Zell Miller Papers, Series II: Early PoliticalZell Miller Papers, Series II: Early Political

Zell Miller Papers, Series II: Early Political

Descriptive Summary

Title: Zell Miller Papers, Series II: Early Political
Creator: Miller, Zell Bryan, 1932-
Dates: 1961-1980
Extent: 5.0 boxes
Collection Number: RBRL/213/ZM
Repository: Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies
Abstract: The Zell Miller Papers document Miller’s forty-five year career in Georgia politics, including his service as a U.S. Senator (2000-2005), Governor of Georgia (1991-1999), Lieutenant Governor of Georgia (1975-1991), Executive Director of the Georgia Democratic Party (1971-1973), member of the State Boards of Pardons and Paroles, Probation, and Children and Youth (1964-1973), Executive Secretary to Governor Lester Maddox (1969-1971), State Senator (1961-1965), and Mayor of Young Harris, Georgia (1959-1960). This series contains materials from his political career prior to serving as Lieutenant Governor of Georgia, including scrapbooks and campaign memorabilia.

Collection Description

Biographical Note

Zell Bryan Miller was born on February 24, 1932 to Stephen Grady Miller, Dean of Young Harris College and former state senator (40th district, 1926-1928), and Birdie Bryan Miller, an art teacher at the same institution. Seventeen days after his son’s birth, Stephen Miller passed away. Birdie Miller and their two children, Jane and Zell, remained in Young Harris until the onset of World War II, when they moved to Atlanta so that Mrs. Miller could work at the Bell Bomber plant making buckles for gas masks in support of the war effort. While there, Miller attended Williams Street Elementary School and Luckie Street Elementary School and developed a life-long love of baseball.

At the end of the war, the Miller family moved back to Young Harris and Miller continued his education at Young Harris Academy, graduating in 1949. He continued on to Young Harris Junior College and graduated in 1951. During that time he met Shirley Ann Carver of Cherokee County, North Carolina, who was attending college in preparation for law school; they were married on January 15, 1954. Miller joined the United States Marine Corps in 1953 and spent three years in service. After basic training, he was stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, serving in an artillery regiment and writing for the base newspaper, The Globe, and editing the regimental newspaper, The Cannoneer. He received the Good Conduct Medal and the Expert Rifleman’s Medal and left the Marine Corps with the rank of sergeant.

After receiving an honorable discharge in 1956, Miller entered the University of Georgia and was awarded a bachelor’s (1957) and master’s (1958) degree in history. During his time in Athens he held a variety of jobs, including tutor for members of the football team and cook at Allen’s Hamburgers. After graduation he accepted a position teaching history and political science at Young Harris College and also served as faculty advisor for the Enotah Echoes and coached the baseball team.

Echoing his parents’ civic involvement, Miller became active in local politics and was elected as Mayor of Young Harris in 1958. He won a seat in the state senate representing the 40th district (Towns, Union, and Rabun counties) in 1960 after making an agreement with college administrators that he could take off winter quarter to serve in the Capitol if he taught extra classes during the other quarters. During the 1961 and 1962 sessions, Miller served on the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, the County and Municipal Government Committee, and as secretary of the Educational Matters Committee.

In 1962, the county-unit system of voting in Georgia was abolished due to the judicial panel ruling of the Gray vs. Sanders lawsuit. The area that fell under Miller’s representation changed from three counties to sections of eight (Towns, Union, Rabun, White, Habersham, Fannin, Gilmer, and Pickens counties). He won his seat again and was able to enter the session with seniority that might not have been afforded him had redistricting not taken place. His committee appointments in 1963 and 1964 were the Appropriations Committee, Educational Matters Committee, Rules Committee, and he acted as Chair of the Health and Welfare Committee.

Miller opted to run for the U.S. House of Representatives against Phil Landrum in the 1964 Democratic Primary to represent the ninth district. He lost by 5,176 votes according to the Georgia Statistical Register but carried Banks, Barrow, Cherokee, Fannin, Forsythe, Gwinnett and Towns counties. The same year he served on the State Board for Children and Youth but resigned in 1965 to be the Director of the State Board of Probation. He ran against Landrum again in 1966 for the same congressional seat but lost the primary by a wider margin than two years earlier.

Miller spent 1967 and 1968 serving as a personnel officer on the State Board of Corrections then becoming the assistant director until January 22, 1970. In 1969, Governor Lester Maddox appointed him to be his executive secretary after former Executive Secretary Tommy Irvin was named State Commissioner of Agriculture. Miller was concurrently selected to be the State Commissioner of Conservation, a post he held until 1970. He continued to work with Maddox through June of 1971, when he was named Executive Director of the Democratic Party of Georgia, a position he held until 1973. Miller represented the state of Georgia as a delegate at the 1972 Democratic National Convention in Miami. In April 1973, he took a position on the Board of Pardons and Parole.

On December 31, 1973, Miller tendered his resignation to the Board in order to run for the office of Lieutenant Governor. Together, he and Shirley Miller spent 1974 campaigning around the state against nine other candidates including Max Cleland and J. B. Stoner. The Democratic Primary in August resulted in a run-off between Miller and Mary Hitt on September 3, 1974 in which he received 60.82% of the vote. In November he ran against Republican John Savage and won by almost 300,000 votes.

Zell Miller’s tenure as lieutenant governor lasted for sixteen years and was the longest term of any lieutenant governor in the state of Georgia’s history. His successive terms of service in that position were also a first in the history of the office since its establishment in 1946. Miller’s time in office was notably marked by his relationship with Thomas “Tom” Murphy, Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives from 1973 to 2002. Their positions as leaders of the state senate and house, respectively, put them publicly at odds on numerous issues. Although both were Democrats, their personal leanings within the party also added to their differences as Miller was widely considered more progressive than Murphy.

During his time in office, Miller worked on such projects and initiatives as opening previously closed senate committee meetings to the press and public, supporting the ratification of ERA, campaign finance reform, hand gun legislation, tax reform, welfare increase, and state-wide kindergarten programs. He and other top state officials began engaging in trade missions to countries such as Germany and Japan to generate interest in capital investments in the state.

Miller’s love of country music was well-known and proven by his repeated use of country music lyrics in his speeches as well as his use of music to support his campaigns, beginning with Whispering Bill Anderson in 1964. The annual Zell Miller Birthday Party, which began in 1968 as a small gathering featuring friends who were musicians, rose to its height in 1978 as a campaign fundraiser when Miller was running for his second term as lieutenant governor. He was a major supporter of a tape and record anti-piracy bill (sponsored by Representative Al Burns), which was signed into law by Governor George Busbee in 1975, and one of the biggest advocates for establishing the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.

In 1980, Senator Herman Talmadge was up for reelection and Miller opted to run against him. Although he made it through the Democratic Primary and forced a run-off with Talmadge, their negative campaigns and a series of bitter debates cost Miller the party nomination and Talmadge the election (which he lost to Republican Mack Mattingly). In 1988, Miller decided to run for governor in the 1990 election. He assembled a campaign staff including Paul Begala, James Carville, Jim Andrews, Doug Kelly, Keith Mason, and Steve Wrigley. In the primary, Miller defeated Andrew Young and then Johnny Isakson in the general election. His chosen platform and the most important reform of his administration was the adoption of the state lottery. By law all lottery revenue had to be spent on education, and Miller directed the bulk of it to the HOPE (Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally) Scholarship for students who had earned at least a B average and to improve technology in the schools and colleges.

In addition to the lottery, Miller gained approval for an ethics bill that required lobbyists to report what they spend trying to influence legislation and set new limits on campaign financing, an anti-crime package, welfare reform, and “boot camp” prisons for non-violent criminals, mountain protection legislation and congressional reapportionment. He drew the ire of many Georgians for calling for a change in the state flag, which had flown since 1956, but was unsuccessful in his attempt.

In 1994, Miller defeated Guy Millner in the general election and was elected to a second term as governor. One of the major hallmarks of his second term was the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games, which were held in Atlanta. His other achievements included abolishing sales tax for groceries, raising the salaries of teachers, and advocating the Preservation 2000 and RiverCare 2000 programs, which promoted state acquisition of undeveloped land and waterways for conservation and public access purposes.

Miller’s involvement with the Democratic National Party reached its zenith in the 1990s. His friendship with Arkansas Governor and later President Bill Clinton placed him in a position to influence the party. Miller introduced his 1990 campaign advisor James Carville to Clinton and also gave the keynote at the 1992 Democratic National Convention. He was also active in drafting the party platform in 1996.

Upon leaving the Governor’s Mansion in January of 1999, Miller accepted adjunct teaching positions at the University of Georgia, Emory University, and Young Harris College. In June of 2000, Republican United States Senator Paul Coverdell died and Governor Roy Barnes appointed Miller to the vacant seat in July. He won a special election in November of 2000 to remain in Washington, D.C. and finish Coverdell’s original term, promising to fulfill the late senator’s conservative objectives. It is widely noted that Miller did this in his service in the Senate through his increased support of the Republican Party, which culminated in his keynote address at the 2004 Republican National Convention in support of President George W. Bush. He also authored two books critiquing the Democratic Party, A National Party No More: The Conscience of a Conservative Democrat (2004) and A Deficit of Decency (2005).

Miller has authored several other books outside of his political career. They include: The Mountains Within Me (1975), Great Georgians (1983), They Heard Georgia Singing (1985), Corps Values: Everything You Need to Know I Learned In the Marines (1997), Listen to This Voice: Selected Speeches of Governor Zell Miller (1999), The Miracle of Brasstown Valley (2007), and Purt Nigh Gone: The Old Mountain Ways (2009).

Scope and Content

Series II. Early Political documents Miller’s early career in state politics, beginning in 1960 when he was elected to the state senate (a position that he held through 1964) and continuing through his positions on the Board of Corrections (1966-1967), as Executive Secretary for Governor Lester Maddox (1969-1971), as Executive Director of the Democratic Party of Georgia (1971-1973), and on the Board Pardons and Paroles (1973) before resigning to run for Lieutenant Governor in 1974. Materials include three scrapbooks of clippings documenting his positions, clippings, a senate resolution about the Board of Regents, and campaign memorabilia. The series also contains information regarding Miller’s campaigns during this time frame, including his two bids in 1964 and 1966 against U.S. Representative Phil Landrum, as well as his 1980 bid for U.S. Senate against incumbent Herman Talmadge. Files for his early campaigns include flyers and promotional material. The 1980 campaign files include promotional material, subject research, opposition research based primarily on Talmadge, and demographic research.

Organization and Arrangement

Series II. Early Political is organized by position held.

Because of the size of this collection, the remainder of the series are described in separate finding aids. A collection summary, including links to each of these series finding aids, is available online: Zell Miller Papers: Collection Summary.


Administrative Information and Restrictions

Access Restrictions

This series is open for research use.

Preferred Citation

Zell Miller Papers, Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Georgia, 30602-1641.

Processing Notes

Clippings and thermofax papers have been copied onto bond paper for protection of content. Photographs, artifacts, oversized items, and audiovisual materials have been separated for preservation. Scrapbooks have been microfilmed.

User Restrictions

Library acts as “fair use” reproduction agent.

Copyright Information

Before material from collections at the Richard B. Russell Library may be quoted in print, or otherwise reproduced, in whole or in part, in any publication, permission must be obtained from (1) the owner of the physical property, and (2) the holder of the copyright. It is the particular responsibility of the researcher to obtain both sets of permissions. Persons wishing to quote from materials in the Russell Library collection should consult the Director. Reproduction of any item must contain a complete citation to the original.

Finding Aid Publication

Finding aid prepared by Russell staff, 2010.


Related Materials

Access Points

Advertising, Political Georgia.
Atlanta (Ga.)--Politics and government--20th century.
Burson, William H. (Bill), 1928-1997.
Campaign literature--Democratic--Georgia.
Campaign paraphernalia--Georgia.
Carter, Jimmy, 1924-
Democratic Party (Ga.)
Democratic Party (U.S.)
Georgia--Politics and government--1951-
Georgia. General Assembly. Senate.
Georgia. Office of the Governor.
Georgia. Office of the Lieutenant Governor.
Legislative records.
Legislators--United States.
Miller, Zell Bryan, 1932-
Talmadge, Herman E. (Herman Eugene), 1913-2002.

Related Collections in this Repository

Birdie Bryan Miller Papers

Reflections on Georgia Politics Oral History Series

Keith Mason Papers

William H. (Bill) Burson Scrapbooks

Clifford (Baldy) Baldowski Editorial Cartoons

Thomas Gresham Collection of Lester Maddox Speeches

Bill Shipp Papers

Clifford H. Brewton Collection of Lester Maddox Speech/Press Records

Democratic Party of Georgia Papers

Ed Jenkins Papers

George Busbee Collection

T. Rogers Wade Collection of Herman E. Talmadge Materials

Joe Frank Harris Papers

Richard Hyatt Research Files

Related Collections in Other Repositories

Lester Maddox Photographs, Atlanta History Center

Georgia Lieutenant Governor's Office, Zell Miller, Georgia Archives

Georgia Office of the Governor, Zell Miller, Georgia Archives

Georgia Political Heritage Program, University of West Georgia

Thomas B. Murphy Collection, University of West Georgia

Joseph Elvin Duncan Papers, University of West Georgia

Charles H. Prout research materials on Georgia governors, Georgia Historical Society

Helen Bullard Papers, Emory University

Georgia Government Documentation Project, Georgia State University

Zell Miller Commercials, Political Commercial Archive, University of Oklahoma


Series Descriptions and Folder Listing

 

II. Early Political

Extent: 5 boxes, including 3 scrabooks
Scope and Content: This series documents Miller’s early career in state politics, beginning in 1960 when he was elected to the state senate (a position that he held through 1964) and continuing through his positions on the Board of Corrections (1966-1967), as Executive Secretary for Governor Lester Maddox (1969-1971), as Executive Director of the Democratic Party of Georgia (1971-1973), and on the Board Pardons and Paroles (1973) before resigning to run for Lieutenant Governor in 1974. Materials include three scrapbooks of clippings documenting his positions, clippings, a senate resolution about the Board of Regents, and campaign memorabilia. The series also contains information regarding Miller’s campaigns during this time frame, including his two bids in 1964 and 1966 against U.S. Representative Phil Landrum, as well as his 1980 bid for U.S. Senate against incumbent Herman Talmadge. Files for his early campaigns include flyers and promotional material. The 1980 campaign files include promotional material, subject research, opposition research based primarily on Talmadge, and demographic research.
BoxFolder
II.11Board of Regents Resolution, [1960-1964]
II.12[Campaign Memorabilia] Miller, 1962
II.13[Campaign Material], 1966
II.14[Clippings], 1960-1969
Box
OS2"Like you, Zell enjoys country music and a good time with..." Zell for U.S. Senate campaign newsletter featuring images of Zell with country musicians
BoxFolder
II.15[Clippings], 1972, 1976
II.16[Clippings albums], 1964
II.17[Clippings albums], 1964-1973
II.18Georgia Recorder, The Georgian, 1962
II.19[Georgia Senate], 1962-1964
II.110Inaugural Program, 1963 January 15
II.111Jefferson Jackson Dinner, 1973
II.112Jimmy Carter Our Next Governor, 1970
II.113[Lester Maddox], 1969-2003
II.114Miami [Democratic National Convention] [photographs removed], 1972
II.115Miller For Congress Campaign Material, 1964
Box
OS1Miller Messenger, vol. 1, no. 2, campaign newsletter, 1964 May
OS1Members of the Georgia State Senate posters, 1961-1964
BoxFolder
II.116News of the 9th District People’s Choice, 1966 September
II.117Official State of Georgia Tabulation, General Election, 1966 November 8
II.118Second Institute for Georgia Legislators, 1960 December 11-13
II.119Bulloch, 1972 January-1974 September
II.120Dougherty, 1971 September-1974 August
II.121Effingham, 1972 August
II.122Elbert, 1971 January-1974 September
II.123Fannin County, 1972 June-September
II.124Fayette, 1974
II.125Floyd, 1974
II.126Forsyth, 1971 February-1974 September
II.127Gilmer, 1971 September-1974 October
II.128Glascock, 1972 August
II.129Glynn, 1971 June-1974 July
II.130Gordon, 1970 April-1973 January
II.131Grady, 1972 August
II.132Greene, 1971 October-1974 February
II.133Gwinnett, 1970 August-1974 August
II.134[Speeches: Executive Director of Democratic Party of Georgia], 1971-1972
BoxFolder
II.21Agriculture, 1980
II.22Black Groups, 1977-1980
II.23Campaign Items [pamphlet, bumper sticker], 1980
II.24Campaign Letters, 1980
II.25Cloture, 1980
II.26College Supporters, 1980
II.27Cuban Refugees, 1980
II.28Debate Materials, 1980
II.29Defense, 1980
II.210[Economy and Inflation], 1980
II.211Education, 1980
II.212Financial Analysis, 1980
II.213Financial Reports, 1980
II.214Form Letters, 1979-1980
II.215Gun Control, 1976-1980
II.216Index, 1980
II.217Israel, 1980
II.218Lake Alma Letter, 1980 April-August
II.219Leadership and Ethics, 1979-1980
II.220Leaflets, 1980
II.221Miller Announcement, 1979 October
II.222Miller [Zell] (folder 1 of 2), 1979-1980
II.223Miller [Zell] (folder 2 of 2), 1979-1980
BoxFolder
II.31Miscellaneous [campaign observations and expenditures, 1978-1980
II.32Morris and Polls, 1979-1980
II.33Polling [polling information, opposition research, self-study], 1978-1980
II.34Printing and Stationary Bills, 1980-1981
II.35Small Business, 1978-1980
II.36Social Security, 1980
II.37Strother and Morris, 1979-1980
II.38Weill/Strother [media], 1980
II.39Talmadge Abuses, 1980
II.310[Talmadge Black Vote], 1980
II.311Talmadge Contributions, 1980
II.312Talmadge Denouncement, 1980
II.313Miller on Talmadge Denouncement, 1979
II.314Talmadge Income and Tax, 1980
II.315Talmadge Television, 1980
II.316Issues [Talmadge], 1979-1980
II.317Talmadge Honoraria, 1980
BoxFolder
II.41Talmadge [Herman], [newspaper clippings], 1977-1980
II.42Talmadge and Oil, 1980
II.43Talmadge Record, 1980
II.44Talmadge Staff, 1980
II.45[Talmadge Thank you letter], 1980
II.46Tax Limitation Vote, 1980
II.47Term Limitation, 1980
II.48Waste in Government, 1980
II.49Welfare, 1980
BoxFolder
II.51[Scrapbook, Vol. 1 - microfilm reel 1], 1961-1963
II.52[Scrapbook, Vol. 2 - microfilm reel 1], 1971-1974
II.53[Scrapbook, Vol. 3 - microfilm reel 1], 1973-1974