Marvin Griffin

Marvin Griffin

Marvin Griffin
72nd Governor of Georgia
In office
January 11, 1955 – January 13, 1959
Lieutenant Ernest Vandiver
Preceded by Herman Talmadge
Succeeded by Ernest Vandiver
2nd Lieutenant Governor of Georgia
In office
November 17, 1948 – January 11, 1955
Governor Herman Talmadge
Preceded by Melvin E. Thompson
Succeeded by Ernest Vandiver
Personal details
Born Samuel Marvin Griffin
(1907-09-04)September 4, 1907
Georgia, U.S.
Died June 13, 1982(1982-06-13) (aged 74)
Georgia, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Mary Elizabeth "Lib" Smith
Laura Jane Gibson "Lollie"
Children Patricia Ann Griffin (daughter)
Samuel Marvin Griffin, Jr. (son)
Alma mater The Citadel
Military service
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1941–1947
Rank Brigadier general
Unit Georgia National Guard
Commands Adjutant General of Georgia
Battles/wars World War II

Samuel Marvin Griffin, Sr. (September 4, 1907 – June 13, 1982) was an American politician from the Georgia.

A lifelong Bainbridge College in 1970. He worked on the college's board of directors and died from lung cancer in 1982.


  • Early life and education 1
  • Career 2
    • Georgia assembly and cabinet 2.1
    • Military service 2.2
    • Lieutenant Governor of Georgia 2.3
    • Governor of Georgia 2.4
      • 1954 election 2.4.1
      • Springhill mining disaster 2.4.2
      • 1956 Sugar Bowl 2.4.3
      • Corruption charges 2.4.4
      • 1962 election 2.4.5
  • Later life and death 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7

Early life and education

Griffin was born in The Citadel in 1929. He taught in Virginia for a short time before moving back to Bainbridge.[1]


Georgia assembly and cabinet

In 1934, Griffin, a lifelong House of Representatives. After that, he served in the administration of Governor Eurith D. Rivers, rising to the post of executive secretary. He also owned the Bainbridge radio station, WMGR, which was established in the late 1940s. The call sign was for Marvin Griffin Radio.

Military service

When the United States entered World War II, Griffin was commissioned as a Georgia National Guard in 1944, serving in that position until 1947.

Lieutenant Governor of Georgia

Griffin became the first elected Melvin E. Thompson, who never took the office but instead claimed the office of Governor after the death of Governor-elect Eugene Talmadge. Griffin was elected to a full term in 1950.

Governor of Georgia

1954 election

Griffin was seen as the successor to Governor [3]

Springhill mining disaster

In 1958, Griffin, who was a segregationist and accused of being racist, took advantage of the intense media coverage surrounding the Springhill mining disaster in Springhill, Nova Scotia, Canada to promote tourism to his state by offering a group of survivors free vacations to Jekyll Island. However, to the segregationist governor's chagrin, one of the rescued miners was black, resulting in a public relations nightmare.[4]

1956 Sugar Bowl

Much controversy preceded the Board of Regents. Griffin implored teams from Georgia not to engage in racially-integrated events which had African Americans either as participants or as spectators.

A large contingent from the New Orleans community, as well as many related to Georgia Tech, openly fought to bar either Grier, Pitt, or the Yellow Jacket team from the game. However, students and football players from the Atlanta-based school, civil rights leaders, as well as a large number of the Pitt community, succeeded in ensuring that the game took place.

Corruption charges

Griffin's term was marred by charges of corruption. According to Atlanta historian Frederick Allen, Griffin was "a man of prodigious charm and wit and also one of the most corrupt public officials ever to hold office in Georgia." Several administration members were found guilty of crimes and Griffin was investigated in 1960 by a grand jury, which returned no true bills.

1962 election

In 1962, Griffin ran once more for governor but lost in the primary to a moderate candidate, Carl Sanders. Griffin received 332,746 votes (39 percent) to Sanders' 494,978 (58.7 percent).[2] Thereafter, Griffin largely retired from politics.

In the lieutenant governorfrom 1955 to 1959 had frequently quarreled with Governor Griffin, dismissed Maddox as "a pipsqueak" and endorsed Callaway.[6]

In 1968, Griffin was a stand-in candidate for American Independent Party ticket. Griffin was thereafter replaced in the second slot by United States Air Force General Curtis LeMay although Griffin's name stayed on the ballot in several states.

Later life and death

After the end of his gubernatorial tenure, Griffin returned to his hometown of Bainbridge and went into the real estate business. He helped to found Bainbridge College in 1970, where classes began in 1973. He was a leading advocate and member of the college's board of directors. He also oversaw and directed the Decatur County Sesquicentennial in 1973, at which former Georgia governor and future President Jimmy Carter was the honored guest. Griffin died in June 1982 due to complications from lung cancer, his efforts to keep Georgia schools segregated having failed.

See also

  • List of Governors of Georgia


  1. ^ Buchanan, Scott E. (2011). Some of the People Who Ate My Barbecue Didn't Vote for Me: The Life of Georgia Governor Marvin Griffin. Vanderbilt University Press.  
  2. ^ a b Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U.S. Elections, p. 1677
  3. ^ The Strategists. Time magazine, July 12, 1954. Quote:Lieut. Governor S. Marvin Griffin of Atlanta: let city and county school boards assign each student to a school. Griffin also suggested a residency requirement to keep "foreign agitators" out of the state. "Social equality," said he, "is impossible. The schools are not going to be mixed come hell or high water."
  4. ^  
  5. ^ Mulé, Marty – A Time For Change: Bobby Grier And The 1956 Sugar Bowl. Black Athlete Sports Network, December 28, 2005
  6. ^ Billy Hathorn, "The Frustration of Opportunity: Georgia Republicans and the 1966 Election", Atlanta History: A Journal of Georgia and the South, XXXI (Winter 1987-1988), p. 42

Further reading

  • Allen, Frederick (1996). Atlanta Rising. Marietta, Georgia: Longstreet Press. pp. 59–61.  
  • Buchanan, Scott E. (2011). "Some of the People Who Ate My Barbecue Didn't Vote for Me": The Life of Georgia Governor Marvin Griffin. Vanderbilt University Press. p. 286. 

External links

  • Marvin Griffin at The New Georgia Encyclopedia
Political offices
Preceded by
Melvin E. Thompson
Lieutenant Governor of Georgia
November 17, 1948 – January 11, 1955
Succeeded by
Ernest Vandiver, Jr.
Preceded by
Herman Talmadge
Governor of Georgia
January 11, 1955 – January 13, 1959