WHAT MAKES A GREAT LEADER? Examining the lives of American presi-
dents, Henry Adams once observed that "he must have a helm to grasp, a
course to steer, a port to seek." Throughout a half century of service to his
beloved state of North Carolina, Terry Sanford had all of these-and by the
time of his death in I998 he had brought countless numbers of his fellow
citizens within sight of port.
Terry never had any trouble finding a helm. He was a born leader and re-
sponsibilities naturally flowed in his direction. From his teenage years on,
others sought him out to run for office, to seek the governorship, to take
charge of a major university, to gain a place in the u.S. Senate, and to lend
his time and imagination to innumerable projects that would strengthen
civic life. He was a pre-eminent member of the World War II generation
that rebuilt the country in the closing half of the twentieth century.
What truly distinguished Terry Sanford, however, was not just the num-
ber of posts he held, rather it was the unquenchable spirit that he brought
to everyone of them. In his soul he believed that people could shape their
own futures, that men and women weren't just flotsam and jetsam float-
ing on the tides of history but rather could choose their own destiny. Even
toward the end, as Howard Covington and Marion Ellis write in this warm,
engaging story of his life, Terry was in character. When doctors told him
cancer would take his life within six months, he cheerfully told the press,
"They said it was inoperable, but they didn't say it was incurable." That
was one of the few cam paigns he ever lost.
His was a moral leadership. He never thought of himself as perfect, but
he thought that people working together could create a more perfect world.
Nowhere did Terry put that idea to work with more imagination and cour-
age than in advancing civil rights. Long before almost every other political
figure in the South, he insisted that blacks, women, and the dispossessed