HERMAN EUGENE TALMADGE, son of Georgia Governor Eugene Talmadge (1933-1937, 1941-1943) and Georgia’s 59th and 61st governor, was born in Telfair County, Georgia, on August 9, 1913. In 1936 he graduated from the University of Georgia, earning a LL.B. degree. He was admitted to the bar, and then established a legal career, joining his father’s law practice in Atlanta. During World War II, he enlisted and was commissioned an ensign, serving in the U.S. Naval Reserve. Talmadge also participated in the invasion of Guadalcanal and the battle of Okinawa, and retired from active duty in 1946, with the rank of lieutenant commander. Returning to Atlanta, Talmadge served as the campaign manager for his father’s 1946 gubernatorial bid. His father won the election, but passed away before taking office. Herman was then elected by the Georgia Legislature to serve the remainder of his father’s unexpired term. However, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled his election was unconstitutional, and Talmadge, having only served 67 days, left office. Melvin Thompson, who was lieutenant governor at the time, assumed the governor’s office until a special election could be held. Talmadge won the 1948 special election and served the final two years of his father’s term. He was reelected to a second term in 1950. During his tenure, the highway department was restructured, the state forestry commission was created, a tax reform was levied, and the prison system was improved, as well as the county health departments and soil-conservation programs. Talmadge also advocated for financial support for educational advancements. School construction was initiated, teacher salaries were raised, the school term was lengthened to nine months, 1,000 new school buses were acquired, and the 12th grade became mandatory in all public schools. After leaving office, Talmadge was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1956, serving until January 3, 1981. Governor Herman E. Talmadge died on March 21, 2002, and he was buried on the family farm near Hampton, Georgia.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 1, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.