SIDNEY SANDERS MCMATH was born in Columbia County, Arkansas, on June 14, 1912. He graduated from the University of Arkansas in 1936 with a law degree. During World War II, McMath served in the U.S. Marine Corps and was awarded both the Silver Star and the Legion of Merit awards. McMath entered politics in 1947, and served one term as prosecuting attorney for Garland and Montgomery counties. On November 2, 1948, McMath was elected Arkansas’s 34th governor, and on January 11, 1949 was sworn into office. He was reelected to a second term on November 7, 1950. During his tenure, general-obligation bonds were authorized for the construction and maintenance of highways and bridges, and a new medical center in Little Rock was planned. The state’s mental health system was revised, the university’s medical school was upgraded, and the minimum wage increased. McMath set a liberal tone in race relations by supporting a state anti-lynching law, appointing a number of blacks to previously all-white boards and commissions. He ran unsuccessfully for a third term in 1952, and left office on January 13, 1953. McMath ran for the U.S. Senate in 1954, and again for governor in 1962, but was defeated in both races. He remained active in the United States Marine Corps Reserve and returned to active duty with the U.S. Marine Corps for a two-week tour of duty in Vietnam in 1966. McMath later returned to his law practice and was elected president of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers in 1976.
Donovan, Timothy P., and Willard B. Gatewood, Jr., The Governors of Arkansas, Essays in Political Biography, Fayetteville, The University of Arkansas Press, 1981
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.
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