|Title:||Reflections on Georgia Politics Oral History Collection, ROGP 024 Tommy Irvin|
|Creator||Irvin, Thomas T. (Tommy), 1929-|
|Dates||2008 April 17|
|Repository||Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies|
|Abstract||Tommy Irvin discusses his long career as Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture, a position he held from 1969 to 2011. Leading up to his service with the Department of Agriculture, Irvin served on the Habersham County School Board, directed the Georgia School Boards Association, served as a Representative in the Georgia House, and managed Lester Maddox's 1966 campaign for governor.|
Reflections on Georgia Politics began in the fall of 2006 at Young Harris College, as a lecture and discussion program hosted by Georgia political veteran Bob Short. In late 2007, the Richard B. Russell Library began producing the program as an oral history video series to further illuminate and personalize the tectonic shifts that occurred in Georgia politics in the late twentieth century.
Reflections on Georgia Politics Oral History Collection, ROGP 024, Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Georgia, 30602-1641.
Resources may be used under the guidelines described by the U.S. Copyright Office in Section 107, Title 17, United States Code (Fair use). Parties interested in production or commercial use of the resources should contact the Russell Library for a fee schedule.
Thomas T. “Tommy” Irvin was born July 14, 1929, in Lula, Georgia, and was the son of sharecroppers. He grew up on a farm in White County. After the death of his father in a sawmill accident, Irvin was forced to drop out of high school to support his mother and siblings. He went on to make his father’s sawmill business extremely successful. He moved to Habersham County, and in 1956 was elected to the school board. He later became chairman and president of the Georgia School Boards Association. In 1956 he was asked to run for the state legislature. He won, and at 33, Irvin was one of the youngest members of the Georgia General Assembly. Lester Maddox asked him to manage his gubernatorial campaign. Upon Maddox’s election, Irvin became floor leader and executive secretary. In 1969, Maddox appointed him to be agricultural commissioner. He became the longest serving agricultural commissioner in the United States, retiring in 2010.
Irvin discusses his early life working on a farm and his public service career, including his role on the Habersham County School Board, his later service as chairman and president of the Georgia School Boards Association, his election to the Georgia General Assembly, his management of Lester Maddox's 1966 gubernatorial campaign, and his role as Georgia’s Commissioner of Agriculture from 1969 to 2011. He covers issues related to agriculture on state, national, and international levels, such as food safety, foreign trade, food prices, and the effect of immigration on production. Irvin also addresses the broader sphere of Georgia politics by discussing issues related to segregation and the legacy of several former governors.