Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Carl T. Curtis, January 26, 1981

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:01 - Meeting John Sherman Cooper

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Partial Transcript: Senator Curtis, I thought we might begin this morning by, uh, finding out if you can recall when you first meet Senator Cooper and, uh, some of your first impressions of him.

Segment Synopsis: Curtis recalls his first impressions of Cooper when they met in Congress in 1946.

Keywords: Amendments; Conference committees; Congress; Democrats; Diplomats; Elections; Foreign affairs; House of Representatives; Influence; John Sherman Cooper; Leaders; Provisions; Republicans; Russell Building (Washington, D.C.); Senate; Senate Committee on Rules & Administration; Senators; Votes

Subjects: Politicians; Speeches; Washington (D.C.)

00:04:10 - Bobby Baker investigation

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Partial Transcript: I suppose you all a--agreed most on, on your work in the Rules Committee.

Segment Synopsis: Curtis discusses his role in the Bobby Baker investigation in 1963.

Keywords: Advertisers; Bobby Baker; Congressional records; Courts; Debates; Democratic Party; Executive sessions; Insurance; Investigations; Joseph Clark; Lyndon Johnson; Negotiations; Party votes; Policies; Policy; Presidents; Senate Committee on Rules & Administration; Senate floor; Treasurers; U.S. Ambassador to Ireland; Vice presidents; Walter Jenkins

Subjects: Cross-examination; Fairness; Health; Hearings; Leadership; Life insurance; Politicians; Psychiatrists; Retirement; Television; Testimony; Texas; Truth; Voting; Washington (D.C.); Watergate Affair, 1972-1974; Witnesses

00:11:18 - Cooper's ability to attract votes / Cooper voting against Republicans

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Partial Transcript: Uh, there were other matters that I noticed, his ability to attract votes on the Senate floor.

Segment Synopsis: Curtis assesses Cooper's ability to attract votes from Senators in favor of his position. Curtis also talks of Cooper's tendency to go against the Republican Party in his voting patterns.

Keywords: Colleagues; Congress; Democrats; Foreign policy; Interventionists; John Sherman Cooper; NATO advisors; North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO); Republicans; U.N. representatives; Union leaders

Subjects: Blacklists; Criticism; Integrity; Kentucky; Labor; Labor unions; Management; Political parties; Politicians; Pressure; Reputation; United Nations; Voting; Washington (D.C.)

00:16:18 - Cooper and Thruston Morton

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Partial Transcript: When Senator Cooper was elected in '56, he defeated, uh, former governor of Kentucky Lawrence Wetherby.

Segment Synopsis: Curtis evaluates the working relationship between Cooper and Thruston Morton.

Keywords: Committees; Congress; Defense; Democrats; Earle Clements; Economy; Foreign affairs; House of Representatives; Industry; John Sherman Cooper; Lawrence Wetherby; Partisanship; Republicans; Senate Finance Committee; Senatorial Campaign Committee; Tax programs; Thruston Morton

Subjects: Horse racing; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Morton, Thruston Ballard, 1907-1982; Politicians; Republican National Committee (U.S.); Tobacco; Washington (D.C.)

00:18:58 - Views on agriculture

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Partial Transcript: During the Eisenhower administration, uh, Cooper, uh, continued his reputation of being an independent voter.

Segment Synopsis: Curtis shares his own personal views on agricultural legislation and how it affects farmers, and international issues such as imports and exports of agricultural goods.

Keywords: Advisors; Advocates; Allies; Children; Cigarettes; Depressed Areas bill; Eisenhower administration; Expenses; Family; Farming; Farms; Foreign policy; John Sherman Cooper; Nature; Policy; Post offices; Production; Prosperity; Representation; Secretary of Agriculture; Small farmers; Smoking; Taxes; Territory; The South

Subjects: Administration; Agriculture; Business; Crops; Economics; Education; Farmers; Imports; Income; Kentucky; Lobbying; Machinery; Markets; Politicians; Rural conditions; Surplus; United States. Department of State

00:25:05 - Social issues

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Partial Transcript: Do you think one of the reasons you may have differed so much on--in terms of social legislation was the fact that Senator Cooper, uh, had the Appalachian region in his constituency?

Segment Synopsis: Curtis outlines his perspective on social issues and the appropriate level of involvement of the federal government on these issues.

Keywords: Appalachia; Congress; Constituents; County seats; Deductible; Deficits; Economy; Family; Federal aid to education; Illnesses; John Sherman Cooper; Medical care; Medicine; Pay; Payroll taxes; Role of federal government; School lunch programs; Senior citizens; Seniors; Social Security taxes; Vacations; Veterans; Volunteer organizations

Subjects: Business; Education; Federal government; Food stamps; Generosity; Hospitals; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Life insurance; Medicaid; Medicare; Philosophy; Politicians; Poverty; Public housing; Rent subsidies; Rural conditions; Wealth

00:30:35 - Cooper and social programs

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Partial Transcript: It seems that Senator Cooper viewed that--it--the social programs as--uh--in the sense that Kentucky was a poor state...

Segment Synopsis: Curtis discusses Cooper's views on social programs.

Keywords: Aid to education; Amendments; Appalachia; Finances; John Sherman Cooper; Robert Taft; Social issues; Social programs

Subjects: Bureaucracy; Conservative; Education; Federal government; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Politicians; Responsibility; Voting

00:32:26 - Senate Minority Leader race

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Partial Transcript: In early 1959, Senator Dirksen was elected Minority Leader by the Republican Senators.

Segment Synopsis: Curtis recalls the race between Cooper and Everett Dirksen for Senate Minority Leader in 1959.

Keywords: Everett Dirksen; Fundraising; Liberal Republicans; Liberal bloc; Political candidates; Republicans; Senate; Senate Minority Leader; Senatorial Campaign Committee; Senators; Votes

Subjects: Conservatives; Elections; Politicians; Speeches; Voting; Washington (D.C.)

00:36:10 - Cooper and civil rights legislation / Warren Commission

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Partial Transcript: Of course, an important part of the legislative history of the late '50s and the '60s is the struggle for civil rights legislation in the Senate.

Segment Synopsis: Curtis considers Cooper's work on civil rights legislation. Curtis also discusses his own opinion of the Warren Commission.

Keywords: Assassinations; Border states; Committees; Crimes; Investigations; John F. Kennedy; John Sherman Cooper; Moderation; Political opponents; The South; Votes; Warren Commission

Subjects: African Americans; African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Black people; Civil rights; Civil rights movement; Debates; Kennedy, John Fitzgerald, 1917-1963; Kentucky; Murder; Politicians; Race discrimination.; Respect; Responsibility; Staff; United States--Race relations.; Work ethic

00:39:48 - Anti-ballistic missile system

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Partial Transcript: Another very complicated issue and, uh, one that was, uh, debated in the Senate for, uh--a great deal was the battle over the ABM system.

Segment Synopsis: Curtis compares his and Cooper's stances on the U.S. developing an anti-ballistic missile system.

Keywords: Anti-ballistic missile systems; Frank Church; John Sherman Cooper; Sponsorship; Traditions; Vietnam War, 1961-1975; Withdrawal

Subjects: Cold War; Idaho; Isolationism; Kentucky; Missiles; Nuclear weapons; Politicians; United States; Vietnam War, 1961-1975; War; Washington (D.C.); Weapons of mass destruction

00:42:31 - Cooper's character / Objectivity in foreign affairs

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Partial Transcript: During his entire career in the Senate, when you talk to Senator Cooper's colleagues, they mention the fact that they respected him, that, uh, even when they differed many times, like yourself, they respected him.

Segment Synopsis: Curtis analyzes Cooper's character. Curtis stresses the importance of objectivity for Senators in foreign policy issues, a quality he says Cooper possessed.

Keywords: Attitudes; Bias; Colleagues; Congress; Decisions; Defense; Foreign affairs; John Sherman Cooper; Nationality; Personality; Politics; Republicans; Senate; Senators; Temperament; Voting blocs; Welfare

Subjects: Character; Ethnicity; Greece; Greeks; Kentucky; Politicians; Race; Respect; Russia; Turkey; Turkish; United States

00:46:22 - Cooper's hearing difficulties / Republican Party voting

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Partial Transcript: Any other, uh, stories or anecdotes that you might have about Senator Cooper...

Segment Synopsis: Curtis briefly talks of Cooper's hearing difficulties and how this affected Cooper in the Senate. Curtis then details the reaction of the Republican Party to Cooper's propensity to vote against the party.

Keywords: Committee meetings; Deafness; Hard of hearing; John Sherman Cooper; Party loyalty; Political parties; Republican Party; Republicans; Robert Taft; Senate; Senate floor; Thruston Morton; Votes

Subjects: Character; Hearing; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Politicians; Responsibility; Voting; Washington (D.C.)

00:49:03 - Picking a vice president

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Partial Transcript: It's often been said that Senator Morton was promised the vice presidency in 1960 by President Nixon and he subsequently chose Lodge.

Segment Synopsis: Curtis describes some of the typical considerations that factor into a presidential candidate picking a vice president to be their running-mate throughout the campaign.

Keywords: Elections; Fred Vinson; Governors; Henry Cabot Lodge Jr.; Inaugurations; John Sherman Cooper; Political candidates; Political nominations; Political nominees; Political parties; Presidents; Ronald Reagan; Thruston Morton; Vice presidents

Subjects: Character; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Politicians; Washington (D.C.)