“By the time this advertisement would have aired, the Democratic party had held the gubernatorial office in the state of North Carolina for over sixty years…”
Dylan Grissom, B.A., Art Studies (Film)
“Democrats Are For You” Ad (ca. 1965)
16mm film (orig.)
By the time this advertisement would have aired, the Democratic party had held the gubernatorial office in the state of North Carolina for over sixty years, and would continue to hold this position for around eight more years until the election of republican James E. Holshouser, Jr., in 1972. The political ad notes the democrats’ accomplishments in expanding industry jobs and agricultural income, featuring two shots from tobacco warehouses.
It’s expected that any North Carolina political ad–particularly one from this era or before–would focus on agriculture and tobacco cultivation given the state’s rich history with the crop. North Carolina’s dependence upon tobacco stems from the state’s agricultural disadvantage compared to its neighbors. Historically, North Carolina’s soil was not as rich as the soil of Virginia or South Carolina. The tobacco grown in the sandy soil of the Coastal Plain was low quality, but when a rapid curing method known as “fluecuring” became popular among smokers and the tobacco of the Coastal Plain was found to take to fluecuring particularly well, farms across the state began producing tobacco to feed the massive demand as cigarettes made with fluecured tobacco soared in popularity in the 19th century.
The fluecured tobacco was similar to Turkish tobacco used in the original Spanish cigarettes, though it was much less expensive for American and British smokers. Many American growers sensed a business opportunity and set up shop in small factories. These business thrived, improving centers for trade and transportation in cities heavily involved in the tobacco industry such as Durham and Winston-Salem. To ensure the livelihood of North Carolina’s tobacco farmers, who worked in the shadow of massive cigarette companies, conservative democrats implemented the New Deal’s Agricultural Adjustment Administration program, which increased farm income. In 1933, democratic governor John C.B. Ehringhaus emerged as a major proponent of North Carolina tobacco governors, pushing for such market agreements that would ensure fair tobacco prices for the farmers of the state’s tobacco industry.
Farmer cropping tobacco, eastern North Carolina, August 1946, Conservation and Development Department, Travel and Tourism photo files, State Archives of North Carolina. Credit: Courtesy of the State Archives of North Carolina.
Tobacco Warehouse, Wilson, NC, ca. 1938. Conservation and Development Department, Travel and Tourism photo files, State Archives of North Carolina.
Credit: Courtesy of the State Archives of North Carolina.
Note: Dylan Grissom researched another film which you can find here.