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Governor John Patterson Interviewed by The Montgomery Advertiser

Kenneth Mullinax of the Montgomery Advertiser recently interviewed John Patterson, whose authorized biography Nobody But the People: The Life and Times of Alabama’s Youngest Governor, by Warren Trest, is now available from NewSouth Books.

Nobody But The People is the first first authorized biography of former Alabama Governor John Patterson, and tells the story of his journey from Alabama’s youngest governor and WWII hero to respected judge who recanted his former segregationist ways. In the interview, Patterson gives details about his father’s murder and his friendship with George Wallace.

From the interview:

What happened to your father after he was elected?

On June 18, 1954, just 17 days after winning, he was working late at his law office on Fifth Avenue in Phenix City. At 9:10 p.m., he came to the alley where his car was parked and as soon as he sat down in it, he was gunned down. He was shot by Albert Fuller, chief deputy sheriff, while Arch Ferrell — Russell County’s district attorney–looked on in approval. Four shots from a .38 pistol rang out and the bullets hit my dad in his mouth, chest and arm. He was strong enough to get out of the car, but collapsed dead on the sidewalk.

Is this when you entered politics?

Yes, everyone wanted me to fill my father’s term of office as state attorney general and I did so with no opposition. We soon cleaned up the city by putting in the Alabama National Guard under Gen. Walter Hanna and hundreds of people went to prison and the organized gambling ended forever. I served as attorney general from 1955 to 1959 until I got a promotion from the people.

When did you first meet George Wallace?

I first met him in 1947 when he joined me and my father for dinner at the Elite Cafe here in Montgomery. We became instant friends and remained so for the rest of our lives, except for a few months in 1958.

What happened in 1958?

That’s the year I ran for governor and Wallace and 12 other people were in the same race. Those were emotional times and I was supported by some segments of the KKK, but all the candidates, including Wallace and myself, were open segregationist in some form.

Later, when asked about his regrets, Patterson responded, “My biggest regret is I didn’t bring black citizens into the political process when I was attorney general or governor.”

Click here to read to the entire article and interview.

Nobody But the People: The Life and Times of Alabama’s Youngest Governor is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite online and retail booksellers.