Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Albert Benjamin "Happy" Chandler, June 13, 1980

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

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Partial Transcript: This is Professor Charles P. Roland of the University of Kentucky History Department.

Segment Synopsis: Professor Roland from the University of Kentucky History Department introduces his interview subject, former Kentucky governor Albert B. "Happy" Chandler. The interview is being conducted in order for Roland to obtain information about Chandler to write a biography.

Keywords: Biographies; Former governors; History professors; Interviews; Introductions; Versailles residents

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991--Interviews; Governors--Kentucky; Politicians--Kentucky; University of Kentucky. College of Arts and Sciences

00:00:29 - Award from Major League Baseball players

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Partial Transcript: Governor, we're looking at a very attractive silver tray here. Would you give me a little bit of the background of that?

Segment Synopsis: Chandler shows Roland a sterling silver tray he received from some of the Major League Baseball players for his service to the League during his time as baseball commissioner. He tells Roland who gave him the award and why it was so important to him to receive it.

Keywords: Awards; Baseball players; Gifts; Honors; Sterling silver; Sterling silver trays

Subjects: Baseball commissioners; Baseball managers.; Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991--Interviews; Major League Baseball (Organization); Major League Baseball (Organization). Office of the Commissioner; Major League Baseball Players Association

00:03:19 - Paintings and photos in the Chandler house

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Partial Transcript: Now, Governor, we're in your dining room now and I see a, a beautiful portrait there. Who's, uh, portrait is it and, and who painted it?

Segment Synopsis: Chandler shows Roland various portraits and landscapes in his house, which were painted by Howard Chandler Christy, a distant relation of Chandler and a renowned 20th century artist. He shows the various portraits of his family members, including his wife Mildred "Mama" Chandler, Ben Chandler, and his own portrait, called "Portrait of the Boy Governor" by Christy. Chandler recalls his interactions with Christy and sitting for the portraits. Chandler also shows Roland a photograph of himself with his wife, which was taken after Chandler won the 1955 election for governor.

Keywords: 20th century painters; American painters; Art collections; Family members; Family paintings; Famous painters; Gibson girls; Influential artists; Landscape paintings; Memories; Photographs; Portraits

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991--Interviews; Chandler, Mildred Watkins, 1899-1995; Christy, Howard Chandler, 1873-1952; Governors--Kentucky; Paintings; Politicians--Kentucky

00:10:23 - Southern Pacific in Woodford County

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Partial Transcript: Governor Chandler, I'd like to talk for you awhile today about your role, either as governor, or for that matter, when you were not governor, in, uh, bringing business and industry into the state of Kentucky.

Segment Synopsis: Chandler recalls how he got the Southern Pacific railroad company to move their corporation to Woodford County for a small price, even though none of their rails ran through the county. Chandler further discusses how he negotiated a severance tax with the Southern Pacific company, who left when the government attempted to tax the workers, against Chandler's personal wishes.

Keywords: Balanced budgets; Kentucky businesses; Kentucky industries; Lawyers; Settlements; Severance taxes; Southern Pacific Railroad; Taxes; Woodford County businesses

Subjects: Education--Finance--Kentucky; Kentucky. General Assembly. Senate; Railroads; Taxation--Law and legislation--Kentucky; Woodford County (Ky.)

00:19:29 - Industries brought to Lexington during the first gubernatorial administration

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Partial Transcript: Later on, uh, I--Mr. Wallace, uh, who was, uh, one of my commissioners and who was very influential, Mr. Frederick A. Wallace from, uh, Paris.

Segment Synopsis: Chandler describes how his administration brought the Square D Company and Texas Instruments to Lexington to build factories. He discusses how he convinced farmers to work at the factory by building smoke stacks away from the factories, as the farmers were concerned about pollution. Chandler talks about how he hopes Lexington will further industrialize and expand their rural land into urban areas.

Keywords: Factory pollution; Farmers; Job creation; Lexington businesses; Lexington industries; Pollution; Square D Company; Texas Instruments

Subjects: Air--Pollution potential.; Ashland (Lexington, Ky.); Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991--Interviews; Industrialization.; Lexington (Ky.).; Local revenue; Square D Company; Texas Instruments Incorporated.

00:24:01 - International Business Machines (IBM) in Lexington

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Partial Transcript: But when I got to be the governor, I learned, uh, through confidential sources, that, uh, IBM wanted to locate a plant in Lexington.

Segment Synopsis: Chandler talks about how he negotiated with the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) to build a facility in Lexington, in order to create jobs. Chandler discusses how they were attracted to Chandler's administration, low taxes, and the high quality of the labor force in central Kentucky. He details how he negotiated with Thomas Watson and his son, Thomas Watson, Jr., to sell land to IBM in order for them to build their facility in Lexington.

Keywords: Business negotiations; Computer businesses; IBM; IBM plant; Lexington businesses; Lexington corporations; Second administrations; Typewriters; Watson Jr., Thomas; Watson, Thomas

Subjects: Business enterprises.; Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991--Interviews; Governors--Kentucky--Interviews; International Business Machines Corporation.; Lexington (Ky.); Lexington (Ky.)--Buildings, structures, etc.; Lexington (Ky.)--Politics and government; Taxation--Law and legislation--Kentucky

00:35:24 - Unions in Kentucky businesses / Right-to-work laws

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Partial Transcript: Did you have any, uh, discussions or do you have any thoughts about their attitude toward, uh, uh, unionization?

Segment Synopsis: Chandler discusses the lack of unions in Kentucky businesses and how it attracted new businesses to Kentucky. He talks about his personal attitudes towards unions. He discusses his beliefs that a worker should be able to choose whether or not to join a union. He tells a story about dealing with a strike during his first administration. Chandler tells Roland why he did not enact a right-to-work law and why any such law has not been enacted in Kentucky. He discusses how he protected the rights of workers in Kentucky. Chandler also talks about why organized labor and unions supported Chandler and the actions he took to keep their support.

Keywords: Business plants; Commonwealth strikes; Kentucky unions; Lexington unions; Right to work and labor unions; Right to work policies; Right-to-join; Right-to-work; Union dues; Union strikes

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991--Interviews; Company unions; Governors--Kentucky; Labor unions; Open and closed shop--Law and legislation--United States; Right to labor; Strikes and lockouts.

00:46:46 - 1960s Democratic primaries

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Partial Transcript: Governor, uh, would you tell me more about, uh, why you called it a 'monumental steal'?

Segment Synopsis: Chandler discusses how he lost the 1963 Democratic nomination for governor to Edward T. "Ned" Breathitt. He believes Breathitt won the race by fraudulent means, as Chandler had earned the most votes of any election he had run in his career. He also discusses how Harry Lee Waterfield running for the Democratic nomination for governor caused Chandler to lose the nomination, as Waterfield had split the vote. Chandler talks about his dislike and distrust of Henry Ward, who he actively campaigned against, supporting Republican Louie B. Nunn instead.

Keywords: Bad characters; Chandler Medical Center; Democratic primaries; Dishonesty; Dishonor; Doctors; Fraudulent votes; Louisville doctors; Louisville voters; Personalities; Poor character

Subjects: Breathitt, Edward T., 1924-; Breathitt, Edward T., 1924- --Governors--Election; Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991--Interviews; Elections; Elections--Corrupt practices; Louisville (Ky.); Prichard, E. F., (Edward Fretwell).; University of Kentucky. Medical Center; Voting; Ward, Henry, 1909-2002; Waterfield, Harry Lee, 1911-1988

00:55:36 - Relationships with John Y. Brown Sr. and Jr. / Perception of Tom Easterly

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Partial Transcript: How, uh, how much--how many votes do you believe you brought--carried to Nunn?

Segment Synopsis: Chandler discusses his strong dislike of John Y. Brown, Sr. and his son, John Y. Brown, Jr. He accuses Brown, Sr. of cheating Colonel Harland Sanders and himself through bad businesses deals and investments. He discusses his dislike of their characters and their personal lives, including Brown, Sr. marrying and divorcing his wife three times. He talks about how he initially supported Brown, Sr. during his run for U.S. Senator in 1966. Chandler then discusses his perception of Tom Easterly, a Kentucky Senator.

Keywords: Character; Democrats; Distrust; Easterly, Charles Thomas; Families; Governors; John Y. Brown, Jr.; John Y. Brown, Sr.; Personal opinions; Political influences; Political opposition; Political support; Republicans; Votes

Subjects: Brown, John Y. (John Young) Jr., 1933-; Brown, John Young, 1900-1985; Governors--Kentucky; Kentucky Fried Chicken (Firm); Kentucky--General Assembly--Senate; Nunn, Louie B., 1924-2004; Politicians--Kentucky; Sanders, Harland, 1890-1980.

01:13:18 - University of Kentucky acquisition of Spindletop Farm and Coldstream Farm

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Partial Transcript: Uh, Governor, tell me, uh, about your role in the, uh, Spindletop Farm acquisition by the University.

Segment Synopsis: Chandler details how he negotiated the acquisitions of Coldstream Farm and Spindletop Farm and handed them over to the University of Kentucky during his second administration as governor. These farms were to be used as experimental farms for the College of Agriculture. He talks about the details of the acquisition of the farms by the state and how the acquisition came about exactly.

Keywords: Acquisitions; Coldstream Farm; Experimental farms; Lexington Leader; Lexington farms; State-owned land; University farms

Subjects: Agricultural experiment stations.; Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991; Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991--Interviews; Fayette County (Ky.); Fayette County (Ky.)--Newspapers.; Fayette County (Ky.)--Politics and government; Lexington (Ky.); Spindletop Farm (Ky.); University of Kentucky (Lexington, Ky.); University of Kentucky--College of Agriculture