Mitchell), Rev. Wesberry offered a prayer to the members of the nation's highest legislative body in Washington D.C., stating in conclusion "Grant to the people of our land, Holy Father, the sweet peace that comes from the realization that our Nation is richly-blessed with such a goodly number of righteous and consecrated leaders, who, by day and night, give of their best to lead our country to nobler ideals and higher achievements. In the spirit of Jesus, Amen."

With the reverend's arrival to Washington to execute his religious duties, he enlisted his son to serve as a page in 1949 under U.S. Rep. from Georgia, James C. Davis. Jim Wesberry elaborated "The job with Rep. Davis later got me an appointment with Rep. Brooks Hays of Arkansas's 5th Congressional District. Now, this was quite an intriguing occurrence because Davis tended to sit on the more conservative side of the political spectrum than the latter official. Several years later in the mid-1950s, Hays would be heavily criticized by segregationists during the dramatic chain of events at Little Rock Central High School that involved the city's educational leaders, an onlooking national public, President Eisenhower, and Gov. Orval Faubus.

In my third year at the capitol, I would get patronage from both Hays & Davis...Well, many fascinating things happened in the late-1940s, early-1950s on Capitol Hill, but from my own perspective, I can speak to two of the, arguably, most important. Chronologically, the first to occur was a three-hour-speech presented by then-U.S. Representative from Whittier, California named Richard Nixon, entitled, 'Pumpkin Papers.' Named for five rolls of 35 mm film discovered inside a pumpkin on the farm belonging to ex-Communist Whittaker Chambers, the 'papers' consisted of a number of classified State Department documents (along several handwritten notes) that would be used to implicate Alger Hiss as a spy for the Soviet Union. The second most significant event was General Douglas MacArthur's 1951 farewell address to the members of the U.S. Congress – 'Old Soldiers Never Die [They Just Fade Away]' which he delivered following his relief of duties by President Harry Truman, with whom he disagreed on their military strategies for the continuation of the Korean War. In the photograph of MacArthur's address on the House floor, I am standing approximately ten feet from the general just beneath the full-length portrait of American Revolutionary General, Marquis de Lafayette. From my vantage point, as MacArthur spoke, I could see tears running down the face of Richard Nixon.

My dream from those days onward was to pursue an elected position within the House." Some years passed and as Wesberry returned to the northside of Atlanta, an opportunity arose when Ernest Vandiver came to power in Georgia. Succeeding Marvin Griffin as governor, Vandiver established the new Criminal Division of the State Law Department, to whose head he appointed Assistant Attorney General, Bob Hall (a native of Soperton and protégé of Jim Gillis); he, additionally recruited three retired Federal Bureau of Investigation agents. As part of the work of the division, the authorities determined it was necessary to bring in a Certified Public Accountant. Offering this position to Wesberry (who had studied accounting at Georgia State University and was then with a leading CPA firm), they recognized that most others in the profession would not have wanted to even come close to touching the corruption issue. Fairly experienced with conducting large-scale audits (as he had recently completed one of the State of Maine from 1955 to 1958), Wesberry seemed like an ideal candidate for an exceptionally intimidating job.

Assigned the responsibility by a grand jury of auditing Jackson County, Georgia and investigating Judge Maylon B. Clinkscales (the owner of a small, local petroleum company), Wesberry proved that the judge sold the county more gasoline than it could have used if all vehicles ran twenty-four hours daily, all year (the most hypothetical standard to prove his guilt). Exploding with political tension, Jackson County soon witnessed the murder of Piedmont Judicial Circuit's Solicitor General, Floyd G. "Fuzzy" Hoard: the county attorney at the time of the department's investigation and who, in Wesberry's words, "knew where the bodies were buried and very diplomatically showed them to [him]." When Wesberry later arrived to Peru in the mid-1960s, he had by chance noticed a newspaper headline announcing Floyd Hoard's unfortunate and politically-motivated death; it was a tragic and unsettling reminder of the dirty and rat-infested nest that had become Georgia politics. After contending with the Clinkscales scandal in north Georgia, Wesberry transitioned to fighting for integrity in state government. He began by investigating corruption in Georgia whose unofficial nickname was 'Cheney Griffin' the wild and unpredictable (but characteristic) brother of Governor Marvin Griffin (for further information, see John Savage).

As Wesberry cracked open the books to examine irregularities and indications of misconduct, he confronted a burgeoning scandal involving tractor dealer H. Candler Jones (who was already in the process of being investigated for an unraveling controversy). Sent to perform special investigative work through wearing a metal wired recorder around his stomach and tasked with looking over Jones' subpoenaed-financial books, Wesberry soon began to derive a clearer glimpse of the unfolding intricate scheme. The operator of a regional John Deere franchise, Jones controlled the single-greatest share of the tractor industry in Georgia with a hold on dozens of state counties. In the relevant materials Wesberry was asked to review, he discovered that Candler Jones was bidding against himself for government contracts thoughtlessly pressing his ballpoint pen on a stack of checks to create a written impression to simulate a competitive bidding process. Moreover, he found records of a monthly check issued by Mr. Jones to the governor's brother, Cheney Griffin.

In a move to aid the political ambitions of Carl Sanders, Wesberry urged him to use photocopies he has unearthed demonstrating the monetary bribes offered to Griffin to conceal the illicit business practice; adhering to his suggestion (and much to his satisfaction), Sanders began throwing out the photocopies among members of the audience at his rallies and speeches. Essentially, Jones would place three bids with his nearest-located franchises to the county in which a job came up to create the illusion that multiple bidders were going against each other; the practice was completely illegal and afforded him unilateral market control. Determining a clear link between Cheney Griffin and Jones (as well as with the enabling state purchase agent), Wesberry and his team pursued an indictment of the governor's brother in 1960; the case ultimately went to trial.

Testifying as an expert witness, Wesberry was mercilessly butchered by Summerville criminal defense attorney Bobby Lee Cook – the Matlock-based rural northwest Georgia lawyer whose cross-examination method of "Give me some paper, and I can do damage to anybody" had aided in establishing himself as a lawyer with a very distinct reputation. An experienced attorney (known for charging the famed amount of one-hundred thousand dollars), Cook was able to employ his legal skills to get Cheney Griffin 'off the hook.' During the course of the case at the Fulton County Courthouse, Wesberry recalled how he had been told about the time Cook, after winning a big case, was so intoxicated that he fell down the building's front steps; yet, it was only insisted that he accumulated more intelligence with every sip of alcohol he consumed.

Unsuccessfully attempting to pursue Cheney Griffin, the department also failed to bring Deere & Company into the litigious affair; owing to the enormous influence and size of the corporation, its officials escaped any form of legal action. Interestingly, when Griffin later became Wesberry's colleague in the State Legislature as a House member from Bainbridge [Decatur], he defied his expectations of engaging in an awkward and strained interaction; instead, Griffin surprised him by pleasantly exchanging some courtesies. Oddly, at the time Gene Cook was the Attorney General of Georgia, Wesberry received the impression that he was not completely trusted by Gov. Vandiver given that the governor made an agreement that he would only be represented by Bob Hall (who had first held the appointment to the head of the aforementioned division), not Cook. While this specific arrangement was kept concealed for years, Gov. Carl Sanders would eventually abolish the department (even following the exposure of Cheney Griffin's rampant corruption); this, effectively, closed a dark but intriguing chapter in Georgia's history.

Gaining notoriety throughout his investigations, his political activities, and being the son of one of the city's premier Baptist preachers, Wesberry entered his nomination for the 37th Senate District Democratic primary in 1962; receiving the endorsement of The Atlanta Constitution, Wesberry fended off respected Atlanta Alderman, Bill Sims (whom he had described as "the favored candidate to win the race," "too decent for politics," and "sympathetic to those with disabilities"). Tracing the boundaries (approximately) of Atlanta's 6th Ward, the district included Morningside, various northeastern city neighborhoods, and two Black-majority precincts (which included the church of Martin L. King Jr.). Fixing his sights on achieving sweeping change, Sen. Wesberry soon initiated his campaign to reconfigure the established order of Georgia politics and disrupt the decades-long system of operation.

He explained, "During my first senatorial term, I envisioned rearranging Atlanta-Fulton government into a consolidated form paralleling that of Jacksonville-Duval in Florida in order to circumvent the creation of individual local governments with the cropping up of little municipalities in Fulton. Thus, the county's six other senators and I began immediately drafting a plan to fulfill this aim. As news spread of our actions, Mayor Ivan Allen quickly invited me to his office in downtown Atlanta where he rolled down a big map on his wall, remarking that the City could not possibly service the whole county from north to south Fulton, let alone be able to provide adequate police and fire protection. {The Atlanta Constitution wrote on December 14, 1962: "Sen.-elect James Wesberry Jr. pointed out that 80 percent of Fulton's population is in Atlanta. [Archie] Lindsey said that an additional commissioner from the north end (old Milton County) would represent only 14,000 people north of the Chattahoochee River and only 30,000 if Sandy Springs is included. Population growth outside the city of Atlanta in the unincorporated area has been relatively slow, he said"}. My long-term vision was, ultimately, to consolidate the governments of Cobb, Gwinnett, Rockdale, DeKalb, & Fulton with increasing population growth. If this had occurred, Atlanta would not have been so large and unmanageable; why, it might have even been honest! In spite of Mayor Allen's evident popularity and progressive instincts, he dismissed my idea entirely; from my perspective, it was one of the greatest political disappointments I experienced.

I did, however, have my share of accomplishments, one of which was having the privilege of writing the financial portion of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority [MARTA] Act of 1965; on this, I worked extensively with DeKalb Senator, Ben Johnson Jr. who, coincidentally, had been my law professor at Emory. I also learned my share of political lessons, one of the greatest of which I derived from State Treasurer [1933-1962], Mr. George B. Hamilton the only other CPA in Georgia government besides myself during that period. He informed me that in politics, you are only able to get your name in a newspaper a fixed number of times; therefore, you should always seek to produce the most attention-getting publicity-generating quotations. I utilized this piece of advice during a speech I delivered at a South Georgia Junior College in which I was famously quoted, 'No progressive piece of legislation can pass the General Assembly until one-hundred members are sent back to the farm and put behind the plow." My discourse, focusing on the subject of malapportionment within the General Assembly, was met with reactions of disbelief and shock amongst many of the chamber's rural members. Prior to my entry in the legislature, Fulton County was only represented by one senator, Charlie Brown (who had first been sworn-in in 1957) and three representatives, Muggsy Smith, Wilson Brooks, and Ralph McClelland Jr."


"When reapportionment occurred, Fulton County was allotted seven state senators (including myself), but the number of representatives remained just a three; some believed this was the result of a greater power struggle with modifying the size of the lower chamber. Besides criticism against my speech in spoken and written form, Sen. Brooks 'Sonny' Pennington of Madison [Morgan] took to present me with a mule (named 'Old Wes') as a humorous retaliatory token of his offense (I learned of his intention to do this while at the Henry Grady Hotel the previous day). On Monday, January 20, 1964, The Atlanta Constitution ran the headline of the recent events; I had also arranged for some photographs with my children riding it in front of the capitol building.

Well, there were many colorful characters in the legislature back then, including Sen. Pennington and even Atlanta's-own Charlie Brown. We always used to joke that Brown tended to vote with the last person with whom he'd spoken and shaken hands out in the lobby; thus, his last conversation we said, was the ultimate point of persuasion for him. My most important acquaintances in the State Senate were Jimmy Carter of Plains [Sumter] & Robert Alvin "Bobby" Rowan (1935-2021) of Enigma [Berrien] – the latter with whom I shared polar-opposite political viewpoints. I was a mere 27-years-old (a month older than Rowan) when I won the Democratic primary for the State Senate and we continued to collaborate throughout our tenures in government. Indeed, I had the impression that if everything lined up correctly, I would keep advancing through the ranks to the very top.

After working full-time on the campaign of former Gov. Ellis Arnall in 1966 while also running for reelection, I was prepared to resign my seat and accept a position within his administration. Atlanta restaurateur and political commentator, Lester Maddox, however, would emerge as my single biggest political foe. Given his long-established friendship with my father, we, too, initially maintained a friendly communication. Yet, our politics were different; when he pursued the racial aspect of politics, furthermore, they diverged further. Overcome with such rage for Maddox, he retaliated by sending the members of the state legislature (including myself) 'hate mail' directed against me. One time, I even caught him stuffing one of the mailboxes (where we would receive our letters and telephone memos).

Although he was an 'oddball' by popular description, he was one of the best comedians I'd ever encountered, possibly even more skilled at making people laugh than Dick Van Dyke. Humorously, when my father had once urged me to attend The Dale Carnegie Course as a college student, I happened to be in the class with Maddox (who had already become an icon in Greater Atlanta due to his proprietorship of the Pickrick) in the basement of an old house on West Peachtree where the class was being taught!"

"Maddox was known for walking around with a coffee pot in one hand, a pitcher of ice tea in the other, and a mouth that was constantly running jokes," Wesberry continued. "Every speech he made was hilarious and he never failed to leave us in stitches during our impromptu speech session we needed to participate in during the Carnegie course. I remember how The Atlanta Journal used to have a special section called the 'green sheet' (called such for the color of paper on which it was printed; edited by Dick Gray who wrote the column, 'Gray Matter') which outlined the schedule of programs; usually, you kept it by the TV set for convenience. Maddox would always place his comical advertisements on the back page of the schedule; he was truly an integral part of everyday life. One night in the mid-1950s, I recall venturing out in summertime on West Peachtree Street (where you used to be able to park after 6pm) when I encountered a contemplative-Maddox who confessed to me that he was receiving pressure to challenge mayoral incumbent, William B. Hartsfield in the 1957 contest. As he got back into the driver's seat of his vehicle, he invited me to join him on the passenger side as we continued talking; he explained the decision at-hand, and remarked that one political group in the city was urging him to run on an ardent segregationist platform (while another was urging him to adopt a more moderate approach). Only being in my early-20s, I wasn't sure if he was asking me to provide my input, but in any case, I didn't pass down an opinion to him, either way..."

"The day Lester Maddox was finally elected governor of Georgia years later in a Joint Legislative session, it was a sad day in Georgia's capital city in January of 1967 as the legislators were constitutionally required to elect the governor after no candidate had received a majority vote in the traditional general election. In the general, the longtime tradition of Democratic dominance was disrupted when a Republican Bo Callaway gained a plurality of votes but did not meet the required majority (50%+). Thus, the final election came before the Joint Legislative Session for determination.

The voting was broadcast all over national television with the major networks sending their top political reporters and camera crews to cover it. It was an incredibly exciting day, but looking back, it is hard to remember many details. Due to a recent injury back in November (after my reelection) which resulted in a severely broken ankle, needing to wear a cast, and being wheelchair-bound, I was taken to the capitol by a driver; when I came inside, I had to carefully maneuver my wheelchair through the crowds, trying to avoid several television crews who were attempting to interview me about the cause of my injury. My very close friend Jim Skidmore (immediate past President of the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce) was in town on business, so I arranged for him to be on the floor in the back of the room; I had served as Vice President with him the previous year. The joint session was held in the House chamber: the only room in the capitol big enough to accommodate the entire General Assembly, the visitors, and the press. I managed to find a small place in the aisle on the right hand side of the chamber where chairs had been added for the senators; supposedly, I was to share a microphone with the representative sitting beside me.

Because I had been extremely controversial in many areas (particularly involving my opposition to decades of malapportionment, corruption, and disproportionate rural domination), I was never welcome into the house chamber; consequently, I had rarely ever been in there. As I began positioning myself, thus, to the rural representative's flank, he just gave me this unpleasant glare. For the fourth time in four months, I was prepared to vote against Lester Maddox (my worst enemy in state politics) at the joint session presided over by Lieutenant Governor, Peter Zack Geer my second worst enemy in Georgia. As the session opened, I began using my irate seatmate's microphone in a debate with Geer over some point. As he had done numerous times in the Senate during the past four years, Geer overruled me persistently until the time arrived for the alphabetical roll call to ensue. Since my surname came at the very end of the list, I was one of the last individuals to be called. When Geer finally called my name, I stood up to reach for the microphone, but was unable to pull it out for use. It immediately dawned on me that my unfriendly seat partner had tied several knots in the microphone cable under his desk to keep me from using it. I had no other choice but to stand up and shout my vote as loudly as I could: 'Howard Hollis Callaway!'

Unfortunately, as everyone had known for weeks, the fix was in; Maddox was elected governor by a vote of 182-66. Many of the urban legislators had even voted 'present' to avoid voting for a Republican. I, however, never voted 'present' in my entire political life as I felt it was my duty to always give my opinion with a vote. That came to be the conclusion of a big day in our state and nation's history. Perhaps, it was also a sorrowful ending to my political service as four months later, I handed Governor Maddox my resignation as State Senator to begin a new career in Latin America. With that, I never looked back ever again."

And so, whether one viewed Wesberry as a gadfly, a thorn in the side of the rural "Yellow Dog" Democrats, or a champion of anti-corruption measures on the international horizon, he did his best to ensure he would leave an ever-lasting and unfading mark on Georgia. While many failed to fathom his overall political philosophy and his underlying motivations, only a handful of his colleagues in the General Assembly could understand his principles and ideals; among these was a very special individual, friend and neighbor named Nick Lambros who he hoped would be elected to fill his vacant Senate post.
(The above is an extraction from the book "Georgia Rising: The Battle Between Pride and Policy" by Lorenzo Aurelio Lucchesi).

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Whenever you find you are on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect

                     --- Mark Twain

We have never observed a great civilization with a population as old as the United States will have in the twenty-first century; we have never observed a great civilization that is as secular as we are apparently going to become; and we have had only half a century of experience with advanced welfare states...Charles Murray

Kella
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