Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with William A. Young, June 6, 1976

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:06 - First impressions of Earle Clements

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Partial Transcript: Mister Young, I thought we'd begin by, uh, finding out when you first met Senator Clements and possibly what some of your first impressions were...

Segment Synopsis: Young talks about his first impressions of Clements, the 1947 gubernatorial Democratic primaries, and the campaign opening at Morehead.

Keywords: A.B. "Happy" Chandler; Banks; Campaign opening; Campaigning; Conflict; Democratic factions; Democratic primaries; Franklin County (Ky.); Harry Waterfield; Morehead; Personalities; Politics; Relationships; Road tax

Subjects: Kentucky. Governor (1947-1950 : Clements); Politicians--United States

00:07:00 - First meeting with Clements

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Partial Transcript: Did you find after, uh, Clements became governor that most of his policies were generally well received...

Segment Synopsis: Young describes Clements' way of handling situations and his tendency to get his own way, giving a humorous example of his first meeting with Clements about a pending application with the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.

Keywords: Alcohol licenses; Applications; Franklin County (Ky.); Guy Shear; Manipulation; Methods; Policies; Public opinions; Public works

Subjects: Franklin County (Ky.); Kentucky. Governor (1947-1950 : Clements)

00:11:00 - Day Law amendment

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Partial Transcript: One of the issues that came up during Governor Clements' administration, uh, was an amendment to the Day Law.

Segment Synopsis: Young recalls the effects of the Day Law amendment on Franklin County, including a 1961 arson case that culminated in expulsion of both students and teachers. He also recalls the Clements Administration's relationship with Rufus Atwood, president of Kentucky State College (later Kentucky State University).

Keywords: Amendments; Arson; Black colleges; Civil rights movement; Day Law; Expulsion; Franklin County (Ky.); Governors; Rufus Atwood; Segregation

Subjects: Civil rights--Law and legislation; Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; Kentucky. Governor (1947-1950 : Clements)

00:14:34 - Clements' motivation

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Partial Transcript: Well, in watching Governor Clements as governor during the sessions of the General Assembly, did you consider him to be a strong governor in relation to the other governors we've had before and since?

Segment Synopsis: Young recalls Clements' undying motivation, despite his age (60, as of his Senate run), and his demeanor.

Keywords: Energy; Governors; Lawyers; Legal representation; Manipulation; Motivation; Old age; Strengths

Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; Kentucky. Governor (1947-1950 : Clements)

00:17:49 - Campaign staff / state parks

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Partial Transcript: I think it's interesting when you're trying to deal with a personality and a man like Senator Clements, the staff that he surrounds himself with.

Segment Synopsis: Young remembers the sorts of people Clements kept on his campaign staff, as well as his contributions to public recreation and tourism.

Keywords: Administrative assistants; Advocacy; Dedication; Lawrence Wetherby; Loyalty; Public recreation; Resource allocation; Road tax; Senate; Staff; Tourism; Workplace relations

Subjects: Kentucky. Governor (1947-1950 : Clements); State parks & reserves (Ky.)

00:23:56 - 1950 run for U.S. Senate

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Partial Transcript: Of course, in 1950, uh, Clements decided to make the race for the Senate. Uh, what role did you play in that campaign?

Segment Synopsis: Young recollects Clements' 1950 run for Senate, and his campaigning and oratory skills.

Keywords: Bert Combs; Campaigns; Control; County Attorney; Democratic factions; George Glen Hatcher; Governors; Opposition; Oratory skills; Persuasion; Primaries; U.S. Senate

Subjects: Political campaigns; United States. Congress. Senate.

00:33:10 - 1955 gubernatorial primaries

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Partial Transcript: Of course, during the early fifties--if one's reading the news--going back and reading the newspapers, you see a confrontation building as Governor Chandler returns to Kentucky and makes known his intentions that he's going to run for governor again, which culminates in the primary campaign in '55 between Governor Combs and, and Governor Chandler. Uh, was Clements, uh, extremely active in the 1955 campaign?

Segment Synopsis: Young recounts the 1955 Gubernatorial primaries between Chandler and Combs, how Clements and Wetherby worked together to support Combs as Chandler's rival, and what it was like working for the campaign.

Keywords: Bert Combs; Campaigns; Democratic factions; Governors; Happy Chandler; Lawrence Wetherby; Organizations; Rivals

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991; Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; Combs, Bert T., 1911-1991; Political campaigning and communication; Politicians--United States; Wetherby, Lawrence W. (Lawrence Winchester), 1908-

00:39:57 - 1956 campaign for re-election in Senate

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Partial Transcript: Um, well then in the general election in, in fifty-five, would you say that Clements gave no real support to the Chandler candidacy, uh, in November?

Segment Synopsis: Young goes on to recount the gubernatorial general election, and Clements' 1956 campaign for re-election in the Senate.

Keywords: Campaign endorsement; Campaign managers; Campaign staff; Campaigns; Doc Beauchamp; Happy Chandler; Lawrence Wetherby; Lewis Cox; Politics; Seelbach Hotel

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991; Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; Political campaigning and communication

00:50:18 - Alben Barkley's death

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Partial Transcript: By the latter part of April in 1956, uh, the campaign headquarters--you and the rest of the campaign headquarters must have felt that things were looking pretty good in terms of the Clements candidacy, and then, uh, all of a sudden you have a new factor involved with Barkley's death in I think the last day of April, 1956.

Segment Synopsis: Young reflects on the impact of Alben Barkley's death on Clement's re-election campaign for Senate in 1956, citing it as the main reason for Clements' political defeat.

Keywords: Alben Barkley; Death; Democratic factions; Happy Chandler; Joe Leary; Loyalty; Political defeat; Politics; Positioning; Re-election; Successors

Subjects: Barkley, Alben William, 1877-1956; Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; Political campaigning and communication

00:59:04 - Televising campaigns

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Partial Transcript: I think we've discussed pretty thoroughly the decision to take Wetherby, uh, and present him before the central committee and, and make him the nominee.

Segment Synopsis: Young offers perspective on the impact of new media on campaigning at this time, explaining how Clements' presence differed depending on different outlets, such as not seeming as natural on television. He also discusses the decision to broadcast the 1947 campaign opening at Morehead on live television.

Keywords: Advertising; Campaign opening; Democratic Committee; Democratic nominees; Expenses; Lawrence Wetherby; Live coverage; Media; Media production; Morehead (Ky.); Personalities

Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; Television in politics

01:06:02 - Clements' rivalry with Happy Chandler

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Partial Transcript: Uh, going back to Chandler's role again, which as you have said several times was a very key factor in the, in the campaign for the general election.

Segment Synopsis: Young recalls Chandler's acceptance of the Democratic Campaign Advisory Committee Honorary Chairmanship, and of the 1956 luncheon at the Frankfort Country Club, which would prove to be a source of disgrace for Clements, as well as the last time the two men would meet. Young also recounts a humorous story from a time with Clements at the lake that depicts Clements' dedication to politics.

Keywords: Betrayal; Campaigning; Country clubs; Democratic factions; Frankfort Country Club; Happy Chandler; Lawrence Wetherby; Political defeat; Primaries; Public speeches; Rivalry; Slander; Votes

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991; Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; Politicians--United States

01:19:24 - Clements' political defeat and later career

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Partial Transcript: I think, uh, if we could for a minute talk about the Republican opposition, we've talked about the opposition within the Democratic Party.

Segment Synopsis: Closing the interview, Young describes Clements' political defeat, getting the minority vote, and Clements' later years and hobbies.

Keywords: Campaign funding; Campaigning; Demographics; Happy Chandler; Lawrence Wetherby; Louie Nunn; Minorities; Minority votes; Political defeat; Public opinions; Republicans; Retirement; Senate Majority Leader; Thruston Morton

Subjects: Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985