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James Terry Sanford

In office
November 5, 1986 – January 3, 1993
Preceded by Jim Broyhill
Succeeded by Lauch Faircloth

In office
January 5, 1961 – January 8, 1965
Lieutenant Harvey Cloyd Philpott (1961)
Preceded by Luther H. Hodges
Succeeded by Dan K. Moore

In office
1992 – 1993
Preceded by Howell Heflin
Succeeded by Richard Bryan

Born August 20, 1917(1917-08-20)
Laurinburg, North Carolina
Died April 18, 1998 (aged 80)
Durham, North Carolina
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Margaret Rose Knight
Religion Methodist

James Terry Sanford (August 20, 1917 – April 18, 1998) was a United States politician and educator from North Carolina. A member of the Democratic Party, Sanford was the Governor of North Carolina (1961–1965), a two-time U.S. Presidential candidate in the 1970s and a U.S. Senator (1986–1993). Sanford was a strong proponent of education and introduced a number of reforms and new programs in North Carolina's schools and institutions of higher learning as the state's governor, increasing funding for education and establishing the North Carolina Fund. From 1969–1985, Sanford was President of Duke University.

An Eagle Scout as a youth, Sanford became an FBI agent after graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1939. During World War II, he saw combat in the European Theatre and received a battlefield commission. Following his return to civilian life after World War II, Sanford attended and graduated from the University of North Carolina School of Law and began a legal career in the late 1940s, soon becoming involved in politics. A lifelong Democrat, he was noted for his progressive leadership in civil rights and education; although his opponents criticized him as a "tax-and-spend" liberal, Sanford is remembered as a major public figure of the South after World War II.[1][2]


Early life

Sanford was born in Laurinburg, North Carolina to Cecil and Elizabeth Sanford. He became an Eagle Scout in Laurinburg's Troop 20 of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). Shortly before he died, Sanford related his Scouting experience to journalist David Gergen and said that it "probably saved my life in the war. Boys who had been Scouts or had been in the CCC knew how to look after themselves in the woods. ... What I learned in Scouts sustained me all my life; it helped me make decisions about what was best."[3] The BSA recognized him with their Distinguished Eagle Scout Award.[4]

Sanford graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1939 and then served as a special agent in the FBI for two years.[5][6] He married Margaret Rose Knight on July 4, 1942 and later had two children with her, Terry Jr. and Elizabeth.[7] During World War II, he enlisted as a private in the US Army and later attained the rank of First Lieutenant. He parachuted into France with the 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment and subsequently fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart for his bravery and wounds, respectively. Sanford was honorably discharged in 1946.[6] Sanford later served as a company commander with the rank of captain in Company K of 119th Infantry Regiment of the North Carolina Army National Guard from 1948 to 1960.[8] After the war, Sanford earned a law degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law.

Gubernatorial career

Sanford was an assistant director of the Institute of Government of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1946 until 1948, then began a private practice of law in Fayetteville. As a Democrat, Sanford served one term as a state senator (1953–55), before running for governor of North Carolina in 1960. Sanford was elected to the governorship and served through January 1965.[9]

Driven by his belief that a person could accomplish anything with a good education,[8]:157, 194, 247, 257–258[10] Sanford nearly doubled North Carolina's expenditures on public schools. He began consolidating the University of North Carolina system to ensure its solvency and strength and oversaw the creation of the North Carolina Community College System. He conceived the idea for the Governor's School of North Carolina,[10] a publicly funded six-week residential summer program for gifted high school students in the state.[11] He established the North Carolina School of the Arts (now University of North Carolina School of the Arts) to keep talented students "in the fields of music, drama, the dance and allied performing arts, at both the high school and college levels of instruction" in their home state.[12] He fought for racial desegregation, and even sent his son to a desegregated public school at a time when such a position was politically unpopular and possibly dangerous. He also established the North Carolina Fund under the leadership of George Esser to fight poverty and promote racial equality across the state.[13] Controversial tax increases were made to finance these educational programs. One such tax, on food, roused much opposition and was decried as regressive by many, including by some of the governor's most loyal supporters. The food tax, nicknamed "Terry's Tax", and other taxes implemented by Sanford diminished his popularity and were heavily criticized by his political opponents.[10]

Governor Sanford was a close political ally of President John F. Kennedy, a fact that disturbed some North Carolina Democrats who were unhappy with U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy's efforts to push for civil rights.[14] According to President Kennedy's personal secretary Evelyn Lincoln, Sanford would have been Kennedy's choice for vice president on the 1964 Democratic ticket, had Kennedy lived. In her 1968 book Kennedy and Johnson she reported that President Kennedy told her that Lyndon B. Johnson would be replaced as Vice President. Lincoln wrote of that November 19, 1963 conversation, just three days before Kennedy's assassination:[5][15]

As Mr. Kennedy sat in the rocker in my office, his head resting on its back he placed his left leg across his right knee. He rocked slightly as he talked. In a slow pensive voice he said to me, 'You know if I am re-elected in sixty-four, I am going to spend more and more time toward making government service an honorable career. I would like to tailor the executive and legislative branches of government so that they can keep up with the tremendous strides and progress being made in other fields ... I am going to advocate changing some of the outmoded rules and regulations in the Congress, such as the seniority rule. To do this I will need as a running mate in sixty-four a man who believes as I do.' ... I was fascinated by this conversation and wrote it down verbatim in my diary. Now I asked, ... 'Who is your choice as a running-mate?' He looked straight ahead, and without hesitating he replied, 'At this time I am thinking about Governor Terry Sanford of North Carolina. But it will not be Lyndon.'

Additionally, Sanford used his leverage with the White House to further expand the Research Triangle Park (RTP), which sparked an economic surge in the state, eventually luring IBM and the United States Environmental Protection Agency to the Triangle area.[14][16][17]

After his term in office ended, Sanford opened a law firm. He had agreed to serve as Lyndon Johnson's campaign manager in 1968 just before Johnson's withdrawal on March 31, but later took over as the campaign manager for the Democrat nominee Hubert Humphrey in his race against Republican Richard Nixon for the presidency.[7] President Johnson wanted Humphrey to pick Sanford as his running mate. On one occasion, the Humphrey campaign asked Sanford if he wanted to be the vice presidential candidate. Sanford declined and Humphrey ultimately picked Senator Edmund Muskie of Maine. Though Sanford received a number of legal and business offers from the private sector during this period, he was interested in a position that would allow him to keep his political prospects open.[8]:367–385

President of Duke University

Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy at Duke University

In 1969, Sanford became president of Duke University, a position he held for the next sixteen years.[18] While involved in nearly every aspect of the university, Sanford primarily focused on fund-raising, athletics, and relations with university trustees. He also maintained a policy of accessibility to the students and helped defuse racial tensions.[19] This approach helped quell student unrest over the Vietnam War early in his tenure as university president. Addressing the protests with a mixture of tolerance and determination to maintain control of the campus, he met with students and successfully avoided the campus shutdowns that plagued many of the nation's other college campuses at the time.[8]:259

Perhaps the greatest controversy of Sanford's presidency was his effort to bring Richard Nixon's presidential library to Duke. Sanford raised the subject with Nixon during a visit to the former president at Nixon's New York City office on July 28, 1981 and continued to seek Nixon's help in the months that followed. The proposal became public in mid-August, creating considerable controversy among the faculty, staff, students, and alumni of the university. Though Sanford enjoyed some support for his effort, most of the faculty were against the proposal, the largest concern being that the facility would be a monument to glorify Nixon rather than a center of scholarly study. Sanford tried to engineer a compromise, but the proposal by the Duke Academic Council of a library only a third the size that Nixon wanted and their rejection of a Nixon museum to accompany it ultimately led Nixon to decline Sanford's offer and instead site his library in the city of his birth, Yorba Linda, California.[8]:369–396, 417–432

Campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination

Though Sanford enjoyed his time as Duke's president, he still harbored political ambitions. As the 1972 presidential primary season began, he was approached by several people who felt that the field of Democratic candidates was weak. He was particularly keen to challenge Alabama governor George Wallace in an effort to show that Wallace's segregationist views did not represent Southern opinion. Announcing his candidacy on March 8, he faced long odds in a crowded field. Knowing that he could not win a majority of delegates in the primary, he hoped to secure enough to emerge as a compromise candidate in a deadlocked convention. Even in the North Carolina primary, however, Wallace beat Sanford by 100,000 votes, and Sanford managed only a fourth-place finish at the 1972 Democratic National Convention with 77.5 votes, behind George McGovern (1,864.95), Wallace (381.7), and Shirley Chisholm (151.95).[20][21]

Undeterred, Sanford began preparations two years later for a run for the 1976 Democratic presidential nomination.[8]:396–400 Announcing his candidacy on June 1, 1975, he juggled campaign appearances with his obligations as president of Duke. While he developed a following among educators, he did not have a satisfactory campaign theme by the new year. Then, while campaigning in Massachusetts in January, he suffered sharp pains and was diagnosed with a heart murmur. On January 25, Sanford withdrew from the primaries, the first Democrat to do so that year.[8]:396–416

Senate career

After retiring as president of Duke University in 1985, Sanford remained active in party politics. He made an unsuccessful run for chairman of the Democratic National Committee in 1985, in which he was supported by future House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Sanford lost to Paul G. Kirk by a vote of 203-150.[22]

After failing to find a Democrat willing to run for the Senate seat being vacated by Republican John P. East,[23] Sanford announced his own candidacy for the nomination. His opponent was Congressman Jim Broyhill. After East committed suicide on June 29, 1986, Broyhill was temporarily appointed to the seat on July 3, until a special election could be held on November 4.[24] Despite being attacked as a liberal, Sanford defeated Broyhill by three percentage points in the November election. Critics of Sanford primarily focused on three areas: his promotion of opportunities for minorities, "tax-and-spend" education funding, and his anti-poverty campaign.[5] He took office on November 5, the day after the special election, to serve out the last two months of East's term and the subsequent six-year term.[9]

Sanford found his years in the Senate frustrating. He was concerned about the runaway deficit spending of the era, and he pursued economic development for Central America as an alternative to Republican-driven military policies. He led the Duke-based International Commission for Central American Recovery and Development, a task force of scholars and leaders that published Poverty, Conflict, and Hope: A Turning Point in Central America (also known as the Sanford Commission Report since he was the "the principal catalyst of the commission's work") in 1989 with the principles for promoting peace, democracy and equitable development in Central America.[25] Sanford served on multiple Senate committees: Select Committee on Ethics (Chair); Special Committee on Aging; Budget; Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs including the Subcommittee on International Finance and Monetary Policy and Subcommittee on Securities; and Foreign Relations including Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Chair), Subcommittee on African Affairs, and Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere and Peace Corps Affairs.[26] He had a liberal voting record in comparison to his Democratic colleagues from the South, and he campaigned successfully against the passage of a constitutional amendment prohibiting flag-burning with a counter-campaign promoting the United States Bill of Rights. Yet Sanford thought his accomplishments in the Senate paled against those he made as governor, and he seriously contemplated retiring and pursuing other projects before deciding to run for reelection.[8]:447–480

Sanford's opponent in the 1992 election was Lauch Faircloth, a former Democrat turned Republican who had served as a highway commissioner in Sanford's gubernatorial administration. Enjoying substantial backing from Sanford's Senate colleague, Jesse Helms, Faircloth accused Sanford of being a tax-and-spend liberal bound to special interests. While initial polls showed that Sanford had a comfortable lead over his rival, he lost supporters after an operation for an infected heart valve kept him from campaigning for much of October and raised doubts as to whether he was capable of serving another term. On November 3, 1992, Faircloth won the election by a 100,000-vote margin.[8]:488–501

Later life

Sanford wrote several books, including But What About the People?– where he describes his efforts during the 1960s to establish a system of quality public education in North Carolina, Storm Over the States– where he lays forth a new groundwork for state government and the federal system by recommending a "creative federalism," and Outlive Your Enemies: Grow Old Gracefully– where he describes actions that will slow the aging process and rules for prolonging healthy life.[27] He also taught classes in law and political science at Duke University and campaigned for the construction of a major performing arts center in the Research Triangle area that would provide a permanent home for the American Dance Festival, the North Carolina Symphony and the Carolina Ballet.[28]

Sanford announced in late December 1997 that he had been diagnosed with inoperable esophageal cancer and that his doctors said he had a few months to live. After his release from the hospital, his condition slowly deteriorated. He died in his sleep while surrounded by his family at his Durham home. He was 80 years old. At his funeral, he was eulogized by a childhood friend who said Sanford "took [the Boy Scout] oath when he was twelve years old and kept it. It started out, 'On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country,' and included such things as 'help other people at all times.' He believed it. He was the eternal Boy Scout."[3] Sanford is entombed in the crypt of Duke University Chapel.[7]


Sanford was a major public figure of the post-World War II South.[1][2] He played a key role in the transformation of Southern politics into the New South, primarily in the areas of race relations and education.[29][30] In recognition of his efforts in education and in countless other areas, a 1981 Harvard University survey named him one of the 10 best governors of the 20th century.[7][31]

The Terry Sanford Federal Building and Courthouse in Raleigh, the state capital, is named after Sanford.[32] President Bill Clinton said in a statement issued from the Summit of the Americas in Santiago, Chile: "His work and his influence literally changed the face and future of the South, making him one of the most influential Americans of the last 50 years."[2] John Edwards said in Terry Sanford and the New South that Sanford was his political hero.[30]

Duke University has since established an undergraduate and graduate institute in public policy called the Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy.[33] Fayetteville High School, in Fayetteville, NC, was renamed Terry Sanford High School in his honor in 1968.[34][35]

See also


  1. ^ a b Clinton, Bill (1998-04-18). "Presidential Statement on the Death of Terry Sanford". William J. Clinton Foundation. Retrieved 2008-06-17.  
  2. ^ a b c "Southern Connections: Connecting With Each Other, Connecting With The Future:Terry Sanford" (PDF). The Summary Report of the 1998 Commission on the Future of the South. Southern Connections. 1998. pp. 8. Retrieved 2008-06-09.  
  3. ^ a b Townley, Alvin (2007). Legacy of Honor: The Values and Influence of America's Eagle Scouts. New York: St. Martin's Press. pp. 30–31. ISBN 0-312-36653-1. Retrieved 2006-12-29.  
  4. ^ "Distinguished Eagle Scouts". Troop & Pack 179. Retrieved 2006-03-02.  
  5. ^ a b c Stout, David (1998-04-18). "Terry Sanford, Pace-Setting Governor in 60's, Dies at 80". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-06-17.  
  6. ^ a b "Biographical Conversations with Terry Sanford - Timeline". UNC TV. Retrieved 2008-06-06.  
  7. ^ a b c d Christensen, Rob (April 18, 1998). "Terry Sanford dead at 80, April 19, 1998". Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy, Duke University (Raleigh News & Observer). Retrieved 2008-06-08.  
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i Covington, Howard E., Jr; Ellis, Marion A. (1999). Terry Sanford: Politics, Progress, and Outrageous Ambitions. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. pp. 99. ISBN 0-822-32356-7.,M1. Retrieved 2008-06-08.  
  9. ^ a b "Sanford, (James) Terry, (1917 - 1998)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. United States Congress. Retrieved 2008-06-09.  
  10. ^ a b c "State of Learning". Time Magazine. 1964-01-24.,9171,875678-1,00.html. Retrieved 2008-06-10.  
  11. ^ "Governor's School of North Carolina". Governor's School of North Carolina. Retrieved 2008-06-27.  
  12. ^ "Semans Library: Archives History". North Carolina School of the Arts. Retrieved 2008-06-27.  
  13. ^ "July 1963 – The North Carolina Fund". This Month in North Carolina History. UNC University Libraries. July 1963. Retrieved 2008-06-09.  
  14. ^ a b Christensen, Rob (2004). "Old ties bind N.C. to Mass.". Raleigh News & Observer. Retrieved 2008-06-10.  
  15. ^ Lincoln, Evelyn (1968). Kennedy and Johnson (1st ed.). Austin, TX: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. pp. 204–205.  
  16. ^ Bass, Jack; De Vries, Walter (1976). The Transformation of Southern Politics:Social Change and Political Consequence Since 1945. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press. pp. 230. ISBN 0452004705. Retrieved 2008-06-10.  
  17. ^ McConville, Elizabeth (2005-12-02). "What was behind the main idea of behind “research triangle park”" (doc). Elon College. Retrieved 2008-06-10.  
  18. ^ "Inventory of the Terry Sanford Papers, 1946-1993". Collection Number 3531. Manuscript Department, University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.,Terry.html#d0e104. Retrieved 2008-06-09.  
  19. ^ Chambers Jr., Stanley B. (2006-10-14). "Unity concept nothing new to Duke, N.C. Central". The News & Observer (Raleigh). Retrieved 2008-06-17.  
  20. ^ "Introducing... the McGovern Machine". Time Magazine. 1972-07-24.,9171,906135-7,00.html. Retrieved 2008-06-21.  
  21. ^ Holland, Keating (1996). "All The Votes...Really". Retrieved 2008-06-27.  
  22. ^ Shogan, Robert (February 02, 1985). "Democrats Elect Paul Kirk Chairman in Bitter Contest". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-09-24.  
  23. ^ "East, John Porter, (1931 - 1986)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. United States Congress. Retrieved 2008-06-11.  
  24. ^ "Broyhill, James Thomas, (1927 - )". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. United States Congress. Retrieved 2008-06-11.  
  25. ^ Zuvekas, Clarence, Jr. (1992). "Alternative Perspectives on Central American Economic Recovery and Development". Latin American Research Review (Pittsburgh, PA: The Latin American Studies Association) 27 (1): 128. ISSN 0023-8791. Retrieved 2008-06-29.  
  26. ^ "Guide to the Terry Sanford Papers, 1926-1996". Duke University Libraries. 2007. Retrieved 2008-06-10.  
  27. ^ "A Joint Resolution Honoring The Life And Memory Of Terry Sanford, One Of North Carolina's Most Distinguished Citizens". General Assembly of North Carolina. 1999-03-23. Retrieved 2008-06-10.  
  28. ^ "Terry Sanford: August 20, 1917 – April 18, 1998". Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy. Duke University. Retrieved 2008-06-12.  
  29. ^ Bass, Jack; DeVries, Walter (2004). "Oral History Interview with Terry Sanford". Southern Oral History Program. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill- Documenting the American South. Retrieved 2008-06-09.  
  30. ^ a b "Terry Sanford and the New South". Duke University News. 2007-04-03. Retrieved 2008-06-11.  
  31. ^ "Milestones". Time Magazine. 1998-04-27.,9171,988249,00.html. Retrieved 2008-06-17.  
  32. ^ "North Carolina Federal Building". United States General Services Administration. Retrieved 2008-06-20.  
  33. ^ "Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy". Duke University. Retrieved 2008-06-09.  
  34. ^ "Terry Sanford High School, Fayetteville, NC". Terry Sanford High School. 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-09.  
  35. ^ "The History of Fayetteville Senior High School". Fayetteville High School Classmates. Retrieved 2008-06-09.  

Further reading

  • Drescher, John (2000). Triumph of Good Will: How Terry Sanford Beat a Champion of Segregation in and Reshaped the South. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi. ISBN 1-578-06310-8.  
  • Leloudis, James L.; Korstad, Robert R. (2003). "Citizen Soldiers; The North Carolina Volunteers and the South's War on Poverty". in Elna C. Green. The New Deal and Beyond: Social Welfare in the South since 1930. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press. pp. 138–162.  

Selected books by Terry Sanford

  • Sanford, Terry (1966). But What about the People?. New York, NY: Harper & Row. ISBN 0-822-32356-7.  
  • Sanford, Terry (1967). Storm over the States. Rochester, NY: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-070-54655-X.  
  • Sanford, Terry (1981). A Danger of Democracy: The Presidential Nominating Process. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. ISBN 0-865-31159-5.  
  • Sanford, Terry (1996). Outlive Your Enemies: Grow Old Gracefully. Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers. ISBN 1-560-72289-4.  

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Luther H. Hodges
Governor of North Carolina
Succeeded by
Dan K. Moore
Preceded by
Howell Heflin
Chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee
Succeeded by
Richard Bryan
United States Senate
Preceded by
James Thomas Broyhill
Senator from North Carolina (Class 3)
Served alongside: Jesse Helms
Succeeded by
Lauch Faircloth
Academic offices
Preceded by
Douglas Maitland Knight
President of Duke University
Succeeded by
H. Keith H. Brodie


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