Interview with Albert Benjamin "Happy" Chandler, December 5, 1978

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:01 - Introduction

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Partial Transcript: December 5th, 1978, roll 1, visit number 4.

Segment Synopsis: The tape number is introduced for the interview, which is an interview of former Kentucky governor and baseball commissioner Albert B. "Happy" Chandler.

Keywords: Biographies; Interviews; Introductions; Kentucky governors

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991--Interviews; Governors--Kentucky; Politicians--Kentucky

00:00:34 - Reorganization Act of 1936

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Partial Transcript: Governor, one of the most important things you did, shortly after you were elected governor, was to, uh, inaugurate the reorganization of the administration--government of the state of Kentucky.

Segment Synopsis: Chandler discusses his role in reorganizing the Kentucky government, getting rid of unnecessary boards and commissions. He talks about creating a commission to study the government and create a reorganization bill. Chandler recalls how the administration gained the votes for the bill and how it was enacted, stressing its importance in Kentucky government.

Keywords: Commissions; Government budgets; Government debts; Gubernatorial administrations; Kentucky bills; Kentucky government; Reorganization Act 1936; State debts; State government legislation; Votes

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991--Interviews; Debts; Debts, Public; Kentucky--Politics and government; Kentucky--Politics and government--1865-1950; Taxation--Law and legislation

00:07:34 - James Martin

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Partial Transcript: Governor, a, uh, a key person--key individual in your administration was, uh, a gentleman you got from the University of Kentucky faculty, uh, uh, uh, Professor James Martin.

Segment Synopsis: Chandler discusses how and why he hired University of Kentucky economics professor James Martin to be a part of his administration to assist with the Reorganization Act. He talks about the capabilities of University of Kentucky graduates and faculty to do good work in their respective fields. Chandler talks about Martin's pivotal role in his administration and why Martin was a successful part of his Reorganization Act.

Keywords: Civil contributions; Civil service; Department of Revenue; Economics professors; Reorganization Act 1936; State universities; University of Kentucky alumni; University of Kentucky professors

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991--Interviews; Economic development; Governors--Kentucky; Integrity; Kentucky--Politics and government.; University of Kentucky; University of Kentucky--Faculty

00:12:41 - Effectiveness of the Reorganization Act

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Partial Transcript: Governor, one of the proofs of the, uh, effectiveness of the Reorganization Act was, uh, the reduction of the state debt.

Segment Synopsis: Chandler talks about the crucial role of the Reorganization Act in eliminating Kentucky's state debt without raising taxes. He discusses Frank Peterson, who managed state finances and reduced payouts for warrants, as one example of finding ways to eliminate state debt. Chandler also talks about the constitutionality of the state debt and how his administration balanced the budget of Kentucky.

Keywords: Balancing budgets; Government debts; Gubernatorial administrations; Kentucky debts; Kentucky government; Peterson, Frank; State debt; State finances

Subjects: Administrative agencies--Reorganization; Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991--Interviews; Debts, Public; Debts, Public--Accounting.; State governments--Officials and employees; Taxation--Law and legislation; Warrants (Law)

00:19:06 - Financing public services

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Partial Transcript: Governor, at the s--at the time you were reducing and, uh, virtually wiping out the state debt, during your administration, while you were still governor, you also, of course, uh, as we've already discussed, you were, uh, building up the schools and, uh, rural roads and, and such things as that. Where did you get the money to do that?

Segment Synopsis: Chandler details how his administration funded public services, such as public schools and rural road building, without implementing a sales tax. He cites a conservative state budget and a careful collection of taxes, both of which provided funding for public services.

Keywords: Kentucky governments; Kentucky roads; Public services; State budgets; State governments

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991--Interviews; Education--Finance--Kentucky; Education--Kentucky; Rural roads; Schools; State governments--Officials and employees

00:21:08 - Role in keeping Adolph Rupp at the University of Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Uh--(clears throat)--one of the things that, uh, that you had a part in, in your public life--and this, uh, this is a little bit of a flashback to an earlier period, but, uh, I wanna question you about it.

Segment Synopsis: Chandler recalls how Adolph Rupp, a former University of Kentucky basketball coach, made basketball a popular sport at the school. He talks about his personal relationship with Rupp. He describes how he assisted Rupp in getting a longer contract renewal with the university to coach basketball.

Keywords: Coaching contracts; College sports contracts; Contract negotiations; Kentucky basketball coaches; University basketball coaches

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991--Interviews; Contracts; Rupp, Adolph, 1901-1977; University of Kentucky--Basketball--History; University of Kentucky--Employees

00:26:52 - The Great Flood of 1937

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Partial Transcript: Now, switching back to, to your, uh, administration as governor.

Segment Synopsis: Chandler talks about his active role in assisting Kentuckians during the flood of 1937, abandoning his holiday plans to provide assistance to the prisoners of a penitentiary in Frankfort. Chandler discusses his favorable view of the death penalty for violent crimes, such as rape and murder. He talks about the cruel treatment of the prisoners in the penitentiary and how he promised to build a new one if the prisoners cooperated in evacuating the current penitentiary and building a new one. Chandler also talks about his improvement of the various mental institutions in Kentucky.

Keywords: Cruel and unusual punishment; Death penalty; Insane asylums; Kentucky penitentiaries; Kentucky prisons; Manual labor

Subjects: Capital punishment; Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991--Interviews; Criminals; Floods; Floods--Kentucky; Politicians--Kentucky; Prisoners; Prisons; Psychiatric hospitals

00:37:16 - Senatorial campaign against Alben Barkley

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Partial Transcript: Well Governor, by 1938, you were riding the crest of a great wave of success as governor of the state of Kentucky...

Segment Synopsis: Chandler discusses his opinions of Senator Alben Barkley, who he decided to run against in 1938 while governor. He hoped to remove Barkley from the Senate and "expose" his cooperation in the Works Progress Administration (WPA) fraud. Chandler cites President Roosevelt's support of Barkley and the WPA fraud as the reason Barkley defeated him in the race.

Keywords: Campaign fraud; Kentucky Senators; Political opposition; Political support; Reelections; Senatorial campaigns; WPA fraud

Subjects: Barkley, Alben William, 1877-1956; Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991--Interviews; Elections--Corrupt practices; Political corruption--Kentucky; Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945; State governments--Officials and employees; United States. Congress. Senate.

00:44:00 - The Louisville Courier Journal / Election to the U.S. Senate

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Partial Transcript: Up until this time, the Courier-Journal had been a staunch supporter of your administration, Governor Chandler.

Segment Synopsis: Chandler discusses the Courier-Journal's opposition to his political career, which began after he decided to run against Sen. Barkley for U.S. Senate in 1938. He then describes how he resigned from the governorship and was appointed Senator by the new governor, after the death of Sen. Logan. Chandler discusses his race against John Y. Brown, who accused him of using government funds to build a swimming pool on his personal property. Chandler discusses the falseness of these accusations from Brown.

Keywords: Kentucky journalism; Kentucky newspapers; Local newspapers; Political opposition; Political support; Progressive newspapers; Progressive politics

Subjects: Brown, John Young, 1900-1985; Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991--Interviews; Courier-journal (Louisville, Ky.); Elections -- Corrupt practices; Governors--Kentucky; Kentucky--Elections; United States. Congress. Senate.

00:51:07 - Relationship with other U.S. Senators

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Partial Transcript: You, uh, you got, uh--you became very close to, uh, a man, uh, that you were already were close to, really--(clears throat)--Senator Harry Byrd of Virginia.

Segment Synopsis: Chandler talks about his relationships with various Southern U.S. Senators, particularly Harry F. Byrd. He discusses supporting Byrd's financial policies, particularly in terms of reducing the national deficit.

Keywords: Dixiecrats; Friendships; Godfathers; Political relationships; Southern Senators; Southern conservatives

Subjects: Byrd, Harry F. (Harry Flood), 1887-1966; Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991--Interviews; Legislators--United States.; United States. Congress. Senate.

00:54:22 - The New Deal / Foreign affairs prior to World War II

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Partial Transcript: The generalization, uh, frequently is made that this group, uh, or the--formed the nucleus, the group of men you've just mentioned, formed a conservative nucleus, in the Senate, that, uh, after 1938, largely, uh, curtailed the Roosevelt domestic programs.

Segment Synopsis: Chandler discusses his opposition to the New Deal and Roosevelt's fiscal policies. He talks about his support of the Manhattan Project and his belief that the government should sometimes keep projects secret from the public. Chandler talks about foreign relations prior to the United States' entrance into World War II. He wanted the U.S. to avoid participation in the war, but he believes Roosevelt wanted to join the war to satisfy his personal ambition. Chandler discusses Winston Churchill, particularly his relationship with President Roosevelt.

Keywords: American isolationism; Fiscal policies; Government secrets; International relationships; Manhattan Project; Personal financial issues; Political opposition; Political support; Secret projects; World War II

Subjects: Atomic bomb; Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991--Interviews; Churchill, Winston, 1871-1947; New Deal, 1933-1939; Politicians--Kentucky; Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945; United States. Congress. Senate.; World War, 1939-1945

01:00:13 - The United States in World War II

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Partial Transcript: Pearl Harbor was a low blow, and we had not expected that. That was wholly unexpected.

Segment Synopsis: Chandler discusses how the United States underestimated Japan's striking ability, and the United States' entrance into World War II. He recalls the attack on Pearl Harbor and its aftermath. He discusses his feelings about the America First organization and other organizations senators joined during the war. Chandler discusses his personal feelings about the United States' involvement in World War II, including his belief that the U.S. needed to focus their efforts more in the Pacific Ocean Theater than the European Theater. Chandler also describes the atomic bombing of Japan and the aftermath of the bombings.

Keywords: Asia First; Atomic bombing of Japan; Atomic bombings; European Theater; Japanese surrender; Pacific Ocean Theater; Pacific Theater; Threat of invasion; United States war activities; WWII; World War 2; World War II

Subjects: Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991--Interviews; Hiroshima-shi (Japan); Nagasaki-ken (Japan); Pearl Harbor (Hawaii), Attack on, 1941; Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945; United States--Military policy--Congresses.; United States--Military relations--Japan.; United States. Army. European Theater of Operations; United States. Congress. Senate.; World War, 1939-1945; World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns--Pacific Area

01:11:07 - Visiting world leaders with other U.S. Senators during World War II

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Partial Transcript: On this, uh, great "around-the-world" journey that you made with the other senators, who were some of the leaders other than General MacArthur that you talked to?

Segment Synopsis: Chandler discusses the various world leaders he and other U.S. Senators visited during World War II, including Prime Minister Churchill of Britain and Faruk I, King of Egypt. He describes the purpose of these meetings and how they were not able to visit French leaders due to the German occupation of France at the time of the visits. [The tape cuts off abruptly.]

Keywords: Allied nations; British; Egyptians; Heads of state; International politics; International relations; Kings; Occupied France; U.S. Senators; World War II; World governments

Subjects: Allied Powers (1919- ); Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991--Interviews; Churchill, Winston, 1871-1947; Faruk I, King of Egypt, 1920-1965.; United States. Congress. Senate.; World War, 1939-1945; World politics