Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Alben W. Barkley, July 24th, 1953

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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SHALETT: Senator, one thing we forgot to get on tape is--resuming the morning of July twenty-fourth, reel ten, side one, after the Jane-Senator sequence, and describing your days at Marvin, North Carolina, you forgot--

BARKLEY: Marvin, North Carolina?

SHALETT: Marvin College.

BARKLEY: College at Clinton, Kentucky.

SHALETT: Yeah. Is there some kind of sign on that college now?

BARKLEY: The college has been torn down. The building is--

SHALETT: Well, what's the sign?

BARKLEY: --torn down, and the dormitory, which was there, now is used as a hotel at Clinton. There's no--I don't think there's any permanent sign there. I don't know whether there is or not, but a year or so ago, I went down to help dedicate--(sneezes)--excuse me.

SHALETT: That was a Barkley sneeze, recorded for posterity. (both laugh)

SHALETT: ----------(??)

BARKLEY: There had been a new hospital--or a hospital built at 00:01:00Clinton under the Hill-Burton Act, in which the government made a certain contribution, and they raised funds locally, and Mr. and Mrs. Will Clayton gave a very handsome sum. (sneezes) Excuse me.

SHALETT: Another Barkley sneeze.

BARKLEY: Yeah. A hundred years from now that'll be of some interest probably to my great-great-great-grandchildren. Anyhow, Mrs. Will Clayton, who was Sue Vaughan as a girl, and who was a schoolmate and friend and a boyhood sweetheart of mine, who had married Will Clayton of the Anderson Clayton Cotton Company in Houston, very successful cotton factors, probably the largest in the world. Anyhow, they had given the town of Clinton and the county of Hickman a very handsome sum to help build 00:02:00this hospital. And I had been invited down to make a speech at its dedication. And they were there, the Claytons, and we all had lunch in this hotel, which had been a dormitory of the college. And as we drove out, there was a sign on this pile of brick, which was all that was left of the college building as it was when I attended it, and the sign read, "Barkley swept here."

SHALETT: (laughs) "Barkley swept here."

BARKLEY: Well, the--that was a sort of parody on a house in--I think in Bladensburg near Washington where it said, "Washington slept here," or other signs like that. And it was very amusing, and one that really gratified me very much, that after half a century anybody would remember that I had swept there and put a big sign. I don't know whether it's still there or not.

SHALETT: Yeah. That--

BARKLEY: But I not only swept there, but I rang the enormous college bell every morning and did everything else that a janitor 00:03:00is supposed to do. I tried to get them to give me that big bell after they tore the building down, but they had other purposes for it, so I didn't insist upon it.


BARKLEY: But it was enormous. You could hear it all over Clinton and out into the county.

[Pause in recording.]

SHALETT: Senator, in some of the ----------(??)--we were just fooling around a little bit while being photographed, and now we're going to get down to the morning's business, and I understand you're going to talk about the World War I--the World War I trip.

BARKLEY: Well, yes. I would like to advert to that, because 00:04:00to me it was a very interesting trip. Of course, during the progress of the war from April of 1917 all through the winter and until the summer of 1918, the great problem before Congress and before the administration was to join forces with our associated nations and win the war against the Central Powers as rapidly and as completely as possible. And in order to do that, it was necessary to intensify not only the raising of an Army and the consolidation of the Navy, but also to make a decided change in the normal operation of our economic system. We had to have a food control law, and President Wilson, after that law was enacted, appointed Herbert Hoover, 00:05:00who had been in charge of the Belgian relief in Europe during the progress of the war. It became necessary to take over the railroads and operate them by the government in order that our transportation system might not break down in the great war effort. And I might add here that during the consideration of the Food Control Bill on the floor of the House, a number of members had offered amendments to that bill prohibiting the use of any food product, fruit or otherwise, in the manufacture of intoxicating liquors, on the theory that with the great war effort on, men being drafted and sent abroad to fight, that--and that the requirements for the conservation of food being 00:06:00such that it ought not to be used in the manufacture of intoxicating liquors. And a number of members had offered amendments to that effect, which were declared out of order by the presiding officer who happened to be, as I recall, Congressman Joshua Alexander of Missouri, who was later appointed Secretary of Commerce by President Wilson. All these amendments were declared out of order because they were not germane under the rules of the House. And finally it occurred to me, in collaboration with one or two others, that by the elimination of certain language in the bill, there would be enough remained in a certain section to accomplish that purpose without it being declared out of order, because it couldn't be declared out of order merely by striking out certain language in the bill. And by a rather devious method of elimination of words, what was left prohibited the use of any foods in the manufacture of liquor. And when I offered that amendment, it could 00:07:00not be declared out of order, Chairman Alexander held it was in order, it was adopted by the House, and it was kept in the bill when it passed the Senate and was finally signed by the president. Well, that was one of the economic problems that we faced during the war. Railroads had been taken over by the government, and many other--there was also a coal administration, I believe, fuel administration. And many things that were abnormal and un--unusual and unprecedented had to be done in this all-out effort to win the war. Well, I had voted for all these measures and had helped to enact some of them and write some of them as a member of the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce. And I had voted for all the appropriations necessary to win the war and to equip our Army 00:08:00and the whole war effort. And as I've already indicated, I had indicated a desire to join the armed forces, but was persuaded not to by the president and by the Secretary of War, although some other members did pursue that course and joined the Army. So I had done all this, and I decided that I'd like to go over to Europe and take a look at the war situation and see what was happening to what we had appropriated and what we were doing. So six of us, members of the House whose names I've already given, formed a sort of voluntary committee. We had no authority, we were not commissioned by the House, but we went over. We went over on a troop ship. I've forgotten the name of that ship. It was a very large one with about eight thousand soldiers on it. And we landed at Northampton, I think. Anyhow, we got off the boat and went to London first. And it was 00:09:00in London, as I've already indicated, that I made my first airplane flight over the city, and so forth. And we went up into--after being in London a while and conferring with a lot of people there whose names it's not necessary to mention, we went up into Scotland to take a look at the Grand Fleet, of which the American contingent was a part, under the leadership and control of Admiral Hugh Rodman, whose name I've already mentioned. Admiral Rodman had us on his flagship and entertained us and we met some of the outstanding British naval officers. And I believe I've recounted about Holyrood Palace where the--Admiral Rodman made that wisecrack about Mary Queen of Scots. And then, of course, we went from there--after that we went to Paris, and we made at Paris our headquarters for about six weeks. We stopped 00:10:00at the Crillon Hotel, spelled C-r-i-l-l-o-n Hotel, hotel right on Rue de Rivoli or on the Place de Concorde, across which you could see the buildings that housed the French Chamber of Deputies and other public buildings, a very beautiful square in the heart of Paris. Well, the government--the Army, rather, had taken over this Crillon Hotel, as it had other hotels, for the accommodation of the American forces, American officers, and so forth. And from Paris, we went out into the--into Belgium as far as we could get, because Germany occupied--the German Army occupied most of Belgium. And we went out into France right up in the front lines, in No Man's Land, and had some very thrilling experiences. While in Belgium, we were escorted or rather chaperoned by a Captain 00:11:00Cresson, who was a liaison officer between the Army, with headquarters in Paris--or in Chaumont, rather, that's where General Pershing's headquarters were, at C-h-a-u-m-o-n-t, Chaumont.

SHALETT: And Cresson, you said?

BARKLEY: W. P. Cresson, C-r-e-s-s-o-n. He was a sort of commissioner, a liaison--he was Captain Cresson. Well, he arranged for us to have lunch with King Albert of Belgium while we were in Belgium. We enjoyed Admi---King Albert was at Le Pan, which had been a famous seashore resort in Belgium. He only occupied a small corner of Belgium, because the German Army had driven the Belgian Army back early in the war, and they still held on to that little strip. And we had a very lovely luncheon with King Albert, and found him 00:12:00to be a very outstanding, excellent, frank, dignified gentleman. He was not only a king in the real sense of the word, beloved by his people and respected by the world, but he was a very human sort of fellow, rather reticent, not too talkative, and yet communicative to the extent necessary. And we really enjoyed two or three hours with him in this little Le Pan, L-e-p-a-n, two words. Well, I got a very fine impression of King Albert, and of course, it was rather tragic to see him and his army and his people controlled by Germany. They had made no contribution to the causes of the war; they were utterly innocent of any responsibility for bringing on 00:13:00the war. And yet when it burst on Europe in 1914,--

[Pause in recording.]

BARKLEY: The German Army immediately invaded Belgium, and it immediately invaded France, and it held practically all of Belgium, except this little strip until our army joined with the forces of the Allies and drove the Germans back and they finally surrendered and signed an armistice on the eleventh of November 1918. I saw also--I saw for the first time, really, the tragic devastation of war, cities in Belgium, like Ypres, spelled Y-p-r-e-s, completely leveled to the ground. A great building, which had been famous as a gold cloth hall(??), completely destroyed, leveled, people living 00:14:00in cellars, creeping around like hunted animals in order to escape the shells of the German Army. And on our way out to the front in an automobile, because we had to go out in cars until we got too close to the front line, and we'd get out of the cars and walk for a mile or two, the German airplanes would--

SHALETT: Were you in uniform?

BARKLEY: No, we were not in uniform.

SHALETT: Rough clothes?

BARKLEY: Rough clothes, yes. Very rough. The German airli--airplanes would come out and sight us and give signals back to their artillery to fire. And we took a great chance in getting under that fire close enough so that the shells would go over us. But while we were in that process, we were in danger of being hit, and one shell shattered a tree right on the side of the 00:15:00road where we were traveling, and one shell shattered one of the tires on the automobile in which we were riding.

SHALETT: That close?

BARKLEY: That was a hazardous--a foolhardy sort of thing, but it's a strange--

SHALETT: Did you ever have to hit the ditch or duck for cover?

BARKLEY: Oh yes, we had to hide in little holes or--we got down in shell holes on the way out there until these shells went over in the air, we found that we were pretty safe. As long as we were under the shells and they were firing over us, we were in no particular danger. The danger was in getting into that position close enough, and the danger was when we also left it that we might be hit as we went away. So we managed to get in under these, and we could hear the shells firing over us, whistling everywhere. And as I said, it was a foolhardy thing, but there's a curious thing about human nature. When you get up into a situation like that where there's a real danger and where you're not required to go, because we 00:16:00were not members of the Army, but we had the feeling that it will be a wonderful experience if we come out of it, and if we don't come out of it, well, a sort of a fatalistic idea, what's the difference anyhow? Other men were being killed there in defense of democracy, and we were tremendously concerned, not just out of curiosity, but we really wanted to learn something about the actual conduct of war and the conditions under which ours and other soldiers had to fight. So we took the chance, and we got out free and safe and unharmed, and it's been a wonderful thing to think about and to reflect upon since that. Well, so much for the devastation of Belgium. It was really a sad and tragic thing to see the farms of Belgium torn up by deep shell holes, their homes devastated and leveled to the ground, and their cities, all in order to gratify the ambition of some monarch, or to get control of Europe, or to dominate the world, and all of 00:17:00that which entered into the causes of World War I in the first place. Well, we went back to Paris after several days up in Belgium, and then we went from there out into--toward No Man's Land, as they called it, in France. That's the stretch of territory between the trenches of the respective armies. And there was a greater degree of trench warfare, I think, in World War I than in any other war previous or since. There have been some since, there was considerable part in World War II, but World War II was fought out in the open to a very much larger extent than in World War I. And these trenches were so close together that men could fire from one to the other, across what they called No Man's Land. And if anybody got up above the level of 00:18:00the ground in those trenches, they were subject to be shot. Well, the--we got right up. We got right up into the front-line trenches. That was also foolhardy. We weren't required to do that and probably shouldn't have done it. But they say that all's well that ends well, and there's nothing that succeeds like success. So we did get right up into the front-line trenches, and we saw the billets of our armed men. We saw their bunks, we saw their food, we saw where they stayed and where they fought, we saw their ammunition dumps and all that. And it did give us a very close insight into the process of making war, and there's nothing pleasant about it. Of course, men become heroes in war for outstanding service, but, really, war is a drab and desperate and tragic thing. And when you see men being brought back from the front with their arms shot off, their legs shot off, their eyes shot out, and all other forms of human laceration, it makes you wonder whether after all 00:19:00anybody wins a war, even though they have a military victory.

SHALETT: Well, doesn't this passage of the shells coming over and your hitting the dirt and so forth remind you of some story about a--maybe a Southern soldier?

BARKLEY: Well, I--yes. I--this is a story that was told to me right after the Armistice was signed. They had a colored regiment up in the Argonne Forest that fought right up to the signing of the Armistice. But before the Armistice was signed, the--this--the fighting was going on, and the shells were dropping everywhere, and trees were falling and men falling. And there was one of these soldiers who just stood it as long as he could and lit out for the rear. And he ran and ran and ran, as the story went, 00:20:00until his tongue hung out like a shepherd dog driving home the cows in the evening. And he ran into an officer, and the officer said, "Halt there, boy. What are you doing?" And the boy said, "I'm running." Well, he said, "What are you running for?" He said, "I'm running because I can't fly." Well, the officer said, "What's the matter?" "Well," he says, "I'll tell you, I've been up there on the front." And he said, "Men were falling all around me and nobody hitting them as far as I could see. Trees were falling all around and nobody cutting them, and the ground was all plowed up and nobody plowing." And he said, "I just left, that's all. I just left." Well, this officer said, "Do you know who I am?" "No sir," he said, "I don't know." Said, "Who are you?" He said, "I'm a colonel." He said, "Are you a colonel?" "Yes," he said, "don't you see this eagle here on my shoulder?" "Yes," he said, "I see that bird up there. I guess you 00:21:00must be a colonel. You look like a colonel, but I didn't know I'd run that far back from the front." (both laugh)

BARKLEY: Well, one time when the Kentucky--when the Society of Kentucky Colonels was having a banquet in Louisville just the night before the Derby--I had been invited to address them--and I told that story. They seemed to get a good deal of fun out of it, but I never got another invitation to address the Society of Kentucky Colonels. It was very amusing, and I have found many colonels and even generals who enjoyed that little remark of this colored soldier who had stood it as long as he could.

SHALETT: Are you a Kentucky Colonel, by the way?

BARKLEY: No, I'm not. I'm not a Kentucky Colonel. I never was appointed; I never sought to be appointed. I guess I could have been a Kentucky Colonel if I had asked any governor to appoint me, but I never did. And--but I got commissions from a lot of other men, not only in Kentucky, but all over the country, as Kentucky Colonels. And I've always been glad, because it's a 00:22:00distinguished honor, and it's one that a great many people enjoy and take pride in. They get a beautiful commission which they usually frame and hang on the wall. Of course, the governor's staff in Kentucky, way back in the days when I was a boy, was a real functionary of the state government. It was a small group of men appointed as Colonels on the governor's staff. And on ceremonial days, they had brilliant uniforms, and they appeared with the governor, and it made a very colorful picture. But as time went on, governors began to give out these appointments as Kentucky Colonels as an honorary distinction, and the group of Kentucky Colonels became so large that it was impossible for them to assemble and perform any ceremony or function with the governor. But it's a distinguished order, and I don't guess there's a state in the union that has commissioned as many colonels as the state of Kentucky. Well--

SHALETT: Have any other states bestowed honors on you? Like Nebraska Admiral or Texas Admiral or whatever it is?


BARKLEY: No, I don't think so. No, I bear no military or naval title. Of course, every Kentuckian is thought to be a colonel by a great many people, but really I'm not one at all. Well, this experience in--right up in the front-line trenches and in danger--and we followed the Army--we were right in--right after the battle of Chateau-Thierry and Belleau Wood. The abandoned guns and knapsacks and helmets and bayonets and everything that is a part of the equipment of war were still lying on the ground as we went forward following the battle as the Germany Army had receded and our Army had gone forward. And I picked up on the field more equipment that I brought home as souvenirs like rifles and bayonets and helmets, German and 00:24:00French and American, and canteens, all kinds of things. When I went back into Paris and went into the Crillon Hotel with all that loot that I'd picked up to take home, I looked like a peddler who had invaded France with some junk as they thought that I ought to sell. But I prize it very highly, brought it back with me in person, and put it on the boat and brought it home. I still have it. And when I got back with all that military equipment, my young son, who was about eleven or twelve years old at that time, threw his hands up and said, "Thank heaven. I can hold my head up now. Dad's been to the battlefield." He felt very much humiliated because I hadn't been a member of the Army. Well, I want to say that--I think maybe I have already recited the episode of General Syringy?

SHALETT: Yes, you have.

BARKLEY: I gave that, I think, the other day. Well then, we went all the way--we went down to Is-Sur-Tille, which is a 00:25:00small community, settlement, village or town in the south of France, in the southern part of France. You see, our soldiers were unloaded largely along the Atlantic seaboard, some of them in England, and most of them in France, some of them at Cherbourg, some at Le Havre, but many of them down at Brest and Saint Nazaire, Saint Nazaire as we would say. And they--and our supplies, equipment, were loaded--unloaded from the ships at these points and sent out into the interior in a movement that was rather fan-shaped. They spread out as they were moved out from the point of debarkation. And many of our soldiers were unloaded or they disembarked at Brest, which was a point of 00:26:00shipment to and fro, back and forth across the ocean and into France. And when we got through with our tour--which I've got to describe a little more in detail because we went down into Italy after we got through with the battlefields of Belgium and France--these boys of ours would be unloaded at Brest. And of course, it was all new to them, the language was new, the customs new, the cities were new. And we heard a little story there about (laughs) one American soldier who went into a restaurant. And he couldn't speak a word of French, he didn't know how to order milk or anything. If he'd been there a week or so and learned to use the word du lait, which is the French for milk, he could have ordered--

[Pause in recording.]

SHALETT: Reel ten, side two.


BARKLEY: You ready?


BARKLEY: Well, this boy went into the restaurant and he wanted some milk. Now, he didn't know how to order milk. He drew in his--with his hands an imaginary picture of a cow, but they were--the girl who was waiting on him didn't understand that. And then he mooed like a cow, she still didn't know what he wanted.

SHALETT: How does a cow moo, by the way?

BARKLEY: Well, "mooooooo." (laughs) That's not a very good imitation. Well, this boy had been up the streets there in Brest, and he had noticed the custom of driving a flock of goats down the street, stopping in front of a house and milking the goat, and delivering the milk door by door. Well, he was resourceful enough to remember that, and then he pointed to an enormous vase or urn over in the corner of the dining room. He pointed to that, 00:28:00and then he went this way with his hands, as if milking a goat, and he said, "Baaa, baaa, baaa," pointing to that enormous vase. And the girl smiled, was understanding, and went out and brought this soldier three gallons of goat's milk, because she thought he meant, when he pointed to that enormous vase, that he wanted that filled. Well, that was only one of many amusing things that we ran into. And when we were at Saint Nazaire, another point of debarkation and of central distribution of the supplies and things, there was a regiment of Alabama and Mississippi colored soldiers there, and also a company or contingent of Algerian and Moroccan soldiers. They looked exactly alike, except that ours wore the American uniform, and the Moroccans and the Algerians wore a French uniform and spoke French. Well, when these colored soldiers of ours would meet a bunch of these Algerians and Moroccans on 00:29:00the street and try to get into conversation, it frequently resulted in a fight right on the street. So one night we were walking up the street, and we got in behind two or three of these American colored soldiers. And pretty soon they met a little group of these Algerians and Moroccans. And they stopped and tried to get into conversation. One of these Alabama soldiers said to one of these Moroccans, said, "Where are you from?" And this Moroccan used some sort of French, "ili kiolapi(??) a la Maroque," or something like that. And this American soldier said, "That is not what I asked you. I asked you where you was from." And he repeated the French answer to the question. And this Alabama soldier, in perfect disgust, he said--this Alabama soldier said in perfect disgust, he said, "You're a hell of 00:30:00a colored man. You can't even speak your own language." (Shalett laughs)

BARKLEY: As many other things were in that--while we were waiting there for a week.

[Pause in recording.]


BARKLEY: Well, I think probably now we'd better go to Italy. You see, at the beginning of the war, Italy had been an ally of Germany and Austria-Hungary. But during the process of it, she changed over for reasons which I need not go into, but which are historical, and joined the Allies, that is, England and France and the United States, and when I was there, was fighting with us very effectively. And I say--I think I'd like to say this, that one of the handsomest officers I saw in all the armies of Europe while I was over there was an Italian captain. He was about six feet two inches tall, straight as an Indian, very handsome, 00:31:00florid face, and a great soldier from all that I heard about him. There had--there was a little mountain, not exactly a mountain, but it was called a Montello. And we were up on top of this little mountain and met this captain there, and he made a great impression upon me. And I have always remembered how soldierly he was, and how alert and how brave-looking, and what a wonderful representation he gave to Italy and the Italian people. Well, there had been great battles between the Italians and the Austrians down in the region of the Piave River. And it was not trench warfare there like it was up in Belgium and in--around No Man's Land in France, although there was some trench warfare, but it was more artillery fight 00:32:00when we got there. In order that the Italian army might place her heavy artillery in a position overlooking the Piave River and capable of firing at the Austrian Army, the Italian engineers had built--dug a tunnel through the top of this Mount Grappa. And that tunnel was a mile long, from one end to the other--one side of this mountain to the other. And in order to get to it, you had to drive up a highway which they had constructed, twenty-five miles in length. It was a wonderful piece of civil engineering, military engineering too. And in the inside of this tunnel they had storehouses for ammunition. They had electric repair shops and all kinds of things. It was a workman--workshop as well as a tunnel that enabled them to put their heavy artillery on the other end and fire over the Austrian Army. We went through that tunnel and stood by several pieces 00:33:00of the Italian artillery. And out of courtesy, they allowed me to fire one of these guns. Of course, I was hoping that my aim was good, just as I did when I was in Korea in 1951 and I fired one of the guns there over towards the North Koreans and the Chinese and hoping that my aim was good also. Well, that was a very interesting experience, and it was--

SHALETT: You know that violates the Geneva Convention. It makes you a guerilla.

BARKLEY: Yeah, probably so, but it was with the consent of the real fighting army, and therefore I suppose I wouldn't come under the Geneva Conference. They drafted me for the moment (laughs) in my civilian uniform, although in Korea, I had on a military uniform, just like the others had on. Well, while we were up on Mount Grappa, and as we left it, we got word that King Victor 00:34:00Emmanuel, whose headquarters were some five miles back, desired that we come by and have dinner with him at his villa. We were very much pleased with the invitation, of course, which we thought was a great compliment, and we accepted. We were taken to the villa of King Victor Emmanuel for dinner. And we were ushered into a rather modest reception room, comfortably but not lavishly furnished, because it was his headquarters in the field. And we waited around there with some degree of tenseness for the trumpeteer to come in in advance, blowing his horn and announcing that the king was approaching. While we were sitting there waiting for the king to be announced, he came without any accompaniment, without any trumpet. He came in smoking a cigarette, shaking hands 00:35:00with all of us, speaking perfect English as if he was running for some office and wanted to make a good impression on us.

SHALETT: He was a tiny little man.

BARKLEY: He was a small man, yes, very much like his pictures, of course, but he was a man of small stature--

SHALETT: With a big funny high hat?

BARKLEY: Big--he wore a big military cap at that time. He had a rather large head for his size, and very interesting countenance. And he, of course, carried on a normal conversation until dinner was announced, and then we all went into the dining room. And there were many military officers around who were at the dinner, and we had a very entertaining evening. King Victor Emmanuel spoke perfect English. And he was at home with us, and of course, we were soon at home with him. All this tenseness and this curiosity and this 00:36:00wonderment about how a man should conduct himself before a king soon disappeared. As a matter of fact, it disappeared up in Belgium to a large extent when we were cordially greeted by King Albert of the Belgians. Well, during the dinner hour--during the meal, I sat on the left of King Victor Emmanuel, and Congressman Aswell of Louisiana sat on his right, because Congressman Aswell was the oldest member of the party and therefore we accorded to him the rank of sort of a senior, although he was not senior in service to us. During the meal, we--of course, we had a lovely dinner, substantial food, but not lavish. Of course, we were right in the midst of a war condition, and the Italian people had to pull in their belt. They had started out on one side of the war and had veered over on the other side. And in both cases they had to economize, they had to go through a sort of austerity, because 00:37:00the Italian economy is not always self-sustaining even now, and was not then.

SHALETT: What did you have to eat?

BARKLEY: Oh, I've forgotten what we had to eat. We had some sort of--we had some kind of soup, I've forgotten what it was. We had a salad. We had a very deliciously prepared steak, which had come from the Italian--

SHALETT: In Italian fashion.

BARKLEY: The fashion--Italian fashion. And we had a dessert of some kind. I've forgotten now what that was. I took no note of it at the time, but it was very satisfying, and we were hungry because we'd been out on this mountain and we had been walking all around, and been pretty busy out there looking at the war and being really right up in the midst of it. Well, during the dinner hour, King Victor Emmanuel showed a familiarity, not only 00:38:00with the American situation and American affairs generally, but he knew something about each state from which we had come, and that meant Kentucky, California, Texas, Utah, and Louisiana. So in talking to each one of us, he showed a familiarity with the affairs of our states, which surprised and gratified us. And it could not have been as a result of any briefing on the part of anybody, because the--he had no time, and he was in no circumstance to go off and look up something about all of our states so that he might appear familiar with them. He just knew about them.

SHALETT: Do you recall what he knew about Kentucky?

BARKLEY: He knew--what he knew about Kentucky, he said that he was familiar with the history of the Civil War, as he called it, which is now referred to, as I've said, the War Between the States. And when he learned that I had come from Kentucky, he stated that he understood that during that war which divided the people of Kentucky, although Kentucky never did secede from the union, the 00:39:00people of Kentucky were divided, and their allegiance was split. And he reminded me of the fact that in that war Kentucky had given more than her quota of soldiers to both sides, the Union Army and the Confederate Army. He had learned that from his study of warfare in the United States. And it was true, we did do that. And of course, he spoke of the thoroughbred horse in Kentucky and other things. He mentioned our tobacco, and we were at that time selling--we had been selling large quantities of tobacco to the Italian people. They had--it was a government monopoly. The buyers of tobacco in Kentucky were representing what they called the Italian Regi--that was the name for the king, the government itself--and out of it they made an enormous income, revenue for the government itself. Well, the war, of course, interfered to a very large extent with that tobacco trade in Italy. And while the king was talking about Kentucky horses and about Kentucky 00:40:00soldiers in the Civil War, I took advantage of his familiarity to put in a plug for Kentucky tobacco when the war was over and the commerce should be resumed, and he showed a very great interest in that. But in the meantime, as a result of the war, they began the production of tobacco on--in some parts of Italy and on some of the Italian islands, and we never have since that been able to recover that market completely as it existed prior to the World War I. [tape interference] Well, it was a congen---[tape interference]--in it and his government was interested in it, because while they paid to the farmers of Kentucky the ordinary market price for the tobacco in the rough or in whatever form it was marketable, they sold it at very much higher prices to their own people than they paid us, and thereby made a very considerable revenue for the 00:41:00government out of that tobacco business.

SHALETT: How did the luncheon end?

BARKLEY: Well, it was dinner. It was--well, it ended by the king, finally just as we were all finished, instead of remaining with us to converse afterwards, he excused himself as soon as the dinner was over and said he had to have a military conference with his generals, and we would understand and excuse him, which of course we did. And he left, told us all goodbye very graciously and left, and we really had a wonderful time with him at that rather informal gathering in the midst of war.

SHALETT: Did you ever see him later in life?

BARKLEY: No, I never saw him after that. I--no, I never saw him after that, although I was in Italy later. I was in Italy--long after that, I was in Italy in 1934 and again in 1938, but I did not call on the king, I didn't 00:42:00ask for an audience. In the meantime, he abdicated after that. He abdicated in favor of his son Umberto, I believe his name was. Well, a very curious sequence to that occurred in Lisbon when I was in Lisbon in the fall of 1947. On this same trip where I had been with this joint committee looking into the Voice of America and the United States Information Service and the background for the Marshall plan, we were in Lisbon. And I was looking for--being an antique collector and a sort of a cane collector as a hobby, I had become a walking cane collector when I had a serious automobile accident in West Virginia and broke my left wrist and my right knee and got lacerated generally and would have been killed, I guess, except that I was asleep. I had driven all night and went to sleep at the wheel just about nine o'clock in the morning on a hot June day. And I found that you 00:43:00can drive asleep on a straight road, but when you come to a curve, you've got to take it. So I came to one and didn't take it and crashed into a telephone pole, knocked it down and completely demolished a new automobile. It belonged to my daughter, really.

SHALETT: Were you en route to Washington?

BARKLEY: I was en route to Boston to make a speech, but I was going through Washington. Well, I had--when I came to myself, I was in a hospital in Parkersburg, West Virginia. It had gotten orated around in the settlement, as we used to say in the country, that I was there, a Congressman from Kentucky, a senator from Kentucky then, that I'd had this automobile accident. And friends and acquaintances, including a Congressman from that district, came in. And as I began to recover, they brought me walking canes, assuming that I'd need one. And when I left the hospital for home, I had six walking canes that had been given to me. And I got in the habit of collecting walking canes, and I guess I have seventy-five or a hundred that I've picked up all over the world. So being in Lisbon, I wanted a sample of old walking canes. And 00:44:00I said to one of the attaches of the American Embassy, I said, "I'd like to pick up a couple of old walking canes." "Well," he said, "you'll have to find them at a junk shop." I said, "I know it. I've found many of them there." So we went off to look up a junk shop to enable me to buy a couple of walking canes, which I found and bought and now have, and when we got out of the car close to this place, they were stopping and talking to somebody whom I didn't know. And when I walked up, I was introduced to him. It was ex-King Umberto of Italy, a very fine-looking young fellow, speaking beautiful English. And it just so happened that King Carol of Romania, ex-King Carol, was also in Lisbon, and some other ex-king was in Lisbon.

SHALETT: ----------(??)

BARKLEY: And the Duke of Windsor, who was the next king, had been there. Well, this attache said to me, he said, "You're 00:45:00on your way to find some junk." He said, "You've found it sooner than you thought." (both laugh) Well, I didn't take that very seriously, because of course, in a way, he was facetiously remarking about all these ex-kings who had made Lisbon their headquarters. Well, I went on down, and I was very much impressed with the--Umberto as a gentleman. He was a much taller, larger man than his father. And he spoke even better English than his father, very gracious, very affable. And I really was glad to meet him, just because he had been king of Italy for a short time and because he belonged to the House of Savoy, I believe. I think it's the House of Savoy, the royal family of Italy. Well--

SHALETT: I suppose you told him that you met his--

BARKLEY: I told him that I had met his father during World War number one and the circumstances under which I had met him and all that. And he--of course, he knew about Mount Grappa, and he knew about the Montello, as they called it. And he 00:46:00hadn't heard, however, of course, that the king entertained us at his villa that night, but he was very much interested in it and very gracious, and I found him to be a very agreeable man. I don't know what's happened to him since that. I'm not quite sure he's still living. He may be.

SHALETT: Would it break the thread of your narrative too much to ask--it was some years later, of course, when you met Marshal Von Hindenburg.

BARKLEY: Oh, yes. No, it would not. Well yes, it is much later than that. I'd like to say while I'm in Italy, though, if you'll permit me, General Diaz was the head of the Italian Army at that time. He was--I don't know what his title was. It wasn't chief of staff or anything like--he was the head of the whole Italian Army in that war. And we had the pleasure of meeting him. We called on him at his headquarters, and while, as I recall it, he spoke no English or very poor English, so that we couldn't carry on our conversation very well except 00:47:00through an interpreter, he was very highly pleased at our visit. We were young, modest, and probably junior, uninfluential members of the House of Representatives, who were over there through our interest in the war itself, and we wanted to contact all of our allies and their men who were fighting with ours.

SHALETT: For the record, you were there as an official committee or what?

BARKLEY: No, we had not been appointed by the House. It was unofficial in the sense that we just got together and volunteered to form ourselves into a committee, without any House resolution, to go over there and to look into the war and all the things that pertained to it, and study the conditions under which it was being fought and under which it arose, and also having in mind what might happen when the war should end, and the economic and political and social affairs of not only the people of Europe, but 00:48:00the United States, who were at that time rather linked together in one great enterprise, would work out. We were tremendously interested in the future, as well as the immediate present.

SHALETT: You were members of different committees.

BARKLEY: We were members of different committees, yes, but that made no difference. All the committees of the House at that time had some function to perform in connection with the war. And--

SHALETT: And then you made a report when you returned.

BARKLEY: We made an unofficial report when we came back, and so forth. Well, then later, years later--of course, at that time, old General Von Hindenburg was the--

SHALETT: I got you off of Diaz. Were you through there?

BARKLEY: I was practically through. I just wanted to mention that we met General Diaz and had a very lovely--


BARKLEY: D-i-a-z, Diaz, who was a very impressive general, and we had a very cordial conversation with him and talked of course about the problems with the war, how soon it would end, when it would end. And I want to say in this connection, that when 00:49:00we were there during August, September, and October, as I now recall the months, there was no responsible military leader in Europe who believed that the war would end earlier than the summer of 1919. They were all talking about the spring push. Now, our Army under General Pershing and other generals, General Allen, General Marshall was there, General Eisenhower was a junior officer under the leadership of General Pershing, however, our Army had made a very successful stand at St. Mihiel and at Chateau-Thierry and at Belleau Wood. They hadn't made the stand at St. Mihiel when we were first in France. They did make that stand and made an advance, a very successful advance before we left France. Nobody thought that the war would end earlier than 1919, the summer, 00:50:00and everybody was talking about the spring drive which will end the war and drive the Germans back out of Belgium and out of France and everywhere. Well, of course, the thing collapsed earlier than anybody thought it would, and the Armistice was signed the eleventh of November. And of course, there was great joy all over the world. I do not believe that the world ever witnessed the end of any war where there was as much rejoicing as there was all over the world at the end of that war. Crowds assembled, they marched, they sang. In Washington, I recall they danced on the streets for joy, men, women, and children. And it was a great sight to see the joy that came from the release of soldiers and our economy and the government from any further warlike obligations or requirements.

SHALETT: But that was the war to end wars.

BARKLEY: That was the war to end war, as they all said. Well, of course, during that war, the Hindenburg line, which was 00:51:00a line drawn across France and took its name from General Von--Paul Von Hindenburg, who was head of the German Army, became almost a line of demarcation between civilization and barbarism in the minds of many people, and especially in the United States. And the name Von Hindenburg was a symbol of all that was arbitrary and brutal, and the name was anathema to everybody. Well, the war ended in 1918, and General Von Hindenburg retired. The German Republic was created out of that war. It was known as the Weimar Republic because it was created really in the city of Weimar, which was the home of, as I have already stated, Goethe, the great German poet, and just outside 00:52:00of whose limits was this Buchenwald atrocity camp. It was known as the Weimar Republic, and the first president was Friedrich Ebert--I think his first name was Friedrich, we'll check on that--E-b-e-r-t. And my recollection is--and I'd have to check on that--he died while in office. Anyhow, they had to elect a new president, and they elected General Paul Von Hindenburg as the president of the German Republic. Well, I and many other Americans shared the fear that the election of Hindenburg as president of Germany meant another autocratic military domination, that he represented the Prussianized Army, the Junkers as they called them, spelled J-u-n-k-e-r. And that he was the embodiment of all that was military, and all that was arbitrary, and all that was undemocratic. But anyhow, it was none of 00:53:00our affair. They had the right to elect anybody, and so they elected old Von Hindenburg president. Well, when I was in Europe in 1930 on my way to Russia--well, I was over there attending a seminar, which lasted several weeks or months, and we went to all the countries of Europe, nearly all of them, England and France and Italy and Germany and Poland and Russia and so on. We spent a week or ten days in Berlin. And during my stay there, there were two or three of us, Senator Wheeler from Montana, Senator Cutting, Dr. Francis B. Sayre, Woodrow Wilson's son-in-law, and so forth. The ambassador to Germany was former Senator Frederic Sackett of Kentucky. Though we belonged to different political parties, we were personal friends. Senator Sackett, or 00:54:00Ambassador Sackett, arranged for us to be invited to a diplomatic reception that was being given by President Von Hindenburg to all the diplomatic corps in Berlin, and we accepted, of course. We went there about four o'clock, 4:30. The reception was in the back--the garden of his palace. His palace butted right up on the street, but in the rear for a city square or two, there was a beautiful garden, flowers, grass, gravel walk, a very beautiful setting for a diplomatic reception on a beautiful day. Well, when the time came to sit down for refreshments, which included tea and sandwiches and one thing or another, old Von Hindenburg invited me to sit at his table. Well, I was glad to do that. I couldn't speak any German, and he couldn't speak any English, but Senator Sackett had learned some German, and 00:55:00then they had a regular interpreter there, and I carried on a conversation with the old fellow for an hour or more. And I told him--he was then eighty-one years old and was running for re-election as president of Germany. And he said, "When I serve out my second term," which was a seven-year term, "I hope to come to the United States, because I've always had an ambition to hunt bear in Colorado." Well, he would have been eighty-eight years old at the end of his second term. And I said, "Well, Mr. President, I'm sure you will understand me when I say that during World War I, the Hindenburg Line in France was the line between civilization and barbarism in the opinion of most Americans, and your name was anathema to all of us." But I said, "If you should come to America to hunt bear, or for any other purpose, I'm sure now 00:56:00that the war is behind us that you'd find many friends and admirers in the United States." Well, he smiled. He was a very austere, a rather severe-looking man, tall and straight at eighty-one, he was six foot two or three, tall, straight, and he wore civilian clothes. He had on what was then known as a Prince Albert coat. And as an evidence of the hard life, the economy of the German people as a result of that war, I noticed where moth holes had been patched and sewed up in this dignified garment that old President Von Hindenburg wore.

SHALETT: What year was that?

BARKLEY: That was in 1930. He was re-elected president of Germany, but did not live out his term.

SHALETT: Did you hear of Hitler in that year?

BARKLEY: No, no. Hitler? No, not in 1930. Back in 1922 or '-3, Hitler had pulled what they--down in Munich what they called a putsch. It was a German word for a sort of a 00:57:00riot and--

SHALETT: Thirty-two.

BARKLEY: No, it was--

SHALETT: Twenty-two?

BARKLEY: No, it was back before that, yes. He had--shortly after the war, he had pulled a sort of a thing like that down in Munich. I may be mistaken as to the year, but it was before 1930. Of course, he came in---he was--he came into power, he was ambitious, and although Hindenburg was elected president for a seven-year term, the time came in 1933 when he was almost compelled by circumstances to appoint Hitler chancellor of the German Reich. And then Hitler began his rise, extended his rise, and Hindenburg died, and Hitler took over, practically, not as president of Germany--he never was elected president of the German Republic--but he took over as chancellor, I think he called himself, Der Fuhrer, whatever they--some title, Fuhrer, F-u-h-r-e-r, I believe, a 00:58:00German word.

SHALETT: You never saw Hitler--

BARKLEY: I never saw Hitler, I heard him speak over the radio, and he had a terrible voice, raucous and coarse and guttural, but he was a rabble-rouser. Well, of course, I never saw Hindenburg any more after that either, because I was not in Germany again until 1936 when my wife and I visited for two or three weeks in Germany. And Hitler was then on the march, he was then making speeches to arouse the German people, telling them they hadn't even lost World War number one, and if they had another chance, they'd win it. And he worked--he whipped them up into a frenzy, and we saw the result of that in the march of young men. And they had an organization that they claimed was somewhat similar to the American Boy Scouts. It was different, because he was instilling into them the doctrines of Nazism, and also not in the boys, but in the young girls. We saw all over Berlin, young women, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen years of age, in uniform, being drilled and marched 00:59:00all over the streets of Berlin, not that they were to fight in the army, but he was giving them a discipline, which he hoped to be able to use if the time came when they would be needed.

SHALETT: Do you think any such thing could ever take hold in America? Could a rabble-rouser get us into that?

BARKLEY: No, I don't think so. The American people--well, I don't think so. I may not--I don't want to think so, and as a matter of fact, I do not. I think--

[Pause in recording.]

BARKLEY: --matter of fact, I do not. I think that a rabble-rouser can come along and whip up sentiment among the American people for some economic or social reform, and that has happened in this country. It never has happened in the nation as a whole. Nobody has been able to get control of the American people by any such method, because the American people, with all of their progressivism and 01:00:00all of their liberalism and all their ----------(??) attitude, the American people are pretty level-headed, pretty solid and pretty sensible. And they--even if they found themselves being misled in such a way, that I think they would halt and recover their equilibrium. I don't think that any such thing could happen in the United States, but Hitler did succeed in Germany in doing it. And we saw all this, and we heard a lot of stories about sending these girls out into the country during the summer months to help in the harvest of crops, and with an admonition on the part of the Hitlerites and their advocates and their theorists to these girls not to be too circumspect in their conduct, because it was the desire of Hitler and his outfit to increase the population of Germany, whether it was done legally, legitimately, or otherwise. It was a terrible thing, as we thought, and much against the traditional morality of the German people, because with all their 01:01:00militarism imposed upon them by the Prussian--Prussianized Army, the German people have always been substantially a moral people. And it was a tragedy to see a thing like that taking place in Germany, and I heard a lot about it, but I don't want to go into it any further.

SHALETT: You can be--

BARKLEY: It may have been exaggerated.

SHALETT: Oh, I don't--no. I think it's been documented, using them as breeding cattle.

BARKLEY: Yeah, that's right, just like they'd have used breeding cattle in the field. But it was a terrible thing. And of course, it would be preposterous for anybody to think that anything like that could ever take hold in the United States, especially if we have--we have, of course, derelictions of duty individually, but certainly it isn't organized, and it is not encouraged, and would never be by the government.

SHALETT: As the Tennessee farmer said, "Thank God that's over." (both laugh)

BARKLEY: Well, it was something he'd been dreading all his life, and he'd done his best to avoid it, but when it really 01:02:00broke on him, he said, "Thank God that's over."

SHALETT: Have we finished with your World War I observations?

BARKLEY: Let me see. I think so. There may be something else that will occur to me. Oh, I think I failed to say that on the trip to London we were presented to King George, who was the son of King Edward, who in turn was the son of old Queen Victoria.

SHALETT: What was your impression of him?

BARKLEY: Well, he--my impression of him was good. You see, old Queen Victoria married her girls off pretty well all over Europe. Her son, King Edward VII, came to the throne upon the death of Queen Victoria, who reigned, I believe--and not only reigned but really ruled, for sixty-five years as Queen of England. Her era is referred to as the Victorian Age. She left a deep impression. And Great Britain 01:03:00attained its greatest power in the world under her rule. King Edward succeeded her and did not live very many years, a few years, and then he was succeeded by his son King George. King George was a first cousin of the czar of Russia, Czar Nicholas II, and was very much like him in appearance. You take the pictures of King George at that time and the pictures of Czar Nicholas II and put them side by side, they would look like brothers. It was very noticeable. And also one of Queen Victoria's daughters had married--was the mother of Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany. He was her grandson. The czar of Russia was her grandson, and King George of England was her grandson. And then she had married other daughters out in other monarchies. The king of Greece was one of her descendants, and 01:04:00the present king of Greece is one of her descendants.

SHALETT: Was this a formal meeting with King George?

BARKLEY: No, no. It was not a formal meeting. We were just--no, we were presented and greeted and had a very, very pleasant conversation, and we left. Also, I think I forgot to say that while in Paris we met the president of France, Poincare, I think, as I recall. P-o-i-n-c-e-r-e or some--

SHALETT: -a-r-e.

BARKLEY: -a-r-e. Poincare, who, as I recall, was riding in the carriage with King Alexander of Yugoslavia when he was assassinated in the streets of Marseilles in Southern France.

SHALETT: Listen, the way you're throwing this French around, you better tell the faux pas story.


SHALETT: The faux pas.

BARKLEY: (laughs) Well, in a minute. I also omitted to say that while in Italy, Thomas Nelson Page was our ambassador to Italy 01:05:00at that time, and Walter Hines Page was our ambassador to Great Britain at that time, during the war. And they were both very gracious to us in presenting us to important people. And while in Rome we were presented to Baron Sonnino, who was the foreign minister of Italy and who had married an English woman. And he spoke very good English and was a very cultured and handsome, gracious gentleman. We also were presented to, and had quite an interesting conversation with Orlando, who was one of the Big Four with Wilson and Lloyd George and Clemenceau at the peace conference following World War I. Orlando was the Prime Minister of Italy at the time. He was a short, stubby man with a very large head, and a very impressive 01:06:00looking man. He only died about six months or a year ago at the age of ninety-two, I think. And he was the only remaining member of the Big Four who helped--who wrote the Treaty of Versailles. Well, I didn't want to omit to put in--because we were out not only to see the war itself, but we wanted to come in contact with the leaders of Europe. It was my first visit to Europe, and it was the first visit, I think, of all of our little committee. So we were anxious to form the acquaintance of the leaders, get their viewpoint, talk to them about world problems, and talk to them about what was going to happen to the world when the war should end, and all of that. And it was a very instructive, a very educational trip.

SHALETT: You didn't meet Churchill that trip?

BARKLEY: Didn't meet Churchill that trip. No.

SHALETT: He wasn't very important.

BARKLEY: Because he was not--I think he was probably first lord of the admiralty or something like that, and we didn't even meet 01:07:00Lloyd George on that trip. I met Lloyd George years after. I met Lloyd George in 1930 on the same trip when I met Von Hindenburg and went on into Russia, I think, which I've already described, if I haven't. I don't believe I've described my trip to Russia, have I?


BARKLEY: In 1930. Well, we'll wait for that. Maybe that ought to take a chapter itself.

SHALETT: What about this faux pas?

BARKLEY: Oh, this faux pas, speaking of French, I'll tell you a funny thing that happened to me in Berlin in 1922. I had been a delegate to the Interparlimentary Conference at Stockholm, in '21 it was, instead of '22. Senator Robinson of Arkansas, Senator McKinley of Illinois, Senator Walsh from Montana, Governor Montague or Congressman Montague, he was then, of Virginia, and many others, by a delegation of about fifteen that had gone to Stockholm to attend the annual meeting of this 01:08:00Interparlimentary Conference of which I've spoken and which I began to take an interest in. And from Stockholm we went down to Denmark and visited Copenhagen for just a visit. We didn't--we were--we didn't see any--we weren't up there long enough to see any very great many people. We enjoyed our trip there and so forth, but we went on down to Berlin for about ten days, and we were stopping at the Adlon Hotel. The Adlon Hotel in Berlin was a hotel built by an old German named Adlon, A-d-l-o-n. He had an ambition to build the finest hotel in Europe, and he did at the time, he built this Adlon Hotel. It was, I think, the finest hotel in Europe. We stopped at that hotel while we were there in 1921 and saw much of Berlin. Of course, it was a republic 01:09:00then. The Kaiser had gone to Holland in exile, and his palace was being used as sort of a museum. We were permitted to go into it and go through it, and so forth. Well, I didn't know any German, and there was terrible inflation in Germany at that time. And I recall that I took a hundred-dollar bill of American money and went across the street from the Adlon Hotel to a German bank to change my American money into German money. And the German mark was so cheap that literally it took a wheelbarrow almost for me to get the amount of--the German marks back across the street to my hotel. I stayed there at that Adlon Hotel, and I had a very luxurious room, beautifully furnished. I had all my meals there, except when I'd be out somewhere else maybe and 01:10:00didn't want to return. And when I went to pay my hotel bill at the end of ten days, for all of that, it amounted to three dollars and a half in American money. I paid it in German marks. And they were so cheap, such a terrible inflation on, that my whole hotel bill was three dollars and a half. And to show also further, I was going down to Frankfurt--we were all going down to Frankfurt-on-the-Rhine to join with General Allen--General Henry [T.] Allen, Henry D. Allen or Henry M. Allen, who was in charge of the American soldiers in the occupied territory of the Rhine and with headquarters at Coblenz on the Rhine. We were going down to Frankfurt and then on down to Coblenz and Cologne and Bonn and all the rest. And we stayed in there two or three 01:11:00or four days as guests of General Allen, and then he sent on us--us on through Belgium by automobile to Paris. Well, I'm getting away from the story. When I went over--

SHALETT: Before you--what did you do in Germany with this satchel full of money? Wasn't it an embarrassment?

BARKLEY: Well, it was really an embarrassment, because really it made me feel a little bit mean to throw a--just to turn a hundred dollar bill of American money in and get so much money in quantity, but it wasn't much in real value.

SHALETT: What did you do? Keep it in the bureau drawer?

BARKLEY: I kept it in the bureau drawer, filled my bags full of it, and finally managed to get rid of it before I got out of Germany, though I brought some of it home as a souvenir and as an example of what can happen if inflation gets control of a country. Well, I was very much interested in the sights of Berlin, the public places, the Tiergarten Park there, which now is in total ruin, and during the war they planted 01:12:00potatoes in it in order to furnish food to the German people there. And they have magnificent monuments now and statues standing out stark in this abandoned field, which is now unkempt. And it's a tragic-looking thing to compare that beautiful park, with all the monuments of kings and queens and generals and poets and all that decorated that park, to see them out standing as if in a cornfield now, completely abandoned and uncared for. Well anyhow, I wanted to see everything in Berlin, and I had seen practically everything except one thing that I wanted to see, and I couldn't find that. So I saw a big German policeman standing on the other side of the Unter den Linden with his helmet on and his moustache curled a la The Kaiser. So I walked over to where he was, and I had 01:13:00just learned enough German to say that I couldn't speak it. "Ich sprechen nicht Deutsch." And I walked over to this big officer and walked up to him modestly, and I said to him, "Pardon,"--that was in French--I said, "Pardon, Ich sprechen nicht Deutsch." And in perfect English, he said to me, "What in the hell do you want?" (both laugh) Well, I said, "I'm trying to find a certain thing that I want to see before leaving Berlin." And he said, "All right. I'll take you and show it to you." He took me and took me to the place and showed me through it. And I said, "Where did you learn that good English of yours that you've just pulled on me?" He said, "I lived in New York ten years before the war, and I learned it there." Well, now getting back to this faux pas, which is a French designation, as you know. In 1928, when Mr. Hoover was running for the Republican 01:14:00nomination for president, and Senator Guy D. Goff, G-o-f-f, of West Virginia was also running, or thought he was, a usual committee investigating presidential campaign expenditures was appointed, and I was put on it as a Democrat. And we examined everybody. We examined Mr. Hoover, we examined Senator Goff, we examined Governor Al Smith, all of the candidates, Democrats and Republicans, as to their expenditures. Well, there was a Congressman from West Virginia by the name of Woodyard, and he had--he owned a string of newspapers in West Virginia which were being operated by his son while he was in Congress. He was supervising in a way, but his son was actually operating the papers. Well, these newspapers were supposed to be for Senator Goff, who was a senator from West Virginia, 01:15:00but rather suddenly they turned over for Mr. Hoover. And Mr. Woodyard--I mean, Senator Goff was very anxious to learn what had happened, whether there'd been any financial consideration in regard to this switch of Mr. Woodyard's papers from Senator Goff to Mr. Hoover, who was then Secretary of Commerce. And so he wanted Mr. Woodyard put on the witness stand. And he was put on the witness stand, and we asked him about his newspapers and asked if he--after some preliminaries, we called attention to the switch in the editorial policy of this paper from Goff to Hoover, and we said, "How did that happen? Why did you switch from your own favorite son, your own Senator, to Mr. Hoover?" And he laid it on his son. He said, "Well, my son did that." He said, "That was what you call a fox pass." He said, "A fox pass." I said, "What? A fox pass?" 01:16:00I said, "You mean a faux pas." (laughs) Well, he said, "Yes, I guess that would be the French pronunciation, but I call it a fox pass." Well, from that time until now, fox pass has been a sort of a word--a joke with me, and I frequently use it in quotation marks, and I imagine people don't think I know how to pronounce it. But from that time on, the word faux pas because fox pass as a joke with me and with a lot of people who were present at the time.

SHALETT: You had a little tiff with Mr. Hoover in this connection in which you rather put him in his place, didn't you?

BARKLEY: Well, in this examination of Mr. Hoover, I was trying to be thorough in finding out, because Mr. Hoover was presumably a very rich man, and he was presumed to be expending considerable sums of money, although I do not know whether he was. But the possession of a good deal of wealth gave rise to the suspicion that he was doing it, and that was particularly the feeling of 01:17:00Senator Goff, who was a candidate himself, that Mr. Hoover was putting out a lot of money. So I asked Mr. Hoover a certain question about his expenditures in regard to the campaign in another state, not in West Virginia.

SHALETT: Had he been nominated yet?

BARKLEY: No, no. Oh, no. He was not nominated then; this was long before the convention. Well, Mr. Hoover flared up rather angrily at the question and said to me rather ----------(??), he said, "That is grotesque." Well, I flared up a little too, and I said, "Well, Mr. Hoover, I may be grotesque in asking you this question, but it's pertinent to our inquiry here, and I insist upon it." And then he said, "Well, I didn't mean you were grotesque, I mean that the question was grotesque." And so that ended it, and the matter passed on. There was nothing ever said about it anymore, 01:18:00but I don't know whether he harbored any animosity toward me on account of that question which he described as grotesque or not. It's not important now whether he did or not.

SHALETT: He later asked your advice when he was directing the Hoover Commission study, I believe.

BARKLEY: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Well, of course, I saw a good deal of Mr. Hoover while he was president. I had occasion to go down there, and on one occasion I went down to recommend a colleague of mine in the House of Representatives from Kentucky, Congressman David H. Kincheloe, spelled K-i-n-c-h-e-l-o-e, who had been a colleague of mine in the House for a number of years. He had an ambition to be appointed to the tax court that had its seat in New York, passing upon legal questions involving imports and tariff matters. 01:19:00That's not the name of the court; it has escaped me at the moment. But anyhow, I went down--there was a vacancy that had to be filled by a Democrat because it was a bipartisan court. And I went down to see Mr. Hoover on behalf of my colleague and friend Congressman Kincheloe, and I urged him to appoint him, it was a Democratic vacancy, and it had to be a Democrat anyhow. And I recommended Congressman Kincheloe, and later President Hoover appointed him, and he served until he was eligible for retirement. But long after he was president and long after Mr. Roosevelt had died, I'd say some time after Mr. Roosevelt had died, President Truman appointed a reorganization commission to look into and recommend certain reorganizations in the government departments, the executive departments of the government, in the interest of greater efficiency and in the interest of greater economy. And he appointed ex-President Hoover 01:20:00as a chairman of that commission. Well, it was really sort of a shot in the arm for Mr. Hoover, because he'd been in retirement for--ever since 19---March 1933, and while he was active in his own affairs, he had not been active in government. And I think Mr. Hoover greatly appreciated the recognition President Truman gave him in giving him the chairmanship of this reorganization commission. And I'll say this, he did a good job at it, he and his colleagues. He had been a very--he had been an efficient man anyway. He was known as sort of an engineer and an expert on many things. He had been around the world in industry and in mining and in various activities. He had been head of the Belgian Relief Commission during World War I. President Wilson had made him head of the Food Administration when we got into the war, and so on. So he 01:21:00was qualified to do a good job on the recommendations for reorganization of the executive departments. So he called me one day and asked me to come by the Mayflower Hotel where he was having his office, doing this work. And I went by in the afternoon and talked with him for an hour and a half about some of the problems which he wanted my advice on. I was majority leader of the Senate, and the Senate had to act upon these matters, so--as the House had to act. And President Truman, I'll say, submitted to the Congress practically all of the recommendations that the Hoover Commission submitted to him. Congress was not willing to adopt all of them. They did adopt some of them, but some of them they rejected. But in this visit to Mr. Hoover in the capacity of chairman of the commission, and in my capacity as majority leader, we were very cordial and understanding, and we agreed on the general ideas of 01:22:00how the procedure should go. And that was what he was concerned about as much as anything else, what would take place in the Senate when these matters were submitted to the Senate. And I've seen Mr. Hoover on many occasions, and our relationships have been very cordial. I recall two or three years ago when Princeton University celebrated its two-hundredth anniversary. I think it was about three years ago. Time goes so fast, it might have been four, but I think it was--either three or four, it doesn't make much difference, it was the two-hundredth anniversary of the establishment of Princeton. And they had a--made a big to-do out of it. They conferred a lot of honorary degrees upon a great many people. I recall they conferred an honorary degree on General Eisenhower at that time and on a lot of other people. And Senator Alexander Smith had been a secretary of the faculty at Princeton and had been, I think, a member of the faculty at one time. And he had been Mr. Hoover's assistant in Belgium on 01:23:00the Belgian Relief Commission, was very fond of Mr. Hoover, and they were great friends. So he had invited Mr. Hoover to be his guest at his house in Princeton, and he invited me to be his guest also. So Mr. Hoover and I were guests of Senator Smith in his home in Princeton, and I really got better acquainted with Mr. Hoover almost during that night's visit than I'd ever gotten before. Well, they had a big banquet the night before the convocation at which these honorary degrees were conferred, and I met Mrs.--former Mrs. Grover Cleveland, who was then Mrs. Thomas H. Preston. And she was eighty-three years old, still a stately, handsome woman, just as straight as an arrow, and I had my picture taken with her, which I still have. She's dead now. They had ten speakers, as I recall it, at this banquet, which is a terrible number of speakers to inflict upon an audience, and they had about four thousand people. And among them was Mr. Hoover. All of them were limited to seven 01:24:00minutes, and I'll say they all stayed within the limitation. And Mr. Hoover made a very clever speech during his seven minutes in which he displayed a sense of humor. And I was sitting some distance from him at the speaker's table. So when he finished, I got up and walked over to him and shook hands with him, and I called him Mr. President, which he seemed to like. I said, "Mr. President, you made a good speech here tonight, and I want to congratulate you." And I said, "You displayed a quality I didn't know you had." He said, "What was that?" I said, "A sense of humor." "Why," he said, "I always had a sense of humor, but you Democrats took it away from me while I was president." (laughs) Which itself wasn't bad humor. Yeah.

SHALETT: I'm going to ask you later to fill in the years of the three Republican administrations, Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover. We have just a few minutes on this reel, and I wonder if you'd like to put on tentatively, subject to further consideration, the correct story 01:25:00of Hoover's speech in North Carolina and the twenty-one-gun salute.

BARKLEY: Well, that was not in North Carolina. I don't know whether I ought to tell this in the permanent record or not, because it's really--

SHALETT: We can erase it.

BARKLEY: We can--it's a very amusing thing, and it was told to me by Arthur Koontz, who lives in Charleston and is a Democratic National Committeeman and has been for many years. The story is that during the depths of the Depression, in 1932, they erected a monument or a memorial of some kind in Charleston, West Virginia, out in a public park, and they invited Mr. Hoover to come down and dedicate it. He went, they met him at the train at eight o'clock in the morning, took him to breakfast, and then took him up to this place where they erected a platform and where twenty thousand people were assembled. And as he walked up on the 01:26:00platform and got up on the platform, they gave him the usual twenty-one-gun salute, which they give to the president. And during that twenty-one-gun salute, everything was deathly silent, all over the place, and for a moment after the guns had ceased fire, everybody was silent. And way back in the middle of the audience, some old fellow shaded his eyes with his hands and looked up on the platform, and he saw Hoover still standing there. And he said to himself, but loud enough to be heard everywhere, "My God, they missed him."

SHALETT: (both laughs) Well, that's about the end of side two, reel ten.

BARKLEY: All right. That's--is that the morning's job?

SHALETT: 12:15, we can knock off--

BARKLEY: Well, let your conscience be your guide or your physical condition, whichever is most important.

SHALETT: Well, we could take a start on the governor of Kentucky.

BARKLEY: Well, we might start up in a little while.

[Pause in recording.]


SHALETT: Side number one, reel eleven. Senator Barkley's going to discuss a--some race he had in connection with the Governor of Kentucky. May I start it off by asking have you ever lost a political contest?

BARKLEY: I lost that one.

SHALETT: That's the only one.

BARKLEY: That's the only one, yes.

SHALETT: Maybe I shouldn't have brought it up. (laughs)

BARKLEY: Well, anyhow, it doesn't matter. We can leave it out. I had been elected--I had entered Congress in 1913, and I had no particular ambition ever to be Governor of Kentucky. I thought maybe if at some suitable time a vacancy occurred in the Senate, I might try for that. But I had no--the governorship was not on my political program when I was elected to Congress; I had no special desire for the office. I liked the work in Congress, and 01:28:00I thought to attempt to be governor would be a sort of a detour from my political ambition. But anyhow, a Republican had been elected governor in 1919, Governor Edwin P. Morrow, who was a very popular man, a very likeable and affable man, and was--had many friends among the Democrats. He had been a candidate, I think, in 1915 and lost to Governor Stanley, later Senator Stanley and now a member of the International Boundary Commission, in a very close race. He was elected in 1919 over our Democratic nominee. So when 1923 came around, which is ten years after I entered Congress, the Democrats had to nominate a candidate for governor, because the governor of Kentucky cannot succeed 01:29:00himself under the Constitution. He may be elected to another term later on, but he cannot succeed himself as governor. Well, a condition had arisen in Kentucky which a great many people felt called for a new sort of treatment. I have already recounted the situation which existed in 1899 when William Goebel was nominated for governor and made the fight against the domination of the politics of the state by the Louisville and Nashville Railroad Company. Well, a quarter of a century later, the racing interests of Kentucky, headed up by the Kentucky Jockey Club, had stepped into almost as complete a position of domination and influence in the politics of the state as the L&N Railroad had done twenty-five years before. In Kentucky, as in most states, gambling or betting 01:30:00on horse races is legalized through the pari-mutuel system, which I will not enter into, because it's a machine through which people can make bets on horse races. And those--that device was adopted in Kentucky, and I think in most of the states, because it was recognized that people are going to bet on the horses anyhow, whether you legalize it or not, and that this was a method by which to control it, and also to get a revenue from it. And it is a source of revenue in practically all the states, if not all of them, where it is recognized and legalized. Well, this institution had dominated the politics of the state. It controlled elections, it controlled the election of legislators; it spent money in going into legislative districts 01:31:00and senatorial districts and influencing their election to the legislature. Now, I think it's fair to say that that practice had probably grown up as a result of great opposition to the legalized gambling on horse races in the state. Church people, moral people, and people who did not think that the state ought to obtain a revenue from what they thought was an immoral practice, betting on horse races or anything else, they had felt that that law ought to be repealed, that the pari-mutuel law ought to be abolished, and that the state ought not to, in a sense, be a partner in the betting on horse races from which it was legalized. [bell ringing]

SHALETT: We're going to go ahead, but the background noise is the dinner bell at the Colony.

BARKLEY: Yeah. The mule's going to bray here in a minute. Well, I never opposed horse racing. I have always been proud of 01:32:00the fact that Kentucky is a--the leader, I think, in the breeding of thoroughbred horses. Some of the greatest and most beautiful farms in Central Kentucky and over the state are noted for their production of thoroughbred horses. And when I was a member--had been a member of the House, I had helped to foster that thorough---horse--thoroughbred horse industry in order that the Army might have a great panel or background of thoroughbred horses for the cavalry, which it had to have. And to carry on that prop---program, the government placed out over the country thoroughbred stallions so that there might be developed a sufficient number of good thoroughbred horses with stamina and strength and quality to be cavalry horses. 01:33:00And I had helped to foster that sort of program. Well, many Democrats felt that I ought to make the race for governor in 1923. There was a colleague of mine in the House, Congressman J. Campbell Cantrill, whose father, James--Judge James E. Cantrill, had been the presiding judge in the trial of the man who had assassinated Goebel. And that was a very famous trial that was repeated over and over again, but Judge Cantrill became known as--in a statewide way as the judge who had presided in these trials. His son, Campbell Cantrill, was active in the organization of the tobacco growers of Central Kentucky, being a tobacco grower himself. He'd been a member of the legislature, I 01:34:00think a state senator from his county and district, and he had been very active in organizing the tobacco growers into the Burley Tobacco Cooperative Association, and he was popular among the tobacco growers. He was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor. We had served in the House together for ten years. He was there when I went there in 1913; he'd been in Congress two or three terms or maybe more. We became candidates against each other for the nomination. And I had been active too in the organization of tobacco growers in my end of the state, but not up in the central part of the state. I had been active in organizing--advocating the forming of chapters of the Farmers Union in that day when there was no organized agriculture. Every farmer was compelled to do the best he could 01:35:00by himself without any help much from any organization. I felt, as I do now, that farmers could improve their economic conditions by organizing, and by forming these cooperative societies, and being able to hold their crops off the market until they could get a decent price for it, and indulge in some kind of cooperative financing that would enable them to do that sort of thing. Well, I was very active in that. Well, that did not become an issue between us. But the question of the horse--of the racing and the domination and the influence of the Kentucky Jockey Club in the politics of the state did become a very vital issue. I declared during the campaign for the abolition of the pari-mutuel machine. Finally, not at first, but finally it occurred to me that in order to loosen the hold of the Kentucky Jockey Club as the head organization of the racetrack interests 01:36:00of the state, that it was necessary to repeal the law under which they operated. So I advocated that in my campaign for governor. Congressman Cantrill took the other viewpoint. And of course, the racing interests and the horse interests generally, supported him.

SHALETT: Have you stated the year?

BARKLEY: Nineteen twenty-three. I'd been a member of the House ten years. Well, Congressman Cantrill really was an ill man. He--there came a time--the primary was the first Saturday in August. We fought it out over the state, not in bitterness. We didn't have any joint debate, but we discussed, of course, the issues in the campaign. And the primary came on. I don't have to go into any details of organization and all of that, but it--the lines became very closely drawn. And the real bone of contention was the position that I took, 01:37:00not against horse racing, not against the horse industry, but against the control of the politics of the state by the racing organization. There was no reason for it; it had no business trying to control the legislature or the election of county officers at all. It had no business in it. It had been legalized by the state legislature, it had been chartered by the state, it was a creature of the state. And certainly it ought not be allowed to control the politics of the state. And that was the position I took against its domination. Well, the primary came on, and out of a total vote of over three hundred thousand--I've forgotten the exact number, I will get that, check up on it, but it was a considerable vote, three or four hundred thousand votes--Mr. Cantrill defeated me by between eight- and nine thousand majority, and under circumstances that--not due to any fault 01:38:00of his, because the truth is that a month before the primary election, so I was told, he had a feeling that he wanted to withdraw from the race, he was sick. And he was urged not to do it, because to do so would give me the nomination, because it was too late for anybody else to file in the primary, and there was only two of us. And they made him stay in the race. That is, they persuaded him to stay in the race, and he was nominated. He died within a month after the primary, which showed that he was an ill man, and in good faith didn't feel like he ought to be compelled to go on and make the fight. Well, I was defeated under circumstances that gave rise to the belief on a great many of my supporters that the count had not been fair. But I didn't want to contest the election. I accepted the results in good faith, and 01:39:00after Mr. Cantrill died, it was too late for them to have another primary election, and the state central committee had to meet and nominate a candidate in his place. Many of my friends wanted my name to be presented to the committee. They argued that I had been the only other candidate, that I had been defeated in a very close vote, and that I ought to be nominated in Mr. Cantrill's place. I wouldn't permit my name to go before the conv---the committee, because I said, "I was defeated in a primary by the people, and I would not accept a committee nomination which didn't come to me from a--by reason of a vote from the whole people." Well, it showed that there was very good feeling between Mr. Cantrill and me personally. After he was nominated, he made a statement to a friend that he would be perfectly willing to turn his campaign over to me in the November election to carry it on, because 01:40:00he had such faith in me as a Democrat, and I had pledged my support to him immediately upon the announcement that he had won. But anyhow, he died, and the committee met, and I wouldn't permit my name to go before it for reasons which I've indicated. I was there at the committee meeting. Well, there was another Congressman, William J. Fields, who had been in Congress about the same length of time.

SHALETT: Democrat.

BARKLEY: Democrat, yes. And the committee nominated him for--to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Mr. Cantrill. I was there at the time. The nomination was unanimous, I rose and pledged my support to Congressman Fields as the Democratic nominee, which I'd already done previously to Congressman Cantrill, and I campaigned. I pledged my support and my active support. And I think from then on until November, I campaigned for Mr. Fields as ardently as I would have campaigned for myself if I had been the nominee. And I--he was elected by 01:41:00a majority of about seventy-five thousand, which was a very large majority because while Kentucky is a Democratic state and has gone Democratic anywhere from ten thousand to thirty- or forty-, I do not recall that up 'til that time, within recent years, it had gone Democratic by seventy-five thousand. Later on, when Roosevelt came into power, it went Democratic by much larger than that. But anyhow--

SHALETT: Who was the Republican nominee?

BARKLEY: Governor Fields was elected. Let me see, I believe that Charles I. Dawson--now I'll have to check on that. Charles I. Dawson had been elected to the legislature from Logan County, Kentucky, as a Democrat way back yonder before that. He moved from there up to Middlesboro, Kentucky, which is a Republican section of the state, and became a Republican up there. And he was elected attorney general of the 01:42:00state on the Republican ticket, I think, with Governor Morrow. And I rather think now he was the Republican nominee then. I would have to check in on that.

SHALETT: You didn't lose your seat in the House?

BARKLEY: Oh, no. I--it was a--our governor's election comes at a time--

SHALETT: Off-year.

BARKLEY: --in an off-year. No presidential year, no senatorial or congressional year, so I didn't lose my seat.

SHALETT: That's the only race you ever lost.

BARKLEY: That's the only race I ever lost.

SHALETT: ----------(??)

BARKLEY: Well, that's--I never made any question about it, and all I know about it is what a lot of the--of my opponents afterwards said they did in regard to the count, but that's all past history, and there's no use to exaggerate it or--

SHALETT: Did you spend much money in the campaign?

BARKLEY: No, I didn't spend much money. I didn't have much money to spend. I had no income, myself, outside of my congressional salary. And that--it took about all that to support and educate my family. And I had no funds to spend, except what I could--my 01:43:00traveling expenses, hotel bills, and things like that. But as always happens, a man's supporters and friends will raise a campaign fund, and they raised a modest campaign fund for legitimate expenses in my campaign. Now, reports were--rumors were all afloat that the other side spent an enormous amount of money. Some estimates were up as high as five-hundred thousand dollars. Now, I don't know what amount they spent. I know they spent a good deal, of course, and they were interested vitally in the result, and they put up whatever money they thought was necessary to win. Well now, I want to say this in that connection. While I lost in that fight for the nomination for governor, I made the fight against the domination of the politics of the state by the Kentucky Jockey Club and its associates. And though I lost the governorship, I won the fight and the crusade against that sort 01:44:00of thing, because from that day to this, the Kentucky Jockey Club has not dominated nor sought to dominate the politics of the state. They were weaned from that thing, because they realized that they would have to reform their practice or the state would elect somebody sometime that would maybe put them out of business. Well, Governor Fields was elected, and I was re-elected to Congress the next year, 1924. And then in '26, there was a vacancy--would be a vacancy in the Senate. Senator Richard P. Ernst, who was a Republican, had been elected to the Senate in 1920, beating former Governor Beckham, who had been elected in 1914. And I was nominated for the Senate, without opposition, by the Democrats. And those who had opposed me in the fight for governor three years before, ardently supported me for the Senate. They 01:45:00felt that I had been a good sport in my defeat in 1923, that I'd gone out and supported the nominee first who had beaten me, and then the next man who had been nominated in his place, and that I had shown my loyalty to the party, and I had taken my defeat in good grace. And when the time came for the senatorial race to be carried on in 1926, all people--all sides, Democrats, said that I should be nominated, and I was nominated without opposition, without a fight. And they all got in behind me in the November election, and I won over Senator Ernst by some thirty thousand majority, which was a good majority for that time. And so that all happened, but I--while I--of course, when a man gets into a race, he wants to win. I never shed a tear over my defeat for the governorship, because I realized that even if I were nominated and elected, I would have a terrific fight, maybe, in the legislature and in the state to carry out 01:46:00my program. And if I failed to carry it out, I, of course, would go out of office, maybe, a discredited man. But having gotten into the fight and gotten into that issue, I wanted to fight it out. And I'm proud now that the fight that I made did result in the elimination of that political evil that had begun to fester in the state. And they'd been my friends, I go to the Kentucky Derby, I enjoy the races, and I've never held any resentment personally. And I'm glad that, however, through that effort of mine, I was able to rid the state of a sort of a barnacle that ought never to have existed, and it may be, in all justice, existed because there was a great moral uprising against that thing and it had to be fought out. And while the pari-mutuel is still legalized in Kentucky as it is in many other states, the political incubus, which was a result of it, has 01:47:00disappeared. And the Kentucky Jockey Club and the racing interests no longer try to control the politics of the state, or elect the legislature, or interfere in the election of county offices or Congressmen or anybody else.

[Pause in recording.]

BARKLEY: So while I lost the office of governor, for which I was a candidate, I've always felt, and then felt, that I won the fight that induced me to become a candidate.

[Pause in recording.]

SHALETT: Senator Barkley, as we were driving down from Quebec the other day, I think we were talking in the car about racial equality and problems of race relations in the South. And I was impressed deeply by what you described to me as a practical lesson you received in your youth working with an old man in the wheat field.

BARKLEY: Well, my experience in that regard was not different from 01:48:00that of many other young men in the South and in the border states who worked in the field with negroes on the farm. It's customary and has been for years. But in this particular situation that I found myself in, we were tenants of a farm owned by two prominent businessmen in Clinton. And adjoining that farm, up the road, lived a colored family, the father and head of which was named Matt Vincent, V-i-n-c-e-n-t. He had two or three lovely daughters, whom he was able to educate and who became schoolteachers in the colored schools of that community. He had a son or two also. Well, this Matt Vincent and I worked together in the fields many times all during the summer, and two or three summers, as I now recall. He was a good citizen and a good worker, and everybody 01:49:00respected him. I remember one time when we were digging stumps out of the field so as to get them out of the way of the wheat crop. We didn't pull them out or blow them out with dynamite or snake them out by pulling a tractor with a chain around it, but we dug them literally out of the ground with shovel and spade and axe, cutting the root and getting all the dirt from around the root. And of course, that made a very deep hole around the stump. And ultimately when we got it completely loosened, we would hitch a team of mules to a chain and wrap the chain around the stump and pull it out.

SHALETT: Was that hard work digging--

BARKLEY: Very hard work. Oh, very hard work. Very hard work indeed. And we'd dig such an enormous hole that it took quite a lot of dirt to fill it up, just to level it off so that we could sow a crop of wheat over these many holes in the fields from which we stumps had come. We took our lunch with us in a sack or a basket or 01:50:00a tin pail out into the field, because it was some distance to the house, and therefore we ate our lunch in the field. And when lunchtime came, Matt Vincent would sit down on the bank on one side of this deep hole around the stump, and I would sit on the other, both of us in the hole, however, with our feet in the bottom of it. And we'd eat our lunch and talk about the work and about everything. And the question of social equality with us two men, one colored and one white, sitting there eating in this stump hole, never occurred to either one of us. We never thought that there was anything strange about sitting there, eating together in that enormous hole. And that happened many times and many days, and I think back now about my association with this honorable colored man in the field, and observing his good citizenship 01:51:00and the effort that he put forth to give his children an education. I have always had the greatest respect for him and the finest memory of our association together.

SHALETT: Did you ever swap items at lunch, Senator?

BARKLEY: No, we did not, although his wife was a good cook, and I looked longingly sometimes on what Matt was eating. But my mother was also a good cook, and I think Matt reciprocated by looking longingly at something that I had in my sack or my pail. And it may be possible that now and then we did exchange grub, as we called it in those days, but it was not a habit of ours.

SHALETT: Senator, we're sitting here, of course, in the charming Round House at the Seagle Music Colony, and we have a guest here, Miss Kay Duke(??), with her guitar. I understand you learned some songs from Matt Vincent. Would you sing a few for us?

BARKLEY: (laughs) No, I only learned one. Not altogether from Matt, partly so, but from other colored men who worked in the wheat 01:52:00fields with me as a boy. I've already, I think, described how I and my brother and my father worked for the wheat thrashers in the wheat field during the summer. And they had colored help also. I think the man who cut the binds at the thrasher was old Henry Hale(??), a colored man at Clinton, and he had a partner. I hauled wheat and picked wheat and did everything around the thrasher, but--

SHALETT: For a dollar a day.

BARKLEY: A dollar a day. That's right. But these colored men who worked in the field at the thrasher all--in whatever capacity had a facility for originating folk songs. They could make them up as they went, all to a more or less monotonous tune, but they could go on all day and improvise new verses of these songs, which became sort of a rhythm in their work, as they would--for instance, if they were working on a railroad track, as they'd strike 01:53:00the spike with the hammer, they would sing and they'd harmonize their song and their rhythm with the licks that they hit. Well, one of these songs starts out:

See that dummy(??)coming down the line this evening

See that dummy(??)coming down the line in the morning

See that dummy(??)coming down the line

He had to run sideways to keep from flying, baby.

Striped-legged britches and a pigeon-tailed coat this evening

Striped-legged britches and a pigeon-tailed coat in the morning

Striped-legged britches and a pigeon-tailed coat

The hair on its chin like a damn billy goat, my baby.

When I die, oh, won't you bury me deep this evening

When I die, oh, won't you to bury me deep in the morning

When I die, oh, won't you to bury me deep

And tell all of my women I'm gone to sleep, my baby.


Catchin' rabbits ain't no sin this evening

Catchin' rabbits ain't no sin, my baby

Catchin' rabbits ain't no sin

Open your mouth and shove 'em in, my baby.

See that jaybird just sitting on a limb this evening

See that jaybird just sitting on a limb, my baby

See that jaybird just sitting on a limb

He winked at me and I winked at him this evening

And so on and on, verse after verse.

SHALETT: How about the diamonds on the chest?

BARKLEY: Well, yeah. There was one verse that went like this:

See these diamonds in my breast, my baby.

See these diamonds in my breast, oh baby.

See these diamonds in my breast

Oh, tell all the women I'm gone to rest, my honey.

Well, that was just a few of the--[applause]--interminable verses, all with the 01:55:00same rhyme and the same meter, that these colored workers sang in the field with me. And of course, I learned to sing them myself. I've forgotten a good many of the verses, but these I do remember, and probably some others would come to me if I were to think about it.

SHALETT: Senator, do you know this lady?

BARKLEY: I've met her, yes, several times. In fact, I've known her for about three years and a half.

J. BARKLEY: ----------(??)

BARKLEY: Four years.

SHALETT: Mrs. Barkley.

BARKLEY: Oh, glad to meet up with you.

J. BARKLEY: Well, how do you do? How nice to see you. I've heard so much about you.

BARKLEY: Well, I've heard a good deal about you, but I don't believe half of it.

J. BARKLEY: Is that so? (all laugh) Don't fool yourself, kid. Listen, sing Wagon Wheel for us. And he sings it the key of C, Kay(??).

BARKLEY: Yeah. I--well, I--this is the only song I sing. And I'm very fond of Wagon Wheel, because it typifies my boyhood experience, because a two-horse wagon was the only vehicle we had. We used it in--on the farm to haul everything we had to haul, we took our crops to market in it, on Sunday we went to 01:56:00church in it, and frequently on Saturday afternoon in the dry weather, the tire--the steel tire and the spokes of this--these--the wheels of this wagon would just dry and shrivel, and the tire would roll off. So we used to push that wagon into the pond overnight so that it--the wood would swell so that the tire wouldn't go off. Well, all of that makes this song, Wagon Wheel, rather reminiscent of my boyhood. So out at the Burning Tree Golf Club where I used to play golf, when we came in after eighteen holes and were playing at what they called the nineteenth hole, and Marvin McIntyre, Secretary to President Roosevelt, would say, "Let's have a little close harmony," we would begin to sing. And we'd sing Wagon Wheel, which had come out and was very popular. And then later on, every now and then, I was drafted into a group of people and asked to sing this Wagon Wheel song. So I haven't sung it in a long time, and I may make a mess of it, but 01:57:00if you give me the key of C, I'll do the best I can. [Guitar playing]

Wagon wheel

Wagon wheel

Keep on turnin', wagon wheel

Roll along

Sing your song

Carry me over the hill

Go 'long, mule

There's a steamer that's a' landin'

Waiting for the cotton to load

Go 'long, mule

If the boss is understandin'

There's a pasture at the end of the road.

Wagon wheel

Wagon wheel

Keep on turnin', wagon wheel

Roll along


Sing your song

Wagon wheel, carry me home.

Wagon wheel, carry me home.


SHALETT: Thank you. I suppose we've had something here this afternoon that has never been done before, a sort of an informal discussion and concert by the beloved former vice president of the United States, accompanied by a very charming young music student at the Seagle Colony, Miss Kay Duke(??), and this is Sydney Shalett thanking you both.

DUKE: Thank you.

SHALETT: I want to add that this is recorded on the twenty-fourth day of July, 1953.

[End of interview.]