Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Alben W. Barkley, August 3rd, 1953

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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SHALETT: Time gets away from you in Nantucket, but I think this is August 3, 1953, and this is side one of reel fourteen, and we're going to talk about your famous airplane campaign of '48. I believe you're the first candidate for a major office who ever used a plane as extensively as you did in '48.

BARKLEY: Well, that's my understanding. Speaking of being reel fourteen, we're really reeling, aren't we? (both laugh) Of course, the--I had campaigned by air for many years more or less hectically; that is, I'd take trips by air to fill engagements, but I had never--and I don't think any other candidate up until that time for vice president or president had ever chartered a plane and used it solely as a means of transportation for a period of six weeks, as I did. Of course, after the convention at Philadelphia, which I've already, I think, 00:01:00described, President Truman returned back to Washington, and so did I. I think Congress was still in session in '48 when the convention met. And we went back, and ultimately I went home to Kentucky and was given a great reception when I got to my home in Paducah because I was the first and only nominee and first and only vice president who'd ever come from Paducah. There had been two vice presidents from Kentucky, Richard M. Johnson and John C. Breckinridge. John C. Breckinridge was vice president under Buchanan, immediately before Lincoln's election. And the Democratic Party split in 1860 and nominated two tickets, one of 00:02:00them headed by John C. Breckinridge. And that split in the Democratic Party contributed very largely to Lincoln's election as president. He was a minority president in the sense that he did not get a majority of all the votes, popular vote, and that's happened several times in the history of the country, where a man who did not get a majority of all the votes cast by the people got a majority of the Electoral College and therefore was elected president. So I was the third vice president from the state of Kentucky, and the first and only one ever from Paducah or that end of Kentucky, so very naturally people were proud of it, and they turned out en masse to give me a warm reception when I got home after the convention and after the adjournment of Congress. Well of course, it was expected that I'd take an active part in this presidential campaign, as a matter of fact, more active than the president himself, because he had to remain in Washington a portion of the time. 00:03:00He couldn't just start out and spend six weeks on the stump without going back to Washington, but I could because Congress was not in session, and I had no other task except to help win the election. So we chartered a DC-3 airplane, I think it was, DC-3.

SHALETT: Two-motor plane.

BARKLEY: Two-motor plane. We turned it into an office. We had newspaper correspondents, we had secretaries, we had typewriters, we had mimeograph machines, and the full equipment of whatever was needed. And I started out. I campaigned in that plane during the whole campaign, not changing at all because we had chartered it. The National Committee, of course, had chartered that plane and assigned it to me. And I campaigned in it for about six weeks, as I now recall. I covered thirty-six 00:04:00of the forty-eight states. I traveled--I made about 250 speeches, and I traveled more than 150,000 miles back and forth, east and west, up and down, criss-crossing, and back and forth during that time, which of course was about as strenuous a campaign as was ever made by a candidate for vice president, and I doubt whether a candidate for president had ever continuously campaigned as hard and as strenuously with as many speeches as I made during that campaign. Well, when I was a candidate for governor of Kentucky in 1923, I campaigned so hard, speaking ten and twelve and fifteen times a day frequently, that I was given the title of the Iron Man. I think I've already mentioned that, but you see when a man gets a title or the reputation of being an Iron Man, they take--they're liable to take 00:05:00advantage of it and think that he really is one, and that he can do the job of an iron horse. Well, I have been the victim of that feeling, and I have measured up to it by campaigning probably as hard and as strenuously and as long as any man who ever held high office in the United States. Well, I really enjoyed it. And when we started out, of course, at the convention, vast numbers--no Republican thought we could win, and vast numbers of the Democrats thought we couldn't win in '48. Strange to say, President Truman and I had a faith that we could win. And when we said so publicly, people thought we were whistling through a graveyard or talking through our hats or some other fantastic technique of campaigning. But I began to be pretty certain that we could win, and would win, about the first of October. I could tell 00:06:00the feel of the people. I could tell--I could tell that the reaction of the American people towards the eightieth Congress, which had been Republican as result of the 1946 election, was unfavorable to them. And we did not hesitate, of course, to point out to the people the shortcomings of that Congress. That's the Congress that President Truman described as the next-to-the-worst Congress in the history of the United States. Well, what it had failed to do, as well as what it had done, gave us a basis of comparing between two years of a Republican Congress and sixteen years of a Democratic Congress under Roosevelt and under Truman. And when I got out into the--what they called the Corn Belt out in the Middle West, the great agricultural states, I began to feel that the tide was in our direction. And it 00:07:00was a very interesting campaign. You can't travel over thirty-six of the forty-eight states of this country and meet the people from all walks of life, every profession and every level of human existence, without becoming profoundly impressed with the sincerity, the devotion, and the patriotism of the American people. And I say that without regard to politics, because while I've been a lifelong ardent Democrat, I've always recognized that there are just as good and as sincere and as patriotic men in the Republican Party as there are in the Democratic Party. They differ in regard to politics, and many of those differences are hereditary. Many of them are grounded in deep convictions that run over generations of time, and so forth. You can't travel over this country and speak to the people and look into their faces, trying yourself to be as 00:08:00sincere with them as you want them to be with you, without being proud of this great country, proud of our way of life, proud of our democracy, and proud to hold any office that the American people have it in their hearts to confer upon you. So in that six-week campaign, covering thirty-six states and the vast mileage and the number of campaign speeches I made, during the whole of the last month of October just before the election, I became more and more convinced that we would be elected, we would win. And notwithstanding I could feel that trend, and President Truman could feel it, and I think our committee and our campaigners could feel it. I think it was the opinion of a vast majority.

SHALETT: Everybody felt it but the newspapers.

BARKLEY: Yes, it was the feeling of a vast majority, and nobody--none of the newspapers and the magazines, except one or two isolated 00:09:00cases.

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

BARKLEY: All the polls were against us, and that led to the conjecture as to whether the poll-takers were against us and whether the polls were really genuine. I never have understood how they take some of these polls, because I've been in this world a good many years and I've never been polled yet by anybody who was taking a poll. No pollster ever sought my views about anything. Maybe they thought they were not important. But it looks like after years of the Literary Digest and the Gallup poll and the Roper poll and all the other polls, that there would have been a 'poll' long enough to reach me. But it never did. (both laugh)

SHALETT: They wouldn't touch you with a ten-foot 'poll.'

BARKLEY: No, they wouldn't. They didn't, indeed.

SHALETT: Well look, in that campaign, you were undoubtedly studying Mr. Dewey's technique and approach. And as we remember, he was certainly acting like a president. Were you reminded by his--what some people thought his vagueness of Bob Taylor's attitude? (laughs)


BARKLEY: Yes, I was. I got--I had a good deal of fun out of the campaign of Governor Dewey. It seemed that he and Governor Warren both assumed the attitude that they were in, and being in, they would be a little testy about making any commitments at all.

SHALETT: Didn't say anything.

BARKLEY: They didn't say anything. They spoke, but they didn't say much. They didn't--they'd tell you, "Well now, we're going to be elected and we don't have to commit ourselves now. We'll be pretty free when the election's over and we're inaugurated to pursue any policy that we think best." And as a result, they didn't commit themselves to anything much, even to the platform on which they were running. And I, of course, took occasion to chide them and to chastise them a little bit for not being more specific. And some of the newspapers asked me how I prepared my speeches. Well, I said, "I'm 00:11:00a little bit different from Mr. Dewey and Governor Warren. I prepare my speeches in the air and deliver them on the ground. And if they prepare theirs at all, it's on the ground, but when they deliver them, they seem to be in the air." (both laugh) Well, it was a--it was quite a surprise to them, of course. They thought they were going to be elected. But they did not sense the feeling of the American people, and Governor Dewey had been a candidate before. And in his first race, he was pretty forthright. He was running against Roosevelt at that time, 1944, and he was pretty forthright and critical of the Roosevelt policies, Roosevelt administration, and much more specific as to what he stood for and would do. But in this campaign in '48, both Governor Dewey and Governor Warren seemed to feel that they were sailing in, and that it wasn't necessary to take the American people into their confidence. They were so sure that they were going to win that they'd be perfectly free, without 00:12:00any pre-campaign or pre-election commitments when the time came for them to hold office. Well, they were just badly mistaken, of course.

SHALETT: Well, he was running as president-elect Dewey, actually.

BARKLEY: Well, yes. That's true. He acted more like he was already elected, and he just--the election was a formality. It would be just a confirmation of what the people had already made up their mind to do. And I say that without any criticism of Governor Dewey and Governor Warren, because I have since that formed a very genuine friendship with both of them. But it was a peculiar sort of campaign, and I think that their failure to be specific about anything in particular, either foreign or domestic, and the record of the Republican Congress, which was coming to a close by November of 1948, and the policy record that I have always insisted that we had 00:13:00made during sixteen years, which I sought to reveal to the American people in my keynote speech at Philadelphia, was a worthy factor that entered into our victory, to the surprise of a great many people in this country, including a lot of Democrats.

SHALETT: Wasn't the phrase "prop-stop" coined for your campaign? Yours was the first major prop-stop, in contrast to whistle-stop, wasn't it?

BARKLEY: Well, yes. Whistle stop, of course, is supposed to be a railroad term, that you stop at every--every time the train whistles for a stop at a small village to take water or passengers or to let another train go by or whistles for a highway crossing or for a cattle guard, all that, a whistle stop. But of course there's no whistle connected with an airplane. And it is propelled by the propellers, which they call props, so that term because current, prop-stop instead of whistle-stop. The whistle blows when the train stops, 00:14:00but the propellers of an engine on an airplane, they don't make any noise at all, they just gently slow down and you stop at, on average, bigger places, because the whistle stops for railroads don't have--most of them don't have any airports close by. And sometimes we'd stop at a larger place where there was an airport and then drive to someplace that didn't have one. But in the very nature of things, airplanes can stop only where there's an airport. And in the very nature of things, every small community doesn't have an airport, so that we'd have to miss these smaller places in a campaign by air.

SHALETT: What did you think about the use of airplanes for campaigning? Do you favor it?

BARKLEY: Oh, yes. I--

SHALETT: Can it ever replace the train completely?

BARKLEY: Well, I don't know that it'll ever replace the train completely. But certainly you can get to more places and reach more 00:15:00people in an airplane. Why, I'd speak at someplace in the afternoon and fly four hundred miles to my night--my evening appointment, maybe stopping on the way for a five or six o'clock appointment. And in that way, you can cover many more places. If you're traveling by train, you've got to stay on the railroad track. You can only stop where the railroad stops, and it can only run on the track, and therefore there's no flexibility, except in a direction that the train may be going. But in an airplane you can go any way, any direction, north, east, south, west. You can fly across country to the next appointment. And therefore it's much more flexible during a campaign, and I think it's here to stay. I think it's a wonderful modern method of getting to the people. And it shows of course the effectiveness of the air, not only for war, for offensive war and defensive war and for commercial purposes, but the airplane, like 00:16:00the television and the radio, has come into existence at a time when the American people have a feeling that they want to see more and more and hear more and more of the men who ask them to elect them to high office.

SHALETT: Do you think that if we ever have a really comprehensive television network blanketing every little hamlet of the country, as radio does now, that perhaps someday a political campaign can be conducted with very little traveling by the candidates?

BARKLEY: Yes, I think that more and more, as television stations become universal in the country, and I think they're being increased very slowly. I do not say that in criticism. I just do not understand the techniques of why it takes two or three years for an application for a television station to be passed on by the Communications Commission. I have had illustrations of that, where, say, three applicants were seeking a television station in a town that really deserved one, 00:17:00that was off by itself and not close enough to any large station to receive very good television coverage, and that--those applicants were told that it would be two or three years before their application could be reached even for consideration. Now, I don't understand that. But ultimately, regardless of the delay, the whole country will be covered, so that out in the country, in the rural sections and homes--and you can drive along the highways and you can see the antennae that have been placed above the roofs of these houses. They may not have a lot of things, but they've got a television set if there's any way to hear a television or see it. So I think that when the whole country is covered by television coverage, that it will reduce the necessity for a man to travel extensively, especially the 00:18:00nationwide campaigns, although I don't think the time will ever come when men can completely sit in their homes or in their offices and, by television, satisfy the American people. I think I've told that story about the Kentucky Congressman who was told by one of his constituents that he'd never vote for another man until he saw him. And that was--

SHALETT: ----------(??) ugly Congressman.

BARKLEY: The ugly Congressman, yeah. Well now, the radio--the television is remedying that situation to a very large extent, because they can see their candidates, especially for president and vice president and for Congress and for the Senate over television. And they get a--they make up their minds frequently about his ability, his personality, and his sincerity by his appearance, by his manner of speech. And they make up their mind how they'll vote, according to whether they think a man is honest and sincere and whether he represents a viewpoint that they can accept, 00:19:00so that the television is going to change very materially the method of campaigning in this country, and I think all to the good, because I am one of those who have always believed that the people are entitled, not only to hear a man, but to see him. And in local races, of course, they could hear--both hear and see, because he spoke at every little schoolhouse in a county, as I did the first time I ever ran for office. But when it comes to a nationwide race, I don't care how many airplanes a presidential or vice presidential candidate may use or charter or travel in, he can't possibly see anything like a large percentage of the American people, and they can't see him. More of them can hear him over radio than can see him over television, because radio is more universal. But I think that the time will come when television will be in practically every home in this country, and that that will be a great advantage to the people, and it will be a great advantage to candidates, in the sense that they can be 00:20:00heard and seen at the same time, without traveling extensively all over the country, though I think they will still be expected to do a considerable amount of traveling.

SHALETT: Did you find the airplane traveling harder than train travel? Did you miss a shower or a place to lie down? Or did you have a place to--

BARKLEY: No, no. I had--they had fixed this airplane up with a bed, bunk, where, if I wanted to, I could go and lie down between speeches, but I rarely ever did it. I never got tired, I never got exhausted, I never felt the need for relaxation and rest. And in addition to that, I usually occupied the time between speaking appointments in getting ready for the next one or getting out a press release when I would arrive at the next appointment, because, as you know, the newspapers like to have something in advance that they can go ahead and put in the papers and send out over the country, whereas if they have to wait to listen to it, especially if it's an evening engagement, you don't get 00:21:00the same coverage that you get if you can hand them something when you get off the plane or off the train, which is the substance of your speech. As you know, I never followed a manuscript in my campaign speeches, and I had always to give some assurance that what I was giving them in advance when I would arrive at a city was substantially what I was going to say. Now, I might say a lot more. I might say it in a different way, but I realized and they realized that I couldn't depart very far from what I'd handed them out, because if so, it wouldn't be a true report of my speech. So I tried to cooperate with the press, and I found it a great advantage in my publicity to give them something in advance of the speech itself. They didn't have to go to the speaking and listen. Or if they did, they'd already given it out to the press locations or to their own papers. And then if there was anything new happened at the meeting, they could write it up according to the spirit of it.

SHALETT: Did you have many reporters accompany you on the whole trip? I understand there were just two or three that made the 00:22:00whole trip with you.

BARKLEY: Well, there was always a good bunch of--of course, on a DC-3 you can't have a very great crowd, because it only seated twenty-one people, and part of the front seats were taken out to make an office, for typewriters and for secretaries and for staff that were accompanying me to make arrangements about hotels and baggage and luggage and all the things that had to be done. And so I would say that on an average, there were not more than half a dozen newspapers who accompanied me, and they didn't accompany me all the time. They were not the same ones; they would get on at one place and maybe go within that state to wherever I spoke, and then they'd get off and others would be picked up at other stations. I don't think there were more than four who went the whole distance from the beginning to the end.

SHALETT: Mr. Frank Kent and the wire services, I believe.

BARKLEY: Yeah, the wire services and Frank Kent of The Baltimore 00:23:00Sun, who was a very fine young newspaperman. And I became very fond of him. He was very sincere, honest, and truthful and a friendly man, I liked him.

SHALETT: Well now, your plane got you everywhere you were supposed to go reasonably on time and was just thoroughly satisfactory. You didn't miss any speeches.

BARKLEY: I don't think I missed a single one.


BARKLEY: I don't recall that I did. It was a good plane, and it was well-equipped and--

SHALETT: Did it have a name, by the way? Do you remember?

BARKLEY: We called it "The Bluegrass."

SHALETT: "The Bluegrass." Um-hm.

BARKLEY: Yeah. That's the name. They had it printed on the side of the airplane, just like Flagship or Eastern Airlines. It had just "The Bluegrass."

SHALETT: And you had your same pilot and co-pilot.

BARKLEY: Same pilot and co-pilot and the same hostesses. Two lovely young ladies who were hostesses--


BARKLEY: --during the whole campaign.

SHALETT: Can you recall any particular incidents or anecdotes from this airplane, this prop-stop campaign?

BARKLEY: Oh, a lot of amusing things happened. I haven't charged 00:24:00my memory with them. I might whip up one or two, but I don't at the moment--

SHALETT: We'll whip back. (laughs)

BARKLEY: I will--yeah, we'll whip back at some of them. I know there was always something amusing happening, unexpected too, but I'll have to remind myself of that. I'm pretty sure I can come up with two or three very interesting episodes.

SHALETT: The wear and tear on a presidential and vice presidential candidate is terrific, isn't it? That's where television might ----------(??).

BARKLEY: Yes, the wear and tear is very hard. I have been told--I couldn't testify to this from my own experience, and I don't mean to be boasting of my physical stamina when I say this; it's well known that I have that and I don't have to keep referring to it--but I have been told by physicians or have heard them say, and I've read also in articles and books 00:25:00on the subject, that public speaking is very exhausting on a man. He puts his very soul into it and all he has in it, and that's always been my method of speaking. I put everything I have in a speech if I--if it's an important one and I mean what I'm trying to do, and I usually do. It is a very trying and tiresome enterprise.

SHALETT: Tiring, rather.

BARKLEY: Tiring, yeah. It's tiring rather than tiresome, or it may be tiresome to some audiences, but to the speaker himself, it is tiring as a rule. And Bryan used to have a very wholesome and effective way of resting. When he made his whirlwind campaign in 1896, which was the first of that type ever made in the country, he would--he traveled by train, of course, special train, and he 00:26:00could go off and lie down in the Pullman and go to sleep as soon as he finished speaking one place and wake up when he got to the next town, and thereby replenish the strength that he had yielded in his vigorous campaign speeches. But I didn't do much of that; I was pretty busy. And besides that, it takes a very much shorter period of time to fly from one appointment to another than it does to travel on train, unless you're stopping at all the little whistle stops for a five-minute speech and just appear on the back platform. That is not very exhausting because you don't have time enough to get warmed up into any subject. You just greet the people and say something that's applicable to the campaign, and thank them. By that time, the engineer's pulling the train out, and that's about all you have a chance to do.

SHALETT: We were talking about television a few minutes ago. What do you think about televising Congressional hearings, by the way, as a medium of public information?

BARKLEY: Well, there are two sides to that question. There are 00:27:00very strong arguments in favor of committees televising their hearings on important subjects, although it's very distracting to the committee and very annoying really frequently to have to interrupt the hearings and to adjust everything to a vast amount of television machinery, mechanics, that have to be set up in a committee room. There is an argument in favor of it to the effect that the people are entitled to see and hear what goes on in committee rooms, because out of it may come important legislation. The two houses of Congress have taken a different view, not only about that but about photographing the session. The House of Representatives allows photographers to take pictures of the House in session. The Senate does not, never has. The Senate feels that it would 00:28:00be undignified, and also unfair to the Senate, especially in these busy days when, as I said at another place, visitors go in the gallery and look down on the Senate practically empty for various reasons, which I've already explained. Now, if that were televised so that the people throughout the country, who do not know what a senator has to do in the routine of his office from day to day, see a television picture of the Senate passing important legislation, maybe billions of dollars of appropriations, with only a handful of senators on the floor, it would give a false impression of the Senate because there wouldn't be any way to explain to the audience looking where all those other senators were. As I've already said, they may be in committee. They may be in their office writing letters to their constituents. 00:29:00They may be downtown doing some service in a department and things like that, although, theoretically, no senator ought to be absent from the floor, and he ought not to be in committee. And, under the rules, committees are not allowed to sit while the Senate is in session, but they violate that rule by getting the consent of the Senate to sit while it's in session. The Senate rarely ever refuses the request of a chairman of a committee to be permitted to sit while the Senate's in session. So I doubt very much whether--now I'm talking now about the two houses, television of the two houses as they operate. It's a little different when it comes to a committee, because a committee is a very much smaller body. It's a creature of the two houses. And some of the committee rooms are not commodious. They're not very large, they're crowded if it's an important hearing and it's open to the public. And also the television of 00:30:00a hearing, and the same thing might be true in the Senate or in the House, there's a very strong temptation to a man who's seeking publicity and wants to get headlines to display himself or his ability or his flair for that sort of thing and, thereby, consume much more time than he would normally consume, either in a committee or in the Senate. And that question has arisen frequently in connection with having a radio broadcast in the Senate to hear the debate without television. It's never been thought very well of by the Senate. The Senate's frowned upon it, and even to the extent of not allowing even pictures, photographs to be taken. Some photographer on one occasion slipped into the gallery and without being noticed by anybody took a picture of the Senate from a far corner of the gallery. Well, the Senate was so outraged by it that it saw that 00:31:00that never happened anymore. But of course, on the theory that the people are entitled to see everything that goes on in their government, you can justify a program for televising both the committees and the two houses, but from the standpoint of practical legislation and the consumption of time and all those things, I doubt very much that there's any advantage in having them televised, although it may come to it. And I doubt if there's any great popular demand for the television of the full sessions of the Senate and the House. Most people are busy all day during the sessions of both Houses, and they don't all have time to go to their living rooms and turn on the television and see what Congress is doing. It might interfere with a lot of their work, and so forth. It all depends. So it's a question of whether it would be wise or unwise 00:32:00to inaugurate it.

SHALETT: Would you want to comment on the wisdom of televising the spectacular crime hearings of 1951? We can do it tentatively.

BARKLEY: Well, that was done. It's an academic question now whether it should have been done or not. And it may have been in that sort of a case where a very cancerous growth in our body politic had developed and had been discovered, it may be that that rendered a good service by dramatizing this crime situation in the hearings and by bringing these devious characters before the television and letting the people see what kind of characters were undermining the foundations of our society. So in that case--and you can justify it in other cases too, but in that case where it involved the very fabric of our laws and our social system in the sense that 00:33:00we all believe in law and order, and believe that every citizen ought to obey and that those who don't ought to be punished, I think in that case it was a valuable thing to point up, dramatize this widespread criminal tie-up between criminals and politicians and political machines and all that was developed in it. I think that was a wholesome thing.

SHALETT: And it had exactly some of the byproduct effects that you mentioned. One, in New York, it paralyzed the city, people stayed at the television.

BARKLEY: Oh, yes.

SHALETT: Very little business went on.

BARKLEY: Oh, yes.

SHALETT: And two, it made household words of Kefauver and ----------(??).

BARKLEY: Oh yeah, that's true. Yeah. It made them--it gave them a reputation when, as a matter of fact, people had never heard much about either one of them.


BARKLEY: Of course, Kefauver had been a member of the House, but he hadn't gained nationwide recognition. He was elected to the Senate and was a good quiet senator, but when he was appointed--and by 00:34:00the way, I appointed him, as vice president, I appointed him as chairman of this committee--

SHALETT: That's right.

BARKLEY: --to investigate crime. Of course, he--his name became a household word.

SHALETT: Why did you appoint him? What was the circumstance?


SHALETT: Was it his bill or something?

BARKLEY: I think he had offered a resolution. He was on the--he was a member of the Judiciary Committee--

SHALETT: That's right.

BARKLEY: --and had offered a resolution, as I recall it, providing that the Judiciary Committee should make this investigation. Well, there was quite a feeling in the Senate that it ought not to be limited to any one committee, that the chair, which was the vice president, should appoint this committee from others outside of the Judiciary Committee. Well--

SHALETT: And Senator Johnson had a thing on it or something, didn't he? Colorado? And--

BARKLEY: Yes, he had introduced a resolution and so forth, so they worked out a compromise resolution authorizing me as vice president to make the appointment. And I appointed Senator Kefauver, first, because he was 00:35:00a member of the Judiciary Committee, and he'd been active in the efforts to investigate crime, and he had offered a resolution himself on the subject. And I felt that it was the proper thing to name him the chairman of the committee, which he accepted and did a good job.

SHALETT: Was there any pressure--or maybe that's not the right word to use, but you know what I mean--to appoint someone else?

BARKLEY: Oh, I don't know. There wasn't any pressure, no, there was no pressure. The--I think one or two other names were suggested for my consideration, but I felt--under all the circumstances I felt I could appoint Senator Kefauver, and I did so. There was no complaint about that appointment on the part of anybody who suggested other names. But taking the whole committee as it was formulated, it seemed to me that he was entitled to first consideration.

[Pause in recording.]

SHALETT: Senator, in talking over personalities, you've just recalled an amusing 00:36:00story about your predecessor in the House, Ollie James. How did you describe him physically?

BARKLEY: Well, Ollie James was an enormous man, six feet three or four inches tall, he weighed close to three hundred pounds, and a very able man. He was a--he was about as, next to Bryan, I think, one of the most effective campaign orators I ever knew. And I was very fond of him, of course. I'd been his supporter while he was in Congress for ten years, and then I succeeded him in the House when he went to the Senate. And I've already mentioned him in another capacity, but I've also mentioned where they had a bill in the House to increase the salary of Congressmen from seventy-five hundred dollars a year to ten thousand, where Frank Clark made that wonderful speech about the old man with the mint julep. Well now, ten years before that, when Senator James was a member of the House, they had up a similar bill in the House increasing the salary of Congressmen from five thousand to seventy-five 00:37:00hundred. When you think of expenses now and the things that Congressmen have to do, it's almost incredible that any Congressman who had to live without an independent income could get by on five thousand a year in Washington. And at that time, as I've already said, they had to furnish their own offices. There was no office building furnished by the government. Well anyhow, they had up this bill increasing the salary of Congressmen, and after a long debate all day, it finally came to a vote. And Ollie James, with his melodious, bell-like voice, shouted, when his name was called, "No." And then the story was that he rushed out into the cloakroom, where a large number of members were sitting talking, and said to them, "Boys, for God's sake, some of you go out there and vote for this thing." He said, "I'm afraid our side's going to win." (laughs)

SHALETT: That Senate cloakroom must be a wonderful place.

BARKLEY: Well, this was the House cloakroom.

SHALETT: Oh, the House cloakroom.

BARKLEY: They're both wonderful places.


BARKLEY: A lot of things go on out there. A lot 00:38:00of things are said in the cloakroom that never get into the Congressional Record, because they're a little more frank when they talk to one another than they are when they talk into the record. And naturally so, because they have conferences there about bills, about politics, about their own races, their own districts, their own problems, and they wouldn't like to air them before the public in the Congressional Record, but some of them do break in.

SHALETT: Any Barkley cloakroom stories? (both laugh)

BARKLEY: Well, I--probably none that I could repeat here. (laughs) I'd also repeat a little episode or instance that connects itself with my first race for Congress and Senator James. Of course, everybody knew Ollie James. He was--Ollie was a family name. That's a peculiar name to give a man as big as Ollie James was, because you might think of the word 'Ollie' being applied to some little insignificant fellow, but you'd hardly think of it being applied to Ollie James, as 00:39:00big a man as he was. But it became a term of affection. Everybody called him Ollie, just like they'd call their next-door neighbors by their first name. Well, I was running to succeed him. And he was a very popular man in the district, and the district was proud of him. I was a small man by comparison with him. I was fairly tall, about five feet and eleven inches, but I only weighed about 140 or 150 pounds, compared to his 300. Well, I was electioneering in the south end of Graves County, right on the Tennessee border. And just shortly before that, former Senator Carmack of Tennessee had been assassinated on the streets of Nashville by Duncan Cooper and his son. And it was a sensation, not only in--

SHALETT: ----------(??) Patterson.

BARKLEY: No, Cooper.

SHALETT: Cooper.

BARKLEY: Cooper is a--yeah, Patterson had--he had been governor of the state, and he'd been a Congressman and so forth, but he was 00:40:00not involved in this. Well, it was a sensation, and everybody was talking about it. And it's always true on the state line between any two states that the people are about as much interested in politics on one side as on the other. And I was down in the little town of Dukedom, a little village, right on the border.

SHALETT: What's that called?

BARKLEY: D-u-k-e-d-o-m. Dukedom. And I was electioneering with a man for Congress. I was trying to get him interested in my race, but I found that he was more interested in the assassination of Carmack over in Tennessee than he was in anything that was going on in Kentucky, although he lived on the Kentucky side and voted in Kentucky. Well, finally I said to him--in order to identify what I wanted, I said, "Well, my friend, I'll tell you, I'm running to fill Ollie James's place." He said, "The hell you are." I said, "Yes, I am." Well sir, he looked up one side of me 00:41:00and down the other, and in one corner of his mind, he saw Ollie James weighing three hundred pounds, and he took a good look at me weighing about 140 or 150, and he said, "You mean to tell me that you're trying to fill Ollie James's place?" I said, "That's what I'm trying to do." Well, he says, "Partner, by golly, you can't do it." And when I got to Washington, I told Ollie that story, and he got great fun out of it. And he told it to Samuel G. Blythe, I think, who used to write for The Saturday Evening Post under a title, "Who's who and why?" And he put that story in The Saturday Evening Post. It was a very amusing thing. It was in a sense a compliment to him. And I said to Ollie later, I said, "That fellow who said I couldn't fill your place told more truth than he realized. He was thinking of me physically and you physically, but as a matter of fact, his shoes are very hard to fill by any young man who's been elected as his successor." Well, Ollie James had been for Champ Clark. He was a member of 00:42:00the Kentucky delegation, and he was instructed for Champ Clark in 1912 at the Baltimore convention. But he was chosen as the permanent chairman of the convention, and presided at the time Wilson was nominated, and became one of Wilson's great supporters in the Senate and Wilson looked upon him as a great standby of his administration, and he was always loyal to Wilson's administration. And he and Joe Tumulty, Wilson's secretary, became very warm, close friends. And when Ollie died, after he had been nominated for his second term in August of 1918, Joe Tumulty did a very generous thing and a very characteristic thing when he suggested to some of those on the funeral train that Ollie James had spent his whole life in politics, he had not been able to accumulate anything in the way of money, and that they ought to try to raise a fund for the benefit of his widow, 00:43:00which they did. That was a very gracious act on the part of Wilson's secretary.


SHALETT: Senator, you're now going to discuss some of the famous personalities with whom you've served in House and Senate.

BARKLEY: Well, it's very difficult for a man who served in the House and Senate as long as I did to recall all the names of the men of prominence and of usefulness who served there with him, or who impressed him, or had some effect upon his own legislative course. But during that period of forty years, which covers two world wars and the interim between two world wars and the aftermath of both, many outstanding Americans made their contribution to the 00:44:00history of our country. And it would be an amazing feat of anybody's memory if he could recall all of them and all the things they did, but there are some, and others may come to me from time to time, whom I would like to mention, beginning with my original service in the House of Representatives. I've already discussed, I think, with sufficient completeness the speaker, Champ Clark of Missouri. He was--

SHALETT: Have you given anything of his personality? I don't recall now. Was he a dynamic man?

BARKLEY: Yes, he--I don't know that I have given much of his personality. I think in the manuscript that you read I describe him to a certain extent because I became immediately attached to him 00:45:00when I became a member of the House, and being--both being Kentuckians, though he'd gone to Missouri, he took a very live interest in me. And when I had--when I went to Congress--when I was elected to Congress, I had been a judge down home, and he always called me "Judge" from the time I got there until the day I--he died. I called him--he called me "Judge." Well of course, I called him Mr. Speaker. I had read about Champ Clark as a young man in the debates of Congress and in the newspapers of the day.

SHALETT: This is Beauchamp Clark.

BARKLEY: Beauchamp. It's spelled--his name--he was named James Beauchamp, B-e-a-u-c-h-a-m-p, which is called Beauchamp. Beauchamp would be the French pronunciation of it, it's a French name, but in Kentucky it's Beauchamp, just as if it were B-e-e-c-h-u-m. Well, in his early days he discarded the James and 00:46:00the 'Beau,' or the 'Bee,' as the case may be, and was known as Champ Clark. And when he named his son Bennett, he called him Bennett Champ, instead of Bennett Beauchamp. Well, being Speaker, and of course, being a Kentuckian, and I being a new member from Kentucky, he took a great deal of interest in my welfare and my progress. He--

[Pause in recording.]

BARKLEY: We sat and talked a great deal about a lot of things. I got a great deal of information from him. He had a wonderful source of miscellaneous information that he picked up in all of his reading, and he was an omnivorous reader. He read nearly everything you can think of. Odd books, old books, out-of-print, he'd browse around among the second-hand bookstores in Washington and pick up something, and he directed me towards these second-hand bookstores to get some books 00:47:00that I wanted that were long since out of print. And I asked him one day where he found all this miscellaneous information that he was constantly telling us in the cloakroom, in groups or individually, about personal characteristics of men long dead, the early statesmen of our country, Democrats and Republicans, going all the way back to Washington and Patrick Henry and Jefferson. He knew more personal instances and incidents and episodes in their lives than anybody I ever came in contact with. And I asked him one day where he got all that information, and he'd said he picked it up in odd books that he'd found in second-hand stores that are long since out of print but that were still authentic, but were no longer current. He said, "If 00:48:00you want any of them, you'll have to go browse around through second-hand bookstores," which I did. And I found many of these books to which he referred. I think I've mentioned them probably in that manuscript, but if I haven't, I'll do so here, because--

SHALETT: I think they are in there.

BARKLEY: He mentioned some that I didn't know had ever been printed. For instance, I didn't know that John Marshall had ever written The Life of George Washington until Champ Clark told me. And I found that he had written a very interesting three-volume Life of George Washington. Of course, that's no longer regarded as an up-to-date life of Washington, although Marshall was a contemporary of Washington and wrote at first-hand about him. Yet they have discovered so many things about Washington since that, just as they have about Jefferson and about Lincoln, that those old biographies are supposed to be out of date, and yet they do contain a vast amount of interesting information that you won't find 00:49:00in some of the more modern treatises and biographies. Well, of course, as I have already indicated I got a great deal of information from Champ Clark and a lot of guidance. He was a man of experience, a man of very deep convictions and some very deeply rooted prejudices, which I won't discuss, but he was a colorful man, and he was beloved by the whole House and respected by Democrats and Republicans alike, and he was one of the great speakers, I think, of the House. He was speaker for eight years. I think he will rank among the great speakers of the House of Representatives. Well, he was--until he died, he--of course, he--he harbored a great disappointment, because he had not been nominated for president of the United States. And I think I've already said that in the whole history of the party he was the only man who ever got a majority 00:50:00of the votes who was not finally given the two-thirds, which was necessary at that time. But he supported Wilson's administration pretty loyally, except on certain things. Now, in the Democratic platform of 18--of 1912 there was a plank declaring for free tolls to American ships going through the Panama Canal. Now, when Mr. Wilson became president, he found that, as a matter of fact, the law was on the statute books, and there was a plank in the platform endorsing that law that was passed by the Congress. Well, when Mr. Wilson became president, and the world situation began to develop in Mexico and other Latin American countries, and world war was on the horizon, he found it very embarrassing to have this law giving American ships freedom of passage through the Canal Zone. And the reason for it was that in order--that 00:51:00originally, the United States and Great Britain had entered into a treaty to dig the Panama Canal--or the Nicaraguan Canal jointly. It was to be a joint enterprise of the two countries. And then Secretary of State Hay and Lord Pauncefote, the British Ambassador to Washington, negotiated a treaty known as the Hay-Pauncefote Treaty, by which Great Britain yielded to the United States--

SHALETT: How do you spell Pauncefote?

BARKLEY: P-a-u-n-c-e-f-a-u-t-e or F-o-o-t-e. I'm getting pretty close to it.

SHALETT: (laughs)

BARKLEY: It's not Pussyfoot, it's Pauncefote. It was known as the Hay-Pauncefote Treaty, in which Great Britain yielded to the United States her right to participate in the building and control of the canal, with a provision in the treaty that all ships should go through the Canal Zone on terms of equality. Well, Great Britain raised the point 00:52:00with Mr. Wilson that that provision of the treaty applied to American ships as well as all other ships, that all ships should go through the canal on terms of equality. And President Wilson came before Congress and urged the repeal of that law giving American ships this special privilege. They already enjoyed a monopoly of the coast-wide trade in the United States and do now. But long ago Congress passed a law that alien ships should not participate in the coast-wide trade of the United States. They could come and go between our ports and their ports and other ports of the world, but this coast-wide trade on both the Atlantic and the Pacific was a monopoly enjoyed by American ships alone. And so Mr. Wilson came before Congress and urged 00:53:00that the provision of the law giving freedom to American ships from tolls through the canal be repealed. It raised a great controversy. And Wilson was charged with violating his own pledge, the pledge of his own party, but when he presented it in such a way as to show that we were violating our treaty with a friendly country, Congress repealed that provision, but Champ Clark, the speaker, got down off of his speaker's rostrum to make a speech on the floor against the repeal of the canal--the freedom of canal tolls. Also, he opposed the administration, when the war came on and we got into it, on the draft. I think I've already told about how he came down from the speaker's rostrum to engage in the debate on whether there should be a draft for the army or whether it should be a voluntary army. And he opposed that. He opposed the administration 00:54:00on that and made a statement, as I've already said, that in Missouri a conscript was looked upon as a convict, which I thought was an exaggerated statement. We now recognize, I think the people recognize, that not only is a selective service method the fairest way to raise an army to fight for our country, but it was probably the only way in which we could have raised sufficient men of the quality needed to fight World War I and World War II. And now it's accepted as a part of the established policy of our country, that when we have to raise a large military force, we do it by selective service, rather than depending upon the adventuresome, brave, young men who are willing to rush forward and volunteer to fight and leave everybody else at home.

SHALETT: Mr. Clark didn't go as far as you and resign as speaker when you had to oppose Roosevelt's tax bill.

BARKLEY: Oh, no, no. No, he didn't do that, and--


SHALETT: Are you the only one who's ever done that?

BARKLEY: As far as I know. I don't know of any other instance under the same circumstances where there was a resignation--

SHALETT: Uh-huh.

BARKLEY: --as a result of a veto or of an act of the president. Well now, I probably have said that Champ Clark was a very handsome man. He had a classic face, he had a large head, he had a very dignified carriage. It was really a pleasure to watch him move around, because he had the dignity of the old-fashioned statesman. And he had known many of them in his day, because he had come to Congress back in the 90's, I think, about the time Bryan--I think he probably served in the House with Bryan when Bryan came there in 1892 or '94, whatever year it was. Clark had been there a long time, and he'd become Democratic leader, and he had become ranking member of the Ways and Means Committee, which carried with it automatically Democratic leadership at that 00:56:00time. And the chairmanship of the committee, if it happened to be Democratic, carried with it automatically the Democratic leadership of the House of Representatives. That's all been changed now; it's no longer true. Well, Champ Clark, he was defeated in the election of 1920. He was supposed to be irresistible in his district. But the Harding landslide resulted in the defeat of Champ Clark. And he had always said he wanted to die in the harness, and he died in the harness. His term would expire on the fourth of March, 1921. He died before his term expired. So he really died in the harness with his boots on. But he had written his memoirs, which were published, I think, in 1925, a two-volume set of his memoirs, the title of 00:57:00which is My Quarter-Century in American Public Life, a very interesting book which I am proud to have in my library.

SHALETT: Senator, I'm going to ask you a question and then cut the tape to give you a chance to talk--to search your memory, if necessary. One of the most dignified and widely loved men in recent generations is Cordell Hull, who is looked upon as an extremely dignified man. Do you have any stories illustrating the humane side of him, his humanity and kindness?


SHALETT: I don't have to--

BARKLEY: I'll talk about Mr. Hull now. Mr. Hull was a member of the House of Representatives when I went to Washington. He'd been there, I think, about ten years. My recollection is he was elected in 1902 ----------(??)----------. He had--his father was a distinguished judge in 00:58:00Tennessee. And Mr. Hull in his own memoirs tells about his father following a man up into Kentucky to kill him, as a result of the Civil War where this man had made an assault upon or rendered some unprovoked injury to Cordell Hull's grandfather or some member of the family. I may not have the details of that, but anyhow, when the war was over this man had either moved up into Kentucky or he'd lived there, anyhow. And Cordell in his book tells about how his father went up to Kentucky and killed this man and then went back home, and he was never indicted, never tried, never prosecuted for that killing, which was an act of retribution, 00:59:00he thought, against a man who had done this great injury during the war.

SHALETT: Hull himself had quite a temper, as he illustrated on Pearl Harbor day.

BARKLEY: Oh, yes. Yes, indeed. Well, Cordell Hull was a man of great character and great personality; he was astute. He was a very effective, logical speaker, but not what you'd call the old-time orator. He was more the persuasive type, and very logical and influential. His very character, his deep character, and the respect which he enjoyed among all people who knew him automatically gave his argument and his position consideration in the minds of anybody. Well, when I went to Washington, he was there, and he was a member of the House and a member of the Ways and Means Committee. And when the Underwood 01:00:00tariff law, to which I've already alluded, was enacted it contained a provision for an income tax. And Judge Hull wrote that income tax provision. He wrote the first income tax law enacted after the Constitution was amended, making it possible for Congress to levy an income tax after the Supreme Court, by a decision of five to four, had declared a previous income tax law unconstitutional because it did not apportion the income tax among the states according to population and some other constitutional requirement.

SHALETT: I think we're at the end of side one, reel fourteen. Just a moment, please.

BARKLEY: All right.

[Pause in recording.]

SHALETT: Side two, reel fourteen, Senator Barkley is continuing with a discussion of Cordell Hull.

BARKLEY: As you may recall, the Congress had passed an income 01:01:00tax, I think, back in one of the Cleveland administrations, but the Supreme Court by a vote of five to four declared it unconstitutional because it did not apportion the income tax among the states according to population and some other constitutional requirements. And there was a very widespread story at the time that Justice Shiras, S-h-i-r-a-s, changed his opinion overnight and joined the other four who declared the act unconstitutional. And then it became, of course, a great problem to get the Constitution amended. And Mr. Bryan took a great hand in that debate, and so did Champ Clark. And the Democrats generally took the position that the Constitution ought to be amended so as to comply with the Court's five to four interpretation of the Constitution to make it possible 01:02:00for Congress to levy an income tax without apportioning it among the states according to population and so on. So that amendment was finally put in the Constitution and became effective in 1912. And so in the Underwood Tariff Act, the first income tax was written, and Cordell Hull became an expert on the income tax and wrote that provision into the Underwood Tariff Act. At that time, the income tax was only three percent. That first law provided a three percent levy on incomes with a very large exemption. I've forgotten, I think it was twenty thousand dollars a year or something like that. Quite a different proposition from the income taxes we pay now.

SHALETT: I think the man got us started on a bad habit, though.

BARKLEY: (laughs) Well, I don't know what we'd have done without it. It's very inconvenient and all of that, and very burdensome, but without the income tax I don't think we could ever have financed either World War I or World War II. We certainly could not 01:03:00have financed it out of a tariff act, because the tariff would not have raised enough. The higher the tariff, sometimes you get to the point of diminishing returns. The higher the wall, the fewer there are who can scale it and get over and pay the duty. Well, Cordell Hull became--he became an expert on income tax because of his experience. Well, he was defeated down in his Tennessee district in one of his campaigns for re-election because of a Republican slide. It may have been in 1920, when Tennessee went Republican, as I recall it. I'm not sure about that, Missouri did. Kentucky went Democratic for Cox about five thousand majority, but nearly every state around us went Republican. And I think in that landslide at least Cordell Hull was defeated, but he came back again two years later and then ran for the Senate at an opportune time and was elected and took his seat in the Senate, as I recall, in 1930. And of 01:04:00course, he, having served in the House a long time, having become pretty well-known as an expert on income tax, he went on the Finance Committee and became a very influential senator, and he became very active in 1932 in behalf of Franklin D. Roosevelt for the Democratic nomination. The fact of the business is he organized and was head of a sort of a senatorial committee advocating the nomination of Cordell--of Franklin D. Roosevelt for president. Well of course, when Roosevelt was elected, he became Secretary of State. And there's an interesting story that Colonel House, who was one of Wilson's close advisors, in fact, his mouthpiece and his eyes and ears in many parts of the world during Wilson's administration up to a certain point. At the end of it, 01:05:00I think he and Colonel House disagreed, and Colonel House was no longer his mouthpiece. Colonel House never held an office, never sought one, but he was highly trusted by Woodrow Wilson, and he was sent abroad on many missions. And Wilson took him with him when he went to the peace conference at Versailles in 1919. Well, Colonel House told me that he was the man who first suggested Cordell Hull to Franklin D. Roosevelt as Secretary of State. And he said to me that he had a hard time convincing Roosevelt that it was a good appointment, that Roosevelt respected and admired Hull, but he was not particularly anxious to go to the Senate to get a Secretary of State. But anyhow, be that as it may, Colonel House claimed a good deal of the credit, in talking to me later, for the appointment of Cordell Hull as Secretary of State. Well, Hull, of 01:06:00course, made a great Secretary of State. He was Secretary of State longer than any other man in the history of the country, practically twelve years. No other man had ever served in that capacity. And he was the father of the reciprocal trade program. Hull was a low tariff man. He was not a free trader, but he was a low tariff man, and he believed that after the experience of our country as a result of the enactment of the Smoot-Hawley Act, which was the highest tariff in the history of the nation, and with the Depression on, and with industry and our whole economic system in frustration and disaster almost, it was not a wise thing to try to rewrite a tariff bill under the old-fashioned method. And therefore, he promoted the reciprocal trade law which President Roosevelt of course recommended 01:07:00and urged to Congress and fought for and which was enacted. But it was generally recognized even then and now too that Cordell Hull as Secretary of State, out of his experience on the Ways and Means Committee in the writing of tax laws and tariff laws, and in his experience in the Senate for a period of two years or more, had that experience and that knowledge that convinced him that it would be folly to try, in the midst of all the economic debacle which had overcome our country, to write another tariff bill. So he felt that the wise thing was to give the president authority to negotiate trade agreements with other countries by which they would concede certain advantages to us in return for certain advantages that we would concede to them in the lowering of rates or in various other adjustments that were supposed to foster international trade. And that law 01:08:00has been on the statutes now ever since 1934, I think it was. It has been renewed from time to time, sometimes for three years, sometimes for two years. And I was a supporter of that reciprocal trade program, because I had had a similar experience in the writing of the Smoot-Hawley tariff law, and I had felt that it had been the forerunner of a lot of similar laws around the world that hobbled international trade and contributed very largely to the worldwide depression from which we were suffering. And I supported that law, and of course, I had many conferences with Secretary Hull about it during the progress of the legislation. And I am very proud of the fact that it seems to have worked so well that President Eisenhower asked the present Congress to extend it for a year in order 01:09:00that they might look more carefully into the question of international trade and tariff rates and quotas and all the things that form handicaps and hurdles and artificial barriers to the interchange of products among the nations of the world. Well, I don't know what'll happen at the end of the year. I--personally, I would have been glad to have seen that law extended for another period of three years, but I suppose that was a little too much for us to expect of the new Congress and the new administration. Well of course, not only that, but as Secretary of State, Cordell Hull was a man of peace. He believed in peace, he tried to preserve peace, and he did everything as Secretary of State, by negotiation, by persuasion, by cooperation with President Roosevelt and his administration, to prevent the outbreak of World War number two. And I think largely through his urging, Roosevelt wrote personal letters to Hitler and Mussolini, urging them for the sake of 01:10:00humanity not to precipitate another world war in the world, and offering the good offices of the United States and its government to help solve the problems that looked like they were heading toward war. And with all those things, of course, Cordell Hull's name will be forever associated. And as a result--as an example of his old Tennessee mountain temper, which he probably inherited from his father, according to his own story about his father, it so happened that at the very time when Pearl Harbor was being attacked on December the seventh, 1941, by the Japanese Air Force, the Japanese ambassador to Washington and the special ambassador sent over by the Japanese government were in Cordell Hull's office talking about peace, and Cordell Hull got the note from somebody in 01:11:00the State Department informing him of the attack on Pearl Harbor while these Japanese representatives were sitting in his office talking about peace and ostensibly on a mission of peace. Well, it so outraged Hull that he--that that could be happening while he was in good faith trying to negotiate with these representatives of the Japanese warlords, that when he got this note he just rose in all of his wrath and his dignity and almost bodily kicked these Japanese representatives out of his offices. And he denounced them in language that I have heard about but didn't hear at the time, but which I would not repeat here as an example of his ability in the line of expressing his contempt for men who were deceiving him and deceiving our country, ostensibly trying to negotiate peace while their government was actually attacking our 01:12:00Navy and Pearl Harbor. And--

SHALETT: Does that incident remind you of any Kentucky stories?

BARKLEY: (laughs) Well, you ask for a story all of a sudden here while I'm intensely interested in the recital of a historical episode, and I'll have to say that I'm sure it does, but I want a good one, and if you'll let me fill in that, I'll be glad to do it. Yeah. Well, I have been--under all these circumstances and many other details that I could mention, I have been very closely associated with Cordell Hull ever since I came to Washington forty years ago. And as the war was coming to an end, he initiated the movement and the conferences that resulted in the United Nations being created. Long before the war ended, long before he resigned as Secretary of State, he was holding conferences with senators, equal number of Democrats and Republicans. I was on the Foreign Relations 01:13:00Committee, and I was majority leader. He was having the chairman of the committee and the ranking Republican member. He was having men like Wallace White, like Warren Austin, like Robert La Folette. He was having men like Senator George, Senator Connally, Senator Gillette, and others of an equal number on both sides, sitting in week after week writing the charter, the basis of the charter of the United Nations. He had Senator Vandenberg at most of these conferences, I think practically all of them. And I always recall how Senator Vandenberg really developed from an isolationist to an internationalist in these conferences over the United Nations. And I once heard him say that he would be willing to leave 01:14:00our international relations in the hands of Cordell Hull with absolute faith that they would be well handled for the interests of our people. Well, of course, Senator Vandenberg was very much interested in the Polish situation. He had a very large Polish constituency in Michigan. A very large contingent of the voters of Detroit are Polish descent. And he was anxious, I could see it. He moved step by step until he finally embraced the whole theory of international cooperation and was very valuable to our government in advocating the things that Secretary Hull and that President Roosevelt were proposing for the settlement of controversies among the nations. But in the language of the charter, he was always meticulous and careful that it should be so written that whatever was done should be done with due regard to our own constitutional processes, and 01:15:00also that whatever should be done should be done with an eye to justice to all people and all nationalities. Well--

SHALETT: This was Hull. No, Vandenberg.

BARKLEY: No, this was Vandenberg. Of course, Hull agreed to that, and we modified the language in that respect so as to comply, which was a proper viewpoint to take anyhow, because nobody would want to foist on Congress or on the world any international organization that did not propose to do justice to all people. And also nobody would want to try to foist on our government any international agreement that did not come about through our own constitutional processes, which meant the ratification of this agreement by the Senate of the United States under our Constitution, which was done. So in the real, bipartisan foreign 01:16:00policy that prevailed during all of Cordell Hull's tenure of office as Secretary of State, and also while Stettinius was secretary, because Hull resigned on account of his health before the San Francisco conference met and Edward Stettinius, who had been an undersecretary of state, was appointed secretary and was our representative at San Francisco when the charter of the United Nations was signed. And of course, President Truman had come into office as the successor of Mr. Roosevelt in the meantime. And after the San Francisco conference was over, the charter was agreed to and all that, I think--I'm not sure whether Secretary Stettinius resigned voluntarily or how it came about, but anyhow he ceased to be Secretary of State and President Truman appointed former senator and former justice and former Congressman James F. Byrne to be Secretary of State. He served for 01:17:00a while and then resigned. Well, in all of this, Cordell Hull's character stood out like a beacon light. His influence, his logical mind, his adherence to what he called fundamental principles in dealing with national--international matters shone out like a beacon light. And I think it can be said that, outside of the president himself, no man made a greater contribution to the United Nations and to the concept of international justice than did Secretary Hull. And I want to say as a tribute to Senator Vandenberg that when he did embrace, finally, by his gradual process, the theory of international cooperation, he was of invaluable service, 01:18:00not only to the administration but to the Senate and to the American people and the world in helping to put over that theory, not only in the United Nations, but also in our later program of aid to Europe, when the war had ended, to rehabilitate them and to put them on their feet so as to resist this onslaught of Communism. And that applied to the Truman Doctrine in Greece and Turkey; it applied to the Marshall Plan in Europe and all of those things that were a part of our international program. And I think it can be said that we sought diligently and earnestly and honestly to maintain a bipartisan foreign policy until the time came when certain opponents of that policy began to criticize and denounce it and refuse to support it, even though it had been in part wrought by Senator Vandenberg and Senator Austin and Senator White and other members of the minority. It became more difficult to maintain a strict 01:19:00bipartisan foreign policy, because constantly there was more criticism coming from the other side against that policy. And they, of course, being critical of it, did not participate in it, and therefore were not a part of it. And it then--it became a matter of public debate and a political debate, partisan debate, whether the foreign policy, which had been originated as a bipartisan policy by Hull and Roosevelt and all the rest of us, was any longer in existence.

[Pause in recording.]

JANE BARKLEY: Just loved that song and I want to hear it again.

SHALETT: Up at Schroon Lake--this is Sidney Shalett. Up at Schroon Lake--yeah, let's raise that.

[Pause in recording.]

SHALETT: Up at Schroon Lake, Senator Barkley sang a song and 01:20:00we had a lovely guitar player, but she was young and she didn't have the feeling of the rhythm, and we didn't get the right beat for this. And the senator's going to sing it again as it should be sung.

BARKLEY: Well, this song to which you refer, Sid, is a song that I have remembered from my boyhood days when I worked on the farm and worked with the negroes on the farm, not only in the cultivation of the crops, but in the wheat-thrashing season, the stump-digging season, and all the other seasons of toil where I worked among the colored men and boys of our community. And back in the recesses of my brain have been preserved a few stanzas of this negro folk song. You won't find it written in any music store. You won't find any bars or notes, but it was 01:21:00just something made up out of the heart of these men who worked, and it's come down with me for half a century. I can't remember all the stanzas, but I do remember three or four of them, and I really enjoy perpetrating them on my friends sometimes, which I will now do. (both laugh) And it ran like this.

See that dummy comin' down the line, my baby

See that dummy comin' down the line this evenin'

See that dummy comin' down the line

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

Striped-legged britches and a pigeon- tail coat this evenin'

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

Striped-legged britches and a pigeon-tail coat

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

Catching rabbits ain't no sin this evenin'


Catching rabbits ain't no sin, my baby

Catching rabbits ain't no sin

Open your mouth and shove 'em in this evenin'

See these diamonds in my breast, my baby

See these diamonds in my breast this evenin'

See these diamonds in my breast

Tell all my women I'm goin' to rest, my baby

SHALETT: (laughs)

BARKLEY: Well, it goes on and on and on for verses and verses, and I wouldn't perpetrate you with all of them, but there are dozens and dozens and hundreds of them that were made up in the field, right out when they were pitching wheat up to me on the wagon. And they'd make them up as they went, and fortunately for me, I get a great deal of pleasure out of remembering a lot of those old negro folk songs that have come down through the years with me and remind me of 01:23:00my boyhood as a country boy.

JANE BARKLEY: ----------(??)


SHALETT: That's wonderful.

BARKLEY: Well, we'll sing an old--I'm singing my--I just recorded here "My baby"--I mean, "The dummy coming down the line again."

SHALETT: Jane, I want you to--Jane, would you give us three minutes? Note to stenographer. This is not to be recorded. I promised Anita early in the association that you would do the death bed mint julep story. Would you do that again?

BARKLEY: Oh. (laughs)

SHALETT: And if you want to stand up, I'll lift the microphone.

BARKLEY: Well, I don't know whether I can do that in three minutes or not.


JANE: Oh, sure you can.

BARKLEY: But anyhow. But this mint julep story--

SHALETT: Throat's a little dry.

BARKLEY: --revolves around an important piece of legislation that was pending in the House of Representatives some years ago when I was a member. It was a bill to increase the salary of Congressmen from seventy-five hundred dollars a year to ten thousand dollars. It was a 01:24:00very controversial measure, and it was debated all day, forward and aft, pro and con, up and down, by those who favored it and those who opposed it. Many of those who vociferously opposed it hoped it'd pass over their dead bodies. Well, along late in the afternoon when the debate had gone all day, Congressman Frank Clark of Florida arose to speak in favor of the bill. And he made very cogent arguments in favor of it, but finally he said, "You men here who have been speaking all day against this bill, hoping it'll pass over your dead bodies, remind me of the old gentleman down in Mississippi who was on his death bed, or thought he was. 01:25:00And he was lying on his bed late in the afternoon as the sun began to sink, and its shadows lengthened, and its rays played in through the window. And his wife Mary was sitting over in the corner of the room as the only nurse. And as these shadows lengthened and the rays came into the window and gave brightness to everything, he motioned to her to come over to the bed. And she leaned over to catch his whisper, because he could scarcely talk above a whisper, and when she arrived, he said to her, 'Mary.' 'Yes,' she said, 'John, what is it?' He said, 'Mary, do you remember that old trunk down in the basement?' 'Yes,' she said, 'since you mention it, I believe there is an old trunk down there.' He says, 'Mary, don't you remember that there's a quart 01:26:00of old liquor in that trunk?' 'Yes,' she said, 'I believe there is, since you mention it. I believe there is a quart down there.' 'Well,' he says, "Mary, go down and get it.' And he says, 'Bring it up here.' And he says, 'Dissolve a little sugar in the bottom of a glass in a teaspoon of water, dissolve it.' She said, 'Yes, John. What else?' He says, 'Get a little mint. Get some leaves of mint and bruise them, and put them in the bottom of this glass. And bruise these mint leaves until the substance of them exudes into the dissolved sugar.' And then he says, 'Mary,' he says, 'then get some ice, some crushed ice, and 01:27:00fill the glass with ice. And when you've filled the glass with ice,' he says, 'Mary,' he says, 'then get this old bottle of liquor and pour it in over this ice until the glass is filled.' And then he says, 'Mary, get some sprigs of mint and stick them down through the ice into the glass.' And then he says, 'Mary, set it all out on the shelf to cool and to frost. And when it's all frosted on the outside, you know what I mean, you know how it should look, when it's all frosted on the outside, bring it in here, Mary,' And he says, 'Mary, no matter what I do or say, make me take it.'"

SHALETT: (laughs)

JANE BARKLEY: (laughs) ----------(??).

BARKLEY: And he said, "That's what you fellows want to have done to you! You want to be made to take this increase 01:28:00in salary." Well, that story and that experience and that illustration did more than all the arguments of the whole day's debate. And when the vote was taken, it was passed, and they were made to take it.

SHALETT: And I think we also agreed that at the last Democratic convention, Mr. Stevenson was made to take it.

BARKLEY: Well, (laughs) yes. He was made to take it. Not exactly a mint julep, but--

JANE BARKLEY: I think it's the most beautiful story.

[Pause in recording.]

SHALETT: This is Sidney Shalett. Note to stenographer: the foregoing song and the story are not, repeat, not to be transcribed. Pick up from here.

[Rnd of interview.]