State Involvement

State Government

From the beginning of the project, the citizens of the State of Georgia supported the erection of a Confederate Memorial on the side of Stone Mountain. It is not surprising then, that the State government was quick to respond to the interests of its constituency. During the 1950's the State of Georgia showed an active interest in the acquisition of Stone Mountain. Led by Governors Herman Talmadge, Eugene Talmadge and Marvin Griffin, the State government believed not only in the artistic and historical value of the Monument, but also in the economic potential of the venture. It is important to note that the Venables and other landholders on the Mountain had the same goals as the State. The creation of the Confederate Memorial was a high priority in the minds of all involved. Further, it is likely that the politically active Venable family were economic supporters of the Governor and state representatives. It would be in the States best interest therefore, to avoid confrontation and settle any disputes amicably.

Indeed, when the property was finally purchased on September 19, 1958 for $1,125,000.00, the State of Georgia paid $168,000.00 above what was suggested by an independent appraisal early in the year. Despite the high cost paid by the State for property rights, members of the State Legislature were estatic.

The following are quotations made by Georgia State Legislatures following the mountain's purchase in 1958. The quotations are cited from Harkness Kenimer's History of Stone Mountain.

"The State bought a 'rare jewel' at a bargain price."
"It will be a tourist lure second to none in the United States."
"Gasoline taxes from tourists will pay for it in two or three years."
"The state will receive annually a minimum of $500,000.00 from gasoline and sales tax alone."
"The fees will pay for the purchase price many times over."
"Will pay for itself over and over with tourist money."
"The $1,400,000.00 price tag was a bargain."
"Costs would be paid for in 5 to 10 years by small fees and concessions."

Georgia generates state revenue through a comprehensive system of taxes. In addition to a general sales tax, surface taxes on tobacco and motor fuels play a key role. Thus, the above references to the potential revenue derived from gasoline taxes lends insight into the clearly economic motivations of some of the legislators.

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