Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Alben W. Barkley, July 25th, 1953

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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SHALETT: Side one, reel twelve. Senator, while we've had a break to change reels, let me inject a bit of local color. We've had a little visit from our good Liza down here who does the laundry and the pressing so far, and we've had quite a discursion on some topics with her, and you told her a story that I think might have a political moral in judging issues. Why don't you repeat that story?

BARKLEY: Well, this colored woman is named Liza here. She's sort of an institution at the Seagle Colony, and she does pressing, and ironing, and washing for the guests here, in addition to her other duties. And she had just brought back to the cottage which Mrs. Barkley and I occupy, and where we're now working, a couple of suits that she had pressed for me. And I paid her for them and so forth, and jokingly I said, "That'll buy you something 00:01:00to have a good time on." And Mr. Shalett spoke up and said, "Liza doesn't even drink. She doesn't even drink beer. She's a teetotaler." Well, I said, "That's very fine, Liza. I'm glad to hear it." And I asked her if she'd ever heard the story about the man who gave his butler--his colored butler a bottle of whiskey during the days of Prohibition. She at first thought she'd heard it, but it turned out she hadn't, and Mr. Shalett said he hadn't heard it, so I told it. Of course, in the days of Prohibition all kinds of decoctions were concocted for the pleasure or the enjoyment or the damage done by it to average human beings. Some of it was called White Mule, and they had all kinds of names for it, but there wasn't very much of legal stuff still extant. Well, this white homeowner gave his colored butler a bottle of 00:02:00whiskey one day, right in the middle of the days of Prohibition. And he took it and thanked him, and he didn't see him any more for three or four days--I think he went out of town--and when he got back he met this butler, Sam. He said, "Sam, how'd you like that liquor I gave you the other day?" "Well," he said, "Boss, it was just right." "Yessir," he said, "it was just right." Said, "I've had a lot of liquor in my lifetime, but that was just exactly right." "Well," he said, "what do you mean by saying it was just exactly right?" "Well," he said, "if it had been any better, you wouldn't have given it to me, and if it had been any worse, I couldn't have drunk it." So it made it exactly right, so that he got it, for which he was thankful.

SHALETT: There are some political issues that would fit in that category, I imagine.

BARKLEY: Yes, that's right. There are some situations where you try to pursue a course in the middle of the road, you'd say, so that you may satisfy both sides in the matter. And I 00:03:00suppose that that's what this butler had in mind when he found that this particular beverage was such that he got it and it--bad as it was, he could consume it, but if it had been any worse, he couldn't.

[Pause in recording.]

SHALETT: Getting back to the duties of the Senate, there--after the morning's work is done, as we've described, do you usually have a constituent in for lunch? Was that customary?

BARKLEY: Well, not usually. I wouldn't say that that happened every day. It happens more frequently with senators who lived close to Washington, Virginia and Maryland and some of the states up in that region, and it does in regard to senators from eastern states. That ----------(??) natural difference, because it's much easier to get to Washington now from close by states than it is from far away states, although the modern method of travel and transportation make it almost--make it much easier, and much shorter for a man to get to Washington from California 00:04:00than it did to get from Kentucky to Washington than it did when I first went to Congress, because there were no airplanes, automobiles, or ----------(??) and of course there was train transportation, and it took me--when I went to Washington, it took me about twenty-six hours to get from Paducah to Washington D. C. Now, I could make it in four hours. So that makes a lot of difference, as between California and Washington. But still I would say that more visitors(??) show up at lunchtime, with senators who lived close by than those who lived far away. But it isn't a barrier to us at all. It--it's something that frequently constituents come to Washington to see their senator, and maybe not impose themselves on him, ----------(??) for lunch, frequently they would propose to usually host themselves, and ----------(??) senator, or the congressman 00:05:00insist that he be the host, because they are ----------(??) to Washington on business and not on a social visit, and a constituent has to allow his constituent, who's come all the way to Washington, to be the host of the lunch, and therefore he insists on being it himself. But now and then certain ----------(??)---------- court. But I--I would say that nothing--nothing like every day does that happen, but frequently.

SHALETT: You take them down and get them a little of the famous senator's bean soup?

BARKLEY: Yes, well that--yes, you take them down into the Senate Restaurant. There is a room that--that is reserved for senators themselves, there is a room in the lunch room for the press and radio people, and there is also a room where the public may come, and frequently members of the House come over to eat in the Senate Restaurant. And in that particular room, senators ----------(??) and they used--they 00:06:00used to make and still do make a particular brand of bean soup, it's famous as Senate Restaurant Bean Soup. It's a little bit ----------(??)----------, but it is still very good. They also used to make a very famous pie, called a sweet potato pie. Now, a great many people are not familiar with sweet potato pie, and a great many people don't know that you can make a very good pie out of sweet potatoes, whether they're yams or whether they're red potatoes, whatever you may call them. And the chef at this Senate Restaurant was famous for his sweet potato pie. It was a delicious dessert. They've quit making it now. But they were so efficient at this sweet potato pie, that they sometimes made it out of white potatoes and so flavored it as to make it taste like sweet potato pie. But being an expert on pies, because my mother was always 00:07:00an expert at making them, I could detect the difference between a genuine sweet potato pie and one made out of some other substance or some other vegetable or fruit, or whatever you call it. But--

SHALETT: What have they done to change the bean soup?

BARKLEY: Well, they have--I think they have added something that they didn't put into it originally. It's still very good. And it's fattening also, and for that reason I got to be very abstemious in regard to the bean soup, because in order for it to be properly eaten, you need a big hunk of good cornbread to go with it, and that's also fattening. And so when I got a little more obese than I thought that I should and wanted to reduce a little bit, I had to cut down, not only on the bean soup and the cornbread, but on the sweet potato pie. And I reduced my weight two or three years ago by thirty-five pounds. I went from 210 down to 175 in four months, which 00:08:00is a pretty good reduction. And when I had accomplished it, my skin hung so loosely upon me, and my clothes hung so loosely that I looked like a cadaver. I reminded myself of the scarecrows that my father used to put in the garden and in the watermelon patch to keep the rabbits out of the watermelon patch. But finally my skin tightened up, and I had my clothes reduced to fit my new frame and I didn't look so bad.

SHALETT: You're looking extremely fit now.

BARKLEY: Well, I'll tell you, my stock answer to that has always been that when people say I look well, that I have never been much on looks, but I've always been good on feelings. And every now and then some low-minded man puts a double meaning to that, and I resent it, as I should.

SHALETT: (Both laugh) Well, when does the workday of a senator end officially, if ever?

BARKLEY: Oh, it doesn't end officially. Now, I've gotten--I've rambled a good deal about the duty of a senator. We'll assume that he's taken up the time in his office reading and answering mail from 00:09:00the time he gets there, say, at nine o'clock. Many of them get there at eight o'clock. But I just pick nine as an arbitrary hour so as to describe. If he gets there at eight, he has more time before his committee meets to answer mail, to see constituents, or to do what they call departmental work. Well, we'll assume it's the Committee on Banking and Currency that's meeting at ten o'clock, or Finance, or Foreign Relations, and the senator then leaves his office and goes to the committee. That committee probably will probably be in session until twelve o'clock, which is the official hour for the convening of the Senate, twelve o'clock. A great many people don't understand why the Senate doesn't meet until twelve o'clock. Well, it doesn't because the morning must be devoted to one's office work, mail, committee work, departments, and all of that. And frequently a senator has to leave his office or his committee for the floor of the Senate without 00:10:00having finished more than half of the work on his desk for the morning. Well, he may be--in a dull hour or two in the afternoon, he may be able to go back to his office and finish up his work, answer his mail, and do some more departmental work, or maybe write a speech that he's proposing to deliver or intends to deliver on some bill two days later, or maybe the next day. Or it may be that the committee which he left at twelve o'clock is meeting again at two or 2:30. Under the rules of the Senate, a committee cannot meet during the sessions of the Senate without the consent of the Senate. And it's customary where a committee wants to meet in the afternoon, in the midst of a hearing or in the process of writing up a bill, it'll ask the Senate for consent to meet during the session of the Senate. And it's very rarely ever refused, because every member knows that the same situation may arise in the committee on which he's a member. So they either may go--be going to a committee in 00:11:00the middle of the afternoon, or back to their office. All of this constitutes the part of the detail of a senator and Congressman's life, and I do not wish to go into any greater detail about it. There's no official hour for the adjournment of the Senate. It usually tries to adjourn, in normal times, around five or six o'clock, and frequently a senator may go back to his office then, or he may have social engagements which require some attention. And it's a long, hard day's work, no matter what time he gets there. And the same applies to members of the House, because I served in both houses, and I know what goes on. It's a long, hard day, and frequently he does not arrive home until seven o'clock in the evening, maybe eight o'clock in the evening, to have his own dinner with his own family. It may be that he has a conference of some kind that night with either constituents or other 00:12:00senators. Or it may be, if he's on an important committee and a vital matter's up, the president may call a night conference of Senat---certain senators, and he has to do that. So it's a busy job.

SHALETT: Or even a night session of the Senate.

BARKLEY: Even a night session. And they're having--they frequently have night sessions of the Senate and the House, especially as a session comes to a close and they want to finish by a day certain or as soon as possible, they'll have night sessions, long night sessions, and sometimes all-night sessions, or until midnight. Now, that is not the rule, but it frequently happens.

SHALETT: In our discussion of colorful Senate characters, we didn't mention Huey Long.

BARKLEY: Well, I think I probably ought to mention him when I'm going to be talking about other colorful senators, but it's all right to say something about him here, because he was a colorful figure. He had been railroad commissioner in Louisiana, I think a position 00:13:00which is elected by the people, and he was elected governor of Louisiana, and he did a great many good things for the state of Louisiana. He made great improvement in the highways of the state. He made great improvement in the educational institutions, the university of the state. He built a new capitol at Baton Rouge, and he had become a colorful figure before he came to the Senate. He'd gotten a nationwide reputation for his originality and for some of the--his characteristics. I remember before he ever came to the Senate, and before I ever knew him, reading a story where he met some distinguished foreign ambassador or some distinguished foreign delegation in New Orleans in his pajamas, and it got wide publicity, the fact that the governor of Louisiana 00:14:00had met this distinguished visitor or ambassador or delegation in his pajamas. But it didn't worry Huey any. I didn't see the pajamas, but I imagine, from what I learned of him later, that they were very colorful pajamas, because he wore that kind of clothes. Well, he was elected senator. He didn't come to the Senate immediately after his election because he had some work down there in Louisiana as governor he wanted to finish before he came to Washington. And that had happened once before. Governor Hoke Smith of Georgia, way back in the Wilson days, had been elected senator. And he remained governor for several months before he came to Washington, because he wanted to finish up some work as governor of Georgia in a program that he had outlined. So Governor Long was elected senator down there in Louisiana, and didn't come immediately, but he did--he had not come to the Senate when the Democratic Convention met in 1932 that nominated Roosevelt. They had 00:15:00a very bitter contest in Louisiana over the presidential nomination. And Governor Long, or Senator-elect Long, espoused the cause of Mr. Roosevelt. The other faction, led by a former governor and a former Congressman, Jared Y. Sanders, was opposed to Mr. Roosevelt. I'm not so certain whether they were opposed to him particularly, but they were opposed to Governor Long, and they constituted the opposition faction to Governor Long, because he always had bitter opposition in the state in his governorship and in his senatorship, and that bitter opposition finally resulted in his assassination, as you know, in Baton Rouge. Well, Governor Long headed what was supposed to be a pro-Roosevelt delegation to the Chicago convention in '32. And former Governor Sanders headed the opposition. And they had a contest as to 00:16:00which one of these delegations should be seated. They had a very bitter fight in the Committee on Credentials, in which all kinds of name-calling was indulged in. It was a sort of a brawl, not, I mean, a drunken brawl, but an intellectual and political brawl in which they called one another all sorts of opprobrious names and epithets. The Committee on Credentials decided against the Long delegation and recommended the seating of the other delegation. I was temporary chairman of the convention and pre--had to preside during the temporary preliminary proceedings until a permanent organization had been agreed to and a permanent chairman appointed, and that could not take place as long as there were any contests or any uncertainties about the seating of delegates. Well, Governor Long came to me and said that he wanted to be recognized when the Louisiana contest came before the full convention to make a speech on his 00:17:00side. I said, "Of course, Governor. You'll be entitled to recognition, and I'll be glad to recognize you. But I want to make a suggestion to you." I said, "I think the merits of your contest down there are on your side. I think you have the facts and the law and the merits on your side. But from what I've heard about what happened in the Credentials Committee, you indulged in a very bitter contest and name-calling contest down there." Now, I said, "Let me make this suggestion. You get up before that convention and you discuss the law and the facts, just as if you were arguing a case before the Supreme Court of the United States, and do not indulge in all this ----------(??) and this bitterness and this name-calling. And if you will present your case and the case of your delegation to the convention in a logical way, free from any name-calling or anything of that sort, I believe you can win on 00:18:00the floor." "Well," he said to me with a grin, he said, "I can be just as much of a gentleman as anybody if I have to." (both laugh)Well, I said, "I think this calls for--this is a time when I think you ought to be a gentleman in the political sense of the word, not that you haven't been otherwise. But since you said you could be a gentleman as much as anybody, I think you better be one."

SHALETT: Make me take one. (laughs)

BARKLEY: Yeah, make me take one. Well, he came before the convention, and he made as fine and as logical a legal argument as was ever made at a convention, presenting his side of that contest in Louisiana. And the convention seated his delegation. And they lined up in the convention for Governor Roosevelt, who was nominated. Well, that was before he came to the Senate. Well, of course, his reputation had preceded him when he got to the Senate, not in the same way exactly that Henry Clay's reputation preceded him before he got 00:19:00to Washington. When he was elected to the House of Representatives the first time from the Lexington district, the agitation was widespread in the country for a war against Great Britain on account of the impressment of seamen. And on his way to Washington in a stagecoach, where every time he changed horses, he made a speech to the assembled people who'd heard in advance of his approach, and he made a speech against England and in favor of war. And by the time he got to Washington, his reputation had become so widespread that he was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives on his--in his first term as a member of that body. I ought to say that he had served a brief term in the Senate before that by appointment. He was appointed senator before he was thirty years old, which under the Constitution is the age limit for a senator, but nobody knew it and he went on and served, although he was only 00:20:00twenty-nine years old. But anyhow, Huey Long's reputation had preceded him to Washington. He came there. Of course, he was a very unique character. He was rather ruthless in debate, and many senators were afraid to tie into him, because he was not only ruthless but, I felt sometimes and told him so, a little unscrupulous in his methods of debate. He would bring in private matters that he knew about senators that I did not think were quite ethical. For instance, he one time sought to embarrass Senator Pat Harrison of Mississippi by referring to the fact that when one of the banks down in Louisiana, not very far from Biloxi, had closed in the bank holiday or in the Depression, they found a note in that bank, which had been endorsed by Senator Harrison and discounted there, a note given him for the sale of some real estate over in Mississippi. And Senator Long 00:21:00referred to that fact in the heat of debate with Senator Harrison. I didn't think that that was a proper subject to be brought on the floor of the Senate, and of course, it was somewhat embarrassing to have a thing like that exploited on the floor of the Senate. But when Senator Harrison explained how the note happened to get in the bank, like hundreds and thousands of notes had gotten in the bank before in the same way, of course, everybody understood there was no impropriety in it and no reflection in any way on Senator Harrison, but it did create a feeling that Senator Long had been unfair ----------(??) the debate.

SHALETT: The denial never gets the effect of the charge.

BARKLEY: The denial never catches up with the charge. And of course, that's not only true in situations like that. But I mention that only as evidence of the fact that Senator Long, resourceful as he was, and attractive as he was in his personality, sometimes resorted to what I thought were unfair methods in debate on the floor 00:22:00of the Senate.

SHALETT: Were you majority leader then?

BARKLEY: No, I was not majority leader. Senator Joe--Joseph T. Robinson of Arkansas was majority leader. And he harassed Senator Robinson a great deal by his method in the Senate. And he threatened to go to Arkansas and campaign against Senator Robinson. He had done that in the case of Mrs. Caraway. He had gone over to Arkansas and campaigned all over Arkansas in behalf of Mrs. Caraway, whose husband had been a member of the House and who had been a member of the Senate and had died, and Mrs. Caraway was appointed to fill out his unexpired term and then became a candidate for the Senate in Arkansas. And Senator Long went over to Arkansas and campaigned for Mrs. Caraway and undoubtedly helped her very materially. He rather turned the tide in her behalf when it looked like a very close race. Well, having had a measure of success in Arkansas in support of Mrs. Caraway, Senator Long frequently threatened Senator Robinson to go into 00:23:00Arkansas and beat him when he came up for election again. Whether he could have done it or not, nobody knows, but anyhow, he threatened to do it. Well, those things were rather annoying and exasperating sometimes. And he was very resourceful in debate. He could turn a--he always--he was like a cat. No matter how high you threw him or what you did to him, he would come down and right on his feet. And I know that's true with cats. You can take a cat and throw it forty feet in the air, and it may turn over and over and over, but it'll always land on its four feet when it hits the ground. Well--

SHALETT: Did he ever thank you for your good advice to him on the convention matter?

BARKLEY: Oh yeah, he appreciated it, yes.

SHALETT: Were you--

BARKLEY: He and I became good friends in the Senate. I liked him.

SHALETT: Well, you're good friends with everybody.

BARKLEY: Well, he liked me because I wasn't afraid of him. He didn't have much respect for anybody who was afraid of him. He respected men who tied into him and combated and fought what 00:24:00he was advocating. Of course, he had all kinds of fantastic views, like share the wealth, and every man a king. He wrote a book about it and all that. And I made a speech on the floor of the Senate, after some effort in preparation, analyzing his program of share the wealth. And I think I still have a copy of that speech. It's--in my own mind, it appeared to give me satisfaction. I don't whether it did anybody else or not, but I rather took a ridiculous viewpoint of his fantastic program about sharing the wealth and about every man a king and all that. That's a good theory, but the way he is proposing doing it, it would impose it on the country, it didn't seem to me to be workable. Anyhow--

SHALETT: But did he turn his invective on you after the speech?


SHALETT: He never did that.

BARKLEY: He never turned his invective upon me. One time I said to him there on the floor, and it's a funny thing. He had a very strong appeal to the public. Whenever it was 00:25:00announced in the paper that Huey Long would address the Senate, the galleries were always packed. And a strange thing about it, the majority of them were women. I mean, some of the most prominent women in society and in official life in Washington flocked to the gallery of the Senate every time Huey Long was announced to speak, because they knew they were going to see a show, there would be a show on the floor of the Senate. And Huey had so many fantastic ideas, and I was friendly enough with him to criticize them to his face in private or on the floor. And one day I said to him, I said, "Huey, you are the smartest lunatic I ever saw in my whole life." Well, he threw his head back and laughed, he said, "Maybe you have given me the most accurate description that I've ever had applied to me." And I said, "Well, I'll tell you, you're smart, you're resourceful, you're a great debater. All you need is a balance wheel. If you had a 00:26:00real balance wheel to keep you in tow and keep you from doing so many crazy things, you would be a great power here and would become a very useful senator." And I meant that, and I think it would--I think so yet. Yet he lacked a balance wheel. If you know what a--anything about an engine, there is a little gadget on the top called the governor that revolves back and forth. And they call that the governor, and it keeps the engine on an even keel, and that's what Huey Long needed.

SHALETT: Were you ever able again to prevail sane counsel on him and keep him--

BARKLEY: Oh, frequently. Yeah, I'd just sit down and talk with him, especially after I became majority leader. I've got to check on the dates now of his death. I think--I wouldn't be sure. I'd better not--I better check on that first, because he came there in '33, and I've forgotten the date when he was killed. I'd better look into that, because I--but I still have a vague recollection that 00:27:00he was there while I was majority leader, though he may not have. But anyhow, I was actually--I was--

SHALETT: You were ----------(??).

BARKLEY: --assistant majority leader to Joe Robinson, and was very active in the business of the Senate, and when Senator Robinson was away, of course, I took the position of majority leader. And in that capacity, I had many flings with Huey and many contests with him, all of which were friendly but fearless on both sides, I think. And he really liked me because he thought I had some courage and I wasn't afraid of him.

SHALETT: Didn't he, until Senator Morse's recent filibuster epic, hold the filibuster record for the Senate? And I suppose you witnessed that.

BARKLEY: Yeah, I witnessed that, but I think that Senator Robert M. La Follette, Sr., had held the record prior to Mr. Morse. He spoke one time there in the Senate for eighteen hours without stopping.

SHALETT: La Follette.

BARKLEY: La Follette. Now, I don't think Long spoke that long continuously at one stretch, although I'd have to check on that. But 00:28:00I think it is true that prior to Senator Morse's recent marathon, Senator Robert M. La Follette, Sr., the father of "young Bobby," as we called him, held the record in the Senate.

SHALETT: Would it be interesting to describe one of Huey's filibusters?

BARKLEY: Well, I'll tell you--yeah, a very amusing episode occurred there in the Senate one day. Under the rules of the Senate, every senator is supposed to stand in front of his own desk and speak. But you couldn't hold Huey in front of any one desk; he wandered all over the chamber. He--his seat was way over on the right of the vice president as he looks out over the body, and he would work his way down into the center and in the middle aisle and sometimes get over on the Republican side. And then he'd--if he was going too strong or somebody objected to 00:29:00what he was doing ----------(??), they'd make a point of order that the senator from Louisiana was not in his seat. And then he'd rush back, of course, to his own seat for a few minutes, and pretty soon he was out over the House--or the chamber again. Well anyhow, he was in one of these filibusters of his, his fantastic sort of debate one day, and the galleries were crowded, and Senator Key Pittman of Nevada was the president pro-tempore of the Senate and was presiding. And Senator McKellar of Tennessee, of whom I've previously spoken, was in a very hot tilt with Senator Long. And Long was at his best; he was in great form that day. And Senator McKellar was opposing Senator Long on whatever the proposition was, and he would tie into Long, and Long would come back and hit Senator McKellar in between the eyes with some humorous jibe, and the 00:30:00galleries would roar. They were in an uproar most of the time. And Senator Pittman, as presiding officer, threatened time and time again to clear the galleries, because it's against the rules of the Senate for the galleries to give vent to any demonstration, either approval or disapproval.

SHALETT: Mr. McKellar is not a man who likes to be laughed at.

BARKLEY: No, he is not. And of course, every--this thing went on for several minutes, and every time Huey would hit him between the eyes--I mean metaphorically speaking--McKellar would get a little more irate and sort of blow up like a poisoned pup, you know, swell up, and come back at Long, and Long was hitting back and forth, and the galleries were roaring, and Senator Pittman was trying to keep order, and rapping for order, and threatening to clear the galleries. And finally I rose and said, "Mr. President, I don't think that the chair ought to be too hard on the galleries today, because when 00:31:00the people go to a circus they ought to be allowed to laugh at the monkey." And just as quick as lightening, Senator Long said, "I resent that statement on the part of the senator from Kentucky directed toward my friend, the senator from Tennessee, Mr. McKellar." (both laugh) Well, the galleries roared again, and everybody roared, because everybody knew that it was not--that my remark was directed toward him instead of Senator McKellar. He was the monkey at which the galleries--the people were laughing, but it was a very funny--

SHALETT: What'd McKellar say?

BARKLEY: Well, he--it was so funny that he laughed with all of us, and resumed his good humor, and then the matter went on--from there on to other matters. Well, it was a very--it was such a quick, resourceful thing, you see. That's why I say he could light on his feet like a cat. He knew darn well that what I had said didn't apply to McKellar, it applied to him, but he just made the lick glance off as if it 00:32:00were intended for Senator McKellar. He pretended to be very resentful of my reference to Senator McKellar as a monkey. Well, of course, if Senator McKellar had thought I was referring to him as a monkey, he would have been equally resentful, if not more so. That's just one example of the resourcefulness, the cleverness of the man in the heat and turmoil of political debate.

SHALETT: He would have been a great actor.

BARKLEY: He really would, yes. He would have been. Well, I guess that's about all I need to say now. That's--of course, I--yes, I would like to say this, that he frequently--he frequently supported the program of the president, and he was a fella whom you could take off and sit down and talk to and come to an agreement with. And if he agreed to support you on a proposition, he would go through with it. In a number of instances, after I had talked with him about something that we were trying to 00:33:00pass or something we were trying to oppose, if he sat down and agreed to support whatever it was that I was interested in or advocating, not on my own, but on part of the administration, he'd keep his word and go along. And he was a very effective fighter, too.

SHALETT: How about commenting on the senator's son, Russell? You've seen him in action too.

BARKLEY: Oh yes, I will. Well, of course, Senator Long went down home during a recess of Congress and was assassinated there in the Capitol at Baton Rouge. And I--though I had many fights with him on matters of principle and politics, I rather liked him. And I was very greatly shocked at his death and the manner of it. It's not the way a public man ought to be disposed of. And it was a tragic thing. Now, it all grew out, of course, of the factional fights in Louisiana, with which I was not very familiar. Well, he was assassinated, and of course eliminated from public life, but not from public attention, because even to this day, 00:34:00a great many people in this country remember Huey Long. His name became a household word, and so forth. Well now, his wife was appointed--his widow was appointed by the governor of the state to fill out Senator Long's unexpired term or until the next election. She was a lovely woman, a very gracious, refined woman, and was very popular in Washington. And when she came to the Senate under appointment of the governor, she was universally liked and admired. She did not take a very active part in the proceedings of the Senate, although she was regular in her attendance, and we all liked her very much. Well, then in the meantime, other men came to the Senate for a period. And then--[bell rings]

SHALETT: Let's take a breather while the mule brays.

BARKLEY: Yeah, we'll take a breather here while the mule brays. Then I want to have a word about young Russell Long, son of Huey, who--

[Pause in recording.]

BARKLEY: I would like to--while I'm talking about Senator Huey Long, 00:35:00I would like to comment briefly upon his son, Senator Russell Long. I knew the boy casually when his father was in the Senate. And when his mother was in the Senate, I met young Russell Long, but not very well acquainted. Of course, he was just a boy; he was not old enough to come to the Senate or to indulge in political activities by being a candidate. But he went on back to Louisiana, and his mother and family went back there, and in due course of time he became a candidate for the Senate in Louisiana. He had quite a heated contest for the Democratic nomination, which is equal to election, as you know, in Louisiana. He won the election. He was very young. I'd have to check on this, but I think he, at the time of his election, had 00:36:00not attained the age of thirty, but he may have. We'll correct that one way or the other, but he wasn't much over thirty, if he was thirty at all. He came to the Senate, and he and I became very warm friends at once. He knew of the fights that his father and I had had on the floor of the Senate, but he also knew that his father liked and admired me, and he knew that there was a mutual friendship and good will between us, although frequently our positions were as far apart as the two poles on some political or social matter. Well, when young Russell Long came to the Senate, I had--I was the majority leader then, and I manifested a friendly interest in him, sort of a fatherly interest. I tried my--in any proper way I could, to get him assigned to a good committee in the Senate. And he 00:37:00was assigned a good committee, and while he had many of the mannerisms of his father, and he looks a good deal like his father, and he speaks a good deal like his father, he makes gestures very much like his father made, he is free from the things that made his father, Huey Long, a sort of a fantastic character. He has not gone off on any of these ideas about share the wealth, or all the things that Huey advocated as an economic and social remedy for the evils that beset our people. Young Russell Long is a very intelligent, very level-headed, sensible young fellow, and very attractive, and he's a good debater. He'll hold his side on any debate in the Senate of the United States with anybody, I'll say that for him. Well--

SHALETT: He showed courage at the 1952 convention.

BARKLEY: He surely did. He showed courage at Chicago at the 00:38:001952 convention when he took the platform to argue against the effort to weed out of the party some of the delegates, or in that controversy there growing out of the effort to weed out of the party some of the delegates who'd been sent there by their states. He showed great courage there, as he has shown great courage in many respects. He has shown great courage in his advocating some of the things which might not be popular with some of his own constituents in Louisiana, but he's a man of deep conviction and he has great courage. Well, when he came up for re-election, after he had been in the Senate awhile, he had a contest coming on. I was--I'd been invited down to Louisiana to address one of the Louisiana colleges over at--I think Hampton, Louisiana, or somewhere. It's the 00:39:00Southwest Louisiana College. And they were--they had built some new buildings, and the president of it invited me down there to make a speech at this dedication. And Russell Long was there. He introduced me, in fact, and he made a very complimentary reference to me and to my relationship with his father. And he also mentioned how helpful I'd been to him since he'd been in the Senate. Well then, of course, in my speech I, of course, thanked Huey Long--I mean, Russell Long for what he'd said about me, and then I deliberately put in a plug for him in his fight for re-nomination in Louisiana. Now that was a little bit out of my line in a way, although I've already said how I went to Missouri to speak in a primary in favor of Senator Truman. I felt that Russell Long was entitled to a good word for me--from me, as majority 00:40:00leader and as a visitor in his own state, and having been introduced by him. So I put in a good word for him. I complimented his work, I complimented his courage, and I think I expressed the hope that the people of Louisiana would have the good sense to retain him in the Senate. Well, I later on went over to Louisiana to address a dinner over there given in--on Defense Day, Armed Services Day. It was the twentieth of May, I think. I went over there from this college in Southwest Louisiana, and I was the main speaker at that. And I took occasion there to compliment Senator Long and to put in a good word for him. And he was always grateful for that, and frequently said that what I said about him in Louisiana was very helpful to him in the race for re-election.

SHALETT: Would it be appropriate to close the Long discussion with this question? Frequently, the junior senator from Wisconsin is described is described as a budding Huey Long, or likened to him. Do you see any comparisons?

BARKLEY: No, I do not. And I'll end it with that.


[Pause in recording.]

SHALETT: The senator wishes to straighten out a little reference to Russell Long's role at the Chicago Convention.

BARKLEY: I think I probably did not make it sufficiently clear the position Senator Long was taking at the convention in regard to the effort to bar the delegates from certain states of the South. The courage that he exhibited was due to the fact that, coming from Louisiana, which is of course a great southern state, he was advocating that these delegates, who were not willing to agree to support the ticket, be barred, and it took great courage. It took great courage for a man from Louisiana to take that position.

SHALETT: Yes, he was taking an unpopular ----------(??).

BARKLEY: He was taking the unpopular side there. Of course, it worked out later so that the matter was not pursued to the bitter end, but his appearance on the platform to advocate the policy 00:42:00of condemnation(??) to these delegates who would not agree to support the ticket was a very courageous act on his part.

[Pause in recording.]

SHALETT: Senator, I just asked you while the tape is off if you had ever made any long-winded speeches, and you replied--

BARKLEY: Well, no. I never made any long-winded speeches. I was always trying to prevent filibusters, not to promote them.


BARKLEY: And whenever I had discussed a subject sufficiently as I thought, I brought my speeches to a termination. I never believed in filibusters. And certainly not believing in them, I never tried to promote them, but to prevent them.

SHALETT: Senator, how many lady senators have there been in your period in the service in the Senate?

BARKLEY: Well, let's see. I think the first one was a lady appointed from Georgia. I've forgotten now her name. And then there 00:43:00was a--the governor of Alabama appointed his wife to the Senate for a short period. And Mrs. Long was appointed. I'd check in on those names.


BARKLEY: And then Mrs. Caraway was appointed and elected, and now Margaret Chase Smith. I think that's about six if my arithmetic is not wrong: Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, that's three, Arkansas is four, Mrs. Smith is five. There may have been another one, I'd have to check in on that.

SHALETT: Is Mrs. Smith the only one who really was elected without a courtesy appointment as a widow or--

BARKLEY: Yes, I think that's right.

SHALETT: Yeah. Has she been an effective senator?

BARKLEY: She's been a very good senator. She's a very able woman, a very charming lady, and is very universally respected and liked 00:44:00by the Senate. I think some of her Republican colleagues sometimes have been a little lacking in enthusiasm about her progressive and liberal views on certain points, but they all respect her ability and her sincerity, and I think she has done a very fine job as a senator.

SHALETT: Senator, are Congressmen, members of the House, particularly, and you might want to expand it to other national offices, aren't they put at quite a bit of strain by the necessity of running every two years? Do you have any thoughts on that?

BARKLEY: Oh, I have very definite thoughts on that subject. I have long thought that members of the House ought to be elected for four years instead of two. And I--my own experience in the House of Representatives for fourteen years and my observation of other members 00:45:00convinces me that the term ought to be extended for four years. Of course, it was made two years in the Constitution by the original framers of the Constitution in the final decisions and in the deliberations out of which grew the Congress itself. It was decided to have two branches: a House of Representatives and a Senate. The House of Representatives was chosen by direct vote of the people, whereas the Senate was chosen by the legislatures of the various states until the Constitution was amended back fifty years--forty years ago in 1911 or '12. I think 1912 was the last year in which senators were elected by legislatures. The amendment for the popular election of senators went into effect shortly thereafter. But in the Constitutional Convention, there was a 00:46:00fear on the part of the framers that maybe people, after all, not withstanding they'd fought a revolution for a free and independent republic here, that the people had not had too much experience in government, and they were willing to make only one body of the Congress an elected body by the people. That was the House of Representatives. And they provided that the Senate should be elected for terms of six years by the legislatures of the states--

[Pause in recording.]

BARKLEY: --and that only one-third of the Senate should come up for re-election at any one time, so that there would always be a holdover membership of two-thirds of the Senate. And in that spirit, they shortened the term of members of the House so that they'd have to return frequently to the people and ask for re-endorsement and present their record and give an accounting of their stewardship. Well, that has been in the Constitution ever since, and it of course, will continue to be there until Congress submits an amendment to the Constitution 00:47:00by the necessary two-thirds majority in both houses, and then it's ratified by three-fourths of the states. But the result of the two-year election is that many--new members of Congress hardly have time to get used to the atmosphere of Washington, learn their way around, learn the rules, and get themselves adjusted until they have to be running again. And it's a common saying, and is the literal truth, that a member of the House is running all the time.

SHALETT: Constantly.

BARKLEY: Constantly a candidate, because two years is a very short period. And Congress meets now--originally it met the first Monday in December and had to adjourn every two years on the fourth of March, whether it was finished or not with its business. And the election that took place in November prior to that short session, while it may have defeated the incumbent Congress, did not take its seat until 00:48:00a year and a month, thirteen months after they were elected unless the President called an extraordinary session of Congress after the short session adjourned in March. Well, that's how that got to be called a lame duck session, I've gone into that. So that in cases where there was no extraordinary session of the Congress by call of the President, a man elected to Congress in November did not take his seat for thirteen months, and he was a candidate for re-election for a second term before he took the oath of office in his first term. And of course, he had to be a candidate all the time. But even now, with the Constitution changed so that Congress meets the first Monday in January and remains in session until it finishes its business or until it concludes that it should adjourn, usually in the summer, the late summer at that, and sometimes the early fall, well, even with that amendment, two years is too short, and 00:49:00I have urged that the Congress submit an amendment to the Constitution lengthening their term for four years. And I believe that the legislatures of the required number of states, three-fourths of all the states, would ratify such an amendment as that if the Congress would submit it. Now, it may be that especially in the House of Representatives, they hesitate to submit an amendment like that, lest they be charged with trying to extend their own tenure of office. But it would not apply to the present tenures of office, and it could be postponed--its effectiveness could be postponed until it would not take effect for four or six years if it so provided, so that the charge would not properly lie that a member of Congress was trying to perpetuate himself in office. Because even if it took effect immediately after its ratification by the required three-fourths of the states, any Congressman who had 00:50:00voted for such an amendment to give the people the right to say whether they wanted to ratify it or not should go before his people and defend his vote, and they might approve his vote, and they probably would, in my judgment. I wouldn't be afraid, if I were a member of Congress, to vote to extend the term for four years, and then go before the people of my district and defend my actions, and I believe they would approve it. And I hope it'll be done, because I think it's too short, and the time has long since passed when the people feel that they have to have a man coming before them every two years. The trend is in the other direction anyhow. Many states provided originally that their governors should hold for only two years. Some states still have that limitation, but recently in New York state they have extended the governor's term from two years to four years. Recently in Connecticut they extended the term from two years to four years, and many other states have extended the gubernatorial term from two to four years, so that the people have--they've grown up. They've gotten sufficiently sophisticated in matters 00:51:00of government that they don't have to have people coming before them every two years and running for re-election. So I think the term is entirely too short, and I hope to see the day come when Congress will extend it and the people will extend it.

SHALETT: And the lower House is reluctant, like the story you told the other day about the man on his deathbed, isn't it?

BARKLEY: Well, yes. Of course, that's a perfectly natural reluctance, but I think now, and I've always thought, that in many matters, Congress grievously underestimates the intelligence of the people.


BARKLEY: And in that respect, I think they do. It may not be altogether because of a hesitancy to be charged with extending their terms, and there may be some men who sincerely believe that the term ought not to be any longer than two years, but I'm not one of them, and I have no interest one way or the other in it, because I don't ever expect to serve in the House of Representatives again.

SHALETT: We were discussing the other day the method of selecting 00:52:00Democratic nominees.

BARKLEY: Well, I think we were talking about the convention system, and the two-thirds rule that had prevailed for nearly a hundred years, which has now been abrogated, and a bare majority is all that's required in a Democratic convention now to nominate a candidate for president and vice president. And believing as I do in majority rule, I would myself oppose or be opposed to any effort to reinstate the two-thirds rule, because it was only adopted in order to defeat a certain candidate back in the days of Andrew Jackson. And that appoint---that purpose having been accomplished, though, it was retained because it gave to one-third or one more than one-third of the delegates the power of veto on any candidate. But the whole theory of two-thirds rule is in a way obnoxious to the theory of majority rule in government. 00:53:00In the Electoral College, a majority is all that's required to elect a president of the United States. In the Congress of the United States, a majority vote is all that's required to pass a bill, except in the ratification of treaties, only--in which the Senate only takes part, a two-thirds majority is required. But I've always believed that a majority of the delegates to a convention ought to be able to nominate a candidate for president just like a majority of the people who vote in a governor's election, or a senator's election, or Congressional election, or any other election, have the right to choose, if majority rules.

SHALETT: Would you favor liberalizing it further to provide for election by--

BARKLEY: You mean nomination?

SHALETT: --a plurality--nomination.

BARKLEY: Oh, well, the presidency, of course, does not--is not subject to popular election by the people. I have favored that. I introduced a resolution when I--early in my Congressional career providing for the abolition 00:54:00of the Electoral College, which I think is a fifth wheel, and which has outlived its importance and its usefulness in government. I introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives providing for the abolition of the Electoral College, and the direct election of the president of the United States by popular vote, just as other officers are elected. I got nowhere with the amendment, and I don't know that anybody would get anywhere with it now. The objection has been to that procedure that it destroys--it gives to the larger states a greater power than they have in the Electoral College, and thereby minimizes the influence and the power of the smaller states. But when you analyze it, it doesn't seem to me to work out that way, because if a majority, when you--if there were such a thing as a popular election of president, then the vote of the whole people would count, and 00:55:00whoever got a majority, or a plurality if there were more than one candidate, and there have been minority candidates for president who were elected president who got a minority of the popular vote, but who had the majority of the Electoral College. If the nation voted as a whole on the election of a president, then it would not in my judgment increase the power, proportionately, of the states, nor lessen the power of the larger states, or lessen that of the smaller states. But you take for instance now, if New York goes Republican by one thousand, that gives the Republican party forty-five votes in the Electoral College. But if Kentucky went Democratic by a hundred thousand, it gives Kentucky only ten votes, I believe now, since we lost a Congressman. But when you add the two votes together of the two states, the Democrats would have a majority. But New York would have 00:56:00a vastly--would have four times as many votes in the Electoral College as the state of Kentucky, so that it doesn't seem to me that it would be to the disadvantage of any state, and it would certainly be more in harmony with democratic institutions. I think it's generally recognized now that the Electoral College is an anachronism. It's a thing that was devised by the framers of the Constitution who were not willing or were afraid to have the presidency chosen by popular vote, or who wanted to preserve the power of the states because they could send electoral votes--they could send electors to the Electoral College, which really doesn't meet in an assembly like the Senate or the House or a convention, but whose electoral votes are cast in the capitol of the state and then sent by messenger to Washington, and they're added up and counted, and whoever gets the majority is elected. Well, recently Senator Lodge, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts, undertook to 00:57:00correct that situation and bridge that gap by the introduction of a joint resolution amending the Constitution to provide that the electoral vote of every state should be apportioned among the parties in proportion to their popular vote. Well, that passed the Senate by the required two-thirds majority, but it failed in the House, so it has not been submitted to the states. But it doesn't seem to me that that really meets the situation. If you're going to try to have the electoral votes counted and apportioned among the parties in proportion to their respective votes in the states at the November election, you might as well just have the vote counted itself and give each candidate the votes that he gets in the popular election. So it may be a long time before that reform will come about, but if I were in the Senate, or in the House either, and a resolution of that sort giving people a right to elect the president by popular 00:58:00vote, I would vote for it.

SHALETT: I gather you wouldn't--you don't particularly favor choice of a nominee at a convention by a mere plurality.

BARKLEY: Well, no, he has to have a majority. Plurality is where one man gets more votes than another, but doesn't get a complete majority. No, I think that a candidate ought to be chosen by a majority of the delegates and so forth.

SHALETT: How about--

BARKLEY: And of course, there's another thing. Now, that raises the question of nominating candidates for president. There are sixteen states among the forty-eight that have primaries, primary preferential primaries, they call it, preferential--presidential preferential primaries--the two words are similar, and you're liable to get your tongue twisted--sixteen states that provide for primary elections to determine how their delegates will vote in their respective conventions to nominate a candidate for President. 00:59:00The fact that only sixteen out of the forty-eight states have such primary elections makes the whole matter inconclusive, because if one candidate could carry all sixteen of those states in primary elections held on different dates, he still might not have enough votes to nominate him, because--or the rest of the thirty-two states would still adhere to the convention system, and do. I have--

SHALETT: That happened in the last election.

BARKLEY: That happened. It happened--it could happen frequently. I frankly favor a nationwide primary election law for the nomination of candidates for president of the United States. I believe in democracy, I believe in the rule of the people, always have, and I think that the people are just as wise and just as capable in nominating a candidate for office as they are in electing him after he's been nominated.

SHALETT: Let's expand your views at a later date on the direct primary when we have a chance--you have a chance to think 01:00:00it out.

BARKLEY: Well, I was just--to that end, because we were talking about the nomination of candidates for president, and nomination--and increasing the terms of the House of Representatives, and of course the amendment to the Constitution adopted forty-some years ago providing that senators should be elected by direct vote of the people instead of by the legislatures, all of which is a trend in behalf of a wider participation of the people in their own democratic institutions.

SHALETT: Would you favor giving the people of the two parties a chance in nominating their own 'veep'?

BARKLEY: Oh, yeah. I would make the same rule apply to the vice presidency that I would apply to the presidency. Yeah, I would do that. I wouldn't provide that the people should nominate the candidate for president, and then you--and to select the candidate for vice president some other way. As a matter of fact, if there were a direct primary law enacted for all the states to be held 01:01:00at the same time, there would be no need for a political convention except to write a platform, probably, and adopt a policy on which the candidate would run, but the nominee for vice president ought to be chosen in the same manner.

SHALETT: Just a second while I reverse reels. End of side one, reel twelve.

[Pause in recording.]

SHALETT: This is the beginning of side two, reel number twelve. In other words, you would favor having some method at a convention whereby the delegates actually could have more of a voice in selection of the vice president. Preferably the number-two man? Or how--have you thought about it?

BARKLEY: Well, of course, as I was saying, I would adopt the same method for nominating a candidate for vice president that I would favor for president, and that is nominating them by the people, let the people vote on whom they want to be nominated. But as long as the convention system prevails, it's difficult to visualize any 01:02:00reform in the method of nominating a vice president different from that which now prevails. As a matter of fact, as far back as I can remember, the delegates to a convention, while they vote on nominating a candidate for vice president, really do not originally select him. You may say all you please about a convention being free and open. They are free and open as a rule so far as the nomination for presidency is concerned, and many very dramatic contests have occurred in the nomination of a president. And I do not mean to intimate by what I've just said that the convention system has not produced some great men in this country. The convention system produced Abraham Lincoln, it produced Grover Cleveland, it produced Woodrow Wilson, it produced 01:03:00Franklin D. Roosevelt. It produced Samuel J. Tilden, who was not elected president because of what was generally regarded as a steal, yet he was a great man, and he was the governor of the state of New York. I could name a number of men who were president of the United States, who were produced by the convention system, and I do not mean to say that it's anathema. But I do think that the people are just as qualified and as capable to select a nominee themselves as their delegates, because the people, theoretically at least, select their delegates, and they construct--they instruct them, either through county conventions, precinct conventions, or state conventions. They instruct them how to vote. And if they can do that, they can vote themselves with as much intelligence. But from time immemorial, after the nomination of a candidate for president, and you come to the nomination of a candidate for vice president, from time immemorial and almost without exception, the nominee 01:04:00for president has been consulted by the leaders of his party in the convention to determine what his choice might be in the way of a nominee for his running mate. And that has--obviously, of course, no convention would want to nominate a candidate for vice president who was offensive to the nominee for president or out of harmony with him, and that's why it has become customary for the candidate for vi---for president to confer with the delegates, the leaders, and so forth, whoever he wants to confer with, as to who his running mate should be. But it usually turns out that whoever he wants has been nominated by the convention. And so long as the convention system prevails and the president is nominated by conventions, there may be a good deal to be said in favor of that sort of thing, but it does result in the people themselves having practically no voice in the selection of a vice president, and it results also in 01:05:00effect in the delegates themselves merely going through the formality of nominating a man who is desired by the candidate for president to be his running mate.

SHALETT: Many things you've told me in our discussions here have made it quite plain how much good work can be done by Congressmen and members of the House and the Senate on trips abroad, which are sometimes called junkets as a term of opprobrium. You've made it plain that much good work is done here. Do you think that there is any junketeering or that some trips--is this trip necessary?

BARKLEY: Well, there may be a question sometimes as the--as to the value of any trip abroad. Going back to the one I took in World War I, that couldn't have been called a junket because we all paid our own expenses on that trip.

SHALETT: Oh, I'm glad we made that plain.

BARKLEY: We all paid our own expenses on that trip, except 01:06:00that we did go over on a troop ship, which was hauling soldiers, and we were given accommodations on that boat, but the government was not out any money, and we paid our own expenses everywhere we went, transportation, hotel bills, and everything else. But there have many official committees, and I've been on them myself, going abroad to look into some official matter. For instance, I have been for many years a member of the American delegation of the Interparlimentary Union, to which I've made reference. I have been for years the president of that Interparlimentary Union, the American group of it, and I refuse to be re-elected this year, notwithstanding the members of the group wanted to re-elect me, I refused to be re-elected to that position, but they did finally make me honorary president of the American group. They elected Senator Homer Ferguson of Michigan to be the president of the American group. Well, those trips are official. They're part of the State Department's budget. 01:07:00It makes a recommendation every year for an appropriation, modest appropriation, to help maintain the headquarters of the Interparlimentary Union which are in Geneva, and also a modest sum to contribute toward the expenses of the delegates that go over annually to attend these conferences. And they're valuable, because that--it's a peace organization. It's an organization designed to promote peace among nations and to familiarize the members of all national legislative bodies with international problems, get acquainted with the international situation. And now that international problems are always at the forefront, and we are compelled by the very force of circumstances to participate in international matters, these expenditures for that--for the purpose of educating members of the Congress in both branches on international matters, I think are worthwhile. And these trips taken 01:08:00by appropriations committees and military committees and other committees, banking committees, to Europe and to Asia in order to familiarize themselves with the conditions upon which they have to vote in legislation in the Congress, are not junkets in the ordinary sense of the word. They're valuable. I've always thought it would be worth it to send the whole American Congress, both houses, abroad every now and then to familiarize themselves with the conditions on which we have to pass and in which we have to participate. And I believe that's true. Now, that doesn't mean there may be an abuse--may not be an abuse of that practice sometimes, and I am sure that there have been abuses. I don't doubt that now and then a member gets on a committee or wants to get on a committee just for the sake of a trip. But if he does his job as a member of the committee, investigating the whole--whatever it is he's gone over to investigate, his services are valuable, the information he gathers is valuable, and the money 01:09:00expended is, I think, well spent. You take that trip that we made in the fall of 1947 with a joint committee of the House and Senate to look into the Voice of America, how effective it was, how much good was it doing, was it reaching the right people? Also, the United States Information Service involving all these libraries which have been the subject of controversy in the last few weeks, 190 of these libraries all over the world, with more than two million volumes of books in them, many of which were donated by friends or institutions like the Red Cross or individuals and all that. Those things are matters upon which Congress has to make appropriations, and committees going abroad to look into those matters and many others that I--are too numerous for me to mention, are valuable. They're not junkets in the sense in which effort is made to condemn them and 01:10:00to make them unpopular just because it costs a little money to send these delegates. On the whole, I think it's been money well spent.

SHALETT: Did you ever find yourself on a trip that you later doubted was useful?

BARKLEY: Well, I don't think I could identify one. I have flown across the ocean fourteen times since the end of World War II, that is, seven round trips. All of them were official. The first one was at the request of General Eisenhower who cabled General Marshall to see if we could get a joint committee of the two houses to go over there and visit these atrocity camps before they had to be cleaned up. I know that was valuable. Trips that I've made to the interparlimentary conferences have been valuable. The trips to Europe in connection with the Voice of America and the United States Information Service and the Marshall Plan were all valuable, so that I couldn't identify any trip that I made as a member of a committee that was not valuable. I know it was valuable to 01:11:00me as a senator and as a member of the House, when I was in the House.

SHALETT: Senator, could you project yourself up to something we missed the other day and describe your Thanksgiving trip to Korea with Mrs. Barkley? That was very--one of the high points of your schedule(??).

BARKLEY: Well, yes, I'll be glad to comment on that. Of course, when the Korean situation developed in June of 1950, and President Truman had to make a quick decision, and the United Nations had to make a quick decision, because it was not our decision alone, it was a decision of the United Nations. But it had to be a quick and rather courageous decision of President Truman. And there have been criticisms of him by those who opposed his action on the grounds that he didn't come before Congress and ask for authority to do that. He didn't have to do that. Our entry into 01:12:00the United Nations, according to my interpretation of the charter, and by the resolution of ratification by the Senate in connection with our admission and participation in the United Nations gave the President authority to do what he did in the Korean crisis. And if we had waited for Congress to debate interminably, as it might have, whether we should meet that aggression on the part of Russia, why, Korea would have been gone before we ever got a vote on it. And it would have been a--what the French would call a fait accompli, something already accomplished. So I think that his decision was right, and the world thought it was right at the time, and the American people thought it was it right. Well, things went on, and of course, it turned out to be a pretty tough proposition. We had to send our Army and our supplies over seven thousand miles across the ocean, and it wasn't to be done overnight, and there were many casualties and hardships and heartaches and heartbreaks about it. And unfortunately, some 01:13:00public men began to condemn the thing and call it Mr. Truman's war, and said it was a forgotten war, that the American soldiers had been forgotten, that the government of the United States had forgotten these soldiers of ours in Korea. Well, I felt that that was not true, that it was an unjust statement, and it was in every way unfair, both to the government and to the men themselves, because it was calculated to--if it had any effect at all, to engender dissatisfaction among them. And when I got over there, I found that it had no effect among our soldiers. They had a wonderful morale. Well, I contemplated that I would like to dispute--refute this assertion that this was a forgotten war, and our soldiers were the forgotten soldiers. I knew the president of the United States could not take 01:14:00a journey like that, because he had to stay here in Washington and run the government. But when Congress adjourned, I felt that the vice president could do it, because I had no particular duties, Congress was not in session. Cabinets were meeting, but I didn't attend by any compulsion, I attended by courtesy and invitation of the president, and so forth. And I went to the White House and told Mr. Truman that I would like to go to Korea, that I would like to go there in my official capacity, that I'd like to show our soldiers in Korea that they had not been forgotten by their government, and that while the president could not make the trip--and if he could have made it, it would have been much better because he was the commander in chief--but since the president could not make that trip, I'd like to make it myself, for whatever good it would do to our soldiers in the way of morale and understanding, that the second man in the nation in authority was there 01:15:00visiting them. Well, he said, well--at first, he didn't seem to enthuse over the idea, because it was a long trip, and he didn't know just how dangerous it might be and all of that. And it was soon after this episode that had taken place involving his life, and an attempt had been made upon his life, and had included others besides him, among them, myself. And that's why--

SHALETT: Oh, I didn't realize that.

BARKLEY: Oh, yeah. That's true. I was on the list. And that's why he sent a group of civil--of Secret Service men out to me where I was speaking in Illinois. As soon as it happened, he sent them out there without consulting me. It was all right with me, but he didn't have time to consult me, I was out campaigning in the Congressional elections. And I heard about it the day I spoke at Harrisburg, Illinois. And when I got to 01:16:00Chicago, I think the next day, there were five Secret Service men he had sent out to travel with me in view of the fact that they had discovered that the list of those who were to be attacked and killed if necessary went much beyond him, including me and others. Well anyhow, due to all that situation, he wasn't very enthusiastic about me going. But I insisted that somebody ought to go, that it would be a fine thing for somebody in the United States, and I didn't know of anybody better than the vice president, because he was the second highest officer in the nation, to go on this trip, in the first place, to look into the Korean situation, size it up, and to be with our soldiers right up on the front and give them whatever stimulation such a trip might give. Well, the president finally agreed that if I wanted to go, he was all for it and he would provide the transportation for me to make the trip. And I wanted to take Mrs. 01:17:00Barkley with me, of course. Well, the transportation was provided. I went over on an Army transport plane, and landed in Tokyo, and was met there by General Ridgway, who had succeeded General MacArthur in the meantime, and General Van Fleet, who had flown down to Tokyo, and Admiral Joy, who was head of our negotiators at Panmunjong at that time, because even way back then they were trying to get a truce. And Admiral Joy thought we'd have one within a month when we were there. He said that he thought we'd have a truce within a month. That was in November of 1961 and so forth. Well, we got off the plane that took us to Tokyo, immediately onto a plane that took us up to Korea. And we landed at Seoul, and immediately on the plane flying up, we exchanged our 01:18:00civilian garb for Army uniforms.

SHALETT: You and Mrs. Barkley both?

BARKLEY: Mrs. Barkley and I both in the Army regulation garb, which was suitable for that climate, snow and mountains and all that. And we got out of the plane and went to the Air Corps, went to the mess hall of the Air Corps there near Seoul, had our lunch with them on Thanksgiving Day. This was Thanksgiving Day when we landed in Seoul in Korea. And we had our Thanksgiving dinner that day among the Air Corps, the pilots, and all the contingents of the Air Corps. And they had a lovely Thanksgiving dinner, turkey and cranberries and all the trimmings, pumpkin pie and everything else that they would have had if they'd been in the United States. Well, we enjoyed our luncheon with them, and the commanding officer asked me to say a few things, a few words to these assembled airmen, and I did so in a brief way trying to 01:19:00explain my mission over there, why Mrs. Barkley and I had come, and why we were in Korea. I didn't have to tell them that; they knew why we were in Korea as well as I did. But I thought I might let them know I knew too, so I went into that just briefly. Well then, General Van Fleet was there, and he took us down to--he gave us quarters there in Seoul where we could sleep and have our meals and so forth. And it was very lovely, as far as anything could be lovely in a destroyed city. Strange thing, the quarters which we occupied had been, for some reason or another, left untouched by the Koreans and the Chinese who had captured Seoul at the beginning. And you know, Seoul changed hands back and forth; it was captured and recaptured. And although it was a very beautiful city of two million people before this Korean War began, it had been almost completely devastated when we were there. And while the North Koreans had been driven north 01:20:00of the Thirty-eighth Parallel, the people of Seoul had not been permitted to come back, except to a very limited degree, because there were no facilities there for them to live. And the government of Kor---South Korea was down at Pusan. And President Sigmund Rhee came up from Pusan to Seoul to greet me and to have a conference with me while I was there. Well, we went on out to the front, General Ridgway, General Van Fleet, and all the other officers, heads of the different divisions, the Eighth Army and the Marines. And we went out there, and Mrs. Barkley had to go back to Tokyo to comply with some arrangements that had been made by Mrs. Ridgway. And so she left me after a couple of days in Korea, and I stayed until the end of the week, and went right up on the front where the snow was covered--was covering the mountains, and where the men were actually firing at the enemy at long range. I didn't--of course, I didn't get right up in the battle 01:21:00region. There was no need of that, and it would have been foolish to do it. I couldn't have had any effect on it if I had gone up there, just like it would be anywhere else. Well, it happened to be my birthday also on the twenty-fourth. Thanksgiving was, I think, on the twenty-second of November, and my birthday was the twenty-fourth. And while up on the front on these snow-clad mountains, they're not high mountains like Pike's Peak or anything like that, but they're four, five thousand feet high, and in the wintertime are covered with snow. And I had my birthday dinner right up there with the men. I had said to Admiral--to General Van Fleet that I wanted to have my birthday dinner with the boys, right up in front, just like them. Well, when I got up there, they had arranged for me to have my birthday dinner off in a 01:22:00tent somewhere by myself. And when I got there and saw that arrangement, I said, "This isn't what I wanted. I don't want to eat in the tent, I want to eat right out there with the boys. I want to get my mess kit and get in line with them and eat just like they do." So they said, "All right. If that's what you want, why, we'll see that you have it." So I went right out up with them, and I got in line with the rest of them, went down the line and--with my mess kit, got it filled with food, good food, good wholesome food.

SHALETT: Not 'ransom.' (laughs)

BARKLEY: No, not 'ransom,' no, nor rancid either. That's the story that I told you about a fellow getting some cheese, or thinking he was getting some cheese. And they gave him a box of axle grease, and he went out on the porch and ate it--into it, and came back and said to the merchant, said, "Is that cheese?" He said, "Yes, what's the matter with it?" "Well," he said, "its taste is a little ransom." Well anyhow, this food was not rancid. I got a good meal. I got beef roast, I got 01:23:00potatoes, I got white potatoes, I got yams, I got vegetables, I got good bread, I got good coffee and I had a good dessert in the shape of a pie that ----------(??). And all of the rest of them got it, that wasn't just fixed for me.

SHALETT: That's more appropriate food than you got with King Victor Emmanuel twenty-five years earlier.

BARKLEY: Yeah, it really was. And that reminds me of an old fellow who was visiting one time and had eaten quite a lot, and finally his hostess said to him, "Will you have something more?" "No," he said, "I've had copious." (both laugh) Well, it was a copious meal, and I ate it very heartily because I was way up there in the cold and the snow, and I had been up early, and I really was hungry. Well, I flew around over in these little old planes. Only one person could get into them except the pilot, and I flew behind the pilot. And General Van Fleet got in one, and all the others who were along got in separate planes. I think there were seven or eight of them. We went right up on the front. And during the proceedings, 01:24:00they asked me if I'd like to fire one of these big Howitzers--I think that's what they called it--fired a seventy-five-millimeter gun, anyhow. And I said, "Well, yes. I'd like to fire one." And so they took me to where there was one being fired and let me pull that long rope. It's got a name.

SHALETT: Lanyard?

BARKLEY: Lanyard. Let me pull the lanyard, yes. And the thing went off with a boom, and I expressed the hope that my aim was good. And when the shell--they took the shell out, a great long shell, a foot and a half long and six inches in diameter, they gave it to me as a souvenir of my warlike activities. And I brought it all the way home, and Mrs. Barkley and I are going to have a lamp made out of it for our porch down in Paducah.

SHALETT: Had you autographed the shell that you fired?

BARKLEY: No, I hadn't autographed it, because it was already in place in the gun. I didn't autograph it, and that wouldn't have 01:25:00done any good anyhow. But I was very much impressed with what I saw up in Korea. I never saw a finer body of soldiers, and I never saw soldiers in either war with a finer morale. There they were, way off over there in Asia, fighting the battle of the United Nations, an organization designed to preserve peace in the world and serve notice on aggressors that they could not get away with that sort of thing. And they were brave, and they knew what they were there to fight about. They didn't relish it at all, any more than the soldiers in any war relished it. It's a tragic thing; it's a brutal thing. But anyhow, they knew what they were there for, and they--their morale was high, and their clothing was adequate. They had the finest equipment and clothing, they had the finest food, I believe, ever served to any Army in the history of the United States. And I was very highly--and then in addition to that, Mrs. Barkley and I visited all the hospitals up 01:26:00near the front where these men were brought back immediately after they were injured, some of them lifted out by helicopter and rushed back. Some of them got back to the hospital within a half an hour after they'd been injured. We went through the hospital and saw these men being treated. It was tragic to see some of their injuries, but we were glad to tell them who we were and why we were there and to find that even in the hospitals those who were injured had a wonderful morale. And several of them expressed to me the wish that they might soon recover sufficiently that they could go back to the front. That was a great thing. It stimulated my morale too, as well as theirs. Well, during the visit, President Sigmund Rhee came up to Seoul to greet me and to visit with me and to show--pay his respects to me. And I wanted to visit him, but it was down at Pusan, some 01:27:00distance from where we were. And so he decided to come up to Seoul, and we were there for quite a while together. And I'd like to recite this thing too, to show how cultured and refined the Korean people are. When I went into the courtyard of the village in which I was to meet President Sigmund Rhee, I was greeted by a chorus of children singing, all of them orphans, all of them made orphans by the war over there. They ranged in age from five, I should say, to ten or maybe twelve years of age. I never saw children in my life sing with such zest. They opened their mouths and expanded their chests, and they sang beautifully. And as I walked into the courtyard, they greeted me with "My Old Kentucky Home," which of course touched me very closely. And I thanked them, and then they sang and sang and sang, 01:28:00and we sat there and listened to them for a long time. And the night before that, or two nights before that, we had also witnessed a concert given by a Korean orchestra, a beautiful orchestra, well-trained and expert in music. Well, there had--at that time, General Van Fleet was very anxious that these children should be brought to the United States and shown over the United States in order to prove not only the refinement and the musical quality and the culture of the Korean people, but to give examples of their courage, because all these were orphan children. Well, somebody in the Department of Labor felt that these children were too young to be carried around all over the United States and--

SHALETT: Why Department of Labor?

BARKLEY: I didn't--well, I think it was somebody in the Children's Bureau that objected to it on what they thought were humanitarian grounds. 01:29:00But I don't think anything would have enthused the American people or inspired them more, than to see these fifteen or twenty young children, all of them orphans, boys and girls, ranging from five to ten or twelve years old, singing. And it would have made a great hit in this country if they had been permitted to come.

SHALETT: Well, that must have been a real bureaucrat that made that decision.

BARKLEY: Well, I don't know who really it was, I didn't ----------(??). And after I got back--after Mrs. Barkley and I got back, we did what little we could to dissipate that idea. And I wrote a letter, I think, or made a statement of some kind to somebody who was still in the Armed Services or in the State Department or some branch of the government, who still toyed with the idea of bringing those lovely children over to this country, but I don't think it has been done.

SHALETT: At a later date, we'll have a full discussion of the Korean truce situation, but you just pointed out one interesting fact.


BARKLEY: Well, while I was talking with President Sigmund Rhee, who by the way spoke perfect English--he had lived in the United States and in Washington for quite a long time during the Japanese occupation of Korea, and he was very proficient in speaking English, and that made conversation between us easy. He was very gracious and very courteous and all that, but he was very much disturbed about the effort to bring about an arm---a truce. He told me that he was opposed to the truce unless it included a united Korea. And he hoped that there would be no truce without a united Korea, and therefore he was not giving any encouragement to the truce. But I told him that Korea was not united when we got into it, when we--when this situation developed, and that we entered this situation, as the United Nations did, to stop aggression. We had stopped it, and 01:31:00now the question was whether we should go on and drive the Chinese and the North Koreans out of North Korea and unite Korea by military force, and that I was not certain that the American people favored that sort of a policy. And certainly the negotiators, headed at that time by Admiral Joy, were not considering a united Korea, certainly not a united Korea brought about by military victory. This was in November, and the truce talks had been going on since the first of July, nearly five months. And Admiral Joy thought that they would have a truce within thirty days. But I'll say this, that President Sigmund Rhee did not seem as adamant on the question of a united Korea before there was any truce as he later seemed to be in the recent controversy that has been in progress in which he seems to have thrown a monkey wrench into the truce talks, as we would say in colloquial language. Now, of course, I 01:32:00felt then--I said to him, I said, "Theoretically, you're right. Of course, we all want a united Korea. We'd like to see the people of Korea have a government of their own, democratic government in which they would participate. But we have accomplished up till now what we came in the war to accomplish, and that is, we've stopped the aggression. And now if a truce comes, it may be that a united Korea could be brought about by peaceful means, and not necessarily by military means." He was not very optimistic that Korea could be negotiated into unity, because he was--

[Pause in recording.]

BARKLEY: --because he was not sure that the North Koreans, that is, the Communist element or the Chinese Communists or their sponsors, the Russians, would ever agree to a treaty that would provide for a united Korea. And that's about the substance of my talk with him 01:33:00at that time.

SHALETT: Did you take a trip to Russia once?

BARKLEY: Oh, yes. I was in Russia in 1930. Yeah. I was--I went over there. The--there was a seminar conducted every year by a man named Sherwood Eddy, who was quite a traveler. And he got together a group of people consisting of college presidents and college professors and educators, public figures, men and women to take a trip to Europe once a year in what he called a seminar. And I was invited to join that seminar in the summer of 1930.

SHALETT: At your own expense.

BARKLEY: Oh, yeah. Oh, yes. At my own expense. Of course, the government had nothing to do with it. Senator Burton K. Wheeler of Montana was in the group. Senator Bronson Cutting of New Mexico, 01:34:00who was killed in an airplane some years later, Dr. Francis B. Sayer, who was Woodrow Wilson's son-in-law, and during part of the time, Charles P. Taft, the brother of Senator Robert Taft, was in the group. And Dr. Blackwell, who was president of Randolph-Macon College in Virginia, was in the group. Mr. Locke, editor of the Daily News of Dayton, Ohio, Governor Cox's newspaper, was in the party. Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr, who is well known in the theological world, and his brother were in the party, and the wife of Mrs. Lincoln--the wife of Lincoln Steffens, who a half-century ago was a great writer and got to be known as a muckraker and all that kind of thing, he was a very liberal progressive and a very famous magazine writer and contributor. And he's famous for his--what he called his uprooting of corruption 01:35:00in government, and he was sort of an iconoclast, breaking down idols and all that kind of thing. She was along, and very--many others as well. We spent a good deal a time in each country. I think we were gone altogether two or three months. We stopped first in London. And the Interparlimentary Union was holding its conference in London too at the same time, and I attended that meeting and attended the lectures delivered to us by prominent people in London, among whom was, I think, Mr. Arnold Toynbee, who has recently written a very good book on the study of history, and others. And during that period, visiting London, we called upon many members of Parliament and many members of the government. We called on Mr. Lloyd George, who had been prime minister of England during World War I. He was no longer prime minister, but he was still a member of the 01:36:00House of Commons. And when he died, he had been a member of the House of Commons for fifty-four continuous years. We had a very interesting talk with Mr. Lloyd George; he was a very fascinating man, attractive in conversation, vigorous, typical Welshman. And during the conference with him, I think I was one of the--one who asked about Russia. They had recognized Russia very promptly after the Russian Revolution. We had not recognized Russia at all at that time. In other words, to be less technical than the word recognition, we had not exchanged ambassadors, and had no official communication or business with Russia. We did not approve of the Communist regime, and we did not want to give our approval by recognizing Russia and sending an ambassador and accepting one from her. But England had done so a good many years before. So I asked Mr. Lloyd George why England had so promptly recognized 01:37:00this Communistic, Bolshevik regime that had risen to power in Russia. Well, he gave me what sounded like a very typical answer. He said, "We regarded Russia as a sick man, flat of his back. And we thought it were wiser to extend the hand of friendship to this sick man while he was sick and flat of his back, rather than wait until he got well and on his feet, and then try to make friends with him. So we extended the hand of friendship." Well, I said, "Does that mean that you approve of everything that's gone on or that's going on in Russia?" He said, "By no means." He said, "You may recall that Lord Nelson was blind in one eye." And he said, "Whenever he wanted to look at something he didn't want to see, he always put his telescope to his blind eye." Well, I thought that was a pretty good illustration and a very forceful illustration of what had happened there. And 01:38:00I got to thinking about it, and it occurred to me that in all relationships of life, personal, individual, or collective, you have to do that every now and then in regard to a friend, especially, or a neighbor. You have to put your telescope to your blind eye so you won't see what you don't want to see. Well anyhow, that was his answer. Well, we went on from London to Paris, spent a week there. And we were--we met every day, twice a day in our group, the seminar, as we called it, to listen to lectures delivered to us on economic, on politics, on government, and international affairs. And we spent a week there in Paris, and then we went on to Geneva and spent a week in Geneva the same way. Then we went to Berlin and spent a week there. I think among those who lectured to us there was Dr. 01:39:00Schacht, who was the great head of the Reichsbank and still living, by the way, and whom we had the pleasure of visiting in his home out at Potsdam. A very charming fellow, a very able man, and spoke very good English, he was very familiar with America. He lived in America. His son was over here then studying banking, I think, in Chicago under former Vice President Charles G. Dawes. I think he had a son who was studying American banking methods. Well, then from that--from there we went on to Moscow in Russia, first. We spent a week or ten days in Moscow.

SHALETT: Do you have any idea how Sherwood Eddy got the visas necessary?

BARKLEY: Well, at that time, Russia was welcoming visitors. They had a bureau called "Intourist," which is a Russian name for tourist bureau. They were not only welcoming, but they were seeking visitors in Russia. And many American engineers were at that time engaged in building bridges and dams and electrical power plants and factories in Russia to help 01:40:00industrialize the Russian economy. Russia's a vast--was a vast undeveloped agricultural country, a very beautiful country, rolling, no high mountains. Even the Ural Mountains are not high. They're just as tall--they're an elevated plateau more than they are mountain peaks. And they were inaugurating--they were in the midst of their first five-year plan of collectivizing the farm, trying to industrialize the nation, so that we were welcomed in Russia, and we were sought. There was no trouble getting into Russia at that time; it was later when the Iron Curtain was clamped down. So we had no trouble whatever getting into Russia or getting over Russia. We spent a week or ten days there in Moscow. We visited different government 01:41:00departments; we saw heads of government. Stalin wasn't in Moscow at that time--he was down in his native Georgia somewhere, and we didn't see him at all. But we saw many of the heads of the Russian government. And after we finished in Moscow, we got a couple of old Ford jalopies and a couple of Russian chauffeurs and lit out for the rural section, the villages, as they call them, of which there are over three hundred thousand villages in Russia, very pre---very antiquated, that is, primitive. They were not developed. The villages were real villages, with most of the houses log houses. And I won't go into that, but we went way out among the villages, visited the collective farms, joined in the work of thrashing wheat, and I joined in the sawing of some wood or some logs or some lumber by a very peculiar method of sawing up and down. A log 01:42:00would be on a platform as high as your head, and a man would be up there with one end of the saw, and a man on the ground with the other end, and they'd pull that saw back and forth and saw that log its full length and make lumber that way, very primitive and very laborious, tiresome way. And having had some experience with my father in pulling one end of a cross-cut saw when I was a boy, I got hold of one of the ends of this saw standing on the ground, and for quite a little while helped saw that log. And these Russian people who couldn't speak any English, but knew that we were from America, they got a big thrill out of that. They got a big thrill out of it when I went out to the wheat thrasher where they were thrashing wheat and piling straw, showed that I had some knowledge about wheat production and thrashing, all that. Well--

SHALETT: You found no--few people that spoke English there.

BARKLEY: Very few people who spoke it. We had an interpreter with us who--that is, a newspaperman who'd been living in Russia for 01:43:00ten years, Albert Reese Williams, who'd been over there for ten years as an American correspondent. He went with us on this trip to interpret for us, and he was very helpful. He'd written a book about Russia, two or three books about Russia since then. Well anyhow, we went back--we were going out in the villages, I guess, where a funny thing occurred. I don't know whether this is of any consequence, but you know, because of those log houses all over Russia, the bedbugs are very pestiferous and everywhere. It's just impossible to get rid of them. They get in the crevices of the logs, or in the hotels, or anywhere. They're so prevalent that you can't keep them out of any house. And they're so large that they call them crimson ramblers, because the next morning after feasting on the blood of a human being, they crawl back up the wall and get behind any loose wallpaper. And they're absolutely pink from the blood they have consumed, so they call them crimson ramblers, and they are really that. Well, we had a funny experience about that. Senator Wheeler and 01:44:00Senator Cutting and Dr. Sayer--they got so bad that finally he got to sleeping in a straw pile out in the field where they'd been thrashing wheat.

SHALETT: Who's that?

BARKLEY: Dr. Francis Sayer, who married Woodrow Wilson's daughter, Jessie. Well, we stopped at Brodimer(??) one night where they had prepared this feast for us and attended a local talent show, which we really enjoyed, although we couldn't understand the language, but wonderful acting, just hometown talent that--one of Tolstoy's plays they put on. And when we went back to bed, Senator Cutting pulled out a can of insect powder that he thought would protect him from these crimson ramblers. So he dusted his pillow with it, and he dusted the sheet with it, and he dusted the floor where the bed came down and touched it so that they wouldn't bother him, and he handed it all around to all the rest of them, Wheeler and Cutting and the rest of them. And he handed it to me, and I said, "I'm going to try an experiment here. I'm not going to use any 01:45:00of that stuff on my bed or on me." Well, it turned out that I was the only one that the bedbugs didn't bite at all. They didn't bother me a bit. They even bit Senator Wheeler in the palm of the hand. And all of that, that's all a very funny detail that we don't have to go into. But anyhow, we really enjoyed this experience. We then went to Leningrad, which had been old St. Petersburg. And that was a fantastic city which Peter the Great built in the marshes there. And he built--he put the buildings on piles--piling that was driven down into the marsh to form a foundation. And some of that piling had begun to rot out, and one of the cathedrals in Leningrad was sinking at one corner of it, because the piling had ----------(??)--I mean, had rotted and was rotting and disintegrating and giving way. Well, of course, that was the--that was at that time the seat of government of Russia. The czar had his palace there in the city. He had a summer palace out in the country called Tsarskoe Selo, as I recall. 01:46:00And when we went out to see that we found the toys and playthings of the czar's children in the playroom of this palace, just as they had left them. And that was a rather strange circumstance, because the Bolsheviks had murdered the whole czar's family, the czar, the czarina, and all the children completely, and yet they did not bother that palace. They left these toys, these children's playthings there just as they were, which showed that notwithstanding their brutality, they had some respect for the family of the czar and the monarchy and so forth. Well, we had a very interesting trip there, and we were trying--seeking information. And we went to the churches in Moscow and in Leningrad. We found that people were not prohibited from going to church. The Bolshevik Communist regime was anti-religious. They had an institution down in 01:47:00a big building which they called the anti-Christ, and they had literature of all sorts and a ridiculous picture of Jesus and all that he represented. And I brought some of it home with me just to show the people--indicate what the Communist theory of--and it was not only the Christian religion, but all religion that they were opposed to. But they were particularly offensive against the Christian religion, because the Greek Orthodox Church, which is a branch of the Catholic Church, was the religion of the Russian people. And they were out to destroy that, although they did not physically prohibit them from attending worship. And one Saturday night, we went to four or five churches in Moscow and in Leningrad. They have their religious services on Saturday night instead of Sunday. They have no musical instruments whatever, no organ, no piano, no 01:48:00musical instrument at all. They sing just by the human voice, and they're great singers, and we really enjoyed some of the music that we heard. They have no seats in the churches either where people could sit. Everybody stands up, everybody sings without instrumental music.

SHALETT: But you found no hymn-singing in public squares like you did in England.

BARKLEY: Oh, no. Oh, no. Oh, no. No. No hymn singing, no religious demonstration of any kind in public squares or in any public place. You had to go into the churches, where up to that time people had not been prohibited from attending, to hear any kind of religious worship. Well, we--frankly, I enjoyed my visit in Russia, because it was just like being in a new world. The kind of society they had, the kind of government they had, and everything was new, the country was new. They closed many, many churches, closed them up and used them for storehouses and exhibits of various kinds. 01:49:00But some of them were still open, and people were permitted to attend. And we found a completely new organization of domestic affairs between man and woman, men and women. All a man and a woman had to do to get married was to come into a building together and go into one corner of the building and give their name and say, "We want to be married." No religious ceremony, no state ceremony, just register there at the desk as man and wife.

SHALETT: Just sign the payroll.

BARKLEY: Just sign the paper or payroll, you might call it. I don't know whether it was a payroll or not. Well, in one corner couples would be coming to get married in that informal way; they would leave man and wife. Over in the corner--another corner of that same room, there'd be another desk, and a couple who 01:50:00had been married would come in and say, "We want to be divorced," and they'd go up and they'd sign the payroll or the papers or sign some registry, and they went out free, no longer man and wife. So that was a very unique thing to me. They'd be devoid of any ceremony, any religious or any political ceremony. There weren't--no lecture delivered, no preacher, no judge, nobody else said, "I now pronounce you man and wife," and so on. They just went up there and registered their name, went out as man and wife. If they wanted to separate and get divorced, they'd come in and register and went out single.

SHALETT: Did you get any antique canes or gavels in Russia?

BARKLEY: No, I bought a lot of antiques in Russia. I bought a silver coffeepot that had belonged to Czar Paul. It was being sold in an antique shop in Leningrad. And it's a very beautiful thing, and I took it home with me. I bought two 01:51:00or three tapestry pieces done by Gobelin, the great Frenchman, and I have them. I have one of them hanging in my bedroom at Paducah, and the other--the other was a representation of the coronation of Catherine the Great. I have never had that framed yet, but I have been planning to, but it's a very beautiful thing. I brought back two or three seminars, you know, which are--

SHALETT: Samovars.

BARKLEY: I mean samovar.

SHALETT: It was a seminar you were on.

BARKLEY: I was just thinking about--this was a seminar I was on, and I got two or three samovars in Russia and brought them back to home as examples of the way they make coffee over there and tea and what have you. And I learned one Russian word while I was in Moscow. We stopped at a hotel. And they serve a great deal of tea, and the Russian word for tea is 'chai.' I got so I could order tea any 01:52:00time of the day by shouting, "Chai," and a waiter would come with a pot of tea. Well, it was a very interesting trip, because it was something new. It was just, as I said, like being in a new world.

SHALETT: Can you sum up the impression you came away with?

BARKLEY: The impression I got, however, turned out to be a wrong impression. After seeing all that I could see in the country, and being received by the Russian people with great hospitality and great friendship, they're a very primitive people, they have no highways. Senator Wheeler, and Cutting, and Dr. Sayer, and I spent a third of our time lifting--with the chauffeur and all, lifting this little Ford jalopy out of one set of ruts into another. They would follow--in Russia, they would follow a roadway until the ruts got so deep that they couldn't traverse it, and they'd just move over and make another set of ruts. And we spent a good deal of our time lifting this Ford automobile from one set of ruts into another. We took one car full of black bread and cheese, so that we'd have 01:53:00something to eat out on the way. Well, visiting their farms and the government and the playgrounds and the parks, and seeing their activity in trying to improve their condition because they admitted they were a hundred years behind us in modern life, I came away there with the impression that after a while, maybe a long while, out of all of this effort would come a pretty fair pattern of democracy, and that the people of Russia would ultimately have a voice in their government. And while it would never be a democracy like ours, because it was based upon the Karl Marx theory of--and the Friedrich Engels theory of communism, and Lenin, and all that, anti-religious, anti-God, everything, but out of it, through experience, they would finally evolve a pretty good pattern of democratic institutions and participation. That's the impression I came 01:54:00out of Russia with. I was wrong, as I now see. They not only have not worked out any pattern of democracy, but they have become more autocratic and more arbitrary and more ruthless, and more brutal, and more godless than they were even then. And I do not know, of course, what will come out of it now; nobody knows.

SHALETT: Well, let's get--

BARKLEY: The reason that I thought at the moment there that there might come out of it a pretty fair pattern of democracy, although at that time they--out of 180 million people, they only allowed five million of them to be members of the Communist party, which in itself was an exclusive sort of organization. And I thought ultimately all the people, whether they were Communist or not, would be allowed to participate and vote for their local officers and for their national officers, but it hasn't turned out that way. And I suppose as long as the theory of domination for power, and the grasp for 01:55:00world power actuates the rulers of Russia and the Communist leaders, the people themselves will have very little voice in their government. I had a feeling then and I have a feeling now, that if Russian people--certainly at that time, if the Russian people had been allowed to vote on the question of war or peace, or friendly participation and cooperation with the rest of the world, they would have overwhelmingly voted in favor of it. Well, they had a youthful organization over there, just like Hitler had in Germany in which he was trying to instill the doctrines of Nazism, and in Russia in which they were trying to instill the doctrines of Communism. And in the period between 1930, a period of twenty-three years, they may have been able so to indoctrinate the youth of Russia at that time who are now adults that the people would not be as unanimous in voting for friendly cooperation with the rest of the world as I thought they would be at that time if they had been given the right to do it.

SHALETT: Well, let's get you out of Russia before Mr. McCarthy 01:56:00hears about it.

BARKLEY: Yeah, I've said facetiously several times that probably I ought not to admit that I was ever in Russia because it might be investigated. (both laugh)

SHALETT: Senator, one of the colorful figures of the Democratic administration that we've hardly mentioned at all, and you've covered the others beautifully, is Garner.

BARKLEY: Oh, yes.

SHALETT: Let's give him a little attention on what we have left here.

BARKLEY: Cactus Jack, you mean?


BARKLEY: Well, when I went to Congress in 1913, John Nance Garner was a member of the House of Representatives. He had been a member for a number of years. I don't remember now how long, six, eight, or ten. He was a very active and a very able legislator. He became a member of the Ways and Means Committee soon after I got there. And the Ways and Means Committee, at that time, was the great committee of the House, and nearly everybody had an ambition to be on it. I had at one 01:57:00time myself had a desire to get on the Ways and Means Committee just because it was the large committee, and it's the committee which must originate all tax legislation. But I became more and more satisfied with the committee I had, so I wasn't bothered about it. But John Garner became a member of the Ways and Means Committee. And he was a member of a very able delegation from Texas at that time, including Albert Sidney Burleson, who became postmaster general under Woodrow Wilson, and Robert L. Henry, who became chairman of the Rules Committee of the House, and many others whom I will not mention because they had, at that time, eighteen members, and I think they have more now, although I'm not certain. A good many states have lost delegations--lost members because the House got so big they couldn't increase the number every time they took a ten-year census. And I want to talk about that too at some stage in these conversations, because 01:58:00it's very vital to a thing that I believe in, and if I had the right to do it, I would change it. Well anyhow, Garner moved up on the Ways and Means Committee as other men above him moved out. If a man goes in on a committee at the bottom and stays on it long enough, he'll be at the top, because as men either die or retire above him, he goes up. And ultimately he gets to be the top man; and if his own party is in power, he becomes the chairman of that committee. Or if his party is out of power, he becomes what they call the ranking member of the--the ranking minority member of that committee. Well, John Garner moved up gradually until he became the ranking member, the ranking Democratic member of the Ways and Means Committee. And taxes had been very high during the world--during world war, unprecedentedly high. Cordell Hull was the founder and the father of income tax, after the Income Tax Amendment had been adopted in the Constitution. 01:59:00And the first income tax law that we wrote was a law putting a three percent tax on income above a certain very high exemption, so that it wasn't burdensome at that time at all. Well, when the war was over, and Mr. Mellon was Secretary of the Treasury, and he was recommending a reduction of taxes as a result of the reduction in expenditures after World War number one, John Garner was the fighting advocate of a greater reduction than Mr. Mellon would ever recommend. And he fought on the floor vigorously for a greater reduction in taxes than the Republicans were able to give, but he was making a good record and a good fight for lower tax rates. Well, I went on to the Senate in '26--'27, and of course, I was in close touch with the House. I went back 02:00:00frequently and visited them over there. In the meantime, John Garner moved up on his committee, and he became the Democratic leader of the House of Representatives. And when the Democrats got control of the House in the 1930 election in the middle of Mr. Hoover's administration, John Garner became the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and he continued to be Speaker until he was elected Vice President. Well, as Speaker of the House, he became a candidate for the presidential nomination in 1932. His friends in Texas promoted him, his friends in California. I think William Randolph Hearst's newspapers all advocated John Garner's nomination for President. And he went to the convention with a considerable body of delegates. He did not have enough, of course; he didn't have anything like as many as Mr. Roosevelt had. And in the convention, finally after three ballots, Roosevelt was gaining on each ballot, and then the convention 02:01:00recessed. Before they met the next day, an agreement had been made between Mr. Roosevelt and Mr. Garner that Roosevelt would be nominated for president, and Roosevelt--and Garner nominated on the ticket with him for vice president. And that was the ticket, and they won. Well, John Garner then became vice president on the fourth of March, 1933. And by reason of his long experience in the House, his knowledge of parliamentary law, and his experience also as speaker of the House of Representatives, he was a very efficient vice president. He knew the rules, he was fearless, he administered the rules, he didn't hesitate to make rulings according to the procedure in the Senate, although the Senate rules are somewhat different from those of the House. I think that I can say without any exaggeration that John Garner, in the efficient conduct of the vice presidential office, as a presiding officer of the Senate under 02:02:00the Constitution, made as efficient and as valuable and as outstanding a vice president as any man within my recollection. I--he cooperated. He was majority leader from the fourth of--I mean, he was speaker--vice president, excuse me, from the fourth of March in 1933 until the twentieth of January 1941, practically eight years. The Constitution had been amended to change the time of inauguration by that time. And he was very loyal to Mr. Roosevelt's administration.

[Pause in recording.]

OTHER VOICE: End of side two of reel twelve.

[Pause in recording.]

SHALETT: Side one, reel thirteen. John Garner recollections continued.

BARKLEY: Mr. Garner was vice president, as I was saying, from the fourth of March 1933 to the twentieth of January 1941. He 02:03:00was vice president during the tenure of Senator Joseph T. Robinson as the majority leader, Democratic majority leader of the Senate until he died in the summer of 1937. And during all of his life as majority leader under Mr. Garner, they worked together in harmony to carry out the program of the administration. And when I became majority leader, the first thing that John Garner said to me, he said, "Now, you're majority leader. It's your job to carry the ball for the administration. It's your job to help carry the program of the administration, and while my rulings will always be impartial on parliamentary questions and on any other question that is presented to me while I'm presiding over the Senate, you and I really constitute a team, the pitcher and the catcher. You're the pitcher and I'm the catcher." And he said, "I want to know what your program is each day before the session begins so that I will not be ignorant as to what your moves are and what your motions are to be, whether 02:04:00you want to be recognized and so on." Well, during all the rest of his term he and I worked together in great harmony. We were great personal friends, and I think there was a mutual admiration between us which still exists. Our families had lived in the same apartment house in Washington soon after I went there as a young Congressman, and I became acquainted with him there in a social way, as well as in the House in a legislative way, and our wives became great friends, and so forth. Well, then as the election of 1940 approached, Mr. Garner was very sincerely opposed to the third term. He was opposed to it as a matter of principle. And of course, that put him in opposition to Mr. Roosevelt for a third term. And he became a candidate again in a way, not an aggressive candidate, but he was available for the nomination for president of the United States in the convention of 1940. Well, having 02:05:00opposed Mr. Roosevelt for the nomination, and Mr. Roosevelt having been nominated for a third term, it made vice president Garner rather unavailable as a running mate for Mr. Roosevelt. And he retired from public life and has been in retirement ever since. I do not know whether I can say that he retired with any sense of bitterness. I don't think so. But he was very definitely opposed to the third term. And other Democrats were opposed to it, like James A. Farley, who was the chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He was opposed to the third term on principle. And he left the cabinet of Mr. Roosevelt, as is a matter of history and as he details in one of his books, because of his disagreement with Mr. Roosevelt over the third term. Well, Garner retired from office and went back to his home in Uvalde, Texas, where he'd lived practically all of his life. He went out there as a young man for his 02:06:00health and remained there. Well, I had not seen him from the time he retired from the vice presidency in early 1941 until about a year ago. I was speaking in San Antonio, and Uvalde, his home, is about eighty miles from San Antonio. And I called him up over the telephone, and I said, "John, I wish--if it's all right with you, I'd like to drive down and see you tomorrow." Oh, he was happy. He said, "Come on down here." He said, "Get a car. There's a good road. Come on down here and see me." Said, "We'll have a good visit together." So I got a car. I borrowed a car, and strange to say, it was a--the car belonged to an undertaker. I borrowed this car, but it was a good car, and he had a chauffeur, and he was anxious to loan it to me as a compliment and as a courtesy. I enjoyed a drive through the open spaces of Texas, from San Antonio down to Uvalde. And I had a long, lovely visit 02:07:00with John Garner, the vice president--for that day, while I was thinking about him as vice president. And in the meantime, without much advance notice, he got some of his friends to get together a big barbeque luncheon out in the yard where he lived. Now, he had a beautiful brick home that he built while he was in Washington, a large, two-story brick house. He has given that to the city of Uvalde as a library and as a museum, and it will house all of his library and the things he collected all during his public life. And he was really living in the backyard in the servants' quarters, on the same grounds, however. But out between these two houses, the big brick and the servants' quarters, in the yard he had arranged this big barbeque luncheon, and a number of his friends came and we had a lovely visit, and also with his son Tully.

SHALETT: Was he dressed up?

BARKLEY: No, he was not dressed up. He was--he had an 02:08:00open--he had on a brown open shirt that was not buttoned at the collar, he had on a pair of khaki pants. He didn't dress up for me to come down there, and I don't suppose he would have dressed up for anybody. Mrs. Truman visited him, and Governor Stevenson visited him; I guess he was dressed the same way. Well, he was eighty-three years old; I guess he's now eighty-four. Well, I really enjoyed my visit; we reminisced a little bit. He declared that he ought to--he thought I ought to be nominated for president of the United States, that I was--he thought that I came nearer--he paid me this compliment without any solicitation. He said he thought I came nearer representing the Democratic Party as it existed and had existed for a half-century than any other man. Well, I appreciated that. It was a great compliment from him, and as a great personal friend. I--finally the doctor came and said, "It's time for you to take a nap." The doctors make him take a nap every day after lunch. Well, I was loath to leave him. I was enjoying myself, 02:09:00and we were having a good time together. And finally I said, "Well, John, I guess the doctor's right. He says you've got to take your daily nap, and I'll leave." I told him goodbye.

SHALETT: I'll get back in my hearse. (laughs)

BARKLEY: And he said--he put his arm around me. We had our picture taken down there out in the yard. But when I went to leave him, he put his arm around me, and he said, "Alben, if I never see you again in this world, I hope to see you in the next world." And it was a very cordial, heart-warming visit that I had with him, and the departure was filled with pathos and friendship and a little sadness, because I have no idea whether I'll ever see him again or not. I hope he'll live for many years to come and that I will be able to visit him down there. I asked him if he ever intended to come back to Washington. He hadn't been back there since he retired. In 1941, he said he had no idea if he'd ever come back to Washington. He didn't have any occasion to go back and didn't think he would.

SHALETT: Can you give me just a little of the flavor 02:10:00of Garner in action as vice president, and how he used to preside and--

BARKLEY: Well, he was a very alert man. He was quick on the trigger, as you'd say, and he didn't hesitate to make rulings, and he did them positively. And he had a pair of shaggy eyebrows that wiggled up and down whenever he would become agitated. And I remember a very funny thing that happened one day when Huey Long was making a speech. And Huey was--there was a bill up about which Huey was in some doubt. There were some things that he was for, and some he was against. And in a sort of a smart-aleck tone, he rose and addressed the chair. He said, "Mr. President." And John Garner said, "For what purpose does the senator from Louisiana rise?" That's the familiar response of the chair. He said, "I rise to make a parliamentary inquiry." And Vice President Garner said, "The senator will state it." And Huey Long said, "How's a man going to vote who's half in favor of this bill and half against it?" And Garner just as quick as a flash said, 02:11:00"Saw yourself half in two, and that's what you ought to do anyhow." (both laugh)

SHALETT: Did Long have a retort?

BARKLEY: Oh, Long--he had--the whole Senate laughed at it, and in the confusion, I think Huey's retort was lost. But it was a very characteristic thing, and old John, he just spit it right out there, and rather--in a very amusing and not altogether facetious way, expressed his opinion of Huey Long, who was frequently like a gadfly. He was like a horse fly, I should say. You know about a horse fly. A horse fly lights on a horse's hip, and you knock him off of there, he goes around and lights on his neck, and he'll get on his head, where you knock him off. Well, that was sort of Huey Long, you'd knock him off one place, he'd light somewhere else. And that was a very amusing little episode in Garner presiding with Huey Long pestering him and bothering with what Mr. Garner thought was a facetious and frivolous parliamentary inquiry about 02:12:00how a man should vote if he was half for a bill and half against it. Well--

SHALETT: Did you have--used to have pleasant sessions with him in his office--

BARKLEY: Oh, yes. I always went into his office fifteen minutes before the Senate met, because he wanted me to do that, and I wanted to do it, so as to tell him what my program was as majority leader for the day so he'd know what it would be and he could cooperate. And he'd know my signals, as the catcher would know the signals of a pitcher in a baseball game. And we used that term as a team, pitcher and catcher, frequently. And he was a very colorful character, he was a man of unapproachable integrity, unquestioned honesty, financially, personally, and politically, and every other way. And he rendered a great service to the country, and he rendered a great service to Mr. Roosevelt's administration as vice president, because while some of the things that Roosevelt advocated as a part 02:13:00of the New Deal, Mr. Garner would not have initiated himself, but he always cooperated with the leaders of the two--of the party in putting over Mr. Roosevelt's program. And when Senator Robinson died in the midst of the court fight, I think I've already alluded to the fact that Mr. Garner, as vice president, and I, as acting majority leader, and even after I was chose majority leader, went before the Judiciary Committee in an effort to work out some reasonable amendment to the law that would give some improvement in the court situation, but we recognized that the President's original court plan could not be adopted. I have a very warm place in my heart for John Garner. He was a rugged character; he is a rugged character. He takes the Congressional Record every day and reads it. Every day since he went back to Uvalde, he has read the Congressional Record, which shows great patience on his part, because it takes nearly all day to make that Record each day, and it takes nearly all day to read it. But he's kept himself very familiar with all the proceedings 02:14:00in the Congress by that method, and I have a very high regard for him as a man and as a statesman, as an American, and I hope he lives a long time yet to come. But of course, in the very nature of things he realizes that his day will come some of these days.

SHALETT: Well, it's getting late, and before we close, is there any other illustration on Garner you might--Garner's wit and quickness we might put down?

BARKLEY: It doesn't come to me at the moment. I know there are many other instances. They will come to me, and I'll be glad to include them, because I don't think there was ever a more colorful, more alert, or more popular vice president than John Garner.

SHALETT: Did he ever express himself to you in the nature of a retort to John L. Lewis's personal bitter characterization of him?

BARKLEY: No, he never did. He didn't relish that characterization, and he felt that it was a--evil old--


SHALETT: Whiskey-drinking.

BARKLEY: --whiskey-drinking, card--poker-playing--

SHALETT: Evil old man.

BARKLEY: --evil old man, or something like that. Well, I think it is true that John was rather good at cards, as many other members of Congress are. I never did learn to play cards myself because I never was interested in it. But John was regarded as a good card player, and he had an expression of saying, "Striking a blow for liberty," every day or two or maybe more than once a day. That was his way of taking a little drink. He said, "Strike a blow for liberty." And especially was that true during the days of Prohibition, when he didn't violate the law any, but I think he had probably laid up a little in advance against the coming of that day, which he thought was an evil day.

SHALETT: Particularly a branch-water man.

BARKLEY: Branch-water man. Oh yeah, a branch-water man. No fantastic concoctions or anything like that, no.

SHALETT: Um-hm. Well--

BARKLEY: Well, I think--I'm sure that I can recall a number 02:16:00of instances in which he, with great humor and great force of character, not only presided and passed on parliamentary questions, but sometimes put a man in his place as he was doing with Huey Long when he told him to saw himself in two.

SHALETT: Those things would be very interesting to put on.

BARKLEY: Yes. Well--

SHALETT: Well, you have people waiting on you, so let this be our last recorded words on tape at Adirondack before we say hello to--

BARKLEY: Well, I've enjoyed being in the Adirondacks here, which is quiet and cool and beautiful up here near Lake--Schoon Lake and Lake George and Lake Champlain and all these beautiful lakes up here in this wonderful country. It's a wonderful place to spend a few days in the summertime, and it's a wonderful place in which to work, and I've enjoyed working with you up here in these Adirondacks where Mrs. Barkley is with me, where her mother, Mrs. Roy Rucker, has been a teacher of music in this John Seagle Music Colony for 02:17:00many years.

SHALETT: Thank you, Senator. Thank you very much. Aloha ----------(??).

BARKLEY: See you later.


[End of interview.]