James B. Hunt, Jr., Papers, 1960-1976, 1980, 1984

Manuscript Collection #325

Descriptive Summary Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Title: James B. Hunt, Jr., Papers
Creator: Hunt, James B., 1937-
Repository: ECU Manuscript Collection
Languages: English
Abstract: Papers (1960-1984) of Democratic political leader and governor of North Carolina, including his 1976 campaign financial records and his 1980 gubernatorial general campaign files.
Extent: 108.0 Cubic feet, 209 boxes inventoried to date, campaign files and personal papers

Administrative Information Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Accessions Information

January 5, 1981, 80.140 cubic feet; Papers (1976-1980) of Democratic political leader and governor of North Carolina, including his 1976 campaign financial records and his 1980 gubernatorial general campaign files. Donor: Honorable James B. Hunt, Jr.

January 7, 1977 (Unprocessed addition 1), 65 cubic feet; Campaign files (1972, 1976) and personal papers (1960-1976). Donor: Honorable James B. Hunt, Jr.

January 5, 1981 (Unprocessed addition 2), 22 cu. ft.; 1976 Campaign financial records and 1980 gubernatorial general campaign files. Donor: Honorable James B. Hunt, Jr.

December 13, 1984 (Unprocessed addition 3), 21 cu. ft.; U.S. Senate campaign files (1984). Donor: Honorable James B. Hunt, Jr.

Access Restrictions

This collection is fully restricted without the written permission of the donor (Hunt) while he is living.

Copyright Notice

Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

Preferred Citation

James B. Hunt, Jr., Papers (#325), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.

Acquisition Information

  • Gift of Honorable James B. Hunt, Jr.
  • Gift of Honorable James B. Hunt

Processing Information

  • Encoded by Apex Data Services

Biographical / Historical Note Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Note: This collection is still in process. This container list below does not represent the entire collection. Also this collection is fully restricted without the written permission of the donor (Hunt) while he is living.

Biography Source: ncpedia.org

The first North Carolina governor elected to consecutive four-year terms and the state’s longest serving chief executive with sixteen years in office, James B. Hunt, Jr. (1937- ) assumed the moderately progressive mantle of his Democratic predecessors by placing emphasis on education, economic development, and highways. In his third and fourth terms, Hunt, by then jokingly called by some “governor for life,” championed child care and, acceding to perceived wishes of the voters, recast himself as a conservative with an increased emphasis on cutting taxes and reducing crime.

Jim Hunt was born on May 16, 1937, in Greensboro to soil conservationist James Baxter Hunt and the former Elsie Brame, a schoolteacher. When he was still of preschool age, the family moved to a farm at Rock Ridge outside Wilson. Raised in the Free Will Baptist Church, Hunt joined the Presbyterian Church as an adult. In 1959 and 1962 he earned degrees from North Carolina State College, completing a master’s thesis which dealt with the economics of tobacco production. In 1964 Hunt earned a law degree at the University of North Carolina. He and his wife, the former Carolyn Leonard whom he married in 1958, then moved to Nepal where for two years he worked as an economic adviser to the government under a Ford Foundation grant. Jim and Carolyn Hunt are the parents of four.

Observers of politics routinely comment on Hunt’s ambition and desire to win, reflected in his early political drive. Eleven-year-old Hunt helped his family campaign for Kerr Scott. At N.C. State he took part in the Terry Sanford campaign and while in law school he worked for Richardson Preyer. On passing the bar Hunt joined a law firm in Wilson. In 1968 he served as president of the state’s Young Democrats. In 1970 Governor Robert W. Scott appointed him to chair a commission to revise the state party’s rules. In 1972, a year when Republicans took the presidency, the governorship, and a U.S. Senate seat, Hunt was elected lieutenant governor. In that office he helped guide expansion of the kindergarten program through the legislature. In 1976 Hunt defeated businessmen Edward O’Herron and Thomas Strickland and legislator George Wood in the Democratic gubernatorial primary without a runoff. He gained 65% of the vote against Republican David Flaherty in the general election. In a brief, 450-word inaugural address in 1977, Hunt called for a “new beginning” and citizen involvement in government. The governor established a Primary Reading Program as part of his education reforms that included teacher pay raises and competency testing for teachers and students. The N.C. School of Science of Mathematics, a residential high school for gifted students and a Hunt innovation, opened in 1980. The governor launched efforts to recruit high technology businesses and established the Microelectronics Center in 1980. Hunt declined to stay executions in capital punishment cases and in 1978 reduced the prison sentences of the “Wilmington Ten,” convicted of a firebombing related to racial unrest in the Port City.

In 1977 voters approved an amendment to the state constitution permitting the governor to serve two consecutive four-year terms. In 1980 Hunt ran for reelection and withstood a primary challenge from former Governor Robert W. Scott. In the fall he defeated Republican nominee I. Beverly Lake, Jr., son of 1960 and 1964 contender I. Beverly Lake, Sr. In 1981 Hunt created North Carolina 2000, a commission chaired by former UNC President William C. Friday, to study future needs of the state. With Hunt’s backing the legislature, after a divisive debate, in 1983 approved a three-cent gasoline tax increase with the funds earmarked for highway improvements. Economic development remained central to Hunt’s agenda in his second term. In 1984 Hunt oversaw the 400th anniversary commemoration of the Roanoke voyages. The state zoo expanded and the film office oversaw increased production.

In 1984 Governor Hunt challenged Senator Jesse Helms for the U.S. Senate seat held by Helms since 1972. The contenders spent over $26 million on the race, mostly on television advertising, making it the costliest Senate campaign in the nation to that date. The two met in a notable series of televised debates. In the end Helms triumphed by a 52% - 48% margin. Editors of the Almanac of American Politics reasoned that the state’s voters “preferred Helms’s principled advocacy over Hunt’s pragmatic problem-solving.” Out of office for the first time in twelve years Hunt returned to the practice of law and spent more time on his Wilson County farm. As governor Hunt had established a national reputation as an education reformer and as a private citizen he remained active in that movement.

In 1992 Hunt defeated Attorney General Lacy Thornburg in the Democratic primary and Republican Lieutenant Governor James C. Gardner in the general election to regain the governor’s office. In his third inaugural address Hunt stressed childhood development and touted a program tagged “Smart Start,” whereby counties create and implement plans to improve child care. Early in his term he called a special session of the legislature devoted to crime. The Republican gains in the 1994 legislative elections, giving the GOP a majority in the state House, led Hunt to seek common ground with the new lawmakers.

In 1996 Hunt defeated Congressman Robin Hayes in his bid to retain his seat. A constitutional amendment approved that same year made him the first North Carolina governor with veto power, an authority he did not exercise in his final four years. In his fourth term Hunt pushed to raise teacher pay to the national average and to increase student test scores. Unprecedented damage caused by Hurricane Fran in 1996 and Hurricane Floyd in 1999 tested Hunt’s leadership skills. After a generation in the public eye, he left office in 2001 as one of the most familiar and durable actors ever on the stage of North Carolina politics.

References: 2000. Winston-Salem Journal. (December 31).

2000-2001. Greensboro News and Record. (December 31-January 2).

Addresses and public papers of James Baxter Hunt Jr., governor of North Carolina; Vol. II, 1981-1985. 1987.

Raleigh: Div. of Archives and History, Dept. of Cultural Resources.

Barone, Michael, and Grant Ujifusa. 1993. The almanac of American Politics, 1994: the senators, the representatives, and the govenors : their records and election results, their states and districts. Washington, D.C.: National Journal.

Government & Heritage Library digital collections

Grimsley, Wayne. 2003. James B. Hunt: a North Carolina progressive. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland.

Hunt, James B., and Jan-Michael Poff. 2000. Addresses and public papers of James Baxter Hunt, Jr., governor of North Carolina. Vol. III (1993-1997). Raleigh: Division of Archives and History, Dept. of Cultural Resources.

Hunt, James B., and Memory F. Mitchell. 1982. Addresses and public papers of James Baxter Hunt, Jr. governor of North Carolina Volume I, 1977-1981. Raleigh: Division of Archives and History, Dept. of Cultural Resources.


North Carolina, and North Carolina Historical Commission. 1993. North Carolina manual, 1993-1994. Raleigh: North Carolina Historical Commission.

Raimo, John. 1980. Biographical directory of American colonial and Revolutionary governors, 1607-1789. Westport, Ct: Meckler Books.

Snider, William D. 1985. Helms and Hunt: the North Carolina Senate race, 1984. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

State Archives digital collections

Theis, Paul A., and Edmund Lee Henshaw. 1993. Who's who in American politics, 1993-1994. New York: Bowker. WorldCat (Searches numerous library catalogs)

Subject Headings Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Preliminary Inventory Click here to collapse or expand the contents in this section of the finding aid

Below is material taken from a preliminary inventory and represents content from the collection that is unprocessed.

  • Box 31#0325.31
    • Folder a#0325.31.a
      Photographs; 400' Film, 8mm;Film, 8mm, Jim Hunt, Lt. Gov.; Howard Advertising - 5 Radio Spots (6 boxes);Campaign Song (7 1/2 Master audio tape);7 Radio Commercials (2 boxes, audio tape)
Box 134#0325.134
Item Removed, Slip.
Box 140#0325.140
Newspaper Clippings
Box 142#0325.142
Newspaper Clippings
Box 143#0325.143
Newspaper Clippings
Box 144#0325.144
Newspaper Clippings
Box 145#0325.145
Newspaper Clippings
Box 146#0325.146
Newspaper Clippings
Box 147#0325.147
Miscellaneous Newspaper Clippings and photos
Box 148#0325.148
Newspaper Clippings
Box 149#0325.149
Newspaper Clippings
Box 150#0325.150
Newspaper Clippings
Box 151#0325.151
Newspaper Clippings
Box 152#0325.152
Newspaper Clippings
Box 153#0325.153
Newspaper Clippings
Box 154#0325.154
Newspaper Clippings
Box 155#0325.155
Newspaper Clippings
Box 156#0325.156
Newspaper Clippings
Box 157#0325.157
Newspaper Clippings
Box 158#0325.158
Newspaper Clippings
Box 159#0325.159
Data Entry Forms: Alamance - Avery
Box 160#0325.160
Data Entry Forms: Beaufort - Buncomb (A-M)
Box 161#0325.161
Data Entry Forms: Caldwell - Carteret (G-M)
Box 162#0325.162
Data Entry Forms: Caldwell - Carteret (G-M)
Box 163#0325.163
Data Entry Forms: Carteret (N-Z) - Cherokee
Box 164#0325.164
Data Entry Forms: Chowan - Craven
Box 165#0325.165
Data Entry Forms: Cumberland (A-E) - Currituck
Box 166#0325.166
Data Entry Forms: Dare - Duplin
Box 167#0325.167
Data Entry Forms: Duplin - Durham (R-Z)
Box 168#0325.168
Data Entry Forms: Durham - Lenoir
Box 169#0325.169
Data Entry Forms: Lincoln - Mecklenburg County
Box 170#0325.170
Data Entry Forms: Lincoln - Mecklenburg (A-K)
Box 171#0325.171
Data Entry Forms: Mecklenburg - Forsyth (H-L)
Box 172#0325.172
Data Entry Forms: Forsyth - Gates
Box 173#0325.173
Data Entry Forms: Graham - Guilford (A-H)
Box 174#0325.174
Data Entry Forms: Guilford (I-P) - Harnett
Box 175#0325.175
Data Entry Forms: Haywood - Jackson
Box 176#0325.176
Data Entry Forms: Jones - Nash (A-K)
Box 177#0325.177
Data Entry Forms: Nash (L-Z) - Orange (A-L)
Box 178#0325.178
Data Entry Forms: Orange (A-L) - Pitt (A-G)
Box 179#0325.179
Data Entry Forms: Pitt (H-O) - Randolph
Box 180#0325.180
Data Entry Forms: Richmond - Rockingham
Box 181#0325.181
Data Entry Forms: Rockingham - Scotland
Box 182#0325.182
Data Entry Forms: Scotland - Swain
Box 183#0325.183
Data Entry Forms: Transylvania - Wake (Bf-Bz)
Box 184#0325.184
Data Entry Forms: Wake (Ca-Com) - Wake (H)
Box 185#0325.185
Data Entry Forms: Wake (I-L) - Wake (P-R)
Box 186#0325.186
Data Entry Forms: Wake (S-T) - Wake
Box 187#0325.187
Data Entry Forms: Warren - Wilkes
Box 188#0325.188
Data Entry Forms: Wilson
Box 189#0325.189
Data Entry Forms: Yadkin - Misc files
Box 190#0325.190
Data Entry Forms: Misc files
Box 191#0325.191
Data Entry Forms: Misc files and Addresses
Box 192#0325.192
Data Entry Forms: Misc files and Addresses
Box 193#0325.193
Data Entry Forms: Misc files
Box 194#0325.194
Data Entry Forms: Misc files
Box 195#0325.195
Data Entry Forms: Misc files
Box 196#0325.196
Christmas Cards to the Hunts; Campaign lapel pins
Box 197#0325.197
Computer Printout of Addresses by County & Name
Box 198#0325.198
Computer Printout of Addresses by County & Name
Box 199#0325.199
Computer Printout of Addresses by County & Name
Box 200#0325.200
Computer Printout Members & Addresses of Retired Federal Employees, NC
Box 201#0325.201
Computer Printout of Addresses - Beauticians, NC Durham - Yancy counties
Box 202#0325.202
Computer Printout of Addresses by County
Box 203#0325.203
Computer Printout of Addresses by County
Box 204#0325.204
Computer Printout -Contributions - Addresses
Box 205#0325.205
Computer Printout -Contributions - Addresses
Box 206#0325.206
Computer Printout -Contributions - Addresses
Box 207#0325.207
Computer Printout -Contributions - Addresses
Box 208#0325.208
Computer Printout -Contributions - Addresses
Box 209#0325.209
Computer Printout -Contributions - Addresses

Online access to this finding aid is supported with funds created through the federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). These funds come through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services which is administered by the State Library of North Carolina, a division of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. This grant is part of the North Carolina ECHO, Exploring Cultural Heritage Online, Digitization Grant Program.

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This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Special Collections Department, J.Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University. The materials described here are physically available in our reading room. None of the original documents in this collection are digitally available online at this time.
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