Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with John Sherman Cooper, April 27, 1980

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:07 - U.S. intervention in Vietnam

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Partial Transcript: And through those episodes, the policy of containment seemed to work quite well.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper details how the U.S. shifted from a policy of non-intervention to active containment of Communism through the deployment of American troops in the Vietnam War.

Keywords: Aggression; Agreement; Aircraft; Alternative; Appealing; BBC (British Broadcasting Company); Broadcast; Closer; Colony; Control; Controversy; Defeat; Democrats; Deployment; Disagree; Divided; Dwight Eisenhower; Empire; General election; Help; Intervention; Interview; Investigation; John Foster Dulles; Large; Leaving; Mike Mansfield; Military advisors; Negotiations; Non-intervention; North Vietnam; Not held; Nuclear forces; Prevention; Prohibit; Refused; Republicans; Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Separate; Settlement; South Vietnam; Superior; Troops; Unification; World War II

Subjects: China; Christians; Communists; Conversion; Discussion; Europeans; Fear; France; Geneva (Switzerland); Japan; Korean War, 1950-1953; Nuclear weapons; Participation; People; Politicians; Radio; Responsibility; Russia; Threats; Trust; United States; Vietnam; Vietnam War, 1961-1975; Views; World War, 1939-1945

00:06:44 - Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)

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Partial Transcript: Something else now, shifting back to, to domestic relations in 1954, one of the major controversies in which you were heavily involved had to do with the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper recalls the debate over TVA and its funding sources in 1954. Cooper takes a stance in favor of TVA, mainly due to the fact that TVA was beneficial to many of his constituents.

Keywords: Advice; Against; Alben Barkley; Anti-TVA; Appointment; Bill; Breakfast; Build; Cancelled; Congressional appropriations; Conservation; Construction; Courteous; Debate; Decision; Defeated; Democrats; Dixon-Yates Controversy; Dwight Eisenhower; Entity; Facilities; Favored; Funds; George Humphrey; Influence; Leaving; Low cost; Needs; No trouble; North; Not involved; Obligations; Opposed; Pending; Polite; Power companies; Power facilities; Power production; President; Private sources; Proposal; Republicans; Rumors; Secretary of Treasury; Senate; Sherman Adams; Smart; South; Southwest Kentucky; Supportive; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Unmanageable; Utilities; Vote; Waiting room; White House

Subjects: Agency; Alabama; Arkansas; Bonds; Cabinet; Coal; Confidence; Cost; Counties; Dams; Duke Power Company; Example; Federal government; Florida; Florida Power & Light Company; Georgia; Georgia Power Company; Hearings; Interest; Kentucky; Memphis (Tenn.); Mississippi; Money; North Carolina; Nuclear energy; People; Politicians; Selling; South Carolina; Successful; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority; Texas

00:14:45 - Working relationships with presidents

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Partial Transcript: Did your stand in this controversy, uh, affect your relations with the president adversely?

Segment Synopsis: Cooper discusses his working relationships with many presidents he interacted with while in the Senate, including Nixon, Kennedy, and Eisenhower.

Keywords: Able; Airplane; Alben Barkley; Angry; Bad taste; Banking committee; Body; Breakfast; Campaign; Candidate; Chairman; Constant; Dedication; Dwight Eisenhower; Enjoyed; Fighting; Friends; Hard; Introduction; Issues; John F. Kennedy; Lincoln's Birthplace (Hodgenville, Ky.); Mind; Newspaper; No trouble; Opposed; Outspoken; Phone call; Review; Richard Nixon; Senate; Smart; Support; Treatment; William Proxmire

Subjects: Building; Crowds; Death; Exercise; Fort Knox (Ky.); Gentleman; Golf; Good; Hodgenville (Ky.); Human beings; Kentucky; Lexington (Ky.); Money; People; Politicians; Presidents; Relations; Responsibility; Running; Soldiers; Speech; Time; Transylvania University; Travel; United States; Vacations; Wisconsin; Women

00:21:32 - 1954 Senate campaign

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Partial Transcript: In '54, you ran for, uh--I guess this was--would be the first time you ran for a full six year term.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper describes his 1954 Senatorial campaign, which involved many issues with flooding and rivers in Kentucky.

Keywords: Appropriations committee; Approval; Authorization; Buckhorn; Busy; Campaign; Chairman; Congressional appropriations; Conservation; Dam; Dwight Eisenhower; Eastern Kentucky; Efforts; Few; Fight; Flood walls; Floods; Foreign; Greenup Dam (Ky.); House; Interests; Kentucky Dam (Ky.); Kentucky River development; Kind; Locks; Market; Old; Port; Rebuild; Reconstruction; Residual oil; Senate; Sherman Adams; Situation; Styles Bridges; Support; Traffic; Virgil Chapman

Subjects: Agriculture; Arguments; Ashland (Ky.); Big Sandy River (Ky. and W. Va.); Coal; Death; Green River (Ky.); Greenup County (Ky.); Interest; Kentucky; Kentucky Lake (Ky. and Tenn.); Kentucky River; Louisville (Ky.); Mississippi River; New Orleans (La.); Ohio; Ohio River; Politicians; Protection; Tobacco; Venezuela

00:27:28 - Alben Barkley

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Partial Transcript: At the beginning of the campaign in, in 1954, what, what were your thoughts?

Segment Synopsis: Cooper talks of Alben Barkley and what it was like to go against such a formidable opponent in the 1954 Senatorial campaign. Cooper also details his friendship with Barkley and his family.

Keywords: Able; Advice; Alben Barkley; Ambassador; Band; Bed; Benefits; Busy; Campaign manager; Candidate; Champion; Chances; Circumstances; Congress; Contribute; Crowd; Daughter; Democrat; Democrats; Determined; Difficult; Doctor; Effort; Family; Foreign policy; Forget; Friends; Gallery; Grateful; Happy; Hard; Help; Hometown; House; Ideas; Important; Imposing; Independent; Intelligent; Interesting; Issue; Jane Barkley; Kind; Lawyer; Leader; Leaving; Lost; Loved it; Nice; Opposite; President; Problems; Republicans; River development; Schedule; Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Slim; Son; Speaker; Tired; Together; U.S. Ambassador to India; Unknown; Vice president; Visit; Visited; Votes; Wife; Won; Years

Subjects: Ashland (Ky.); Brother; Cities; Coal; Counties; Death; Debates; Discussion; Friend; Good; Interest; Lexington (Ky.); Louisville (Ky.); Marriage; Money; Organization; Paducah (Ky.); Party affiliation; People; Picture; Pikeville (Ky.); Politicians; Proud; Saint Louis (Miss.); Snow; Speeches; Time; True; Writing

00:38:45 - Party support and election in 1954

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Partial Transcript: Did, did the, the national party give you support in '54?

Segment Synopsis: Cooper explains what level of party support he received from the Republicans during the 1954 Senate campaign. Cooper talks of the election and campaign in general.

Keywords: Advantage; Asset; Campaign; Chances; Cheapside (Lexington, Ky.); Courthouse; Democrats; Dwight Eisenhower; Election; Future; Last; Lincoln's Birthplace (Hodgenville, Ky.); Record; Republicans; Richard Nixon; Senator; Situation; Snowstorm; Support; Vote; Votes; Yard

Subjects: Age; Barbourville (Ky.); Experience; Hodgenville (Ky.); Lexington (Ky.); London (Ky.); Middlesboro (Ky.); Party affiliation; Pineville (Ky.); Politicians

00:43:44 - Individual rights

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Partial Transcript: Senator Cooper, one of your major concerns in the 1953-'54 session of Congress seemed to be the threatened infringements that were going on as far as individual rights were concerned.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper discusses his defense of individual rights in the Senate in 1953-1954.

Keywords: Administrator; Concern; Debate; Different; Employment; Fair; Federal funds; Funds; Hard; Individual rights; Individuals; Program; Record; Robert Taft; Strict; Upcoming; William Clay Cole

Subjects: Administration; Civil rights; Discrimination; Education; Good; Housing; Politicians; Public housing; Social; Speech

00:48:34 - Dennis Chavez / Workers bill

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Partial Transcript: The--(clears throat)--Republican attempt to unseat the Democratic Senator from New Mexico, Dennis Chavez or Chavez--

Segment Synopsis: Cooper explains why he decided to go against his party regarding an unsuccessful bid to unseat Democratic Senator Dennis Chavez. Cooper details a workers bill concerning the rights of Latino laborers, mainly located in the Southwestern U.S.

Keywords: Agreement; Areas; Bill; Charges; Decent; Dennis Chavez; Difference; Difficult; Governor; Hard; Illegal; Impossible; Latinos; Living; Local elections; Medical conditions; Mexican Farm Labor Act; New; Party vote; Politics; Problems; Question; Regard; Republicans; Rules committee; Senator; Senator Griswold; Southwestern United States; Stance; Subcommittee; Subject; Sustain; Treatment; Vote; Voters; Workers

Subjects: Harlan County (Ky.); Housing; Kentucky; Mountains; Politicians; Rates; United States

00:52:45 - Joseph McCarthy

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Partial Transcript: Well, when the Republicans won the Senate in 1952, that made the Senator from Wisconsin, Joe McCarthy, Chairman of the, uh, Senate Committee on Government on Operations.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper provides details on his encounters and knowledge of Senator Joseph McCarthy, the Senator who, in part, brought about the Red Scare period in the U.S. during the 1950s.

Keywords: Accustomed; Acquaintance; Affinity; Alone; Attack; Away; Care; Censure; Chairman; Charles William Tobey; Congress; Counsels; David Shine; Delegate; Democrats; Denouncement; Departments; Entry; Expansion; Following; Galleries; Great; Help; Investigation; Joseph Kennedy; Joseph McCarthy; Leaving; Misled; Name; No response; Nominated; Out; Personal; Philip Jessup; Pleasant; Provisions; Rejected; Reprimands; Republicans; Robert Kennedy; Roy Cohn; Rules; Seat; Senate Committee on Government Operations; Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Senate floor; Senators; Shameful; Speaking; Subcommittee on Investigations; Sufficient; Supporter; Unknown; William Fulbright; Winston Churchill; World War II; Younger

Subjects: Claims; Communists; Criticism; Disabled veterans; Federal government; Georgia; Hearings; Hospitals; Men; New Hampshire; Newspapers; Patriot; People; Politicians; Popular; Speech; Sympathy; Tactics; United Kingdom; United Nations; United States; United States. Department of State; Views; West Virginia; World; World War, 1939-1945

01:00:01 - Vote on McCarthy / Denouncement of McCarthy

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Partial Transcript: Well now there--in early 1954, uh, the Senate did vote...

Segment Synopsis: Cooper discusses his experience with the Senate's vote on McCarthy and his behavior. Cooper outlines what events led to the eventual denouncement of McCarthy on the Senate floor.

Keywords: Abuse of power; Admission; Advisor; Afraid; Against; Anti-Russian; Appropriations; Attack; Attitudes; Authorization; Berlin Blockade; Breaking promises; Charged; Chief Representative of USSR; Committee; Complaints; Dean Acheson; Denounced; Denouncement; Distressed; Downfall; Duty; Eastern Europe; Error; Examination; Fine; Following; Funds; Government figures; Hurt; Issue; Joseph McCarthy; Justified; Lawyer; Leading figures; Left; Philip Jessup; Policy committee; Practice; Practiced; Question; Quote; Ralph Flanders; Record; Resigned; Restraint; Robert Taft; Service; Soldier; Speak out; Statement; Stopped; Subcommittee; Term; U.S. Army; Unopposed; Vote; William Fulbright; World War II

Subjects: Abuse; Churches; Communists; Europe; Facts; Federal government; Freedom; Money; People; Politicians; Professors; Responsibility; Schools; Soviets; Speeches; Threats; Truth; United Nations; United States; United States. Department of Agriculture; Vermont; World War, 1939-1945; Writing

01:10:37 - McCarthy's censure in the Senate

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Partial Transcript: There was a--there was something that happened before, uh, before the real process of, uh, censure or condemnation occurred.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper details McCarthy's censure in the Senate.

Keywords: Able; Accusations; Advising; Attacking; Caught up; Censure; Chaplain; Committee; Court; Debate; Defense; Denounce; Drinking; Fight; Funeral; General; Heard; Hot; Hypocritical; In favor; Insistent; John McClellan; Joseph McCarthy; Media; Name; Notice; Offer; Opposed; Partisan committee; Ralph Flanders; Recommendation; Refuse; Resolution; Restaurant; Rights; Robert Kennedy; Sad; Secretary of Army; Senate chamber; Senator Watkins; Sermon; Unpleasant; Vote; Wife; William Knowland; Wrong

Subjects: Alcoholism; Communists; Crime; Death; Due process of law; Ego; Independence; Insubordination; Lawyers; Men; Newspapers; Politicians; Power; Propaganda; Television; Utah; Washington (D.C.); World

01:17:22 - Award from the Americans for Democratic Action

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Partial Transcript: I think it was in 1953, the Americans for Democratic Action gave you an award. Do you recall that?

Segment Synopsis: Cooper discusses the award he received from the political organization Americans for Democratic Action, as well as the background behind how he earned this accolade.

Keywords: Admit; Admitted; Against; Amendments; Application; Argument; Arthur Schlesinger, Jr; Assisting; Award; Before; Bias; Bill of Rights; Censure; Circuit court; Committee; Communist conspiracy; Congressional committees; Connected; County; Court; Democrat; Democrats; Duty; Favored; Fight; Fine; Free; Front page; Good American; Group; Guilty; Happy; Help; Hubert Humphrey; Important; John Kenneth Galbraith; John McClellan; Joseph McCarthy; Labor committee; Lawyer; Liars; Louisville Courier-Journal; Lyndon Johnson; Magazine; Newspaper; No passed; None; Obvious; Others; Passage; Paul Douglas; Persuasion; Positions; Printed; Private club; Problems; Progressive; Proposal; Quote; Republicans; Revive; School bill; School construction; Self-incrimination; Senate; Social issues; Speaking; Taft bill; Testify; Title; U.S. Army; Votes; Well-known; Why; William Knowland; Wilson Wyatt; World War II; Wrong

Subjects: Administration; Americans for Democratic Action; Budget; Conspiracy; Crime; Discrimination; Education; Elementary schools; History; Immunity; Leaders; Liberal; Libraries; Louisville (Ky.); People; Politicians; Public schools; Reasons; Rural; Society; Speech; Texas; Time; Views; Washington (D.C.); Witnesses; World War, 1939-1945

01:24:55 - Dulles' retaliation policy

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Partial Transcript: I think it was in January of about 1954, Secretary of State Dulles announced his famous massive retaliation policy.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper talks of the retaliation policy of Secretary of State John Foster Dulles in the 1950s.

Keywords: Adopted; Aggression; Aggressive; Aiding Europe; Attitude; Consideration; Containment policy; Dean Acheson; Deterrence; Dwight Eisenhower; Emphasis; Expansionists; Harry Truman; Inter-continental ballistic missiles; John Foster Dulles; Military force; Necessary; Nuclear superiority; Refused; Retaliatory power; Secretary of State; Shift; Test; Threatening; Today; Troops; World War II

Subjects: Administration; Ballistic missiles; Change; Chinese; Cold War; Communism; Europe; Greece; Hydrogen bomb; Iran; Korean War, 1950-1953; North Korea; Nuclear weapons; Politicians; Presidents; Russians; Time; Turkey; United States; World War, 1939-1945