In 1956 Albert Gore, Sr. received national attention as one of only three senators from the states of the former Confederacy who refused to sign the infamous “Southern Manifesto” opposing the racial integration of public spaces. Lauded as Gore was by many for his decision, as Anthony J. Badger
shows in his Albert Gore, Sr.: A Political Life
(University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019) it was a product of a nuanced approach on the issue of civil rights in a changing time. The son of a farmer, Gore demonstrated his father’s strenuous work ethic in his efforts to earn a college education. After a rapid rise in state politics, Gore won election to the House of Representatives in 1938, where he served for fourteen years before defeating a longtime incumbent senator in a Democratic primary. As Badger demonstrates, while Gore’s “TVA liberalism” led him to play a key role in passing some of the major infrastructure legislation in the 1950s, the issues of civil rights and the Vietnam War ultimately led Gore to adopt positions that alienated his constituents. Though defeated in his bid for reelection in 1970, though in retirement this was tempered by his son Al’s success in winning election, first to Congress and then to the vice presidency, in the 1990s.