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Earl B. Ruth
Earl B. Ruth.jpg
48th Governor of American Samoa
In office
February 6, 1975 – September 30, 1976
Appointed byGerald R. Ford
Preceded byFrank C. Mockler
Succeeded byFrank E. Barnett
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from North Carolina's 8th district
In office
January 3, 1969 – January 3, 1975
Preceded byCharles R. Jonas
Succeeded byBill Hefner
Personal details
Earl Baker Ruth

(1916-02-07)February 7, 1916
Spencer, North Carolina
DiedAugust 15, 1989(1989-08-15) (aged 73)
Salisbury, North Carolina
Political partyRepublican
Alma materUniversity of North Carolina

Earl Baker Ruth (February 7, 1916 – August 15, 1989) was a three-term U.S. Representative from North Carolina and subsequently served as Governor of American Samoa.

Born in Spencer, North Carolina, Ruth graduated from Central High School in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1934. He earned an A.B. at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, North Carolina in 1938 and a M.A. from the same institution in 1942. He completed his graduate-level education with a Ph.D. from the school in 1955. He was a teacher and coach at Chapel Hill High School, 1938–40. Chapel Hill, North Carolina In 1933 Ruth was the North Carolina High School tennis champion (singles). While at UNC, Chapel Hill Ruth was a basketball standout, serving as captain of the Tar Heel team in both his Junior and Senior years (1936–37 and 1937–38).

Ruth in 1938 as UNC basketball team captain
Ruth in 1938 as UNC basketball team captain

He subsequently served in the United States Navy. Ruth was head basketball coach and director of athletics at Catawba College in Salisbury, North Carolina from 1946 to 1960. From 1960 to 1968 he served as the Dean of Students there. He was member of Salisbury City Council from 1963 to 1968, serving as mayor pro tempore from 1967 to 1968.

Ruth was elected as a Republican to the Ninety-first and to the two succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1969 – January 3, 1975). He was an unsuccessful candidate for re-election to the Ninety-fourth Congress in 1974. He was then appointed by President of the United States Gerald R. Ford to be Governor of American Samoa from 1975 to 1976. He died on August 15, 1989, in Salisbury and was interred in Salisbury National Cemetery.[1] During his period as Governor of American Samoa opposition to the practice of the federal government appointing governors grew stronger. Within eighteen months, Ruth had removed numerous Samoans in administrative posts, who had been appointed by former Governor John Morse Haydon. Ruth was soon recalled to Washington, DC, and was quoted for having called Samoans "lazy, thieving liars."[2]

Dedication of Congressman Earl Ruth Highway in 2012.
Dedication of Congressman Earl Ruth Highway in 2012.

In 2012, the North Carolina Department of Transportation named a section of U.S. 601 in Rowan County "Congressman Earl Ruth Highway" in his honor. [3][4]


  1. ^ Earl Baker Ruth at Find a Grave
  2. ^ “GOVERNOR IS ELECTED IN AMERICAN SAMOA: Peter Coleman Is the First to Be Picked by Ballot - Leaders Were Named By U.S. for 77 Years.” New York Times (Nov. 24, 1977). Page 38
  3. ^ "Earl Ruth Highway unveiled on US 601". Salisbury Post. 2012-04-26. Retrieved 2020-07-09.
  4. ^ "Congressman Earl Ruth Highway Dedicated in Ceremony at Catawba | Catawba". Retrieved 2020-07-09.
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Charles R. Jonas
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from North Carolina's 8th congressional district

Succeeded by
Bill Hefner
This page was last edited on 22 December 2020, at 00:15
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