Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Arthur Schlesinger Jr., August 11, 1997

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:10 - The New Deal after Franklin D. Roosevelt

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Partial Transcript: Well, first off I'd like to start by asking you what was your vision for the New Deal as the continued economic and political force following, following FDR's death and the end of World War Two?

Segment Synopsis: Arthur Meier Schlesinger, Jr., discusses the history of the New Deal after the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt, detailing the formation of Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) out of the Union for Democratic Action (UDA) in opposition to the Progressive Citizens of America (PCA) amid a controversy within the Democratic Party over relations with communists. Schlesinger also details President Harry Truman's wavering reputation and the selection of Alben Barkley as his running mate in the 1944 presidential election.

Keywords: Alben W. Barkley; Charles F. Brannan; Communists; Francis Biddle; Franklin D. Roosevelt; Harry S. Truman; Henry Wallace; John W. Snyder; Joseph Stalin; Progressive Citizens of America (PCA); Reinhold Niebuhr; Union for Democratic Action (UDA); William Douglas; Wilson Wyatt

Subjects: Americans for Democratic Action.; Communism.; Democratic National Convention; New Deal, 1933-1939.; Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945.; Truman, Harry, 1896-1980

00:08:18 - Americans for Democratic Action and the Red Scare

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Partial Transcript: Well, how would you assess the ADA's achievements and its failures in its early years?

Segment Synopsis: Schlesinger discusses the early opposition of Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) to Communism, and he describes how it was nevertheless targeted in the Red Scare led by Joe McCarthy in the early 1950s.

Keywords: Civil Rights Movement; Communism; Harvard University; Health care; Hollywood; Jerry Voorhis; Joe McCarthy; Red Scare; Stalinism; Walter Reuther; Wilson Wyatt

Subjects: Americans for Democratic Action.; Communists.; Labor unions.; McCarthy, Joe, 1887-1978.

00:14:31 - Adlai Stevenson's presidential campaigns

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Partial Transcript: Well, on the subject of the 1952 campaign, what characteristics made Adlai Stevenson an attractive candidate, and, um, what promise did he seem to hold for liberals at that time?

Segment Synopsis: Schlesinger discusses the presidential campaigns of Adlai Stevenson, which were well-managed by Wilson Wyatt but which Schlesinger says did not stand a chance against national hero Dwight Eisenhower. Schlesinger describes his work as a speechwriter for Stevenson, as well as the role of younger New Deal politicians such as Joe Raugh, Phil Graham, and Ed Prichard. He conjectures that Wyatt returned to Kentucky in 1956 with an eye towards seeking the governorship.

Keywords: Adlai Stevenson; Alger Hiss; Archibald MacLeish; Ben W. Heineman, Sr.; Communists; Ed Flynn; Edward F. Prichard; Harvey I. Sloane; Jack Fischer; James A. Finnegan; James Farley; John Bartlow Martin; Joseph L. Raugh, Jr.; Kenneth Galbraith; Leon Henderson; Phil Graham; Wilson W. Wyatt

Subjects: Political campaigns.; Presidents--Election.; Speechwriters; Stevenson, Adlai E. (Adlai Ewing), 1835-1914; Wyatt, Wilson W. (Wilson Watkins), 1905-1996

00:24:14 - Later history of Americans for Democratic Action / the need for activist government

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Partial Transcript: Um, Stevenson and Wyatt both attempted to distance themselves from, from the ADA during the latter stages of the campaign. Um, how did you react to that?

Segment Synopsis: Schlesinger discusses the later history of Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), speculating on why Adlai Stevenson and Wilson Wyatt sought to distance themselves from it during Stevenson's presidential campaigns, tracing its changing relationship with the Democratic Party after the 1950s, and explaining its role in solidifying the New Deal in American politics in the 1950s. Schlesinger concludes the interview by arguing that only activist government in the spirit of the Roosevelt administration can solve the problems faced by the United States today.

Keywords: Activism; Big government; Communists; Democratic Leadership Council (DLC); Democratic National Committee; Democratic Party; Dwight D. Eisenhower; Education; Environmentalism; Franklin D. Roosevelt; Health care; Jimmy Carter; John F. Kennedy; Lyndon B. Johnson; Newt Gingrich; Paul Butler; Social Security; Vietnam War

Subjects: Americans for Democratic Action.; Democrats.; Liberals; New Deal, 1933-1939.