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AP: F.B.I. Investigated Politics in ’46 Lynching of 2 Georgia Couples

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  • Ram Lau
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/16/us/16lynching.html June 16, 2007 F.B.I. Investigated Politics in ’46 Lynching of 2 Georgia Couples By THE ASSOCIATED
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 16, 2007
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      http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/16/us/16lynching.html
      June 16, 2007
      F.B.I. Investigated Politics in ’46 Lynching of 2 Georgia Couples
      By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

      MONROE, Ga., June 15 (AP) â€" Newly released files about the lynching of
      two black couples more than 60 years ago show that the F.B.I.
      investigated suspicions that a three-term governor of Georgia
      sanctioned the killings to sway rural white voters in a tough election
      campaign.

      The 3,725 pages obtained by The Associated Press do not make
      conclusions about the still-unsolved killings at Moore’s Ford Bridge.
      But they raise the possibility that the politics of the governor,
      Eugene Talmadge, may have been a factor.

      Speaking of Mr. Talmadge, Robert Pratt, a University of Georgia
      history professor who has studied the case, said he was not surprised
      that “historians over the years have concluded the violently racist
      tone of his 1946 campaign may have been indirectly responsible for the
      violence that came at Moore’s Ford.”

      Mr. Talmadge, a Democrat who died just months after his 1946 election
      to a fourth term, dominated Georgia politics in the 1930s and 1940s
      with a mix of racism and pocketbook populism.

      He came under scrutiny from the Federal Bureau of Investigation after
      the lynchings because of a visit he made to the northern Georgia town
      of Monroe two days before the Democratic primary for governor and a
      day after a highly charged racial incident there, a fight in which a
      black sharecropper stabbed a white farmer. The sharecropper was one of
      the four people who would be lynched.

      In a report sent to the F.B.I. director, J. Edgar Hoover, the agent in
      charge of the investigation said Mr. Talmadge met with George Hester,
      the brother of the stabbing victim. Citing an unconfirmed witness
      statement, the agent said the governor offered immunity to anyone
      “taking care of Negro.”

      Mr. Talmadge faced a tough challenge in the Democratic primary, and
      Walton County, where Monroe is situated, was up for grabs.

      On Election Day, Mr. Talmadge won the county by roughly 200 votes,
      with overwhelming support from the Blasingame District, where the
      Hester family lived.
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