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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.

George Thornewell Smith

George Thornewell Smith was born in Mitchell County, Georgia, in 1916 (d. 2010). He is the only person in Georgia history to win contested elections in all three branches of state government. His service included Democratic Speaker of the House (1963-1966), Lieutenant Governor under Lester Maddox (1967-1971, and Georgia's Court of Appeals and Supreme Court.; Interviewed by Dr. Mel Steely and Prof. Don Wagner on April 26, 1988 in the Special Collections of West Georgia College's library.; Smith begins by talking about his acquaintanceship with Governor Carl Sanders, as they had attended the University of Georgia law school at the same time, and talks about his support of Sanders when the Governor ran against Marvin Griffin. He then talks about his appointment as Speaker of the State House of Representatives when he replaced George L. Smith, also speaking about the structure and issues that he addressed while in the seat, such as increasing taxes, as well as his interactions with politicians such as Tom Murphy and "Sloppy" Floyd. Smith reveals his reasoning behind leaving the position of Speaker of the House to run for Lieutenant Governor and talks about wanting ultimately to become Governor. He talks at length about his campaign for Lieutenant Governor, of the 'politics' of being in politics, and the issues that he dealt with while Lieutenant Governor. Smith comments on Governor Lester Maddox, calling him not "all bad" - referring to the way in which he made committee appointments. Smith tells of his interactions with Maddox and discusses his 1970 defeat by Maddox for the seat of Lieutenant Governor. He then discusses matters of race and why he had decided to target African American voters in his 1974 campaign and goes on to talk about African American Representative Julian Bond. Smith compares his campaigns, discussing the differences in running for Lieutenant Governor and Governor, going on to discuss the financial aspects of campaigning. The discussion ends with Smith evaluating a number of legislators that he had served with, including Charles Parnell, Frank Twitty, Denmark Groover, Culver Kidd, etc.