As a child, he and his friends would play their lunch money in
slot machines and buy lottery tickets.
Paterson said that it was understood in his family that he was
to succeed and that he was to go to college, paying his own way.
After graduating from Central High School in 1938, Patterson joined
the Army, eventually rising to the rank of Major by 1953. During
this time, Patterson earned his law degree from the University
of Alabama in 1949, but was recalled into the Army during the
The Law Practice
In 1953 Patterson returned home and joined his father's law practice.
John's father, Albert Patterson, was already involved with the
RBA by this time and John sat in on many of the meetings. John
continued to run the law practice while his father ran for attorney
When John's father, Albert Patterson, was assassinated in 1954,
John flew to Washington D.C. in an attempt to meet with J. Edgar
Hoover. Though he did not get his meeting, the Columbus press
was waiting at the airport upon his return and printed his opinion
that the people running the murder investigation were the most
logical suspects. Alabama Governor Gordon Persons sent General
"Crack" Hanna and the National Guard to Phenix City.
On July 22 Persons declared a state of qualified martial rule
in Phenix City replacing all city and county law enforcement.
That November, Patterson ran unopposed in his father's place for
attorney general and won. He used the position to clean up Phenix
And Then Governor...
In 1958 Patterson defeated George Wallace to become Governor of