Kentucky Fried Politics: A Colonel Sanders Timeline

I like this KFC, it’s quite progressive. Let’s hope the sale to more corporate interests doesn’t come and that ethos spreads further.
Well as a naturally born and raised Kentuckian I'm legally required to watch and read this RL. Keep up the good work as this is one of the more interesting and well researched TLs I've ever seen.


I read this this morning. Now I have been forced to go to KFC for lunch. Praise the Colonel.

UPDATE: It was wonderful. As usual.
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Chapter 4: January 1956 – December 1956
Chapter 4: January 1956 – December 1956

“I recognize the Republican Party as the sheet anchor of the colored man’s political hopes, and the ark of his safety.”

– Frederick Douglass

…"If the Colonel could make it, then so can I!" Contrary to popular belief, Ray Kroc was not inspired by Colonel Sanders’ success in the early 1950s to franchise McDonald’s, but by Kroc’s own experience in various industries since the Great Depression. Kroc instead drew inspiration from the KFC success story, and aimed to turn the then-small McDonald's franchise into "the KFC of the burger world" [after first discovering the original San Bernardino diner in 1954, one year after its first franchise opened] …Weary of Kroc’s increasing presence and influence in what was still their company, the McDonald brothers began 1956 by selling the licensed franchise rights for Cook County, Illinois, to the Frejlach Ice Cream Company. Within a few months, however, Kroc had purchased the rights back from that company. Kroc’s successful reclamation seems to have only increased the brothers’ concern over Kroc’s increasing control over their creation. “They were the only ones that seemed to regret letting me into their lives,” he would later comment in a 1977 interview…

– John F. Love’s McDonald’s: Behind the Arches, Bantam Books, 1986

When we finally relocated Kentucky Fried Chicken to Florence, KY, in January 1956, Pops dropped by to check out the place. He reminisced, “I remember when we first came to Corbin. There was no electricity yet, and it was a rough area. But, as painful as it may be at times, there’s no changing the fact that times change. Places change. …People change… And sometimes you just got to go and accept it, especially when it is for the better.” I think he was talking more about moving to the governor’s seat than the company moving out of Corbin, but he soon warmed up to both changes. All he had to do was find the right angle to look at it all in the best possible light.

– Mildred Sanders Ruggles’ biography, My Father The Colonel: A Life of Love, Politics, and KFC, StarGroup International, 2000

“No more running off or around making deliveries and cleaning up messes for you, Claudia,” the boss told his lady, “no more cleaning out pots and packaging spices for train deliveries in the middle of the night [1]. From now on, the only grease touching your hands is the fancy kind they use in message parlors!” When Lady Claudia moved in to the governor’s mansion she was mightily impressed. After her first gaze upon the main foyer left her awestruck for a bit, Lady Claudia ran around the first floor and then up and down the stairs, canvassing the place like a youngin’ seeing a newly-opened candy store. She loved its rich history, its impressive size, and its ornate architectural style. She later told me that when it was their first time sleeping in the house, she awoke feeling like a queen, but it soon dawned on her the scale of her hosting duties, and later still, the need to develop a hobby for when there weren’t no guests around. She found her spot in women jobs programs and promoting us women having our thoughts and opinions heard; but don’t misunderstand – Claudia was an old-fashioned hostess who disapproved of skirts cut above the knee, once saying “Uncovered knees won’t land you a job.” She had no tolerance for such clothing being worn by any members of the staff when on duty, either, though she became a little more lenient with those rules as time wore on. With cooking and packing spices no longer a top priority, it shouldn’t have been such a big surprise when she took an interest in the lives of the staff. She wanted to really know us, and she was very friendly and kind with the staff members. Lady Claudia was like the main character in My Fair Lady – fancy, but never forgetting her humble origins. She paid us very well, and while hotheaded at times, just like her husband, she was truly a delight to have as a boss!

– Former personal assistant to State First Lady Claudia Sanders, former employer, 1997 interview


[ ]
– The Kentucky Governor’s Mansion

When I first started working as governor [in December 1955], I learned quickly how much the state congressmen weren’t my subordinates. They were more like my chicken fryers – if you pressured them too much, they would explode on you. I soon figured I’d get nothing done if I shouted and made enemies with everyone, so I focused on praise and support instead. I shied away from blame and pushed for what I guess modern folks would call a “positive work environment’ or so.

– Colonel Sanders’ autobiography, Life As I Have Known It Has Been Finger-Lickin’ Good, Creation House publishing, 1974


...In a detailed speech, the new Governor laid out an ambitious legislative agenda focused on reversing the flow of workers leaving the state to seek out better employment opportunities elsewhere...

The Louisville Times, 1/24/1956

Governor Sanders received an expense account of $10,000 a year (the modern equivalent of roughly $90,000 a year). Living frugally, he rarely used his "incredibly generous" expense account for himself, apart from custom all-white clothing. …Initially, Lieutenant Governor Ed Denney was reportedly highly upset over his low salary of only $3,000 a year (especially after learning that the state Agriculture Commissioner’s salary made more than double that, at $7,500 a year). Denney made less than a third of Sanders’ salary, but received $30 for every day in which he presided over the state senate. As a result, Denney soon came to support long, extended, and special sessions because they added to his paycheck. [2]

– Josh Ozersky’s Colonel Sanders and the American Dream, University of Texas Press, 2012

First thing on the agenda was the budget, which had to be set before the end of the summer and would be for everything until the end of 1957. I told the state congress, “I raised three children with little money, but despite the amount they needed I always had a little stashed way somewhere. After doing all that and starting a business, this should be should be easy.” Turns it, it wasn’t!

Working with the state legislators made me realize how little revenue was being brought into the state treasury on account of workers moving to Michigan in light of economic issues. Nobody could hire, and nobody was willing to spend. Some Democratic legislators wanted to raise taxes in order to pay for (and possibly even improve) the popular existing services that had been set up under Clements and Wetherby. Keeping to my campaign promises, though, the only taxes I would agree to (and would ever agree to) were taxes on vices (smokes, drinks, dirty pictures, and the like). As a result of these exceptions, a major 10% tax hike was proposed for alcoholic beverages. State legislator Karl D. Malone [3], proposed a better plan – a bond issue, which would allow for a hefty budget for the states’ education centers and highway maintenance system. Now the only way to get a bond issue would be from a wealthy investor, but thankfully we found some among the new businesses moving to Kentucky thanks to the new highway systems.

Unfortunately for the concept of pragmatism, talks slowed over some of the more ornery congressmen wanting to raise taxes instead, believing the bond issue may not be paid back. One in particular was J. B. Breckinridge, one of the more liberal state house Democrats, a lawmaker whose pokin’ of any idea I shot out fueled my nasty temper. Fortunately for him, the arguing never ended with any bruised faces, just hurt pride.

– Colonel Sanders’ autobiography, Life As I Have Known It Has Been Finger-Lickin’ Good, Creation House publishing, 1974

On February 9, after weeks of discussions, Governor Colonel Sanders created a “Penny Crow” Fund so the state could build up a rainy-day fund. At first completely empty, the fund increased alongside the state’s revenue. The project was named after a pet crow The Colonel once kept during the Great Depression named Jim, whom, as the story goes, could form an impressive trick at Sander’s motel. The author Alan Bellows writes that “guests could drop a penny in their pant cuff and stroll around the yard, and Jim would hop behind them, pecking a probing until he got the penny out, much to the amusement of onlookers. Nobody knew what Jim did with the pennies until some years later, when Sanders was renovating the hotel. He tore out a staircase and it paid off like a penny slot.” [4]

– Josh Ozersky’s Colonel Sanders and the American Dream, University of Texas Press, 2012

Ma'am, two days ago the Sanders’ Court and Café cut its business hours down by three hours. Do you have anything to say about the ironic fact that road development has ruined the business of the birthplace of KFC?

I wouldn't say ruined, because we still appeal to local tastes, so I think impacted, or maybe, inhibited, would be the better word for our financial situation at the moment. But to answer your question, I don’t oppose road development, far from it. I want more roads, uh, roads connecting everyone and everything to everybody everywhere, so nobody is left out, dashed to the curb in the name of progress. As for the Court and Café and irony, well, my father has told reporters before that he is longer has any financial connections to the place’s management and that is true. The Court and Café and the KFC franchise organizing are under the new management of myself and my brother Harley, and before you are, we are not firing workers from the Court and Café, we are relocating them to new locations.

So just to clarify, the original KFC is not going to shut down?

We're not going to close the outlet. The roads might influence where some customers go, but not all customers.

– Exchange between a reporter and Mildred Sanders, 2/14/1956


Frankfort, KY – In the capital today, Governor Col. Sanders signed a series of executive orders outlawing racial discrimination in public facilities, interstate commerce facilities, public workplaces, public housing, public education, and most contentiously, at all voting stations. …the executive order even outlaws refusing to serve a customer based solely on their skin color. …These executive orders prove the Colonel is a man of more than just rhetoric, but a man who is keeping to his promises to uphold the freedoms promised to all in the Kentucky and United States Constitutions…

– The Colored Kentuckian, African-American newspaper (now defunct), 2/24/1956


[ ]
– Activists protesting against (left) and activists supporting (right) the city of Louisville’s politicians’ reluctance to integrate the city’s schools, c. March 1956


...Governor Sanders will appoint someone to the former Vice President's now-vacant US Senate seat to serve until a special election is held in November ...The Democratic and Republican parties’ "Chiefs" will select the candidates for this impromptu autumn race, with the leaders of both state parties citing the lack of time left in the year to host primary election contests...

The Courier-Journal, Kentucky newspaper, 5/1/1956

Finally, we reached an agreement. The two-year budget featured a bond issue and a 5% across-the-board tax on all vices; I called it a “Sin Tax” until some rich snobs started making puns about it. I’m still not sure was the joke was, but regardless, the plan aimed to reduce unnecessary and wasteful spending in order to break even at the least. To improve the economy, we gave companies tax incentives to move to Kentucky, boosting the state’s markets and expanding the state’s tax revenues.

I ended up opposing many of my fellow Republicans, though, when I sided with some of the Democrats in refusing to cut public sector investments. “A strong economy always makes it easier to cut spending,” they argued. But I figured that it could badly impact economic growth to makes cuts in that particular place, and that would defeat the very purpose that we were setting out to achieve. I also refused to cut pension spending, as it would mean forcing people to work longer. Now, as I’ve made clear in the previous chapters on this here book, I highly value hard work, but I think people should be inspired to work hard for success – not forced to work hard to get by!

The moderate in the state congress added the finishing touches – lower interest rates to boost spending, et cetera – and after going over it again and again just to make sure I knew exactly what I was approving, it was done and done.

Of course, there were still problems to address, the biggest one at that moment being who I would appoint to the US Senate in the wake of Senator Barkley passing away. But before that moment came, I was treated to an old gubernatorial custom, a lighthearted venture I considered a short-enough break from the stuffy rooms of the capital.

– Colonel Sanders’ autobiography, Life As I Have Known It Has Been Finger-Lickin’ Good, Creation House publishing, 1974


[ ]
– Governor Sanders congratulating the winner of the Kentucky Derby (an annual tradition/unofficial duty of the job), while holding a nonalcoholic beverage, 5/5/1956


Frankfort, KY – “The Colonel Governor,” Harland D. Sanders, today announced his appointee to the state’s vacant US Senate seat will be James Stephen Golden. A lifelong Republican, Golden, 65, represented Kentucky in the US House of Representatives from 1949 to 1955, and is currently a senior member of the state government’s Highway Commission. Golden, whom appeared alongside Governor Sanders at the announcement, stated that he “will not contest the upcoming special election,” and will instead serve as a placeholder until a special election in November determines whom will serve the remainder of the late Senator Alben W. Barkley’s term…

The State Journal, Frankfort-based Kentucky newspaper, 5/15/1956

COL. SANDERS’ JOBS PROGRAMS SEE EARLY RESULTS: State Welcomes New Investors, Workers

The Courier-Journal, 6/23/1956

The Colonel was bossy because he was a perpetually restless man. When he was Governor, he apparently met with congresspersons like crazy, and would often get red in the face over the slow legislation process. So three months into office, he realized he might be able to get more done at a grassroots level, so he began meeting more local politicians like mayors, um, commissioners and the like, and began, you know, pushing them to do more for their communities.

– Billie Jean Johnson, Colonel Sander’s stepdaughter, in a rare interview, 1999

After setting the budget, the Colonel moved to reign in an aspect of the state government that had gone unmanaged under the past Democratic Governors. The state’s commissions were organized and hired by the Governor as a way around the state constitution’s ambiguous language regarding the extent of the executive branch’s powers. While Governors Ruby Laffoon and Happy Chandler had simplified the number of commissions, agencies and boards from 69 in 1934 to 10 by 1937, unchecked expansion afterwards had led to several dozen commission boards and departments by the start of 1956. Sanders, urged by Lieutenant Governor Denney, called for a special session of the state congress for the passing of the Administration Reorganization Act, which reduced the number of commissions to 11 (the Colonel swore “that number was just a coincidence” several times afterwards). To cut down on the unruly and disorganized departments, Governor Sanders merged many of the similar ones together into eleven statutory departments: Finance and Revenue, Transportation, Health and Housing, Justice, Industry and Development, Business, Environment, Education and the Arts, Mining, Agriculture, and Technology. Administration “overlap” concerning topics concerning more than one department lead to Sanders establishing a clear set of instructions to ensure “the buck was not passed from one place to the next” and encourage the departments to “work together on shared causes” and “keep each other in line.” The results were mixed, but Sanders’ “bucking-stopping rules” paved the way for future Governors when it came to streamlining the administration’s topic-reviewing process.

– Anne Meagher Northup’s Chicken and Politickin’: the Rise of Colonel Sanders and Rational Conservatism in the Republican Party, 2015


…Violet A. Dunlevy of Scottsboro, Scott County, Indiana, passed away yesterday at the age of 76. She was the daughter of Richard and Catherine Clegg Dunlevy of Henryville, Clark County, Indiana. For twenty years, Dunlevy operated a millinery shop (a store selling women’s hats and other garments and apparel) in Shoals, Indiana. She was the last one of a large family of Indianans, and having no husband or children of her own, her only survivors are several nieces and nephews. Kentucky Governor Harland “Colonel” Sanders is the son of Dunlevy’s oldest sister, Margaret Ann Dunlevy Sanders, who passed away in 1935 at the age of 69.

Speaking of the passing of the last of a generation of Dunlevys, Governor Sanders said, “Aunt Violet lived not too far away from us. When she could help, when she was not too busy working, and helping out other relatives, she would come over to help our family, especially after my father passed away. Aunt Violet was much younger than my mother by roughly 15 years, so she was only, I want to say, a bit more than ten years older than me, but that was the kind of person she was – she cared about her family members and she helped out when she could. I’m really going to miss her.”

The Reverend M. R. Wertenberger, the pastor of the Scottsboro Christian Church in Indiana, will conduct the funeral services on the 30th at the Bollix Funeral Home in Henryville, Indiana. The burial will occur at the Scottsboro Cemetery in Scottsboro, Indiana. According to the Governor, the terms of her will have dictated that her millinery shop and her house will be left to the Scottsboro Presbyterian Church and dedicated to the memory of her brother James C. Dunlevy and his wife. The Governor explains, “Aunt Violet lived with the two of them in their final years. They were very sick, and she went and helped them out the best she could, like always.”

The Advocate-Messenger, Kentucky newspaper, side article, 6/28/1956

Claudia ultimately decided to open up the mansion to the public in early July – just in time for an Independence Day fireworks spectacular – letting the people see it in order to get more people interested in government and interior decorating. She went even further by opening up the grounds for public use, which required the hiring of additional grounds workers. “I’m often inclined to make any home one proud to live in,” she told me. Indeed, the mansion went through much renovation and modernization during her time living in that mansion, or “grand home,” as she called it.

– Former personal assistant to State First Lady Claudia Sanders, former employer, 1997 interview

In July 1956, Governor Sanders raised the salaries of teachers by raising the amounts allowed from state aid and from state revenue [5]. At the start of the 1956-1957 school year, the Colonel visited dozens of schools to urge students to stay in school: “Not seeing high school through to the end cost me job opportunity after job opportunity for decades. I struggled to pay the bills, and at one point, times were so bad that my wife almost left me. I don’t think anyone should ever find themselves in that sort of position, where they are doing the best they can, but because of a foolish mistake they made in their youth, it just isn’t enough. Save yourselves from the headache and heartache, and see high school ’til the end.” Analysts believe that the Governor’s financial backing of schools in the state during his term cut down the state’s lost earning capacity from high-school dropouts between 1956 and 1958, “significantly lower from the 1954-1956 period.”

– Lowell Harrison and James Klotter’s A History of Kentucky, University Press of Kentucky, 1997

NLRB commends KFC

Washington, DC – The National Labor Relations Board approved of Kentucky Fried Chicken’s expansion of labor union representation in KFC’s managerial decisions, lauding the move as supporting “an open canal through which the workers can better participate in the KFC business and have their voices and ideas be heard in decision-making process that affects them.” The NLRB, a federal agency, approved the move as part of their review of the company’s latest collective bargaining agreement between management and unions for their truckers, cooks, waiters, and numerous other workers. Kentucky Fried Chicken has nearly 400 franchise locations in the United States and Canada…

The Wall Street Journal, 7/29/1956

In 1956, I decided to stop by KFC’s new headquarters to see how my sister was doing, seeing as how we hadn’t seen much of each other since Dad’s inauguration. After passing through that tall lobby, nowadays covered with giant banners of the founder’s face, I finally met with Millie in her giant office. “I have to say, I really like what you’ve done with the place,” I told her. It was so orderly and pristine. “You are very professional when Harley and Pete [Harman] are away,” I joked.

“Yeah, the two of them are handling business in Utah this weekend,” sis explained their absence. Unfortunately, she couldn’t stay and chat. She had to meet with a group of people, “our core customers,” she told me, and hear their comments and suggestions. Nowadays, I guess one would call it a “focus group.”

Not ready to leave and a little bit curious, I urged, “Oh, let me sit in! I promise, I won’t cause a scene.” After some hesitation, she obliged.

I was surprised by the demographics – the entire room was full of women. Judging by their appearances, all them were either mothers or new wives. Each of them were clamoring to have their comments heard, even though they were practically all the same. The fans thanked the company for easing their time at home, taking dinner off their list of things to do. Only some had anything useful to share – some called for additional items to be offered alongside the chicken, and suggested expansion into the neglected states of their in-laws. Other comments were less helpful, such as one spinster who criticized the growing “bucket-o-chicken” idea because, basically, she thought it was undignified to purchase dinner in a “glorified milking pail.” I was happy to see that nobody in the room seemed to have her back on that.

After the meeting was over and these dedicated fans were given a tour of the building before being shown the exit, Millie and I returned to her office. “Well,” she sat down, somewhat boasting her handling of the group, “What did you think of all that?”

In all honesty, I was proud of her. I thought she’d really come a long ways from being just an annoying younger sister; she had matured into a competent businesswoman in just a few short years of both schoolin' and experience. “Eh, it could’ve gone worse” and a kind smirk was my reply.

– Margaret Sanders’ biography, The Colonel’s Secret: Eleven Herbs and A Spicy Daughter, StarGroup International, 1997

Approaching the end of the summer, I returned to Corbin, where the original restaurant was almost as vacant of human life as a ghost town. According to Millie, customers dropped by 70% as more accessible franchise locations thrived elsewhere. I had what I guess you could call mixed emotions; a part of me wanted to do something, as, just because I couldn’t have ties to businesses, didn’t mean that I couldn’t care. After that trip, I started drop by KFC spots more often to inspect franchise quality under the guise of having a simple lunch or dinner. Despite some liberal Democrats looking for a fight, nothing seemed to come about concerning these visits. I think it was because politicians know when to back off, and respect what their opponents hold sacred – well, state politicians, at least!

– Colonel Sanders’ autobiography, Life As I Have Known It Has Been Finger-Lickin’ Good, Creation House publishing, 1974

“Hello?” [footsteps] (faintly) “Oh my, what a house. It’s terrible what they’ve done with it.”

“Millie, that you? Hey, I wanted to ask you about – …Josephine! What are you doing here?”

“Can’t a mother drop off a birthday present for her own daughter?”

“Millie’s party is later, Jo.” [sounds of present being moved, placed somewhere]. “I’ll tell her you dropped by.”

“Hm. I honestly didn’t expect you to be here, Harland. I figured you’d be busy playing governor.”

“It ain’t no playful thing, Josephine, I have a stack of papers on my desk this high.”

“Oh? Making confetti for yourself? The chicken-selling clown needs some pizzazz, huh?”

“You ain’t gonna insult me in my own house, Jo. You’ve got no right!”

“Oh, quit acting so high-and-mighty, Harland, we both know you wouldn’t even have this house if it weren’t for me.”

“What?! You’re crazier than usual!”

“It was my encouragement that led to you being a lawyer and being interested in politics all those years ago. Face it, you’d be nothing without my encouragements. You’d still be toiling away on the railroads if it weren’t for me!”

“Nagging isn’t encouragement.”

“I never nag. I just encourage aggressively.”

“You’d belittle me every chance you got! I was already trying to do right by you, to have the job to have the money to give you what you wanted.”

“I wanted you, you idiot!”

“Well you had a weird way of showing it, packing up the kids and leaving like that.”

“Oh, Harland – “

“Don’t deny it. I get a job shoveling coal into a firetruck engine, and I write letters that you don’t answer. And don’t dare try to say that what you did was in the heat of the moment – you packed up all the kids, and gave away all the furniture an’ stuff, too! …That hurt me more than you’ll ever know, Josephine... When I found out where you all were I was so angry that – well, I’m just glad your father was there to calm me down.” [6]

“You cared more about yourself than us, Harland. And I can never stay where I’m not wanted.”

“Then why are you still here?! Git!”

[footsteps] “Just remember, Harland, that I was a part of your life for almost 40 years. I made you who you are today.” [sound of door closing]

[long pause] “Nah, Jo. You made me who I was for 40 years. Claudia made me who I am today.”

– Audio recorded by equipment meant to record Millie’s birthday celebration that evening (recorded 8/15/1956), discovered in 1997 and released to the public in 2010 under the parameters of the Freedom of Information Act of 2009

1956 Republican National Convention
Date(s): August 20-23, 1956
City: San Francisco, CA
Venue: Cow Palace
Presidential nominee: Dwight D. Eisenhower of Kansas
Vice Presidential nominee: Richard M. Nixon of California
Results (President):
Dwight Eisenhower (KS) – 1,323 (100%)
Results (Vice President):
Richard M. Nixon (CA) – 1,323 (100%)
Robert B. Anderson (TX) – 23 (4%)
Harland D. Sanders (KY) – 3 (1%)



Tri-City News, Kentucky newspaper, 9/1/1956

In 1954, the US Supreme Court voted unanimously in the Brown v The Board of Education of Topeka case, declaring that segregated schools were unconstitutional. By 1956, though, schools nationwide were still struggling to implement integration into the classrooms. On September 4, 1956, the conflict came to a head in the Colonel’s Kentucky. Nine African-American students attempted to enter the all-white Sturgis High School in Sturgis, KY, but were blocked by roughly 500 opponents [7].

Early into his administration, Governor Sanders had signed an executive order demanding school districts comply with federal regulation concerning ensuring “every citizen’s access and freedom to exercise their constitutional rights.” It allowed blacks to access previously prohibited aspects of society. Areas found even in their own towns were now suddenly open to African-American Kentuckians. Some white communities still resisted, though, with the most famous incident soon occurring in the eastern Kentucky town of Sturgis.

Colonel Sanders quickly decided to travel to the school to defend the integration, telling the superintendent that he would refuse to leave until he had resolved the conflict; with hubris, he boasted “I ain’t going to rest until I have changed their minds. I’m a salesman; I’ll sell them integration.” According to multiple sources, including then-state representative John B. Breckenridge, right before leaving to address the crowd, the Colonel contacted the local business leaders and state representatives to threaten to cut off funds to their businesses and campaigns if they in any way supported the protesters.

Upon arriving at Sturgis High, Sanders climbed aboard to the back of a pickup truck to speak to the seemingly-adamant crowd. “...Blacks are the same as whites. They both want the same things – safety for their families, decent education, security and opportunity, and to be fairly rewarded for the hard work they do. These are the very promises of America that make us a destination for millions of immigrating people and a beacon of hope and admiration to the world. Now I understand that change is hard to adjust to. You get used to something, you expect it to stay that way. But this is not the beginning of something dangerous. This is the beginning of something great. ...In December, I swore that every voice is heard in Kentucky, and I am seeing to it right now, that every voice, white or black, is heard.”

Sanders was booed by many, but even when some threw things at him, the Colonel refused to leave until the children were allowed in. Soon, Sanders failed to convince them that the violence made them look bad, a made a major gaffe with the offending line “Nobody wants to pet a growling dog!”

As the hours passed, the need for people to return to their jobs and families (along with pressure from their employers in connection to Sanders' earlier "talks") gradually shrunk the crowd’s size. Slowly, the crowd became the less hostile. In the P.M. hours, local police monitored the school grounds, and the Colonel, while retaining his vigil on the pickup truck, sent his aides off to round up as many white counter-protesters as they could under the cover of darkness.

The next day, the segregationists that remained were becoming disheartened. The African-American children returned, joined now by five more, totaling 14. Again, the Colonel verbally debated the jeering crowd, which slightly swelled in size. The segregationists were surprised, however, by the even larger forming band of counter-protesters. After much intense shouting, police officers managed to clear a path for the children into the school building. Inside, the students were heckled and harassed, but to the people outside – upon realizing what had happened – their fight had ended in defeat. The Colonel tried one more time to disperse the upset crowd through the power of persuasion. The incident was leading to more and more media scrutiny of the protesters, whom were becoming more and more reluctant to fight. “If you truly love your state, if you truly love your family, if you truly love the peace and democratic way that America stands for, y’all will calm down and allow for the innocent – the children – to do something that is peaceful and innocent. Let them learn, and they will love this country as much as you do.”

After a sum total nearly 50 hours of intermittent shouting, from the beginning of the confrontation to the end of it, the crowd reluctantly dispersed in defeat, and the Governor, hoarse and exhausted, took a quick nap on the back of the truck.

– food writer Josh Ozersky’s Colonel Sanders and the American Dream, University of Texas Press, 2012

Colonel Sanders was praised across the northern states for his stand – even making the cover of Time Magazine – and was criticized in the South by Dixiecratic politicians...

…Lester Maddox, at the time a segregationist businessman in Georgia, failed to lead a call for the Governor’s impeachment. He would later cite the Sturgis Standoff as a catalyst for his involvement with the Ku Klux Klan and other groups and organizations...

…Weeks later, local reports described an example of the more peaceful implementations of school integration in Kentucky by covering Graves County, which saw African-American students begin their classes at Mayfield High School, in Mayfield…

…Police routinely monitored school grounds as adults and students adjusted to the new social structure. An incident in Dunbar concerning a female junior student’s poodle skirt being set on fire led to an implementation of not only additional police officers, but also new fire safety features at schools…

– Lowell Harrison and James Klotter’s A History of Kentucky, University Press of Kentucky, 1997

...Another Gallup Poll showed Governor Sander’s approval rating reaching a new high of 60% in October. On October 20, [Martin Luther] King commended Sanders in a phone call for his handling of school integration, and would later cite the Sturgis Standoff as an example of how a Republican can maintain law and order through communication, not police brutality...

– Taylor Branch, Parting the Water: America in the King Years 1954-1963, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1988


[ ]
– Colonel Sanders privately dining at Dr. King’s house in Atlanta, GA, 10/3/1956

“The Sturgis Standoff? I guess that’s a good name for it… I understood where those angry people were coming from – I didn’t like change when I was younger – I think you know about how I feel about algebra – but when you are suddenly in the place of being responsible for how something plays out, you see what is really important. And at that moment what adults thought was not as important as what the children needed. And they needed to see from the adults around them when you must fight others and when you must listen to others. That’s why I held back my temper that day. Usually, when people upset me, I give ’em a tongue-lashin’ they never forget, but I knew that if I started I wouldn’t be able to stop myself from shakin’ my cane and cussin’ like a madman. And I knew that I couldn’t have none of that because there were children there, and the Governor of any state has got to set an example for the young people of their state.”

– Colonel Sanders to a reporter while attending a fundraiser for Eisenhower/Nixon ’56, 10/20/1956


Washington, DC – President Eisenhower won a second term last night by a wide popular and electoral amount over Democratic challenger Adlai Stevenson in a rematch of the 1952 Presidential Election… Kentucky voted for Eisenhower by a nearly 10-point margin, with 55.2% of the vote going to Ike, and 44.3% going to Adlai. …In the regularly-scheduled Senate race, former Congressman Thruston Morton (R) defeated incumbent Senator Earle Clements (D) by a very narrow margin (50.5% v 49.4%)… Morton was likely helped by Governor Sanders’ high popularity. …In the special Senate election, former Senator John Sherman Cooper (R) was elected back to his old seat, defeating his opponent, former Governor Lawrence Wetherby (D) by a narrow margin (52.1% v 47.8%)…

The Paintsville Herald, Kentucky newspaper, 11/7/1956

On the national political level, the Colonel was conflicted over the candidates for the November 6, 1956 special election to finish the US Senate seat left vacant by Senator Alben W. Barkley’s death. Sanders partially owed his success to Wetherby for giving him the catering job that gave the Colonel the confidence to franchise his chicken, and felt campaigning for his Republican opponent would be “rotten of him.” On the other hand, openly supporting Wetherby would make him appear “treasonous to the party” by the state Republicans. Ultimately, the Colonel sat that election out after complimenting both candidates and suggesting that voters “vote for whom you think is best for the job.” In the end, Wetherby lost to Cooper by a narrow margin. Sanders reportedly apologized by Wetherby for not endorsing him, as Wetherby had crossed party lines to endorse Sander's gubernatorial candidate just a year prior. However, Wetherby alleged in a 1976 interview that he held no grudge against the Colonel “whatsoever,” which makes sense when one considers both the differences between the 1955 and 1956 races and the state of Wetherby’s career by the time of that interview…

– journalist John Ed Pearce’s Divide and Dissent: Kentucky Politics 1930-1959, A University Press of Kentucky, 1987

[1] Noted here:
[2] The newspaper article uncovered here: (8/4/1951 The Courier-Journal, Louisville KY, page 13) reads that “the 1950 Legislature enacted a new salary law for elective and appointive offices. It put in motion by statue the $12,000 constitutional salary ceiling adopted in 1949. But the law does not become effective for legislators and elective state officers until their new terms start next January. The next Governor… will draw $10,000 a year and will have a $10,000 expense account. This is the present compensation arrangement for the Governor’s office. The 1950 Legislature didn’t change it. …the next lieutenant governor will be the first one to draw a salary [of] $3,000 a year. He also will get $30 a day during sessions of the Legislature while he presides over the Senate… the commissioner of agriculture will get $7,500…” According to, the value of $10,000 in 1955 equals $92,331.09 in 2018, and $10,000 in 1959 equals $85,302.42 in 2018.
[3] A state legislator mentioned in the 8/4/1951 newspaper article discovered here:
[4] Quote found here: (page 18 when printed out)
[5] Teacher Salary Link: (“‘The Public Papers of Governor Bert T. Combs: 1959-1963,’ by Bert T Combs,” found by Googling “salary of governor of Kentucky in 1951”). The source reads “Kentucky lost a minimum of $824395000 [?] in earning capacity through students who dropped out of high school in a single class” between 1954 and 1959.
[6] Story and even further details (and OTL discrepencies) located here:
[7] This happened IOTL, but in OTL Governor Chandler handled it differently:
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