Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Colgate S. Prentice, November 13, 1979

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:29 - Personal background

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Partial Transcript: Well, Mr. Prentice, I thought we would--uh--might begin by getting a little bit about your background.

Segment Synopsis: Prentice details his educational and professional background.

Keywords: Alumni; Assistants; Bureau of the Budget; Capitol Hill (Washington, D.C.); Congress; Dwight Eisenhower; Elections; Government work; Graduate schools; H. Alexander Smith; House of Representatives; John Sherman Cooper; Junior management assistants; Legislative assistants; Peter Frelinghuysen; Press; Richard Nixon; Senate; Senators; Vice presidents; Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs; Young people

Subjects: Careers; Federal government; New Jersey; Office management; Politicians; Press releases; Princeton University; Responsibility; Swarthmore College; Washington (D.C.); Work

00:03:56 - Being hired in John Sherman Cooper's office / Working in Richard Nixon's office

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Partial Transcript: How did you make contact with--with--uh--Senator Cooper in terms of going to his office?

Segment Synopsis: Prentice recalls the hiring process he underwent to become Senator Cooper's administrative assistant in the early 1960s. Prentice also discusses his work in Richard Nixon's office.

Keywords: Administrative assistants; Aid to education; Bipartisanship; Capitol Hill (Washington, D.C.); Civil liberties; Cranberry crisis; Dwight Eisenhower; Economic aid; Eisenhower administration; Executive branch; International exchange programs; John F. Kennedy; John Sherman Cooper; Lee White; Liberal Republicans; Lorraine Cooper; Nebraskans; Political campaigns; Richard Nixon; Robert Taft; Ted Sorensen; U.S. Ambassador to India; Vice presidents; White House

Subjects: Business; Civil rights; Conservative; Ideology; Liberal; Personality; Politicians; Reputation; Speeches; Staff; Travel; Washington (D.C.); Wisconsin; Work

00:11:18 - Work at Cooper's office

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Partial Transcript: How did you--uh--proceed to--to work your way into the--running this...

Segment Synopsis: Prentice reflects upon his work as an administrative assistant at Senator Cooper's Washington D.C. office and how difficult it was for him to organize the office initially.

Keywords: Administrative assistants; Administrators; Anti-ballistic missile system; Barry Goldwater; Constitutional law; Foreign policy; Harper’s Bazaar; John Sherman Cooper; Lee White; Military drafts; Peter Frelinghuysen; Republican Party; Richard Nixon; Senators; William Miller

Subjects: Articles; Civil rights; Leadership; Mail; Office management; Politicians; Secretaries; Speeches; Staff; United States. Department of State; Washington (D.C.)

00:16:17 - Cooper and his staff / Cooper's habits

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Partial Transcript: How many people are we talking about and--and maybe you could--if you can recall some of the specific people that were there--

Segment Synopsis: Prentice describes office dynamics and staff members. Prentice expresses frustration at attempting to control longtime employees who had overstepped the boundaries of their positions. Prentice then highlights office management and organization as a challenge. Cooper's office habits are also considered.

Keywords: Administrative assistants; Attorney General; Bailey Guard; Berlin crisis; Bobby Kennedy; Cabinet members; Constituent services; Constituents; Farm legislation; Foreign policy; Friends; Georgetown (Washington, D.C.); Habits; Janet Humphrey; John F. Kennedy; John Sherman Cooper; Lee White; Legislative assistants; Nikita Khrushchev; Press; Ruth Midthun; Senate; Senators; Vienna meeting; White House

Subjects: Articles; Authority; Bureaucracy; Civil rights; Employees; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Letters; Mail; Newspapers; Office management; Offices; Personality; Politicians; Responsibility; Staff; Travel; Washington (D.C.)

00:29:53 - Hiring people for Cooper's office

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Partial Transcript: Do you think Senator Cooper had a habit of hiring people that operated in a similar fashion...

Segment Synopsis: Prentice considers Cooper's overall strategy in hiring people for the office.

Keywords: Administrative assistants; Connections; Eisenhower administration; Food industry; John Sherman Cooper; Lee White; National politics; Office managers; Representatives; Responsibilities; Richard Nixon; Senator; Senators; William Macomber; William Miller

Subjects: Characteristics; Correspondence; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Office management; Politicians; Republican National Committee (U.S.); Staff; Washington (D.C.)

00:34:21 - Staff members / Letters

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Partial Transcript: I don't whether you still want me to go through the r--the n--rest of the names of the people I remember on that staff.

Segment Synopsis: Prentice lists the names and responsibilities of staff members in Senator Cooper's D.C. office during the early 1960s. Prentice also talks of the processing of letters in the office.

Keywords: Administrative assistants; Bailey Guard; Case letters; Case work; Civil rights legislation; Constituent services; Janet Humphrey; John Sherman Cooper; Legislative mail; Mail campaigns; Ruth Midthun; Senate; Senate Public Works Committee; Senators

Subjects: Criticism; Kentuckians; Letters; Mail; Office management; Politicians; Protection; Retirement; Staff; Washington (D.C.)

00:38:33 - Cooper's schedule

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Partial Transcript: Did he have typical days? I mean, what was a typical Cooper day while you his administrative assistant?

Segment Synopsis: Prentice illustrates what a typical day was like for Cooper in the Senate.

Keywords: Accomplishments; Administrative assistants; Appointments; Capitol Hill (Washington, D.C.); Character; Civil rights legislation; Committee meetings; Congressional records; Constituents; Foreign policy; Friends; John Sherman Cooper; Lee White; Newspapers; Personalities; Schedules; Senate; Senate floor; Senators

Subjects: Charisma; Office management; Offices; Politicians; Speeches; Staff; Washington (D.C.)

00:45:10 - Cooper's appeal

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Partial Transcript: Did you ever hear this story?

Segment Synopsis: Prentice considers what made Cooper appealing to people.

Keywords: 1960 presidential election; Administrative assistants; Character; Habits; Hubert Humphrey; John F. Kennedy; John Sherman Cooper; Judge; Lee White; Personalities; Senate; Senators

Subjects: Office management; Politicians; Sincerity; Staff; Washington (D.C.); West Virginia

00:48:09 - Cooper and Thruston Morton / Cooper as a politician

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Partial Transcript: What were your general impressions of Morton?

Segment Synopsis: Prentice assesses the dynamics between Cooper and Morton and their respective staffs. Prentice discusses Cooper as a politician and how he was able to be successful.

Keywords: Administrative assistants; Articles; Case work; Civil rights; Congressmen; Constituent services; Constituents; Elections; Flood control; Foreign aid; John Sherman Cooper; Liberal; Mail; Medicaid; Medicare; Partisanship; Personalities; Policy; Politics; Republicans; Senate; Senators; Tennessee Valley Authority; Tobacco; Votes; Welfare

Subjects: Kentucky; Morton, Thruston Ballard, 1907-1982; Office management; Offices; Politicians; Press; Reputation; Staff; Washington (D.C.)

00:53:22 - Publicity

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Partial Transcript: Was it in '60 that he was voted best Republican Senator...

Segment Synopsis: Prentice details the publicity work that Cooper's office did in comparison to other politician's offices. Cooper's style of publicity is also mentioned.

Keywords: Administrative assistant; Agriculture; Amendments; Anti-ballistic missile system; Bailey Guard; Civil rights legislation; Colleagues; Debates; Deputy managing editors; Friends; Influence; John F. Kennedy; John Sherman Cooper; Legislation; Louisville Courier-Journal; Magazines; Policy; Public works; Relationships; Richard Harwood; Richard Nixon; Senate; Senators; Swing votes; White House Correspondents' Dinner; Young politicians

Subjects: Education; Journalists; Office management; Personality; Politicians; Press; Press releases; Public relations; Publicity; Reputation; Speeches; Staff; Washington (D.C.); Washington post

00:59:47 - Thruston Morton and Richard Nixon / Senators closest to Cooper

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Partial Transcript: Some to this day believe that Nixon promised Morton the vice presidency.

Segment Synopsis: Prentice talks of the possibility of Thruston Morton becoming Nixon's nominee for vice president during the 1960 presidential election. Prentice lists some of the Senators that Cooper got along with the best.

Keywords: 1960 presidential election; Administrative assistants; Agriculture; Anti-ballistic missile system; Chairman; Foreign policy; Freshman Senators; George Aiken; Harrison A. Williams; Jacob Javits; James B. Pearson; John C. Stennis; John F. Kennedy; John Sherman Cooper; Mike Mansfield; National publicity; Political candidates; Presidential candidates; Republican Party; Richard Nixon; Senate; Senate Agricultural Committee; Senators; Thruston Morton; Troops; Vice presidents

Subjects: Conservative; Europe; Ideology; Mentorship; Morton, Thruston Ballard, 1907-1982; Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913-1994; Office management; Offices; Personality; Philosophy; Politicians; Publicity; Respect; Staff; Temperament; Values; Vietnam War, 1961-1975; Washington (D.C.)

01:05:31 - Cooper and the Kentucky delegation

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Partial Transcript: Did you ever notice any Senators that he just didn't seem to be able to get along with?

Segment Synopsis: Prentice relays the dynamics between Cooper and other members of the Kentucky delegation in Washington D.C., including Senators and Congressmen.

Keywords: Administrative assistants; Congressmen; John Sherman Cooper; Kentucky delegation; Senate; Senators; Tensions; Thruston Morton; Tobacco legislation; Water projects

Subjects: Office management; Politicians; Staff; Tobacco; Washington (D.C.)

01:08:05 - Cooper's civil rights philosophy

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Partial Transcript: How would you assess his view of--towards civil rights in the '61-'63 period?

Segment Synopsis: Prentice discusses Cooper's constitutionalist view of civil rights issues.

Keywords: Administrative assistants; Amendments; Attitudes; Constitutional issues; Constitutional lawyers; Constitutionality; Customs; Founding fathers; Jacob Javits; John Sherman Cooper; Kennedy administration; Legislation; Liberal; Moral issues; Mores; Senate; Senators; Social views

Subjects: African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Civil rights; Civil rights movement; Criticism; Kentucky; Politicians; Race discrimination.; Staff; United States--Race relations.; Washington (D.C.)

01:10:59 - Cooper's work ethic / Robert Kennedy

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Partial Transcript: I was not that much involved except in terms of those--some of those sessions where he'd just sort of wanna talk about some of these things.

Segment Synopsis: Prentice details Cooper's strong work ethic and independence. Prentice also talks of Cooper's interactions with Robert Kennedy.

Keywords: Attorney generals; Congressional records; Foreign policy; John F. Kennedy; John Sherman Cooper; Mail; Relationships; Robert Kennedy; Senate; Senate floor; Senators; Speechwriting; Tobacco

Subjects: African Americans; African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Black people; Civil rights; Civil rights movement; Kennedy family; Kennedy, Robert F., 1925-1968; Office management; Politicians; Race discrimination.; United States--Race relations.; Washington (D.C.)

01:14:30 - Morton campaign and Cooper / Cooper's indecisiveness

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Partial Transcript: Morton ran for re-election in '62 in Kentucky.

Segment Synopsis: Prentice describes Cooper's level of involvement with Thruston Morton's re-election campaign for the Senate in 1962. Prentice also discusses Cooper's habit of being indecisive when it came to making decisions.

Keywords: Administrative assistants; Barry Goldwater; Bills; Civil rights amendments; John Sherman Cooper; Liberal; Political campaigns; Republicans; Senate; Senators; Thruston Morton; Wilson Wyatt

Subjects: Articles; Civil rights; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Morton, Thruston Ballard, 1907-1982; Office management; Politicians; Speeches; Staff; Washington (D.C.)

01:19:59 - Lorraine Cooper / Close friends of Cooper

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Partial Transcript: You mentioned that--uh--Lorraine Cooper had called you about the job...

Segment Synopsis: Prentice recalls Cooper's second wife, Lorraine. Prentice considers who Cooper's closest friends were.

Keywords: Administrative assistants; Caribbean; Democratic presidents; Family; Janet Humphrey; John F. Kennedy; John Sherman Cooper; Kennedy family; Lorraine Cooper; Pillsbury family; Relationships; Relatives; Republican Senators; Ruth Midthun; Secretary; Senate; Senators; Social life; White House

Subjects: Friendships; Holidays; Personality; Politicians; Staff; Travel; Washington (D.C.)

01:23:30 - Cooper's personality

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Partial Transcript: No I--I just think in--in s--summary...

Segment Synopsis: Prentice illustrates Cooper's personality through a story that demonstrates his admirable character in terms of ignoring partisanship.

Keywords: Administrative assistants; Character; Clifford Case; Congressional relations; Democrats; Federal City Club (Washington, D.C.); Federal Elections Committee; Jimmy Carter; John Sherman Cooper; Personalities; Peter Frelinghuysen; Political appointments; Political nominations; Reporters; Republicans; Senate; Senators

Subjects: Ideology; Loyalty; New Jersey; Office management; Partisanship; Personality; Politicians; Staff; United States. Department of State; Washington (D.C.); Washington post