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James Terry Sanford (August 20, 1917 – April 18, 1998) was an American lawyer and politician from North Carolina. A member of the Democratic Party, Sanford was the 65th Governor of North Carolina (1961–1965), a two-time U.S. Presidential candidate in the 1970s and a U.S. Senator (1986–1993). Sanford was a strong proponent of public education and introduced a number of reforms and new programs in North Carolina's schools and institutions of higher education as the state's governor, increasing funding for education and establishing the North Carolina Fund. From 1969 to 1985, Sanford was President of Duke University.

An Eagle Scout, Sanford became an FBI agent after graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1939. During World War II, he saw combat in the European Theatre and received a battlefield commission. Following his return to civilian life after World War II, Sanford attended and graduated from the University of North Carolina School of Law and began a legal career in the late 1940s, soon becoming involved in politics. A lifelong Democrat, he was noted for his progressive leadership in civil rights and education, although his opponents criticized him as a "tax-and-spend" liberal. Sanford is remembered as a major public figure of the South after World War II.[1][2]

Early life

Sanford was born on August 20, 1917,[3] in Laurinburg, North Carolina, the son of Elizabeth Terry (Martin) and Cecil Leroy Sanford,[4] both of English descent. He became an Eagle Scout in Laurinburg's Troop 20 of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). Shortly before he died, Sanford related his Scouting experience to journalist David Gergen and said that it "probably saved my life in the war. Boys who had been Scouts or had been in the CCC knew how to look after themselves in the woods.... What I learned in Scouts sustained me all my life; it helped me make decisions about what was best."[5] The BSA recognized him with its Distinguished Eagle Scout Award.[6]

Sanford graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1939.[7] In December 1941 he joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation.[8] He served at the agency for two years,[7][9] being posted as a special agent in Columbus, Ohio and St. Louis.[8] He married Margaret Rose Knight on July 4, 1942, and they later had two children: Terry Jr. and Elizabeth.[10] During World War II, he enlisted as a private in the US Army and later attained the rank of first lieutenant. He parachuted into France with the 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart for his bravery and wounds, respectively. Sanford was honorably discharged in 1946.[9]

Sanford later served as a company commander with the rank of captain in Company K of 119th Infantry Regiment of the North Carolina Army National Guard from 1948 to 1960.[11] After the war, Sanford earned a law degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law.

Sanford was an assistant director of the Institute of Government of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1946 until 1948.[12] He then decided to pursue a career as a lawyer, and wanted to establish himself as a leading figure in a community so as to pave the way for a bid to become Governor of North Carolina, a position he had aspired to since he was a student at the University of North Carolina. He decided to move to Fayetteville, which he thought was appropriately sized as a small city and not too far away from Laurinburg. After moving there in 1948 he worked in Charlie Rose Jr.'s law firm, before setting up his own practice with L. Stacy Weaver.[13]

Early political career

In 1949 Sanford was elected president of the North Carolina Young Democratic Clubs.[14] In 1952 he ran for a seat in the North Carolina Senate. Facing a former legislator, he won the Democratic primary with 75% of the vote and was unopposed in the November election.[15] He served one term as a state senator from 1953 to 1955[12] and chose not to run for a second term. He mostly worked on minor legislation affecting local issues, but developed a rapport with several political journalists, who sought him for quotes on their stories about statewide affairs.[16] He also managed W. Kerr Scott's 1954 U.S. Senate campaign.[14]

Gubernatorial career

1960 campaign and election

On February 4, 1960, Sanford declared his candidacy for the office of Governor in Fayetteville.[17] In his announcement and throughout most of the campaign for the Democratic primary election, Sanford focused on the improvement of education and increased economic growth.[18] In competing for the office of governor Sanford faced North Carolina Attorney General Malcolm Buie Seawell, state legislator John D. Larkins, and law professor I. Beverly Lake, Sr.. Lake declared that preservation of racial segregation and the state's existing social order would be the main theme of his campaign, worrying Sanford, who wished to avoid race becoming a large topic of discussion in the contest. Larkins and Seawell both ran as fiscal conservatives and moderates on issues of race.[19] As Sanford was expected to place first in the initial primary, Larkins and Seawell focused their rhetorical criticisms against him, while Lake drew upon increasing support for his segregationist stances. Sanford resorted to only minor criticisms of his opponents.[20] Voter turnout in the May primary broke all previous records for turnout in state primary elections.[21] Sanford placed first with 269,563 votes, Lake placed second with 181,692 votes, and both Larkins and Seawell earned less than 20 percent of the votes.[20]

In declaring that he would contest Sanford in the Democratic primary runoff, Lake insisted that he liked Sanford personally but disapproved of his economic and racial policies. He criticized his opponent as a proponent of a "spend and tax" platform and pledged to oppose the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and ensure that schools remained segregated. Feeling he could not afford to be too polite in his response, Sanford countered with unexpected hostility, saying "Let's get this straight right now on the race issue...I have been and will continue to oppose to the end domination or direction by the NAACP. Professor Lake is bringing on integration when he stirs this up. I don't believe in playing race against race or group against group."[22] He further accused Lake of attempting to secure support by ruining race relations and assured that he could stave off federally-mandated integration whereas Lake would generate a confrontation that would encourage it. He also attacked Lake's professional background, insisting "I was raised around the cotton patches and tobacco fields of Scotland County, and I know how to handle the racial situation better than a theoretical college professor."[23] He contended that Lake's focus on racial matters distracted from the more important subject of quality education.[23] Lake was blindsided by Sanford's reply, and increased his rhetorical attacks on Sanford in the following weeks, including accusing Sanford of having the near-total support of the "Negro bloc vote", a charge which Sanford disputed.[24]

Sanford with John F. Kennedy and Luther H. Hodges in 1961. Sanford's early decision to endorse Kennedy as a candidate for President of the United States upset Hodges and some of his own supporters.

Sanford garnered Seawell's endorsement and the quiet backing of Governor Luther H. Hodges. He also cultivated a strong campaign organization—bolstered by the connections he had made during Scott's 1954 Senate campaign—and garnered the support of labor unions and education lobbyists.[25] He was also innovative in the use of media consultants and polling data.[26] Sanford ran as a progressive, but tried to avoid being labeled too liberal on issues of race. Businessmen and professionals who feared that Lake's positions on race would be unfavorable to North Carolina's economy backed Sanford.[25] Sanford ultimately won the June 27 Democratic primary with a large lead, earning 352,133 votes in contrast to Lake's 275,905.[27] Lake subsequently pledged his support to Sanford, but did little to assist his campaign in the upcoming general election.[28]

Meanwhile, preparations were underway for the 1960 Democratic National Convention in July. While most southern politicians declared their support for Senator Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas for the party's nomination in the 1960 United States presidential election, Sanford considered backing Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts, the favorite to win the nomination. At the convention he endorsed Kennedy, bringing the senator more support from the North Carolina Democratic delegation than any other southern state but angering Hodges and some of his own supporters[29] and fracturing the state Democratic Party.[30] Kennedy ultimately secured the nomination and welcomed Johnson into his campaign as the vice presidential nominee.[29]

Sanford faced a strong opponent for the governor's race in Robert L. Gavin, a moderate conservative Republican attorney. Gavin denounced Sanford as a tool of the liberal leadership of the national Democratic Party and organized labor.[28] Although his reputation had been harmed by his early endorsement of Kennedy, Sanford enthusiastically campaigned for the two of them.[31] He attacked Gavin for contradicting himself on several occasions and for displaying a lack of familiarity with certain issues.[32] In the November election both Kennedy and Sanford won the offices they sought. Kennedy won the popular vote in North Carolina by a small but solid margin. Sanford won with 54.3 percent of the vote, 131,000 votes over Gavin, but his performance was lackluster for a Democrat seeking state office at the time.[28] Sanford remained proud of his gubernatorial victory for the rest of his life, feeling he had defeated a racist candidate (Lake) and avenged Graham's loss in 1950.[33] He was sworn-in as Governor on January 5, 1961. In his inaugural address he declared, "There is a new day in North Carolina!...Gone are the shackles. Gone are the limitations. Gone are the overwhelming obstacles. North Carolina is on the move and we intend to stay on the move."[34] Sanford became the youngest governor in North Carolina since Charles B. Aycock and the first born in the 20th century.[35] Out of appreciation for Sanford's contribution to his campaign, Kennedy appointed Hodges to his cabinet as United States Secretary of Commerce.[36]


In 1960, North Carolina spent $237 per pupil in public school (as opposed to New York's $562), paid some of the lowest salaries in the country to its teachers, had overcrowded high school classes, and had the lowest average number of years of education among its residents in the United States. Sanford believed that improved statewide education would raise North Carolina's low average wages. In his inaugural address, he affirmed his wish to increase spending for the purpose, saying, "If it takes more taxes to give our children this quality education, we must face that fact and provide the money. We must never lose sight of the fact that our children are our best investment. This is no age for the faint of heart."[37] Sanford spent the first few months of his time in office lobbying for a legislative plan to increase state spending on education.[38]

The centerpiece of Sanford's education platform was the Quality Education Program, which called for a 22% increase in average teacher pay, 33% more funds for instructional supplies, and a 100% increase in school library money.[39] Sanford initially had difficulty figuring out how to fund his proposal, as the state already levied comparatively high income and corporate taxes, and a luxury tax on goods such as tobacco and soft drinks was likely to upset much of the populace. Many other elected state officials were fiscally conservative, and were likely to oppose any significant borrowing of money and raising debts. Thus, at the end of February 1961,[40] Sanford decided to fund his proposals through the elimination of exemptions of the state's 3% sales tax on certain goods, including food and prescription drugs. The advanced taxes were controversial, and the conservative North Carolina General Assembly was hesitant to pass them into law.[41] Upon the convening of the General Assembly in March many legislators commented in private that the proposal was doomed to fail. Liberals and journalists criticized it as unfair to the poor, who would be hurt the most by a tax on food.[42]

Sanford promoting public education at a school in Pender County, 1962

Sanford promoted his plan through a series of rallies across the state, one of which was broadcast on radio. He argued that North Carolina trailed most other states with respect to education and that the exemptions elimination was more acceptable than a 1% tax increase on all other items. He also intensively lobbied state legislators, inviting them to breakfast at the Governor's Mansion and visiting them at the Sir Walter Hotel, where most of them stayed while the General Assembly was in session. Aside from arguing for his program, Sanford granted political favors in exchange for support.[41] He also actively challenged his critics to think of a better way to fund the education plan. Members of the press and disgruntled liberals backed down when they realized that without the new levy the education expansions would have to be scaled down.[42]

Sanford's effort was ultimately successful and the General Assembly implemented his program and the taxes.[39] Average teacher salaries for North Carolina quickly rose from 39th to 32nd among the states, and per-pupil expenditures rose from 45th to 38th among the states.[43] Sanford's successful lobbying gained national attention. He was subsequently invited to numerous events around the country to speak about his education plan,[43] and he visited thirty states.[44] The increase in taxes was nevertheless poorly received in North Carolina and resulted in a backlash; in November 1961 the electorate rejected 10 state bond proposals in a referendum (the first time a bond had been turned down since 1924) and a public opinion poll found that three fifths of the population disapproved of Sanford's performance as Governor.[39] In the 1962 elections the Democrats lost seats in the State House of Representatives. Though Sanford was disappointed, he remained convinced that the tax proposal was the best way to fund his program.[45]

In 1961 Sanford also appointed a Governor's Commission on Education Beyond the High School under the leadership of . The commission produced a set of proposals in August 1962 aimed at increasing college enrollment in North Carolina. One of its recommendations was the consolidation of the state's "public junior colleges" and "industrial education centers" under a single system of community colleges. In May 1963 the General Assembly responded by creating a Department of Community Colleges under the State Board of Education.[46] Sanford conceived the idea for the Governor's School of North Carolina,[47] a publicly funded six-week residential summer program for gifted high school students in the state.[48] He established the North Carolina School of the Arts to keep talented students "in the fields of music, drama, the dance and allied performing arts, at both the high school and college levels of instruction" in their home state.[49] He convinced the General Assembly to pass the measure to found the institution through logrolling and the promises of appointments to state offices.[50] Sanford's policies ultimately resulted in the near-doubling of North Carolina's expenditures on public schools[47] and the hiring of 2,800 additional teachers.[51]

North Carolina Fund and anti-poverty measures

Feeling that his education program had spent most of his political capital in the legislature, Sanford began seeking private support to fund anti-poverty efforts in North Carolina.[50] While traveling across the state to promote his education plan, Sanford came to be of the belief that much of the poverty in North Carolina was due to racial discrimination and the lack of economic opportunity for blacks. He thus concluded that any anti-poverty plan he created would have to address economic problems for both blacks and whites.[52] In the summer of 1962 he met John Ehle, a novelist and professor whom he quickly took as an adviser on public policy.[53] With Ehle he met with leaders of the Ford Foundation, a private philanthropic organization, and discussed a variety of issues with them, including anti-poverty efforts.[54] He also established contact with George Esser, an academic at UNC's Institute of Government, to ask him for potential uses of Ford Foundation funds in combating poverty.[55] Sanford's aides organized a three-day tour of North Carolina in January 1963 for Ford Foundation leaders to convince them to fund an anti-poverty project.[56] Sanford's attempts to devise a plan became increasingly urgent over the following months, as civil rights activists intensified their calls for racial equality and the prospects of a white backlash grew.[57] He worked to secure the support of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, two smaller North Carolina philanthropic organizations, to bolster proposed grants from the Ford Foundation,[58] and tapped the advice of John H. Wheeler, leader of the black business community in Durham.[59] He also invited officials from the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare to come to North Carolina to work on coordinating federal efforts with the state project.[60]

Sanford with President Lyndon B. Johnson on one of his "poverty tours" in Nash County, May 1964

In July 1963 the Ford Foundation committed $7 million to support an anti-poverty project in North Carolina. With additional grants from the other foundations, on July 18 Sanford, Wheeler, Charlie Babcock (a board member of the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation), and C. A. McKnight (the editor of The Charlotte Observer) incorporated the North Carolina Fund.[61] Its goals were to fight poverty and promote racial equality across the state.[62] Since the North Carolina Fund was backed by private organizations and not financed by the state, it could be more flexible in addressing social issues while also avoiding political opposition from segregationists.[63] Sanford was made chairman of the Fund's board.[64] He publicly announced its creation at a press conference on September 30, garnering a positive reception from state newspapers.[65] The organisation had a racially integrated staff—which was unusual at the time—and consulted the local residents it aimed to assist.[66] The Fund launched a program that utilized team teaching and provided for teacher aides, which was studied by President Johnson's administration and used as a model for Head Start. The Fund also supported eleven additional anti-poverty programs under another initiative which included the establishment of day care facilities and job training courses. These were also evaluated by the Johnson administration when it developed its "War on Poverty" programs.[67] Sanford himself was disappointed by Johnson's War on Poverty and the agency responsible for it, the Office of Economic Opportunity, and told federal officials that the goal of their effort should not be to eliminate poverty—which Sanford thought impossible—as much as it should be to reduce the "causes of poverty."[68] The Fund ceased operations in 1969.[69]

Race relations and civil rights

At the time Sanford entered gubernatorial office, the state of racial affairs in North Carolina was essentially the same as it had been since the early 1900s. Segregation was common; despite token integration efforts in some urban schools and state colleges, 99 percent of black school children attended segregated schools, and though federal courts had mandated the integration of buses and trains, transit stations and most other accommodations—hotels, restaurants, movie theaters, public parks, and beaches—remained segregated.[70] According to the North Carolina Advisory Commission on Civil Rights, only 31.2 percent of potential nonwhite voters were registered to vote, in contrast to 90.2 percent of white voters.[71] In his inaugural address, Sanford appealed for mutual respect and understanding between races and said that "no group of our citizens can be denied the right to participate in the opportunities of first-class citizenship."[72] He enrolled his daughter Betsee and his son Terry in the integrated Murphy School (it was attended by a single black student), an action which received attention in the state and national press.[73]

Sanford had considered racism to be immoral since he was student at the University of North Carolina,[74] but initially wished to avoid dealing with issues of racial equality directly as governor, viewing it as a distraction from his main platform and politically dangerous.[73] He had no planned strategy or agenda for the issue.[75] However, he soon felt that he as governor he had to take some action to address the growing tension in the United States due to the increasing activity of the civil rights movement. Shortly after taking office, he began appointing black professionals to state offices. Ultimately, he placed over three dozen blacks on state boards, commissions, and committees. He also consulted black community and business leaders on civil rights issues such as Wheeler, sociologist , and real estate developer John W. Winters. Winters was particularly insistent on encouraging Sanford and his staff to reconsider their views on civil rights.[76] In 1961 Sanford and the Chairman of the Board of Conservation and Development, Skipper Bowles, decided to integrate North Carolina's state parks.[77]

Sanford with black schoolchildren in Alexander County, 1962

Sanford's cautious stance on civil rights and racial issues began to change while he traveled across North Carolina to visit schools to promote his education program.[78] Sanford visited both white and black schools and, while touring them, encouraged the students to pursue their own education as means of securing economic prosperity in the future. Over time he grew uncomfortable saying this to black schoolchildren, and on one occasion after a meeting with black students, he felt ill and refused to eat dinner. He later explained his trouble, saying "I had the sickening feeling that every time I talked to them I was saying words that were a mockery...I was talking about opportunities that I knew, and I feared they knew, didn't exist, no matter how hard they might work in school."[79] Sanford was also moved to reconsider his views after investigating the source of financial support for black college students who remained in Raleigh during the summer after the end of their academic semester to protest segregation. He wrote, "I was amazed to discover that their support came from the local older Negro...Incredibly, these local older Negroes had been dissatisfied all the time...and they were intensively, if secretly, proud of the young Negroes who were militantly insisting on change."[80]

Once resolved that he had to take more action to support racial equality, Sanford began making statements in favor of it. In October 1962, he told a gathering of Methodists in Rutherford County that poverty in North Carolina was worsened by the lack of economic opportunity for blacks and told the audience that whites would have to handle the "difficult problems of race" in a "spirit of Christian fellowship".[81] The address drew a mediocre response from the crowd and generated little attention in the state media. In early 1963 he began drafting a speech entitled "Observations for a Second Century" which directly called for the support of civil rights. Sanford shared his work with over 100 of his associates; most were supportive of his aims, but others feared the consequences his statement would have on the Democratic Party. On January 18, 1963 Sanford delivered his address at the Carolina Inn before the North Carolina Press Association. After making an aside to the journalists,[74] Sanford delved into his prepared remarks:[82]

The American Negro was freed from slavery one hundred years ago. In this century he has made much progress, educating his children, building churches, entering into the community and civic life of the nation. Now is the time in this hundredth year not merely to look back to freedom, but forward to the fulfillment of its meaning. Despite this great progress, the Negro's opportunity to obtain a good job has not been achieved in most places across the nation. Reluctance to accept the Negro in employment is the greatest single block to his continued progress and to the full use of the human potential of the nation and its states.

The time has come for American citizens to give up this reluctance, to quit unfair discrimination, and to give the Negro a full chance to earn a decent living for his family and to contribute to higher standards for himself and all men.

We cannot rely on law alone in this matter because much depends upon its administration and upon each individual's sense of fair play. North Carolina and its people have come to the point of recognizing the urgent need for opening new economic opportunities for Negro citizens. We also recognize that in doing so we shall be adding new economic growth for everybody. We can do this. We should do this. We will do it because we are concerned with the problems and the welfare of our neighbors. We will do it because our economy cannot afford to have so many people fully and partially unproductive. We will do it because it is honest and fair for us to give all men and women their best chance in life.

The statement made Sanford the first southern governor to call for the end of racially discriminatory employment.[83] The same day Sanford announced the creation of the Good Neighbor Council, a biracial panel aimed at developing voluntary nondiscriminatory hiring practices and encouraging youth to prepare for gainful employment.[84][85] The council did not have any provision to enforce its recommendations and thus its impact was minimal.[86] Sanford also signed a bill that reduced racial barriers in the North Carolina National Guard. Ultimately, Sanford's attempts at reform did not significantly alter employment dynamics in the state and only benefited a minority of blacks.[87]

Many young black people felt Sanford was not doing enough to address their concerns. In May, 500 black student demonstrators gathered on the lawn of the Governor's Mansion and chanted for the governor to come out. Sanford, who was hosting a black tie fundraising event for the North Carolina Symphony, stepped onto the south porch of the house. He stood annoyed as the protesters jeered him, before saying, "I'll be glad to talk to you about any of your problems, any of your grievances, any of your hopes. This is not the time, or the place."[88] He also added, "If you want to talk to me at any time about your plans and your problems, let my office know. You have not come to me with any requests."[88] When one of the demonstrators yelled that Sanford should have already been aware of their grievances without any specific requests, Sanford responded, "I'm not dictator, son. You're in a democracy."[89] The group booed him and eventually left the premises.[89]

In late May and early June, four hundred black students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College in Greensboro were arrested for breaking segregationist practices in cafeterias and movie theaters. Sanford arranged for their release and had them returned to the college campus.[90] Later in June, he summoned 150 black civic leaders to the North Carolina State Capitol where he told them that he would not "let mass demonstrations destroy us."[89] He told them that their enemy was not white people; instead, it was "a system bequeathed to us by a cotton economy, kindled by stubbornness, intolerance, hotheadedness, north and south exploding into war and leaving to our generation the ashes of vengeance, retribution, and poverty. The way to fight this common enemy is education."[89] In early July, Sanford convened a meeting of over 200 municipal officials and established a Mayors Coordinating Committee to address civil rights concerns.[91]

In January 1964, James Farmer and Floyd McKissick of the Congress of Racial Equality demanded that the city of Chapel Hill, already one of the most integrated communities in the state, fully desegregate by February 1 or face a wave of demonstrations. Sanford released a statement of reproach towards the ultimatum and promised municipal officials his support. He later said, "I felt that I had been pushed around long enough."[92]

Handling the Ku Klux Klan

During Sanford's tenure, activities of the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan in North Carolina rapidly increased. Sanford requested information on the Klan from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). When the reports were found to be insufficient and unsatisfactory, he arranged for an undercover agent of the FBI working in the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles to infiltrate the organization in the eastern portion of the state. Several months later the FBI announced that North Carolina had one of the largest Klan membership in the country.[93]

Governor Terry Sanford made his petition quite clear on June 22, 1964, when he reiterated the contents of the General Statutes relating to Klan activities. No southern governor has ever been so positive and clear on this subject.

—Historian Thomas D. Clark, 1973[94]

In June 1964, an interracial group of students traveled to Elm City to renovate a local African-American church. Members of the United Klans of America confronted the youths, who promptly left the state. When a larger interracial group arrived to complete the work, 250 klansmen marched into the town and two of them attempted to burn the church down.[95] On June 22, Sanford issued a statement referring to anti-Klan legislation and saying, "Because there is a growing concern across the state, I think it is necessary to remind the people involved that the Klu Klux Klan is not going to take over North Carolina."[94]

Sanford condemned the Klan's methods and ordered the State Highway Patrol to assist the municipal police in protecting the church and maintaining order. His staff quietly brokered a compromise, convincing the local pastor to accommodate the white volunteers in a hotel instead of local black residents' homes, thereby avoiding the racial mixing of which the klansmen disapproved. State authorities dealt with members of the Klan in a similarly accommodating manner throughout the rest of Sanford's tenure, allowing the organization to strengthen its position in the region.[95] In response to Sanford's criticism of their actions in Elm City, klansmen burnt a cross on the lawn of the Governor's Mansion in mid-August.[96] Sanford inspected the cross, later commenting, "It is a badge of honor to have such hoodlums against you, but it is a mark of shame for the state of North Carolina to have such childish activities going on."[97] In December when the Klan threatened businessmen who had sponsored interracial Christmas parades, he encouraged its members to "read the Christmas story and the message of goodwill towards all men contained in the Bible" and declared that "If there are any illegal acts on the part of the Ku Klux Klan they will be prosecuted."[98]

Later tenure

It was rumored by Kennedy's personal secretary, Evelyn Lincoln, that Kennedy had considered removing Johnson as Vice President from his electoral ticket in the 1964 presidential election and replacing him with Sanford.[7][99] Sanford later dismissed these rumors, feeling that such an action was not politically advantageous and would have damaged Kennedy's election prospects in the South.[100] Presidential adviser Larry O'Brien also dismissed the notion that Johnson would be replaced.[99]

Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963. Sanford was in Winston-Salem when he heard that the president had been shot. He directed his driver to take him back to the Governor's Mansion in Raleigh, and along the way he learned that Kennedy had died. His office issued a brief statement, calling the event "overwhelming".[101] Sanford rarely spoke of Kennedy's assassination in his later years, and preferred to avoid discussion of it when the subject arose. He felt that it had changed the world and negatively impacted the United States.[101] He and his family attended Kennedy's state funeral in Washington D.C..[100] The assassination came at a time when Sanford had been lobbying Kennedy to consider locating a large environmental research center in North Carolina. The decision then fell to Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy as President of the United States and had to consider pressure from other politicians that wanted the facility in their own respective states.[102]

Sanford's racial policies upset North Carolina's white populace, though he was able to contain white backlash throughout his administration. During the 1964 North Carolina gubernatorial election, L. Richardson Preyer, a supporter of Sanford, faced conservative Dan K. Moore in the Democratic primary election.[103] Sanford had originally wanted Lieutenant Governor Harvey Cloyd Philpott to succeed him, but Philpott had unexpectedly died in August 1961.[104] He instead endorsed Preyer while Lake endorsed Moore.[105] The contest devolved into a de facto referendum on Sanford's tenure, particularly his handling of race matters, and Moore secured the nomination.[103] Lake dubbed the outcome a popular rejection of Sanford's service. Sanford felt betrayed by civil rights leaders, since he thought that their insistence on continuing demonstrations in Chapel Hill had aggravated white resentment and damaged Preyer's electoral prospects.[106]

Anticipating that Moore and his allies would attempt to dismantle some of his initiatives upon assuming office, Sanford spent the last six months of his term trying to ensure the protection of his projects. He invited Moore's wife into the board of trustees of the North Carolina School of the Arts and placed one of Moore's top aides on the board of the North Carolina Fund. He also transferred a summer internship program for college students interested in state politics out of the governor's office and into UNC's Institute of Government.[106]

Even as he was preparing to leave office, Sanford felt that he had much more work to accomplish. He urged the Research Triangle Institute to study affordable housing proposals and established a commission to plan for the future of development and growth in the Piedmont Crescent region.[107] He traveled to Washington D.C. to have his official portrait made and then went to New York to present Jackie Kennedy with North Carolina's financial contribution to the construction of the Kennedy Library.[108] In early December Sanford commuted the sentences of several Chapel Hill protesters. Shortly before leaving office in January 1965, he reached a deal with the Johnson administration for the $25 million environmental research facility to be located at the Research Triangle Park.[109][110] Reflecting on the impending end of his term, he expressed regret that more black employees had not been hired by the state and that he had not done enough to promote prison reform.[109] Sanford enjoyed his time as governor.[111]

Immediate post-gubernatorial career

By the time Sanford's term as governor was over he was very unpopular in North Carolina.[112] After leaving office, Sanford returned to Fayetteville and opened a new law firm in Raleigh with some of his former colleagues.[113] In 1968 he mulled over the possibility of challenging conservative Democrat Sam Ervin for his U.S. Senate seat, but decided against it after concluding that the contest would be bitter and he would lose.[112] He then agreed to serve as President Johnson's campaign manager in the 1968 presidential election just before Johnson's withdrawal on March 31.[10] He subsequently declined an offer from Robert F. Kennedy to assist his presidential campaign.[114] Vice President Hubert Humphrey then became the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, and considered including Sanford on his ticket as the vice presidential candidate.[115] Johnson wanted Humphrey to pick Sanford as his running mate. On one occasion, the Humphrey campaign asked Sanford if he wanted to be the vice presidential candidate. Sanford declined, and Humphrey ultimately picked Senator Edmund Muskie of Maine.[116] Sanford then served as chairman for the Citizens for Humphrey-Muskie Committee.[115] Though Sanford received a number of legal and business offers from the private sector during this period, he was interested in a position that would allow him to keep his political prospects open.[116]

President of Duke University

Terry Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University

In 1969, Sanford became president of Duke University, a position he held for the next 16 years.[117] That helped quell student unrest over the Vietnam War early in his tenure as university president. Addressing the protests of the 1970 Kent State shootings with tolerance, choosing to not call in police to clear the roads, leading to the protesting students going back to their rooms at night so that West Campus could be reopened the next day kept the campus calm during a turbulent spring.[118] Shortly before his tenure, on February 13, 1969, 60 student members of the Afro-American Society had occupied Duke's main administration center, the Allen Building, demanding the creation of a Black Studies program. After three days of clashes with police, they left the building peaceably February 16, when school officials agreed to the program.[119][120] During his tenure, Sanford strongly opposed confrontation and a heavy police action which helped defuse racial tensions.[121]

Perhaps the greatest controversy of Sanford's presidency was his effort to establish the presidential library of former US President Richard Nixon at Duke. Sanford raised the subject with Nixon during a visit to the former president at Nixon's New York City office on July 28, 1981. Sanford continued to seek Nixon's advice on multiple issues within the months that followed. The library proposal became public in mid-August, creating considerable controversy at the university. Though Sanford enjoyed some support for his effort, most of the faculty were against the proposal, the largest concern being that the facility would be a monument to Nixon rather than a center of study. Sanford tried to engineer a compromise, but the proposal by the Duke Academic Council of a library only a third the size of that which Nixon wanted and their rejection of a Nixon museum to accompany it, ultimately led Nixon to decline Sanford's offer and site his library in the city of his birth, Yorba Linda, California, instead; it was dedicated there in 1990.[122]

Campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination

Though Sanford enjoyed his time as Duke's president, he still harbored political ambitions. As the 1972 presidential primary season began, he was approached by several people who felt that the field of Democratic candidates was weak. He was particularly keen to challenge Alabama governor George Wallace in an effort to show that Wallace's segregationist views did not represent majority Southern opinion. Announcing his candidacy on March 8, he faced long odds in a crowded field. Knowing that he could not win a majority of delegates in the primary, he hoped to secure enough to emerge as a compromise candidate in a deadlocked convention. Even in the North Carolina primary, however, Wallace beat Sanford by 100,000 votes, and Sanford managed only a fifth-place finish at the 1972 Democratic National Convention with 77.5 votes, behind George McGovern (1,864.95), Henry M. Jackson (525), Wallace (381.7), and Shirley Chisholm (151.95).[123][124]

Undeterred, Sanford began preparations two years later for a run for the 1976 Democratic presidential nomination.[125] Announcing his candidacy on June 1, 1975, he juggled campaign appearances with his obligations as president of Duke. While he developed a following among educators, he did not have a satisfactory campaign theme by the new year. Then, while campaigning in Massachusetts in January, he suffered sharp pains and was diagnosed with a heart murmur. On January 25, Sanford withdrew from the primaries, the first Democrat to do so that year.[126] Sanford was left near bankruptcy by his abortive candidacy, though his friend Paul Vick later assisted him in managing his fiances and recouping some of his wealth.[127]

After retiring as president of Duke University in 1985, Sanford remained active in party politics. He made an unsuccessful run for chairman of the Democratic National Committee in 1985, in which he was supported by future House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Sanford lost to Paul G. Kirk by a vote of 203–150.[128]

Senate career

1986 campaign and election

In late 1985 Sanford began consulting his friends on the possibility of running for a seat in the U.S. Senate the following year.[112] Sanford declared his candidacy in January 1986. The announcement surprised and embittered his longtime friend and colleague Lauch Faircloth, who had wanted to run for the seat with Sanford's support and was angered by rumors that Sanford had denigrated his own chances in an election. After the misunderstanding, Faircloth and Sanford did not speak with one another until shortly before the latter's death.[129] Sanford won the Democratic primary with 409,394 votes, easily defeating the nine other candidates and marking the first time he had won a statewide election since 1960.[130] His opponent in the general election was Republican U.S. House Representative Jim Broyhill as the incumbent senator, Republican John P. East, had declared his intention to retire.[131] After East committed suicide on June 29, 1986, Broyhill was temporarily appointed to the seat on July 3, pending the election to fill it on November 4.[132] During the campaign Sanford stressed his accomplishments as governor and his military service.[133] Critics of Sanford primarily focused on three areas: his promotion of opportunities for minorities, "tax-and-spend" education funding, and his anti-poverty efforts.[7] Sanford initially maintained a positive campaign, but attacked Broyhill as "no friend of education" and criticised his failure to minimize President Ronald Reagan's free trade policies which hurt the textiles industry after Broyhill released a television ad that condemned his imposition of the sales tax on food while serving as governor.[134] Sanford defeated Broyhill by three percentage points in the November election.[7] He took office on November 5, the day after the special election, to serve out the last two months of East's term and the subsequent six-year term.[12]


Sanford at a 1992 Senate campaign rally

Sanford found his years in the Senate frustrating. He was concerned about the runaway deficit spending of the era, and he pursued economic development for Central America as an alternative to Republican-driven military policies. He led the Duke-based International Commission for Central American Recovery and Development, a task force of scholars and leaders that published Poverty, Conflict, and Hope: A Turning Point in Central America (also known as the Sanford Commission Report since he was "the principal catalyst of the commission's work") in 1989 with the principles for promoting peace, democracy and equitable development in Central America.[135] Sanford served on multiple Senate committees: Select Committee on Ethics (Chair); Special Committee on Aging; Budget; Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs including the Subcommittee on International Finance and Monetary Policy and Subcommittee on Securities; and Foreign Relations including Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Chair), Subcommittee on African Affairs, and Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere and Peace Corps Affairs.[136] He was a leading critic of American involvement in the Gulf War.[137] He had a liberal voting record in comparison to his Democratic colleagues from the South, and he campaigned successfully against the passage of a constitutional amendment prohibiting flag-burning with a counter-campaign promoting the United States Bill of Rights. Yet Sanford thought his accomplishments in the Senate paled against those he made as governor, and he seriously contemplated retiring and pursuing other projects before deciding to run for reelection.[138] His voting record was consistently more liberal than that of any of his predecessors, being given an American Conservative Union rating of 12%.[139]

1992 campaign

Sanford's opponent in the 1992 election was Faircloth. Enjoying substantial backing from Sanford's Senate colleague, Jesse Helms, Faircloth accused Sanford of being a tax-and-spend liberal bound to special interests. While initial polls showed that Sanford had a comfortable lead over his rival, he lost supporters after an operation for an infected heart valve kept him from campaigning for much of October and raised doubts as to whether he was capable of serving another term. On November 3, 1992, Faircloth won the election by a 100,000-vote margin.[140]

Later life and death

Sanford wrote several books, including: But What About the People?, where he describes his efforts during the 1960s to establish a system of quality public education in North Carolina; Storm Over the States, where he lays forth a new groundwork for state government and the federal system by recommending a "creative federalism"; and Outlive Your Enemies: Grow Old Gracefully, where he describes actions that will slow the aging process and rules for prolonging healthy life.[141] He also taught classes in law and political science at Duke University and campaigned for the construction of a major performing arts center in the Research Triangle area that would provide a permanent home for the American Dance Festival, the North Carolina Symphony and the Carolina Ballet.[142] Sanford practiced law again in his later years and merged his own firm with that of another former governor, James Holshouser. Holshouser continued to practice with Sanford Holshouser LLP until his death (the firm continues under that name), and their economic development consulting firm continued under that name.[143]

Sanford announced in late December 1997 that he had been diagnosed with inoperable esophageal cancer and that his doctors said he had a few months to live. After his release from the hospital, his condition slowly deteriorated. He died in his sleep while surrounded by his family at his Durham home. He was 80 years old. At his funeral, he was eulogized by a childhood friend who said Sanford "took [the Boy Scout] oath when he was twelve years old and kept it. It started out, 'On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country,' and included such things as 'help other people at all times.' He believed it. He was the eternal Boy Scout."[5] Sanford is entombed in the crypt of Duke University Chapel.[10]


"Sanford was a very engaging extrovert...His vision in life was to help people. He had a huge ego. Of all the people I've known in politics, he had the strongest focus on government being there to make life better for the people. He was very optimistic."

Sanford played a key role in the transformation of Southern politics into the New South, primarily in the areas of race relations and education.[145][146] Journalist John Drescher dubbed him "the first New South governor".[147] He is remembered in North Carolina as the "education governor".[148] In recognition of his efforts in education and in other areas, a 1981 Harvard University survey named him one of the 10 best governors of the 20th century.[10][149] A study conducted by political scientist Larry Sabato concluded that Sanford was one of the best 12 governors to serve in the United States between 1950 and 1975.[150] Sanford served as a role model to a number of southern governors, including Jim Hunt of North Carolina (his protege), William Winter of Mississippi, and Bill Clinton of Arkansas.[37] When Parris Glendening was campaigning to become Governor of Maryland in 1994, he promised voters that would model his administration after Sanford's.[150] Upon Sanford's death Clinton—who had since become President of the United States—said, "His work and his influence literally changed the face and future of the South, making him one of the most influential Americans of the last 50 years."[2] John Edwards wrote that Sanford was his political hero.[146] Journalist David Stout characterized Sanford as a "contradictory politician" and a man who "lack[ed] burning desire."[151]

Sanford's victory over Lake in the 1960 gubernatorial election represented only one of two instances in which a racial moderate defeated a staunch segregationist in the South between 1957 and 1973.[21]

Duke University has since established an undergraduate and graduate school (formerly institute) in public policy called the Sanford School of Public Policy.[152] Fayetteville High School, in Fayetteville, North Carolina, was renamed Terry Sanford High School in his honor in 1968.[153][154] The Terry Sanford Federal Building and Courthouse in Raleigh, the state capital, is named after Sanford.[155]

See also


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Selected books by Terry Sanford

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Luther H. Hodges
Democratic nominee for Governor of North Carolina
Succeeded by
Dan K. Moore
Preceded by
Robert Burren Morgan
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from North Carolina
(Class 3)

1986, 1992
Succeeded by
John Edwards
Political offices
Preceded by
Luther H. Hodges
Governor of North Carolina
January 5, 1961- January 8, 1965
Succeeded by
Dan K. Moore
Preceded by
Howell Heflin
Chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee
Succeeded by
Richard Bryan
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
James Thomas Broyhill
Senator from North Carolina (Class 3)
November 5, 1986–January 3, 1993
Served alongside: Jesse Helms
Succeeded by
Lauch Faircloth
Academic offices
Preceded by
Douglas Maitland Knight
President of Duke University
Succeeded by
H. Keith H. Brodie

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