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ALLEN DANIEL CANDLER (1834 - 1910)

 

The "one-eyed plowboy of Prigeon Roost," Allen Daniel Candler, was a tobacco chewing, peppery languaged mountaineer, the oldest of twelve children born in 1834 to Daniel Gill Candler and Nancy Caroline Matthews. Lumpkin County, Georgia, was where Candler was born and raised with the values of honesty and hard work.

Candler worked hard to obtain and education. He attended Mercer University and graduated in 1859.

He taught school for a while in Jonesboro, Georgia, before he joined the Confederate Army as a private. in the 34th Georgia Volunteer Infantry where he was immediately elected a first lieutenant by his comrades. Candler fought in some of the Civil War's most brutal battles: Vicksburg, Missionary Ridge, Resaca, Kennesaw Mountain, Atlanta, and Jonesboro. By war's end, he was serving as a colonel under General Joseph E. Johnston in the Army of Tennessee in North Carolina. He was wounded at Kennesaw and lost an eye in Jonesboro. At the end of the war, he quipped that he was more fortunate than many—he still had one wife, one baby, one dollar, and one eye. By December of 1864, he had earned the rank of Colonel. While fighting in the battle near Jonesboro, he received a head wound which resulted in the loss of the sight of one eye. He like to joke that he was quite wealthy, "having one wife, one baby, one eye, and one silver dollar."

After the war, Candler settled in Jonesboro, Georgia, then Gainesville, Georgia. He turned to farming, then politics; he was one of many conservative Democrats pushing to wrest control of the state back from the Reconstruction Republican state government, which was backed by the occupying Union Army. In 1872, he was elected Mayor of Gainesville. In 1873, he was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives, serving there until his election to the Georgia Senate in 1878, where he served just two years. During this time, Candler was also involved in manufacturing and was the president of a railroad.

In 1882, Candler was elected to the 48th Congress, serving in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1883 to 1891. In his third term, he was the chairman of the Committee on Education. Candler declined to run again in the 1890 election. Candler served as Secretary of State of Georgia from 1894 to 1898 before resigning to pursue the Governorship. Campaigning as the "one-eyed ploughboy from Pigeon Roost" he won with 70% of the vote against Populist candidate J. R. Hogan. After a first two-year term, Candler was returned to office in 1900, defeating Populist candidate George W. Trayler.

Candler was known as a conservative governor. While he established pensions for Confederate widows, he otherwise cut back both taxes and government expenditures. Candler pushed for the establishment of a whites-only Democratic primary based on the legal notion that the Democratic Party was a private organization and therefore not subject to the Fifteenth Constitutional Amendment giving all Americans the right to vote, regardless of race. Since the Democratic Party had a monopoly on power in Southern states, the real selection of officeholders in Georgia occurred during the Democratic primary to select Democratic candidates for the fall general election. Democrats consistently won all of these offices from the end of Reconstruction in 1871 until the 1970s.

Candler's tenure as governor coincided with some of the most violent lynchings in Georgia's history.[2] Although he publicly denounced mob violence, at the same time he blamed the victims of these incidents on black criminality and the increasing annoyance among whites of blacks demanding equal treatment. In an incident which culminated with the notorious lynching of Sam Hose in 1899, he berated the "better class" of blacks for not aiding authorities in his apprehension. These views were prominently printed in the Atlanta newspapers alongside those of the editors which urged the mobs on. Candler did ask the courts for speedier trials to head-off mob violence, and even admonished white women for not curtailing this blood-thirsty tendency in their men.

After leaving the Governor's office, Candler served as the State's first "compiler of records," by Governor Joseph Terrell. He worked very hard to find Georgia documents and preserved.

He supervisored the publication of the twenty-one volumes of THE COLONIAL RECORDS OF GEORGIA, three volumes of THE REVOLUTIONARY RECORDS OF THE STATE OF GEORGIA, and five volumes of THE CONFEDERATE RECORDS OF THE STATE OF GEORGIA. In 1906 he worked with Clement Evans to publish a three volume encyclopedia of Georgia.

Candler died of Bright's Disease October 26, 1910, at the age of seventy- five. His body laid in state at the Capitol in Atlanta, then was buried in the Alta Vista Cemetery in Gainesville.

 

 

 

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