Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Lawrence W. Wetherby, July 26, 1984

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:00 - Memories of Cooper

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Partial Transcript: Governor Wetherby--uh--when--what are your earliest recollections of John Sherman Cooper?

Segment Synopsis: Wetherby recalls some of his earliest memories of Cooper.

Keywords: Albert "Happy" Chandler; Campaigning; Circuit judge; Commissioner of Baseball; Defeated; Democrat; Earle Clements; Elected; First term; John Sherman Cooper; Lieutenant governor; Little contact; Met; Republican; School; State government; Virgil Chapman; Voted

Subjects: Age; Education; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Politicians; Somerset (Ky.)

00:03:03 - Happy Chandler / Earle Clements

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Partial Transcript: . . .There had arisen some--uh--controversy with--uh--former Governor Chandler.

Segment Synopsis: Wetherby discusses Happy Chandler and his role in several controversies in Kentucky politics. Wetherby details his work with Earle Clements on their respective Senatorial campaigns in 1956.

Keywords: 1956 Senatorial campaign; Adlai Stevenson; After; Against; Ahead; Alben Barkley; Albert "Happy" Chandler; Alliance; Appointed; Baseball owners; Campaign manager; Commissioner of Baseball; Contract; Controversy; Convinced; Democratic Party; Development; Dwight Eisenhower; Earle Clements; Favor; Fight; Fired; Governor; Help; John Sherman Cooper; Louisville Courier-Journal; Nominee; Not appointed; Phone call; Post; Refused; Return; Rivalry; Threatened; Thruston Morton; Tough; U.S. Ambassador to India; Unable; Virgil Chapman; Won

Subjects: Death; Florida; India; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Loans; Middle East; Peace; Politicians; Race; War; Washington (D.C.)

00:08:13 - Democratic factions in Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Now in 1955, he decides to run for governor.

Segment Synopsis: Wetherby illustrates some of the most important political factions that developed in the Kentucky Democratic Party during the 1950s.

Keywords: Accusations; Against; Ahead; Albert "Happy" Chandler; Bert Combs; Bitter; Bought; Challenged; Correction; Defeated; Earle Clements; Factions; Finances; Friends; Governor; Invoice; John Sherman Cooper; Nominees; Personal attack; Refused; Rough; Rug; Senate; Senators; State employees; Supportive; Thruston Morton; Votes; Wasteful

Subjects: Counties; Judges; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Mail; Money; Organization; Politicians; Rumors; Time

00:11:10 - 1956 Senatorial campaign / Chandler and supporting Democrats

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Partial Transcript: Why don't you tell me a little bit about securing the nomination for yourself. . .

Segment Synopsis: Wetherby reflects upon how he came to be the Democratic nominee for Alben Barkley's seat in the 1956 Senate race. Wetherby assesses Happy Chandler's party loyalty over the years in national elections.

Keywords: 1956 Senatorial campaign; 1956 presidential election; Adlai Stevenson; Albert "Happy" Chandler; Approval; Bolted; Campaigns; Contestation; Control; Democratic State Central Committee; Democratic ticket; Democrats; Dixiecrats; Earle Clements; Election; Entertaining; Formed; Friends; George McGovern; Good campaigner; Governor; Harry Truman; Help; Interim Senator; Irregular; J. Strom Thurmond; Jimmy Carter; John F. Kennedy; John Sherman Cooper; Leader; Louisville Courier-Journal; Lyndon Johnson; Members; Met; Names; Never supported; New committee; Nominee; Phone call; Re-organization; Refused; Richard Nixon; Ronald Reagan; Senate; Senators; Showman; Storyteller; Supportive; Together; Unqualified; Upset; Vote getter; Walter Mondale; Wife

Subjects: Fall; Frankfort (Ky.); Kentuckians; Kentucky; Organization; Politicians; Truth; Washington (D.C.)

00:16:12 - Cooper and 1956 Senatorial campaign / Views of Cooper

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Partial Transcript: Senator Cooper and Morton--they were also running as a team with President Eisenhower.

Segment Synopsis: Wetherby discusses Cooper's 1956 Senatorial campaign strategy, as well as his reluctance to run in the race and give up his position as U.S. Ambassador to India. Wetherby provides his opinion of Cooper.

Keywords: 1956 Senatorial campaign; Accepted; Alben Barkley; Albert "Happy" Chandler; Campaign manager; Consistent; Decision; Democrat; Democrats; Disliked; Dwight Eisenhower; Earle Clements; Elected; Fundraising; Good campaigner; Hesitant; John Sherman Cooper; John Y. Brown Sr.; Met; More effective; Newspaper; No admiration; Nomination; Opponent; Quote; Republicans; Statement; Team; Thruston Morton; Together; U.S. Ambassador to India; Undeniable; Upset; Votes; Won; Work together

Subjects: Kentuckians; Kentucky; Middle East; Peace; Politicians; Popularity; Race; Voting; War; Washington (D.C.)

00:20:07 - 1954 Senatorial campaign / Campaign finance for Democrats

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Partial Transcript: I should back up then and ask you about that 1954 race between--uh--Senator Barkley and--uh--Senator Cooper.

Segment Synopsis: Wetherby explains why he did not want to run for the Senate against Cooper in 1954. Wetherby describes how Kentucky Democrats obtained campaign finance money.

Keywords: 1954 Senatorial campaign; Agreed; Alben Barkley; Assessment; Beatable; Cafeteria; Contributions; Decision; Democrats; Earle Clements; Fundraising; Governor; Great candidates; John Sherman Cooper; Most popular; No trouble; Persistent; Phone call; Pledge; Poll; Refused; Republicans; Return; Serve; Setup; Sources; Stop; Sworn in; Talking; Vacation

Subjects: Columbus (Ga.); Employees; Florida; Good; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Leaders; Meeting; Money; Organization; Politicians; Press; Speech; Time; Washington (D.C.)

00:24:43 - Tobacco

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Partial Transcript: . . .Was regarding--um--tobacco parity.

Segment Synopsis: Wetherby highlights some of the most important figures in the Kentucky tobacco industry during the 1940s and 1950s. Cooper's role in tobacco price supports legislation is explored.

Keywords: 1948 Senatorial campaign; 1954 Senatorial campaign; 1956 Senatorial campaign; 80th U.S. Congress; Campaign; Debate; Democrat; Disliked; Earle Clements; Financing; Help; House; John Sherman Cooper; Legislation; Loyal; Parity; Proof; Republicans; Senate; Senators; Sponsor; Supportive; Tobacco crops; Tobacco legislation; Tough; Vicious; Virgil Chapman; Well-known

Subjects: Administration; Counties; Disciples of Christ; Income; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Leaders; Organization; People; Politicians; Time; Tobacco; Tobacco farmers; Washington (D.C.)

00:28:13 - 1956 campaign issues / Cooper's campaign style

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Partial Transcript: Other issues in that campaign besides the tobacco issue--uh--were those of--um--farming prices.

Segment Synopsis: Wetherby outlines some of the most important issues that arose during his 1956 Senatorial campaign against Cooper. Wetherby describes Cooper's campaign style.

Keywords: 1956 Senatorial campaign; 3rd congressional district (Ky.); Active; Albert "Happy" Chandler; Appearances; Attacked; Campaigning; Close friends; Congress; County fair; Debate; Democrats; Dwight Eisenhower; Earle Clements; Elected; Ezra Taft Benson; Farm industry; Farm legislation; Farm prices; Foreign trade; John Sherman Cooper; League of Women Voters; Low prices; Not helpful; Platform; Politics; Refused; Stories; Talking; Thruston Morton; Together; Vicious; Visiting; Western Kentucky

Subjects: Administration; Courthouses; Enemies; Farmers; Jefferson County (Ky.); Kentuckians; Kentucky; Liberal; Meeting; Politicians; Radio; Television; Washington (D.C.)

00:32:27 - Opinion of Cooper / Newspapers

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Partial Transcript: But there's nothing you can find that he supported and advanced that wasn't something the Democrats were doing.

Segment Synopsis: Wetherby expresses his opinion of Cooper as a politician. Wetherby assesses which Kentucky newspapers were the most of supportive of Democrats.

Keywords: Big newspapers; Candidates; Control; County newspapers; Democrats; Endorsement; John Sherman Cooper; Liked; Little support; Louisville Courier-Journal; Majority; New Era (newspaper); Overrated; Republicans; Senate; Support; Thruston Morton

Subjects: Fear; Hopkinsville (Ky.); Kentuckians; Kentucky; Liberal; Meade County (Ky.); Moderate; Newspapers; Politicians; Washington (D.C.)

00:34:51 - Support of rural counties / Bingham family

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Partial Transcript: Did you generally look to the small towns--the rural areas for your support?

Segment Synopsis: Wetherby discusses the level of support he had in rural Kentucky counties. Wetherby also talks of his friendship with Barry Bingham Sr.

Keywords: Barry Bingham Jr.; Barry Bingham Sr.; Conscientiousness; Convinced; Country doctor; Country newspaper; Country people; Farm; Governor; House; John Sherman Cooper; Judge; Juvenile court; Law practice; Level-headed; Lieutenant governor; Louisville Courier-Journal; Mayfield Messenger; New Era (newspaper); Paducah Sun-Democrat; Support; Visit; Work together

Subjects: Bingham family; Cities; Criticism; Father; Hopkinsville (Ky.); Kentuckians; Kentucky; Liberal; Louisville (Ky.); Politicians

00:37:08 - Kentucky politics in the 1950s

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Partial Transcript: Chandler in 1956. . .

Segment Synopsis: Wetherby characterizes the dynamics of Kentucky politics in the 1950s, including the power and influence of Happy Chandler in Kentucky Democratic circles.

Keywords: Achievements; Adlai Stevenson; After; Airport; Albert "Happy" Chandler; Candidate; Clean; Close; Contact; County judge; Democratic ticket; Different; Disliked; Dwight Eisenhower; Earle Clements; Eastern Kentucky; Governor; Greeting; Help; John Sherman Cooper; Named; No help; Nomination; Over; Phone call; Refused; Senate; Senators; Statements; Stayed out; Supportive; Thruston Morton; Unsupportive; Won

Subjects: Conservative; Credit; Friend; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Liberal; Organization; People; Politicians; Power; Press; Race; Threats; Work

00:41:21 - 1960 Senatorial campaign / Cooper and John F. Kennedy

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Partial Transcript: Let me move on to the election in 1960, when Cooper was running against Keen Johnson.

Segment Synopsis: Wetherby recalls Cooper's 1960 Senatorial campaign against Keen Johnson. Wetherby discusses the friendship between Cooper and JFK.

Keywords: 1960 Democratic Convention; 1960 Senatorial campaign; Attended; Bad candidate; Bert Combs; Campaign chairman; Close friends; Delegation; Democrats; Dinner; Earle Clemenets; Elected; Feelings; Funding; Hurt; Inactive; Invited; John F. Kennedy; John Sherman Cooper; Keen Johnson; Lose; Lyndon Johnson; Not helpful; Problems; Rallies; Senate; Senators; Split; Supportive; Visit; White House

Subjects: Friendship; India; Jefferson County (Ky.); Kentuckians; Kentucky; Louisville (Ky.); Organization; Politicians; Speech; Washington (D.C.)

00:45:23 - 1962 Senatorial campaign

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Partial Transcript: How about in 1962?

Segment Synopsis: Wetherby articulates his role in the 1962 Senate race between Thruston Morton and Wilson Wyatt. Wetherby emphasizes the importance of Medicare and Medicaid as campaign issues.

Keywords: 1962 Senatorial campaign; 4th congressional district (Ky.); 6th congressional district (Ky.); Active; Agreed; Angry; Bitter; Campaign manager; Campaigning; Courthouse; Democrats; Different; Doctors; Effective; Friends; Governor; John Sherman Cooper; No chance; Phone call; Places; Position; Return; Ruined; Separate; Socialized medicine; Supportive; Thruston Morton; Tour; Unnecessary; Unsuccessful; Wilson Wyatt; Win

Subjects: Counties; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Medicaid; Medicare; Organization; Politicians; Speech; Washington (D.C.)

00:48:15 - Cooper vs. Morton / 1966 Senatorial campaign

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Partial Transcript: In 1956 when you were campaigning against Cooper--uh--was there any effort on the part of you and Senator Clements to--uh--split up Cooper ps--philosophically. . .

Segment Synopsis: Wetherby compares Cooper's political philosophy to that of Thruston Morton. Wetherby discusses Cooper's 1966 Senatorial campaign against John Y. Brown Sr.

Keywords: 1966 Senatorial campaign; Action; Campaigning; Chairman; Democrats; Difference; Difficult; Disliked; Earle Clements; Effort; Fundraising; Headquarters; Help; Impossible; Insistent; John Sherman Cooper; John Y. Brown Jr.; John Y. Brown Sr.; Lies; Loser; Lost; Ned Breathitt; Nomination; Platform; Refused; Republicans; State Democratic Committee; Suggestions; Thruston Morton; Unable; Votes; Western Kentucky

Subjects: Coal miners; Elizabethtown (Ky.); Father; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Kentucky. General Assembly; Louisville (Ky.); Money; Opportunity; Organization; Philosophy; Politicians; Race; Train; Washington (D.C.)

00:52:39 - Kentucky Democratic vs. Republican Party organizations / Republican factions

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Partial Transcript: Let me ask you about--uh--the Democratic Party organization in Kentucky versus the Republican Party organization in Kentucky?

Segment Synopsis: Wetherby considers the main differences between the party organizations of Kentucky Democrats and Kentucky Republicans. Wetherby lists some of the Kentucky Republican factions in the 1960s.

Keywords: 1967 Kentucky Republican gubernatorial primary; 5th congressional district (Ky.); Against; Bad; Candidates; Convincing; County judge; Dee Huddleston; Defeated; Democrats; Elected; Factions; Governor; Help; Henry Ward; Interesting; John Sherman Cooper; Lieutenant governor; Louie Nunn; Marlow Webster Cook; No base; Open; Public statement; Republicans; Senate; Senators; Strong; Supportive; Thruston Morton; Unable; Won

Subjects: Brother; Jefferson County (Ky.); Kentuckians; Kentucky; Leadership; Mountains; Organization; People; Politicians; Race; Work

00:57:20 - Recent political career / Lack of factionalism in Kentucky Democrats

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Partial Transcript: Have you continued to work with the Democratic Party--uh--since say 1967. . .

Segment Synopsis: Wetherby details his recent political efforts on behalf of Kentucky Democrats. Wetherby also briefly talks of how factions have virtually ceased to exist in the Kentucky Democratic Party.

Keywords: Albert "Happy" Chandler; Bert Combs; Democrats; Earle Clements; Election; Faction; Fundraising; John Sherman Cooper; Joined; Judge; Left; Louie Nunn; Martha Layne Collins; Primary; Rally; Together; Trouble

Subjects: Administration; Cincinnati (Ohio); Frankfort (Ky.); Governors; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Politicians; Speech; Talk

00:59:53 - Trends in Kentucky politics / Cooper's popularity

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Partial Transcript: Yet the state has--uh--been going for Republicans on the national level.

Segment Synopsis: Wetherby describes some trends in Kentucky politics in the 1980s. Wetherby considers how Cooper became so popular with Kentuckians.

Keywords: 3rd congressional district (Ky.); Campaigning; Candidates; Constituents; Democrats; Down-to-earth; Immigration bill; John Sherman Cooper; No chance; No replacement; Republicans; State level; Trouble; Unable; Vote; Weak; Withdraw

Subjects: Conservative; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Liberal; Politicians; Washington (D.C.); Woman

01:02:15 - Cooper's contributions to Kentucky / Toll roads

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Partial Transcript: How would you assess his--his career then as far as Kentucky is concerned. . .

Segment Synopsis: Wetherby provides his opinion on Cooper's contributions to Kentucky in terms of infrastructure. Wetherby highlights his role in creating toll roads in Kentucky to fund the new Interstate Highway System during the 1950s.

Keywords: Advance; Against; Albert "Happy" Chandler; Bond issue; Claims; Completed; Decline; Development; Dwight Eisenhower; Earle Clements; Extension; Few contributions; Free; Good approach; Governor; Governor's committee; Henry Ward; Highway program; John Sherman Cooper; Maintain; No help; Order; Original proposal; Paid; Paid off; Promotions; Republicans; Served; Sold; Suggestion; Thruston Morton; Tobacco industry; Trade; William Natcher

Subjects: Bankers; Credit; Elections; Infrastructure; Interstate Highway System; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Knoxville (Tenn.); Nashville (Tenn.); New York (N.Y.); Parks; Politicians; Privilege; Roads; Time; Tobacco; Toll roads; Washington (D.C.); Waterways