Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with James T. Norris, July 19, 1976

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:04 - Vinson at Centre College

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Partial Transcript: Well, Mr. Norris I appreciate you taking the time today to talk about your recollections of Fred Vinson.

Segment Synopsis: Norris talks about Vinson's time in college including his baseball career, his ambitions, and how he was thought of at Centre.

Keywords: Baseball; Graduation; Lawyers; Students

Subjects: Centre College (Danville, Ky.); Centre College (Danville, Ky.)--Sports; Vinson, Fred M., 1890-1953

00:06:23 - Relationship with Vinson after graduating

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Partial Transcript: Uh, now you mentioned before we began the interview that, um, after, uh, Vinson left college and after your graduation that you didn't really have any contact with him until say around 1923.

Segment Synopsis: Norris describes the first meeting with Vinson after graduating from Centre College.

Keywords: Centre College; County; Louisa (Ky.)

Subjects: Congress; Lawrence County (Ky.); Rivers; Rivers--Kentucky; Vinson, Fred M., 1890-1953

GPS: Louisa (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.111944, -82.605833
00:10:19 - Vinson's political philosophy

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Partial Transcript: How would you describe his political philosophy when he first went to Congress?

Segment Synopsis: Norris talks about what he considers to be Vinson's philosophy before going to Congress. He gives a couple of examples that he thought demonstrated Vinson's character.

Keywords: Drinks; Money

Subjects: Alcohol; Congress; Prohibition; Vinson family.; Vinson, Fred M., 1890-1953

00:15:02 - Vinson's work on Al Smith's campaign

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Partial Transcript: Why did Vinson take on the responsibility of running a campaign of someone like Al Smith who was obviously so unpopular is a total mystery.

Segment Synopsis: Norris talks about how Vinson helped Alfred Smith with his presidential campaign.

Keywords: Campaigns

Subjects: Political campaigns; Smith, Alfred Emanuel, 1873-1944; Vinson, Fred M., 1890-1953

00:16:55 - Vinson in Ashland, Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Well then after, uh, Vinson was voted out of office in Congress I think he moved his law firm or his law practice here to--

Segment Synopsis: Norris describes the work that Vinson did in Ashland, Kentucky as a lawyer. He also describes the relationship that Vinson had with Governor Fields.

Keywords: Ashland (Ky.); Campaigns; Incomes; Taxes

Subjects: Congress; Governors; Governors--Kentucky; Lawyers--Kentucky; Political campaigns; Politics and government; Vinson, Fred M., 1890-1953

GPS: Ashland (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.463889, -82.641667
00:20:55 - Vinson's connections in the Democratic Party

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Partial Transcript: In 1932, in the Democratic primaries, the uh, number of congressional districts in Kentucky had been decreased.

Segment Synopsis: Norris talks a little bit about Kentucky politics and the relationships that Vinson had in the Democratic Party. He also talks about his limited knowledge of the subject since Norris was not himself in politics.

Keywords: Bonuses; Connections; John Y. Brown; Presidents; Votes

Subjects: Democratic Party (Ky.); Governors; Governors--Kentucky; House of Representatives; Kentucky--Politics and government; Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945; Veterans; Vinson, Fred M., 1890-1953

00:28:31 - Vinson and the press

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Partial Transcript: In, in 1933, um, Vinson fell out with Robert Worth Bingham.

Segment Synopsis: Norris talks about how Vinson handled the press and how he was perceived by most newspaper companies in Kentucky.

Keywords: Bingham; Media; Presses; Publicity; Relationships

Subjects: Courier-journal (Louisville, Ky.); Newspapers--Kentucky.; Newspapers.; Vinson, Fred M., 1890-1953

00:30:42 - Vinson on the Supreme Court

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Partial Transcript: 'Course in 1938, Vinson left the Congress and became member of the Emergency Court of Appeals in, in Washington.

Segment Synopsis: Norris talks about Vinson's move from Congress to the Supreme Court. He thinks that Vinson wanted to be put in the Supreme Court and that was in fact his goal throughout his political career.

Keywords: 1938; Thirty-eight; Wars; World War II

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991; Congress; Governors; Politics and government; Truman, Harry S., 1884-1972; United States. Supreme Court; Vinson, Fred M., 1890-1953; World War, 1939-1945

00:35:11 - Vinson's personal life

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Partial Transcript: Um, how would you describe Vinson as a family man?

Segment Synopsis: Norris talks about some aspects of Vinson's personal life including his home life and the friendships he had in Ashland, Kentucky.

Keywords: Ashland (Ky.); Attention; Family; Friends; Sons

Subjects: Families.; Korean War, 1950-1953; Korean War, 1950-1953--Veterans; Politics and government; Vinson family.; Vinson, Fred M., 1890-1953

00:38:56 - Vinson as Chief Justice

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Partial Transcript: Did you have very much--you mentioned you didn't have much contact with, with Vinson during war years, during the forties. Is that right?

Segment Synopsis: Norris talks about how he was there when Vinson received the news that he had been appointed as Chief Justice. He also gives some insight into Vinson as someone who was part of a community.

Keywords: Appointments; Communities; Eating; Names

Subjects: Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945; United States. Supreme Court; Vinson, Fred M., 1890-1953; World War, 1939-1945

00:42:50 - End of Vinson's career and his legacy

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Partial Transcript: 'Course in, in 1952 when Truman decided not to seek re-election, uh, there's a lot of speculation and, uh, Truman in his memoirs mentioned that he wanted Vinson to run for the presidency.

Segment Synopsis: In this final segment, Norris talks about the possibility of Vinson running for presidency, how Vinson changed over the course of his career, and the lasting legacy that Vinson created.

Keywords: Changed; Presidency; Typical

Subjects: Liberalism; Truman, Harry S., 1884-1972; Vinson, Fred M., 1890-1953