Political Power in Alabama
The More Things Change . . .

Anne Permaloff and Carl Grafton


"Offers a unique look into the inner workings of a political coalition and advances a compelling explanation for the torpid pace of political change in Alabama."
—Kari Frederikson, Historian

"This work covers most of the conspicuous and recurring issues of contemporary Alabama politics. Permaloff and Grafton illuminate enduring topics of economic development, education, property taxes, and the state's comprehensive political culture."
—Journal of Southern History

Political Power in Alabama is the sequel to Anne Permaloff and Carl Grafton's Big Mules and Branchheads, a biography of the populist governor "Big Jim" Folsom. Encompassing the years from 1958 to 1970 and the gubernatorial terms of John Patterson, George Wallace, Lurleen Wallace, and Albert Brewer, the present volume offers a full account of the breakup of the Big Mule Alliance, the elite coalition of Alabama's largest industrial and agricultural interests, and the subsequent effects on the state's political environment.

Dominating Alabama politics for most of the century through disenfranchisement and control of the legislature, the "Big Mules" wanted low taxes, a minimally effective school system, no effective labor unions, a small electorate, and racial segregation. By 1958, however, the Big Mules' urban and rural elements had grown disaffected with one another, and outside forces were driving them apart. In a few years, the legislature and the electorate would be drastically restructured. Although this period could have been a time to set new policy directions for the state, say Permaloff and Grafton, many opportunities for change were squandered, establishing the politics of Alabama today and the problems facing the state.

Political Power in Alabama covers an extraordinarily complex set of issues and events, including the civil rights struggle, urban-rural disparities, the lack of party competition, the structure of the tax system, and the economic and cultural gaps separating Alabama and the rest of the South from the nation.

Page count: 400 pp.
Trim size: 6 x 9


List price: $32.95

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Anne Permaloff and Carl Grafton are professors emeriti of political science and public administration at Auburn University at Montgomery. They are the authors of Political Power in Alabama and Big Mules and Branchheads (both Georgia).