On January 27, Dr. Bullock spent the morning at the Capitol hosting a discussion and book signing of his new book, The Three Governor’s Controversy: Skullduggery, Machinations, and the Decline of Georgia’s Progressive Politics. Governor Deal, President Morehead, Attorney General Olens, and numerous legislators, alumni, and friends were in attendance.
“It was great to have Dr. Bullock come to the capitol to speak about his new book. It speaks volumes about Dr. Bullock as well as SPIA and its faculty that legislators and the Governor made the time to see him,” said Caulder Harvill-Childs, SPIA graduate. “As always, it was great to reconnect with my favorite professor and my fellow SPIA alums. I wouldn’t be where I am today without SPIA, and I’m excited about future opportunities for alumni!”
The discussion detailed how the death of Georgia governor-elect Eugene Talmadge in late 1946 launched a constitutional crisis that ranks as one of the most unusual political events in U.S. history: the state had three active governors at once, each claiming that he was the true elected official.
His book is the first full-length examination of that episode, which wasn’t just a crazy quirk of Georgia politics (though it was that) but the decisive battle in a struggle between the state’s progressive and rustic forces that had continued since the onset of the Great Depression. In 1946, rural forces aided by the county unit system, Jim Crow intimidation of black voters, and the Talmadge machine’s “loyal 100,000” voters united to claim the governorship.
In the aftermath, progressive political forces in Georgia would shrink into obscurity for the better part of a generation. In this volume is the story of how the political, governmental, and Jim Crow social institutions not only defeated Georgia’s progressive forces but forestalled their effectiveness for a decade and a half.