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The Political Career of W. Kerr ScottThe Squire from Haw River$
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Julian M. Pleasants

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780813146775

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813146775.001.0001

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Trials and Tribulation

Trials and Tribulation

The Last Two Years, 1951–1953

(p.195) 8 Trials and Tribulation
The Political Career of W. Kerr Scott

Julian M. Pleasants

University Press of Kentucky

Weakened by Frank Graham’s defeat, in 1951 Scott faced a contentious and conservative legislature determined to stop as much of his agenda as possible. He made a few new initiatives but essentially hoped to prevent his previous gains from being dismantled. In his brusque and brash way, he assaulted the legislators for their conservative, hold-the-line policies. Angered by his broadsides, the legislators not only opposed every bill he presented; they also tried, unsuccessfully, to undermine his executive authority. Scott finally did make some gains on conservation issues—the development of water power and health issues—but very little else. He turned his attention to preventing a revival of the Ku Klux Klan in the state and praised the University of North Carolina Board of Trustees for allowing blacks into the medical and law schools. He constantly interacted with the African American community but never favored integration of the races. He was a gradualist and thought that most blacks wanted equal rights but not integration. In his last year as governor, as a lame duck (he could not succeed himself) he began firing those state employees who had criticized his policies and, in a fit of pique, severed ties with the conservative wing of the party. Leaving office in 1952, he had achieved momentous success in the fields of education, health care, and road building; his program built on a “foundation of human needs.” Most of the state’s newspapers praised his accomplishments, but Scott left office as one of the most controversial figures in the state’s history.

Keywords:   Hold-the-line politics, Ku Klux Klan, Integration of law and medical schools, Cleaning house of enemies, Controversial term as governor

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