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This Day in Georgia History

December 13, 1992

Ellis Arnall Died

To view an image of Ellis Arnall with his family, see the Digital Library of Georgia.

Former governor Ellis Arnall died at age 85. Born in Newnan, Georgia on Mar. 20, 1907, he graduated from the University of the South in 1928 and then graduated first in his class at the University of Georgia law school in 1931. At age 25, Arnall served as Speaker Pro Tem of the Georgia House, and six years later he was state attorney general. In the 1942 governor’s race, he defeated incumbent governor Eugene Talmadge, being sworn in two months prior to his 36th birthday (making him second youngest governor in Georgia history, a record that belongs to Richard Russell). Arnall pushed for many reforms to weaken the powers of the governor, such as reducing the governor’s power over education and taking away the governor’s clemency powers. He pushed many prison reforms, including outlawing use of chains and whipping of prisoners, beginning vocational training of inmates, and segregating young offenders from the general prison population. Arnall also led the fight to outlaw the poll tax and the white primary, and is noted for making Georgia the first state to allow 18-year-olds to vote. He is further remembered for his role in obtaining a new state constitution for Georgia in 1945. Among other accomplishments, he considered perhaps his most important his successful arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court to challenge railroad freight rates that discriminated against the South.

Image of Ellis Arnall Died View large image
Source: Photo: Ed Jackson