Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with John Sherman Cooper, May 27, 1987

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:03 - Harry Truman

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

Segment Synopsis: Cooper provides his opinion on Harry Truman as president.

Keywords: Alben Barkley; Alice Roosevelt Longworth; Arthur Vandenberg; Delegates; Franklin D. Roosevelt; Harry Truman; Republican Senate; Senate; Senators; Teddy Roosevelt; Vice presidents; White House

Subjects: Politicians; Presidents; Truman, Harry S., 1884-1972; United States; Washington (D.C.)

00:04:02 - U.N. Delegate

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Partial Transcript: He appointed me as a delegate to the United Nations.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper reflects upon his time spent as a delegate to the U.N. under President Truman.

Keywords: Armed Services; Dean Acheson; Debates; Delegates; Eleanor Roosevelt; Harry Truman; Political appointments; Ronald Reagan; Secretary of state

Subjects: Diplomacy; International relations; Military; New York (N.Y.); Paris (France); Politicians; Truman, Harry S., 1884-1972; United Nations; United Nations. General Assembly; United States. Department of State; Washington (D.C.)

00:06:55 - Dwight Eisenhower

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Partial Transcript: General Eisenhower was the next president.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper shares his recollections of President Eisenhower.

Keywords: Abraham Lincoln; Allied forces; American forces; Army camps; Artillery posts; Bernard Montgomery; British forces; Camp Hood (Tex.); Character; Commander-in-chief; Dwight Eisenhower; General Patton; Lorraine Cooper; Omar Bradley; Patton's Third Army; Personality; Presidents; Russell Senate Office Building; Senate; Senators; Troops; Winston Churchill; World War II

Subjects: Arab countries; Death; Egypt; Eisenhower, Dwight D. (Dwight David), 1890-1969; Europe; Fort Knox (Ky.); Frankfort (Ky.); French; Islamic countries; Kentucky; Lexington (Ky.); Politicians; Russell Senate Office Building (Washington, D.C.); Russians; Soviet Union; Suez Canal (Egypt); United Kingdom; United States; War; Washington (D.C.); World War, 1939-1945

00:16:25 - Friendship with John F. Kennedy

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Partial Transcript: John Kennedy was elected.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper describes how his friendship with John F. Kennedy formed while they were serving in the Senate together during the 1950s.

Keywords: Democrats; Elections; Industry; John F. Kennedy; Political campaigning; Political campaigns; Republicans; Senate; Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare; Senators; U.S. Ambassador to India; Votes

Subjects: Friends; Friendship; India; Kennedy, John Fitzgerald, 1917-1963; Kentucky; Labor; Politicians; Washington (D.C.); Wives

00:18:11 - Trip to USSR for John F. Kennedy

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Partial Transcript: And he said: "I would like for you to go to Moscow for me and find out if you can what they think about my being elected to the presidency. . ."

Segment Synopsis: Cooper recalls a trip he took to Moscow after Kennedy's election to gauge the reaction of Soviet leaders to his presidency.

Keywords: American embassy; Andrei Gromyko; Assassinations; Boston (Mass.); Dwight Eisenhower; Elections; Indira Gandhi; John F. Kennedy; Legacy; Massachusetts; Nikita Khrushchev; Nikolai Bulganin; Presidents; Richard Nixon; Secretary of state; Threats to peace; U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union; Vasili Kuznetsov; World War II

Subjects: Carnegie Institute; Education; Friendships; International relations; Kennedy family; Kennedy, John Fitzgerald, 1917-1963; Leaders; Moscow (Russia); New Delhi (India); Objectivity; Politicians; Soviet Union; Soviets; Travel; United States; United States. Department of State; Washington (D.C.); World War, 1939-1945

00:24:26 - Warren Commission members

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Partial Transcript: I was appointed to the Warren Commission.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper lists his fellow members on the Warren Commission.

Keywords: Allen Dulles; Arlen Specter; Assassinations; Brothers; Democrats; District judges; Federal judges; Gerald Ford; Hale Boggs; House of Representatives; Investigations; John F. Kennedy; Lyndon Johnson; Political appointments; Republicans; Richard Russell; Senators; Supreme Court; Warren Commission; Widows

Subjects: Georgia; Johns Hopkins University; Kennedy, John Fitzgerald, 1917-1963; Lawyers; Leaders; Louisiana; New York; Politicians; Presidents; Staff; Virginia; Washington (D.C.); Witnesses

00:27:38 - Warren Commission

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Partial Transcript: We went to Dallas.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper details his service on the Warren Commission.

Keywords: Closed hearings; John F. Kennedy; Lee Harvey Oswald; Opinions; Reports; Texas School Book Depository; Warren Commission

Subjects: Dallas (Tex.); Kennedy, John Fitzgerald, 1917-1963; Politicians; Protection; Secret service; Truth; Washington (D.C.); Witnesses

00:30:23 - Lyndon Johnson / Vietnam War background

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Partial Transcript: Lyndon Johnson became president, he was vice president.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper reflects upon Lyndon Johnson's presidency. Cooper provides a contextual overview of the events that led to the Vietnam War.

Keywords: Amendments; Battle of Dien Bien Phu; Congress; Cooper-Church Amendment; Debates; Democratic leaders; Earle Clements; First Indochina War; Frank Church; Lyndon Johnson; North Vietnam; Presidents; Senate; Senators; South Vietnam; Surrenders; Troops; Vice presidents; Warren Commission; World War II

Subjects: Africa; Armed Forces; Cambodia; Colonies; France; Idaho; Independence; India; International relations; Japan; Johnson, Lyndon B. (Lyndon Baines), 1908-1973; Pakistan; Partition, Territorial; Politicians; Presidents; Protection; Responsibility; United Kingdom; United States; Vietnam; Vietnam War, 1961-1975; Vietnamese; Voting; Washington (D.C.); World War, 1939-1945

00:38:18 - Presidents and national security

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Partial Transcript: But, they did what they believed they had to do--ought to do to protect the country.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper offers his opinion on presidents and the actions they must take to defend national security, including an editorial he wrote for the Washington Post on the subject.

Keywords: Airplanes; American ships; Attacks; Beliefs; Commander-in-chief; Constitutional powers; Defeat; Democrats; Duty; Fighting ships; Hostages; Independence; Katharine Graham; Montezuma II; Newspaper editors; Pirates; Republicans; Ronald Reagan; Soldiers; The Marine’s Hymn; Thomas Jefferson

Subjects: Articles; Bombing, Aerial; Editorials; International relations; Libya; Mediterranean Sea; National security; Politicians; Power; Presidents; Protection; Threats; Tripoli (Libya); United States; Washington (D.C.); Washington post

00:42:24 - Views on Lyndon Johnson

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Partial Transcript: Y--you mentioned that--that you saw President Johnson periodically during the time he was president, particularly about the Vietnam War.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper shares his overall views on President Lyndon Johnson, focusing on the Vietnam War and domestic policy.

Keywords: Amendments; Assassinations; Beautification; Chuck Robb; Congress; County judges; Daughters; Debates; Domestic policy; Farmers; Frank Church; Franklin D. Roosevelt; Governors; Great Depression; Helen Herron Taft; John F. Kennedy; Lady Bird Johnson; Lynda Bird Johnson Robb; Lyndon Johnson; Presidency; Presidents; Senate; Senators; Troops; Votes; Wife; William Howard Taft; Witnesses

Subjects: Depressions--1929; Great society; Japan; Johnson, Lyndon B. (Lyndon Baines), 1908-1973; Marriage; Military; Philippines; Politicians; Potomac River; Poverty; Presidents; Press; Protection; Pulaski County (Ky.); Respect; United States; United States. National Park Service; Vietnam; Vietnam War, 1961-1975; Virginia; Washington (D.C.)

00:48:44 - Richard Nixon / Watergate

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Partial Transcript: What about--uh--President Nixon?

Segment Synopsis: Cooper discusses his views of Richard Nixon. Cooper recalls his reaction to the Watergate scandal.

Keywords: Allies; Amendments; Committees; Debates; Gerald Ford; Investigations; Political appointments; Richard Nixon; Scandals; Senate; Senators; Surrenders; Troops; Vice presidents; Young people

Subjects: Asia; Cambodia; China; New Jersey; New York (N.Y.); Newspapers; Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913-1994; Politicians; Presidents; Resignation; Thailand; Travel; United States; Vietnam; Vietnam War, 1961-1975; Washington (D.C.); Watergate Affair, 1972-1974

00:56:40 - Gerald Ford / Presidential power

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Partial Transcript: My chief experience with him was when I was named to be Ambassador to East Berlin.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper evaluates the presidency of Gerald Ford. Cooper provides his opinion on the power of presidents to protect the country during wartime.

Keywords: Character; Debates; Democrats; Gerald Ford; Government; House of Representatives; John F. Kennedy; John Pastore; Lyndon Johnson; Personalities; Presidents; Richard Nixon; Senate; Senators; Troops; U.S. Ambassador to East Germany; Vice presidents; World War I; World War II

Subjects: Criticism; Loyalty; North Carolina; Pardons; Politicians; Presidents; Prisoners of war; Rhode Island; Texas; United States; Vietnam; Vietnam War, 1961-1975; Washington (D.C.); Watergate Affair, 1972-1974; World War, 1914-1918; World War, 1939-1945

01:01:33 - Jimmy Carter

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Partial Transcript: Then President Carter was the president.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper assesses Jimmy Carter as president.

Keywords: Billy Carter; Brothers; Controversy; Gerald Ford; Jimmy Carter; Newspapers; Panama Canal; Presidential library; Republicans; Ronald Reagan; Senate Foreign Relations Committee; White House

Subjects: Administration; Atlanta (Ga.); Authority; Carter, Jimmy, 1924-; Colombia; Criticism; Cuba; International relations; Kentucky; Morals; Panama; Philippines; Politicians; Power; Presidents; South America; Spanish-American War, 1898; Washington (D.C.)

01:06:54 - Ronald Reagan / More on presidential power

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Partial Transcript: And Reagan then was elected.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper illustrates his views of Ronald Reagan. Cooper explains his perspective on presidential powers during wartime.

Keywords: American ships; Attacks; Beliefs; Commander-in-chief; Constitutional Convention; Constitutional powers; Duty; Founding fathers; Marines; Montezuma II; Orders; Pirates; Protection; Ronald Reagan; The Marines’ Hymn; Thomas Jefferson; U.S. Constitution; Votes; Warships

Subjects: Authority; Bombing, Aerial; International relations; Libya; Mediterranean Sea; Mexico; Politicians; Popularity; Power; Presidents; Public opinion; Soviet Union; Tripoli (Libya); United States; War; Washington (D.C.)