Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Edward A. Farris, February 17, 1977

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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BIRDWHISTELL: The following is an unrehearsed interview with Mr. Edward A. Farris for the Earle C. Clements Oral History Project of the University of Kentucky Library. The interview was conducted by Terry Birdwhistell in Mr. Farris's office, 115 East Second Street, Frankfort, Kentucky, on February 17, 1977 at 9:00 a.m. Mr. Farris, I thought we'd begin this morning by finding out when you first met Senator Clements and what the circumstances were.

FARRIS: The brief background to my making acquaintance with the Governor was that I took a job with the State Revenue Department in Frankfort soon after Governor Clements took office in December. This was in February of 1948, Clyde Reeves, the Commissioner, invited me over, and within 00:01:00a few days I became one of his assistants in the State Revenue Department. I worked in the Revenue Department for a few months, three or four months, and Commissioner Reeves came to my office and said that he was with the Governor the previous day and that Governor Clements had solicited his help in finding a young man to work in the Governor's office, and that Clements--would like to--and I gave--Clyde said that he gave the Governor a little thumbnail rundown on me, and Clements was interested, so Clyde suggested that I go over to 00:02:00the Governor's office. I was a young fellow at the time. I had been in the Army for almost three years and had been in Washington going to school at George Washington University for a year and a half prior to my employment in the State Revenue Department, and not being a native of Frankfort, and as a matter of fact having only been in Frankfort on a high school trip once or twice in my whole life, I very frankly didn't know exactly in the Capitol Building where the Governor's office was. But I managed that afternoon to locate it, and I walked into the Governor's office and was advised that he anticipated me being there and that he would see me in a short time, which he did. And my first impression was that here was a fellow of portly build that 00:03:00had a lot of searching questions to ask and was rather as much intrigued by my response to them and the manner in which I responded as he was in what I really knew. So after the interview I went back to the Revenue Department, and the next day sometime the Governor's office called me and said that the Governor would like for me to arrange with Commissioner Reeves to let me transfer from the Revenue Department to the Governor's office, which concluded that part of my introduction to Senator Clement Governor Clements at the time.

BIRDWHISTELL: Right. Did you have another meeting then with Governor Clements, and did he discuss what your duties and responsibilities would be in 00:04:00the office?

FARRIS: The background of Governor Clements as a county official was the method and mode of the way he operated the Governor's office and state government, in my opinion. Clements--in 1948 air travel from Frankfort out over the state was rather--well, extremely limited. Number one, because there were few small airports to accommodate the planes. Governors seldom drive anywhere at the present day. In 1948, almost all travel was by automobile. 00:05:00As a consequence--a trip to far west Kentucky, far eastern Kentucky required from one whole day to three days. And in those days the Governor literally functioned in his office in Frankfort. The Governor was--the Governor came to the Capitol Building as he had for thirty years, as he had gone to the Union County Courthouse, and as a consequence my contact with the Governor was daily. With few interruptions during the course of the year, he would be out of the office a surprisingly little time compared to the present manner in which the Governor functions. So, I was--I worked in close proximity and at length daily 00:06:00with Governor Clements. One of the associate members the of the state tax commission--the State Revenue Department then, there was a Commissioner of Revenue was--functioned both as Commissioner who--the man who runs, directs and manages the affairs of the State Revenue Department. He also served as the chairman of the State Tax Commission. One of the three members of that tax commission was Jess Thomas. Jess Thomas played high school football at Morganfield for Governor Clements when he coached the county football team. Jess 00:07:00later became coach after his college days at Western, football coach at Western, and his mentor, Governor Clements, put him on the State Tax Commission, and Jess and I started in the Revenue Department the same day, I guess. So Jess heard that I had been over to talk with Clements, and the day before I left the Revenue Department to go full-time at the Governor's office, Jess came to my office and said, "Farris, I understand you're going over to the Governor's office," and I told him that I was. Jess was very fond and extremely supportive and pro-Clements, so there's nothing antagonistic about this remark. (both laugh) Jess said, "How well do you know Clements?" I said, "Well, 00:08:00I met him yesterday afternoon." He looked at me with a sly grin and said, "You don't know how well you have it here in the Revenue Department." He said, "Farris, you are a tall, lean country boy," and he said, "Earle Clemens will work you to death over there." (both laugh) And there is a lot of truth to that. Governor Clements was a prodigious, tireless, endless worker.

BIRDWHISTELL: Who were other members of the office staff when you were there that were close to Clements?

FARRIS: Well, I was the only male in the office. There were about eight or ten ladies, secretaries, administrative assistants and so forth, 00:09:00but that was the complement of the Governor's office at that time, and remained substantially the same throughout Clements' term.

BIRDWHISTELL: Now, you had been out of the state during the primary campaign against Waterfield and then the general election in November. Did you have to study up and look back and find out what had gone on to find out who was in and who was out in terms of the administration so that you wouldn't make any political mistakes in that regard?

FARRIS: That was a very important part of the Clements method of operating, and I very definitely learned early and well to distinguish between friend and foe. I do not imply, however, that Clements was 00:10:00in any way a narrow-gauged political operative to the exclusion of all other considerations, because--during his term, that may have been a kind of a public consensus of Clements the man, but that was not the real and true picture of Earle Clements. Clements was a total political animal, but it was political in the broader context--Clements' view of life on this planet and existence throughout the expanses of space, his view 00:11:00of that existence was a political view. It was an innate characteristic of his very nature. I have worked with many substantial people in public affairs and public life and politics and I have no reservations in saying or expressing a judgment that Clements was the most able man with whom I have been associated.

BIRDWHISTELL: What were the characteristics about him that made him such a good public official, I guess is what you're saying, in your opinion. What was it about him that made him so?

FARRIS: Clements was not a scholarly-oriented individual. But Governor Clements was 00:12:00a very smart, uncanny-type individual in knowing the ways of men and politics and government and the direction in which public affairs ought to move, and he had great talent in welding together the type of organization to make things happen, to make his administration or public affairs at whatever level that he might touch 'em, move in the direction in which he felt constrained to move 'em.


BIRDWHISTELL: During the early part of his administration, when you first got to know him, how would you classify his philosophy toward things? What were his ideals that he was going after, do you think? What was it he most wanted to accomplish in his administration, early in his administration?

FARRIS: Governor Clements was always a most practical-type individual, and he wanted practical results. There's one thing I think that would point this up. I know that all of my life I have read in the papers, largely the Courier-Journal down in my section of the state, I've often said Lincoln and other people may have learned to read 00:14:00by the Bible, Aesop's Fables, or something. I maybe didn't have any of those. I learned to read out of the Courier-Journal. (both laugh) So with that as a backdrop, I'd always known, and everybody in Kentucky knew, that our institutions, the unfortunates at the mental hospitals and up here at the Kentucky Training Home, and even prison inmates suffered a fate comparable to anything we've read about in the Middle Ages, and Clements was determined to do something about that. He was determined to see that these people got adequate food. I have read all 00:15:00my life prior to that time grand jury reports that the food at Eastern State Hospital was abominable. A starchy diet causes something to break out at Eddyville, and that was a grave problem. I'm only trying to point up this practical aspect. Governor Clements was determined that this was going to be corrected, not ten years from now, but that these people were going to be given protein and adequate diets or he was going to search out the reason why, and he set out to accomplish this and did in short order. Clements not only was a public official and a politician, but he was also a grass-roots farmer, and I'm sure a good one. I'm sure others 00:16:00you have talked with maybe have touched on his interest in the farm field and cattle breeding and so forth. Clements caused the state to buy substantial acreages of land either adjacent to or in the immediate area of all these institutions and stocked them with cattle, and they raised hogs and cattle, and they fed these inmates and these unfortunates the kind of diet--within a year after he became governor, he was putting meat on the table at these institutions that had not had anything more sustaining than a bowl of thin potato soup over the years. So he--and he took this practical approach to everything he 00:17:00did. And a lesser man could not have moved these things in the direction that he did, because he did it in short order.

BIRDWHISTELL: Would you say that applies to his rural roads program that he instituted?

FARRIS: I would say that it applies to the rural road program; it applied to the development of what he called at that time the Agricultural Industrial Development Board. It was a massive effort, and a breakthrough was achieved in bringing industry to Kentucky or generating industrial jobs and earning potential for Kentucky workers. The state had floundered in that field completely up to that point and he made a breakthrough 00:18:00in my opinion.

BIRDWHISTELL: Do you think that--of course when you went into the Governor's office with Governor Clements, as you mentioned earlier, the legislative session of 1948 had just ended. Was he satisfied with what accomplishments were made during that first session? [telephone rings]

FARRIS: The Governor was pleased and enjoyed a certain degree of personal satisfaction in those kind of successes, but I would never describe Clements as satisfied. Clements was a--projected his thinking, projected his efforts and 00:19:00his energies--they were always projected and advancing. They were a step or a leap ahead of whatever successes that were achieved. There was more mountains to climb, and he dwelt very briefly on past successes.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's interesting. I wanted to--

FARRIS: During that time--you've kind of kicked this off--hearkening back to his '47 race with Waterfield, and Waterfield and Senator Clements in more recent years have been warm, good friends. But that was not true during those days. Clements had this characteristic or trait: he--and this runs 00:20:00counter--[telephone rings] To repeat, and this does run counter to the popular notion or conception of Earle Clements, who--I think the public tended to view him as a kind of a slugger and in-fighter and maybe as a wheeler-dealer politician. The real Clements attempted at all times to avoid confrontation and political fights. He would go to great lengths to avoid a confrontation with the fellow in politics. He would make every 00:21:00effort to wean the fellow off of his path that was opposing Clements and try to win him on Clements' side. And he was a master at this. Clements was very effective in dealing one-on-one. Clements was an operator through the committee system. He was not a great platform orator in the tradition of Alben Barkley and others. Clements was a towering giant in a small room with six men in the room. So, contrary to what I believe to be the popular conception of Clements, he tried to develop support and strength by enticing potential 00:22:00opponents and potential leaders of opposition to him to be a part of his administration, to support his program, to be involved in public affairs on the Clements side. Of course when that became crystal clear that that was impossible, then Clements would become an impeccable opponent. And he would--the line of demarcation between methods of honor and dishonor, like so many aspects of life have become gray and fuzzy. Clements, though, was a tough opponent. When he finally resolved in his own mind that this individual or that group or whatever stood between him and 00:23:00the goals that he had in mind, if they stood and persisted and were determined to thwart him, he would try to beat 'em, circumvent 'em, go under 'em or over 'em or through 'em. This was the case of Waterfield. I think--and I still suspect that the most profound experience in Clements' life was the experience he had in running against Harry Lee Waterfield and the difficult and tough race that he had with Waterfield. I think Clements was probably shocked at Waterfield's strength. I think he was--he and Waterfield had been reasonably close friends. 00:24:00Clements was a little older than Harry Lee, and Clements considered that Harry Lee ought to have been for him for governor. And he came back, deeply involved in Congressional affairs, and came back to Kentucky to begin putting together the pieces that are required to run a state-wide campaign, and he found that while he had been in Washington Harry Lee had made substantial inroads and had mounted much more of an effort than Clements probably suspected. And Harry Lee ran a very hard race, and Clements took a very harsh and bitter attitude toward 00:25:00Waterfield. The only fellow that I ever felt that Clements despised was Harry Lee Waterfield, and he was successful in poisoning--the Clements administration poisoned Waterfield over the state to the point that Harry Lee could never win a governor's race. He could win the second spot, but Clements took a very strong stance against Harry Lee during those years and was successful at it.

Birdwhistell: In making Waterfield look bad around the state in terms of his abilities?

FARRIS: Well, he--Clements absorbed the Waterfield political organization, by and large. 00:26:00He did Harry Lee in politically. Harry Lee had no troops to lead when the thing--when the dust all settled, two, five years hence.

BIRDWHISTELL: Like during the general campaign when Clements would bring in people like Adron Doran and other key advisors to Waterfield.

FARRIS: Exactly right.

BIRDWHISTELL: Now, when the--the opening of the fall campaign in '47, though, Waterfield was scheduled to speak at the opening, and the train was late. Was Waterfield trying to heal these wounds?

FARRIS: Oh, I do not think so.

BIRDWHISTELL: This was just a public show?

FARRIS: I think Waterfield--he was an extremely poor loser and wished nothing but ill for Clements, in my opinion.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's interesting. So he really didn't have access to the governor's office during those years. (laughs)

FARRIS: It was very tenuous.


BIRDWHISTELL: That's very interesting. I wanted to ask you for a little bit here about Lieutenant Governor Wetherby at the time. During the primary, he and Clements hadn't run on the slate together, and Clements hadn't endorsed anyone, I don't believe, for the second spot, but then of course in the general election they ran together. I was wondering, you worked with both men say around 1948, what was their relationship? Was it a close relationship or one that had been brought together by politics alone?

FARRIS: Well, I think definitely it had been brought together by politics alone. Clements and Wetherby had a close working--political, working relationship. The lieutenant governor played a very minimal role in state government in those 00:28:00days. Wetherby played-- considering the era in which we're talking about--Wetherby played a rather substantial role in that he was on the inside, he was not an outsider.

BIRDWHISTELL: I guess that's the key question.

FARRIS: That's the key question. He was--when major decisions were made, major meetings were held, Wetherby was involved as a participant. Wetherby did not set the policy. Clements would be in charge wherever he was, at whatever level he was. Clements is a take-charge individual. He would not take a passive role on any occasion in matters pertaining to 00:29:00state government or politics. He was in charge.

BIRDWHISTELL: So Wetherby then had, I guess you could say, an equal voice with the other advisors in the Clements inner circle.

FARRIS: Right, that's the way I remember it. That's the way I consider it.

BIRDWHISTELL: Well, I guess then looking back at that, major decisions in state government at that time were made in the Governor's office probably late in the afternoon when these men would gather in there.

FARRIS: That is definitely true.

BIRDWHISTELL: Now, what I was wondering was, who was in the room when these major decisions were made? Who would you say were the key policy makers other than Clements in the Clements administration?

FARRIS: The number one policy maker, the number one the advocate 00:30:00of the Clements administration program and goals and policies and procedures was Clements himself. There were surrounding Clements such men as Dick Moloney from Lexington, a state senator, Louis Cox from Frankfort, a state senator, Lawrence Wetherby, the lieutenant governor. There were outside people like Willie Foster from Mayfield. The number of regional political leaders under Clements were significant. Herb 00:31:00Smith from the Eastern Kentucky area, Clarence--

[Break in tape]

--from Mayfield. The number of regional political leaders under Clements were significant. Herb Smith from the Eastern Kentucky area, Clarence Moloney from Madisonville, and others. On some major political move or policy, most of these people would be called, and we would have a meeting in the Governor's 00:32:00office, as you say, at five o'clock in the afternoon. There were other occasions where this group was rather restricted, but this is the kind of a format through which Clements operated.

BIRDWHISTELL: What about people such as Doc Beauchamp and Joe Leary?

FARRIS: I should have mentioned Beauchamp--Beauchamp and Joe Leary.

BIRDWHISTELL: They would be considered on the inner circle.

FARRIS: On the inner circle. Definitely, they ought to be certainly included as key people in this group.

BIRDWHISTELL: There's another interesting figure that operated in the Clements administration, W. S. Scoop Sherwood. Some have said that he probably was closer to Clements than anyone. Would you agree with that assessment?

FARRIS: Unlike some of these people that we've named, Joe Leary 00:33:00was a close personal friend of Clements. Beauchamp was, too, I would say. I would say these other people I have named, and many others that--I do not mean to--when I enumerate these names to limit this group of substantially important people to Clements--did not mention myself, although I think I was one. But I do not feel that they were necessarily close personal friends of Clements.

BIRDWHISTELL: More political than personal, I would guess, in a way.

FARRIS: More politically--they were all politically oriented, and so Clements would gravitate. He had rapport with those type people. But Scoop Sherwood was 00:34:00a close friend. Scoop had input and influence, but his relationship was also very close personally, though I think Scoop's impact on Clements personally and his impact on the Clements administration could be exaggerated by, say, a political reporter's peripheral view. It could be exaggerated so much that--I know that he is considered kind of an unusual or colonel house type thing with Woodrow Wilson, with Clements. But I'm not certain about that in my own mind; as a matter of fact I'm inclined 00:35:00to think that he and Clements were--had long been friends. I think they did go to school together over at the University, and Clements enjoyed Scoop. Scoop was funny and witty a lot of times. But I do not think that Scoop had any great bearing on what Clements did or what h didn't do.

BIRDWHISTELL: Well, one thing in connection with Sherwood that someone said was his operation, say, with the state House of Representatives during an assembly, that he would operate on the floor and out in the hallways and pretty much keep in touch with who was voting for and who was voting against the administration and sort of keep a tally of this type of thing for Clements. Would this be the type of operation that he would be running in the Clements administration? He did that and was vetoed at that kind of support. I suppose if there was things that were highly sensitive politically that could 00:36:00only be trusted to a close friend, then Sherwood would those types of assignments in an administration. Would that be accurate?

FARRIS: That would be a reasonably accurate assessment. Again, I think his role with the Clements administration could be exaggerated or interpreted to be more significant that it was, however.

BIRDWHISTELL: I think it's good that you bring that out, because those kinds of things can sort of mushroom in history, you know. It's interesting. I think it began back with the race against Waterfield, the problems with education in Kentucky and the education lobby and the schoolteachers demanding more money, and I believe, looking back at the primary campaign, that Waterfield was sort of pro-education and Clements was cast in the light of not-so-pro-education. I was wondering, after you began working in 00:37:00the governor's office, what was Clements' attitude toward the education lobby and the needs of education at that time and what his plans were for it? That's sort of a broad question.

FARRIS: That, without doubt, was one of the most controversial things that happened or Clements' overall posture with education was probably his most monumental problem. And I want to give my own personal and fair analysis of Clements the man, and I will have to say that I believe that Clements had--he vacillated or had mixed attitudes and feelings 00:38:00toward the education lobby, toward professional education, toward the and my assessment of that period is rather difficult. We were--they were harsh and demanding and unceasing and vitriolic in their attacks on Clements and Clements was not one to--he would react, though in most instances he reacted like 00:39:00Lyndon Johnson said the President did, said, I believe that President Johnson once said that when things go bad like they did now or in this instance the school lobbying, the protest and the demand and the deluge of mail and marching and strikes and so forth, that Lyndon Johnson said that all the President could do was do like jackass in a rainstorm, hunker up and take it. (both laugh) And to some extent Clements' reaction was to hunker up and take it.

BIRDWHISTELL: Did he feel that he didn't have enough money in the state revenue to--

FARRIS: Oh, of course money was the--the lack of money, lack of Kentucky's capacity at that time to generate enough money was the sole problem in my judgment.


BIRDWHISTELL: And he, I guess, had to make a decision between roads and education and--

FARRIS: Industrial promotion and feeding these inmates and doing all the things that had crying needs and all of them with deficient money.

BIRDWHISTELL: I guess the question would have to be asked, though, did the fact that the educators opposed Clements in the primary have any effect on his attitude toward funding education or giving in to these demands during his administration?

FARRIS: Well, I don't think that any political leader can be viewed as being so narrow or short-sighted or dumb as to not remember or to have recollection that this person or that group opposed 00:41:00him. I do not think that that was the overwhelming influence on Clements in his method of dividing up the state budget in the 1950 session of the legislature. I'm sure he was not oblivious to the fact that they had largely as a group opposed him. But Clements was not--vindictive in that sense of the word any more than any--most normal people are. And maybe less so.

BIRDWHISTELL: An interesting thing in terms of education in Kentucky during the Clements administration was his support of a repeal of the Day Law in 1948. In your opinion, why was Clements for this issue that could have become very controversial, had the potential of becoming very 00:42:00controversial?

FARRIS: Clements was a political liberal. He is viewed, I think--the press would indicate during those days that--and certainly up until he was--a period of time after he left the governor's office I think his posture as opposed to liberal-conservative analysis was conservative and less progressive. I think it's entirely changed since those days, but--and it changed probably because he was a liberal. Clements did not believe that segregation was--he didn't 00:43:00think it was the proper socially-accepted thing in society and it ought to be changed, and this was his one, first and only major opportunity he had to do anything about it, and he did it.

BIRDWHISTELL: I think it's a very interesting aspect of his career that he would do it before there was pressure. I was wondering--

FARRIS: There was no pressure at all, as a matter of fact, practically none.

BIRDWHISTELL: Was he concerned about reaction around the state?


BIRDWHISTELL: He seemed to downplay the accomplishment at the time.

FARRIS: Yes, yes, he was--yes, Clements would always be concerned with the political repercussions from anything that he did.

BIRDWHISTELL: Did the office receive a lot of mail or a lot of phone calls about this?

FARRIS: It was not an overriding emotional issue at the time.


BIRDWHISTELL: Were there particular black leaders in the state that Clements was close to that had access to the Governor's office on a fairly regular basis that you can recall?

FARRIS: There were very few, very few.

BIRDWHISTELL: I guess I was wondering, like people like Mr. Timberlake from western Kentucky.

FARRIS: He was the most vividly remembered one in my mind.

BIRDWHISTELL: And Dr. Atwood, I suppose--

FARRIS: Dr. Atwood, Timberlake, one or two--and I would say Stanley of the Louisville family, Frank Stanley, Sr. and a minimum of others.

BIRDWHISTELL: It also seems that, Clements was more willing to place women in positions of responsibility, more so than his predecessors or even people that came later in state government, people like Pearl Runyon and 00:45:00others who he appointed as state treasurer, and this type of thing.

FARRIS: I think he viewed that in the liberal context as we called it in those days, I don't know what this--that type of thing might be referred to currently, but Clements was--had a minimum number of personal prejudices in my opinion.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's interesting. I also wanted to ask you about his relationship with the Kentucky congressional delegation at that time. Was he in pretty close contact with members of Congress from Kentucky?

FARRIS: Clements did not have good relations with of the members 00:46:00the majority of the members of the Kentucky delegation in the Congress, in the lower House. Noble Gregory was an opponent of Clements, and Clements viewed him as such and treated him as such. So was Joe Bates. Frank Chelf was a friend of Clements', but Clements had no close working political relationship with him. Congressman Spence was even then rather elderly and was not a real factor in Kentucky politics. He was in his district, you understand, but not state-wide. And Carl Perkins was, of course, more or less a protege of Clements, and Clements 00:47:00remained very close and friendly with Perkins, and as far as I know continues to do so at this date.

BIRDWHISTELL: And of course, William Matcher--I suppose he was a protege in a sense, I guess.

FARRIS: In a sense he was, but that occurred really after Clements's term as governor was over.

BIRDWHISTELL: Did Clements think it would be politically more expedient to try and get along better with the Kentucky congressional delegation or had he just given up on it? Was it that difficult?

FARRIS: Well, I am of the opinion that few governors past or present, for that matter, have any real close deep political relationship 00:48:00or association with congressmen. I expect people making political analysis, or political judgment or analysis of Kentucky politics all--could well be in error. Kentucky state government is involved in Kentucky. These congressmen go to Washington and the distance and the limited interest of the Congressman in his district plus the fact that the governor has an administrative program and only to the extent that the state administration is interested, like currently in 00:49:00the Federal Strip Mine Bill. Congressmen have a place, have an input that the state administration is interested in, but when that's over it may be weeks or months or years before they have overriding reason to have close tie-ins on public issues, on political situations. So the linkage between the executive office in Frankfort and an individual Congressman is not a continuous chain.

BIRDWHISTELL: I heard a report that there was a job opening in Western Kentucky that Clements appointed a friend of Representative Gregory without letting the Representative in on the gift-giving, and that this caused some 00:50:00problems between the two, the fact that Clements would sort of appoint his friends, and of course then Representative Noble Gregory could not say anything against the appointment. Was this a tactic that--

FARRIS: Yes, I'm not acquainted with that instance, but I am well acquainted with the background to the Clements-Joe Bates schism. And that was the direct result of Clements naming John Keck Highway Commissioner from Joe Bates' district and not having quote cleared it with Bates. Well, that was the real straw that broke the camel's back. I don't think the relationship had ever been real close, but Congressman Bates took--he was hurt and chagrined and--he claimed, and embarrassed and everything else, because 00:51:00Clements would name to one of these top jobs in Frankfort somebody from his district and not give him--pay him the courtesy of discussing it with him.

BIRDWHISTELL: That might have been the instance I was thinking of, too--

FARRIS: That is true. But I do not believe that any governor will spend much time clearing such matters with incumbent Congressmen in Washington. I do not think that Congressmen play that kind of role in Kentucky politics and Kentucky public affairs.

BIRDWHISTELL: Talking about another campaign for a minute, why did Clements support Virgil Chapman for the Senate over John Y. Brown? Some people think that perhaps Brown's political philosophy was closer to Clements' than Chapman's 00:52:00was and that Clements could have merely supported Chapman for re-election to the House instead of endorsing him for the Senate.

FARRIS: I think what you say is accurate, certainly. I think Virgil Chapman had an overriding ambition to be United States Senator. He and Clements were long and close political friends. I think that this is something that just kind of drifted along, and maybe not as much forethought was given to it as it deserved, and there had been Young differences between Clements and John Young Brown over the years. 00:53:00Though Clements had supported him very Young's strongly, of course, in some of some of John Young's past races. But they were no longer close politically, and I think Clements felt that Chapman could win. John Young had had already a dismal record of losing, and that's the extent of my opinion about it.

BIRDWHISTELL: After Barkley was elected Vice-President and gave up his Senate seat in 1948, did Governor Clements consider going to the Senate at that time? There was perhaps some speculation in the newspaper that perhaps he was going to make the move. Did he really seriously consider it?

FARRIS: In my opinion, he did not seriously consider it. I'm 00:54:00sure he thought about it. Governor Clements thought about everything, but he did not ponder this thing, wrestle with it like some people in public affairs claim that they wrestle with these great issues.

BIRDWHISTELL: You feel like he thought that he just had too much more to do in Kentucky?

FARRIS: Right, that is my opinion.

BIRDWHISTELL: How was the decision reached to choose Garrett Withers, to appoint Withers as Senator?

FARRIS: Well, I think there's no question that--the Governor first wanted to appoint somebody that would move out if he elected to make the effort to go to the Senate himself. I would say that's the basic reason. There are other reasons. They were from adjoining counties. 00:55:00He was Governor Clements's highway commissioner. They had been lifelong political friends and political cronies. They were close, very close. Commissioner of Highways Garrett Withers was already in his later years, and I think Clements saw this as a great opportunity to reward a faithful supporter and a prominent Democrat, a man whose character was beyond reproach. Plus the fact I think that the Governor wanted or felt that with the--this new rural road program and the vital part that the state highway department 00:56:00played in his administration, I know that Clements felt like a younger, more vigorous leadership in the highway department might be--also have merit. So I think it's all these factors.

BIRDWHISTELL: Now, did Senator Withers have any reservations about going to Washington to keep the chair warm for Clements? Did he look at it that way himself, or did you have any--

FARRIS: I do not believe that he looked at it with any sense of feeling that he was being kicked upstairs. Senator Withers himself was a fellow of right broad gauged thinking and philosophical in his approach toward life in general, and I think he viewed it in just the context that I have discussed.


BIRDWHISTELL: In late 1949, Clements in organizing the Kentucky House of Representatives picked Doran and Hanraddie without consulting with the Waterfield segment of the Democratic Party, so this I guess would demonstrate what you mentioned earlier, that by this time, you know, Waterfield and whoever was still following him was completely out of the picture. Is that accurate?

FARRIS: That is accurate.

BIRDWHISTELL: Now, in the 1950 General Assembly there was growing opposition to Clements in terms of I guess the Waterfield faction. Is that right?

FARRIS: The Waterfield faction had largely been dehorned. However, there were 00:58:00a number of rather articulate, able individuals, particularly in the House, who had both the ability and the capacity to enunciate and verbally carry forth an attack on the Clements administration on the floor of the House. And they did it with gusto. But Clements in no sense of the word lost control of the situation. But they did make much noise.

BIRDWHISTELL: Who were some of the--do any particular individuals stand out in your mind as key opponents?

FARRIS: Well, oh, yes, Leonard Preston from Glasgow, Morris Weintraub from Newport, Waterfield himself--I'm asking you, was Waterfield in the--


BIRDWHISTELL: Right, he was back in--I think, now.

FARRIS: He was back in Tipton. Yes, I know he was. Harry Lee himself, Curty Jennings from Murray, Roy Steers from Franklin, and others.

BIRDWHISTELL: And this was more of an individual effort on their part, attacking the Clements administration.

FARRIS: They all were individual spokesmen in opposition to Clements. And they spoke loudly and with a degree of effect, but it was minimal on the outcome, on having--it was minimal in its bearing on the outcome of the session or on Clements himself or on his administration.

BIRDWHISTELL: I want to stop for a minute and turn this tape over here.

[End of side 2]

Do you have more time for this?


FARRIS: Oh, I've got a long time--whatever you want.

BIRDWHISTELL: Okay. I want to begin talking a little bit about the 1950 Senate campaign. At what point did Clements begin to make definite plans for a '50 campaign? Was it back in '48 when he appointed Garrett Withers, or sometime after that that he really started thinking seriously about making the race?

FARRIS: I do not know that I can say when Clements first thought about making the race. Clements may have thought when he was a late-teenage deputy sheriff under his father in Morganfield, he may have thought about the 1950 Senate race (laughs) and probably did. But I doubt seriously that he devoted any serious thought while he was 01:01:00Governor to running for the Senate, certainly not before 1949. I think in 1949, definitely he thought about it.

BIRDWHISTELL: Now, in the '47 campaign I know that he had a county-by-county breakdown in terms of organization and what the state of the politics in that county was at that time and seemed to have, as you mentioned before, people out in the state that were sending back information. Was this the way he went at the 1950 campaign, the very thorough approach like that?

FARRIS: I was myself very deeply and personally involved in his Senate race in 1950. And the Clements administration had developed a very effective political organization in every county in Kentucky. We had an administration 01:02:00that knew on a first-name, rather intimate basis the political leadership in every county in Kentucky. Politics was less directed and controlled and maneuvered by the media and by these external forces like the women's movement, civil rights, the youth movement and all the forces now that appear to be really the determining factor in political campaigns. In those days it was more personal and more closely controlled and run, through an 01:03:00organization that is called a political organization. And that is the kind of situation that Clements carried into his 1950 Senate race.

BIRDWHISTELL: Now, in the Clements administration, George Glenn Hatcher had been elected Secretary of State in 1947. What was his relationship to the inside group that was running the administration? Was he an outsider from the Clements inner circle?

FARRIS: George Glenn Hatcher was not certainly an insider. He wasn't even an outsider. Secretary of State George Glenn Hatcher is a gentleman of very mediocre abilities and, for reasons known only to himself, ran--it 01:04:00was reported that he announced his candidacy or made some sort of a right profound political statement from Lexington at a meeting or a political rally held in a telephone booth. (laughs) So there was no race--Clements did not make any effort to campaign or--we took no special note of Clements's primary opposition.

BIRDWHISTELL: Did Clements ever, early on, try to talk with Hatcher and try and work out a compromise so that Hatcher possibly wouldn't even stir up that much of a campaign?

FARRIS: I do not recall. I do not recall.

BIRDWHISTELL: What was Clements' reaction personally? Was it just one of, 01:05:00"ignore Hatcher and it'll all turn out okay," for the most part?

FARRIS: Yes, that's the way I remember our treating the Hatcher opposition.

BIRDWHISTELL: Of course in the general campaign, then, the Republicans picked Judge Dawson as their candidate.


BIRDWHISTELL: Some have described the 1950 campaign in Kentucky as the dullest in Kentucky history. What is your recollection on how the campaign was operated and the events that occurred?

FARRIS: It--I'm sure by publicity and media standards it was dull. Of course, the outstanding feature of it was a series of lawsuits that Judge Dawson caused to be filed the last ten days, two 01:06:00weeks of the campaign. And that enhanced the fire and brimstone aspects of the thing, but otherwise it was a low-keyed type of campaign.

BIRDWHISTELL: What was Clements' attitude toward Judge Dawson? Did he see him as a formidable opponent?

FARRIS: He saw him as a formidable individual, but I don't think that Governor Clements nor any other political pundit at the time saw it as any great, serious threat to beat Clements. I do not mean to say that Clements took the campaign lightly--he did not. But Judge Dawson was a very interesting and in some circles highly 01:07:00respected federal judge, and very successful in money-making, a prominent member of the legal profession, but the Republican Party and Judge Dawson himself had no grass-roots political support or organization either, though the majority by which Governor maybe Clements beat him would indicate that maybe he posed more of a threat to Clements than he really did.

BIRDWHISTELL: Had Clements expected the Republicans to perhaps nominate someone else, 01:08:00or was he prepared when Dawson was picked as a candidate? Was that his--did he see that coming?

FARRIS: I do not recall what our general attitude was about--as a matter of fact, I can't at the moment remember who the Republican--who besides Judge Dawson was in the Republican primary, if anybody. I cannot remember--but--no--well--I do not feel that Clements in any way or that the Democratic Party in any way was elated or dejected because of Judge Dawson's nomination as Clements's opponent.

BIRDWHISTELL: I suppose as an incumbent governor running for the Senate, 01:09:00Clements had very little trouble raising campaign funds at that time.

FARRIS: No, I do not think he had trouble. As a matter of fact, I think I recall some newspaper articles maybe I think I've read--I remember reading Trout's article. It said, while things were going along normal in the year 1949 and the Senate race was over the horizon so far away that nobody in Kentucky was thinking about it, Clements raised his Senate campaign funds in the year 1949 for the 1950 Senate race. And I think that's largely true.

BIRDWHISTELL: Of course Clements won in November in 1950, and plans had to be made, or were in the process of being made for him to leave office and go to Washington, and Wetherby would 01:10:00become governor. Were there any particular aspects of this transition that Clements was more concerned about than others? Or how did he view the transition period?

FARRIS: I do not know what others may have to say about the transition, and transition is a great current notion these days, it seems. We made the transition in 1950 with a high degree of ease and pleasantness and took a confident outlook about the future, all parties concerned, the way I remember it.

BIRDWHISTELL: All parties were happy with what they had, right? (laughs)

FARRIS: I think all parties were happy. I do not think that Clements was apprehensive in leaving the state in Wetherby's hands. I 01:11:00think Wetherby was quite capable of assuming the role as governor, and he did, and then I think very successfully.

BIRDWHISTELL: Mmhmm. Did Clements ask you to go to Washington with him at that time?

FARRIS: Yes, Clements did. Clements had this feeling about it: I think Clements had a staff that he felt sufficiently close to that he would have, one way or another, regardless of our lack of Washington experience, taken the whole shebang to Washington. On the other hand, he also knew that he would need some people in the Washington area up there familiar with the Washington ways and also knew that Wetherby would be in a real deep hole to walk into not 01:12:00only a new office but a totally barren and vacated office, so--and I do not think there was any member of the governor's office that wanted to go to Washington. As a matter of fact, I think that--I had lived myself in Washington two years, and I would not have gone to Washington under any circumstances, even for the first time would have rebelled at Clements' inducements. (laughs) So I don't think, as I recall, I don't believe any of the office staff went to Washington with Clements though it was not a lack of--it was only their reluctance to leave Kentucky, leave Frankfort, and their--I think--unanimous lack 01:13:00of desire to live in Washington. So we stayed on an individually-made-decision basis, en masse, in the Wetherby office.

BIRDWHISTELL: I suppose in many ways during the transition from Clements to Wetherby in state government that many things stayed the same, but there had to be some differences, because you had a different type of individual in many ways. I was wondering if you could sort of discuss what the major differences were in style and in actual workings of state government between Clements and Wetherby.

FARRIS: Wetherby was--Wetherby made decisions faster and easier than Clements. Clements 01:14:00at times would be ponderous in his approach to a decision-making situation. Wetherby, of course, took office and was a relatively young man and was very active, and I feel spent more time out of the office. He traveled more than Clements. Wetherby started the bridge between the old policy and procedures and methods of kind of running the state government and the governor's office and the current situation where governors are 01:15:00in the office relatively little, in my opinion, compared to the former days. But that is not to say that Wetherby did not spend much time in the office, because he did. But Wetherby's approach was of a--Wetherby personally was not as consumed with political affairs and politics generally as was Clements. But by and large Clements and Wetherby got along very well. They had very few problems, personal relationship problems. You may or may not have been told that--and I do recall this little schism that created some problem; it was not a serious thing, 01:16:00and it didn't cause any permanent type impairment of their relationship--but soon after Wetherby became governor or at least at some point in the first part of the Wetherby administration, the vacancy of the Western Presidency came up at Bowling Green. President Garrett, Paul Garrett, died, and Senator Clements was very strong for his Union County School Superintendent and great friend ----------(??)---------- to be named President of the Western. And Wetherby was a strong supporter of Kelly Thompson, and Kelly Thompson, of course, was appointed. I mention this to show you that they did have differences, 01:17:00though they were not severe nor of long duration nor of any major consequence. But I mention that to show that they did have, and I also mention it to show the problems that people in Washington have in so-called quote "keeping their of thumbs on things back home" or running of things or as the vernacular, in the vernacular, the boss from Washington telling the peons back home what to do. At least in Kentucky politics that does not happen or cannot be sustained on a very long basis.

BIRDWHISTELL: You know, it's interesting you should bring it up, because I was going to ask--you know, there were so many newspaper reports at the time about Clements' power in the Wetherby administration, and--you know, 01:18:00what was the reaction of Governor Wetherby in view as his administrative assistant and the other office people when you pick up the paper in the morning and you see that article saying that Clements is running your office. Now, was there reaction to this?

FARRIS: You know, the reaction was--it had very little impact on--you're talking about our thinking, our emotions, how you feel to have that said about you? The way I feel, it really wasn't true, so we didn't pay much attention to it, really.

BIRDWHISTELL: Mmhmm. Was that Governor Wetherby's approach, too, just ignore it?

FARRIS: Definitely. You see, because that was really not true. Clements did not try to run things in Kentucky. He did not try, and so he didn't--I mean, you see, that again was not a 01:19:00true picture of the real facts. Clements had great personal political strength in Kentucky, but he played a very minimum role in directing the affairs of state government. Clements was too enmeshed in national affairs. Things go on every day in Frankfort, things go on every day in Washington, there's no way to keep that liaison so close that a man in Washington can run things in Kentucky. It doesn't happen. It doesn't happen now, in my opinion.

BIRDWHISTELL: Now, I've heard that perhaps, Clements was a little upset with Governor Wetherby for his sort of giving in to the education people after Clements had gone to Washington, that Clements felt that this was an embarrassment?

FARRIS: I have heard that, and it's probably true to an 01:20:00extent. But Clements was never one to let practical success--to ignore practical success. Wetherby calling a special session of the legislature and appropriating whatever he appropriated to 'em, was one of a number of things that Wetherby did that ensured his election, that ensured the continued well-being of the Clements-Wetherby-Beauchamp political organization in Kentucky. Clements may have had a--he may have had a sense of total frustration and consternation momentarily, but he was also able to dissipate that when he also saw that that was one sure way of Wetherby running and winning, and Clements was consumed with that notion always.


BIRDWHISTELL: That's interesting. I think in Kentucky politics, Democratic politics in the early fifties, the big thing was that Clements was in Washington now and A.B. Happy Chandler was back in the state and that at least newspaper reporters saw a weakening of the Clements-Wetherby-Beauchamp faction and a growing concern over the Chandler faction. Is that the concern that was in--that you saw at that time?

FARRIS: Right.

BIRDWHISTELL: Did the Clements-Wetherby faction take any steps to try and stop this erosion of their support at the time?

FARRIS: They--yes, I think they did, but politics seems to be somewhat in the sense of a cycle, and it was very difficult to stem this exuberant this new, twenty-year later face of Happy. And 01:22:00we found it increasingly difficult to block it. And that was a growing concern during those days, that's true.

BIRDWHISTELL: Do you think Clements saw Chandler's election in '55 as a real serious threat to his own political future?

FARRIS: Yes, I think he did.

BIRDWHISTELL: Of course, after the primary, when Combs was defeated by Chandler, and of course Combs being the candidate of the Clements faction, the unity rally was held in Louisville and all the big figures in the party appeared on the same platform, and at least publicly supported Chandler. Did Clements more than publicly support Chandler? Did he actually work for Chandler's election in '55?


FARRIS: Clements was in Washington, and I very frankly do not know what he did or what he failed to do. I could not believe that he would give strong support at that time to Happy.

BIRDWHISTELL: Of course, then, in '56 Clements was up for re-election to the Senate, and he has opposition in the primary from Joe Bates, whom we talked about earlier. Does this go back to--does this encompass both the Joe Bates-Clements personal problems between them and the Chandler-Clements factions both?

FARRIS: Yes, I feel it does.

BIRDWHISTELL: Did you have a chance to talk with Clements any during this period about his reaction to the primary and what he felt was going on at that time politically?


FARRIS: I was deeply involved in the workings of the Governor's office and the state administration and continued to do so on through to the last of the Wetherby administration in December. Chandler took office, and soon thereafter in the next session of the legislature starting in January, they passed what they called the May primary. I was called by Governor Clements the Saturday following the passage of this bill. Senator Clements was in Washington, of course. And Doc Beauchamp and I met 01:25:00Senator Clements Saturday night at the Seelbach Hotel, and we started--we talked very late, as Clements was prone to do. We were up very early Sunday morning as Clements was prone to do. (laughs) And we talked about the timing and all the problems that the lack of time would impose on Senator Clements' running for re-election. And I personally left the Seelbach Hotel even though I had--I was married and had a couple of kids, I was not out of the Seelbach Hotel nearly as often as I should have for good relations at home, 01:26:00or even for my own good health (laughs) and for many months to come. Yes, Clements was seriously concerned about Chandler from the day that Chandler beat Combs, and then this whole thing was compounded when they moved the primary up from August to May.

BIRDWHISTELL: Of course, he won the primary, and his opposition in the general election was Thruston Morton ----------(??)----------, and this was fairly complicated by Barkley's death and the nomination of Wetherby by the state Democratic Committee. What was Clements' attitude toward that? There was a possibility that if a Chandler person had been named that there could have been a compromise?


BIRDWHISTELL: What was his attitude at this time?


FARRIS: I was with Senator Clements in those days often and of sustained duration. I had not been with him like that for--what--five years. So I--Senator Clements stayed in room 710 at the Seelbach Hotel. I was 708 or some such number right almost next door to him. And we had occasion to eat and talk and to take walks. Clements' did not do as much traveling in the primary because of the time element involved, so it was--and we began to be 01:28:00convinced that Bates was not personally a formidable candidate. Chandler and the Chandler-Waterfield administration certainly made him a serious threat, but we could not believe that he was a formidable candidate. Clements' reputation had skyrocketed as a man of pre-eminence in the country.

BIRDWHISTELL: With Johnson's illness--

FARRIS: With Johnson's illness, and so forth. With the Louisville Courier-Journal and the media by and large taking a much more supportive attitude toward Clements the man, they looked back on his administration and this eight years of the Clements-Wetherby administration that Clements had set in motion. 01:29:00Many long-range, far-reaching, very important programs and policies and achievement to the betterment of Kentucky. So Clements was on a high crest. So we worked out of headquarters largely on publicity and political organization. The telephones were in great command, and Clements was a great user of the telephone. Clements often said that anybody that digs a ditch needs a pick and a pile of dirt, and he says, anybody that works in an office needs a desk and a telephone, and he operated 01:30:00or we operated the campaign. Senator Clements always was a very active participant in his own campaign as well as any campaign he participated in. But he was not--he would not choke off--he would not subdue ideas, and he was not a man to stifle. So the campaign and the primary was run out of the Seelbach Hotel with Clements himself largely present. He had a habit of commissioning me to walk with him, though I've always been a great walker myself. But Clements and I many times--

[Break in tape.]

--commissioning me to walk with him, though I've always been a great walker myself. But Clements and I many times would walk at night, 01:31:00and you could walk in downtown Louisville in 1956, could walk in downtown Louisville. We had a route that we would walk down, Fifth Street to the river and then go over a block east and then back down Fourth to the Seelbach, and Clements was in great shape, great emotional and physical condition for that campaign and ran a remarkable race, as it turned out to be, in the fall, even though he lost.

BIRDWHISTELL: What was his reaction then to the--

FARRIS: Now, I'm sorry I rambled, I lost my train of thought.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's fine, that was quite all right. That was interesting.

FARRIS: We'll get back to my rambling, though. On these walks, this very thing was discussed with Senator Clements often and at great 01:32:00length and in great depth. Senator Clements was very much opposed--no, let me rephrase that, because this may be a very delicate, difficult thing in your putting together this Clements saga. Clements saw and anticipated and rationalized on the dangers inherent to himself, to the Presidential campaign in Kentucky, to the Clements-Wetherby-Beauchamp-Combs faction of the Democratic Party; the whole Clements 01:33:00rationale was that this is a vital, crucial juncture of his political life as well as the political life of everybody that I mentioned. So he viewed it in that kind of context. And as a result, I don't have to say that he thought it a grievous error to nominate Wetherby or to nominate anybody from the Clements from the Clements-Beauchamp-Wetherby-Combs faction of the Democratic Party. Now, Clements in his present rationale might well--he might overemphasize that in my opinion from this standpoint. 01:34:00This may be something that others have told this recording machine on the Clements subject or they may not have. I feel like they may not have had. You may not have heard this said. But there is nobody in Kentucky that new the members of the state Central Executive Committee, Democratic state Central Executive Committee, better than I nor had had more recent contact with them than I, and Joe Leary as a potential nominee at the time might not either know or 01:35:00believe this. Senator Clements--maybe he knew it, and he may have not really known it, and if he knew it he may not have believed it completely, but the truth of the matter is--let me preface also: I don't want to get the little stenographer here confused about this, but Senator Clements nor Governor Wetherby nor Doc Beauchamp nor Bert Combs had the capacity or the power or the influence to make 01:36:00this committee nominate anybody with the full and unadulterated stamp of Chandler on it. That is my personal opinion, and I believe that I'm as right as I can be.

BIRDWHISTELL: Hmm, that is interesting.

FARRIS: I say this as a supporter in the inner council of Clements and my great friend Wetherby. I thought that it was a mistake for Wetherby to be nominated. I thought Clements--I was on Clements's side, and I thought it a terrible predicament and situation that resulted in Wetherby's nomination, because that led to all the problems. But that committee would not, in my opinion, have nominated Joe Leary.

BIRDWHISTELL: Did Clements attempt to persuade the committee to nominate Leary?


FARRIS: I would have to leave that to Clements himself or someone else. I cannot say for sure. This is--as you can imagine, here you had Chandler and Waterfield and Joe Leary and that group over here and then you had Wetherby and Clements and Combs and Beauchamp and this committee that they had appointed that were their friends, that Chandler nor Waterfield nor Leary had one single vote on it and couldn't get any. And it was fervor and sentiment and emotions, 01:38:00even, had been whipped up in this thing to the point that that committee would not stand for a member as close to the Chandler faction as my good friend Joe Leary was to give him the nomination.

BIRDWHISTELL: Of course, the committee then nominated Wetherby. What was the strategy of the Clements-Wetherby campaign, then? What did they think they had to do, or what did you and the others think that you had to do to overcome Morton and Cooper in the general election with the Presidential campaign in mind and all those factors, I guess?

FARRIS: A strategy to deal with Chandler was extremely difficult to 01:39:00devise. A strategy to cope with the antipathy of the Chandler administration in its totality to this faction of the Democratic Party that was represented by Clements and Wetherby on the ticket was very difficult to develop. As a matter of fact, a strategy in my opinion for Adlai Stevenson's brain trust to cope with the Chandler-Waterfield administration to get 'em to get in the harness and carry this state for Stevenson was very difficult. As a matter of fact, it's very obvious, none of those strategies, whatever they were, prevailed. But there was effort, there 01:40:00was effort made to get Chandler to be for the ticket, Democratic ticket. Clements, immediately after the primary, stirred up a veritable hornet's nest among Clements-Beauchamp-Wetherby Democrats by coming to Frankfort and meeting Chandler, talking to him about Clements and his efforts to again placate an old foe and bring him around, make that effort. And it--in most instances in 01:41:00politics, those kind of things, a gracious winner dealing with a bad loser, it's the right and proper thing to do, I still think it was probably the right and proper thing to do, but it was unsuccessful. Chandler was very difficult for Clements to deal with. It stirred up, it demoralized the Clements' Democrats. There was almost a Civil-War-era-type psychology in Kentucky, in my opinion.


FARRIS: So divided. Feelings--it's almost unimaginable at the moment.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yet, publicly, you know, Chandler was still saying he was 01:42:00supporting the democratic ticket. And I recall--

FARRIS: I haven't looked at any of the old newspapers or even thought about this thing for many years, but I believe that most of in most of those instances, though, there was always a clinker though. There was six nice, beautiful, soft snowballs tossed in a friendly gesture, and--but actually seven were thrown, and one of the seven had a hard rock in it. (laughs) And that was Chandler's--that was his practice, his technique, and if I remember correctly he was consistent in this particular instance.

BIRDWHISTELL: I remember reading in particular about a new conference that was going to be held somewhere that, here in Frankfort , I believe, and Clements and Wetherby were going to be there and Chandler 01:43:00was going to show up and support them, and that seemed to just be a washout completely. Do you recall that?

FARRIS: I think it was a meeting at the country club in Frankfort, and it was completely a fiasco. I have forgotten the details, but I'm sure there must be newspaper coverage of it.

BIRDWHISTELL: Like a last-ditch attempt to heal--

FARRIS: Right, it was a last-ditch attempt to get Chandler and his administration broke fully into the thing or support the ticket to the point that Kentucky would go Democratic. And I think it was considered by all concerned a failure.

BIRDWHISTELL: It seemed in '56--of course television was coming into its own as a campaign tool at this time, and Clements seemed to adopt this in '56, and the opposition did, too, with Morton.

FARRIS: Right.

BIRDWHISTELL: How did Clements feel about using television and from your 01:44:00vantage point was he effective on TV?

FARRIS: Clements was not at ease, Clements was not--Clements did not visibly demonstrate confidence and ease in dealing with any aspect of the publicity media and maybe least of all television. Again, I think that Clements viewed somewhat like Lyndon Johnson the press as an adversary at least if not an outright enemy, and his attitude and his dealings with them always--he was never able to quite shield himself from giving 01:45:00this impression.

BIRDWHISTELL: I've heard that from a journalist, that Clements' reaction to the press was always either ill at ease or, at worst, violent. (laughs)

FARRIS: Right. (both laugh)

BIRDWHISTELL: In your years with him, did you ever attempt to--or was there ever any attempt to make him feel more at ease with the press or to help him understand the press a little better and to use them as some politicians are able to?

FARRIS: Well, he had the regular or normal political instinct to want to use the press, and, yes, he made efforts to court the press, but he never could pull it off just right.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's an interesting aspect of his career, I think.

FARRIS: Though he got along personally with a number of people 01:46:00in the press, I think he always got along with the so-called dean of the Courier-Journal staff here in Frankfort, Allen Trout, real well. And the press during his later years in political life I think gave him good press because he earned it the hard way. (laughs) They couldn't give him--and it was what he had done and the achievements and the recognition he had brought to himself and his great successes here in bringing Kentucky bringing state government out of the horse-and-buggy days or out of the Stone Age. And I think he had 01:47:00much help, but he was the single most powerful proponent of that thing that developed beginning in 1948 and I hope is continuing today, but he ignited that in my opinion.

BIRDWHISTELL: Well, while he was in the Senate, Thruston Morton was Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations, and they had worked together at times on different things. What was his attitude toward Morton'? Did he respect Morton as a candidate and--

FARRIS: Yes, I think he did. I think he had much more respect for Morton, say, than he did Cooper.

BIRDWHISTELL: Someone said that perhaps Clements never really thought he very could lose in '56, even to the very end that he was--you 01:48:00know, he just didn't see how there was any way that a man who had done the things he had done and reached the position that he had reached could be defeated. Is that your impression, that it never really dawned on him how much trouble he was in?

FARRIS: Oh, I think he knew what he was up against really the day that Chandler beat Combs. Then I think it was compounded and re-emphasized when the early May primary bill was passed by the--Chandler dominated session of the legislature. Then I think it was almost profoundly demonstrated that he could be in trouble and was in trouble when the committee nominated Wetherby. So I think he had these alert points all along, and I think he was highly cognizant of the 01:49:00fact that he could be in trouble. Now, that doesn't mean to say that he always responded to this knowledge. Clements had the normal and maybe an excessive number of people, individuals, that at one time or another that he that they harbored dislike for Clements as a result of something that he had or had not done, or something that they had imagined that the Clements administration had done to them. Any governor is going to have lots of scars. So Clements was never free, as no politician is, of the need to fence-mend. And of Clements'--he got much more involved in the Washington thing than anybody or probably that he himself ever dreamed that he would get involved 01:50:00in when he got to the Senate. As a consequence, he did fall trap to this Potomac fever thing to the extent that his business back home were fewer and fewer and further and further apart. And along in, say, in 1953 or 4, or right in--5, maybe--somewhere in those two or three year periods there I know one good friend of his that was in Washington, went by the office and caught him and told him that he needed to think about his fence- mending, that he had been gone a long time, and Clements said he knew that, and he chuckled. But he also said that you know, you really don't have to mend a fence until you 01:51:00get ready to turn the cows out. So that may give a little insight, but I don't mean to diminish his knowledge of the fact that he was in deep trouble and knew that he had to fence-mend all along. Very frankly, he was the kind of an individual that got so totally involved in his role in the Senate and his prodigious work effort up there in the Senate that he did neglect his own political welfare here in Kentucky, there's no question about that.

BIRDWHISTELL: Clements' career had been one that--such that he didn't have to get used to being defeated, or he wasn't one used to defeat. How did he handle defeat in '56? You were right next 01:52:00to him. What was his reaction?

FARRIS: Clements took defeat rather sadly and semi-embittered and sharply upset, in my opinion on a continuing basis, for a period of time. Among his acquaintances, in my opinion the best way to sum it up, he took defeat as you would expect him to take it, whatever that means.

BIRDWHISTELL: Right. (laughs) Of course after that he went to work in Washington with the Democratic Campaign Committee and still worked close with Lyndon Johnson in the Senate. But then in '59 when Combs was elected governor, he decided to return to Kentucky as Highway Commissioner. I 01:53:00was wondering, as a close advisor to him all these years, why he would make a decision like that. What was his interest in coming back to Kentucky and taking a post such as that after being governor and Senator and Lyndon Johnson's right-hand man?

FARRIS: Again, Clements had this lifetime overriding interest in politics and public affairs. He had a monumental score to settle with Chandler and Waterfield. Again, I spent the entire year again in the Seelbach Hotel, 01:54:00myself. Those were grueling campaigns in those days. I guess they still are-- (laughter) But Clements came into the Combs campaign as he had both the time and the inclination. And he, along with the campaign staff down there, he was one of us. And we gave it all we had, and it was just barely enough, but it was enough. Clements in my opinion took profound satisfaction out of the outcome of that race. Having been so involved in it and with his 01:55:00great love for Kentucky, and I say that seriously, he--plus the fact that all through my years of dealing with him, I had noticed that Clements had a special interest, the interest of a--a boyish interest in the highway department, because he felt like that the highway department was so important, that roads--Clements grew up during the generations where roads were the biggest problem in Kentucky. And they were, having lived on 01:56:00mud roads all my adolescent years I--mud roads are horrible to contend with. Clements knew all about that. Clements was intrigued with the highway department being able to put these roads down, get people where they could drive on and good road and a safe road into the county seat or anywhere else they wanted to go. And he wanted 'em built. And he sweated blood and sweat to get the two-cent gasoline tax adopted so that the people of Kentucky could get out of the mud. That's what he wanted. He wanted the people of Kentucky out of mud.

BIRDWHISTELL: So this was his main motive?

FARRIS: And I think that this continuing interest in the highway department and here is an administration that was going to take office in December after Combs's victory in November, that without question owed Clements 01:57:00whatever political plums that he wanted. And he didn't want many. He decided that he wanted to be Highway Commissioner. It's inconsistent, it doesn't fit in with anything else but I've given you my basic reason and I think the only reason. I think the only reason. He just wanted to be Highway Commissioner, because he liked what the highway department did.

BIRDWHISTELL: Of course, so many newspapermen at the time and political observers thought that from his post in the highway commission he would be running the state government.


BIRDWHISTELL: Did he have a lot of influence? I suppose he must have had a great deal of influence in the administration.

FARRIS: He had--well, I don't know whether that--I mean that might have been true, but he was over there such a short time, 01:58:00he didn't exercise much influence, I'd say, in the Combs administration. But, yes, you know he would have influence, but I don't think he would try to run state government. But he also--and this turned out to be a bone of contention--he would run the highway department, the governor notwithstanding, or anybody else as long as he were over there, he would run the highway department.

BIRDWHISTELL: And then of course his problems with what became known as the truck scandal came up, and he was out of the Combs administration. Did you find it hard to conceive of Clements and Chandler being allies in the campaign of '63?

FARRIS: Extremely difficult. But I also found it very difficult for 01:59:00Governor Combs and Lieutenant Governor Wyatt not to stand up for Clements in his trouble on the truck deal. I found that very troublesome. That was not the kind of political ethics that I believe that the situation demanded on the part of the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor.

BIRDWHISTELL: So you think he was sort of a scapegoat?

FARRIS: Yes, I think it was a badly bungled thing. I'm sure Clements handled it badly, in retrospect I'm sure that--I'm sure it was just--you see, politicians by and large are more honest than most people. (laughs) Basically more honest than most people. And I'm sure they 02:00:00were trying to do--Thruston Cook, Thurston Cook--I've forgotten his name, haven't saw it for a long time--a favor. But by the same token, I do not think that Combs, nor Wyatt nor Clements wanted to do anything adverse to the public interest. Now, these may be--these may sound like irreconcilable conflicts, but in public affairs and politics I don't think that they are. So the whole truck deal was a most unfortunate and sad escapade in politics in my experience, and I think that all parties were at fault or contributed to handling it poorly; and 02:01:00in the final analysis the state did not buy the trucks, the deal was not consummated, so nothing bad happened there; and I think it could have happened the same way, and at the same time the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor could have and should have publicly, strongly and unequivocally supported Clements.


BIRDWHISTELL: Is there anything that we haven't discussed that you--looking back over Clements' career you think--

[End of side four]

--would be an important addition to the record for someone who is studying Clements's career?

FARRIS: Well, I guess not much; I'm not much of a philosopher, or don't have great insight into psychology and such related fields. I think Clements had some of the attributes that you can look at, think about and kind of that measure that contributed to his success and that probably would contribute to anybody else's success that wants to--that are endowed with the normal faculties, and I would say that 02:03:00he was a man of strong feelings. He was not free of emotion; he was fearless and timid. He was strong physically. He had a capacity for hard and enduring work and he drove that capacity to its extremity. He's now past eighty years old, and is living proof that hard work won't do irreparable damage. Clements was smart, he 02:04:00had acute, alert insight into situations and people and could analyze and interpret trends, events--he had nothing but ill for a proven and known political enemy. He wanted to place in the ''post-Watergate" vernacular in his own enemy list, mental list in his mind, he wanted to place in only a minimum number. He did not have anybody scouting around for enemies, he didn't want enemies, he didn't like enemies, but he 02:05:00was not unaware that enemies

[Break in tape.]

[End of interview.]