Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with John Sherman Cooper, June 4, 1983

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:00 - Kennedy administration and the Soviet Union

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Partial Transcript: The following is an unrehearsed interview, the seventeenth in a series, with former United States Senator and Ambassador John Sherman Cooper.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper discusses the Kennedy administration and its position on key Cold War issues, such as the space race and the nuclear arms race.

Keywords: Appropriations; Attitudes; Bay of Pigs Invasion, Cuba, 1961; Bills; Brothers; Defense; Dwight Eisenhower; Eisenhower administration; Elections; Foreign aid; Funds; John F. Kennedy; Kennedy administration; Missile gap; Political campaigns; Presidents; Resources; Robert McNamara; Ronald Reagan; Science; Senate; Senators; Space programs; Sputnik; Walt Whitman Rostow

Subjects: Arms race; Careers; Cold War; Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962; Indo China; Kennedy, John Fitzgerald, 1917-1963; Missiles; Politicians; Reputation; Russians; Security; Somerset (Ky.); Soviet Union; Space race; Speech; United States. Department of Defense; Washington (D.C.)

00:07:16 - 1960 presidential campaign

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Partial Transcript: I had a problem--now--K--Kennedy was a friend of mine.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper recalls campaigning for Nixon while still maintaining his friendship with John F. Kennedy during the 1960 presidential race.

Keywords: 1960 presidential election; Anti-ballistic missile system; Cabot Lodge Jr.; John F. Kennedy; Leverett Saltonstall; Lincoln Club (Boston, Mass.); Lincoln Day Address; Political campaigning; Political campaigns; Republicans; Richard Nixon; Robert McNamara

Subjects: Arms race; Boston (Mass.); Cold War; Friendship; Kennedy, John Fitzgerald, 1917-1963; Missiles; Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913-1994; Nuclear weapons; Politicians; Speech; Vietnam War, 1961-1975; Washington (D.C.); Weapons of mass destruction

00:09:33 - Space race / Recession of 1960-1961

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Partial Transcript: Well, what was--what was your position on--uh--the--the research for--uh--putting a man on the moon. . .

Segment Synopsis: Cooper provides his opinion on the value of the space race to increasing scientific knowledge. Cooper lists some of the programs that the Kennedy administration created to alleviate the effects of the recession of 1960-1961.

Keywords: Balance of payments; Economic Recovery Act of 1962; John F. Kennedy; Kennedy administration; Presidents; Public works programs; Richard Nixon; Senate; Senators; Trade deficits; Votes

Subjects: Buildings; Cold War; Economic recessions; Exports; Imports; Kennedy, John Fitzgerald, 1917-1963; Politicians; Power; Public works; Somerset (Ky.); Space race; Unemployment; Vietnam War, 1961-1975; Washington (D.C.); Work

00:14:45 - Information from the president

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Partial Transcript: . . .Number of times--when you--uh--would ask the president to share more information with Congress.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper explains why he wanted more information from the executive branch and the president on important issues such as the Vietnam War.

Keywords: Congress; Executive branch; Information; Leaders; Presidents; Richard Russell; Senate; Senate Armed Services Committee; Senators; The South

Subjects: Cooperation; Politicians; Power; Vietnam War, 1961-1975; Washington (D.C.)

00:16:35 - Bert Combs / Carl Perkins

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Partial Transcript: During that period of time, how did you find--uh--Governor Combs to work with. . .

Segment Synopsis: Cooper considers his working relationship with Kentucky Governor Bert Combs and Kentucky Congressman Carl Perkins.

Keywords: Appropriations; Bills; Carl Perkins; Chamber of Commerce; Congress; Democratic districts; Democrats; Eastern Kentucky; Elections; Environment; Governors; Highway bond programs; House of Representatives; Hubert Humphrey; Jennings Randolph; John F. Kennedy; Republicans; Senate; Senate Appropriations Committee; Senate Public Works Committee; Senators; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Subjects: Big Sandy; Combs, Bert T., 1911-1991; Cooperation; Dams; Flood control; Floods; Friends; Governors; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Kentucky River; Kentucky. Court of Appeals; Mississippi River; Perkins, Carl Dewey, 1912-1984; Politicians; Red River Gorge (Ky.); Rivers; Washington (D.C.); West Virginia

00:21:56 - Red River Gorge / Navigation and flood control in Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: . . .You said that you were originally for that.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper considers why he changed his position on the Red River Gorge to support preserving it in the early 1960s. Cooper talks of actions he supported to help with navigation and flood control on the Kentucky River and the Cumberland River.

Keywords: Allen Ellender; Bills; Carl Perkins; Coal fields; Dwight Eisenhower; Eastern Kentucky; House of Representatives; John Bricker; Rhine; Senate; Senate Appropriations Committee; Senators; Styles Bridges; Toxic substances; Traffic; Tributaries; Utilities; Valleys; Western Kentucky; White House; William Douglas

Subjects: Ashland (Ky.); Ashland Oil, inc.; Big Sandy; Civil War; Coal; Cooperation; Credit; Cumberland River (Ky. and Tenn.); Dams; Electricity; Flood control; Floods; Hearings; Henderson (Ky.); Illinois River; Indiana; Kentucky; Kentucky River; Lexington (Ky.); Licking River (Ky.); Louisiana; Mississippi River; Navigation; New Orleans (La.); Ohio; Ohio River; Oil; Paducah (Ky.); Panama Canal; Pennsylvania; Politicians; Power; Red River Gorge (Ky.); Tennessee; Testimony; Transportation; Washington (D.C.); Water; Witnesses; Work; Writing

00:30:52 - Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)

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Partial Transcript: . . .Kennedy agreed to urge the TVA to locate a new steam plant. . .somewhere in Eastern Kentucky.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper describes his support for TVA over the years, including on congressional appropriations and the construction of coal plants. Cooper also explains his position on the self-financing power of TVA.

Keywords: Administrative costs; Amendments; Bert Combs; Bills; Characteristics; Coal companies; Congress; Congressional appropriations; Construction; Controversy; Dwight Eisenhower; Eastern Kentucky; Finances; Financing; Franklin D. Roosevelt; John F. Kennedy; Leasing land; Power companies; Private power companies; Robert S. Kerr; Self-financing; Senate; Senate Public Works Committee; Senators; The South; Votes; Water lines; Water sources; Western Kentucky

Subjects: Alabama; Bonds; Budgets; Canada; Coal; Cost; Dams; Employees; Environmentalists; Federal government; Florida; Georgia; Kentucky; Madisonville (Ky.); Mississippi; Money; North Carolina; Oil; Peabody Coal Company; Politicians; Power; Strip mining; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority; Texas; Virginia; Washington (D.C.); Water

00:38:54 - TVA steam plant / Devil's Jump and wilderness park

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Partial Transcript: But anyway, I supported TVA.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper discusses why TVA decided to build a steam plant in Tennessee rather than in Eastern Kentucky as originally planned in the early 1960s. Cooper recalls his stance on placing a dam at Devil's Jump on the Cumberland River. Cooper talks of a wilderness park in southern Kentucky and northern Tennessee that he supported.

Keywords: Acreage; Bills; Canoeing; Coal company; Conflicts; Controversy; Cumberland Falls (Ky.); Dams; Eastern Kentucky; Howard Baker; Industry; John F. Kennedy; Newspapers; Rivers; Senate; Senators; Steam plants; Stearns Coal Company; The South; Tributaries; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Wilderness parks

Subjects: Alabama; Coal; Cost; Cumberland River, Big South Fork (Tenn. and Ky.); Energy; Hearings; Job creation; Kentucky; Knoxville (Tenn.); McCreary County (Ky.); Mississippi; Ohio; Politicians; Power; Pulaski County (Ky.); Railroad; Scott County (Tenn.); Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority; Testimony; Travel; Washington (D.C.); Water; Whitley City (Ky.); Whitley County (Ky.)

00:46:23 - Social clubs and race discrimination

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Partial Transcript: Early in 1962, a man by the name of Carl Rowan. . .

Segment Synopsis: Cooper talks of discriminatory policies at Washington D.C. social clubs in the 1960s.

Keywords: Bobby Kennedy; Business leaders; Capitol Hill (Washington, D.C.); Carl Rowan; Controversy; Deputy assistant secretary of state; Ellsworth Bunker; Henry Kissinger; Nelson Rockefeller; Newspaper columnists; Policy; Senate; Senators; Social clubs; U.S. Ambassador to Finland; U.S. Ambassador to India; Votes

Subjects: African Americans; African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Black people; Cosmos Club (Washington, D.C.); Discrimination; Harvard University; Lawyers; Metropolitan Club (Washington, D.C.); Politicians; Press; Race; Race discrimination.; United States--Race relations.; Washington (D.C.)

00:50:57 - Barry Goldwater and civil rights / 1964 campaign for Goldwater

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Partial Transcript: Now another thing in 1962, you were especially critical of the--the Goldwater wing of the Republican Party.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper assesses the impact of Goldwater upon the Republican Party in the early 1960s, especially in terms of the civil rights movement. Cooper remembers campaigning for Goldwater during the 1964 presidential campaign in various places, including the Midwest and the East Coast.

Keywords: 1964 Republican National Convention; Abraham Lincoln; Aid to Education bill; Albert "Happy" Chandler; Amendments; Attorney General; Barry Goldwater; Bills; Caucus; Congress; Delegates; Democrats; Desegregation; Dwight Eisenhower; Elections; Fiscal policy; Franklin D. Roosevelt; Friends; Health bills; Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs); Industry; John F. Kennedy; Lawsuits; Lyndon Johnson; Nelson Rockefeller; Obstructionism; Political campaigning; Political campaigns; Political nominations; Presidents; Principles; Public places; Republican nominees; Republicans; Robert Taft; Senate; Senators; Southern Senators; The North; Troops; U.S. Army; Warren decision; Wayne Morse

Subjects: African Americans; African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Authority; Birmingham (Ala.); Black people; Civil rights; Civil rights movement; Conservative; Corbin (Ky.); Goldwater, Barry, 1938-; Illinois; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Little Rock (Ark.); Michigan; National guard; Ohio; Opportunity; Politicians; Poverty; Press; Race discrimination.; Riots; San Francisco (Calif.); Schools; Segregation; Somerset (Ky.); Speeches; Travel; United States--Race relations.; Washington (D.C.)

01:03:40 - Desegregation in Kentucky / Literacy voting tests

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Partial Transcript: How--how do you account for that--that wave of--of conservatism in '64 capturing the Republican Party?

Segment Synopsis: Cooper reflects upon how the desegregation of schools went in Kentucky under Governor Bert Combs in the early 1960s. Cooper explains why he was against a bill that would have eliminated some of the more stringent requirements on literacy voting tests.

Keywords: Amendments; Bert Combs; Bills; Censure; Constitutionality; Desegregation; Filibusters; Governors; Illiteracy; Jacob Javits; John F. Kennedy; Mike Mansfield; Republican Party; Senate; Senators; Supporters; Thomas J. Dodd; U.S. Constitution; Votes

Subjects: African Americans; African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Black people; Civil rights; Civil rights movement; Cloture; Combs, Bert T., 1911-1991; Connecticut; Discrimination; Education; Kentucky; Literacy; Literacy tests (Election law); Montana; New York; Politicians; Race discrimination.; Schools; Segregation; United States--Race relations.; Voting; Washington (D.C.)

01:09:54 - Criticism of Kennedy administration / 1960 campaign

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Partial Transcript: You remember the speech you made in June of 1962 in Hartford, Connecticut to a Republican state convention?

Segment Synopsis: Cooper illustrates some of the criticisms he had of the Kennedy administration in 1962. Cooper also talks of his friendship with John F. Kennedy and how they were able to see past partisanship and remain friends during the 1960 presidential campaign.

Keywords: 1960 presidential election; Beliefs; Brothers; Campaign managers; Columnists; Democrats; Family; Folk dancers; Gubernatorial campaigns; John F. Kennedy; Joseph Alsop; Kennedy administration; Louie Nunn; Partisanship; Political campaigns; Political candidates; Presidents; Reporters; Republican Party; Republican state convention; Richard Nixon; Senate; Senators; Speakers; Thruston Morton; White House; Wife; Wilson Wyatt

Subjects: Berea College; Economic recessions; Hartford (Conn.); Kennedy, John Fitzgerald, 1917-1963; Kentucky; Keynesian economics; Louisville (Ky.); Moscow (Russia); Personality; Politicians; Power; Speech; Voting; Washington (D.C.)

01:17:07 - Senate Committee on Appropriations vacancy

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Partial Transcript: In the--in the Summer of 1962, Senator Dworshak--of Idaho--died, and that left a vacancy on the Appropriations Committee.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper explains why he did not want to take a vacant spot on the Senate Appropriations Committee in 1962.

Keywords: Barry Goldwater; Beautification of highways; Bills; Decisions; Democrats; Elections; Environment; Henry Dworshak; Highways; House of Representatives; Howard Baker; Kenneth Keating; Lawyers; Lyndon Johnson; Republicans; Senate; Senate Agricultural Committee; Senate Appropriations Committee; Senate Judiciary Committee; Senate Public Works Committee; Senators; Seniority rule; Speakers; Young people

Subjects: Careers; Criticism; Idaho; Law; New York; Politicians; Washington (D.C.)

01:20:40 - Tobacco / Agricultural committee

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Partial Transcript: I did have an awful lot to do with the tobacco program.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper highlights his work on the Senate Agricultural Committee, including securing a tobacco price support program.

Keywords: Alben Barkley; Allen Ellender; Allocations; Elections; Farming; Jim Eastland; John C. Watts; Political campaigns; Quotas; Republicans; Senate; Senate Agricultural Committee; Senate Appropriations Committee; Senators; Tobacco companies; Tobacco rights; Votes

Subjects: Civil rights; Crops; Kentucky; Law; Leaders; Louisiana; Mississippi; Politicians; Stocks; Tobacco; Tobacco farmers; Washington (D.C.)

01:25:03 - Happy Chandler / Aid to India bill

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Partial Transcript: There was a--there was an incident in--in August of 1962. . .

Segment Synopsis: Cooper addresses a 1962 rumor about Happy Chandler taking his Senate seat in a false political deal. Cooper discusses an Aid to India bill he vigorously supported.

Keywords: Aid to India bill; Albert "Happy" Chandler; Alliances; Amendments; Arms factories; Ballot boxes; Bills; Congress; Decisions; Earle Clements; Elections; Foreign aid; Friends; Governors; House of Representatives; Jawaharlal Nehru; John Foster Dulles; Kasturba Gandhi; Martha Lane Collins; Precincts; Rumors; Senate; Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Senators; Stuart Symington; Thruston Morton; Votes; William Fulbright

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991; Independence; India; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Lobbyists; Military bases; Neutrality; Newspapers; Pakistan; Politicians; Prime ministers; Russia; Self-determination, National; Soviet Union; Testimony; United Kingdom; Washington (D.C.)

01:32:26 - Medicare

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Partial Transcript: There was action concerning Medicare.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper gives his stance on Medicare and why he wanted less government interference in the program and more control for private insurers. Cooper explains why he ultimately decided to support Medicare.

Keywords: Amendments; Bills; Businesses; Clifford Case; Country doctors; County judges; Doctors; Federal programs; Government interference; Jacob Javits; Kenneth Keating; Lyndon Johnson; Margaret Chase Smith; Medicare plans; Private influence; Private insurers; Republicans; Senate; Senators; Spending; Thomas Kuchel; Votes

Subjects: Administration; Business; Careers; Kentucky; Law; Liberals; Medicare; Money; Politicians; Poverty; Pulaski County (Ky.); Roads; Travel; Washington (D.C.)

01:38:17 - Thruston Morton

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Partial Transcript: Morton was for--was against it. And I was campaigning for him in '62.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper evaluates his working relationship with Thruston Morton in the Senate.

Keywords: Bombings; Colleagues; Congress; County judges; Doctors; Great Depression; Joint sessions; Lyndon Johnson; Political campaigning; Political campaigns; Senate; Senators; Sons; Students; Thruston Morton

Subjects: Depressions--1929; Education; Hopkinsville (Ky.); Kentuckians; Kentucky; Medicare; North Korea; Politicians; Press; Speeches; University of Louisville; Vietnam War, 1961-1975; Washington (D.C.)

01:42:30 - 1962 campaign for Morton / Differences with Morton

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Partial Transcript: You mentioned campaigning for him in '62 when he was running against--Wilson Wyatt.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper reflects upon supporting Morton's 1962 Senatorial campaign. Cooper considers why he and Morton have somewhat different political philosophies on key issues.

Keywords: Democrats; Elections; Family; Interviews; Louisville Courier-Journal; Political campaigning; Political campaigns; Political parties; Reporters; Ronald Reagan; Senate; Senators; Spending; Thruston Morton; WAVE 3 News (Louisville, Ky.)

Subjects: African Americans; Articles; Black people; Civil rights; Civil rights movement; Criticism; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Liberal; Morton, Thruston Ballard, 1907-1982; New York times; Newspapers; Philosophy; Politicians; Republican National Committee (U.S.); Somerset (Ky.); Soviet Union; United Nations; United Nations. Security Council; Veto; Washington (D.C.)

01:47:48 - 1964 presidential campaign

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Partial Transcript: Well--uh--in '62 Kennedy--uh--in--a--in a--speech in Louisville. . .

Segment Synopsis: Cooper relays some interesting experiences of campaigning for Barry Goldwater during the 1964 presidential race.

Keywords: 1964 Republican National Convention; 1964 presidential election; Barry Goldwater; Displaced persons; Jacob Javits; John F. Kennedy; Kenneth Keating; Lyndon Johnson; Political campaigning; Political campaigns; Senate; Senators; Thruston Morton; Votes; Wilson Wyatt; World War II

Subjects: Buchenwald (Concentration camp); Goldwater, Barry, 1938-; Liberal; Louisville (Ky.); New York; Politicians; Washington (D.C.); World War, 1939-1945

01:51:28 - Louie Nunn

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Partial Transcript: Did you h--do you have any--any comments on the way Nunn directed that campaign or other campaigns. . .

Segment Synopsis: Cooper describes his interactions with Louie Nunn, who was Cooper's campaign manager in the 1950s and early 1960s. Cooper explains why he did not like Nunn personally following the 1967 Kentucky Republican gubernatorial primary.

Keywords: 1960 Senatorial campaign; 1967 Kentucky Republican gubernatorial primary; Campaign managers; Charles Taft; Communism; Connections; Death; Debates; Delegates; Earle Clements; Fundraising; Governors; Influence; John Y. Brown Jr.; Lawrence Wetherby; Lawyers; Louie Nunn; Marlow Webster Cook; Political campaigning; Political campaigns; Political candidates; Political nominations; Political philosophy; Resources; Restaurants; Robert Taft; Senate; Senators; State chairman; Style; Thruston Morton; Western Kentucky; Wilson Wyatt

Subjects: African Americans; Americans for Democratic Action; Black people; Conservative; India; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Lexington (Ky.); Louisville (Ky.); Nunn, Louie B., 1924-2004; Ohio; Politicians; Speeches; Staff; Travel; United Nations; Washington (D.C.)

01:59:55 - Legislative procedures and rules

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Partial Transcript: You--you became somewhat--uh--concerned about the--the cumbersome legislative procedures and the rules and so forth.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper discusses his efforts at getting Senatorial rules and procedures changed in the 1960s.

Keywords: Amendments; Bobby Baker; Charles Mathias; Congress; Democrats; Ethics law; Everett Dirksen; Government lawsuits; Habits; House of Representatives; Influence; Investigations; Legislation; Oration; Presidents; Republicans; Rules; Senate; Senators; Speakers; Trials

Subjects: Divorce; Editorials; Equality; Medicare; Politicians; Social Security; Speeches; Vietnam War, 1961-1975; Washington (D.C.); Washington post

02:08:34 - Style in the Senate

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Partial Transcript: In your own case, in the Senate--uh--there's been a lot--a lot said about your--your style.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper assesses his style in the Senate. Praise given to Cooper in terms of his persuasive and effective nature on the Senate floor is also mentioned.

Keywords: Anti-ballistic missile systems; Awards; Beliefs; County courthouses; Democrats; Everett Dirksen; Farmers; Influence; Jacob Javits; Mike Mansfield; Milton Young; Oration; Persuasion; Philip Hart; Reporters; Robert Riggs; Senate; Senate floor; Senate press; Senators; Speaking; Style; Time Magazine; Votes; William Fulbright

Subjects: Articles; Kentucky; Newspapers; North Dakota; Politicians; Press; Speech; Trust; Washington (D.C.)