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Triumph of Good Will

Triumph of Good Will: How Terry Sanford Beat a Champion of Segregation and Reshaped the South

John Drescher
Copyright Date: 2000
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    Triumph of Good Will
    Book Description:

    A history of Sanford's ground-breaking strategy that established the winning centrist formula for southern politics

    In the spring of 1960 two talented, capable men, each with great passion and conviction, opposed each other in a pivotal governor's race that was to shake North Carolina and change southern politics forever. Both Terry Sanford and I. Beverly Lake were Democrats in the one-party South of that era. Yet they were different in almost every other way. Lake, a middle-aged law professor, was committed to segregation. Sanford, an ambitious young politician and lawyer, believed in expanding opportunities for all citizens.

    In their run-off Lake wanted the contest to be a referendum on preserving segregation. Sanford's platform rested on the improvement of public schools. It was a heated struggle that would bind them together for the rest of their lives. With unparalleled access to both sides and an objective correspondent's hindsight view, John Drescher has written the biography of a campaign that set the winning strategy for many who followed, and of a winning candidate, a governor rated as one of the finest of the twentieth century.

    Sanford, the moderate, won, and his victory is an oddity, for in the civil rights period from 1957 to 1973 only twice in the South did racial moderates defeat strong segregationists in a governor's race. In a gamble that almost cost Sanford the election, he became the first major politician in the Bible Belt to endorse the Catholic John F. Kennedy for president. In the November vote he defeated his Republican opponent in what was then the closest North Carolina governor's race of the century. His win validated his belief in the triumph of good will among North Carolina's people.

    Sanford became a bold, aggressive governor of unusual energy and creativity. His school program added teachers and dramatically raised teacher pay. He helped establish a statewide system of community colleges and started an anti-poverty fund later emulated by LBJ as a model for the War on Poverty. He was the first southern governor to call for employment without regard to race or creed. Sanford became the model for other southern governors who stressed education and a moderate stand on race relations. He influenced other gubernatorial candidates across Dixie -- Jim Hunt in his own state, William Winter in Mississippi, Dick Riley in South Carolina, Bill Clinton in Arkansas. The effects of that 1960 race continue to be felt in North Carolina, in the South, and across the nation.

    John Drescher is on the staff of theCharlotte Observer, where he has been state capital reporter, government editor, city editor, front-page editor, and regional editor. He lives in Charlotte, North Carolina.

    eISBN: 978-1-60473-805-6
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xv-2)

    In the spring of 1960, two talented, capable men—each with great passion and conviction—opposed each other in a pivotal governor’s race that shook North Carolina and changed the South. Terry Sanford and I. Beverly Lake were, in the one-party South of that era, each Democrats. Yet they were different in almost every way. Lake, a middle-aged former law professor, believed deeply in segregation. Sanford, an ambitious young politician-lawyer, believed in expanding opportunities for all people. They were two compelling and complex figures, each with respect and disdain for the other. Their showdown provided North Carolina voters a stark...

  5. Chapter 1 Sanford
    (pp. 3-31)

    In the early 1950s, in his bungalow on Hillside Avenue overlooking downtown Fayetteville, North Carolina, Terry Sanford kept a notebook in a bedroom dresser drawer. In the notebook, Sanford, then a young lawyer aspiring to be governor, jotted strategies for responding to race-baiting politics. While knotting his tie or emptying his pockets, an idea would come to him, and Sanford would pause to scribble:

    Never get on the defensive.

    Have a network of people to tell you about false rumors and materials.

    Be aggressive with a positive program in the beginning.

    Sanford started writing in the notebook during the 1950...

  6. Chapter 2 Lake
    (pp. 32-58)

    On a hot afternoon in late June 1950, I. Beverly Lake sat next to his sixteen-year-old son, Beverly Jr., on their side porch at 403 North Main Street in Wake Forest, North Carolina. From the swing facing Main Street, the Lakes had a fine view of the comings and goings in the small college town north of Raleigh. Their house, built about 1850, was a block from Wake Forest College, a small Baptist school where Dr. Lake taught law. So many faculty members lived on leafy Main Street, in the houses surrounding the Lakes, that it had taken the nickname...

  7. Chapter 3 Kickoff
    (pp. 59-85)

    In January 1960, four months before the Democratic primary, Sanford received polling information and campaign advice from Louis Harris, a friend from his Chapel Hill days who had become a nationally recognized pollster. Harris’s firm interviewed twelve hundred voters. Harris himself traveled the state and talked with one hundred voters. In a shrewd and prophetic analysis, Harris noted that the governor’s race was wide open. Many of the men who had dominated North Carolina politics in the 1940s and ’50s would be of little or no influence. Mel Broughton, Clyde Hoey, and Kerr Scott, all former governors and senators, had...

  8. Chapter 4 Wild-Card Lake
    (pp. 86-112)

    When Beverly Lake announced he would not run for governor, John Larkins immediately visited his old college friend in Raleigh. Larkins and Lake were fraternity brothers at Wake Forest College in the 1920s. Larkins, who knew Lake well enough to call him “Ike,” considered himself and Lake to be conservatives. He asked Ike Lake if he would co-manage his campaign. Lake said he might support Larkins—if he did not become a candidate himself. Lake was leaving open the slight possibility that his supporters would raise enough money for him to get into the race. He told Larkins he wanted...

  9. Chapter 5 Shooting at Sanford
    (pp. 113-136)

    Compared to Lake’s rallies, which were colorful and boisterous, Sanford’s were sedate. He was not entertaining in front of large audiences and it could be difficult to get a crowd fired up when your central message was about improving schools—a far less visceral message than Lake’s. But Sanford was determined to own the issue of making schools better and the January poll from Louis Harris showed he had work to do. Just as he had methodically planned his campaign for years, he now set out to capture the voters’ attention on education. In his persistent, determined style, Sanford spoke...

  10. Chapter 6 Lake, Apart and Afire
    (pp. 137-163)

    While Sanford wanted the race issue to go away, Lake wanted it out in the open. From Lake’s entrance into the race in early March until the primary at the end of May, the two wrestled for control of the debate. Was the central issue making schools better, as Sanford said? Or was it fighting integration, as Lake said? When he announced he would run, Lake said that integration needed to be openly debated, and he did not waver from that belief. In a speech in early April, he confidently characterized the positions of his three opponents on school integration....

  11. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  12. Chapter 7 Attacks and Lies
    (pp. 164-190)

    At 4 P.M. Monday at his headquarters, Lake called for a runoff. Democrats would vote in less than four weeks, on Saturday, June 25. It would not be a fight of personalities, Lake said. He called Sanford “an able gentleman of pleasing personality and excellent character. … He is personally attractive and I like him but I am opposed to his economic policies and program and I am opposed to the mixing of white and Negro children in our public schools.” Lake had received hundreds of phone calls, telegrams, and visits from people across the state, urging him to call...

  13. Chapter 8 Showdown
    (pp. 191-219)

    From the day he announced his candidacy, Lake declared the NAACP the greatest enemy North Carolina faced. In the runoff, he continued his harsh criticism of that group and added a new enemy: the state’s major daily newspapers. When he called for the runoff, he made a brief reference to theCharlotte Observer, theNews and Observer, and their afternoon papers, theCharlotte Newsand theRaleigh Times. Those papers supported Sanford and school integration and “have consistently misrepresented my program so as to deceive the people of the state,” he said.

    Two days later in the mountain city of...

  14. Chapter 9 JFK and Mr. GOP
    (pp. 220-246)

    On Sunday, the day after he had won the Democratic nomination, Sanford sat on his bed at the Carolina Hotel. He might have told the photographer the night before that he wasn’t tired, but he was. He had campaigned full-time for six months, traveling to almost every county at least three times. The runoff was particularly demanding. Lake had pushed him hard and, consequently, he had pushed himself hard. As he buttoned his shirt, he said that he would attend a meeting the next day of North Carolina delegates to the Democratic National Convention, which would begin in just two...

  15. Chapter 10 Epilogue
    (pp. 247-274)

    In the fall campaign, Beverly Lake was like a ghost. The grim vestige of his candidacy hovered near Sanford, dark and menacing, threatening to drag him down to defeat. The primary runoff left scars and ill will. Many Lake supporters were hostile toward Sanfordbeforehe endorsed Kennedy. After the endorsement, they disliked him even more. To Lake’s strongest supporters, Sanford represented a liberalism and racial accommodation they could not tolerate. Lake did nothing to soothe their bad feelings toward Sanford.

    The day after Sanford defeated Lake in the second primary, Sanford met outside Fayetteville with Robert Morgan. They were...

  16. Notes
    (pp. 275-304)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 305-310)
  18. Index
    (pp. 311-316)