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.

Robert Lindsay Thomas

Robert Lindsay Thomas (1943 - ) was a Democratic congressional representative from the 1st District from 1982 to 1993. The former investment banker was the president and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. He lives in Atlanta.; Interviewed by Dr. Mel Steely on June 16, 1997 (possibly at the office of Lindsay Thomas at the GA Chamber of Commerce).; Dr. Steely begins by mentioning that Thomas had last been interviewed for the Georgia Political Heritage Program in August of 1989 at his home in South Georgia, where they had spoken of Thomas' childhood, his early political campaigns and his burgeoning career in Congress. Since the initial interview Thomas successfully ran for reelection in 1990; Thomas talks about this particular campaign and discloses how television ads had played a part. Lindsay discusses his role in introducing legislation, which did not occur too often, divulging that he had been most proud of the advances he had made for environmental causes, such as with turtle excluder devices and the wetlands bill. Thomas then discusses the Cold War, the nuclear arms race and the fall of the Berlin Wall, moving on to talk about U.S. involvement with the Contras of Central America and a discussion of Speaker Wright. Thomas then discusses his opinion of President George H. W. Bush and the foreign policy of the U.S. The congressional debates over the Gulf War is the next topic of conversation and Thomas speaks of his meeting with Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, who convinced him of the necessity of America's involvement in the impending war. Thomas then speaks of the importance of leadership within the U.S. armed forces, including that of the 24th Infantry Division. The shift from President George H. W. Bush to President Bill Clinton is discussed next, as are both presidents' popularity ratings and how hypocrisy played a role. Thomas goes on to discuss the House banking scandal of 1992 and of the ('sensationalizing') role of the press. Thomas served alongside three different Speakers of the House, Tip O'Neill, Jim Wright and Tom Foley, and several Majority Whips including Tony Coelho, Bill Gray and David Bonior; he discusses their political tactics, giving his opinion on each. Thomas addresses what he thinks are essential of a representative and discusses the delegation with which he worked. He discusses his own bipartisanship and his identification as an independent, as well as his decision to leave Washington, D.C. Georgia's politics are discussed, including governors Zell Miller and Joe Frank Harris. Thomas worked from 1993 to 1996 on the legalities concerning the 1996 Summer Olympics, he talks about these issues and about how Speaker Tom Murphy had responded to the Olympic Games. The conversation next turns to the future of the Republican and Democratic parties, the current polarizing trends and what Thomas would like to see happen. He discusses the presidency of Bill Clinton and the importance of the business sector and local governance. Thomas closes the discussion by stating that he no longer wants to work in politics; he would prefer to work on his farm, spend time with his grandchildren, work in the preservation of local ecology and pursue writing. [The interview ends mid-sentence.]