“It is not enough to just be governor without any ambition or foresight for his state or its people who elected him. I tell you now, I do not intend to be that kind of governor. On the other hand, your governor can initiate progressive and constructive movements, and can take the lead in fighting for things that our people believe in and that the state really needs; he can create broad and comprehensive policies and can act as a leader in mapping out movements and expansion programs designed to further agriculture and industry in the state. He can work with the legislature toward enactment of forward-looking legislation and with the department heads toward effectuating this legislation into reality. This is the kind of governor I want to make.”
Editor's Note: After winning the 1948 special election for governor, Talmadge served in this position for almost two years before he had to face the ballot once more. In the 1950 gubernatorial election, he successfully ran for a full term in office and would lead the state as governor until 1955. The excerpt above comes from Talmadge’s 1950 inaugural address in which he described the type of governor he hoped to be for the people of Georgia.
Talmadge claimed he would bring progress and innovation to the state as governor and in many ways, he fulfilled this promise. During his time as governor, Talmadge oversaw many improvements to the state infrastructure. He helped to dramatically improve the public education system, increasing state expenditures on schools to $99 million. In addition to his education initiatives, he launched a separate juvenile corrections system, doubled government spending on mental health programs and facilities, and created an unprecedented highway construction program. In contrast to these accomplishments, there were many ways Talmadge prevented progress from reaching Georgia namely by doing everything in his power to prevent the integration of the state’s school system.