Terry Sanford

James Terry Sanford (August 20, 1917 – April 18, 1998) was an American lawyer and politician from North Carolina. A member of the Democratic Party, Sanford was the 65th 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 public education and introduced a number of reforms and new programs in North Carolina's schools and institutions of higher education as the state's governor, increasing funding for education and establishing the North Carolina Fund. From 1969 to 1985, Sanford was President of Duke University.

Terry Sanford
Terry Sanford 1961.jpg
Terry Sanford c. 1961
United States Senator
from North Carolina
In office
December 10, 1986 – January 3, 1993
Preceded byJim Broyhill
Succeeded byLauch Faircloth
President of Duke University
In office
April 2, 1970 – July 4, 1985
Preceded byDouglas Maitland Knight
Succeeded byH. Keith H. Brodie
65th Governor of North Carolina
In office
January 5, 1961 – January 8, 1965
LieutenantHarvey Cloyd Philpott (1961)
Preceded byLuther H. Hodges
Succeeded byDan K. Moore
Chair of the Senate Ethics Committee
In office
January 3, 1992 – January 3, 1993
Preceded byHowell Heflin
Succeeded byRichard Bryan
Member of the North Carolina Senate
from the 10th district
In office
January 7, 1953 – 1955
Serving with James A. Bridger
Preceded byS. Bunn Frink
Junius K. Powell
Succeeded byRay H. Walton
Arthur W. Williamson
Personal details
James Terry Sanford

(1917-08-20)August 20, 1917
Laurinburg, North Carolina, U.S.
DiedApril 18, 1998(1998-04-18) (aged 80)
Durham, North Carolina, U.S.
Resting placeDuke Chapel
Durham, North Carolina
Political partyDemocratic
(m. 1942)
Alma materUniversity of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (AB, LLB)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
 • North Carolina Army National Guard
Years of service1942–1960
RankUS Army O2 shoulderboard rotated.svg First Lieutenant
Unit517th Parachute Infantry Regiment
AwardsPurple Heart ribbon.svg Purple Heart
Bronze Star ribbon.svg Bronze Star

An Eagle Scout, Sanford became an FBI special agent after graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1939. During World War II, he saw combat in the European Theater 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 American South after World War II.

Early lifeEdit


James Terry Sanford was born on August 20, 1917 in Laurinburg, North Carolina, United States. He was the second of five children of Elizabeth Terry (Martin) and Cecil Leroy Sanford.[1] His father ran a hardware store[2] while his mother worked as a teacher.[3] The Sanfords enjoyed a middle class standard of living, though their home was rented. During the Great Depression, Cecil's hardware store was forced to close and the family was unable to pay rent, but the company which owned their house allowed them to stay.[4] Cecil struggled to find steady work and performed temporary jobs while Elizabeth returned to full-time teaching. Despite the family's economic troubles, the Sanfords never went hungry and Terry later reflected that he never thought of his family as poor.[4] In the summer of 1930, Terry joined Laurinburg's new Boy Scouts of America (BSA) troop, Troop 20. He advanced quickly through its ranks, and became an Eagle Scout in July 1932.[5] Sanford later reflected that, "What I learned in Scouts sustained me all my life; it helped me make decisions about what was best."[6] He and his brother worked odd jobs to make money in their youth, including raising chickens and pigs, selling vegetables, picking cotton, planting tobacco, and delivering newspapers.[7]


By November 1933 Sanford's father had found a new permanent job and purchased a house, and the following year Sanford graduated from high school.[7] In the fall of 1934 Sanford enrolled at Presbyterian Junior College in Maxton. He worked part-time to pay for his tuition and lived at his parents' home while he studied there, but he found the instruction lacking and dropped out after one semester.[8] In the fall of 1935 he enrolled at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.[9] He worked various jobs to pay for his tuition, including delivering The Daily Tar Heel.[10] He made money in the summer of 1935 by running a summer camp with his friends, and when he returned to the university in the fall he took a job at a campus dining hall.[11] He repeated the same pattern the following year, working the camp during the summer and finding other jobs during his semesters.[12] During his senior year he settled on majoring in political science.[13] The summer after graduating in 1939 he and a friend managed a different summer camp in the mountains, and after the season was over Sanford settled on enrolling in law school.[14]

While studying at the University of North Carolina School of Law, Sanford befriended Professor Albert Coates.[15] He also took an increased interest in student politics, and won a seat in the newly created student legislative council.[16] In that position he chaired the body's ways and means committee until he was elected its speaker. Early in 1941 he found work at UNC-Chapel Hill's Institute of Government, which was managed by Coates.[17] In 1940, as World War II intensified and the likelihood of American involvement increased, the United States enacted a draft, and many students voluntarily joined the Armed Forces. Sanford attempted to get a commission in the Army Air Corps. Though he had earned his pilot's license, the corps determined he was nearsighted and thus unfit to fly. He then unsuccessfully applied to join the Marine Corps and the Navy.[18]

FBI and military serviceEdit

With Coates' help, Sanford applied to join the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The bureau waived its requirement of a law degree and admitted him. After completing his semester exams, he began training in December 1941.[19] He was posted as a special agent in Columbus, Ohio and St. Louis.[20] He married Margaret Rose Knight, a woman he had met at UNC-Chapel Hill,[21] on July 4, 1942, and they later had two children: Terry Jr. and Elizabeth.[22] Sanford became bored with his work at the FBI, and pursued a position in the Armed Forces—as the United States had since entered the World War II—being especially intrigued by the new paratrooper units. After securing leave from the FBI, he enlisted in the United States Army on December 7, 1942.[23] He was sent to Camp Toccoa in Georgia for training and was assigned to a medical detachment in the 501st Infantry Regiment.[24] After eight weeks he was made a staff sergeant, and following jump training at Fort Benning he was sent to Camp Mackall and made assistant first sergeant. After a month he was promoted to first sergeant.[25] In 1943 he underwent officer training and became a second lieutenant, and was made a platoon commander in A Company, First Battalion of the 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment.[26]

In May 1944 Sanford's unit was shipped to Italy.[27] He first fought in combat against German forces in June in the mountains north of Rome.[28] In August he parachuted into southern France as the leader of B Company, First Battalion in Operation Dragoon.[29] By December he had achieved the rank of first lieutenant.[30] On December 16 the German army launched a counteroffensive through the Ardennes region in Belgium, initiating the Battle of the Bulge. Sanford and his unit were quickly deployed to the village of Soy.[31] On December 26, while his company was holding a ridge line near the Soy-Hotton road, German forces moved into the area. When they approached Sanford's position, he ordered his men to open fire. In the ensuing confusion a German major ran into the American line, and Sanford grabbed him by his belt and captured him.[32] In early January 1945 the First Battalion occupied the town of Bergeval. Two companies then went to reconnoitrer a bluff east of the town. Battalion commander Major William J. Boyle, Sanford, and two other men turned back towards the town to coordinate their forces. Along their route they were ambushed by German machine guns, which seriously wounded Boyle while Sanford was struck in the left hand by shrapnel.[32] In late February the 517th Regiment was recalled to Joigny in preparation for a new airborne operation, but it and subsequent assaults were dropped as Allied ground forces made steady advances over German-held territory. For his service in France and his wounds Sanford was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.[33]

Early legal career and Institute of GovernmentEdit

As the European theatre wound down in April 1945, preparations were made to deploy the 517th Regiment in the Pacific War. Japan surrendered before this was done, and Sanford was released from duty. He re-enrolled at UNC Law School for the fall 1945 semester to finish his courses and earn his degree.[34] He graduated in 1946 and took the bar examination; he was admitted to the North Carolina State Bar in November. That fall he also was hired by Coates to serve as an assistant director of the Institute of Government.[35] He held the job until 1948.[36] He then decided to pursue a career as a lawyer, and wanted to establish himself as a leading figure in a community so as to pave the way for a bid to become Governor of North Carolina. He decided to move to Fayetteville, which he thought was appropriately sized as a small city and not too far away from Laurinburg. After moving there in 1948 he worked in Charlie Rose Jr.'s law firm, before setting up his own practice with L. Stacy Weaver.[37] Sanford 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.[38]

Early political careerEdit

Young Democratic Clubs and Graham campaignEdit

In the first 1948 gubernatorial primary, Sanford voted for R. Mayne Albright. During the runoff election he supported W. Kerr Scott, and after Scott was elected governor he appointed Sanford to a position in the North Carolina State Ports Authority.[39] In 1949 Sanford was elected president of the North Carolina Young Democratic Clubs (YDC).[40]

In March 1949 Scott surprised many Democrats when he appointed liberal UNC President Frank Porter Graham to fill a vacant U.S. Senate seat.[41] In 1950 Graham's seat was subject to a special election. In the Democratic primary he was challenged by conservative Willis Smith. Sanford was friends with Smith's son and respected him, but admired Graham and was "all out" for him. As YDC president, he had to keep his public stance on the primary neutral, though Smith's campaign accused him of showing his favoritism.[42] Graham won a plurality of the vote in the first primary, and Smith called for a runoff election.[43] The campaign then took on racial overtones, as Smith's supporters attacked Graham for his support of civil rights.[44] Sanford wanted to improve Graham's support in Cumberland County, and approached Graham's local campaign manager to ask for a precinct he could canvass. He then took a job working in the Cumberland Mills area south of Fayetteville.[45] During this time he kept a notebook where he jotted down lessons he was learning from campaigning. Of the 25 to 30 pages he filled, Sanford reflected, "I learned one thing. That is, don't ever let them get off the defensive. Frank Graham let them get off the defensive. He was just so nice and sweet."[46] Graham won the Cumberland Mills precinct but lost the statewide primary.[47] Sanford shortly thereafter visited Graham and vowed "to get even, to rectify that injustice."[46] His support of Graham provoked the ire of the editor of The Fayetteville Observer, who temporarily barred mention of his name in the paper.[48]

North Carolina Senate tenureEdit

In 1951 Sanford considered a bid to become Mayor of Fayetteville but decided against it and purchased his first house that summer.[48] The following year he ran for a seat in the 10th district in the North Carolina Senate. Facing a former legislator, he won the Democratic primary with 75% of the vote and was unopposed in the November election.[49] He was sworn in on January 7, 1953[50] and served one term to 1955,[36] deciding not to run for a second term.[51] He served on the judiciary committee, the education committee, the conservation and development committee, and the finance committee, but did not get his desired seat on the appropriations committee.[52] Sanford shared a room with another legislator at the Sir Walter Hotel in Raleigh while the North Carolina General Assembly was in session and worked at his law firm in Fayetteville in the evenings and on weekends. He found his legislative tenure dull and restrictive.[53] He mostly worked on minor legislation affecting local issues, but developed a rapport with several political journalists, who sought him for quotes on their stories about statewide affairs.[51] He supported the creation of the State Milk Commission[54] and introduced an unsuccessful bill to establish presidential primary elections in North Carolina.[55]

Managing Scott's U.S. Senate campaignEdit

W. Kerr Scott (left) and Sanford (right) at a restaurant circa 1953

While in the Senate Sanford befriended fellow legislator Ralph H. Scott, brother of former Governor Kerr Scott. In 1953 when Kerr Scott began mulling a 1954 campaign for the U.S. Senate, Ralph, Capus M. Waynick, and Graham all advised him to hire Sanford as his campaign manager, hoping he could net Scott more young supporters.[56] Sanford temporarily left his law practice and took the job, living off of a bank loan in the interim. Scott declared his candidacy in early 1954. Sanford tried to temper Scott's abrasive public image by preparing uncontroversial speeches for him,[57] though Scott reportedly tore many of these up before attending campaign events.[58] Sanford also assisted Scott in crafting a public stance on racial issues in wake of the United States Supreme Court's 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education mandating the desegregation of public schools. He wrote a polite speech read by Scott insisting on the candidate's support for segregated education and separate but equal schools. Scott's opponent in the Democratic primary, Alton Lennon, attempted to portray Scott as a weak segregationist.[59] When a leaflet ostensibly from a black civic group began to circulate in the last week of the primary emphasizing Scott's appointments of black officials during his time as governor—information that would damage his support among white voters—Lennon's campaign organization claimed it had no connection to them. Sanford recruited a union member to infiltrate Lennon's campaign, and through this was able to discover that it was printing and distributing copies of the leaflets. Sanford leaked the information to The News & Observer, which ran a story on the intrigue. He also called for a federal investigation and sent telegrams to Lennon campaign managers threatening to sue them if they distributed more leaflets.[60] Scott went on to win the Democratic primary and the general election.[61] In 1956 Sanford, at Scott's encouragement, considered challenging Luther H. Hodges in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. He later decided against it and attempted unsuccessfully with Scott's allies to recruit a different challenger.[62]

Gubernatorial careerEdit

1960 campaign and electionEdit

Sanford began finding supporters and fundraising in preparation for his gubernatorial bid in 1959.[63] On February 4, 1960, he declared his candidacy for the office of Governor in Fayetteville.[64] In his announcement and throughout most of the campaign for the Democratic primary election, Sanford focused on the improvement of education and increased economic growth.[65] In competing for the office of governor Sanford faced Democrats North Carolina Attorney General Malcolm Buie Seawell, state legislator John D. Larkins, and law professor I. Beverly Lake, Sr.. Lake declared that preservation of racial segregation and the state's existing social order would be the main theme of his campaign, worrying Sanford, who wished to avoid race becoming a large topic of discussion in the contest. Larkins and Seawell both ran as fiscal conservatives and moderates on issues of race.[66] As Sanford was expected to place first in the initial primary, Larkins and Seawell focused their rhetorical criticisms against him, while Lake drew upon increasing support for his segregationist stances. Sanford resorted to only minor criticisms of his opponents.[67] Voter turnout in the May primary broke all previous records for turnout in state primary elections.[68] Sanford placed first with 269,563 votes, Lake placed second with 181,692 votes, and both Larkins and Seawell earned less than 20 percent of the votes.[67]

In declaring that he would contest Sanford in the Democratic primary runoff, Lake insisted that he liked Sanford personally but disapproved of his economic and racial policies. He criticized his opponent as a proponent of a "spend and tax" platform and pledged to oppose the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and ensure that schools remained segregated. Feeling he could not afford to be too polite in his response, Sanford countered with unexpected hostility, saying "Let's get this straight right now on the race issue...I have been and will continue to oppose to the end domination or direction by the NAACP. Professor Lake is bringing on integration when he stirs this up. I don't believe in playing race against race or group against group."[69] He further accused Lake of attempting to secure support by ruining race relations and assured that he could stave off federally-mandated integration whereas Lake would generate a confrontation that would hasten it. He also attacked Lake's professional background, insisting "I was raised around the cotton patches and tobacco fields of Scotland County, and I know how to handle the racial situation better than a theoretical college professor."[70] He contended that Lake's focus on racial matters distracted from the more important subject of quality education.[70] Lake was blindsided by Sanford's reply, and increased his rhetorical attacks on Sanford in the following weeks, including accusing Sanford of having the near-total support of the "Negro bloc vote", a charge which Sanford disputed.[71]

Sanford (left) with John F. Kennedy and Luther H. Hodges in 1961. Sanford's early decision to endorse Kennedy as a candidate for President of the United States upset Hodges and some of his own supporters.

Sanford garnered Seawell's endorsement and the quiet backing of Governor Hodges. He also cultivated a strong campaign organization—bolstered by the connections he had made during Scott's 1954 Senate campaign—and garnered the support of labor unions and education lobbyists.[72] His network included the Branchhead Boys (Scott's old supporters), Jaycees, and Young Democratic Clubs;[73] he avoided relying on the traditional courthouse cliques.[74] Winston-Salem businessman Bert Bennett, Sanford's friend and former classmate at UNC-Chapel Hill, provided critical leadership to his campaign and lined up key support behind him.[75] Sanford was also innovative in the use of media consultants and polling data,[76] being the first North Carolinian gubernatorial candidate to hire a pollster and prolifically use television advertisements.[77] He ran as a progressive, but tried to avoid being labeled too liberal on issues of race. Businessmen and professionals who feared that Lake's positions on race would be unfavorable to North Carolina's economy backed Sanford.[72] Sanford ultimately won the June 27 Democratic primary with a large lead, earning 352,133 votes in contrast to Lake's 275,905.[78] Lake subsequently pledged his support to Sanford, but did little to assist his campaign in the upcoming general election.[79] Sanford's victory over Lake in the 1960 gubernatorial election was one of two instances in which a racial moderate defeated a staunch segregationist in a Southern state-wide race between 1957 and 1973.[68]

Meanwhile, preparations were underway for the 1960 Democratic National Convention in July. While most Southern politicians declared their support for Senator Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas for the party's nomination in the 1960 United States presidential election, Sanford considered backing Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts, the favorite to win the nomination. At the convention he endorsed Kennedy, bringing the senator more support from the North Carolina Democratic delegation than any other Southern state but angering Hodges and some of his own supporters[80] and stoking division in the state Democratic Party.[81] Kennedy ultimately secured the nomination and welcomed Johnson into his campaign as the vice presidential nominee.[80]

Sanford faced a strong opponent for the governor's race in Robert L. Gavin, a moderate conservative Republican attorney. Gavin denounced Sanford as a tool of the liberal leadership of the national Democratic Party and organized labor.[79] Although his reputation had been harmed by his early endorsement of Kennedy, Sanford enthusiastically campaigned for the two of them.[82] He attacked Gavin for contradicting himself on several occasions and for displaying a lack of familiarity with certain issues.[83] In the November election both Kennedy and Sanford won the offices they sought. Kennedy won the popular vote in North Carolina by a small but solid margin. Sanford won with 54.3 percent of the vote, 131,000 votes over Gavin, but his performance was lackluster for a Democrat seeking state office at the time.[79] Sanford remained proud of his gubernatorial victory for the rest of his life, feeling he had defeated a racist candidate (Lake) and avenged Graham's loss in 1950.[84] Out of appreciation for Sanford's contribution to his campaign, Kennedy appointed Hodges to his cabinet as United States Secretary of Commerce.[85] Sanford arranged for Bennett to assume the chairmanship North Carolina Democratic Party.[86] In that capacity, Bennett organized continued backing for Sanford within the party and eased the way for many of Sanford's supporters to advance in its ranks.[87]

Sanford was sworn-in as Governor on January 5, 1961. In his inaugural address he declared, "There is a new day in North Carolina!...Gone are the shackles. Gone are the limitations. Gone are the overwhelming obstacles. North Carolina is on the move and we intend to stay on the move."[88] He became the youngest governor in North Carolina since Charles B. Aycock and the first born in the 20th century.[3] In order to avoid conflicts of interest, he shuttered his law firm and resigned from the board of an insurance company, though he retained his chairmanship of the board of Methodist College.[89]


In 1960, North Carolina spent $237 per pupil in public school (as opposed to New York's $562), paid some of the lowest salaries in the country to its teachers, had overcrowded high school classes, and had the lowest average number of years of education among its residents in the United States. Sanford believed that improved statewide education would raise North Carolina's low average wages. In his inaugural address, he affirmed his wish to increase spending for the purpose, saying, "If it takes more taxes to give our children this quality education, we must face that fact and provide the money. We must never lose sight of the fact that our children are our best investment. This is no age for the faint of heart."[90] Sanford spent the first few months of his time in office lobbying for a legislative plan to increase state spending on education.[91]

The centerpiece of Sanford's education platform was the Quality Education Program, which called for a 22% increase in average teacher pay, 33% more funds for instructional supplies, and a 100% increase in school library money.[92] Sanford initially had difficulty figuring out how to fund his proposal, as the state already levied comparatively high income and corporate taxes, and a luxury tax on goods such as tobacco and soft drinks was likely to upset much of the populace. Many other elected state officials were fiscally conservative, and were likely to oppose any significant borrowing of money and raising debts. Thus, at the end of February 1961,[93] Sanford decided to fund his proposals through the elimination of exemptions of the state's 3% sales tax on certain goods, including food and prescription drugs. The advanced taxes were controversial, and the conservative General Assembly was hesitant to pass them into law.[94] Upon the convening of the General Assembly in March many legislators commented in private that the proposal was doomed to fail. Liberals and journalists criticized it as unfair to the poor, who would be hurt the most by a tax on food.[95] Despite these doubts, Sanford had the good faith of legislative leaders, being friends with Lieutenant Governor Harvey Cloyd Philpott and working on building a relationship with Speaker of the State House of Representatives Joseph M. Hunt Jr..[96] He appointed former state senator William Copeland as his chief legislative aide who, though a conservative who had opposed increased school appropriations in the past, was well-acquainted with the General Assembly and was prepared to loyally serve the governor's interests.[97]

Sanford promoting public education at a school in Pender County, 1962

Sanford promoted his plan through a series of rallies across the state, one of which was broadcast on radio. He argued that North Carolina trailed most other states with respect to education and that the exemptions elimination was more acceptable than a 1% tax increase on all other items. He also intensively lobbied state legislators, inviting them to breakfast at the Governor's Mansion and visiting them at the Sir Walter Hotel, where most of them stayed while the General Assembly was in session. Aside from arguing for his program, Sanford granted political favors in exchange for support.[94] He also actively challenged his critics to think of a better way to fund the education plan. Members of the press and disgruntled liberals backed down when they realized that without the new levy the education expansions would have to be scaled down.[95]

Sanford's effort was ultimately successful and the General Assembly implemented his program and the taxes.[92] Average teacher salaries for North Carolina quickly rose from 39th to 32nd among the states, and per-pupil expenditures rose from 45th to 38th among the states.[98] Sanford's successful lobbying gained national attention. He was subsequently invited to numerous events around the country to speak about his education plan,[98] and he visited thirty states.[99] The increase in taxes was nevertheless poorly received in North Carolina and resulted in a backlash; in November 1961 the electorate rejected 10 state bond proposals in a referendum—the first time a bond had been turned down since 1924—and a public opinion poll found that three fifths of the population disapproved of Sanford's performance as Governor.[92] The referendum defeat demoralized greatly Sanford's staff. Though upset with the outcome and unapologetic in supporting the bonds, Sanford insisted on moving past the failure and focusing his attention elsewhere.[100] In the 1962 elections the Democrats lost seats in the State House of Representatives. Sanford was disappointed, but he remained convinced that the tax proposal was the best way to fund his program[101] and refused to heed calls to alter it.[102]

In 1961 Sanford also appointed a Governor's Commission on Education Beyond the High School under the leadership of Irving E. Carlyle. The commission produced a set of proposals in August 1962 aimed at increasing college enrollment in North Carolina. One of its recommendations was the consolidation of the state's "public junior colleges" and "industrial education centers" under a single system of community colleges. In May 1963 the General Assembly responded by creating a Department of Community Colleges under the State Board of Education.[103] Sanford conceived the idea for the Governor's School of North Carolina,[104] a publicly funded six-week residential summer program for gifted high school students in the state.[105] He established the 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.[106] He convinced the General Assembly to pass the measure to found the institution through logrolling and the promises of appointments to state offices.[107]

Sanford's policies ultimately resulted in the near-doubling of North Carolina's expenditures on public schools[104] and the hiring of 2,800 additional teachers.[108] However, he struggled to ensure the state's educational funding maintained parity with other states and matched with inflation. Despite convincing the legislature to appropriate an additional $50 million dollars towards public schools during the 1963 session, by the end of his tenure North Carolina's national rankings in educational expenditures had fallen.[109]

North Carolina FundEdit

Feeling that his education program had spent most of his political capital in the legislature, Sanford began seeking private support to fund anti-poverty efforts in North Carolina.[107] While traveling across the state to promote his education plan, Sanford came to be of the belief that much of the poverty in North Carolina was due to racial discrimination and the lack of economic opportunity for blacks. He thus concluded that any anti-poverty plan he created would have to address economic problems for both blacks and whites.[110] In the summer of 1962 he met John Ehle, a novelist and professor whom he quickly took as an adviser on public policy.[111] With Ehle he met with leaders of the Ford Foundation, a private philanthropic organization, and discussed a variety of issues with them, including anti-poverty efforts.[112] He also established contact with George Esser, an academic at UNC-Chapel Hill's Institute of Government, to ask him for potential uses of Ford Foundation funds in combating poverty.[113] Sanford's aides organized a three-day tour of North Carolina in January 1963 for Ford Foundation leaders to convince them to fund an anti-poverty project.[114] Sanford's attempts to devise a plan became increasingly urgent over the following months, as civil rights activists intensified their calls for racial equality and the prospects of a white backlash grew.[115] He worked to secure the support of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, two smaller North Carolina philanthropic organizations, to bolster proposed grants from the Ford Foundation,[116] and tapped the advice of John H. Wheeler, leader of the black business community in Durham.[117] He also invited officials from the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare to come to North Carolina to work on coordinating federal efforts with the state project.[118]

Sanford with President Lyndon B. Johnson on one of his "poverty tours" in Nash County, May 1964

In July 1963 the Ford Foundation committed $7 million to support an anti-poverty project in North Carolina. With additional grants from the other foundations, on July 18 Sanford, Wheeler, Charlie Babcock (a board member of the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation), and C. A. McKnight (the editor of The Charlotte Observer) incorporated the North Carolina Fund.[119] Its goals were to fight poverty and promote racial equality across the state.[120] Since the North Carolina Fund was backed by private organizations and not financed by the state, it could be more flexible in addressing social issues while also avoiding political opposition from segregationists.[121] Sanford was made chairman of the Fund's board.[122] He publicly announced its creation at a press conference on September 30, garnering a positive reception from state newspapers.[123] The organisation had a racially integrated staff—which was unusual at the time—and consulted the local residents it aimed to assist.[124] The Fund launched a program that utilized team teaching and provided for teacher aides, which was studied by President Johnson's administration and used as a model for Head Start. The Fund also supported eleven additional anti-poverty programs under another initiative which included the establishment of day care facilities and job training courses. These were also evaluated by the Johnson administration when it developed its "War on Poverty" programs.[125] Sanford himself was disappointed by Johnson's War on Poverty and the agency responsible for it, the Office of Economic Opportunity, and told federal officials that the goal of their effort should not be to eliminate poverty—which Sanford thought impossible—as much as it should be to reduce the "causes of poverty."[126] Johnson administration officials considered placing Sanford in charge of the office.[127] The Fund ceased operations in 1969.[128]

Race relations and civil rightsEdit

At the time Sanford entered gubernatorial office, the state of racial affairs in North Carolina was essentially the same as it had been since the early 1900s. Segregation was common; despite token integration efforts in some urban schools and state colleges, 99 percent of black school children attended segregated schools, and though federal courts had mandated the integration of buses and trains, transit stations and most other accommodations—hotels, restaurants, movie theaters, public parks, and beaches—remained segregated.[129] According to the North Carolina Advisory Commission on Civil Rights, only 31.2 percent of potential nonwhite voters were registered to vote, in contrast to 90.2 percent of white voters.[130] In his inaugural address, Sanford appealed for mutual respect and understanding between races and said that "no group of our citizens can be denied the right to participate in the opportunities of first-class citizenship."[131] He enrolled his daughter Betsee and his son Terry in the integrated Murphy School (it was attended by a single black student), an action which received attention in the state and national press.[132]

Sanford had considered racism to be immoral since he was student at the University of North Carolina,[133] but initially wished to avoid dealing with issues of racial equality directly as governor, viewing it as a distraction from his main platform and politically dangerous.[132] He had no planned strategy or agenda for the issue.[134] However, he soon felt that as governor he had to take some action to address the growing tension in the United States due to the increasing activity of the civil rights movement. Shortly after taking office, he began appointing black professionals to state offices. Ultimately, he placed over three dozen blacks on state boards, commissions, and committees. He also consulted black community and business leaders on civil rights issues such as Wheeler, sociologist John R. Larkins, and real estate developer John W. Winters. Winters was particularly insistent on encouraging Sanford and his staff to reconsider their views on civil rights.[135] In 1961 Sanford and the Chairman of the Board of Conservation and Development, Skipper Bowles, decided to integrate North Carolina's state parks.[136] Sanford generally believed that the use of persuasion and appeals to decency instead of invoking the law and employing force would mollify segregationists and lead to social change. He thought that the "basic goodness of people" would prevail in racial matters, and was often disappointed to encounter hostility from North Carolinians opposed to desegregation.[137]

In May 1961 a multiracial group of civil rights activists known as Freedom Riders prepared to enter North Carolina on intercity buses to ensure the desegregation of them and related transit facilities in the South. Sanford sought the advice of Thomas J. Pearsall, an attorney who had previously developed North Carolina's response to federally mandated school desegregation. Pearsall counselled Sanford to "approach the matter quietly, informally and without public notice" and be prepared to deploy the State Highway Patrol to "meet mob violence."[138] Under Sanford's orders, the Highway Patrol monitored the buses' movements and guarded against potential violence from angry segregationist whites.[139][140] Throughout his tenure Sanford would deploy state police at civil rights demonstrations to maintain order and deter violence, but he never used them to disperse demonstrators. He later said, "It was up to us to keep the order and let them demonstrate, which was constitutional. It was unthinkable to put them in jail for that."[141] He also expressed support for President Kennedy's actions to maintain order during the integration of the University of Mississippi.[137] Sanford remained conscious of the desires of the white constituency which had elected him, and in one instance wrote federal officials to request that a group of white North Carolinian army reservists be reassigned from the predominantly black army unit to which they were posted. Sanford let the matter drop after the United States Department of Defense refused to honor his request.[142] Journalists often wrote about Sanford's actions regarding racial issues and dubbed him a leading moderate. He enjoyed the media attention, but shied away from being portrayed as party to a conflict with the South's more hard-line segregationist governors.[143]

Sanford with black schoolchildren in Alexander County, 1962

Sanford's cautious stance on civil rights and racial issues began to change while he traveled across North Carolina to visit schools to promote his education program.[144] Sanford visited both white and black schools and, while touring them, encouraged the students to pursue their own education as means of securing economic prosperity in the future. Over time he grew uncomfortable saying this to black schoolchildren, and on one occasion after a meeting with black students, he felt ill and refused to eat dinner. He later explained his trouble, saying "I had the sickening feeling that every time I talked to them I was saying words that were a mockery...I was talking about opportunities that I knew, and I feared they knew, didn't exist, no matter how hard they might work in school."[145] Sanford was also moved to reconsider his views after investigating the source of financial support for black college students who remained in Raleigh during the summer after the end of their academic semester to protest segregation. He wrote, "I was amazed to discover that their support came from the local older Negro...Incredibly, these local older Negroes had been dissatisfied all the time...and they were intensively, if secretly, proud of the young Negroes who were militantly insisting on change."[146]

Once resolved that he had to take more action to support racial equality, Sanford began making statements in favor of it. In October 1962, he told a gathering of Methodists in Rutherford County that poverty in North Carolina was worsened by the lack of economic opportunity for blacks and told the audience that whites would have to handle the "difficult problems of race" in a "spirit of Christian fellowship".[147] The address drew a mediocre response from the crowd and generated little attention in the state media. In early 1963 he began drafting a speech entitled "Observations for a Second Century" which directly called for the support of civil rights. Sanford shared his work with over 100 of his associates; most were supportive of his aims, but others feared the consequences his statement would have on the Democratic Party. On January 18, 1963 Sanford delivered his address at the Carolina Inn before the North Carolina Press Association. After making an aside to the journalists,[133] Sanford delved into his prepared remarks:[148]

The American Negro was freed from slavery one hundred years ago. In this century he has made much progress, educating his children, building churches, entering into the community and civic life of the nation. Now is the time in this hundredth year not merely to look back to freedom, but forward to the fulfillment of its meaning. Despite this great progress, the Negro's opportunity to obtain a good job has not been achieved in most places across the nation. Reluctance to accept the Negro in employment is the greatest single block to his continued progress and to the full use of the human potential of the nation and its states.

The time has come for American citizens to give up this reluctance, to quit unfair discrimination, and to give the Negro a full chance to earn a decent living for his family and to contribute to higher standards for himself and all men.

We cannot rely on law alone in this matter because much depends upon its administration and upon each individual's sense of fair play. North Carolina and its people have come to the point of recognizing the urgent need for opening new economic opportunities for Negro citizens. We also recognize that in doing so we shall be adding new economic growth for everybody. We can do this. We should do this. We will do it because we are concerned with the problems and the welfare of our neighbors. We will do it because our economy cannot afford to have so many people fully and partially unproductive. We will do it because it is honest and fair for us to give all men and women their best chance in life.

The statement made Sanford the first Southern governor to call for the end of racially discriminatory employment.[149][150] The same day Sanford announced the creation of the Good Neighbor Council, a biracial panel aimed at developing voluntary nondiscriminatory hiring practices and encouraging youth to prepare for gainful employment.[151][152] The council did not have any provision to enforce its recommendations and thus its impact was minimal.[153] Sanford also requested that the heads of state agencies adopt nondiscriminatory hiring policies[154] and supported a bill that reduced racial barriers in the North Carolina National Guard. Ultimately, Sanford's attempts at reform did not significantly alter employment dynamics in the state and only benefited a minority of blacks.[155] The racial integration of public schools also made little progress during his tenure.[156]

Many young black people felt Sanford was not doing enough to address their concerns. In May 1963, 500 black student demonstrators gathered on the lawn of the Governor's Mansion and chanted for the governor to come out. Sanford, who was hosting a black tie fundraising event for the North Carolina Symphony, stepped onto the south porch of the house. He stood annoyed as the protesters jeered him, before saying, "I'll be glad to talk to you about any of your problems, any of your grievances, any of your hopes. This is not the time, or the place."[157] He also added, "If you want to talk to me at any time about your plans and your problems, let my office know. You have not come to me with any requests."[157] When one of the demonstrators yelled that Sanford should have already been aware of their grievances without any specific requests, Sanford responded, "I'm not dictator, son. You're in a democracy."[158] The group booed him and eventually left the premises.[158]

In late May and early June, four hundred black students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College in Greensboro were arrested for breaking segregationist practices in cafeterias and movie theaters. Sanford arranged for their release and had them returned to the college campus.[159] Later in June, he summoned 150 black civic leaders to the North Carolina State Capitol where he told them that he would not "let mass demonstrations destroy us."[158] He told them that their enemy was not white people; instead, it was "a system bequeathed to us by a cotton economy, kindled by stubbornness, intolerance, hotheadedness, North and South exploding into war and leaving to our generation the ashes of vengeance, retribution, and poverty. The way to fight this common enemy is education."[158] In early July, Sanford convened a meeting of over 200 municipal officials and established a Mayors Coordinating Committee to address civil rights concerns.[160]

In January 1964, James Farmer and Floyd McKissick of the Congress of Racial Equality demanded that the city of Chapel Hill, already one of the most integrated communities in the state, fully desegregate by February 1 or face a wave of demonstrations. Sanford released a statement of reproach towards the ultimatum and promised municipal officials his support. He later said, "I felt that I had been pushed around long enough."[161] The following month activists went through with their protests, heightening local tensions and resulting in numerous arrests. Sanford hosted Farmer and McKissick at the Governor's Mansion in an attempt to broker a solution, but the situation was not resolved until a local committee reached an agreement between the demonstrators and municipal officials.[162]

Handling the Ku Klux KlanEdit

During Sanford's tenure, activities of the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan in North Carolina rapidly increased. Sanford requested information on the Klan from the FBI. When the reports were found to be insufficient and unsatisfactory, he arranged for an undercover agent of the FBI working in the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles to infiltrate the organization in the eastern portion of the state. Several months later the FBI announced that North Carolina had one of the largest Klan membership in the country.[163]

Governor Terry Sanford made his petition quite clear on June 22, 1964, when he reiterated the contents of the General Statutes relating to Klan activities. No southern governor has ever been so positive and clear on this subject.

—Historian Thomas D. Clark, 1973[164]

In June 1964, an interracial group of students traveled to Elm City to renovate a local African-American church. Members of the United Klans of America confronted the youths, who promptly left the state. When a larger interracial group arrived to complete the work, 250 klansmen marched into the town and two of them attempted to burn the church down.[165] On June 22, Sanford issued a statement referring to anti-Klan legislation and saying, "Because there is a growing concern across the state, I think it is necessary to remind the people involved that the Ku Klux Klan is not going to take over North Carolina."[164]

Sanford condemned the Klan's methods and ordered the State Highway Patrol to assist the municipal police in protecting the church and maintaining order. His staff quietly brokered a compromise, convincing the local pastor to accommodate the white volunteers in a hotel instead of local black residents' homes, thereby avoiding the racial mixing of which the klansmen disapproved. State authorities dealt with members of the Klan in a similarly accommodating manner throughout the rest of Sanford's tenure, allowing the organization to strengthen its position in the region.[165] In response to Sanford's criticism of their actions in Elm City, klansmen burnt a cross on the lawn of the Governor's Mansion in mid-August.[166] Sanford inspected the cross, later commenting, "It is a badge of honor to have such hoodlums against you, but it is a mark of shame for the state of North Carolina to have such childish activities going on."[167] In December when the Klan threatened businessmen who had sponsored interracial Christmas parades, he encouraged its members to "read the Christmas story and the message of goodwill towards all men contained in the Bible" and declared that "If there are any illegal acts on the part of the Ku Klux Klan they will be prosecuted."[168]

Later tenureEdit

It was rumored by Kennedy's personal secretary, Evelyn Lincoln, that Kennedy had considered removing Johnson as Vice President from his electoral ticket in the 1964 presidential election and replacing him with Sanford.[169][170] Sanford later dismissed these rumors, feeling that such an action was not politically advantageous and would have damaged Kennedy's election prospects in the South.[171] Presidential adviser Larry O'Brien also dismissed the notion that Johnson would be replaced.[170]

Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963. Sanford was in Winston-Salem when he heard that the president had been shot. He directed his driver to take him back to the Governor's Mansion in Raleigh, and along the way he learned that Kennedy had died. His office issued a brief statement, calling the event "overwhelming".[172] Sanford rarely spoke of Kennedy's assassination in his later years, and preferred to avoid discussion of it when the subject arose. He felt that it had changed the world and negatively impacted the United States.[172] He and his family attended Kennedy's state funeral in Washington D.C..[171] The assassination came at a time when Sanford had been lobbying Kennedy to consider locating a large environmental research center in North Carolina. The decision then fell to Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy as President of the United States and had to consider pressure from other politicians that wanted the facility in their own respective states.[173]

Sanford's racial policies upset North Carolina's white populace, though he was able to contain white backlash throughout his administration. During the 1964 North Carolina gubernatorial election, L. Richardson Preyer, a supporter of Sanford, faced conservative Dan K. Moore in the Democratic primary election.[174] Sanford had originally wanted Lieutenant Governor Philpott to succeed him, but Philpott had unexpectedly died in August 1961.[175] He instead endorsed Preyer while Lake endorsed Moore.[176] At the same time Johnson was running for election as President of the United States, and Sanford actively supported him.[177] The gubernatorial contest devolved into a de facto referendum on Sanford's tenure, particularly his handling of race matters, and Moore secured the nomination.[174] Lake dubbed the outcome a popular rejection of Sanford's service. Sanford felt betrayed by civil rights leaders, since he thought that their insistence on continuing demonstrations in Chapel Hill had aggravated white resentment and damaged Preyer's electoral prospects.[178]

Anticipating that Moore and his allies would attempt to dismantle some of his initiatives upon assuming office, Sanford spent the last six months of his term trying to ensure the protection of his projects. He invited Moore's wife, Jeanelle C. Moore, into the board of trustees of the North Carolina School of the Arts and placed one of Moore's top aides on the board of the North Carolina Fund. He also transferred a summer internship program for college students interested in state politics out of the governor's office and into UNC's Institute of Government.[178]

Even as he was preparing to leave office, Sanford felt that he had much more work to accomplish. He urged the Research Triangle Institute to study affordable housing proposals and established a commission to plan for the future of development and growth in the Piedmont Crescent region.[179] He traveled to Washington D.C. to have his official portrait made and then went to New York to present Jackie Kennedy with North Carolina's financial contribution to the construction of the Kennedy Library.[180] In early December Sanford commuted the sentences of several Chapel Hill protesters. Shortly before leaving office in January 1965, he reached a deal with the Johnson administration for the $25 million environmental research facility to be located at the Research Triangle Park.[181][182] Reflecting on the impending end of his term, he expressed regret that more black employees had not been hired by the state and that he had not done enough to promote prison reform.[181] In his final publicly broadcast address as governor, he asserted, "If our weapon against poverty and bigotry is education, we can conquer all battles and make North Carolina a leader of all the rest of the nation."[183] He was succeeded as Governor of North Carolina by Moore on January 8, 1965.[184]

Immediate post-gubernatorial careerEdit

Sanford enjoyed his time as governor,[185] but by the time his term was over he was very unpopular in North Carolina.[186] After leaving office, Sanford returned to Fayetteville and opened a new law firm in Raleigh with some of his former colleagues.[187] In 1966 he published But What About the People?, a book about his tenure as governor. The following year he released Storm Over the States, a study of the role of state governments in handling American public issues.[188]

Sanford was quietly disappointed with Moore's tenure as governor, as Moore took little interest in furthering his predecessor's initiatives.[189] In 1967 he mulled over the possibility of challenging conservative Democrat Sam Ervin for his U.S. Senate seat. The two men disliked each other; Sanford thought of Ervin as a "constitutional racist" who delayed national progress on civil rights issues, while Ervin remained bitter about Sanford's early support for Kennedy in 1960. Though he had spoken about the inferiority of a Senate seat as compared to the governorship, Sanford was encouraged by his chances at a bid, as discontent over the sales tax on food had faded and his favorability ratings improved.[190] He ultimately decided against it after concluding that the contest would divide the Democratic Party and he would lose on account of his civil rights positions.[186][191] He then agreed to serve as President Johnson's campaign manager in the 1968 presidential election just before Johnson's withdrawal on March 31.[22] He subsequently declined an offer from Robert F. Kennedy to assist his presidential campaign.[192] Vice President Hubert Humphrey then became the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, and considered including Sanford on his ticket as the vice presidential candidate.[193] Sanford attended the 1968 Democratic National Convention, and delivered the speech seconding Humphrey's nomination for the party's endorsement. He was embittered by the disdain with which the delegates treated the outgoing President Johnson, and disapproved of Humphrey's choice of Senator Edmund Muskie of Maine for as his vice presidential candidate. During the convention Sanford called Johnson to wish him a happy birthday. The President offered to appoint him United States Secretary of Agriculture for the last few months of his term, but Sanford declined.[194] Sanford subsequently served as chairman for the Citizens for Humphrey-Muskie Committee[193] and in that position helped fundraise for Humphrey's campaign and encouraged the candidate to break from Johnson's views on the controversial Vietnam War. Humphrey lost the election to Republican Richard Nixon.[195]

President of Duke UniversityEdit

Sanford's first press conference as presumptive President of Duke University, December 14, 1969

In 1969, the private Duke University in Durham, North Carolina was wracked by a wave of student unrest over the Vietnam War and civil rights issues. Unable to contain the situation, University President Douglas Knight resigned and the board of trustees began searching for a new president. Trustee Molly Brian recommended that the board consider Sanford, as she had known him when he chaired the board of trustees for Methodist College.[196] The idea gained traction among the board and the university's presidential search committee. Sanford heard rumors of his consideration and, though he thought he would like the job, believed it was unlikely that it would ultimately be offered to him.[197] During this time he focused on work at his law firm while turning down several prospective private sector positions, as he wanted to keep his options open in case he wanted to run for public office again.[198] In late October 1969 the search committee officially contacted Sanford and began discussing how he would approach the job.[199] On December 13 the committee informed Sanford that he had been chosen for the presidency.[200] He assumed the responsibilities of the job on April 2, 1970,[201] and was officially inaugurated in a ceremony on October 17, 1970.[202] As president, he lived in the Douglas M. and Grace Knight House.[203]

That helped quell student unrest over the Vietnam War early in his tenure as university president. Addressing the protests of the 1970 Kent State shootings with tolerance, choosing to not call in police to clear the roads, leading to the protesting students going back to their rooms at night so that West Campus could be reopened the next day kept the campus calm during a turbulent spring.[204] Shortly before his tenure, on February 13, 1969, 60 student members of the Afro-American Society had occupied Duke's main administration center, the Allen Building, demanding the creation of a Black Studies program. After three days of clashes with police, they left the building peaceably February 16, when school officials agreed to the program.[205][206] During his tenure, Sanford strongly opposed confrontation and a heavy police action which helped defuse racial tensions.[207]

While at Duke, Sanford proposed a regional body be established to assist in coordinating growth and economic development in the South. Working with academics, he assisted in the foundation of the Southern Growth Policies Board on December 16, 1971.[208]

When Sanford assumed the university's presidency he sought to improve the school's status. At the time it was experiencing a budget deficit and suffered from a small endowment. Seeking to increase donations, he sought to increase the school's enrollment from North Carolinian public school students and private school students from elsewhere. He hired Croom Beatty, a boarding school fundraiser, as associate director for admissions and tasked him with finding children at private schools who came from wealthy backgrounds.[209] Croom would canvas the private schools for such students and, if he determined that their enrollment at Duke would financially benefit the university, he would recommend Sanford personally review their application—even if they had earned lower grades or test scores.[210] Sanford also personally recommended the consideration of applications from children of prospective donors who he had learned of from various contacts.[211]

In July 1979 Sanford began a year-long sabbatical and used the time to write A Danger of Democracy, a book which proposed reforming political parties' presidential nomination processes.[212]

In 1981 Sanford entertained the idea of location Nixon's presidential library and museum at Duke, where it could become a center of research and bolster the university's reputation.[213] 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 the former president was receptive to the idea.[214] While Sanford tried to win over the faculty to his idea—many of whom disliked Nixon and were worried about his scandal-ridden reputation damaging the university—the media began reporting that Duke was a prospective site for the library.[215] Opposition from professors mounted as they expressed concerns that the museum would become little more than a monument to Nixon while the most sensitive and valuable documents of his public career would not be kept in the library.[216] Some called for Sanford's resignation.[217]

Several dozen faculty supported Sanford's initiative, but in response to the controversy he modified his proposal to have the library located at the Research Triangle Park with the support of other regional university leaders.[218] The plan quickly fell apart after the faculty of other universities began declaring their opposition to it, and Sanford began to feel embarrassed by the affair.[219] The Duke Academic Council, a governing body representing the university's faculty, voted to eliminate the museum from the offer and scale down the planned size of the library. Discouraged, Nixon declined Sanford's offer and established his library in Yorba Linda, California.[220]

Sanford officially resigned on July 4, 1985.[221] He was succeeded by H. Keith H. Brodie, his preferred successor.[222]

Concurrent political activitiesEdit

Sanford and his wife with U.S. Secretary of State Edmund Muskie in 1980

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 majority 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 fifth-place finish at the 1972 Democratic National Convention with 77.5 votes, behind George McGovern (1,864.95), Henry M. Jackson (525), Wallace (381.7), and Shirley Chisholm (151.95).[223][224]

Undeterred, Sanford began preparations two years later for a run for the 1976 Democratic presidential nomination.[225] 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.[226] Sanford was left near bankruptcy by his abortive candidacy, though his friend Paul Vick later assisted him in managing his finances and recouping some of his wealth.[227] He thereafter refocused his time on running the university, and in 1977 he rejected President Jimmy Carter's offer to appoint him United States Ambassador to France.[228]

In 1984 former Democratic governor Jim Hunt challenged Republican incumbent Jesse Helms for a seat in the U.S. Senate. Sanford considered challenging Helms himself, but resolved that Hunt should make the bid as "it was his time".[229] Sanford initially advised Hunt's campaign, warning him not to engage in the negative campaigning that Helms employed. Hunt eventually embraced this strategy and Sanford was left out of meetings. Hunt lost the campaign.[229]

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, losing to Paul G. Kirk by a vote of 203–150.[230]

Senate careerEdit

1986 campaign and electionEdit

In late 1985 Sanford began consulting his friends on the possibility of running for a seat in the U.S. Senate the following year.[186] Sanford declared his candidacy in January 1986. The announcement surprised and embittered his longtime friend and political ally Lauch Faircloth, who had wanted to run for the seat with Sanford's support and was angered by rumors that Sanford had denigrated his own chances in an election. After the misunderstanding, Faircloth and Sanford did not speak with one another until shortly before the latter's death.[231] Sanford won the Democratic primary with 409,394 votes, easily defeating the nine other candidates and marking the first time he had won a statewide election since 1960.[232] His opponent in the general election was Republican U.S. House Representative Jim Broyhill as the incumbent senator, Republican John P. East, had declared his intention to retire.[233] After East committed suicide on June 29, 1986, Broyhill was temporarily appointed to the seat on July 3, pending the election to fill it on November 4.[234] During the campaign Sanford stressed his accomplishments as governor and his military service.[235] Critics of Sanford primarily focused on three areas: his promotion of opportunities for minorities, "tax-and-spend" education funding, and his anti-poverty efforts.[169] Sanford initially maintained a positive campaign, but attacked Broyhill as "no friend of education" and criticised his failure to minimize President Ronald Reagan's free trade policies which hurt the textiles industry after Broyhill released a television ad that condemned his imposition of the sales tax on food while serving as governor.[236] Sanford defeated Broyhill by three percentage points in the November election[169] earning about 60,000 more votes, securing victory in the contest to serve the last months of East's term and the subsequent six-year term.[237] He was sworn-in to office on December 10 by his friend and former law partner Judge James Dickson Phillips Jr. on the steps of the United States Capitol.[238] He was sworn-in again to the full six-year term on January 6, 1987.[239]


Terry Sanford's U. S. Senate portrait

Sanford felt uncomfortable in the Senate after being used to holding executive offices and thought the body its wasted time, writing, "We get so little done for all the energy we expend."[240] He 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.[241] As was custom among members of the majority party, Sanford presided over sessions of the Senate on several occasions.[242] He stayed in an apartment near the Capitol, and usually reported to his office by 8:00 AM and worked until returning home later in the evening.[243] He usually returned to his house in Durham on the weekends.[244]

During his Senate campaign, Sanford criticized President Reagan's policy towards the Contra War in Nicaragua, as the latter funneled American financial support to the right-aligned Contras while they waged an insurgency against the leftist Sandanista government. Sanford hoped to propose an alternative solution to the conflict based upon the Marshall Plan.[245] In February 1986 Sanford and Senator Chris Dodd traveled to Central America to study the issue. At the same time President Oscar Arias of Costa Rica was hosting a multilateral conference with representatives of nearby countries troubled by the conflict in Nicaragua. Sanford proposed to Arias that after the war ended a multinational working group be created to plan for economic redevelopment of the region. Arias was receptive to the idea, and soon after Sanford returned to the United States he delivered his first major speech before the Senate, supporting a resolution commending Arias' initiatives to host negotiations and end the Nicaraguan civil war. The resolution passed, 97 votes to one.[246] In June Sanford announced the creation of an International Commission for Central American Recovery and Development to create an outline for regional development under the coordination of Duke University's Center for International Development Research. As with the North Carolina Fund, Sanford secured backing from private philanthropic organizations to fund the body's work. By the time the group had its first meeting in December, he had recruited 47 members including diplomats, scholars, and economists. Though Sanford was not a member of the body, it became known as the "Sanford Commission" for his role in its creation.[247] He repeatedly returned to Central America to tour Nicaragua and observe Arias' peace process.[248]

The commission published its report in 1989, recommending action taken to ensure human rights and the fulfillment economic necessities of the region's population.[249] The document was endorsed by five Central American presidents. Sanford believed the commission's work hastened the end of the Contra War and reoriented local focus on economic recovery, reflecting, "I consider it the most significant thing I did in Washington."[250] Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega personally thanked Sanford for his efforts, and he was commended by his Senate colleagues Bob Dole and John Kerry.[251] Sanford proposed a bill to appropriate federal funds to the commission's use, but it was not acted upon for years and was challenged by Helms, who sought to attach statements to it calling on Central America to embrace free enterprise initiatives. Sanford found Helms' actions irksome, and though his bill finally passed the Senate in September 1991, the money it appropriated was never handed over.[252]

Sanford kept a journal during his Senate tenure, and often wrote about his irritation with the body's deference to member seniority instead of better ideas, the existence of incomprehensible legislative rules, and jurisdictional feuds between committee chairs. He also perceived an increase in partisanship and a diminishing willingness for compromise.[253] He strongly disapproved of Helms, writing, "I think his service in the Senate has been largely of zero value to North Carolina...He has a negative attitude about everything, and it is very difficult to find anything up here that he has done that has any lasting value."[254] The two usually maintained cordial relations, though in one instance Helms angrily denounced Sanford to the press after the latter made a joke at Helms' expense during a committee hearing. Helms' later apologized.[255]

From early on in his tenure Sanford was troubled by the Reagan administration's growing deficit spending and Congress' toleration of it. He crafted an "Honest Budget Bill" that mandated a balanced budget, introduced taxes to increase revenue, and separated the Social Security Trust Fund from other government trusts.[256] A few of his proposals were ultimately incorporated into other measures.[257] During the contentious Robert Bork Supreme Court nomination, Sanford was chosen by Senate Democrats to deliver a televised address explaining their opposition to Bork's nomination. Sanford stated that Bork was more interested in affirming his own personal opinions that conducting proper jurisprudence, and when the nomination came to a full vote before the Senate Sanford voted against it.[242]

As a Senator, Sanford was involved in efforts to recruit Democratic candidates for the 1988 United States presidential election. After unsuccessfully attempting to recruit Arkansas Senator Dale Bumpers and New York Governor Mario Cuomo, he endorsed Tennessee Senator Al Gore's campaign, privately dismissing Jesse Jackson for running a "purely racist campaign".[258] Gore later dropped out and Sanford dutifully backed Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis, though he found Dukakis' campaign staff arrogant and uncooperative. Dukakis lost the election to Republican George H. W. Bush, and Democrats performed poorly in North Carolina elections,[259] leaving Sanford as the leading elected North Carolina Democrat. In the contests' aftermath he increasingly bemoaned the leftward lean of the national Democratic Party, objecting to Ron Brown's assumption of the chair of the Democratic National Committee and expressing concern that the Democrats were "perceived by far too many people as being the black man's party", thus losing support from moderate whites.[260] Sanford wrote in his journal that "the lingering race prejudice does, indeed, drive a great many white people away from the Democratic Party".[261]

Sanford speaking to the U.S. Senate against the Flag Desecration Amendment on October 17, 1989

Sanford was initially hopeful that he could influence policy with the incoming Bush administration, but quickly tired of Bush, becoming outraged with his nomination of John Tower as Secretary of Defense and upset with—in his view—Bush's focus on trivial affairs meant to garner him short-term electoral support rather than provide long-term benefit to the country.[262] Following the Supreme Court's decision to overturn the conviction of a man who had burned a United States Flag as an act of protest, Bush and congressional Republicans proposed a Flag Desecration Amendment to the United States Constitution that would make it illegal for a person to burn American flags. Sanford thought Bush was pursuing a "demagogic, vote-getting, low-principled course" and—though he personally disagreed with flag burning—he thought that such an amendment ran contrary to the ideals of political freedom included in the Bill of Rights.[263] On October 17, 1989 Sanford delivered a speech in the Senate on the issue, saying that a prohibition of flag burning diminished the right to protest and weakened the Bill of Rights. He thought the speech was the best of his time in the Senate, and once he finished John Danforth, a cosponsor of the amendment, rose to say he had not thoughtfully considered the implications of the measure and would vote against it. The amendment ultimately failed to garner the necessary support of two-thirds of the body to pass.[264]

By 1990 Sanford began having doubts about his future and about running for reelection.[265] Reflecting on his past four years in the Senate, he wrote, "Its usefulness, its contribution to the nation and the state...was marginal."[265] Sanford had a liberal voting record in comparison to his Democratic colleagues from the South,[266] and it was consistently more liberal than that of any of his North Carolinian predecessors, being given an American Conservative Union rating of 12%.[267]

Following Iraq's August Invasion of Kuwait, Bush moved military forces to the Persian Gulf region. Sanford preferred to impose sanctions against Iraq rather than pursue a military solution, saying to the Senate, "There is no reason for us to get involved in a shooting, killing war to take Kuwait."[268] He became a leading critic of American involvement in the ensuing Gulf War[269] while at the same time growing more resolved to retire from the Senate.[270] Several weeks later he became surprised to hear that Faircloth had switched his party registration to Republican and was preparing to challenge Sanford in the 1992 election for his Senate seat.[271] His efforts to recruit his own successor candidate failed. In September Sanford abruptly changed his mind and decided to run for reelection, saying, "I could find no decent way to be a lame duck."[272]

1992 campaignEdit

Sanford at the North Raleigh Hilton Hotel, November 3, 1992

Sanford officially announced his campaign for reelection on December 2, 1991.[273] He faced no Democratic opposition for regaining his seat, while Faircloth, enjoying substantial backing from Helms' National Congressional Club, won the Republican primary. Both men pledged to run issues-oriented campaigns and avoid personal attacks.[274] In June 1992 he became afflicted with illness and was admitted to Duke Medical Center for treatment of a heart valve infection. This delayed his attempts to campaign, but he returned to work in the Senate in late July. Sanford was heavily involved in the direction of his campaign and pledged to tour all 100 North Carolina counties. Early polling suggested he enjoyed a large lead over Faircloth.[257] Faircloth attacked Sanford as beholden to special interests and an advocate of big government and higher taxes. Sanford countered by portraying his opponent as a conservative hard-liner.[275] During a televised debate in September Sanford easily countered Faircloth's accusations that he was a spendthrift by pointing to his efforts at budget reform.[276]

By October Sanford's heart infection had grown more serious and he underwent surgery to replace the troubled valve, temporarily preventing him from campaigning.[276] He was released from the hospital two weeks later, but he was noticeably thinner and the surgery had risen public doubts about his health. Without his leadership during the interim, his campaign lost initiative to Faircloth, who questioned his views on the Gulf War and characterized him as a Washington D.C. insider.[277] On November 3, 1992, Faircloth won the election by a 100,000-vote margin, though Democrat Bill Clinton won national election as United States President, while Jim Hunt was reelected Governor of North Carolina. Sanford celebrated the overall outcome at the North Raleigh Hilton Hotel, declaring, "This is a great night for the Democratic Party. We have the nation on the right track again. We have the state on the right track."[278]

Later life and deathEdit

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.[279] 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.[280] Sanford practiced law again in his later years and merged his own firm with that of another former governor, James Holshouser. Holshouser continued to practice with Sanford Holshouser LLP until his death (the firm continues under that name), and their economic development consulting firm continued under that name.[281]

In December 1997 Sanford went to Duke Medical Center after experiencing a low-grade fever for several days, fearing he had a heart infection. Doctors discovered cancer in his esophagus and liver and ruled that it was inoperable. They informed him that he could live for six months, and later that month he went back to the hospital for treatment.[282] He died on April 18, 1998 at his home.[283] His funeral was held four days later at Duke Chapel, attended by 17 U.S. Senators, four former governors, 100 members of the General Assembly, and the North Carolina Council of State. Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division acted as an honor guard.[284] 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."[6] Sanford was entombed in the chapel's crypt.[285]


Sanford was a very engaging extrovert...His vision in life was to help people. He had a huge ego. Of all the people I've known in politics, he had the strongest focus on government being there to make life better for the people. He was very optimistic.

Sanford was one of the key figures of the New South, a historical era of social modernization in the South.[287][288][289][290][291] Journalist John Drescher dubbed him "the first New South governor"[292] while George Wallace called him "the symbol of the New South."[293] Journalist Rob Christensen credited him with helping to "set a tone of moderation in North Carolina in the sixties".[294] He is remembered in North Carolina as the "education governor";[295][296] historians and journalists have often cited Sanford's actions as governor as the source of North Carolina's historical policy focus on reforming education.[297] In recognition of his efforts in education and in other areas, a 1981 Harvard University survey named him one of the 10 best governors of the 20th century.[22][298] A study conducted by political scientist Larry Sabato concluded that Sanford was one of the best 12 governors to serve in the United States between 1950 and 1975.[299] Historian William D. Goldsmith wrote, "Terry Sanford tested the limits of what a governor—or a politician period—could do in North Carolina of the early 1960s to advance human development without federal intervention."[297]

Terry Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University

Political scientist Tom Eamon dubbed Sanford "North Carolina's most celebrated liberal politician".[300] Sanford served as a role model to a number of Southern governors, including Jim Hunt of North Carolina (his protege), William Winter of Mississippi, and Bill Clinton of Arkansas.[90] When Parris Glendening was campaigning to become Governor of Maryland in 1994, he promised voters that would model his administration after Sanford's.[299] Upon Sanford's death Clinton—who had since become President of the United States—said, "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."[301] Senator John Edwards said that Sanford was his "political hero".[287] Journalist David Stout characterized Sanford as a "contradictory politician" and a man who "lack[ed] burning desire."[302]

Duke University has since established an undergraduate and graduate school (formerly institute) in public policy called the Sanford School of Public Policy.[303] Fayetteville High School, in Fayetteville, North Carolina, was renamed Terry Sanford High School in his honor in 1968.[304] The Terry Sanford Federal Building and Courthouse in Raleigh was named in honor of Sanford in 1999.[305][306]

Works by Terry SanfordEdit

  • Sanford, Terry (1966). But What about the People?. New York, NY: Harper & Row. ISBN 0-8223-2356-7.
  • Sanford, Terry (1967). Storm over the States. Rochester, NY: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-07-054655-X.
  • Sanford, Terry (1981). A Danger of Democracy: The Presidential Nominating Process. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. ISBN 0-86531-159-5.
  • Sanford, Terry (1996). Outlive Your Enemies: Grow Old Gracefully. Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers. ISBN 1-56072-289-4.

See alsoEdit


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General referencesEdit

External linksEdit

North Carolina Senate
Preceded by
S. Bunn Frink
Junius K. Powell
Member of the North Carolina Senate
from the 10th district

Served alongside: James A. Bridger
Succeeded by
Ray H. Walton
Arthur W. Williamson
Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic nominee for Governor of North Carolina
Succeeded by
Preceded by Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from North Carolina
(Class 3)

1986, 1992
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Governor of North Carolina
January 5, 1961- January 8, 1965
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee
Succeeded by
U.S. Senate
Preceded by Senator from North Carolina (Class 3)
November 5, 1986–January 3, 1993
Served alongside: Jesse Helms
Succeeded by
Academic offices
Preceded by President of Duke University
Succeeded by