Skip to Main Content

Georgia Political Papers and Oral History Program

The Georgia Political Papers and Oral History Program is comprised of over 3,000 linear feet of archival collections, along with an extensive number of oral history interviews, that document the unique political culture of the state of Georgia.

George Busbee

George Busbee (1927-2004) was born in Vienna, Georgia on August 7, 1927 and attended both Georgia Military College and Abraham Baldwin College before interrupting his education to join the U.S. Navy. After leaving the Navy, he earned a law degree from the University of Georgia in 1952. Busbee moved to Albany, Georgia where he started a private practice and entered politics. In 1956 he was elected as a Democrat to represent Dougherty County in the state House of Representatives, and served there until 1974. During his time in the legislature he acted as floor leader for Governor Carl Sanders and served as majority leader for eight years. In 1974, Busbee ran for and won the governorship using the campaign slogan, "a workhorse, not a show horse." His top priorities were education, economic development, and prison reform. He used his legislative experience and skill to pass a constitutional amendment allowing governors to serve two consecutive terms, and was the first to take advantage of it, serving from 1975-1983. After his term ended, Busbee moved to Duluth, Georgia and joined a prestigious law firm and served on several corporate boards. He died suddenly of a heart attack in Savannah on July 16, 2004.; Interviewed by Mel Steely on July 15, 1993 at an unmentioned location; presumably Busbee's Law Offices.; Former governor Busbee begins the interview by discussing his early life including his religious background, early jobs, and his reflections on World War II. He then talks about his time in university and the decision to go into law rather than go into the family farm business. He spends a great deal of time talking about his relatively close relationships with political "enemies." He later goes into detail about his relationship with the Kennedy family, especially Bobby. He also discusses his relationship with Jimmy Carter. He spends a lot of time talking about educational developments, especially in the university system. He discusses his administration's approach to Medicaid, as well as his service on international committees. Busbee concludes the interview by talking again about education and his involvement in pro bono activities, finally stating that he truly enjoyed his time in office and his time in the political field.