Melvin E. Thompson

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Melvin E. Thompson
71st Governor of Georgia
In office
March 18, 1947 – November 17, 1948
Preceded by Herman Talmadge
Succeeded by Herman Talmadge
1st Lieutenant Governor of Georgia
In office
January 14, 1947 – March 18, 1947
Governor Herman Talmadge
Succeeded by Ernest Vandiver
Personal details
Born Melvin Ernest Thompson
(1903-05-01)May 1, 1903
Millen, Georgia, U.S.
Died October 3, 1980(1980-10-03) (aged 77)
Valdosta, Georgia, U.S.
Resting place McLane Riverview Memorial Gardens,
Valdosta, Georgia, U.S.
Political party Democratic

Melvin Ernest Thompson (May 1, 1903 – October 3, 1980) was an American educator and politician from Millen in the U.S. state of Georgia. He served as the 71st Governor of Georgia from 1947 to 1948 and the first lieutenant governor of Georgia in 1947.

Early life and education[edit]

Thompson was born in Millen, Georgia, to Henry Jackson Thompson and his wife Eva Edenfield Thompson. He graduated from Emory University in 1926 and earned a Master of Arts (M.A.) from the University of Georgia in 1935. He also earned all of the credits for a Ph.D. from the University of Georgia, but because his adviser died, he never argued his dissertation. Thompson worked in education, first as a teacher and coach, a principal, a district superintendent, moving all the way up to assistant school superintendent for the state. Thompson was a supporter of Governor Ellis Arnall and he was his executive secretary and state revenue commissioner.

In 1946, Thompson ran for the newly created position of Lieutenant Governor of Georgia. Arnall supported another candidate. Thompson won the primary with less than thirty percent of the vote.

Lieutenant governor of Georgia[edit]

Governor-elect Eugene Talmadge died in December 1946 and the Georgia state constitution was vague on who would be sworn in as governor, causing the Three Governors controversy. Thompson felt that as the lieutenant governor-elect, he should become the governor. But the state legislature was controlled by Talmadge supporters. They invoked a clause in the Georgia state constitution which allowed for the legislature to pick between the second- and third-place candidates. The people who finished second and third were two write-in candidates, James V. Carmichael and Eugene's son, Herman E. Talmadge. The legislature selected Herman Talmadge to become the governor.

Governor of Georgia[edit]

Thompson and Arnall both claimed the office of governor. Arnall later renounced his claim to support Thompson. The Supreme Court of Georgia ruled that Thompson was the legitimate governor and that the legislature had violated the state constitution by selecting Talmadge. Thompson's achievements as the 71st governor of Georgia include raising salaries for teachers and the purchase of Jekyll Island. He was defeated by Talmadge in a special election in 1948.

Later political activities[edit]

Thompson unsuccessfully opposed Talmadge three additional times, twice in gubernatorial elections in 1950 and 1954 and finally in 1956 for one of Georgia's United States Senate seats. Following the Senate campaign defeat, Thompson retired to Valdosta, Georgia where he worked as a real estate developer. When he died, aged 77 on October 3, 1980 at Valdosta he was interred in a mausoleum in the McLane Riverview Memorial Gardens[1] in that same city.


  1. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-01-18. Retrieved 2009-04-19.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
new office
Lieutenant Governor of Georgia
Succeeded by
Marvin Griffin
Preceded by
Herman Talmadge
Governor of Georgia
Succeeded by
Herman Talmadge