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An Oklahoma Legend Laid to Rest

May 14, 2003

Historian's Notes

I chose the topic for this week's Almanac because I thought that the story of Mr. Gore needed to be told again. He was and is an important figure in American politics and his memory needs to go on. Sadly, I found out that my sources for this story were not the best and this story does contain some factual mistakes.

Resources

If you are interested in Mr. Gore please consult the standard Oklahoma history texts.

Almanac Transcript

An Oklahoma legend laid to rest this week on the Oklahoma Audio Almanac.

Hello, Iím Steven Knoche Kite.

Thomas Pryor Gore truly led a life of adventure and accomplishment. Born in 1870 in Mississippi the son of a farmer and part time lawyer, Thomas Gore was the unfortunate victim of two separate accidents occurring at ages eight and eleven left Gore completely blind. Lack of sight did little to slow the progress of Gore as family members and class mates read aloud to him allowing the completion of his public education.

At the age of twenty Gore received a teaching certification and taught public school for one year before entering the Tennessee School of Law. Attracted to the Populist Party, as was his father, Gore served as one of the most effective stump speakers for the Peopleís Party throughout their time of existence.

After the 1895 failure of the Populist in Mississippi, Gore moved to Corsicana, Texas married the daughter of a cotton farmer and set up his own law practice. In 1900 Gore and his wife moved to Oklahoma Territory in search of new opportunities. It was while in Oklahoma that Gore achieved his greatest levels of fame and political success. Switching allegiances over to the Democratic Party, the party of choice for most Oklahomanís then, Gore reopened his law office in Lawton. Just one year after moving to the area, Goreís political ability allowed for his election into the Oklahoma Territorial Council and with statehood in 1907 Gore was elected to the United Stateís Senate becoming the first blind senator in US history.

During his first terms as senator, Gore staying true to his populist roots argued persuasively for the farmers and working class constituents as well as for Native American rights. Gore, in 1921, is credited with saving over thirty million dollars in royalties for native Americans which would have otherwise gone to Euro-American oil concerns.

Following his term in the Senate Gore practiced law in Washington DC for thirteen years, traveled the country speaking on behalf of Native American groups and figured heavily in the policies of the Democratic Party. It was in this week of May in 1949 that Thomas P. Gore passed away at the age of 79. His body was returned to Oklahoma buried in Oklahoma City. Not only did Thomas Gore achieve national fame his immediate family did as well; he is the grandfather of Gore Vidal, the grandfather of Senator Albert Gore of Tennessee and the great grandfather of one time vice president Al Gore.

A good man says "goodbye" this week on the Almanac.

I'm Steven Knoche Kite.

The Oklahoma Audio Almanac is a joint production of the Oklahoma State University Library and Oklahoma's Public Radio.

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