Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Campaigning the Old Fashioned Way

Although the 2008 elections are over, I am often reminded of campaign season in the Hugh Peterson, Sr. Papers through memorabilia from the Congressman’s bids for a seat in the U. S. House of Representatives in the 1930s and 1940s. These items are unique reminders of a time when campaigning was live and in person instead of on television and the internet. Among the items are campaign flyers from his bids for Congress as well as those of his opponents. Photographs from a rally in Lyons, Georgia in the 1930s show a day-in-the-life on the campaign trail.

Some of the most interesting items donated by the Peterson family are five hand-painted cloth campaign banners used for rallies in the First Congressional District of Georgia, which included Bryan, Bulloch, Burke, Candler, Chatham, Effingham, Emanuel, Evans, Jenkins, Liberty, Long, McIntosh, Montgomery, Screven, Tattnall, Toombs, Treutlen and Wheeler Counties. Three of the banners contain vibrant blues, greens and yellows and measure 35 inches by 17 inches. The fifth banner is 6 feet by 35.5 inches and is painted in red, black and gold, and states that Peterson is “Young, Bold, Brainy, Sincere, and Patriotic” – good things in a politician!

Here is a brief timeline of Peterson's career in politics...

1898 - Hugh Peterson is born in Montgomery County, Georgia

1918 - He Graduates from the University of Georgia with a law degree and enters the military for the remainder of World War I.

1922 - Peterson is elected to Georgia General Assembly, where he serves as a Representative (1923-31) and Senator (1931-33)

1934 - He is elected to represent Georgia’s First Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives (1934-46), where he serves on Committees on Public Lands, Territories, Public Roads, and River and Harbors.

1946 - Peterson loses the campaign for re-election to Prince Preston of Bulloch County. He spends the rest of the 1940s working in Germany with General Lucius Clay. Until his death in 1961, Peterson spent his final years practicing law, managing his businesses in South Georgia an lobbying in Washington for several Georgia businesses.

Post by Renna Tuten, Project Archivist, Russell Library

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