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Recalled to military service during the Korean War, he was stationed in Europe. He was transferred to the Judge Advocate's section shortly after his arrival and briefly considered a career in the Army. In December , however, he returned to the family law practice in Phenix City.

Albert Patterson Six months later, on June 18, , Albert Patterson was assassinated as he left his law office. The crime propelled John Patterson into the state attorney general position in the following year. His tenure was marked by three major areas of activity: the successful cleanup of Phenix City; investigations of corruption in the second administration of Gov. James E. Folsom Sr.

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Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision. All three areas would affect his campaign for governor. Patterson linked crime, corruption, and desegregation by arguing that "outside agitators"—gangsters and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People NAACP —were pouring money into the state to stop him. As attorney general, Patterson sought and received a restraining order against the NAACP which barred it from operating in the state.

In response to another Patterson-initiated action, the NAACP refused to reveal its membership list, believing the list would be used to retaliate against supporters and ended up in a lawsuit about the matter that went all the way to the U.

John M. Patterson () | Encyclopedia of Alabama

Supreme Court. In his campaign, Patterson also stressed other anti- civil rights court cases he initiated, including a suit against the Tuskegee Civic Association for organizing an economic boycott to protest attempts to gerrymander the city limits to protect white control of local government. Patterson Protesters Eleven candidates ran for governor in , but only three dominated the field—Patterson, George C. Wallace , and Jimmy Faulkner. All of them focused on the issue of segregation.

Patterson, however, was the only candidate with a proven track record of opposing integration, and he made the most of it. Wallace was then viewed by many white voters in the state as a racial moderate. On the economic front, Patterson stressed populist programs that appealed to working-class white voters, such as old-age pensions, unspecified support for better schools, and farm aid, and he declared himself as more pro- labor than the other candidates.

Patterson entered the gubernatorial runoff as the frontrunner, having received The runoff campaign mirrored the themes of the primary with added emphasis given to Patterson's opposition to integration, which earned him the support of the Ku Klux Klan. Patterson won with 55 percent of the vote. Much of Patterson's efforts as governor focused on blocking desegregation efforts. He continued to blame outsiders and what he termed "agitators" for many of the state's civil rights confrontations.

For example, when the Freedom Rides made stops in Alabama to test recent rulings that desegregated public bus stations, Patterson blamed the beatings the riders received on the civil rights activists themselves, not on the failure of local and state law enforcement.


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By way of explaining his stance, Patterson argued that his oath of office required him to uphold the state constitution and state laws, all of which supported segregation, and that his actions represented delaying tactics and were a way to forestall federal action to afford the white public an unspecified amount of time to adjust to the concept of integration. Given Patterson's campaign promise to improve Alabama's schools, education interests that included the Alabama Education Commission, an interim legislative committee, and various educational leaders approached him soon after his election victory.

Schools were in physical disrepair and suffered from poor curricula and teaching qualifications throughout the state. Many school districts had lost or were about to lose their accreditation and important university programs faced loss of accreditation because of inadequate facilities and equipment. The "rescue" plan devised by Patterson was presented to a special session of the legislature. Patterson also developed a review mechanism to ensure that construction projects receiving the monies reflected the priority needs of each school system.

John Patterson, Sam Englehardt, Henry Graham Even before the special session started Patterson began a well-planned lobbying campaign to push his proposals. He laid out allocations for each school district in the state and for the colleges and universities and publicized them prior to the legislative session. He also made personal phone calls to local civic, business, and educational leaders and urged them to lobby their legislators. Patterson and his Highway Department head, Sam Engelhardt, contacted legislators personally, offering highway construction in their districts in exchange for support for the educational package.

Many legislators were leery of funding an education system that would soon be racially integrated, but Patterson argued that funding could serve as a way to improve both the white and black school systems and avoid integration.

John C. Patterson

These efforts led to bond issue passage, but only one-half of the needed new tax revenues passed, and these came largely from regressive tax increases that the governor failed to prevent. Although the education budget increase was large for its time, Patterson expended many major political resources in the effort to gain it and thus greatly limited his options for other reforms later in his term. John Patterson Campaigning in Phil Campbell Tax reform in the form of property tax equalization was another major Patterson reform effort.

Designed by Revenue Commissioner Harry Haden, a former law school professor of Patterson's, this reform sought to bring equity to the tax system and raise collected revenue by changing the operations of the boards of equalization found in each of the state's 67 counties. Board members heard appeals from property owners who believed the county had assessed the value of their property incorrectly.

The boards rarely raised an assessment and frequently lowered them, particularly if they knew the property owner or the owner had economic, political, or social clout. Haden and Patterson actively recruited individuals willing to both serve on equalization boards and implement Haden's assessment plans. Publisher Synopsis This book meshes well with similar works relating to 20th-century Alabama political history and is well-organized.

Patterson for Alabama : the life and career of John Patterson, Gene Howard, (electronic resource)

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Alabama -- Politics and government -- Alabama -- Social conditions -- 20th century. Phenix City Ala. Alabama -- Biography.

Governors -- Biography -- Alabama. Politics and government. Social conditions. Alabama -- Phenix City. Linked Data More info about Linked Data. Looking for a rainbow in Phenix City -- 2. From El Guettar to the university -- 3. Praying the devil out of town -- 4. The RBA challenges the gangsters -- 5. Albert Patterson beats the mob -- 6. Assassins make a politician of John Patterson -- 7. Trying his father's murderers -- 8. Bankrupting the loan sharks -- 9. Playing cops and robbers with the Folsomites -- Patterson sets his sights on integration -- The Montgomery bus boycott changes Alabama forever -- Nobody but the people -- Alabama elects a boy governor -- Trying to build a "better Alabama" -- Battling black belters and courting Kennedy -- MLK, Castro, and a new romance -- Freedom riders tarnish Patterson administration -- Scandal spoils Patterson's big finish -- Twice embarrassed at the polls -- App.

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Remember me on this computer. Cancel Forgot your password? Gene L Howard. Print book : Biography : State or province government publication : English View all editions and formats. View all subjects. Similar Items. Online version: Howard, Gene L. Table of contents.