Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Ronald Edward Meredith, June 14, 1993

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:21 - Personal background / Impressions of John Sherman Cooper

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Partial Transcript: Judge Meredith could you--uh--tell me a little bit about your background?

Segment Synopsis: Meredith discusses his background in politics. Meredith shares his first impressions of Cooper, from the perspective of a child in Kentucky.

Keywords: Abraham Lincoln; Admirers; Citizens; Current affairs; Dwight Eisenhower; Education; Election workers; Elections; Elementary schools; Environment; Family; Friends; Great; John F. Kennedy; John Sherman Cooper; Law schools; Media; Politics; Polls; Principles; Richard Nixon; Service stations; Thruston Morton; Voting booths; Young Republicans

Subjects: Childhood; Early life; Edmonson County (Ky.); Elizabethtown (Ky.); George Washington University; Georgetown College; Grayson County (Ky.); High schools; Litchfield (Ky.); Parents; Politicians; Radio; Reading; Reputation; Television; Voting; Washington (D.C.); Work

00:08:46 - Cooper as a speaker / Cooper and decision-making

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Partial Transcript: Senator Cooper was not a--a great speaker.

Segment Synopsis: Meredith describes Cooper's speaking style and his habits in terms of making decisions.

Keywords: 5th congressional district (Ky.); Appointments; Colleagues; Committees; Debates; Decisions; Executive sessions; Glen Campbell; John F. Kennedy; John Sherman Cooper; Judges; Republicans; Senate; Senators; U.S. Attorney Generals

Subjects: Listening; Meetings; Politicians; Postmasters; Speeches; Washington (D.C.); Work

00:14:27 - Meeting Jackie Kennedy

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Partial Transcript: Well he introduced me to--uh--uh--Mrs. Onassis.

Segment Synopsis: Meredith recalls when Cooper introduced him to Jackie Kennedy at a christening in Washington, D.C. in the late 1960s.

Keywords: Assassinations; Chauffeurs; Christening; Family; Jackie Kennedy; Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis; John Sherman Cooper; Law schools; Law students; Lorraine Cooper; Policeman; Robert F. Kennedy; Rory Kennedy; Senate; Senate postal workers; Senate tags; Senators

Subjects: Books; Death; Dignity; Meeting; People; Politicians; Respect; Washington (D.C.)

00:17:52 - Becoming an intern for Cooper

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Partial Transcript: Senator had been kind enough to give me a job, he knew I needed it, I was a poor boy.

Segment Synopsis: Meredith explains the circumstances behind how he was hired as a summer intern for Senator Cooper's Washington, D.C. office in 1966.

Keywords: Admirers; American Legion Park (Elizabethtown, Ky.); Attorneys; Best friends; Democratic politics; Favors; Fraternity; Government; Insurance agency; Interns; Internships; John Sherman Cooper; King Swope; Payroll; Political science; Politics; Recommendations; Republican chairman; Spring break; University

Subjects: Character; Elizabethtown (Ky.); Friend; Georgetown College; Hardin County (Ky.); Money; Politicians; Respect; Secretaries; Speech; Staff; Washington (D.C.); Work; Writing

00:25:01 - Internship with Cooper

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Partial Transcript: . . .Then June the 12th rolled around and--.

Segment Synopsis: Meredith discusses his experience of being an intern at Senator Cooper's Washington, D.C. office.

Keywords: Administrative assistants; Amendments; Articles; Bailey Guard; Democrats; Diane Sawyer; Embassies; Executive sessions; Henry Ward; Internships; John Sherman Cooper; Judy Parente; Local issues; Louie Nunn; Press secretary; Reporters; Senate; Senate Public Works Committee; Senate office building; Senators; Writers

Subjects: Agriculture; Alabama; Baltimore (Md.); Draft; Harrodsburg (Ky.); Newspapers; Politicians; Public works; Retirement; Staff; Washington (D.C.); Wellesley College; Work

00:32:01 - 1966 Senatorial campaign

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Partial Transcript: --Uh--the Senator was running as it would happen that Fall--uh--this was 1966. . .

Segment Synopsis: Meredith shares his memories of Cooper's 1966 Senatorial campaign.

Keywords: 1966 Senatorial campaign; Appearances; Bands; Campaign rallies; Campaigning; County seats; Crowds; Eastern Kentucky; Jobs; John Sherman Cooper; John Y. Brown Sr.; Judy Parente; Levi Jackson Wilderness Road Park (Ky.); Political campaigns; Responsibilities; Senior year; Western Kentucky

Subjects: Centre College (Danville, Ky. : 1918- ); Courthouses; Danville (Ky.); Elizabethtown (Ky.); Georgetown College; Hardin County (Ky.); High school; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Louisville (Ky.); Parents; Politicians; Schools; Staff; University of Kentucky; Washington (D.C.); Work

00:39:50 - Cooper and his constituents

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Partial Transcript: There was a magnetic attraction, almost with the electorate.

Segment Synopsis: Meredith describes how Cooper was able to make connections with constituents of all backgrounds while remaining worldly, yet humble.

Keywords: Congressmen; Constituents; Dignitaries; Electorate; Generations; Government; Governors; John Sherman Cooper; Keynote speeches; Law schools; Mahatma Gandhi; Marlow Webster Cook; Phoenix Hotel (Lexington, Ky.); Politics; Relationships; Rudyard Kipling; Senate; Senators; Votes

Subjects: American Legion; American Legion. Auxiliary; Friend; Georgetown College; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Lexington (Ky.); Personality; Politicians; Respect; Somerset (Ky.); Speech; Students; Tobacco farmers; United States; Washington (D.C.); Wealth

00:48:23 - Influences on Cooper's character / Cooper's personality

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Partial Transcript: Where did that come from? Did you ever talk to him much about what influenced him. . .

Segment Synopsis: Meredith considers what factors influenced Cooper's strong character. Meredith discusses Cooper's personality and what made him such an effective Senator.

Keywords: 1966 Senatorial campaign; Beliefs; Campaigning; Civil Rights Act of 1964; Conflict; Constituents; County judges; Great Depression; Human character; Influence; Issues; John Sherman Cooper; John Y. Brown Sr.; Margaret Chase Smith; Politics; Relationships; Senate; Senate floor; Senators; Statesman; Treatment

Subjects: Character; Civil rights movement; Depressions--1929; Humanity; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Leaders; Money; Mothers; Personality; Politicians; Public opinion; Pulaski County (Ky.); Respect; Speeches; United States; Vietnam War, 1961-1975; Voting; Washington (D.C.)

00:55:04 - View of Cooper / Cooper and aspirations for higher office

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Partial Transcript: I spent that summer and that fall with Senator Cooper--uh--in 1966.

Segment Synopsis: Meredith discusses his admiration for Cooper. Meredith explains why he believes that Cooper did not aspire to a higher office than the Senate, such as the Supreme Court or the vice presidency.

Keywords: 1966 Senatorial campaign; Ambassadorships; Beliefs; Colleagues; Frank Capra; James Stewart; John Sherman Cooper; Leaders; Media; Most respected Senator; Philadelphia Enquirer; Politics; Senate; Senators; Standards; Supreme Court; Vice presidents

Subjects: Character; Death; Friend; Mr. Smith goes to Washington (Motion picture); Politicians; Press; Respect; Rumors; Staff; United States; Washington (D.C.); Work

00:59:01 - Cooper and the media / Cooper's etiquette

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Partial Transcript: Every time they'd turn the TV camera on, John Sherman Cooper didn't run to get in front of it.

Segment Synopsis: Meredith details Cooper's relationship with the media. Meredith talks of Cooper's etiquette and modesty.

Keywords: Attorneys; Campaign managers; Diplomatic courtesy; Generations; Habits; Influence; John Sherman Cooper; Judges; Lee Nunn; Lorraine Cooper; Media; Press secretary; Qualities; Secretary; Senate; Senators; Titles; U.S. Ambassador to India; U.S. Attorney General

Subjects: Death; Embarrassment; Etiquette; Kentucky; Listening; Personality; Politicians; Praise; Press releases; Staff; Television; Washington (D.C.); Writing

01:08:02 - Meredith's political career / Cooper and judgement of character

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Partial Transcript: When I became U--United States Attorney. . .

Segment Synopsis: Meredith discusses his political career and how Cooper indirectly helped him to become established in Kentucky politics. Meredith talks of how Cooper assisted him in discerning who to trust in politics.

Keywords: Accolades; Administrative assistants; Advice; Albert "Happy" Chandler; Appointments; Aspirations; Circuit judges; Classmates; Colleagues; Congressional delegations; Congressional district chairman; County judges; Eastern district (Ky.); Elections; Family; Federal judges; Franklin D. Roosevelt; Friends; Gene Snyder; Governors; Hal Rogers; Hometowns; Interviews; John Sherman Cooper; John Y. Brown Jr.; Law practice; Law schools; Lee Nunn; Louie Nunn; Mac Swinford; Marlow Webster Cook; Mitch McConnell; Nominations; Political careers; Politics; Presidents; Priorities; Public life; Public office; Radio stations; Republican Party; Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee; Republicans; Ronald Reagan; Senate; Senators; State campaign chairman; State legislature; Thruston Morton; U.S. Attorney General; U.S. District Judge

Subjects: Age; Calligraphy; Change; Character; Children; Compliments; Correspondence; Elizabethtown (Ky.); Faith; George Washington University; Georgetown College; Judgment; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Kentucky. General Assembly; Philosophy; Politicians; Reading; Travel; Washington (D.C.); Work; World War II; Writing

01:22:47 - Cooper and the Nunn brothers

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Partial Transcript: . . .That there wasn't wild jumping up and down enthusiasm over the Nunns.

Segment Synopsis: Meredith evaluates the dynamics between Cooper and the Nunn brothers, Lee Nunn and Louie Nunn.

Keywords: 1960 Senatorial campaign; 1967 Republican gubernatorial primary; Governors; Illness; John F. Kennedy; John Sherman Cooper; Keen Johnson; Law schools; Lee Nunn; Louie Nunn; Marlow Webster Cook; Rallies; Republicans; Richard Nixon; State campaign chairman

Subjects: Anti-Catholicism; Catholics; Childhood; Elizabethtown (Ky.); Embarrassment; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Lancaster (Ky.); Mothers; Mountains; Politicians; Television; Washington (D.C.)

01:26:14 - Meredith's mother's illness

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Partial Transcript: . . .Your mother was very sick and--.

Segment Synopsis: Meredith discusses his mother's battle with colon cancer, which occurred while Meredith was at law school in Washington, D.C and working in Senator Cooper's office.

Keywords: 1966 Senatorial campaign; Administrative assistants; Colon cancer; Correspondents; Doctors; Family; Graduation; Hospitals; Illness; John Sherman Cooper; Law degrees; Law schools; Louisville Courier-Journal; Malignant tumors; Paralysis; Patronage; PhD; Political science; Politics; Responsibilities; Robert Riggs; Senate; Surgeries; University

Subjects: Brothers; Cancer; Colostomy; Elizabethtown (Ky.); Fathers; George Washington University; Health; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Louisiana; Marriage; Mothers; Politicians; Sick; Stroke; Surgeons; Teaching; United States. Capitol Police; Washington (D.C.)

01:33:11 - Cooper's influence on his life

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Partial Transcript: --Uh--I received a handwritten letter from Senator Cooper.

Segment Synopsis: Meredith explains how Cooper helped him to finish law school after his mother was sick with colon cancer. Meredith also expresses his gratitude for Cooper's help.

Keywords: Bar exams; Colon cancer; Courses; Feelings; Graduation; Help; Illnesses; John Sherman Cooper; Larry Forgy; Letters; Lorraine Cooper; Night schools; Senate; Senate Post Office (Washington, D.C.); Senators; Studying

Subjects: Cancer; Caring; Character; Education; Elizabethtown (Ky.); Fathers; First-generation college students; George Washington University; Health; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Kindness; Mothers; Opportunity; Politicians; Somerset (Ky.); Washington (D.C.)

01:48:47 - Cooper's character / Cooper as U.S. Ambassador to India

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Partial Transcript: He's just a remarkable man--.

Segment Synopsis: Meredith describes Cooper's outstanding character. Meredith recalls Cooper's tenure as U.S. Ambassador to India.

Keywords: 1954 Senatorial campaign; Alben Barkley; Beliefs; Commander-in-chief; County judges; Dwight Eisenhower; Expenses; Family; Funerals; General Patton; Great Depression; Indira Gandhi; Jawaharlal Nehru; John Sherman Cooper; Law firms; Law practice; Naturalized American citizens; Presidents; Public life; Salary; Secretary; Senate; Senators; U.S. Ambassador to India; Upbringing; White House; World War II

Subjects: Brothers; Character; Death; Debt; Depressions--1929; Fathers; Harvard Law School; India; Indians; Influences; Kentuckians; Kentucky; Military; Money; Politicians; Pulaski County (Ky.); Responsibility; Sisters; Somerset (Ky.); United States; Washington (D.C.); World War, 1939-1945

01:57:39 - Cooper campaigning for Marlow Webster Cook

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Partial Transcript: Then he was Ambassador to East Germany, you know.

Segment Synopsis: Meredith illustrates Cooper's role in campaigning for Marlow Webster Cook in the early 1970s.

Keywords: 5th congressional district (Ky.); Advertisements; Campaign announcements; Campaign managers; Campaigning; Election day; Elections; John Sherman Cooper; Marlow Webster Cook; Political campaigns; Re-election; Records; U.S. Ambassador to East Germany; Votes

Subjects: Brooks Brothers (Firm); Churches; Cook, Marlow W. (Marlow Webster), 1926-; Hardin County (Ky.); Kentuckians; Kentucky; Lexington (Ky.); Mail; Politicians; Radio stations; Somerset (Ky.); Travel; Washington (D.C.); Work