New in the collection: Signed photo of Gov. Clyde Hoey

Signed photo portrait of Governor Clyde Hoey


The essay attached to Clyde Hoey‘s highway historical marker notes his “distinctive style of dress, replete with swallow-tail coat, striped pants, wing collar, high-topped shoes, and boutonniere,” and his official gubernatorial portrait doesn’t disappoint.

The inscription reads, “To my good friend, Hon. H. J. Hatcher. Yours truly, Clyde R. Hoey, Governor.”

John Blythe suggests that the friend was likely Howell John “Doggie” Hatcher of Morganton, decorated World War II veteran, legislator and commander of the State Highway Patrol.

As with many politicians, Hoey’s attitudes toward African-Americans and women have not aged well.


Hoey pitches shutout at polls in Shelby

On this day in 1919: Clyde Hoey, a member of the “Shelby Dynasty” of Democratic politicians, wins the congressional primary against Johnson D. McCall of Charlotte.

Hoey carries his home county of Cleveland by the vote of 3,369 to 34. Even more remarkably, he receives every one of the 1,242 votes cast in Shelby.

Hoey goes on to win the general election and will later serve as both governor and U.S. senator.


Segregationist cause welcomed ‘unreconstructed’ Ervin

“Weeks after the Brown [vs. Board of Education decision in 1954], the press hailed the latest poster boy for the ‘soft Southern approach’…. Samuel J. Ervin, a Harvard-educated state Supreme Court justice, arrived in Washington ready to lend his legal expertise and ‘country lawyer’  charm to the segregationist cause.

“Governor William Umstead tapped Ervin to complete the term of Clyde Hoey, who died in his office…. Ervin privately boasted that he was as ‘unrepentant and unreconstructed’ as Hoey, a Confederate captain’s son….

“Leaders of the Southern opposition saw in Ervin a fresh face that could elevate the segregationist defense above the white supremacist rhetoric of their fathers’ generation.”

— From “Defending White Democracy: The Making of a Segregationist Movement and the Remaking of Racial Politics, 1936-1965” by Jason Morgan Ward (2011)


These photos may knock you for a loupe

This week’s speculation over the identity of Clyde Hoey (and a camera-shy Harry Truman?) brought to mind, “a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s” (’60s, actually). Some are familiar (Lewis Hine, Dorothea Lange), but others may surprise.

Some North Carolina examples:

— Petersburg provost marshal’s office, 1864

— Mount Airy Indian-themed 1964 birthday party

— Mount Olive homestead, 1800

— Pitt County 1910 chain gang

— Sapphire lodge, 1902 and (here too)

Hoey’s premonition of McCarthyism


“During the early 1950s [the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations  of the Committee on Government Operations] had been chaired by Senator Clyde Hoey, a mild-mannered Democrat from North Carolina. Under Hoey’s leadership the subcommittee had investigated such bland subjects as… the reorganization of the Bureau of Customs. [Joe] McCarthy, the ranking Republican, had attended fewer than 20 percent of the public hearings.

“Only once did McCarthy get into the flow of action. During a hearing on the sale of government-owned tankers, he pummeled a witness for supposedly having engaged in trade with Red China. ‘You are either… the greatest dope or dupe of all time… or you are making a vast amount of money soaked in American blood.’    The witness was understandably upset. ‘Why don’t you ask questions the way Senator Hoey does? Be a gentleman,’ he pleaded.’

“[After the new Congress was sworn in in 1953] Hoey quickly resigned from the subcommittee. Having worked with Joe in the past, he did ‘not wish to be responsible for what might develop.’ ”

— From “A Conspiracy So Immense: The World of Joe McCarthy” (2005) by David M. Oshinsky

Pictured:  Pinback button from Hoey’s successful campaign for governor in 1936.