James Holshouser

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James Holshouser
James Holshouser official photo.jpg
68th Governor of North Carolina
In office
January 5, 1973 – January 8, 1977
Lieutenant Jim Hunt
Preceded by Robert Scott
Succeeded by Jim Hunt
Member of the North Carolina House of Representatives
In office
Chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party
In office
Personal details
Born James Eubert Holshouser, Jr.
(1934-10-08)October 8, 1934
Boone, North Carolina
Died June 17, 2013(2013-06-17) (aged 78)
Pinehurst, North Carolina
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Patricia Ann Hollingsworth
Alma mater Davidson College
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Religion Presbyterianism[1]

James Eubert Holshouser, Jr. (October 8, 1934 – June 17, 2013) was the 68th Governor of the state of North Carolina from 1973 to 1977. He was the first Republican candidate to be elected as governor since 1896, when Republican Daniel L. Russell was elected as a Fusionist candidate. Holshouser's election reflected the new political realignment of the South, in which former white Conservative Democrats shifted to the Republican Party. By the end of the 20th century, the Republican Party was firmly based in the South among whites.

Life and career[edit]

Holshouser was born in Boone, North Carolina in 1934 and was the son of James E. "Peck" Holshouser, who was United States Attorney in the middle district of North Carolina under President Dwight Eisenhower.[1]

In 1962, two years after graduating from the University of North Carolina School of Law,[1] Holshouser was elected to the first of several terms representing Watauga County in the North Carolina General Assembly. This had been virtually a one-party, Democratic-dominated state since disfranchisement of blacks in 1899. During the 1960s, however, the Republican Party began to attract southern voters. Holshouser rose to the position of House Minority Leader.

He chaired the state Republican Party from 1966 through 1972, following passage of federal civil rights legislation in 1964 and 1965 that ended segregation and authorized federal oversight and enforcement of suffrage for African Americans.

In 1972, Holshouser defeated Jim Gardner for the Republican nomination for Governor, and then defeated Democrat Skipper Bowles in the general election, becoming North Carolina's first Republican governor elected since 1896. He was likely the beneficiary of coattails from Richard Nixon, who carried North Carolina and 48 other states in the Presidential election on the same ticket. At age 38, Holshouser was also the state's youngest governor since the nineteenth century.[1]

Many Republicans disliked Holshouser's moderate stances on issues. The governor supported Gerald Ford for president in 1976, while Republican U.S. Senator Jesse Helms (a former Democrat) supported Ronald Reagan. When Reagan won the North Carolina presidential preference primary of 1976, the Republican state convention refused to appoint Holshouser as a delegate to the Republican National Convention.[1]

His accomplishments in office included consolidation of the University of North Carolina system under a Board of Governors, capital improvement funding for the community college system, statewide enrollment for children in kindergarten, and establishment of health clinics in rural areas not served by local physicians.

After leaving office, Holshouser returned to the practice of law (at one point forming a firm with former Democratic Gov. Terry Sanford),[1] was elected to the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina, and later served as a member emeritus. He also served on the Boards of St. Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg, NC, and his undergraduate alma mater, Davidson College.

Holshouser eventually became great friends with Democratic Governor Jim Hunt, who had served as Lieutenant Governor under him. Holshouser was the last governor who was not eligible for a second four-year term; Hunt was elected in 1976 to succeed him. They served together on the North Carolina Advisory Board of DonorsChoose. Late in life, Holshouser campaigned alongside Hunt for state-funded judicial elections.[2]

He died on the morning of June 17, 2013.[3]

Legacy and honors[edit]


External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
James Gardner
Republican nominee for Governor of North Carolina
Succeeded by
David Flaherty
Political offices
Preceded by
Robert Scott
Governor of North Carolina
Succeeded by
Jim Hunt