“The Damndest Mess” 1966

Tim S. R. Boyd

in Georgia Democrats, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Shaping of the New South

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780813037653
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780813042152 | DOI:
“The Damndest Mess” 1966

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This chapter is an in-depth study of the 1966 gubernatorial election in Georgia that resulted in the election of Lester Maddox. The election is often cited as one of the signature moments to illustrate the power of the white backlash, but this chapter demonstrates that it was a much more unpredictable, chaotic, and ambiguous event than is generally noted. Although it successfully illustrated how the white backlash could be used to win elections, the election also demonstrated the dangers of deploying a backlash strategy. Ultimately, while Maddox did prevail in 1966, the lasting impact of the election was the backlash against him that would eventually marginalize him a few years later.

Keywords: Lester Maddox; Bo Callaway; 1966 election; Jimmy Carter; Ellis Arnall

Chapter.  9642 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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