|Title:||Reflections on Georgia Politics Oral History Collection, ROGP 041 Hugh Gillis|
|Creator||Gillis, Hugh, 1918-|
|Dates||2008 July 25|
|Repository||Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies|
|Abstract||Hugh Gillis was elected twice to the Georgia Senate, the first time in 1957, and the second in 1962. He would hold that seat for the next forty-two years, making him the longest-serving member of the Georgia General Assembly. In the senate, he was elected president pro tempore, and served on the Appropriations Committee. Hugh discusses the three governors controversy and his long career in Georgia politics, including his experiences with corruption in the highway department and the integration of the University of Georgia.|
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 041, 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.
Hugh Gillis was born in Soperton, Georgia on September 6, 1918. Gillis is the grandson of Treutlen County founder and state representative Neil Gillis, the son of state senator and highway commissioner Jim L. Gillis, and brother of Jim L. Gillis, Jr. Gillis attended Georgia Military College, and in 1939 received an undergraduate degree in agriculture from the University of Georgia. In 1941, he ran successfully for the Georgia House of Representatives. He served two terms, one from 1941 to 1944, and the other from 1949 to 1956. Meanwhile, he started his own company, Gillis Ag and Timber. Gillis was elected twice to the Georgia Senate, the first time in 1957, and the second in 1962. He would hold that seat for the next forty-two years, making him the longest-serving member of the Georgia General Assembly. In the senate, he was elected president pro tempore, and served on the Appropriations Committee. Working to bring doctors to rural communities, Gillis was influential in the creation of the dental school at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta. He also served as head of the Natural Resources Committee, a seat which he held until his retirement in 2004.
Gillis recalls his father's role in the creation of Treutlen County 1917 and other life events that inclined him to a life of politics.
Elected to the House of Representatives in 1940, Gillis talks about the history of the Georgia Democratic Party under the influence of leaders such as Eugene Talmadge and Ed Rivers. According to Gillis, the Henry Grady Hotel served as a hotbed of Georgia politics, since most legislators stayed there during the legislative session.
Gillis discusses the Three Governors Controversy and Herman Talmadge's subsequent governorship, including his implementation of the sales tax and his support of the Southern Manifesto. Gillis also discusses Melvin Thompson's and Ellis Arnall's later political careers.
Gillis discusses his experience working under Governor Marvin Griffin, including his experiences with corruption in the Purchasing Department and the Highway Department. He also recalls his time serving under the Ernest Vandiver administration, including his experience regaring the integration of the Univeristy of Georgia. Gillis mentions personal experiences with other legislators including Peter Zack Geer, Carl Sanders, Joe Frank Harris, Sonny Purdue, Roy Barnes, Culver Kidd and Zell Miller. Gillis extensively discusses the politics and character of Lester Maddox.