Public Papers and Letters of Oliver Max Gardner: Governor of North Carolina, 1929-1933

By Edwin Gill; David Leroy Corbitt | Go to book overview

OLIVER MAX GARDNER

BY ALLEN JAY MAXWELL

O. Max Gardner was inaugurated governor of North Carolina January 11, 1929. At this time the State was surging with high purpose and was looking forward with confidence to a continuation of the golden era of progress. The eight years preceding, covering the administrations of Cameron Morrison and Angus Wilton McLean, represented a period of uninterrupted expansion of public service and public spending. In these eventful eight years North Carolina had been lifted from lethargy to perhaps the most dynamic commonwealth in the sisterhood of states. Schools, roads, institutions, and all departments of government had been touched with the stimulation of unprecedented growth. The state debt at the end of 1920 was $13,300,000. When Gardner took office eight years later it had risen to $178,264,000. The pride of the people was boundless. The General Assembly of 1929 could see no cloud upon the horizon. The financial seas gave no sign of the coming storm. Without delay it voted generous appropriations and adjourned. The credit of the State was excellent, the future brilliant with prospect. The captains of industry, almost without exception, were predicting a continuance of Coolidge prosperity.

The national speculative mania had reached a new high. On September 3, 1929, United States Steel sold at $261 per share, American Telephone and Telegraph at $335, and General Electric at $396. There appeared to be no top and the Nation sat serenely in the childlike faith of perpetual endowment of good times and unparalleled prosperity.

In October, without warning, the bubble burst. The Nation's joy ride was over. The big banks formed

-vii-

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