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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.

Robert Grier Stephens, Jr.

Robert Grier Stephens, Jr. (1913-2003) was born in Atlanta in 1913 and attended Georgia schools, earning a law degree from the University of Georgia in 1941. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II, helping prosecutor Robert Jackson prepare cases against Nazi war criminals at Nuremburg. He started a law practice in Athens, Georgia after the war, but was drawn towards politics. Stephens was elected as a Democrat to represent Athens in the state senate from 1951-1953, and the state assembly from 1953-1959.In 1960, he was elected to represent the 10th Congressional District where he served eight terms.Stephens was a conservative, viewed as a spokesperson for banking and real estate interests, and helped kill an investigation into the Watergate scandal before the 1972 elections.After retiring from the House of Representatives, Stephens returned to private life in Athens, where he died in 2003.; Interviewed by Dr. Mel Steely on June 18, 1998 at Stephens home in Athens, GA.; The interview begins with a discussion of Stephens' family, dating back to the Civil War. He then discusses his childhood in Atlanta and talks about his parents and education, as well as his family's involvement in the Methodist churches of the area. After talking about college, the conversation shifts towards politics, where Stephens mentions several of his colleagues and his opinions of them. He talks about studying abroad in Germany during Hitler's rise to power, which taught him that he would never want to live somewhere ruled by a dictator. Stephens talks about serving in the Army and practicing law, then eventually deciding to run for senate. He talks about his interactions with other politicians, giving his opinions on "Bobby & Jack," as well as Presidents Nixon and Johnson. They regress a bit and discuss Stephens' time in World War II as well as his involvement with the Nuremberg trials. The interview concludes with Stephens commenting on other politicians and his personal views on their accomplishments.