Georgia Odyssey

Georgia Odyssey

Georgia Odyssey

Georgia Odyssey

Excerpt

On his frequent visits to his Little White House at Warm Springs, President Franklin D. Roosevelt repeatedly expressed his deep affection for Georgia and its people, a sentiment that the overwhelming majority of the citizens of his “adopted” state seemed to reciprocate. Yet when Roosevelt attacked incumbent U.S. senator Walter F. George as an opponent of the New Deal and called on Georgia voters to oust George in 1938, he was soundly rebuffed. Aware of FDR’s personal popularity within the state, a visiting journalist asked a grizzled old South Georgia tobacco farmer to explain this outcome. Without hesitation, the old man replied defiantly, “We Georgians are Georgian as hell!” Whatever else it encompassed, his sense of what it meant to be Georgian suggested an innate distrust of all outsiders and a near-visceral hostility to any changes they might propose, feelings that remained very much alive (and inclined to kicking) some three generations after the end of Reconstruction.

Seventy years after the old fellow’s pronouncement, it would be foolhardy indeed for a person to suggest that he or she knows what it means to be Georgian, much less “Georgian as hell!” Likewise, not many of today’s Georgians are likely to recognize themselves in the first few pages of the 1940 Works Progress Administration’s Georgia: A Guide to Its Towns and Countryside: “The average Georgian votes the Democratic . . .

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