Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Eugene Edward Siler, Sr., October 26, 1982

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

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Partial Transcript: So, uh, we usually like to, uh, Mr. Siler, we--we like to begin by--uh--seeing if you can recall some of the--your first impressions of Senator Cooper.

Segment Synopsis: Siler discusses his friendship with Cooper and the business connections their fathers had with one another.

Keywords: 5th congressional district (Ky.); Appointed; Beginning; Burden; Circuit judge; Cocktail parties; Congressmen; Connection; County Superintendents; County judge; Cousin; Elected; False promises; Friendly; Game; Good friends; Gym; Help; Honest; House; Informal; John Sherman Cooper; Liars; No estate; Outgoing; Parallel; Pleasure; Public office; Republican Chairman; Republicans; School; Senate; Senators; Served; Sincere; Son; State Railroad Commissioner; Substitute; Support; Talking; U.S. Federal Judge; Uncle; University; Visiting

Subjects: Baptists; Basketball; Brothers; Capital; Careers; Centre College (Danville, Ky. : 1918- ); Conversation; Death; Families; Fathers; Friendship; Integrity; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Pallbearers; Politicians; Schools; Sisters; Somerset (Ky.); Student; Successful; Time; Truth; Washington (D.C.); Whitley County (Ky.); Wives; Yale University

00:05:32 - 1939 gubernatorial campaign / Qualities of politicians

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Partial Transcript: I want to--wanted to ask you--uh--the first state-wide campaign that Cooper ran was in '39 when he ran--.

Segment Synopsis: Siler recalls Cooper's 1939 gubernatorial campaign against King Swope. Siler also details some of the qualities that made himself and Cooper successful in politics.

Keywords: Bachelor; Capable; Carried; Circuit judge; Congress; Convincing; Courthouse; Different; Driving; Expenditures; Following; Impression; Introduced; John M. Robsion Sr.; John Sherman Cooper; King Swope; Lost; Margin; Marry; Mothering; Old women; Plea; Politics; President; Shocking; Sincere; Statewide campaign; Support; Today; Unknown; Well-known; Win; Young women

Subjects: Career; Church; Confidence; Father; Friendship; Good; Integrity; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Lexington (Ky.); Money; People; Politicians; Somerset (Ky.); Speech; Voting

00:11:10 - Work as a judge / 1946 Senatorial campaign

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Partial Transcript: When you became a judge, I think in '45...

Segment Synopsis: Siler briefly talks of his work as a circuit judge in the late 1940s. Additionally, Siler reflects upon Cooper's 1946 Senatorial campaign.

Keywords: 1946 Senatorial campaign; Advocate; Albert "Happy" Chandler; Angry; Bedroom; Busy; Campaigning; Cap; Card; Case; Circuit judge; Congress; Cornerstone; Court of Appeals; Crowd; Decision; Democratic Party; Dislike; Dissatisfaction; Easy; Enjoyed; Errors; Fiddle; Find out; Fun; General Patton; Good lawyer; Governor; Help; House; In touch; Interesting; John Y. Brown Jr.; John Y. Brown Sr.; Labor advocate; Losing; Lost; Military record; Patton's Third Army; Petit court; Politics; Price supports; Pugnacity; Reverse; Run; Senate; Talking; Tough; Uniform; University; Voters; WHAS Louisville; Winning; Won; World War II; attic

Subjects: Career; Centre College (Danville, Ky. : 1918- ); Character; Friendship; Judges; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Law; Lawyers; Learning; Military; Music; Politicians; Races; Sincerity; Speeches; Tobacco; Work; World War, 1939-1945; Writing; Yale University

00:17:32 - Cooper's first term in Senate / Visiting Republicans

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Partial Transcript: I was wondering of course after Cooper went to Washington in '46...

Segment Synopsis: Siler describes Cooper's first term in the Senate (1946-1948). Siler recalls famous Republicans that he got to know when they visited Kentucky, including Gerald Ford.

Keywords: Arrival; Barry Goldwater; Breakfast; Congress; Congressional dining room; County; Decent; Different; Dwight Eisenhower; Eating; Fine; Gerald Ford; Identification card; Introduced; Invocation; John Sherman Cooper; Met; Not allowed; Outlook; Party; Platform; President; Record; Republicans; Senate Minority Leader; Son; Trouble; U.S. Attorney General; Vice president; Words

Subjects: Correspondence; Criticism; Friendship; Independence; Kentuckians; Kentucky; London (Ky.); Politicians; Security; Speech; Voting; Washington (D.C.)

00:21:13 - 1948 Senatorial campaign / Political philosophy

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Partial Transcript: In '48--uh--of course, Cooper was opposed by Virgil Chapman.

Segment Synopsis: Siler talks of Cooper's 1948 Senatorial campaign. Siler compares his political views to the political philosophy of Cooper.

Keywords: 1948 Republican National Convention; Admiration; Against; Alben Barkley; Americanism; Car accident; Defeat; Democratic state; Democrats; Different; Drunk; Foreign aid; Good race; Image; John Sherman Cooper; Killed; Lost; Need; No changes; Opinion; Opponent; Strength; Supported; Tobacco advocate; Too narrow; Trouble; Virgil Chapman; Votes; Well-known; Wise; Worldview; Wrong

Subjects: Atmosphere; Best; Comparisons; Economics; Europe; Friendship; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Liberal; Opportunity; People; Politicians; Popular; Tobacco; Washington (D.C.)

00:25:43 - 1951 gubernatorial campaign / Happy Chandler

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Partial Transcript: --Uh--this brings us up to--uh--to your statewide campaign in--in '51.

Segment Synopsis: Siler details his 1951 gubernatorial campaign. Siler describes his friendship with Happy Chandler. Cooper's efforts in campaigning on behalf of Siler are also mentioned.

Keywords: Albert "Happy" Chandler; Bert Combs; Campaigner; Campaigning; Championship; Congress; County clerk; Defeated; Democrats; Difficult; Drunk; Earle Clements; Efforts; Enjoyed; Fair; Financing; Following; Fraternity; Friends; Governor; Help; Intermural; John Sherman Cooper; John Y. Brown Sr.; Keen Johnson; Larger; Lawrence Wetherby; Main attraction; Margins; Met people; No regrets; Outgoing; Pointless; Primary; Priorities; Prominence; Republican nominees; Republicans; School; Served; Strength; Strong; Terms; Today; Treasurer; Votes; Well-known; Won

Subjects: Baptists; Basketball; Budget; Father; Football; Friendship; Good; Handshaking; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Listening; Money; Organization; Politicians; Race; Russell County (Ky.); Speech; Washington (D.C.)

00:31:51 - 1952 Republican National Convention / Speaking engagements

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Partial Transcript: I wanted to ask you about the--uh--the '52 Republican convention...

Segment Synopsis: Siler shares his experiences of the 1952 Republican National Convention. Siler briefly talks of the speaking engagements he has had throughout Kentucky recently.

Keywords: 1952 Republican National Convention; Baptist school; Breakfast; Civic clubs; Defeated; Dwight Eisenhower; Eastern Kentucky; Enjoyed; Everett Dirksen; Funerals; Glad; John Sherman Cooper; Liked; Nominated; Political meetings; Position; Preachers; Program; Republicans; Robert Taft; Urban group

Subjects: Churches; Counties; Cumberland College (Williamsburg, Ky.); Friendship; Homecoming; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Mountains; Pineville (Ky.); Politicians; Schools; Speech; Washington (D.C.)

00:35:28 - 1952 Senatorial campaign / 1954 Senatorial campaign

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Partial Transcript: You know, in '52 when Cooper ran against Tom Underwood--.

Segment Synopsis: Siler evaluates Cooper's Senatorial campaigns in 1952 and 1954.

Keywords: Alben Barkley; Appearances; Avoided; Battle; Campaigning; Courthouse; Democrats; Difficult; Dwight Eisenhower; Elected; Fundraising; Funeral; Got along; John Sherman Cooper; Lost; Meeting people; Natural; Physique; Public life; Republican territory; Republicans; Seats; Senators; Sitting; Special; Spokesman; Surge; Tom Underwood; Vigorous; Win

Subjects: Best; Friendship; Judgment; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Life; Listening; Money; Politicians; Popular; Race; Reputation; Speeches; Voice; Walking; Washington (D.C.)

00:39:14 - Alben Barkley and Earle Clements in Congress / John F. Kennedy

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Partial Transcript: Of course, when you first went to Congress--uh--Barkley and--and Clements were the Senators from Kentucky. Did you work much with Clements, when you went up there?

Segment Synopsis: Siler assesses his interactions with Alben Barkley and Earle Clements when Siler was a Congressman in the 1950s. Siler briefly recalls Kennedy's assassination and funeral.

Keywords: Alben Barkley; Assassination; Bridge; Congress; Congressmen; Crowds; Democrat; Earle Clements; Elected; Friends; Funeral; George Smathers; Good friend; Hillside; House; Introductions; Jackie Kennedy; Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis; John F. Kennedy; John Sherman Cooper; Liked; Parade; Powerful; President; Sad; Served; Team; Together

Subjects: Arlington National Cemetery (Arlington, Va.); Capital; Courage; Florida; Friendship; Ivy League (Athletic conference); Kentuckians; Kentucky; Leaders; Meeting; Politicians; Speech; Washington (D.C.); World

00:42:22 - Cooper and Thruston Morton's 1956 campaigns

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Partial Transcript: In--following Barkley's death in '56--uh--Cooper seemed to wait til the last minute to get into the campaign.

Segment Synopsis: Siler discusses the 1956 Senatorial campaigns of both Cooper and Morton.

Keywords: Band; Build up; Campaigning; Crowd; Difficult; Earle Clements; Endorsed; Good friend; Hard; Indirect; John Sherman Cooper; John Y. Brown Sr.; Joined; Kentucky delegation; Last minute; Lawrence Wetherby; Margin; Marlow Webster Cook; No grudges; One-sided; Outcome; Rapport; Republicans; Ronald Reagan; Senate; Senators; Strategies; Surprised; Talking; Thruston Morton; Turnaround; Unable; Universities; Votes; Wait; White House; Won

Subjects: Centre College (Danville, Ky. : 1918- ); Columbia (Ky.); Cumberland College (Williamsburg, Ky.); Football; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Language; Louisville (Ky.); Politicians; Pressure; Students; Union College (Barbourville, Ky.); Washington (D.C.)

00:45:47 - Working with Cooper and Morton / Vietnam War

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Partial Transcript: I wanted to ask you--uh--how well you as a--as a member of the House of Representatives were able to work with Cooper and Morton...

Segment Synopsis: Siler recalls what it was like working with Cooper and Morton in the Senate while he was in the House. Siler shares his stance on U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.

Keywords: Alone; Beliefs; Bills; Casualties; Communist; Defeated; Differed; Domino theory; First; Foreign aid; Good relationship; Got along; Great army; House; Informal; John Sherman Cooper; Kentucky issues; Legislation; Lyndon Johnson; Mistakes; No effect; No lessons; Nothing accomplished; Oppose; Opposed; Opposite; Republic; Southeast Asia; Struggle; Talking; Terrible; Thruston Morton; Together; Voted; Votes; Well; Worst mistake

Subjects: Asia; Communism; Correspondence; Flood control; France; Friendship; Justification; Kentuckians; Kentucky; People; Politicians; Slavery; Tobacco; Vietnam War, 1961-1975; Washington (D.C.); Work

00:50:41 - Relationships with Kentucky politicians / Depressed Areas bill

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Partial Transcript: Did you become--uh--close to any of the other members of the Kentucky delegation?

Segment Synopsis: Siler assesses the dynamics between himself and other Kentucky politicians in Washington, D.C. Siler discusses the similarities that he and Cooper shared on supporting social legislation such as the Depressed Areas bill and food stamps.

Keywords: Acute poverty; Admiration; Agreement; Approach; Bigger; Carl Perkins; Close; Common people; Congress; Constituents; County judge; Court day; Crowds; Democratic state; Democrats; Dinner; Eastern Kentucky; Family; Feelings; Fiscal conservative; Flood conditions; Gift; Great Depression; Help; Homes; House; In favor; Inconsistent; Industry; John Sherman Cooper; Leaving; Loss; Louisville Courier-Journal; Never missed; No best way; No good; Paid; Perfect record; Politics; Program; Provided; Quorum call; Redistricting; Refused; Reporter; Representing; Republican; Restaurant; Roll call; Same; Self-financing; Senate; Senators; Situation; Sponsor; Suffering; Supported; Supportive; Talking; True; Visit; Welfare; William Natcher

Subjects: Abuse; Article; Bell County (Ky.); Best; Change; Coal; Coal miners; Counties; Depressions--1929; Economic development; Floods; Food stamps; Friendship; Harlan (Ky.); Harlan County (Ky.); Honesty; Job creation; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Knox County (Ky.); Massachusetts; Men; Missouri; Moderation; Money; Notes; Opportunity; People; Politicians; Poor; Poverty; Race; Savings; Somerset (Ky.); System; Travel; U.S. News & World Report (Firm); Views; Washington (D.C.); Wisdom; Woman

00:58:07 - Cooper and Kentucky issues / Kentucky politics

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Partial Transcript: Did you find that--uh--that even though Senator Cooper had this--uh--interest in foreign policy and, and--uh--those types of issues, that he gave sufficient attention to the--the c--his constituency in Kentucky?

Segment Synopsis: Siler compares Cooper's emphasis on foreign policy to his own views on the importance of domestic issues. Siler also talks of his experiences with Kentucky politics.

Keywords: Administrative assistant; Against; Attitude; Campaigns; Cause; Conclusion; Consistent; Constituents; County race; Elected; Endorse; Flattered; Foreign outlook; Governor; John Sherman Cooper; Law office; Lee Nunn; Louie Nunn; No difficulty; Office; Owed; Persuasion; Phone call; Problems; Right; Run again; Senate; Senators; Stop; Support; Talking; Thurston Morton; Unable; Window; Worldwide

Subjects: Experience; Friendship; Home; Man; Politicians; Pressure; Radio stations; Retirement; United States; Washington (D.C.)

01:01:38 - Retirement from House of Representatives / 1964 Republican National Convention

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Partial Transcript: Of course in--uh--in '64, you--you did decide not to seek re-election and--uh--.

Segment Synopsis: Siler explains why he decided to retire from Congress in the mid-1960s. Siler recalls the 1964 Republican National Convention and the controversy over Cooper initially not supporting Barry Goldwater as the presidential nominee.

Keywords: 1964 Republican National Convention; Activities; Agreed; Antagonized; Barry Goldwater; Beliefs; Belonged; Bridge; Candidates; Chairman; Choice; Close; Congress; Congressional dining room; Convinced; Courthouse; Different; Disillusioned; Driving; Emotional; Endorsed; Enjoyed; Environment; Extended; Fast-paced; Feelings; Fight; Gone; Great friend; House; Influence; John Sherman Cooper; Keep; Kentucky Republicans; Letter; Lorraine Cooper; Lunch; Missing; National; Never voted; Newspaper; Nomination; Not bothered; Office; Opposed; Over; Party; Quoted; Re-elected; Republicans; Restart; Senate; Senators; Sincere; Statement; Supported; Thruston Morton; Visiting; Wife; Women's Congressional Club; against

Subjects: Conservative; Crying; Friendship; Home; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Life; People; Perception; Politicians; Retirement; Social security; Washington (D.C.); World

01:06:36 - 1967 gubernatorial primary / 1968 Republican Senatorial primary

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Partial Transcript: A--a time that Senator Cooper did get involved in state politics--uh--in particular was in the '67 gubernatorial prim--primary.

Segment Synopsis: Siler discusses Cooper's role in the 1967 Republican gubernatorial primary. Siler's 1968 run for Senate is detailed. Repercussions for Siler in terms of political alliances he made during the 1968 campaign are also mentioned.

Keywords: 1967 gubernatorial primary; Accusations; Against; Bitter; Came around; Democrats; District Attorney; Endorsed; Federal judge; Feelings; Fracas; Good judge; Help; Hostile; Introduced; John Sherman Cooper; Kentucky politics; Kind; Knew; Later; Louie Nunn; Marlow Webster Cook; Met; Record; Refused; Republicans; Senators; Son; Splendid; Statements; Support; Supportive; U.S. Attorney General; Walter Huddleston; Wendell Ford

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

01:11:41 - Conservatism / Cooper's character

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Partial Transcript: You know, a lot of people made a career running against the Courier-Journal.

Segment Synopsis: Siler provides an overview of some of the political issues he tends to be more conservative on, including alcohol and prayer in public schools. Siler also considers what aspects of Cooper's character made him a good senator.

Keywords: Antagonism; Appreciative; Attitude; Barry Bingham Sr.; Bill; Campaigns; Christian nation; Cocktail parties; Conduct; Congress; Constituents; Controversial; Courthouse; Disagree; Effective; Full; Gone; Good; Good man; Influence; Issue; Issues; John Sherman Cooper; Liquor; Loss; Louisville Courier-Journal; Never passed; No scandal; Not ashamed; Participate; Recognized; Respected; Return; School Prayer bill; Senate; Senators; Stand for; Statesman; Support; Uncaring

Subjects: Advertising; Alcohol; Bowling Green (Ky.); Centre College (Danville, Ky. : 1918- ); Character; Christianity; Conservative; Editors; Elections; Friendship; Hearing; Interstate commerce; Kentuckians; Kentucky; People; Politicians; Speech; Testify; Thinking; United States; Views; Washington (D.C.)