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Senator Albert Gore, Sr.

Tennessee Maverick

Kyle Longley

Publication Year: 2004

Best remembered as the father of Vice President Al Gore, Albert Gore, Sr., worked tirelessly in politics himself, a Democratic congressman and senator from 1939 to 1971 and a representative of southern liberalism and American reformism. In the first comprehensive biography of Gore, Kyle Longley has produced an incisive portrait of a significant American political leader and an arresting narrative of the shaping of a southern and American political tradition. His research includes archival sources from across the country as well as interviews with Gore's colleagues, friends, and family.

Longley describes how the native of Possum Hollow, Tennessee, became known during his political career as a maverick, a man who, according to one journalist, would "rock almost anybody's boat." For his actions, Gore often paid a heavy price, personally and professionally. Overshadowed by others in Congress such as Lyndon Johnson, J. William Fulbright, Richard Russell, and Barry Goldwater, Gore nonetheless played a major role on the important issues of taxes, the Interstate Highway system, civil rights, nuclear power and arms control, and the Vietnam War.

Longley situates Gore as part of a generation of politicians who matured on the messages of William Jennings Bryan, Woodrow Wilson, and Franklin Roosevelt. In the South, Gore belonged to a staunch group of liberals who battled traditional conservative forces, often within their own party. He and others such as Estes Kefauver, Frank Porter Graham, and Ralph Yarborough set the stage for subsequent generations, including that of Jimmy Carter and Jim Sasser, and later Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Jr., and John Edwards. From his career shines one encapsulating moment in 1952: squared off on the floor of the Senate against Strom Thurmond, who wanted Gore to sign the "Southern Manifesto" declaring southern resistance to desegregation, Gore responded simply, classically, "Hell no."

Published by: Louisiana State University Press

Series: Southern Biography Series

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-ix

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pp. xi-xii

I AM PLEASED that Kyle Longley has come forward with a scholarly presentation highlighting the career of my late father, Albeit Gore, Sr. As a son, I continue to miss him in a personal way. And as a citizen, I wish that our nation could hear his voice again right now as we struggle with pressing issues in these...

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pp. xiii-xv

IN NOVEMBER 2000, a week after the presidential election, I traveled to Murfreesboro and Middle Tennessee State University on a research trip. The entire country remained transfixed on the Florida recount. In the ensuing debates, one of the perplexing questions asked was why Vice President Al Gore...

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pp. 1-7

THERE WAS weeping and gnashing of teeth throughout the South in 1954. The Supreme Court had issued the Brown v. Board of Education decision that overturned the concept of "separate but equal" and opened challenges to segregation throughout the region. Angry white southerners banded together in groups...

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1 The Boy from Possum Hollow

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pp. 8-40

WHILE LIVING in Detroit as a teenager after leaving high school, Albert Gore recalled that "I pondered upon my own happy childhood and wondered why it had been so. I concluded it was because we lived apart from the world, relatively isolated and therefore dependent entirely upon one another. Although the...

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2 Mr. Gore Goes to Washington [Inclues Image Plates]

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pp. 41-68

A SHORT TIME after arriving in Washington, Gore received a special invitation to visit the White House. The young congressman's opposition to President Roosevelt's housing bill was the reason for the honor. The thirty-two-year-old Gore arrived with a new briefcase full of documents, prepared to point out to...

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3 In the New World of Atoms, the Cold War, and the Fair Deal

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pp. 69-101

GORE REMINISCED that although he generally supported Truman's administration, there were some "little irritants—his conduct, the cronyism ... his excesses such as his language—these humiliated me to some extent." Overall, however, he thought Truman "made a great President. He surely had identification...

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4 Joining the Millionaires' Club

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pp. 102-133

GORE LOVED to tell the story of a November 1952 trip through East Tennessee on his way to Washington. He arrived in a small town, fresh off his victory and walking with a little extra bounce in his step. He went in to a local store to buy a Coke. "Every eye was on him—the man who had beat Kenneth McKellar," he...

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5 A Time of Peril on Many Fronts

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pp. 134-157

"EISENHOWER'S FINAL ACT, perhaps his most lasting contribution," Gore wrote, "was his warning to his countrymen of the dangers inherent in the burgeoning 'military-industrial complex' . . . One will never know, but historians can meditate upon the knowledge and possibly the anxieties which prompted...

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6 Living in Camelot

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pp. 158-181

"i HAD BEEN galled by the laissez-faire politics of President Eisenhower, and I enjoyed thinking that by my fights in the Senate I had forged the economic issues on which my friend Kennedy had largely been elected," Gore wrote. "With my friend in the White House, I was brimming with enthusiasm to get...

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7 In the Midst of the Great Society and Beyond

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pp. 182-216

DISILLUSIONMENT AND DESPAIR enveloped the country following Kennedy's assassination. Like so many of his countrymen, a distraught Gore worried about the nation and its future. He wrote Lyndon Johnson about his concern, telling him that "you have my prayers and best wishes. May God be...

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8 Target Number One

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pp. 217-240

IN NOVEMBER 1970, Gore sat down and wrote his colleague, Frank Church. It was only a few days after his defeat by Republican Bill Brock in a hard, nasty campaign watched by many political observers. Despite being tired and discouraged, he remained defiant: "In this business of politics, one must live or die by...

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9 Life out of the Limelight

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pp. 241-270

AL GORE RECALLED his father's 1970 loss as "a very painful experience for me, because he fought on principle and he was rejected. That coupled with the feeling that so many of my peers and I had that the country had seriously lost its way, caused me to write [to Tipper] ... I'm losing my former sense of optimism...

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pp. 271-273

EVEN AFTER HIS DEATH , Senator Gore continued to exert influence on American political life through his son. Rep. Bob Clement (D-TN) recalled that Gore had told him: "Bob, I want to live to see the day when my son is elected president of the United States." "He really fought hard to stay alive," Clement...


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pp. 275-315


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pp. 317-334


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pp. 335-350

E-ISBN-13: 9780807153475
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807129807

Page Count: 384
Publication Year: 2004

Series Title: Southern Biography Series