Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with John Sherman Cooper, June 1, 1986

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:05 - Appalachian Regional Development bill

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

Segment Synopsis: Cooper recalls the development of the Appalachian Regional Development bill, which created the Appalachian Regional Commission.

Keywords: Appalachian Regional Development bill; Bridges; Congress; Dams; Eastern Kentucky; Eastern Tennessee; Employment; Finances; Franklin D. Roosevelt; Franklin D. Roosevelt Jr.; Hearings; Hubert Humphrey; John F. Kennedy; Richard Nixon; Roads; Senate; Senators; State government; Valleys

Subjects: Adirondack Mountains (N.Y.); Alabama; Appalachian Mountains; Appalachian Regional Commission; Budgets; Developing countries; Economic development; Education; Federal government; Georgia; Governors; Infrastructure; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Maryland; Mississippi; New York; North Carolina; Pennsylvania; Politicians; Tennessee; Washington (D.C.); West Virginia

00:06:07 - Nuclear non-proliferation treaty

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Partial Transcript: A--also early in 1969 there was a--uh--the Senate was asked to approve a nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper discusses a nuclear non-proliferation treaty which he supported that was passed in the Senate in 1969.

Keywords: Debates; Nuclear proliferation; Senate; Senators

Subjects: Cold War; India; International relations; Nuclear weapons; Pakistan; Politicians; Technology; Washington (D.C.); Weapons of mass destruction

00:08:02 - Health / Anti-ballistic missile system hearings

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Partial Transcript: In--in March of 1969, you were taken out of the Capitol building on a stretcher and taken to Walter Reed Hospital.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper discusses some health scares he had in the Senate. Cooper recalls a 1969 Senate hearing on anti-ballistic missiles that he participated in from the hospital after suffering from exhaustion.

Keywords: Anti-ballistic missile system; Capitol Building (Washington, D.C.); Exhaustion; Melvin Laird; Senate; Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Senators; William P. Rogers

Subjects: Aging; Capitol Hill (Washington, D.C.); Health; Hearings; Helsinki (Finland); Newspapers; Politicians; Television; Travel; Walter Reed Army Medical Center; Washington (D.C.)

00:11:40 - Rumor about appointment as U.S. Ambassador to France

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Partial Transcript: You remember a Washington reporter named Maxine Cheshire?

Segment Synopsis: Cooper addresses a rumor that surfaced about being appointed as the U.S. Ambassador to France by President Nixon in 1970.

Keywords: Elections; Maxine Cheshire; Political appointments; Reporters; Richard Nixon; Sargent Shriver; Senate; Senators; U.S. Ambassador to France; U.S. Embassy; Wife

Subjects: Ambassadors; France; Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913-1994; Paris (France); Politicians; Retirement; Rumors; Washington (D.C.); Washington post

00:13:37 - National Commitments Resolution / Presidential war making powers

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Partial Transcript: In 1969, the Senate passed the National Commitments Resolution.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper provides his opinion on the National Commitments Resolution and the overall war-making powers of the president granted by the constitution.

Keywords: Act of Congress; American troops abroad; Conflict; Congress; Congressional approval; Constitutional powers; Defense; Gulf of Tonkin Resolution; House of Representatives; National Commitments Resolution; Presidents; Senate; Senators; Troops; U.S. Constitution; Votes; War Powers Act; William Fulbright

Subjects: Authority; International relations; Military; Politicians; Protection; United States; Vietnam War, 1961-1975; War; Washington (D.C.)

00:19:00 - Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 / Background in coal mining

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Partial Transcript: . . .In 1969 there was a--uh--a Coal Mine Health and Safety bill that passed.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper explains why he wanted to maintain an exemption for small mines on the Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969. Cooper discusses his background in coal mining, including his work in his father's coal mine as a teenager during World War I.

Keywords: Acreage; Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969; Coal camps; Coal companies; Coal operators; Coal owners; Construction; Dangers; Eastern Kentucky; Employers; Explosions; Fathers; Funds; John L. Lewis; Large mines; Pay; Railroad cars; Senate; Senators; Small mines; Surface mining; Unionization; Unions; World War I

Subjects: Bell County (Ky.); Coal; Coal miners and mining; Coal mines; Harlan County (Ky.); Kentuckians; Kentucky; Law; Mine safety; Pennsylvania; Pineville (Ky.); Politicians; United Mine Workers of America; Washington (D.C.); West Virginia; Work; World War, 1914-1918

00:28:21 - Senate investigation of troop deployments

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Partial Transcript: In September of 1969, you asked the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to conduct an investigation to try to determine whether or not American forces had secretly been committed in Laos.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper details a 1969 Senate investigation of possible secret troop deployments in Cambodia and Thailand following the discovery of a secret treaty that allowed for troops to be sent to Laos.

Keywords: Amendments; American forces; Congressional appropriations; Debates; Defense proposals; Disclosure; Frank Church; Government; Independence; Investigations; Jacob Javits; Marlow Webster Cook; Mike Mansfield; Military Authorization bill; North Vietnam; Responsibilities; Secret treaty; Senate; Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Senators; South Vietnam; Troops; William Fulbright

Subjects: Americans; Cambodia; Laos; Politicians; Thailand; Vietnam; Vietnam War, 1961-1975; Washington (D.C.)

00:33:32 - Possibility of running for governor

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Partial Transcript: In the--in the fall of 1969, Louie Nunn said in a speech in Owensboro. . .

Segment Synopsis: Cooper considers if he wanted to run for Governor of Kentucky in 1971.

Keywords: Lorraine Cooper; Louie Nunn; Political campaigns; Political nominations; Senate; Senators; Tom Emberton; Wendell Ford; Wife

Subjects: Elections; India; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Owensboro (Ky.); Politicians; Speeches; Washington (D.C.)

00:37:05 - Clement Haynsworth nomination

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Partial Transcript: . . .There was a controversy that arose over the nomination of--uh--a man to the Supreme Court. A man by the name of Clement Haynsworth. . .

Segment Synopsis: Cooper articulates why he decided to vote against the confirmation of Clement Haynsworth to the Supreme Court in 1969.

Keywords: Clement Haynsworth; Conflict of interest; Court cases; Decisions; Federal judges; Financial interests; Marlow Webster Cook; Mothers; Nixon administration; Richard Nixon; Senate; Senate Judiciary Committee; Senate gallery; Senators; Supreme Court; Votes

Subjects: Leaders; Newspapers; Politicians; South Carolina; Testimony; Washington (D.C.)

00:42:25 - Carswell nomination

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Partial Transcript: . . .We might as well talk about the other one.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper illustrates reasons as to why he voted for the confirmation of G. Harrold Carswell to the Supreme Court in 1970.

Keywords: Court cases; Decisions; District judges; G. Harrold Carswell; Marlow Webster Cook; Political nominations; Presidents; Republicans; Richard Nixon; Senate; Senators; Southerners; Supreme Court; Votes

Subjects: Civil rights; Florida; Harvard Law School; Kentuckians; Kentucky; New York (N.Y.); Politicians; Prejudice; Washington (D.C.)

00:46:24 - Nixon White House and Congressional Republicans

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Partial Transcript: Near the end of 1969, there were about a dozen Republican Senators who chose you to seek an audience with Nixon.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper characterizes the dynamics between Congressional Republicans and the Nixon White House.

Keywords: Attorney General; H.R. Haldeman; John Ehrlichman; John N. Mitchell; Nicknames; Republicans; Richard Nixon; Rumors; Senate; Senators; Votes; White House

Subjects: Judges; Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913-1994; Politicians; Vietnam War, 1961-1975; Washington (D.C.); Watergate Affair, 1972-1974

00:51:09 - Tobacco in 1970

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Partial Transcript: At the beginning of 1970 it was--it was time for the Department of Agriculture to allot the burley tobacco acreage again for the year.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper discusses the issues with tobacco surpluses in 1970.

Keywords: Acreage; Allotments; Half-acre farmers; Parity; Secretary of agriculture; Senate; Senators; Surplus; World War II

Subjects: Law; Politicians; Tobacco; Tobacco farmers; United States. Department of Agriculture; Washington (D.C.); World War, 1939-1945

00:52:51 - Tobacco price supports

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Partial Transcript: . . .Say that when I first was in the Senate. . .

Segment Synopsis: Cooper details his involvement in maintaining price supports for tobacco farmers over the years.

Keywords: 80th U.S. Congress; Acreage; George Aiken; Parity; Price supports; Rumors; Senate; Senate Agricultural Committee; Senators

Subjects: Burley tobacco; Crops; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Maryland; North Carolina; Politicians; Pulaski County (Ky.); South Carolina; Tennessee; Tobacco; Tobacco farmers; United States. Department of Agriculture; Vermont; Washington (D.C.)

00:57:41 - Change in half-acre allotment rules

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Partial Transcript: Well, I introduced it, in the Senate.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper briefly talks of a bill that he introduced that would change the rules on half-acre tobacco farmers in order to save the tobacco price support program against a surplus in the 1970s.

Keywords: Acreage; Allotments; Burley Tobacco Growers; Cheap tobacco; Half-acre farmers; Poundage; Senate; Senators

Subjects: Agriculture; Burley tobacco; Health; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Law; Markets; Politicians; Tobacco; Tobacco farmers; Washington (D.C.)

00:58:47 - Stennis Amendment

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Partial Transcript: Sometime early in 1970--uh--there was an amendment passed in the Senate--uh--called the Stennis Amendment.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper explains why he supported the Stennis Amendment which called for desegregation at the same speed in both the North and the South.

Keywords: Amendments; Civil Rights Act of 1964; Debates; Desegregation; Hugh Scott; John F. Kennedy; Senate; Senators; Stennis Amendment; The North; The South

Subjects: African Americans; African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Black people; Civil rights; Civil rights movement; Law; Politicians; Race discrimination.; Schools; United States--Race relations.; Washington (D.C.)

01:02:29 - Relationship with United Mine Workers of America

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Partial Transcript: In March of 1970 you supported a--uh--a Senate investigation of the United Mine Workers welfare and retirement fund.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper assesses his relationship with the UMW over the years.

Keywords: Elections; Employees; Employers; John L. Lewis; Labor unions; Pensions; Presidents; Senate; Senate Labor and Public Welfare Committee; Senators; Taft-Hartley Act; Unions; Welfare and retirement fund

Subjects: Coal miners; India; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Politicians; United Mine Workers of America; Washington (D.C.)

01:05:18 - Voting Rights Act of 1965 renewal / Voting literacy tests

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Partial Transcript: . . .The 1965 Voting Rights Act came up for renewal.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper recalls the 1970 renewal of the Civil Rights Act of 1965. Cooper explains why he wanted to eliminate literacy tests for voting in all states, not just in the South.

Keywords: Civil Rights Act of 1965; Jacob Javits; Literacy; Republicans; Senate; Senators; The North; The South; Votes

Subjects: African Americans; African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Black people; Civil rights; Civil rights movement; Education; Literacy tests (Election law); Politicians; Race discrimination.; United States--Race relations.; Voting; Washington (D.C.)

01:07:46 - SALT I treaty / Washington (D.C.) crime bill

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Partial Transcript: In 1970, the--the Nixon administration was getting ready to engage in--in--uh--talks with the Soviet Union at Vienna. . .

Segment Synopsis: Cooper discusses the SALT I treaty negotiations between the USSR and the U.S. in Vienna. Cooper describes his opposition to a D.C. crime bill that called for no-knock warrants.

Keywords: Anti-crime bills; Constitutional provisions; House of Representatives; Judges; Nixon administration; No-knock warrants; Richard Nixon; SALT I treaty; Sam Ervin; Senate; Senate Committee on the District of Columbia; Senate floor; Senators; White House

Subjects: Cold War; Crime; International relations; Law; Nuclear weapons; Police; Politicians; Soviet Union; Vienna (Austria); Washington (D.C.); Weapons of mass destruction

01:13:15 - Constitutional amendment to abolish the electoral college / Public Works Committee

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Partial Transcript: Another thing you opposed--uh--in 1970 was a constitutional amendment which would have abolished the electoral college.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper considers his opposition to a 1970 constitutional amendment that would have eliminated the Electoral College. Cooper details his work on the Subcommittee on Air and Water Pollution within the Senate Committee on Public Works and Environment.

Keywords: Amendments; Auto industry; Bills; Direct election; Edmund Muskie; Emissions; Hudson River; Political primaries; Public buildings; Ranking Republicans; Rivers and Harbors bill; Senate; Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works; Senators; Subcommittee on Air and Water Pollution; The South; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Votes

Subjects: Air; Air pollution; Electoral college; Environmental cleanup; Environmental policy; Environmental protection; Flood control; Kentucky; Lakes; Politicians; Pollutants; Potomac River; Reservoirs; Staff; Strip mining; Washington (D.C.); Water

01:18:25 - 1969 Senate Minority Leader

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Partial Transcript: In 1969, Senator Dirksen died.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper remembers the controversy over selecting a Senate Minority Leader following the death of the current leader Everett Dirksen in 1969.

Keywords: Everett Dirksen; Howard Baker Jr.; Hugh Scott; Leaders; Lyndon Johnson; Senate; Senate Minority Leader; Senate Minority Whip; Senators

Subjects: Politicians; Washington (D.C.)