Papers (1934-1969) of N.C. State Senator and U.S. District Court Judge John Davis Larkins, Jr., including correspondence, speeches, judge's notes, case files, clippings, photographs, leaflets, scrapbooks, concerns of state fishery industry, information of osteopathic profession, etc.
John Davis Larkins, Jr., the son of Charles H. and Mamie Dorsett Larkins, was born in Morristown, Tennessee, on June 8, 1909. After the death of Mrs. Larkins, he was reared by his uncle and namesake Rev. John Davis Larkins. He received the B.A. degree from Wake Forest College in 1929 and passed the state bar exam in 1930 at the age of 20. During the same year he married Miss Pauline Murrill of Jacksonville, N.C., and opened a law office in Trenton, N.C.
Judge Larkins was a member of the N.C. State Senate (1936-1944, 1948-1954) and President Protempore (1941-1942), a soldier in the U.S. Army (1945), chairman of annual N.C. Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinners (1937, 1939-1943, 1949, 1951, 1952, 1953), secretary of the N.C. Democratic Executive Committee (1952-1954) and its chairman (1954-1958), chairman of the Governor's Advisory Budget Commission (1951-1953), member of the Democratic National Committee (1958-1960), delegate-at-large to the Democratic National Convention (1940, 1944, 1948, 1956, 1960), and an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor of North Carolina (1960). In 1961 he was appointed by President John F. Kennedy as U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of N.C.
The collection is very strongly politically oriented and gives an in-depth view of North Carolina Democratic Party activities for the decade of the 1950's. The material is divided into general files (1944-1969), consisting of personal and professional correspondence, campaign material, memorandums, published material, etc.; Democratic Executive Committee files (1949-1959); American Cancer Society correspondence (1957); U.S. District Court judge's notes (1961-1967); speeches (1949-1969, undated); clippings (1959-1969); campaign material; photographs; William B. Umstead material; miscellaneous items; scrapbooks; and case files (1960s-1970s).
General files constitute the largest single unit and cover a variety of Larkins related activities. Earliest correspondence concerns the 1944 Democratic National Convention and the notification of then Senator Harry Truman of his selection as vice-presidential nominee. Other papers prior to 1952 touch upon the U.S. Army service of Larkins, American Legion activities, and personal and financial matters.
Beginning in 1952 the general files are concerned primarily with political activities including plans for the Jefferson-Jackson Day banquets (1952, 1953), election campaigns of William B. Umstead for governor and R. Hunt Parker for State Supreme Court (1952), and Lenoir County election returns (1952).
Material of interest for 1953 concerns the state fisheries industry, American Legion activities, Veterans Commission, the Republican administration in Washington, D.C., political appointments, activities of the State Department of Conservation and Development and the State Highway Commission, the prospect of a U.S. Senate seat for Larkins, biographical information on Dr. Charles F. Carroll, and gambling and temperance.
During 1954 and 1955 information pertains to the osteopathic profession; Jones County history; fund raising for Wake Forest College; natural gas legislation; genealogical information on the Warren family of Sampson County; highways, toll roads, bridges, including bridges over Cape Fear and Alligator rivers, and a road through the Croatan Forest; and appointments to state offices.
Of particular interest for 1956 and 1958 are personal accounts of the much publicized conspiracy case against Truman administration official T. Lamar Caudle of Wadesboro and correspondence expressing support of Larkins for lieutenant governor, congressman and governor. Correspondence during 1957 and 1958 concerns the purchase of art treasures for Tryon Palace at New Bern and problems surrounding the giving of art objects to the N.C. Museum of Art in Raleigh. Also of interest is a letter (October, 1957) commenting on the school situation in Little Rock, Arkansas, and the Pearsall Plan for schools in N.C.
By late in 1958 correspondence is primarily concerned with support of Larkins for governor in 1960. In addition to encouraging his candidacy, letters discuss other prospective candidates, the campaigns of Terry Sanford and Addison Hewlett, fund raising, and possible opposition to Larkins by key political figures. Regrettably there are no papers for January through May of 1960, the period of greatest importance and activity in the election campaign. Other topics of interest for 1959 include the state's wildlife restoration program and Federal Reserve System legislation before Congress (August, 1959).
Correspondence for 1961 through 1968 concerns state political activities past and present, the Kennedy administration in Washington, appointment of Larkins to a federal judgeship, World Federation (December, 1967), and Larkins' selection as Wake Forest University alumnus of the year (1968).
Democratic Executive Committee files are concerned primarily with fund raising and election campaign activities of the party. These papers dwell upon Jefferson-Jackson Day plans (1949-1959), Democratic National Convention (1956), "Dollars for Democrats" fund raising campaigns (1956-1959), and Democratic campaign strategy. Specific information of note includes the depressed condition of small business under the Eisenhower administration (1956), state government under Hodges' administration (1957), discontent among local party faithful, and the effect of the segregation issue upon national Democratic politics (1958).
Reports and speeches in these files include Governor Hodges' speech at the Southern Governors' Conference "Southern Point of View" ; a subcommittee report on Armed Services Preparedness; auditors' reports; and copies of John F. Kennedy speeches "Who Killed the Kennedy-Ives Labor Reform Bill" and "United States Military and Diplomatic Policies - Preparing for the Gap."
The American Cancer Society correspondence files (1957) are concerned solely with the awarding of a Distinguished Service Medal to Larkins by the National American Cancer Society.
U.S. District Court judge's notes in the collection consist of hand written notes made by Judge Larkins and his staff while court proceedings were in progress. These files cover all criminal cases over which Judge Larkins has presided between 1961 and1967. In addition, notes are included for one session of U.S. District Civil Court (1965) and a session of U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (1965).
Included in the speech section are addresses by Larkins and other political figures along with several of an unidentified nature. These cover a wide range of topics such as good government, industrial development, Democratic fund raising, mental health, politics, personal liberty, road building, education, and cancer research. Of particular note are speeches by Adlai E. Stevenson on education (1957), Malcom B. Seawell on wine and liquor control and legislation (1959), John Harden concerning Governor Gregg Cherry (1959), and Frank W. Abrams entitled Education is Everybody's Business.
Other material in the collection includes financial papers and campaign workers lists from the William B. Umstead gubernatorial campaign of 1952, a large collection of photographs of Larkins and various political leaders, campaign literature and financial papers from the Larkins gubernatorial campaign (1959-1960), two undated card files of supporters filed by county, certificates and awards, Larkins family papers (1834-1881), personal financial and legal papers (1920-1947), military service records (1944-1945), and various published pamphlets and booklets. Items of a published nature include N.C. General Assembly membership guides (1941, 1943, 1947, 1949, 1959), handbooks of the Democratic Party in N.C., plans of organization of the N.C. Democratic Party, Thad Eure's Parliamentary Aid At A Glance (1949), The Democratic Book (1936, 1940), Duplin County Leads North Carolina in Agriculture (undated, 1959?), and North Carolina Piedmont Hardwood Forest Research Project (January, 1958).
Scrapbooks in the collection cover the Larkins career from 1936 through 1966 and contain clippings, programs, photographs, correspondence, and other material. One book for 1940 is devoted to the Jackson Day Dinner of that year and the visit to the state of presidential hopeful Paul V. McNutt. There are also scrapbooks devoted entirely to the Democratic election campaign of 1956 and the N.C. gubernatorial campaign of 1960.
Court case files (1962-1979) are concerned with conservation and land use, public school integration, labor, drug manufacturing and health issues, arbitration, tobacco, and laws and legislation and jurisdiction of the U.S. District Court, Eastern N.C.
The oversize files contain a 1939 poster picturing members of the N.C. State Senate; a Morehead City bridge aerial photograph; highway maps of Sampson, Carteret, and Edgecombe Cos. and Raleigh, N.C.; certificates of appointment, appreciation, and graduation; newspapers (Jones County Journal, June 23, July 14 and 21, 1966; Pender Chronicle, June 1, 1933); a campaign poster; and school attendance area maps (Raleigh 1968, 1969).
For additional information see O.H. 21 and Mf. 24.
Gift of the Honorable John D. Larkins, Jr.
Processed by Lennon; Huggins; Boccaccio; McWatters; Elmore, August 1995
Encoded by Apex Data Services
Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.