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Terry Sanford
Terry Sanford.jpg
United States Senator
from North Carolina
In office
November 5, 1986 – January 3, 1993
Preceded byJim Broyhill
Succeeded byLauch Faircloth
President of Duke University
In office
April 1, 1970 – July 1, 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 Select Committee on Ethics
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
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 Party
Margaret Rose Knight (m. 1942)
Alma materUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
 • North Carolina Army National Guard
Years of service1942–1960
US Army O2 shoulderboard rotated.svg
First Lieutenant
Unit517th Parachute Infantry Regiment
Battles/warsWorld War II
Purple Heart ribbon.svg
Purple Heart
Bronze Star Medal ribbon.svg
Bronze Star

James Terry Sanford (August 20, 1917 – April 18, 1998) was an American university administrator 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.

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

Early life

Sanford was born in 1917 in Laurinburg, North Carolina, the son of Elizabeth Terry (Martin) and Cecil Leroy Sanford,[3] both of English descent. He became an Eagle Scout in Laurinburg's Troop 20 of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). Shortly before he died, Sanford related his Scouting experience to journalist David Gergen and said that it "probably saved my life in the war. Boys who had been Scouts or had been in the CCC knew how to look after themselves in the woods.... What I learned in Scouts sustained me all my life; it helped me make decisions about what was best."[4] The BSA recognized him with its Distinguished Eagle Scout Award.[5]

Sanford graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1939 and then served as a special agent in the FBI for two years.[6][7] He married Margaret Rose Knight on July 4, 1942, and they later had two children: Terry Jr. and Elizabeth.[8] During World War II, he enlisted as a private in the US Army and later attained the rank of first lieutenant. He parachuted into France with the 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart for his bravery and wounds, respectively. Sanford was honorably discharged in 1946.[7]

Sanford later served as a company commander with the rank of captain in Company K of 119th Infantry Regiment of the North Carolina Army National Guard from 1948 to 1960.[9] After the war, Sanford earned a law degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law.

Sanford was an assistant director of the Institute of Government of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1946 until 1948, then began a private practice of law in Fayetteville.[10]

Early political career

In 1949 Sanford was elected president of the North Carolina Young Democratic Clubs.[11] He served one term as a state senator (1953–55), and chose not to run for a second term.[10] He also managed W. Kerr Scott's 1954 U.S. Senate campaign.[11]

Gubernatorial career

1960 campaign and election

On February 4, 1960, Sanford declared his candidacy for the office of Governor of North Carolina in Fayetteville.[12] 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.[13] In competing for the office of governor Sanford faced 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.[14] 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. In the May primary 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.[15]

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."[16] 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 encourage 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."[17] He contended that Lake's focus on racial matters distracted from the more important subject of quality education.[17] 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.[18]

Sanford garnered Seawell's endorsement and the quiet backing of Governor Luther H. 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. Sanford 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.[19] Sanford ultimately won the June 27 Democratic primary with a large lead, earning 352,133 votes in contrast to Lake's 275,905.[20] Lake subsequently pledged his support to Sanford, but did little to assist his campaign in the upcoming general election.[21]

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. Kennedy ultimately secured the nomination and welcomed Johnson into his campaign as the vice presidential nominee.[22]

Sanford faced a strong opponent for the governor's race in Robert Gavin, a moderate conservative Republican attorney. Gavin denounced Sanford as a tool of the liberal leadership of the national Democratic Party and organized labor.[21] Although his reputation had been harmed by his early endorsement of Kennedy, Sanford enthusiastically campaigned for the two of them.[23] 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.[21] He 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."[24]


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."[25] Sanford spent the first few months of his time in office lobbying for a legislative plan to increase state spending on education.[26]

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.[27] 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,[28] 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 North Carolina General Assembly was hesitant to pass them into law.[29] 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.[30]

Sanford promoting public education at a school in Pender County, 1962
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.[29] 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.[30]

Sanford's effort was ultimately successful and the General Assembly implemented his program and the taxes.[27] 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. Sanford's successful lobbying gained national attention and he was subsequently invited to numerous events around the country to speak about his education plan.[31] 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.[27] In the 1962 elections the Democrats lost seats in the State House of Representatives. Though Sanford was disappointed, he remained convinced that the tax proposal was the best way to fund his program.[32]

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 Sate Board of Education.[33] Sanford conceived the idea for the Governor's School of North Carolina,[34] a publicly funded six-week residential summer program for gifted high school students in the state.[35] 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.[36] He convinced the General Assembly to pass the measure to found the institution through logrolling and the promises of appointments to state offices.[37] Sanford's policies ultimately resulted in the near-doubling of North Carolina's expenditures on public schools.[34]

North Carolina Fund and anti-poverty measures

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.[37] 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.[38] In the summer of 1962 he met John Ehle, a novelist and professor whom he quickly took as an adviser on public policy.[39] 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.[40] He also established contact with George Esser, an academic at UNC's Institute of Government, to ask him for potential uses of Ford Foundation funds in combating poverty.[41] 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.[42] 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.[43] 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,[44] and tapped the advice of John H. Wheeler, leader of the black business community in Durham.[45] 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.[46]

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.[47] Its goals were to fight poverty and promote racial equality across the state.[48] 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.[49] Sanford was made chairman of the Fund's board.[50] He publicly announced its creation at a press conference on September 30, garnering a positive reception from state newspapers.[51] The Fund launched a program that utilized team teaching and provided for teacher aides, which was studied by President Lyndon B. 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.[52] Sanford himself was disappointing 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."[53]

Race relations and civil rights

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.[54] 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.[55] 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."[56] 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.[57]

Sanford had considered racism to be immoral since he was student at the University of North Carolina,[58] 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.[57] He had no planned strategy or agenda for the issue.[59] However, he soon felt that he 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 sociologist John R. Larkins, banker John H. Wheeler, and real estate developer John W. Winters. Winters was particularly insistent on encouraging Sanford and his staff to reconsider their views on civil rights.[60]

Sanford with black school children in Alexander County, 1962
Sanford with black school children 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.[61] 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 school children, 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."[62] 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."[63]

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".[64] The address drew a mediocre response from the crowd and generating little attention in the state media. In early 1963 he began drafting a document entitled "Observations for a Second Century" which directly called for the support of civil rights.[58]

In January 1964 James Farmer and Floyd McKissick of the Congress of Racial Equality demanded that the city of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 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."[65]

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. The contest devolved into a de facto referendum on Sanford's tenure, particularly his handling of race matters, and Moore secured the nomination.[66]

Handling the Ku Klux Klan

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 Federal Bureau of Investigation (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.[67]

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[68]

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.[69] 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 Klu Klux Klan is not going to take over North Carolina."[68]

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.[69] 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.[70] 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."[71] 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."[72]

Relationship with John F. Kennedy

Sanford was a close political ally of President John F. Kennedy, a fact that disturbed some North Carolina Democrats suspicious of Kennedy's Catholicism.[73] According to Kennedy's personal secretary, Evelyn Lincoln, Sanford would have been Kennedy's choice for vice president on the 1964 Democratic ticket if Kennedy had lived. In her 1968 book Kennedy and Johnson she reported that Kennedy told her that Lyndon B. Johnson would be replaced as Vice President.

Lincoln wrote of that November 19, 1963, conversation just three days before Kennedy's assassination:[6][74]

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

Additionally, Sanford used his leverage with the White House to expand the Research Triangle Park (RTP), which sparked an economic surge in the state, eventually luring IBM and the United States Environmental Protection Agency to the Triangle area.[73][75][76]

Other positions

Sanford was also a staunch opponent of capital punishment. His "numerous statements against capital punishment were so well known that prisoners on North Carolina's death row pointedly referred to them in their clemency appeals."[77]

Return to private career

After his term in office ended, Sanford opened a law firm. He had agreed to serve as Johnson's campaign manager in 1968 just before Johnson's withdrawal on March 31. Sanford later took over as the campaign manager for the Democratic nominee Hubert Humphrey in his race against Republican Richard Nixon for the presidency.[8]

Johnson wanted Humphrey to pick Sanford as his running mate. On one occasion, the Humphrey campaign asked Sanford if he wanted to be the vice presidential candidate. Sanford declined, and Humphrey ultimately picked Senator Edmund Muskie of Maine. Though Sanford received a number of legal and business offers from the private sector during this period, he was interested in a position that would allow him to keep his political prospects open.[78]

President of Duke University

Terry Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University
Terry Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University

In 1969, Sanford became president of Duke University, a position he held for the next 16 years.[79] 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.[80] 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.[81][82] During his tenure, Sanford strongly opposed confrontation and a heavy police action which helped defuse racial tensions.[83]

Perhaps the greatest controversy of Sanford's presidency was his effort to establish the presidential library of former US President Richard Nixon at Duke. Sanford raised the subject with Nixon during a visit to the former president at Nixon's New York City office on July 28, 1981. Sanford continued to seek Nixon's advice on multiple issues within the months that followed. The library proposal became public in mid-August, creating considerable controversy at the university. Though Sanford enjoyed some support for his effort, most of the faculty were against the proposal, the largest concern being that the facility would be a monument to Nixon rather than a center of study. Sanford tried to engineer a compromise, but the proposal by the Duke Academic Council of a library only a third the size of that which Nixon wanted and their rejection of a Nixon museum to accompany it, ultimately led Nixon to decline Sanford's offer and site his library in the city of his birth, Yorba Linda, California, instead; it was dedicated there in 1990.[84]

Campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination

Though Sanford enjoyed his time as Duke's president, he still harbored political ambitions. As the 1972 presidential primary season began, he was approached by several people who felt that the field of Democratic candidates was weak. He was particularly keen to challenge Alabama governor George Wallace in an effort to show that Wallace's segregationist views did not represent 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).[85][86]

Undeterred, Sanford began preparations two years later for a run for the 1976 Democratic presidential nomination.[87] 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.[88]

Senate career

After retiring as president of Duke University in 1985, Sanford remained active in party politics. He made an unsuccessful run for chairman of the Democratic National Committee in 1985, in which he was supported by future House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Sanford lost to Paul G. Kirk by a vote of 203–150.[89]

After failing to find a Democrat willing to run for the Senate seat being vacated by Republican John P. East,[90] Sanford announced his own candidacy for the nomination. His opponent was Congressman Jim Broyhill. After East committed suicide on June 29, 1986, Broyhill was temporarily appointed to the seat on July 3, until a special election could be held on November 4.[91] Despite being attacked as a liberal, Sanford defeated Broyhill by three percentage points in the November election. Critics of Sanford primarily focused on three areas: his promotion of opportunities for minorities, "tax-and-spend" education funding, and his anti-poverty campaign.[6] He took office on November 5, the day after the special election, to serve out the last two months of East's term and the subsequent six-year term.[10]

Sanford at a 1992 Senate campaign rally
Sanford at a 1992 Senate campaign rally

Sanford found his years in the Senate frustrating. He was concerned about the runaway deficit spending of the era, and he pursued economic development for Central America as an alternative to Republican-driven military policies. He led the Duke-based International Commission for Central American Recovery and Development, a task force of scholars and leaders that published Poverty, Conflict, and Hope: A Turning Point in Central America (also known as the Sanford Commission Report since he was "the principal catalyst of the commission's work") in 1989 with the principles for promoting peace, democracy and equitable development in Central America.[92] Sanford served on multiple Senate committees: Select Committee on Ethics (Chair); Special Committee on Aging; Budget; Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs including the Subcommittee on International Finance and Monetary Policy and Subcommittee on Securities; and Foreign Relations including Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Chair), Subcommittee on African Affairs, and Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere and Peace Corps Affairs.[93] He was a leading critic of American involvement in the Gulf War.[94] He had a liberal voting record in comparison to his Democratic colleagues from the South, and he campaigned successfully against the passage of a constitutional amendment prohibiting flag-burning with a counter-campaign promoting the United States Bill of Rights. Yet Sanford thought his accomplishments in the Senate paled against those he made as governor, and he seriously contemplated retiring and pursuing other projects before deciding to run for reelection.[95] His voting record was consistently more liberal than that of any of his predecessors, being given an American Conservative Union rating of 12%.[96]

Sanford's opponent in the 1992 election was Lauch Faircloth, a former Democrat turned Republican who had served as state Highway Commissioner in Sanford's gubernatorial administration. Enjoying substantial backing from Sanford's Senate colleague, Jesse Helms, Faircloth accused Sanford of being a tax-and-spend liberal bound to special interests. While initial polls showed that Sanford had a comfortable lead over his rival, he lost supporters after an operation for an infected heart valve kept him from campaigning for much of October and raised doubts as to whether he was capable of serving another term. On November 3, 1992, Faircloth won the election by a 100,000-vote margin.[97]

Later life and death

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.[98] 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.[99] 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.[100]

The New York Times writer David Stout characterized Sanford as a "contradictory politician" and a man who "lack[ed] burning desire."[101]

Sanford announced in late December 1997 that he had been diagnosed with inoperable esophageal cancer and that his doctors said he had a few months to live. After his release from the hospital, his condition slowly deteriorated. He died in his sleep while surrounded by his family at his Durham home. He was 80 years old. At his funeral, he was eulogized by a childhood friend who said Sanford "took [the Boy Scout] oath when he was twelve years old and kept it. It started out, 'On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country,' and included such things as 'help other people at all times.' He believed it. He was the eternal Boy Scout."[4] Sanford is entombed in the crypt of Duke University Chapel.[8]


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 a major public figure of the post-World War II South.[1][2] He played a key role in the transformation of Southern politics into the New South, primarily in the areas of race relations and education.[103][104] 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.[8][105] 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.[25] Upon his 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."[2] John Edwards wrote that Sanford was his political hero.[104]

Duke University has since established an undergraduate and graduate school (formerly institute) in public policy called the Sanford School of Public Policy.[106] Fayetteville High School, in Fayetteville, North Carolina, was renamed Terry Sanford High School in his honor in 1968.[107][108] The Terry Sanford Federal Building and Courthouse in Raleigh, the state capital, is named after Sanford.[109]

See also


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  2. ^ a b c "Southern Connections: Connecting With Each Other, Connecting With The Future:Terry Sanford" (PDF). The Summary Report of the 1998 Commission on the Future of the South. Southern Connections. 1998. p. 8. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-06-27. Retrieved 2008-06-09.
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Further reading

Selected books by Terry Sanford

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Luther H. Hodges
Governor of North Carolina
January 5, 1961- January 8, 1965
Succeeded by
Dan K. Moore
Preceded by
Howell Heflin
Chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee
Succeeded by
Richard Bryan
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
James Thomas Broyhill
Senator from North Carolina (Class 3)
November 5, 1986–January 3, 1993
Served alongside: Jesse Helms
Succeeded by
Lauch Faircloth
Academic offices
Preceded by
Douglas Maitland Knight
President of Duke University
Succeeded by
H. Keith H. Brodie
This page was last edited on 12 February 2020, at 20:29
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