James G. Martin
James Grubbs "Jim" Martin (born December 11, 1935) is the 70th Governor
Governor of North Carolina
The Governor of North Carolina is the chief executive of the State of North Carolina, one of the U.S. states. The current governor is Bev Perdue, North Carolina's first female governor.-Powers:...

 of the state of North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

. He served from 1985 to 1993. He was the second Republican elected to the office after Reconstruction, and the fifth overall. He is also the only Republican to serve two full terms as governor.

Early Life & Education

Martin was born in Savannah
Savannah, Georgia
Savannah is the largest city and the county seat of Chatham County, in the U.S. state of Georgia. Established in 1733, the city of Savannah was the colonial capital of the Province of Georgia and later the first state capital of Georgia. Today Savannah is an industrial center and an important...

, Chatham County
Chatham County, Georgia
Chatham County is a county located in the U.S. state of Georgia. The county seat and largest city is Savannah. In the official US Census of 2010, Chatham County had a total population of 265,128 . Chatham is the most populous Georgia county outside the Atlanta metropolitan area...

, Georgia. He was subsequently raised in South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

, and now calls Charlotte
- CHARLOTTE :CHARLOTTE is an American blues-based hard rock band that formed in Los Angeles, California in 1986. Currently, they are signed to indie label, Eonian Records, under which they released their debut cd, Medusa Groove, in 2010. Notable Charlotte songs include 'Siren', 'Little Devils',...


Martin served as professor of chemistry
Chemistry is the science of matter, especially its chemical reactions, but also its composition, structure and properties. Chemistry is concerned with atoms and their interactions with other atoms, and particularly with the properties of chemical bonds....

 at Davidson College
Davidson College
Davidson College is a private liberal arts college in Davidson, North Carolina. The college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently ranked in the top ten liberal arts colleges in the country by U.S. News and World Report magazine, although it has recently dropped to 11th in U.S. News...

, after receiving his doctorate in chemistry from Princeton University
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

 in 1960. An avid tuba player, he was a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia
Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia
Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia is an American collegiate social fraternity for men with a special interest in music...

 music fraternity and Beta Theta Pi Social Fraternity while an undergraduate at Davidson.


Martin was active in the Republican Party even when it barely existed in North Carolina. As a professor at Davidson, he advised the school's tiny Young Republicans chapter. In 1966, he was elected to the Mecklenburg County
Mecklenburg County, North Carolina
-Air:The county's primary commercial aviation airport is Charlotte Douglas International Airport in Charlotte.- Intercity rail :With twenty-five freight trains a day, Mecklenburg is a freight railroad transportation center, largely due to its place on the NS main line between Washington and Atlanta...

 Board of Commissioners
County commission
A county commission is a group of elected officials charged with administering the county government in local government in some states of the United States. County commissions are usually made up of three or more individuals...

. He served for seven years, chairing the body from 1967 to 1968 and briefly in 1971. He was a president of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners.


He was elected to the United States House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 in 1972 representing the Charlotte-based 9th Congressional district
North Carolina's 9th congressional district
The 9th Congressional District of North Carolina is a Congressional district in south-central North Carolina. Currently, the district includes more than half of Mecklenburg County, two-thirds of Union County and almost all of Gaston County....

. He served there for six terms. He served as a Ways and Means Committee
United States House Committee on Ways and Means
The Committee of Ways and Means is the chief tax-writing committee of the United States House of Representatives. Members of the Ways and Means Committee are not allowed to serve on any other House Committees unless they apply for a waiver from their party's congressional leadership...

 member, and as a House Republican Research Committee chairman. He became the first elected official to receive the Charles Lathrop Parsons Award, given by the American Chemical Society
American Chemical Society
The American Chemical Society is a scientific society based in the United States that supports scientific inquiry in the field of chemistry. Founded in 1876 at New York University, the ACS currently has more than 161,000 members at all degree-levels and in all fields of chemistry, chemical...

 for outstanding public service
Community service
Community service is donated service or activity that is performed by someone or a group of people for the benefit of the public or its institutions....

 by an American chemist.


In 1984, with incumbent governor Jim Hunt leaving office due to the term limit
Term limit
A term limit is a legal restriction that limits the number of terms a person may serve in a particular elected office. When term limits are found in presidential and semi-presidential systems they act as a method to curb the potential for monopoly, where a leader effectively becomes "president for...

, Martin ran for the Republican nomination and won. He defeated state attorney general
North Carolina attorney general
The Attorney General of North Carolina is the head of the state's Department of Justice and provides legal representation and advice to all state agencies. He or she does not have the authority to prosecute specific crimes unless requested to do so by a local district attorney...

 Rufus Edmisten by a surprisingly wide nine-point margin. He was undoubtedly helped by Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

's landslide reelection victory. He was also helped when Lieutenant Governor
Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina
The Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina is the second highest elected official in the U.S. state of North Carolina and is the only elected official to have powers in both the legislative and executive branches of state government...

 Jimmy Green
James C. Green
James Collins "Jimmy" Green was a North Carolina politician who served as Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives and as Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina .-Political career:...

 endorsed him after being defeated by Edmisten in the Democratic primary. Green was from eastern North Carolina, and his endorsement helped Martin win support among conservative Democrats in that part of the state.

One Promise

While most political figures running for office were prone to make promises covering a wide range of issues from education to health care, Martin made one promise that garnered a lot of attention; he said he would address all of the priorities in the state, but his only promise (and no small task) was that construction on Interstate 40
Interstate 40
Interstate 40 is the third-longest major east–west Interstate Highway in the United States, after I-90 and I-80. Its western end is at Interstate 15 in Barstow, California; its eastern end is at a concurrency of U.S. Route 117 and North Carolina Highway 132 in Wilmington, North Carolina...

 from Raleigh to Wilmington, North Carolina
Wilmington, North Carolina
Wilmington is a port city in and is the county seat of New Hanover County, North Carolina, United States. The population is 106,476 according to the 2010 Census, making it the eighth most populous city in the state of North Carolina...

 would be finished before he left office. The long-neglected and last leg of I-40 from Barstow, California
Barstow, California
Barstow is a city in San Bernardino County, California, United States. The population was 22,639 at the 2010 census, up from 21,119 at the 2000 census. Barstow is located north of San Bernardino....

 would open up the southeastern coastal area to the rest of the state. He was true to his promise; the last unfinished leg of I-40 was finished before the end of his first term.


Martin was easily reelected in 1988, defeating Lieutenant Governor Bob Jordan by 13 points. In so doing, he became the only member of his party to have been elected to two terms as governor of North Carolina. He was part of a 28-year trend of Governors of North Carolina who were named James, having been preceded and succeeded by Jim Hunt
Jim Hunt
James Baxter Hunt Jr. is an American politician who was the 69th and 71st Governor of the state of North Carolina . He is the longest-serving governor in the state's history.-Early life:...

, who in turn was preceded in his first term by James Holshouser
James Holshouser
James Eubert Holshouser, Jr. was the 68th Governor of the state of North Carolina from 1973 to 1977. He was born in Boone, North Carolina....



In 1988 Martin commuted convicted murderer Jon Benson from death row to a life sentence. Benson was released on December 21, 2007.

Subsequent political career

In 1993 he retired from political life and became chairman of the board of the James Cannon Research Center of Carolinas Medical Center
Carolinas Medical Center
Carolinas Medical Center is a large, public, non-profit hospital located in Charlotte, North Carolina. The hospital was organized in 1940 as Charlotte Memorial Hospital on Blythe Boulevard in the Dilworth neighborhood. Since that time, the hospital has undergone several major expansions and...

 in Charlotte, NC.

As of 2010 he was the last Republican elected governor of North Carolina. Martin is one of two living former governors of North Carolina, along with Jim Hunt, to have a school named after him. James Martin Middle School is part of the governor's village located in Charlotte, NC off IBM Drive.

The eastern half of Interstate 485
Interstate 485
Interstate 485 is an Interstate Highway and a nearly completed beltway around Charlotte, North Carolina.-Route description:The western, southern and eastern segments of the beltway are complete and open to traffic...

, a partially completed loop around Charlotte, bears the name Governor James G. Martin Freeway.

External links

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