Friday, January 11, 2013

Opening of the Ed L. Jenkins Papers

The Russell Library is proud to announce the opening of the Ed L. Jenkins Papers.

Ed Jenkins with Georgia's Peanut Princess, 1980.
Ed L. Jenkins Papers, Russell Library.
Edgar “Ed” L. Jenkins of Jasper, GA served as a Democratic member of the House of Representatives from 1977 until 1992.  Jenkins started out as a country trial lawyer in Jasper, GA before entering the political arena. He first cut his teeth on the political sphere working as an assistant for fellow Jasper resident, Representative Phil Landrum, from 1959 to 1962. After returning to his country law practice, Jenkins was elected to the 95th Congress in 1976.

As the representative for Northwest Georgia, Jenkins worked tirelessly on behalf of the needs of his constituents – in particular, Jenkins was a strong advocate for the textile industry. He was involved in several committees and caucuses including service as chairman for the Congressional Textile Caucus and was a member on the House Ways & Means Committee where he was active on its Trade Subcommittee. It was during his tenure on the Trade Subcommittee that Jenkins sponsored the Textile and Apparel Trade Enforcement Act of 1985 -which is often referred to as the “Jenkins amendment”. The amendment proposed limiting the amount of textile imports allowed from major producing countries outside the US. Although the amendment was ultimately vetoed by the President and failed to pass in the House, the number of co-sponsors for the bill and quantity of files on the amendment found in his collection demonstrates his tenacity for supporting domestic production in the United States, and in particular for the textile industry in Georgia. 

Ed Jenkins speaking about the Textile & Trade Enforcement Act
at a press conference, 1985. Ed L. Jenkins Papers, Russell Library.
When he wasn’t fighting on behalf of the textile industry, Jenkins also worked to support conservation and recreation efforts for the Chattahoochee National Forest, on tax legislation, was involved in the development of President Reagan’s Balanced Budget amendment.

In 1987, Congressman Jenkins became a familiar face on television when he was appointed to the House Select Committee during the Iran-Contra Hearings.  Jenkins' quiet and assuming manner and approach to interrogating Col. Oliver North was well-noted by not only his constituents in Georgia, but the wider American public.

Jenkins chose not to run for another term after the 102nd Congress in 1992. Following his retirement from politics, Jenkins returned to Georgia where he remained actives in church and civic affairs and served as Chairman of the Board of Regents for the University System of Georgia. On January 1, 2012, Jenkins passed away shortly before his 79th birthday.

The opening of the Ed L. Jenkins papers on the 20th anniversary of his retirement from Congress is a celebration of a Georgia politician who was once described as “one of the smart operators on Capitol Hill.”

The Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies is open for research Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 4:30pm, with the exception of University holidays. For more information, please visit or call (706) 542-5788.

Posted by Tammi Kim, Processing Assistant for Arrangement & Description Unit, Russell Library

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