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Similar themes in inaugurals of 2 Hall County governors

POSTED: January 16, 2011 1:00 a.m.

There were similar themes in the inauguration of the first governor from Hall County, A.D. Candler, and the second, Nathan Deal, who took office last week.

Candler won his election Oct. 5, 1898, and was inaugurated Oct. 29. His election was by the largest margin ever in a governor's race at the time. He served two two-year terms.

The weather on Inauguration Day 1898 was threatening, but apparently rain rather than the snow experienced at last week's inauguration. The 1898 ceremony had been scheduled inside the capitol anyway.

Deal's inauguration was moved from outside the capitol because of snow. His ceremony was simple with family members taking part.

The 1898 inauguration was simple, too, "no frills," newspapers reported. The Macon Telegraph wrote: "At an early hour the galleries of the halls of the General Assembly began to fill ... long before the hour of the inauguration. The enthusiasm of the people over the induction of Gov. Candler into the office of chief executive has been as profound and widespread that the threatening weather conditions could not restrain them, and it is safe to say had the wishes of the more intense been yielded to by the governor and a more elaborate program entered upon, the throngs would have been something phenomenal.

"People without regard to partisan bias were awaiting the sight of the plain man from the ranks walking down the aisle to take the oath of office." As Candler approached, "There was a veritable cyclone of applause. Members stood on tiptoe. Men waved hats, women and children handkerchiefs, and it was several minutes before order was restored."

Candler's "bodyguard" was 125 military students of the North Georgia Agricultural College at Dahlonega. "They made a most pleasing spectacle," a newspaper reported.
Candler took the oath, leaned down and kissed the Bible, then made a brief speech. His wife met him in the aisle and kissed him as he headed to the governor's office.

The 1898 economy was slumping. Cotton, cash crop for most Southern farmers, sold for only a nickel a pound. Jobs were scarce.

Gov. Candler stressed tax and election reforms. Election votes were being sold for $1. He wanted vote buyers and sellers punished and property taxes equalized across county lines. He promised tax reductions, and "under no circumstances should they be increased." But he wanted to tax the "hidden wealth" of those who found ways to dodge paying their share.

The new governor even broached national issues. "We should be careful how we depart from the landmarks of the fathers," he said. The Athens Weekly Banner wrote, "One of the most refreshing (remarks in his speech) was his flat-footed point against colonial expansion by the United States. His head is very level on this point. He is a Democrat of the old school."

"Our safety is in conservatism and a rigid adherence to the precedents of the past," Candler said. "We should cling to the constitutional right of local self-government and oppose in every legitimate way the constantly increasing tendency of ... the federal government to encroach upon the reserved rights of the states.

"In times like these when a universal paralysis has settled down upon all business enterprise ... when the fires have gone out in our furnaces, when the fair fields in ... our state have been blasted by flood and storm, and honest men beg in vain for work that they may buy bread, it behooves us to practice the most rigid economy in every department of state government, establish no more institutions to be supported by the state and see to it that no dollar of the state's revenue ... be diverted by legislative enactment or otherwise from the purpose to which it is now applied."

Education became the hallmark of his two terms in office.

Just as Deal takes office with an increased Republican majority in the legislature, so did Candler with an increased Democratic majority.

Candler was one of the first white babies to be born in Lumpkin County. He became a builder, businessman and politician known as the "one-eyed plowboy of Pigeon Roost." He never lost an election as Gainesville mayor, congressman, state legislator and governor. Candler Road and community, Candler Street and Candler County are named in his honor. He is buried in Alta Vista Cemetery.

Johnny Vardeman is retired editor of The Times and can be reached at 2183 Pinetree Circle N.E., Gainesville, GA 30501. His column appears Sundays and on gainesvilletimes.com. 



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