Commentary

Hill, George Watts

Scion of a distinguished North Carolina family (“Durham’s first family”), George Watts Hill played a key role in the secret war against Hitler.  For his effective work and efficient administration, the Italian and French governments respectively awarded him the Cross of War Merit and the Legion of Merit.

Commentary

New Deal, Limits of Liberalism

North Carolina’s conservatism in the 1930s contradicts the state’s progressive image, or rather, the myth of its progressivism, born of developments before and after the 1930s.  The conservative opposition to the New Deal created momentum for a postwar conservatism and a viable two-party competition in the state.  Genuine liberalism, New Deal or otherwise, one could argue, has yet to capture the Tar Heel state.

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Helms, Jesse (1921-2008)

A reporter, television-radio executive, and U.S. Senator, Jesse Helms was born October 18, 1921, in Monroe, N.C., to Jesse Alexander and Ethel Mae Helms.  The Almanac of American Politics labeled the conservative Helms a “Jeremiah” for believing in an imminent doom and warning against the encroaching dangers of big government, communism, and abortion—to name three examples.

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Weaver, Richard M., Jr. (1910-1962)

Paragon of post-World-War II-era conservatism, Richard M. Weaver, son of North Carolina, was one of the most important American thinkers of the twentieth century.  Although he lived outside of North Carolina for most of his life, Richard M. Weaver visited his family often (he even purchased a home in Weaverville), and never lost a sense of place.

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New Deal

Federal programs to fight the Great Depression brought almost $440 million by 1938 to North Carolina. Conservative Democrats who had fought the reforms in the state, nonetheless, eagerly accepted the largesse from Washington, D.C. The most important New Deal program in the state was the Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA), which essentially paid farmers a modest amount to grow less tobacco, the state’s largest crop, as well as controlling other crops.

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New Deal Governors

After his gubernatorial victory in 1928, with no opposition in the Democratic Party, Gardner chose his successor, John C. B. Ehringhaus, who won the governor’s race in 1932; Gardner’s brother-in-law and fellow citizen of Shelby, Clyde R. Hoey, also won in 1936.  As a result, Gardner and his allies controlled the Democratic Party when it dominated the state and the South.

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Sharp, Susie (1907-1996)

Judge Susie Sharp was an old school Southern Democrat.  She publicly opposed the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) of the early 1970s and even attempted to persuade legislators to vote in the negative.  Some have credited her, along with her friend Senator Sam J. Ervin, Jr. (1896-1984), for playing a big part in defeating the ERA in North Carolina.

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Winters, John W., Sr. (1920-2004)

Born on January 21, 1920 in Raleigh, North Carolina, John W. Winters, Sr. lived an accomplished life in the city where his “family home” had always been.  Before he died on February 15, 2004, Winters started a construction company and real estate management business and became Raleigh’s first African American city councilman and one of the first African Americans elected to the North Carolina State Senate since the Reconstruction Era.