Back to former North Carolina governors
James Terry Sanford
North Carolina

Gov. James Terry Sanford

  • January 5, 1961 - January 8, 1965
  • Democratic
  • August 20, 1917
  • April 18, 1998
  • North Carolina
  • University of North Carolina
  • Married Margaret Rose Knight; two children
  • Senator
  • Army


TERRY SANFORD, the sixty-fifth governor of North Carolina, was born in Laurinburg, North Carolina on August 20, 1917. His education was attained at Laurinburg High School, at Presbyterian Junior College, and at the University of North Carolina, where he graduated in 1941. After college, Sanford worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, but left his position to join World War II. He served overseas as a second lieutenant and earned a bronze star and purple heart for his service. After the war, he returned to the University of North Carolina and studied law. Sanford first entered politics in 1949, serving as president of the Young Democratic Club. He also served as a member of the North Carolina State Senate from 1953 to 1955; and was the campaign manager for W. Kerr Scott’s senatorial bid in 1954. Sanford next secured the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, and was elected governor by a popular vote in the 1960 general election. During his tenure, an anti-poverty program was created; the elimination of discrimination practices was promoted; and numerous improvements were made to the state’s educational system. After completing his term, he returned to his legal practice. In 1969 he secured an appointment to serve as president of Duke University, a post he held until 1985. In his last political position, Sanford served in the U.S. Senate, an office he held from 1986 to 1993. Governor Terry Sanford passed away on April 18, 1998, and was buried in the Duke University Chapel in Durham, North Carolina.


Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 3, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

Carolina Clips

Recent North Carolina Governors