James B. Hunt: Timeline

May 16, 1937: James Baxter Hunt, Jr. is born in Greensboro, N.C., to James Baxter Hunt and Elsie Brame Hunt.

1940: After James "Jim" Hunt’s younger brother, Robert Hunt, is born in Raleigh, N.C., the family moves to Rock Ridge, N.C.    

1943: James Sr. helps a Goldsboro legislator create the Wilson County Grange chapter.  Jimmy Hunt, Jr. goes to many meetings with his father.

1948: Kerr Scott becomes governor of North Carolina. 

1949: Gov. Scott appoints Elsie Brame Hunt as the first female member of the North Carolina Board of Health.

1953 and 1954: Jim Hunt is elected class president both his junior and senior years at Rock Ridge High School. 

1954: The Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court Decision calls for public school integration in all parts of the United States.

Spring 1955: Jim Hunt graduates from Rock Ridge High School.

Fall 1955: Hunt enrolls at all-white North Carolina State College.

Fall 1955 - Spring 1957: Hunt spends much of his freshman and sophomore years courting Carolyn Joyce Leonard of Mingo, Iowa.

Spring 1957: Hunt wins election for vice president of the North Carolina State College student body.

Fall 1957: When the North Carolina State College student body president leaves school unexpectedly, Hunt, a junior, takes his place.

Spring 1958: Hunt runs for reelection as student body president.  He wins by more than 1000 votes.

August 20, 1958: Jim Hunt and Carolyn Leonard marry at Mingo Methodist Church in Iowa. 

May 1959: Hunt graduates from NC State College, winning the award for "Top Senior."

Fall 1959: Hunt continues studies at NC State College toward an advanced degree in agricultural economics.

End of 1959: Hunt joins the “Terry Sanford for Governor” campaign. He heads college efforts during the campaign.

Winter 1960: Hunt’s first child, Rebecca Hunt, is born.

1960: Hunt takes part in the winning campaigns for Sanford as North Carolina's governor and John F. Kennedy for president.

1961: New Sanford administration introduces progressive programs.

Spring 1961: Hunt completes Master’s thesis at NC State College.  The American Farm Economics Association ranks his thesis as one of the top three in the country.

Fall 1961: Hunt enters law school at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C.

1962: Kennedy administration gives Hunt a Democratic National Committee position as national college director.

Fall 1962: The Hunts move to Washington D.C., where Hunt continues law school at George Washington University at night while working at the DNC during the day.

Winter 1963: Hunt's second child, James Baxter Hunt III, or “Baxter,” is born.

August 1963: With his Washington (D.C.) appointment over, Hunt and family move back to Chapel Hill for his final year of law school. 

November 22, 1963:President John F. Kennedy is assassinated.

January 1964: U.S. Surgeon General’s report on dangers of tobacco released.  The tobacco companies and North Carolina Democrats condemn the report as "highly speculative."

Summer 1964: Distracted by politics, Jim Hunt fails the North Carolina bar exam.

Fall 1964: Hunts move to Nepal for two years.

1965: While in Nepal, the Hunts welcome their third child, Rachel, in a missionary hospital in Katmandu.

1966: The Hunts return to North Carolina.  Hunt retakes the bar, and passes. Hunt becomes a lawyer in general practice and wins many cases from 1966-1971.  Not long after he begins practice, he becomes a partner at Kirby, Hunt and Webb.

1967: Hunt is elected president of Wilson County Young Democrats.

Early 1968: Hunt becomes president of North Carolina Young Democratic Club (YDC).

1968: The Hunts have their fourth child, Elizabeth.

April 4, 1968: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is assassinated.

April 7, 1968: Hunt attends memorial service for Dr. King at Jackson Chapel First Baptist Church, an African American church in Wilson, N.C.  He then participates in a silent procession from the church to the courthouse.

Summer 1968: Hunt attends Democratic convention in Chicago, as a delegate with one half of a vote. 

November 1968: As Nixon wins presidency, Hunt, then president of North Carolina Young Democratic Club, helps elect Robert Scott governor. 

Early 1969: North Carolina Democratic Party chairman Jimmy Johnson names Hunt as his assistant.

February 6, 1971: "Wilmington 10" are charged with allegedly setting fire to Lum’s Restaurant and Grocery Store in Wilmington, N.C. 

October 4, 1971: At Sir Walter Inn in Raleigh, Hunt announces candidacy for lieutenant governor of North Carolina. 

March 1972: Ben Chavis, and the nine other members of Wilmington 10, are indicted, brought to trial, and eventually convicted.  Their sentences total 232 years in prison.

November 1972: Hunt defeats Republican challenger Johnnie Walker to win the lieutenant governor's race.  Republican Jim Holshouser wins the gubernatorial race. 

August 1974: In the wake of Watergate scandal, Nixon resigns.

April 5, 1976: Hunt officially announces his candidacy for governor of North Carolina. 

Late Spring 1976: Hunt win 53% of the vote in the Democratic primary and begins preparations to face GOP candidate David Flaherty. Governor Jimmy Carter of Georgia wins North Carolina Democratic presidential primary.  

November 1976: Hunt is elected North Carolina governor, carrying 65% of the vote.  Carter wins the presidential election.  

1976: Three prosecution witnesses in Wilmington 10 case recant their testimonies.

1976: North Carolina is ranked last in the United State regarding industrial wages.

January 1977: Hunt takes oath of office for what would become the first of four gubernatorial terms.

Winter 1977: Hunt introduces strategy to encourage long-term economic growth by improving education and also by recruiting industries with higher paying jobs. 

Winter 1977: Federal Judge John Pratt rules that six states, including North Carolina, did not sufficiently integrate its university systems and orders the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) to demand that these states create new desegregation plans to remedy the problem.

Spring 1977: The North Carolina General Assembly passes a new death penalty statute. Hunt backs it, representing a change in his own point of view.

December 1977: HEW secretary Joseph Califano initiates a campaign to end cigarette smoking in the U.S.  Hunt condemns campaign, saying,  “You can’t make people stop smoking.”

Early January 1978: North Carolina Court of Appeals denies request for retrial of Wilmington 10.  Hunt is compelled to review the case.

January 23, 1978: Hunt concludes that the Wilmington 10 received a fair trial, and that he, “cannot, and will not, pardon the defendants.”

Winter, Spring 1978: Pat Derien, administrator of President Carter’s human rights policy, and United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young both publicly condemn Hunt’s Wilmington Ten decision.

Summer 1978: Tanker trucks dump PCB on the side of two hundred miles of eastern state roads.  Many residents become extremely concerned about possible lethal effects from the oily, brown toxic waste.

November 15, 1978: The United States Justice Depatment files a court brief arguing that the Wilmington10 had not received a fair trial. 

Winter 1979: HEW announces that the University of North Carolina has failed to desegregate properly, and that the department plans to cut federal funds to the UNC system.

March 26 1979: HEW announces a partial cutoff of funds to UNC, effective in 35 days.  Hunt promises to make up for the loss in federal revenue by using funds provided by the North Carolina General Assembly.

May 1979: Despite Hunt and UNC President William Friday’s efforts to compromise and negotiate, the UNC Board of Governors votes to sue HEW.

1979 Legislative Session: Hunt successfully introduces a child-nurturing program called “Raising a New Generation.”  It comes under fire by social conservatives as an attempt to replace families with government programs.

1979 Legislative Session: Hunt tries unsuccessfully to pass the ERA. In 1982, it will fail for a third and final time.

1979 Legislative Session: Hunt successfully proposes creation of North Carolina School of Science and Math in Durham, N.C.

July 1979: President Jimmy Carter gives a televised address about a "crisis of the American spirit" and urges a return to sacrifice in the struggle to conserve energy.

1979 Legislative Session: Hunt creates controversy by limiting a pay raise to state employees and teachers.   

October 1979: Former Democratic Governor Robert Scott announces his candidacy for governor.

November 1979: Hunt announces his candidacy for reelection.

Fall 1979: I. Beverly Lake agrees to switch parties and announces candidacy for governor as a Republican.  Lake will receive backing of Republican U.S. Senator Helms and former Governor Jim Holshouser.

November 1979: Jerry Falwell comes to Raleigh urging support at a “freedom rally” for conservative candidates, including Lake.

December 1979: Hunt agrees to release Ben Chavis, the last imprisoned member of the Wilmington 10, from jail. 

May 1980: Hunt defeats Bob Scott in the democratic primary.

Spring 1980: Hunt creates a blue ribbon committee with the heads of Duke University, UNC, and the state’s community colleges to explore how to launch a statewide microelectronics industry. 

November 1980:Hunt wins reelection in a landslide. 

November 1980: In the U.S. presidential election, Republican Ronald Reagan records a landslide victory over Jimmy Carter.  

Winter 1981: UNC desegregation matter is quietly resolved under the new Reagan administration.

December 1981: Falling victim to President Reagan’s three-year, 25% tax reduction policy, North Carolina loses millions of dollars in federal money.

December 1981: Hunt is considered a major contender to oppose Jesse Helms in the 1984 senatorial race.

June 1982: Groundbreaking for the Microelectronics Center of North Carolina on North Carolina State University campus and in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

July 1982: Recession in North Carolina:  jobless rate is 9.2% and jobs in the textile industry have fallen 11% since 1981.

October 1982: Agreement reached to dump PCB toxins in Warren County, North Carolina.

December 1982: Hunt is named co-chairman, with Pierre duPont of Delaware and Frank Cary, chairman of IBM, of the National Task Force on Education for Economic Growth.

February 4, 1984: Hunt formally announces candidacy to run for Republican incumbent Jesse Helms’ U.S. Senate seat.

June 23, 1984: North Carolina Legislature passes Hunt’s $255 million package of bills aimed at improving public education.

July 10, 1984: At the annual governor’s conference, Hunt promotes merit pay and teacher testing. He says that "paying the best teachers the best salaries" is the most important thing.

July 30, 1984: At the first debate of the campaign, Hunt challenges Helms not to seek out-of-state funding.  Helms responds that he likes getting out-of-state money, asking Hunt, “are you having trouble raising out of state money?”  Polls the following day show a dead heat.

September 6, 1984: At a second debate, Hunt and Helms clash over the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday and race relations in the state.  Two days later, polls show Helms with a slight lead.

September 19, 1984: Hunt hears appeals for clemency for Maggie Velma Barfield, a 51-year-old woman who was convicted in 1978 and sentenced to die for fatally poisoning a friend with arsenic.  Barfield would be the first woman executed in North Carolina in 22 years.  The execution is scheduled immediately prior to the Senate election, on November 2.

September 23, 1984: At the third debate, Senator Helms asks Hunt: "Which war did you fight in, Jim?" Hunt snaps back: ''I don't like you questioning my patriotism."

September 29, 1984: Hunt refuses clemency for Barfield, in a case that has taken on national prominence.

October 8, 1984: Polls show Hunt up by four points.

October 15, 1984: At the final debate, Helms calls Hunt a "Mondale liberal."  Hunt calls Helms a "tool of the radical right."

November 4, 1984: Last poll before the election shows Helms ahead by three points.

November 7, 1984: The most expensive senate race to that point ends.  Helms defeats Hunt, riding the coat tails of Ronald Reagan, who won 60% of the North Carolina vote.  Republican Jim Martin defeats Attorney General Rufus Edmisten, to become North Carolina’s next governor.  In his concession speech, Hunt says that he is "beaten but unbowed."  He returns to practicing law in Raleigh.

September 1985: Hunt announces he will not run for Republican Senator John P. East’s U.S. Senate seat in 1986.

May 1987: Hunt is named chairman, and one of the first members, of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

August 17, 1989: Hunt announces he will not challenge Helms for his Senate seat in 1990.

June 1991: Hunt declares his intention to run for a third gubernatorial term to Attorney General Lacy Thornburg, who himself is a Democratic gubernatorial candidate in North Carolina. 

June 1992: Hunt scores a decisive victory in the Democratic gubernatorial primary and prepares to take on Republican Lt. Governor Jim Gardner in the general election.

November 3, 1992: Hunt defeats Gardner to win an unprecedented third term as NC Governor.  Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton also defeats President George H.W. Bush, winning North Carolina in the process.

January 1993: At his inauguration, Hunt pledges to make “Smart Start” a key issue of his third term.

April 1993: Wilmington 10 ringleader Ben Chavis is named head of the NAACP.

July 1993: Legislation authorizing Smart Start is ratified and receives $20 million appropriation.

August 1993: Hunt signs into law one of the nation’s toughest drunk driving laws.

October 1993: Fortune Magazine rates North Carolina's Triangle as the nation’s best place to do business.

Late 1993: Hunt fails to win the right to veto legislation, remaining the only U.S. governor without that right.

February 1994: Hunt asks the North Carolina General Assembly to return for a special session in order to pass a crime package. 

February 26, 1994: "Three strikes, you’re out" bill breezes through Legislature.  Most widely known as "Hunt’s Crime Bill," it sentences felons convicted of three violent crimes to life in prison without parole.

Summer 1994: Smart Start appropriation grows to $47 million; 12 additional partnerships are named for 13 counties.

October 1994: Hunt travels to South Africa to recruit potential business.  He is the first governor to travel there since end of apartheid.  He refers to South African President Nelson Mandela as a "great man."

November 1994: Midterm elections bring immense Republican sweeps, not only in the U.S. Congress but in North Carolina as well. Lauch Faircloth is elected U.S. Senator on the GOP ticket. 

December 1994: Though Clinton polls only a 38% approval rating in North Carolina, Hunt is at 70%.  Hunt hints that he will be working toward tax cuts for the new year.

December 1994: Hunt proposes the biggest tax cut in North Carolina history, responding to the conservative, anti-government tide that swept the country in November.

December 1994: Hunt develops task force to begin discussing welfare reform.

January 1995: Harold J. Brubaker takes over the new Republican House as House Speaker and begins critical talk about Smart Start.

Winter 1995: Hunt reiterates the need for a tough crime bill, wants tax cuts in the budget, joins (and is one of the first state leaders to talk about) the welfare debate, and warns Clinton’s FDA over cuts in tobacco subsidies.

February 1995: In order to pay for $483 million in tax cuts, Hunt says he would eliminate nearly 2,000 state jobs, increase college tuition, close two prisons and a school for the deaf, and trim other state services to pay for the tax cuts.

June 1995: Gov. Hunt orders increased lagoon inspections in response to the collapse of three lagoons in a span of two weeks in Eastern North Carolina.

August 1995: Hours before Clinton announces his plan to cut adolescent smoking, four major cigarette manufacturers and an ad agency file a lawsuit in federal court in Greensboro, N.C., to block the initiative. 

November 1995: Hunt urges church leaders to offer comfort and solace to the needy in wake of tax and service cuts.

December 1995: During a state inspection, more than 3,500 NC hog farms are flagged for having some kind of spill violation. according to conclusions found by a Blue Ribbon committee appointed by Hunt.

1995: Smart Start appropriation increases to $58 million and an additional 11 counties are selected to bring total to 43.

February 1, 1996: Accompanied by grandchildren Joseph and Hannah Hawley, Hunt files for reelection.

Fall 1996: Hunt threatens Clinton that North Carolina tobacco companies will sue the Administration over tobacco regulations.

November 1996: Clinton wins reelection. Republicans maintain control of both Congressional chambers.

November 1996: Hunt beats Robin Hayes to win a fourth gubernatorial term.  Democrats regain the state Senate. Republicans retain the state House.  In addition, Hunt wins the right to veto.

January 1997: Gov. James B. Hunt, Jr. is inaugurated for a fourth term at Broughton High School in Raleigh, N.C.

Winter 1997: Hunt proposes the Excellent Schools Act, to raise performance standards for teachers and boost their pay to the national average by the year 2000.

April 1997: Settlement talks between tobacco companies and the U.S. government begin in Chicago. Later, in 1997, a settlement is reached.

June 1997: House and Senate strike tentative deal approving Hunt’s Excellent Schools Initiative, which would raise teachers’ salaries to the national average by 2000.

October 1997: In the wake of several scandals involving conflict of interest and political patronage at the NC Department of Transportation, state auditor Ralph Campbell agrees to conduct an audit of the DOT.

January 13, 1998: Hunt unveils new restructured DOT structure under Norris Tolson, who replaces Garland Garrett as DOT secretary. 

December 1998: Amid allegations of perjury, President Clinton is impeached.

January 2000: At the beginning of his 16th and final year in office, Hunt promotes one final goal for state leaders to achieve during his tenure: making North Carolina's schools "the best in the nation by 2010.”  He calls this mission “First in America.”

May 2000: Hunt submits budget, hoping to raise teachers’ salaries to the national average without raising taxes.

July 1, 2000: Hunt’s budget passes; the budget not only raises public school teachers’ salary to the national average, but also gives all state employees 4.2 % raises and $500 bonuses.

October 2000: Clinton thanks Hunt at a White House tribute. “I love you, and I thank you for what you’ve done,” Clinton says.

2000: Hunt publishes First In America, a memoir that also outlines his education plan.

January 2001: Hunt leaves the governor’s mansion to his successor, Mike Easley.  He joins Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge & Rice, a Winston-Salem-based law firm; Hunt’s office is in Raleigh.

March 2001: UNC President Molly Broad announces The James B. Hunt Jr. Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy.  Hunt is founding chairman of the institute’s board of directors.  

2005: Hunt founds the Emerging Issues Institute, a Raleigh-based think tank that undertakes both a study and major effort to overhaul the way North Carolina pays for its government.  Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich both speak at the institute that year.