Ernest Vandiver, Governor of Georgia

Harold Paulk Henderson

The tumultuous political life of one of Georgia’s most important chief executives


"This enthralling read is thoroughly researched, lucidly written and indeed fascinating."
—Loch K. Johnson, University of Georgia

"The [book] not only serves as an informative work on the life of Ernest Vandiver, but also provides the reader a new angle on state politics in an era of great change. . . . Henderson’s work is worth the time of anyone who harbors an interest in not only Georgia political history, but also southern politics in general. In addition, this book illuminates an often-hidden side of the Civil Rights movement, examining those charged with implementing policy while caught between a hostile voting public and an equally antagonistic federal judiciary."
—Justin Nystrom, Atlanta History

More / Hide

Ernest Vandiver was elected governor of the state of Georgia in 1958 on a platform of fiscal conservatism and steadfast resistance to desegregation. Having vowed to defend Georgia’s segregated social system at all costs, Vandiver nevertheless concluded that the state could not close its schools to avoid desegregation. Because of his decision to reject the path taken by George Wallace in Alabama and Orval Faubus in Arkansas and to protect public education in the state by complying with federal court mandates, Vandiver was denounced by the state’s more vocal proponents of segregation.

Using primary sources and extensive interviews with the governor and his contemporaries, Henderson tells the full story of Vandiver’s life as a transitional figure in the political history of the state. He portrays Vandiver as a man cast by circumstances into presiding over a crisis greater than any faced by a Georgia governor since the Civil War. Henderson also notes some of Vandiver’s less recognized accomplishments, including the involvement of state government in furthering tourism, foreign investment, and industry. Ernest Vandiver is here recognized for his significant achievements in guiding the state through a period of rapid transformation.

Page count: 352 pp.
Trim size: 6.125 x 9.25

Read more about Ernest Vandiver at the New Georgia Encyclopedia.


List price: $32.95

buy button
View Shopping Cart

Harold Paulk Henderson is a professor emeritus of political science at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, author of The Politics of Change in Georgia: A Political Biography of Ellis Arnalli (Georgia 1991), and co-editor of Georgia Governors in an Age of Change (Georgia 1988).