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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.

Carl Gillis

Carl Gillis (1917 - ) was a national Republican Party Committee member for many years beginning in the 1980s, and was a strong supporter of Ronald Reagan. He was a successful businessperson, owning a homebuilding company and later focusing on real estate.; Interviewed by Dr. Mel Steely on August 6, 1990 at an unspecified location.; Gillis begins the conversation by speaking of his ancestry and memories of his childhood and family life. He reflects on the Great Depression and its impact on his family and community. He graduated from Adrian High School in 1934, went on to attend the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and then taught school for two years. He speaks about briefly attending the University of Georgia during WWII and his ultimate decision to pursue business in Adrian, Georgia. He began working in the lumber business, eventually making his way into the business of building houses from about 1960 to 1988 and then going into real estate. Gillis speaks to his motivations for continuing to work, despite having gained enough finances over the years to be able to retire comfortably. He then discusses his political philosophy and his eventual conversion to the Republican Party. He speaks of how race and Civil Rights affected the Republican Party and expresses his views on segregation and racism. The conversation then moves to the Vietnam War and Richard Nixon and Gillis speaks of his decision to run for delegation. [segments from tapes 6 and 7 are missing] Gillis then speaks of three key Republicans of the 1980s, Mack Mattingly, Pat Swindall and Newt Gingrich - he assesses each and their impact upon the party. He then goes on to speak of the role of minorities in the Republican Party and mentions several women that he had worked alongside on the National Committee. The conversation ends with Gillis commenting on what he believes the 1990s will hold for the Republican Party.