“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Shelby in Cleveland County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)

O. Max Gardner


O. Max Gardner Marker image. Click for full size.
By Michael Sean Nix, October 22, 2009
1. O. Max Gardner Marker
Inscription. Governor, 1929-33; under Secretary of U.S. Treasury; appointed Ambassador to Great Britain, 1946. Birthplace stands here, grave 300 yds. N.
Erected 2007 by North Carolina Office of Archives and History. (Marker Number O-27.)
Location. 35° 17.535′ N, 81° 32.79′ W. Marker is in Shelby, North Carolina, in Cleveland County. Marker is at the intersection of West Marion Street and North Martin Sreet, on the right when traveling west on West Marion Street. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Shelby NC 28150, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Thomas Dixon Jr. (a few steps from this marker); W. J. Cash (a few steps from this marker); Cleveland County Civil War Monument (approx. 0.4 miles away); Cleveland County World War I Memorial (approx. 0.4 miles away); Cleveland County Korean and Vietnam War Memorial (approx. 0.4 miles away); Cleveland County World War II Memorial (approx. 0.4 miles away); Plato Durham (approx. 0.4 miles away); Webbley (approx. half a mile away). Click for a list of all markers in Shelby.
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker. Webbley Marker, near O. Max Gardner's home from 1911 until
Sunset Cemetery image. Click for full size.
By Michael Sean Nix, October 22, 2009
2. Sunset Cemetery
O. Max Gardner's burial ground.
his death in 1947.
Also see . . .
1. O. Max Gardner web site. (Submitted on October 22, 2009, by Michael Sean Nix of Spartanburg, South Carolina.)
2. Max Gardner III web site. Contains additional info on O. Max Gardner (Submitted on October 22, 2009, by Michael Sean Nix of Spartanburg, South Carolina.) 
Additional comments.
1. O. Max Gardner from North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program site
Oliver Max Gardner, whose political organization dominated state politics for a generation, took office only months before the stock market crash of 1929 and responded to the economic crisis with retrenchment and centralization of governmental functions. Like his brother-in-law Clyde R. Hoey part of the “Shelby Dynasty” (a term Gardner disliked), the future governor was born on March 22, 1882 in the Cleveland County town. His father, Oliver Perry Gardner, was a physician, legislator, and Confederate veteran. His mother, the former Margaret Young, died when Max, the youngest of twelve, was ten years old so he was raised by his sisters. In 1900 Max Gardner enrolled at the North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (present North Carolina State University) and in 1906 he studied law at the University of North Carolina. At
Sunset Cemetery image. Click for full size.
By Michael Sean Nix, October 22, 2009
3. Sunset Cemetery
O. Max Gardner burial ground.
both schools he captained the football team. In 1907, the year he returned home to practice law, he married Fay Lamar Webb, daughter of Judge James L. Webb and niece of Congressman E. Yates Webb. O. Max and Fay Gardner had four children.

In 1910 Gardner was elected to the state senate and four years later was returned for a second term, during which he served as president pro tem. In 1916, the year Thomas W. Bickett was elected governor, Gardner was elected lieutenant governor. In 1920 Gardner entered the race to be Bickettís successor. In the first primary Robert N. Page was eliminated but in the second Cameron Morrison, with the backing of the political machine of Senator Furnifold Simmons, defeated Gardner. The Shelby attorney returned to his law practice and to his farm. With partner O. M. Mull he founded Cleveland Cloth Mill. Gardner remained active in party politics and in 1928 was unopposed for the Democratic nomination. He defeated Republican Herbert F. Seawell handily in the fall.

For eight years, under the administrations of Cameron Morrison and Angus W. McLean, the state had witnessed relative prosperity. The onset of the Depression presented Governor Gardner with unforeseen challenges. In 1930 he authorized a study of state government by the Brookings Institution which recommended a massive shift of power from county courthouses to Raleigh with
O. Max Gardner Grave image. Click for full size.
By Michael Sean Nix, October 22, 2009
4. O. Max Gardner Grave
the state taking responsibility for all secondary road maintenance and public school costs. Other reforms included reduction of property taxes, limits on local bond issues, and creation of a central purchasing agency. With the governorís support, the legislature approved workmenís compensation, the secret ballot, and abolition of the chain gang system. Gardner counted as his proudest achievement consolidation of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, the College of Agriculture and Engineering in Raleigh, and the North Carolina College for Women in Greensboro (present-day University of North Carolina at Greensboro). In each of these efforts his moves were opposed by special interests and required all the governorís leadership abilities. Gardner promoted his “Live-at-Home” program to encourage the planting of crops for subsistence. While deriving favorable attention, the program failed to stimulate the stateís economy. During Gardnerís term labor strikes took place in Gastonia and Marion leading him to call out the National Guard.

By 1933 Gardner had in place a political organization to rival that of Senator Simmons, who had been defeated in 1930. The next four governors came to office with Gardnerís backing. In 1933 Gardner moved his law practice to Washington, D.C. Gardner financially supported Boiling Springs Junior College which in 1942 changed
O. Max Gardner Grave image. Click for full size.
By Michael Sean Nix, October 22, 2009
5. O. Max Gardner Grave
its name to Gardner-Webb in his honor. During World War II Gardner served on the board of the Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion and in 1946 he was appointed Under-secretary of the Treasury by President Truman. The following year he was named Ambassador to Great Britain but died on February 6, 1947, only hours before he was to sail for London. A Baptist, he is buried in Shelbyís Sunset Cemetery.
    — Submitted October 22, 2009, by Michael Sean Nix of Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Categories. Notable PersonsPolitics
O. Max Gardner image. Click for full size.
6. O. Max Gardner
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Michael Sean Nix of Spartanburg, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 1,427 times since then and 21 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on , by Michael Sean Nix of Spartanburg, South Carolina. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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