Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Alben W. Barkley, August 4th, 1953

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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SHALETT: Senator, we were talking yesterday of Cordell Hull and his experience on Pearl Harbor day with the Japanese diplomats and so forth. I wanted to ask you: Where were you on Pearl Harbor day? And to save a little wind-up, I think I might introduce it. I believe you told me you were driving up from Paducah with the first Mrs. Barkley.

BARKLEY: Yes, we were on our way to Washington. And we had spent the night in Wytheville, Virginia, W-y-t-h-e-v-i-l-l-e, Saturday night. And we started out Sunday morning leisurely to drive to Washington, trying to get some program on the radio in the car as we drove along. But we couldn't get anything that was very interesting, so we turned off the radio. We drove on to Washington during the day and never turned it back on until we got to Fairfax, Virginia, which 00:01:00is only fifteen or sixteen miles out of Washington across the Potomac River. And when we turned it on there to see what was happening, not dreaming what we would hear, of course, the whole radio was filled with the attack on Pearl Harbor, which had occurred at one o'clock that day. Well, we were, of course, shocked, and we realized what it meant. We drove on home where we lived over on Cleveland Avenue in Washington, and when we got there we found that President Roosevelt had called a conference that night of members of both House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans, the chairmen of committees, and important leaders to discuss the situation. I attended that conference, of course. It lasted well into the evening, and the upshot was that everybody 00:02:00agreed that there was no course to be pursued except to declare war or accept a--to adopt a resolution accepting the state of war which had been forced upon us by Japan. And President Roosevelt, the next day, I think it was the next day, addressed a joint session of the two houses in which he recited all that had happened leading up to that attack. And Congress very promptly adopted the resolution declaring that a state of war existed between the United States and Japan. We were in the war then for keeps.

SHALETT: What was Roosevelt's mood at the conference the night before his address to Congress?

BARKLEY: Well, his mood was, of course, very sad in a way, that this episode, this attack, made it necessary for us to go into the war. He had done everything he could to keep out of it, just as Wilson had done, although realizing the possibility, 00:03:00and had urged many measures of preparation so that we would not be caught unawares. And yet he was indignant; he felt determined that we could not accept an insult like that, an attack upon our very institutions, our own territory in Hawaii and our own Navy. It would be unthinkable if we didn't accept that challenge. He was sad because it had to be done, because it meant the loss of hundreds of thousands, and it might be millions of lives, nobody could then tell. But there was no alternative, and as I recall when the resolution was passed in the Senate, there was only one vote against it. I doubt if--I don't believe there was a single vote against it in the House, but there was one vote, I think, against it in the Senate, and I'll have to check on that to make sure.

SHALETT: I think you're right on that.

BARKLEY: I think it was Senator Lang(??), I believe, that voted against it. I'm not certain. I would want to make--


BARKLEY: --sure of that, but there was one vote against it.

SHALETT: I wouldn't be a bit surprised if one woman voted 00:04:00against it in the House, but that's easy to check.

BARKLEY: Well, that may be.

[Pause in recording.]

SHALETT: Was the tenor, the mood at this conference, was it formal? Was the president formal as if he were presiding over a meeting? Or did he--

BARKLEY: No, no. It was not formal; it was informal. Everybody, of course, discussed the situation. Everybody was agreed that there wasn't anything else that we could do. I don't remember the names of all those who were there. It's not important, because those conferences frequently happened, and you took no note of who all was there and made a record of it. As I've told you before, I kept no diary day by day, because it was a piece of drudgery that I was not ever willing to submit myself to. But it was a conference made up of practically the same number of men from both political parties in the House and in the Senate.

SHALETT: Did the president use any strong language?

BARKLEY: Oh well, no. He was--no expletives, no profanity or anything 00:05:00like that.

SHALETT: No, I meant--

BARKLEY: But he was very strong. He used strong language in denouncing this cowardly attack upon us by Japan at the very moment when Japanese representatives were pretending to be here to negotiate a settlement of all the difficulties that were outstanding between this country and Japan.

SHALETT: What I was getting at, despite his sadness, he did flash a certain amount of fire.

BARKLEY: Oh, yes. He was very indignant about the whole thing and felt that an outrage had been committed upon our country and there was no way for us to meet it except to fight it out with them.

SHALETT: Jumping to another momentous day which you witnessed, what do you recall about the day that President Roosevelt died?

BARKLEY: Well, of course, he died down at Warm Springs, Georgia; he was not in Washington at the time. I saw him about an hour before he left Washington for Warm Springs.

SHALETT: I think you've told that and how you felt he'd 00:06:00never come back.

BARKLEY: Yes, I think--and Senator Thomas of Utah was with me. And when we left, I felt and I think I remarked that he--I didn't believe he'd ever come back. Well, he went on to Warm Springs. I had no further communication with him, and on the day when he died, I got a telephone message telling me about it, and I called Senator Tom Connally.

SHALETT: Were you in Washington?

BARKLEY: I was in Washington. I called Senator Tom Connally and told him about it, and I said I think we ought to go down and see Mrs. Roosevelt. And he and I went down to the White House to see Mrs. Roosevelt and had a long talk with her. And she, of course, was very sad, but she was very brave in regard to it, and she felt that it was the best thing, that is, that it was God's way, and that she was reconciled to it, and in the long run, it was the best.

SHALETT: You mean for it to happen quickly.

BARKLEY: For it to happen quickly, and also, although the loss was terrible to her and her family and the country, she felt 00:07:00that it was the divine way and that she was reconciled to it. It turned out that Mr. Truman had been called first by Mrs. Roosevelt and advised of the president's death, and he went down immediately to take the oath of office, because there had to be a president. It turned out that he had tried to reach me by telephone to have me come and witness the taking of the oath, but he couldn't reach me. And the reason he couldn't was because Senator Connally and I were down at the White House to express our deep sorrow and regret to Mrs. Roosevelt.

SHALETT: Otherwise you would have witnessed the ceremony.

BARKLEY: Otherwise I would have witnessed the ceremony of swearing in Mr. Truman as president.

SHALETT: What--can you recall possibly what flashed through your mind as this message came to you that Roosevelt had died?

BARKLEY: Oh well, a whole flood of things flashed through my mind, nothing very personal that related itself to me, because--

SHALETT: No, I meant did you say anything to yourself or--

BARKLEY: Well, I said, of course, that--I did say this, I 00:08:00said, "Well, I am not only grievously disappointed and feel sorrowful over the death of the president, but I'm greatly surprised in one sense, because notwithstanding his physical affliction, with which we were all acquainted and which I witnessed day-by-day to such an extent that I finally got so I never noticed it, I said I believed that he would have the physical and spiritual stamina to live through his fourth term.


BARKLEY: But I said it didn't turn out that way. But I--the man was so strong of will and determined, that I had a sort of a feeling, notwithstanding that I had said to Senator Thomas when he--when we saw him before he left for Warm Springs that he might never return, I sort of had an inward feeling that notwithstanding all that, that a man with that determination and that 00:09:00courage, which he had exhibited ever since he had been afflicted by this infantile paralysis from 1921 on, that he would weather the storm and come through it and live out his full term.

SHALETT: As you say, when you got to see him over the years daily you forgot his affliction.

BARKLEY: Oh, yeah. You got so you paid no attention to it. I mean, it just became a matter of course, and you knew there was no remedy for it, it was a hopeless affliction, so far as any physical cure was concerned. But you got so used to it that you didn't observe it. At first, when I first used to see him after he was afflicted, when he attended conventions on crutches and had these steel braces up and down his legs fastened around his hips so that he could stand on them, and when I sat with him in rooms at hotels during conventions, I, of course, noticed it. It was something that impressed itself on you as a terrible affliction for a strong man who was a 00:10:00perfect specimen of young manhood when he was Assistant Secretary of the Navy in Washington.

SHALETT: Made you a little wood-eyed actually when you saw it for the first time.

BARKLEY: To see a man like that stricken by this disease, which is very prevalent among children, but rarely attacks adults, that it was--it made you feel a sense of pity or something, not exactly pity, but great sorrow that a man of that stature and that disposition and that determination and that capacity should be so stricken with this disease. And yet it created in you a profound admiration that he had overcome it and risen above it to serve his country in such a remarkable way and leave such a deep impress upon the history of this country, which I will at another time discuss more in detail.

SHALETT: Um-hm. Senator, you've been telling me that at your first talk with Truman after Roosevelt's death, when he told you how he 00:11:00tried to reach you, he had an extremely humble attitude about the honor that had come to him, and he deprecated his ability. What did you finally say to him?

BARKLEY: Well, in the first conversation after I went down to the White House, and he told me that he'd been trying to reach me to have me witness the ceremony of being sworn in, and I told him that we were all back of him and that we would render any assistance we could, and he thanked me and said that he wanted me to carry on, of course, as majority leader, just as I had under Roosevelt. I had no other intention, of course, and Mr. Truman began to rather deprecate his situation. He was extremely humble and modest about it all, and finally I thought a little too much so, because he very frequently said that he wished he hadn't been president--wished he hadn't been vice president, he 00:12:00wished he were not president, that he never wanted to be. And those expressions on his part of a lack of a confidence in himself or something, not necessarily that, but that such a terrible responsibility cast upon him overnight without any warning, and the war still progressing in Europe and in Asia, it was enough to make a man feel not only humble but contrite, and maybe feel that after all he didn't have all the equipment necessary to lead the nation through that crisis. It got in some of the papers that he said things like that, so I one day said to him, "Mr. President, I realize how you feel about this job that you have inherited but," I said, "you've got it, you're president of the United States. And I hope you will no longer deprecate your own personal situation or minimize your ability to carry on." I said, "God raises up 00:13:00leaders. We do not know the process, but in the province of almighty God, you have been made president of the United States, and you'll have all the help that any of us can give you." And I said, "I think you ought to have confidence in yourself, because if you don't have confidence in your own ability to guide this country, the people will lose confidence in you, and therefore however humble and contrite you may feel about it, I would not continue to express that feeling, because you've got to go forward. You've got to lead the nation out of this war in Europe and in Asia, and you can do it." I said, "You just have confidence in yourself and trust in the God that brought this condition around, and you'll make it all right." And he thanked me and--

SHALETT: He took it well.

BARKLEY: And he took it--oh, he took it well. And he--I think others also gave him similar advice, and he didn't continue that 00:14:00self-deprecation which he at first felt, because it was an overwhelming responsibility that had been wished upon him, and of course, went forward, as I will describe at another place, to do some of the most courageous things in a world crisis that any president of the United States ever did.

SHALETT: We talked the other day at length on your views of the House of Representatives. And if my memory's correct, we put on--you put on the fact that you think the House is too large and should be reduced in size to not more than 250. You had other thoughts about how a man can get lost in this jungle of the House.

BARKLEY: Well, yes. I think I expressed the viewpoint that I thought the House was larger than it ought to be, and the reason why it is larger is because every ten years when a new census was taken and there had to be a reapportionment of members of Congress among the states according to population, Congress was unwilling to--for a long time to make it necessary for any state to 00:15:00lose a member of the House. And therefore they increased the number at each ten-year census so that no state would lose a member, and that meant that many states who had gained in population would get increases. And the whole membership was thereby increased until in 1913, after the census of 1910, there was no longer any room in the House of Representatives chamber for any more desks. And they took all the desks out and put benches in so they could accommodate 435 members instead of 391, which had been true prior to that time. And that illustrates that every ten years they would increase the membership of the House so that the states that gained no population and therefore was not entitled to an increase would not lose one. 00:16:00And in that way, the House grew like Topsy until it got so big they had to stop its growth. And since 1913, there's been no increase in the membership of the House. And what I meant the other day by saying that I thought the House was too big and too cumbersome, and that if I had my way about it, I would reduce its membership and thereby make it more efficient, because I think 250 members would do the work of Congress as well as 435, and they might do it better. But of course, it's beyond human expectation to hope for any decrease in the House, because as Artemis Ward one time remarked--I think maybe I've quoted him before--that one man has as much human nature in him as another, if not more. (Shalett laughs) And that is as true of the members of Congress as well as it is others. And it would be probably too much to expect that they would ever, either by constitutional amendment, limit the membership of the House, or by legislation, 00:17:00which they could do without any constitutional amendment, reduce the membership of the House and completely reapportion the membership that would be left after such a reduction among the states according to their population, which has to be done under the Constitution. But one of the difficulties about--of course, our House of Representatives is nothing like as large as the chambers of many of the other countries. In Europe they have the Chamber of Deputies, the House--even the Belgian Chamber of--House of Representatives or what corresponds to our House of Representatives, in some of those smallest countries they have larger membership than we do, but that doesn't argue in favor of its efficiency. But one of the difficulties is, as I experienced myself when I was in the House for fourteen years, one of the difficulties is that able men come there and they 00:18:00start in at the bottom, they're new members, they go on a committee, they go at the bottom of that committee and have to work their way up, as men above them on the committee either die or retire from the House, and they gradually move up until they are--become chairman of the committee, if they're there long enough and if their party is in control of the House. Or if not, they become what we call ranking minority member of the committee. But it takes a long time to work your way up to that position. And until you get into such a position, of course, unless you're a man of outstanding ability and well-recognized everywhere, there's not much chance to display your real knowledge of economic, political, and social conditions so as to gain a wide reputation for your ability and your contribution to the legislation. Now, that does not mean that many members 00:19:00whose names never get into the headlines do not render valuable and outstanding service, both in committees and on the floor of the House. But I've often said that many able men come there from their districts, and they're overwhelmed by numbers, and they feel a sort of a sense of frustration after two or three terms, they have not been able to accomplish a great deal in their judgment and in the judgment of the country, and they frequently go back to their business or to their profession through discouragement over the fact that it takes a long time to work your way up to the top in the House of Representatives. And it's true to some extent in the Senate, except the Senate is a smaller body, and there is more opportunity to be recognized early in your service than there is in the House. But notwithstanding that handicap in the House, as I have seen it and experienced it, the fact that a member of 00:20:00Congress does not obtain a nationwide reputation or have his name blazoned upon the headlines of the newspapers, in no way militates against the effectiveness of his work or the value of his service to the country, because he sits in committees where legislation is framed. His advice, his counsel, his experience are all matters which can be utilized for the service of the committee or the Congress or the country. And while they get no general public recognition for that, and not much publicity, there is a great deal of satisfaction, inwardly, in knowing that you have done a good job and that you have contributed to the legislative history of the country, not only by your vote in committee and on the floor, but also in your advice and counsel and your responsibility in trying to frame legislation before it is actually 00:21:00taken up for passage in either House or Senate. And in that way, a great many men render service for which they never get any public credit. And comparatively few men, due to this process and this handicap and this long tenure, which is usually required for a man to establish his feet firmly in the Congress as an outstanding legislator or in the estimation of the country, that the result is that, out of the total number of men in the House over any given period of years, comparatively few of them reach the point where they are outstanding in public recognition of their service, and so on. Of course, it would be impossible for me to catalog all 00:22:00the men in either House or Senate during my forty years who have attained nationwide recognition for their service. As I've already indicated, Carter Glass served for ten years from a Virginia district. He received no recognition much, people didn't hear of him, he was not one of the vociferous members of the House. But when he became chairman of the Committee on Banking and Currency and was the author of the bill that passed the House creating the Federal Reserve System, immediately he came into public notice and was recognized as one of the ablest men in the House of Representatives. Later, Wood--

SHALETT: Nationally, he was a non-entity up until that time.

BARKLEY: Well, up to that time. He was not a non-entity, as far as his ability, character.

SHALETT: I mean a household word.

BARKLEY: But the country hadn't heard of him. I'd scarcely heard of him myself when I went to Congress. Well, he became Secretary of the Treasury under Woodrow Wilson and then went to the Senate and stayed there until he died, and was recognized as one of the outstanding members, a man of courage and ability and foresight, and 00:23:00so on. Well, the same thing happened in regard to Oscar Underwood, who was chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. He was a member of Congress a long time before anybody heard of him. He was a member of the Ways and Means Committee and worked himself up gradually to be chairman of it when the Democrats came into power. And when I went back home from my first session of Congress and happened to be in conversation with a former Congressman from my district, Charles K. Wheeler, whom I've mentioned heretofore, and happened to speak about Oscar Underwood as a great chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and a great leader of the Democratic Party in the House, Mr. Wheeler said, "Why, I served with him when I was in the House, and we didn't think much of his ability." Well, I said, "Of course, he was a young man at that time, but," I said, "he certainly has shown great ability in his leadership 00:24:00of the House, and the people of Alabama probably will send him to the Senate," which they did in 1914, and he became chairman of the Finance Committee there. No, I'm mistaken about that. He did not become chairman of the Finance Committee, but he became the Democratic leader of the Senate, a position which he occupied. So that illustrates that--what I am trying to say about the House of Representatives, that while it is overwhelmed by numbers and thereby makes it more difficult for a man of ability to rise rapidly to public recognition, if the people of the Congressional district will keep their members there long enough, if they're faithful and able and do good work, the longer they stay in the House, the higher they go in committee and in the estimation of the House, and they may hope ultimately to become outstanding leaders, though they may never hold the official position of leader of the party in the House of Representatives. I remember when I went there, John W. Davis was a member of the House 00:25:00of Representatives from West Virginia. He lived at Clarksburg, West Virginia. He was a very able man in the House, he had rendered outstanding service, he was a great lawyer and recognized as a great lawyer, but the country at large didn't know much about him. He was a very handsome man; he still is, though he's up in eighty years of age. He didn't stay in the House long after I went there, because President Wilson appointed him Solicitor General of the United States, whose duty it is to argue the cases before the Supreme Court on behalf of the government. And then Mr. Wilson appointed him as ambassador to England to succeed Walter Hines Page, who was a great friend of Mr. Wilson, and who'd been our wartime ambassador to Great Britain, and who wrote a very remarkable series of letters to 00:26:00Wilson, which have been published, and so forth. He was a member of the organization known as Doubleday, Page and Company at that time. It's now just Doubleday, book publishers. And when he resigned as ambassador, President Wilson appointed John W. Davis. Now, I remember one day talking to Mr. Wilson about our ambassadors, generally. Up until that time, we had not adopted any policy of furnishing homes to the ambassadors. Since that, our government has been wise enough to adopt a policy of establishing permanent homes for our ambassadors. And in many cases, in order to maintain an ambassador's dignity, his position, his standing in the country to which he's sent, he had to pay more for rent of a house, suitable house, than his salary as ambassador. Well, up to 00:27:00that time, I don't think Mr. Davis was a man of any great means, and Mr. Wilson was saying that I'm having difficulty, said, "I want to appoint a very able man as our ambassador to Great Britain, but the salary is so small, and he's not a man of great means, that I am having difficulty getting him to serve, or finding anybody of equal ability who's willing to serve on the salary." Well, he shortly thereafter appointed Mr. Davis, and he made a very outstanding ambassador to Great Britain. Then when Harding came in, of course, he--Mr. Davis resigned as ambassador, which is customary when there's a change of party, and Mr. Harding appointed Colonel George Harvey. I think I mentioned him in connection with Wilson's first campaign. When Wilson was asked by Colonel Harvey, then editor of Harper's Weekly, whether he thought his support was damaging him, and Wilson was frank enough to say he thought it was, whereupon Colonel Harvey deserted Mr. Wilson and 00:28:00supported Mr. Harding. And then Harding appointed Colonel Harvey ambassador to Great Britain to succeed John W. Davis, and so forth. Well, then there's another very able man in the House of Representatives when I went there, Mitchell Palmer, A. Mitchell Palmer. He was a Congressman from the Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania district. He'd been elected either two years or four years before. I think he was elected in the middle of Taft's term. Anyhow, he'd been in the House either two years or four years when I was elected, and he was a member of the Ways and Means Committee. And he was a very able man, he was a very able lawyer, he was a striking-looking man physically, tall and well-built, with a very finely chiseled face, and as beautiful a suit of white hair as I ever saw crown a man, and he 00:29:00was only in middle-age. He was prematurely gray. He had a very florid face, and his white hair contrasted with that to make him a very extraordinary-looking man. Well, he was one of the ablest men with whom I served. And in 1920, he was a real serious candidate for the Democratic nomination for president at the convention in San Francisco, but Governor Cox, as I've already stated, got that nomination. Later, President Wilson appointed Mr. Palmer Alien Property Custodian, having charge of all the property that had been sequestered by our government, belonging to aliens of Germany, Austria, and so forth. And it was--then he was made Attorney General by Mr. Wilson during Wilson's latter days or latter years. He appointed Mitchell Palmer his Attorney General. And he had been very 00:30:00active in the prosecution and the apprehension of those who had been guilty of sabotage and subversive influences. And an effort was made to take his life. A bomb was dropped at his front door there in Washington. And there was some mishap in regard to it, and the bomb exploded and blew the man who had thrown it, seeking Palmer's life, into bits, just--they could never pick up enough of them to put them together. It didn't do any harm, of course, to Mr. Palmer or any of his family, but it created quite a sensation at the time, and it was supposed to be somebody who was resentful of Mr. Palmer's activity as Attorney General against the enemies of the country who were guilty of sabotage in an effort to thwart the war effort and so on. Well, of course, neither Mr. 00:31:00Davis nor Mr. Palmer, who were both members of the House and outstanding members of the House when I went there, stayed there long. Davis was appointed Solicitor General, and later Mitchell Palmer was appointed to these other positions, but they--Mr. Palmer has been dead now some years, but John W. Davis, at this time, is still living, and very--of course, when he came back from England as ambassador, he entered the practice of law in New York and has become a great international lawyer and has become a great--recognized as one of the ablest lawyers in the United States at this time and, I suppose, has accumulated quite a fortune in the practice of law since he returned from his ambassadorship, but that's a matter that I know nothing about personally.

SHALETT: I think we're the close to the end of our reel, Senator. You might just have time to give me as a footnote to the Irvin Cobb chapter his classic retort to Miss Hebe, was it? What did she say to him and what did he say to her? Miss Hebe was ----------(??)?

BARKLEY: Miss Hebe Hamilton. She was the first columnist I ever 00:32:00read anything about, and she was the first short-haired woman I ever saw. She was a--she worked on the same paper where Irvin worked, and when Irvin came home from New York, they'd usually get off somewhere together and have a long conversation, reminiscing and so forth. And she was noted for not being too tidy. She was a very lovely woman and everybody respected her, but she took no particular care of her clothes or of her appearance, because she was rather odd and all that.

[Pause in recording.]

SHALETT: Shalett again on side one, reel fifteen. Senator, you were cut off while telling the Irvin Cobb story.

BARKLEY: Yes. Well, I was saying that Miss Hebe Hamilton, who'd been a worker on the newspaper with Mr. Cobb, was not noted for being tidy or well-groomed, although perfectly respectable and a respected woman by everybody. And on one of these trips back to Paducah by 00:33:00Irvin Cobb, he, as usual, found himself in conversation with Miss Hebe. And they were, I suppose, reminiscing about a good many things and their association, and they got into what seemed to be quite an argument over something. And finally Miss Hebe said, "Well, Irvin, I guess I'm just a wishy-washy old woman." And Irvin said, "Well, Miss Hebe, you may be wishy, but nobody would ever say that you're washy." (Shalett laughs) Well, that was a very characteristic retort of Irvin, even at the expense of Miss Hebe.

SHALETT: Senator, while you were talking about Mitchell Palmer's bombing, it occurred to me, how soon did the Secret Service put a guard on you after the Puerto Rican attempt on President Truman's life?

BARKLEY: Well, immediately. As soon as they could get them out there. I was speaking in Harrisburg, Illinois, in Senator Scott Lucas's campaign for re-election in 1950. And as I walked into the front door of the courthouse, I was told of the attempt on President Truman's 00:34:00life at Blair House in Washington. Well, I was so shocked by it that it upset me considerably, and I don't think I was at my best in making a speech. I announced to the crowd what had happened in Washington, and there was a murmur of shock and surprise that went through the audience and all that. And I finished my speech though, and I was still--I was traveling then by chartered airplane, as I had in '48. I traveled over the country for practically a month in '50 and went into twenty-six states of the Union in a Congressional election. So I flew into Chicago, and when I got there, there were five secret service men, which--who had been assigned to me, because they found in Washington that there was a number of others besides the president on the list of these people who were trying to assassinate him and I was on the list. And President Truman said he'd tried to reach me to tell me he was doing this, but he couldn't reach me, and he 00:35:00went ahead and sent them anyhow. They were in Chicago when I got there and they stayed with me all the rest of the campaign. It was not very long, because this was, as I recall, the first of November when this attack occurred, and the election was only a few days later.

SHALETT: And you later prevailed on the Pres--on the Secret Service to cut it down to one.

BARKLEY: Oh, yes. I--when I got back to Washington, I didn't feel I needed five men trailing me around. They were fine men, and all that, but I just didn't feel that I was in any danger in the first place, and that I didn't need five men, and if anybody wanted to take a pot shot at me out of a window or from behind an automobile or somewhere, that they could do it before five men or any other amount of men could prevent it. So I finally persuaded the president to reduce the number to one, and also Mr. Baughman, who's head of the Secret Service. And they agreed, if I wanted it that way, to reduce the number. But they said if anything happens that indicates that 00:36:00you ought to have more men, we're going to put them with you, and so forth. They were very fine men. I don't know of a finer group of public servants in the United States than the Secret Service men.

SHALETT: Yeah. As a post-mortem at breakfast this morning, on discussing royalty who have known you, for a non-card-playing--

BARKLEY: You're quoting George Allen now.

SHALETT: Right. For a non-card-playing man, you've come up with a couple of more kings in your hand.

BARKLEY: (laughs) Well, these kings in real life are about the only kings I know much about. All my life I've been too busy to learn how to play cards, and I don't play any card game that's known to man. Now, they say I've missed a lot of fun by not being able to play cards, but I say that probably I've saved a lot of money also by not being able. Anyhow, in the list of prominent people whom I met and talked with and appreciated on my trip to Europe in World War I and later, I met two kings whom I think it 00:37:00might be well to mention. One was young King Michael or Mi-hel--Ma-hel, they call him, but Michael is what we say, young king of Rumania. He's the son of Carol, not--notorious king, ex-king of Rumania. We went out to see him and his mother, who was a very lovely woman, well-educated and refined and a very handsome woman. She's the sister of King Paul of Greece, and also of his predecessor, King George of Greece. They're brothers and sisters. Well, they were practically prisoners in the house where they lived in Bucharest. And we realized that, and we all felt that the Communists wouldn't allow them to remain there very long.

SHALETT: Did they actually have Communist guards around the place?

BARKLEY: Well, they were not visible, but they were there. And the Communists were in control of Rumania. And later, not very long 00:38:00after we had the visit with the young king and his mother, they compelled them to leave, and now he's in exile somewhere. I don't know whether in London or Paris, some other country. And we felt at the time they were not going to allow them to stay very long. She told us that the Communists would not permit her even to get word to her brother, who was king of Greece, or get any word from him. Although they were brother and sister, they would allow no communication whatever between them. Well, that's--

SHALETT: Do you think your conversation was wire-tapped?

BARKLEY: Well, I wouldn't know. It probably was, because they're pretty clever at that sort of thing, and there was no way for us to know. There was nothing happened after that that indicated one way or the other, but I'm quite sure that they had some means of detecting what we were saying, although it was purely a courtesy visit, which we made in response to an invitation from the queen mother and young king. Well then, of course down in Greece--

SHALETT: Excuse me. You had--did you have refreshments with them?


BARKLEY: We had refreshments there at the house.

SHALETT: And a brief audience.

BARKLEY: Brief audience, yes, with the queen mother and with the young king, who spoke perfect English, as his mother did, a very attractive, handsome young fellow. We thought he had--gave every appearance of being beautifully raised by his mother, not by his father, particularly, who had become a rather disreputable character so far as conduct was concerned, and took up with Madame Lupescu and wandered all around over the earth, and now I think later married her in Mexico City, but that's out of the story.

SHALETT: They asked nothing of you, no message--

BARKLEY: Nothing.

SHALETT: --to America or anything.

BARKLEY: Nothing whatever, except that they wished to--the American people to understand their situation and that they were friendly to us and that they couldn't help or control in any way what the Communists were doing and their attitude toward us and the rest of the free world. Well then, we went to Athens. We were on the same 00:40:00mission, and shortly before that, King George of Greece had died and had been succeeded by his brother Paul. We had representatives in Greece, who were there administering the aid which we were giving to Greece and Turkey under the Truman doctrine, which was to give aid to Greece and Turkey so that they might be stronger to resist possible attack of Russia against Turkey and Greece, because they were right up against the guns, right up on the boundary of Russia and were in danger all the time. Well, we were invited by the king and his wife to come out to the palace for a visit for refreshments and for--I'm--I think a dinner. I think they had a--we had dinner out there, and we spent quite a long time with them. A very wonderful couple, a very popular couple, in spite of all the danger growing out of the Russia and Greek situation, King Paul had--against the advice even of his ministers had gone up into 00:41:00the north of Greece in a Jeep, which he drove himself, and circulated out among the people in the small town, which made him very popular with the people. And she, the queen, Frederica, had done the same thing in regard to welfare work and charity, looking after the people. She'd visit the small communities and dispense charity and try to help them, with the Red Cross, and all other kinds of similar activities. And the people, the small people on the streets, would pick her up and carry her on their shoulders to show their appreciation of her. Well, she was a very beautiful woman. The truth is that I do not know of a handsomer couple than King Paul and his wife. Of course, they were cousins when they married, not first cousins, but they were third or fourth cousins. The king himself, Paul, was a descendent through the English royal house of Queen 00:42:00Victoria.

SHALETT: Somehow you touched her enough so that she told you the story of her courtship.

BARKLEY: Well, she did. And she was a descendent of the Kaiser, granddaughter, I think, or great-granddaughter of the Kaiser, who also was a descendent of Queen Victoria, grandson of Queen Victoria, as I've already indicated. All those royal families, you know, they get mixed up considerably in their marriage relations, but--

SHALETT: ----------(??) got kinfolks in their blood, huh?

BARKLEY: (laughs) That's right.

SHALETT: (laughs)

BARKLEY: Well both the king and queen of Greece are descendents of old Queen Victoria. And in that relationship, they are cousins to some degree, but not close enough to prevent a marriage, and not far off enough to make them unlikely to fall in love with each other. Well, she told us during this visit the story of her courtship by the king. He was not then king. She was educated in an English college over at Florence, Italy, which was conducted 00:43:00under the supervision of the League of Nations. Well, while she was a student there, this cousin of hers, Paul, came down to visit her, stayed quite a while. And he was a rather--he was a very handsome young man and eligible, and she fell in love with him while he was there, but he didn't know it. She never let on to him that she had fallen desperately in love with him, and he left there without her knowing--without him knowing it, although he liked her, but he went away and stayed nine months. She never heard from him during that whole time. And she said one day she wired him and said, "Why don't you come back here and visit your cousin?" Whereupon he went back and visited his cousin, and they saw a lot of each other, and she was still desperately in love with him. And he warmed up to the situation, and they went out automobile-riding frequently on the roads around Florence and all over that country. And one day they drove along a highway--she 00:44:00told this all herself--and there was a beautiful clump of--grove of trees that sat off on a little hill off from the road. He stopped his car, like young couples will, and walked up and sat down on a rock in this grove of trees. And in that romantic atmosphere, he proposed to her, and she accepted at once, and then said, "Why didn't you propose to me before we reached this grove?" Well, he said, "Do you think I'd be vulgar enough to propose marriage to you while riding in an automobile?" (both laugh)

SHALETT: How in the world--

BARKLEY: She said she didn't make--it didn't make any difference to her whether it was in the automobile or in the grove of trees, that she'd been waiting for it impatiently for some time. Well, that all made a very human story of their courtship and marriage and their relationship. They have a lovely family of three children, and before bedtime, they all were called in to shake hands with us. And they're a very lovely family.

SHALETT: How in the world did you find the occasion to 00:45:00get that story from her? Did she warm up to you and--

BARKLEY: Well, we talked about nearly everything, about the condition of Greece and about the trouble the world was in. And I noted, of course, what perfect English she spoke, and I commented on it. And then she told me where she was educated, over here at Florence in this English school, and then she just moved into her courtship with the young prince, at that time, but not king. Nobody knew he'd ever be king.

SHALETT: Uh-huh.

[Pause in recording.]

SHALETT: Senator, we're going to resume our discussion, with your permission, of personalities with whom you've served in the House and Senate.

BARKLEY: Yes. I think I will mention some of the men. I couldn't, of course, mention all of those worthy of mentioning in the House of Representatives where I served fourteen years, and where there's always a great turnover. There's always a great turnover in the membership of the House, because they have to run every two years. And 00:46:00no Congress is ever made up of the same identity of men that the previous Congress is made up of, in the very nature of things. Some retire voluntarily, some are defeated for re-nomination in their party, and then some are defeated in November. But I would like to mention some of those with whom I served who deeply impressed me and who were outstanding in their service in the House of Representatives and to the country. One of them is Claude Kitchen of North Carolina. Claude Kitchen was a very fine-looking man, a very fine speaker. He was one of the best rough-and-tumble debaters I ever saw in the House or in the Senate. He was quick and alert, and he was perfect at repartee. And he gave the opposition, even when he was in the minority, he gave them great trouble through his ability as a debater. But when he was majority leader and 00:47:00chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, which he became, following Oscar Underwood's election to the Senate in 1914, he kept the opposition on defense all of the time. He came from a very prominent family in North Carolina. His brother, William Kitchen, was a governor of the state. And if Claude Kitchen had not died rather prematurely, he probably would have become a senator himself from the state, but he contracted some disability of some kind that I never knew quite what it was, it was rather mysterious, but it seems that his brother had died of the same thing. And he died, oh, I should say six or eight years after I went there, but he was a man of impeccable honesty. He was a man of undoubted courage. He was utterly unapproachable by anybody, any interest, to deviate from his conception 00:48:00of duty. And he would no more have considered receiving even a small reward for anything he did in his capacity as representative, than he would have considered breaking into a house and robbing it, or a bank or anything of that sort. And I have a very--I had a very high regard for him as a man, and after all, that's what creates confidence in public servants, their private character. If they're honest, if they're sincere, if they are moral in their conduct, privately and publicly, that very fact establishes the confidence of the people in them. And I've always found that a man who is honest in his private affairs, who is guilty of no serious misconduct beyond the ordinary frailties of human nature in his private life, will in all probability be an honest public servant. And on the other hand, 00:49:00if a man is tricky and his conduct is questionable, his methods are devious in his private dealings with his fellow man in private, he is apt to be of the same type in public office. If he is immoral in his private conduct, he may be immoral in his public life. So, Claude Kitchen combined private morality, private integrity, with an impeccable public honesty, and I--that's why I feel that he is entitled to some mention by me.

SHALETT: Do you recall any examples of his repartee?

BARKLEY: Oh, it's been so long, of course, since I served in the House--

[Pause in recording.]

SHALETT: Senator, to borrow one of your phrases, you've been gypsying in a Lincoln on this vacation, which I'm interrupting for you. I understand that you'd been a member of Congress five years before you could ever afford an automobile and used to have to ride in a surrey or something.

BARKLEY: Yeah. Well, I--I'm--I was twenty-five years old when I married, 00:50:00and my wife was twenty. And of course, we started raising a family. And I was a prosecuting attorney, which didn't pay very much, and then I was elected a judge and it paid a little more, but not too much. And when I ran for Congress in 1912, which I've described, I had to expend every dollar that I had saved and every dollar I could borrow in order to carry on the campaign, which was successful, but it left me in debt. And when I went to Washington with my family, I was in debt several thousand dollars from my campaign expenses. And of course, I had to devote myself first to paying off that obligation. I couldn't let that run indefinitely, so I was never able to buy an automobile until 1917, five years after I had been elected to Congress. And the first automobile I bought was an old Dodge touring car, with side curtains of isinglass, you know, you had to put them up every time it rained. And you'd get out and put them 00:51:00up when the rain came, and it took you so long to put them up that you got soaked before you could get them fastened, but it did protect the rest of the family who was sitting in the car. Well, the--it's a far cry from that old Ford--I mean, that old Dodge.

SHALETT: It had a great big hood, didn't it? Great big--

BARKLEY: Had a hood about the size of a thimble, just about. (Shalett laughs) It was four-cylinder, and you always had to put it in either second or first gear in order to climb the slightest little hill. And I remember in 1920 I still had that car, and I took my wife and children home around through--up the Hudson and the Mohawk Valleys, as I have already indicated. And it's a very hard--you couldn't get it more--much more than twenty-five miles an hour. And if you climbed a little hill of any kind, you had to throw it into first or second gear. And you had to always put it in second gear going down the mountains, because 00:52:00if it got a speed on it that you couldn't control, you were liable to dump your whole family over the mountainside. So I always went down hills in second, and sometimes in first, which automatically held the car back. Of course, that's a lot of--there's a lot of difference between that old car and the one I'm using now, which I'm proud to say that on a long trip like this that we're taking, is very comfortable to drive and to ride in. And they've improved the mechanism of automobiles now, until they've got nearly everything except a kitchen. And I was joking the other day with a friend of mine, I said, "When I get home, I'm going to put a bathtub and toilet in this one to make it really comfortable." (laughs)

SHALETT: But before you got--had the teakettle, you actually drove a surrey with a fringe on top--

BARKLEY: Oh, yes. We had--my family--I had two children, small children, and I felt they ought to get out in the country and get a little fresh air and drive them around, so I bought an old mare named Nell and bought a surrey, a second-handed surrey 00:53:00with the fringe on the top. And I was then county judge of my--of McCracken County, and we'd take that old surrey and this old mare, who later died on me in the stable in the backyard of the house where I lived. I got gypped on her. I paid 125 dollars for her. She was a beautiful thing to look at, but she wasn't worth a dern. She couldn't trot as fast as a puppy dog. But anyhow, she got us out in the country.

SHALETT: Who put that over on you?

BARKLEY: A fellow from one of the other counties. He was not a native of my county, but I don't remember his name, but he certainly did. It was a beautiful animal, but she had something wrong with her, and she died shortly after that. But of course, that old surrey, that was--it was not an odd thing then for people to ride in surreys. I've got on my place now an old surrey that was used by the man who built that house a hundred years ago to drive into town. He was a lawyer. And the surrey's no good; it's just a sort of a 00:54:00relic. And my first wife thought it was so appropriate to that old house that she wanted it to stay in the barn, but it was in the way and I pulled it out into the yard there, and I've offered to give it to one of the antique dealers down there in my home. But we enjoyed that old surrey and that old horse. We had a good time with it, but we couldn't go as fast as you could walk on a cold, frosty morning. But later on I finally did manipulate my finances so I could buy this automobile and pay a small down payment and pay so much a month on it until I paid for it.

SHALETT: Did the Barkleys used to go on family picnics in the surrey and then later in the car?

BARKLEY: Yeah, we did. We enjoyed going out into the country and finding a good cool, shady place with a good grass sod and taking our picnic Sunday dinners out there with us, and enjoy the atmosphere of the country. And not only that was true in Paducah, but we enjoyed that much more even in Washington after we 00:55:00got an automobile. We would drive out into Virginia and over into Maryland and get off on a quiet shady road, or the side of a road, or under a grove of trees, and open up our kit bag and have a lovely Sunday dinner out there in the country. And the children would play all around over the place, and we had a good time. We enjoyed our family life. And our family was just a typical American family. And my election and service in Congress never made any difference with us as to our family relationship, our enjoyment of the things that we did enjoy, although, of course, my work increased in Congress, and of course the children grew larger constantly until they did not relish all those original little places we enjoyed. But my relationship with my family has always been one of intimate association and cordiality and mutual respect--



BARKLEY: --affection. And that's true now between me and my present wife and her children. She had two daughters, one of whom has married a young first lieutenant now in the Air Corps, and is being transferred now from one Air Corps base to another. And the second--the other daughter is a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin, and we are just the same as if we were all one family. I'm just as fond of those girls if they were my own, and I think they are of me. They call me Daddy just as if they were my real children.

SHALETT: Senator, all through your narrative, I've caught that whenever you were anywhere within the vicinity of an American shrine where a patriot lived or had some historical significance, you just couldn't resist going to see it for yourself. Monticello, and you mentioned one the other day.

BARKLEY: Well, the Hermitage.

SHALETT: The Hermitage and others--

BARKLEY: The Hermitage down at Nashville, which is a wonderful place, 00:57:00old Andrew Jackson's home. Monticello, Jefferson's home. Mount Vernon, of course, Washington's home, though Washington didn't build that house, his brother built it.


BARKLEY: But he later became the owner and lived there until he died. Well, there are many such places in the United States which are shrines. And I have--I always was inspired by visiting these places where the great men of the past had lived. Down at Montpelier, which was the home of Monroe--or Madison in Virginia. And Marshall Hall near Washington, which was the home of John Marshall.

SHALETT: Where they have an amusement park.

BARKLEY: Yeah, it's an amusement park now, but it's still a very beautiful old place. And of course, the Lincoln farm in Kentucky, the log cabin where he was born has been encased in a 00:58:00marble mausoleum, and is being preserved there, and it's a beautiful place. I always loved to go there, and I think every American who can do so ought to visit these places. And his home in Springfield, where he lived at the time he was elected president, which is now being preserved and is kept as a sort of a museum, a shrine.

SHALETT: Have you visited Wilson's home at Staunton, Virginia?

BARKLEY: No, I've never visited Wilson's home at Staunton. I've never been in Staunton. I drove through there. I drove through there a number of times, but I was in such a hurry I didn't have time to stop.

SHALETT: Are there any places on your list that you still want to visit?

BARKLEY: Well, of course, I ought to say that Clay's home in Lexington, Kentucky, is one of the shrines. It was a beautiful place built by him; he called it Ashland, which is the name of the home. That's distinct from Ashland, the city of Ashland, in 00:59:00East Kentucky, which is 150 to 100 miles or more, 125 miles from Clay's home. But recently an organization known as the Clay--Henry Clay Memorial Association bought the Clay home, which was still owned by Clay's descendents, direct descendents. And I was down there three or four years ago--three years ago to dedicate that Henry Clay home as a shrine, taken over by this memorial organization, just like Monticello and Mount Vernon have been taken over and preserved as shrines for the American people. And I've al--I was up in New Hampshire some years ago where my daughters were in camp. One of them became ill, and my wife and I went up there and stayed a month. And we visited a little place called Franklin, in which Daniel Webster was born, but there's nothing there much except a few houses. I never have 01:00:00visited the home in which Daniel Webster lived after he became a senator and became famous. I would like to do that sometime. I always admired the pictures of him out at Marshfield, which is the name of his home, in the midst of his cattle and all that. It looked to me like a very dignified way for a man who was prominent in the affairs of his country and a recognized statesman to have an interest like that, on a farm, and get back home and relax among his cattle. Henry Clay used to say that he loved to go out to the barn and speak, make speeches to the hogs and the calves by way of practice. And he said there was another virtue in that, that they couldn't reply to him after he finished speaking. (laughs)

SHALETT: (laughs) Where did you used to practice your youthful oratory? Did you go out in the hills or the barn?

BARKLEY: I went out in the woods.

SHALETT: In the woods.

BARKLEY: I went out in the woods.

SHALETT: Far out, huh?

BARKLEY: Yeah, I went way out in the woods. Far enough out that nobody could hear me except the jaybirds and other birds. And I used to say, and it was said of me, that 01:01:00I drove all the jaybirds out of one large woods because I made more noise than they did (laughs). And--but that's where I got my early practice, just going out to myself, get up on a stump. I was really a stump speaker. I'd climb up on a stump where somebody'd cut a tree down and stand up there as if I were on a platform and imagine a big audience out in front of me, and I'd land it on--I'd go to town.

SHALETT: Anybody ever walk up on you when you're doing that?

BARKLEY: No, I saw to that. Didn't anybody know about it. I slipped off; I didn't tell anybody where I was going. On one occasion when I was in a debate at the commencement of my college, and my associate on my side of the debate and I went out there together and we practiced on our debate, each one of us listening to the other so that we would have our speeches down pretty well, and we could also gauge any mistakes that the other made, either in delivery or in substance. And as 01:02:00a result of that, why, we got our speeches in pretty good shape, and we had our material all selected, and we won the debate. I think I've mentioned that subject in my manuscript that--

SHALETT: The Spanish War?

BARKLEY: The Spanish War.

SHALETT: But you didn't let him have your full speech.

BARKLEY: Oh, no. I--oh no, I didn't let him have my full speech. I snitched on him a little there, I guess, but he didn't care. Just as long as we won the debate, he was perfectly willing for me to help in any way that I could. But I was a little proud of that ingenuity that I had accidentally, I guess, run up on, in writing to Congress up here to get a speech that I'd read about in the newspapers. And by George, it just fitted right in. It had everything that I wanted.

SHALETT: Getting back to Joe Cannon for a minute, did you mention his [train whistle] famous feud with Nick Longworth?

BARKLEY: No, I didn't mention his famous feud with Nick Longworth. By the way, I ought to have mentioned Nick Longworth.

SHALETT: You served with him.

BARKLEY: Yeah, I served with him, yes. Of course, he was 01:03:00a member of Congress from the Cincinnati, Ohio, district a long time, and his marriage to Alice Roosevelt was the outstanding romance of the period. And of course, it was publicized everywhere, and he got as much of a reputation--although he was a man of ability and character and from an old family in Cincinnati, his marriage to Alice Roosevelt gave him as much popularity and as much of a reputation as his service in the Congress. And he became the Republican leader in Congress and became speaker. And he died while he was speaker, as I recall. I might be in error in some of these matters like that, but I think he died while he was Speaker of the House of Representatives. I served with him, and he was always a very agreeable and a very affable, friendly man, although he was of an aristocratic ancestry in a sense, a man of wealth and long-prominent family in Cincinnati, and in business, industry, and finance, and other 01:04:00ways. Nick Longworth was a very affable and a very friendly human being, and he was--he had a wonderful sense of humor, and he used to tell some rich and racy stories that created a good deal of mirth. He was also a very accomplished violinist, not professionally, but for his own entertainment and that of his friends. He was quite a violinist.

SHALETT: You mean country fiddle stuff or--

BARKLEY: Well, his was--I'd say, would rise a little above. He was not what you'd call a hillbilly.

SHALETT: Popular stuff.

BARKLEY: It was popular stuff. It was not--although he could play classical music.

SHALETT: I bet he played "Alice Blue Gown," didn't he?

BARKLEY: Probably so, though I couldn't testify to that personally. (Shalett laughs) But of course, he represented a district across from Kentucky, and we had certain mutual interests down there in the Ohio Valley, and we worked together in that matter, although we differed widely on partisan political matters. We were great friends, and Nicholas Longworth was very popular with the Democrats, as he was with the Republicans.


SHALETT: But he feuded with Cannon.

BARKLEY: He feuded with Cannon, yes. They were--I--that feud took place before I went to Congress.


BARKLEY: And I was not very close to it, and I couldn't give many of the details about it, but it was one of those cases where ambitions and interests collided. And as I recall now, after I went to Congress and--I think Nick Longworth was defeated in that same Wilson election when Uncle Joe was defeated. Anyhow, he came back again in two years, and as far as I recall, the relationship between him and Uncle Joe Cannon from then on was friendly.

SHALETT: Well, in discussing Congress here, and I might say that it's certainly a significant key to your character, you've got a story with no villains, everybody's a nice fellow. Were there no villains at all? (laughs)

BARKLEY: Well, there were some villains, but is it--was it Marc Antony over the dead body of Caesar? The good that men do 01:06:00lives after them; their evil is oft interred with their bones. (Shalett laughs) So I inter the evil with the bones of my colleagues. There's one--I think I've told the amusing incident, haven't I, about Percy Quinn of Mississippi and the controversy that grew out of the preparedness issue in Wilson's administration, and how Quinn had made a speech against it, and then made one for it, and cir--I told that.


BARKLEY: Very amusing.


BARKLEY: I've already recorded that. That was one of the curious incidents. And those things are multiplied by the dozens. It wouldn't be profitable to repeat all of them, but that was one typical thing, because Percy Quinn was a sort of a corncob statesman. He was a lawyer by profession, but he bought a laundry down in his hometown in Mississippi and got rich out of it, made 250,000 dollars. He was supposed to be worth that when he came to Congress, made most of it out of the laundry business, although he was 01:07:00a lawyer. Well, that shows that men are chosen by the people from all walks of life, all types, all kinds, and it makes up the consensus of American opinion and the collective wisdom of our country among the men whom they send to legislate for them.

[Pause in recording.]

BARKLEY: --by reason of his knowledge of them, and he was a very valuable man in that respect. He was a ruthless man. He would kill the bill of a Republican just as readily as he would a Democrat, and therefore he made a lot of enemies on his own side. And when the Democrats lost control of the House during the end of Wilson's administration, and the Republicans gained control, by all the rules, Mr. Mann was entitled to be the speaker, because it had almost been an unbroken rule that the leader of the minority, when the minority came into a majority, was made speaker of the House. Both parties adopted that rule and observed it until 01:08:00Jim Mann. And then Mann had made so many enemies on his own side by his ruthless course in his effort to protect the treasury and the government against unmeritorious legislation, that the Republicans refused to give him the speakership and elected Congressman Gillett of Massachusetts speaker instead. Well, it was a severe blow to Mr. Mann. He was a man of--he had earned it. Everybody--we all--we Democrats felt that he'd earned it by his leadership of the Republican side. But that blow to him, I think--well, it did not hasten his death--he was a healthy man at the time--but it was a serious blow and a great disappointment. And I think that he carried the scar of that disappointment and that defeat to his grave. He lived a good many years afterwards. But I always had great sympathy for him, and I felt 01:09:00that he had not received his just merits because he had been a hard-working, alert, attentive, effective leader, so effective that I sometimes became very angry with him at what he said and the course he took. But I always respected his ability and his industry and his impeccable character. And he was one of the men in opposition to our side for whom I had great respect and whose memory I cherish now. We became great personal friends before he left the House.

SHALETT: I don't guess he made himself too popular in certain quarters with that Mann Act, did he?

BARKLEY: No, that's true, but that didn't affect members of the House of Representatives, of course. (both laugh)

[Pause in recording.]

SHALETT: Senator, have you--speaking of Mr. Mann's disappointment, have you worked out a personal philosophy, not that you've needed it particularly in most of your career, for taking disappointments? If you go off and sulk 01:10:00and--you can ruin your career, your health, and your life, I suppose.

BARKLEY: Well of course, every man who starts out in life to try to carve out a public career for himself takes the chance that he may fail, because his ability to remain in public life and make it a career depends upon the will of the people. And in the House of Representatives, where they have to run every two years, no man can ever be certain that he can be returned at any given point in his two-year races for Congress. The same is true in the Senate, except that it's six years there instead of two, so that a man who, whether he's a doctor, lawyer, businessman, and it's probably more applicable to lawyers because they have a greater tendency to go from law into politics and into 01:11:00public service. The profession of law leads almost naturally into public life. I think during the history of this country from the very declaration of independence down to this hour, in both the Continental Congress, in the Constitutional Convention, and in every Congress from that time until this, lawyers have constituted about sixty to sixty-five percent of the membership, which, I've often said to bar associations, creates a tremendous responsibility on the bar, the lawyers of this country. And whatever may be said of the bar as a profession and some shysters who are rotten apples in the barrel, the legal profession is a great profession, an honorable profession, and the people still trust it because they still elect a great majority of their members of both the House and Senate from the legal profession. But, anybody who starts out to carve out a 01:12:00lifetime of public service, which is just as honorable a career as the law or medicine or teaching or anything, must know in advance that he may not win, that he will be disappointed frequently. His career may be suddenly cut short by the reaction of the people. It may be permanent or it may be temporary, so that the man who starts out with his heart set on a long public career must steel himself in advance against possible disappointment, and he must know how to take it philosophically. If he's a lawyer, he goes back to his profession, and maybe his experience in the Congress or in public life will bring new clients to him by reason of his experience and his standing and his reputation. If he's a businessman, his experience in public life may be of service to him in his business, and so on, no matter what the profession may be. 01:13:00But a man who cannot take disappointment, who cannot look upon it philosophically and be prepared for it, probably should better never enter public life at all, because if he's going away after disappointment and sulk and mope around and be morose and disappointed and sullen because he's fallen on evil days in the estimation of the people and can no longer continue in public life, he will thereby lose the respect of the people. And he will also make himself very unhappy, because people like a good loser. They like a good sport, to use that term, in politics as well as on the athletic field. So the philosophy--I have been fortunate, I was never defeated by the people but once, and that was when I ran for the Democratic nomination 01:14:00for governor.

SHALETT: You've already--

BARKLEY: We've already talked about that.

SHALETT: You didn't become a sorehead. You went on and--

BARKLEY: Yeah. My conduct, I think, in that matter lengthened my public career, rather than shortened it. And fortunately, I didn't have to give up my seat in Congress in order to run for that office because it's held--the election is in an off year. But I don't want to set myself up as an example, because I probably am not a good one, having been defeated only once in my public life.

SHALETT: You could have become embittered after the '52 convention, but you didn't.

BARKLEY: Well, I could have become embittered after that. I could have become embittered in '44, when--which I've already described. But why become bitter? As the old preacher said about hate, "Hate hurts the hater as much as it does the hatee." And you can't hate people without them knowing it, and they hate you in return. If you're bitter about anything towards a whole party or a group of men, they know it and it doesn't endear you to them in any 01:15:00way. And there's always a possibility that there's another chance ahead, in spite of a--one defeat that may be temporary, to regain your position, if not the office you seek, regain a position, even in private life where you are respected and honored and where you're called upon for counsel and assistance and advice, and where you become a sort of an institution. So that compensates for defeat, looking at it purely from the standpoint of compensation. But in public life, no matter what you go out after, you must know in advance that you may not get it. And if you don't get it, you can't afford, for your own sake and for the sake of your friends and the cause in which you fight, to be embittered or morose or resentful. You've got to--you know that it's all in the lap of the gods anyway, and you've got to take your chances with the rest, either for success or failure.

SHALETT: I think one of the outstanding examples of that currently 01:16:00is Senator McKellar, who at the age of eighty-three, after one of the longest Senate careers in history, was defeated. Everybody thought he'd go off and wither on the vine. He took it pretty well, and I think he's off writing his memoirs.

BARKLEY: Yeah. Now, that's a very good example. Of course, I've known McKellar ever since I went to Washington, forty years of it, served with him in the House, in the Senate. And we had our disagreements, as all men of conviction will have. It would be a monotonous world if everybody agreed about everything. If everybody had agreed about my wife being the most beautiful woman, they would have all wanted to marry her. Well, that would have created a lot of trouble for me, and the same is true of yours, it's true of every lovely woman. If every man in the world believed that she was the one apple of his eye, it would be a very turbulent world. And if everybody agreed about anything, it would be a monotonous world, so we have to have disagreements. And so McKellar and I disagreed frequently. We agreed many more times than we disagreed. 01:17:00And he was a man of strong personal convictions. He had--he was a ruthless fighter for anything that he believed in, and against anything he was against. He was a foe worthy of his steel. Well, he was defeated last year for re-nomination by Alfred--Albert Gore of Tennessee. Well, instead of going off into a corner and hunting up a wailing wall somewhere to lean against and bemoan his fate, he took the position that the people of Tennessee had honored him almost beyond any other man in its history. And he is cheerful, he's good-natured, good-humored. He took his defeat in good stride, and he, I'm told, is now writing a book, which I'm sure will be a very interesting book, on the presidents who have served during his public life. He started out to say the presidents under whom he'd served, but 01:18:00I think he didn't like that title "under whom," and changed it to the presidents with whom he'd served. So I'm very anxious to see his book, because I know it'll be interesting. He wrote a very interesting book about the senators which Tennessee had sent to the Senate of the United States since it was admitted to the Union.


BARKLEY: Well, that's a good example of good sportsmanship, and also at eighty-three or -four, a recognition of the fact that a man isn't through, he can still do constructive work in another field. That's a wonderful attitude to take. That's a wonderful viewpoint of life. If a man just went off and said that it's all through because I've been defeated, I've been denied something that I want, I'll just fold my tent and, like the Arabs, slink away, why, he'd create unhappiness perpetual for himself and for all of his friends. So that is a good example of it.

SHALETT: Did you go along with Jim Farley and his outspoken disappointment, which might possibly be an example of a man who took--


BARKLEY: Well, I'm very fond of Jim Far--

[Pause in recording.]

BARKLEY: --fond of Jim Farley. Jim Farley is a man of great character and of great usefulness. He served his country, I think, in an admirable and outstanding way, both as chairman of the Democratic National Committee and as Postmaster General. And now I see that the--President Eisenhower has appointed him as a member of the Hoover Commission, and he has accepted it. He was definitely opposed to the third term, although he had been very greatly instrumental in Mr. Roosevelt's first nomination, because he was a good chairman, he made friends, he understood politics, he was affable, clean, and above-board, but very effective and very practical in being the chairman of Roosevelt's pre-convention campaign for the nomination in 1932. And after Roosevelt was nominated, Jim was made chairman of the 01:20:00National Democratic Committee, a position which he held for eight years. And I became very fond of him during that time. He and I worked together on many things. I had many problems before the Post Office Department, not only in regard to postal appointments, but many other things, and Jim Farley--I could always depend upon him to give me the low-down on the condition. He never sought to deceive me, and I don't think he ever sought to deceive anybody else about anything they went to see him about. He was honest, sincere, and truthful. And he was a very fine chairman and a very fine Postmaster General. It was unfortunate, I think, that he and President Roosevelt fell apart as a result of the third-term campaign for president. I think Mr. Farley felt that President Roosevelt had committed himself that he would not run for a third term. I think Mr. Farley entertained laudable 01:21:00ambition himself to be the nominee of the party, if not in '40, at some subsequent time. But just as Mr. Garner had opposed the third term as a matter of principle, he opposed it notwithstanding he had played a great part in the election of Roosevelt the first and second time. So he retired from the Post Office Department as Postmaster General, and he retired from the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee. And he wrote a book, which I have read, and it's a very interesting book, but a good many of Mr. Farley's friends feel that in the book he displayed a disappointment that might well have been kept a secret. But that's a matter of opinion, and that's a matter of judgment on the part of the--Mr. Farley and his friends. So far as I'm concerned, it has never made 01:22:00any difference with me, my admiration and my friendship for Jim Farley, although I was for the third term for Roosevelt. I felt that under the conditions that had developed that he almost had to run, and I told him so as I've already indicated.


BARKLEY: By my difference and disagreement with Jim Farley on the question of the third term, and also with John Garner on the question of the third term, made no difference whatever in our personal friendship and our relationship and my admiration for both men. They were honest and sincere and courageous, because at that time it took a good deal of courage to oppose Mr. Roosevelt, who was tremendously popular in 1940 as the election showed, as he was in '36 and in '32. And I think that Jim Farley, although he's now in private business, and doing well in his position with the Coca-Cola Export Company, I believe it is--it's a subsidiary of the Coca-Cola Company--he has 01:23:00never lost interest in public affairs. And he's always been my good friend, and I have had occasion to know that, when it took some courage for him to display that friendship, and I still know it and feel it and--


BARKLEY: His willingness--well, in 1944, when the--what I have referenced to there, it's--that's only one instance. When the vice-presidential nomination was up in Chicago, Mr. Farley demanded that the New York delegation be polled in order that he might publicly cast his vote for me for that nomination.

SHALETT: They weren't supporting you.

BARKLEY: They were not supporting me. But he was. And I think there were another one or two other delegates in New York delegations who were, but he wanted that convention and the country to know that he was voting for me. And while he knew that the poll that he demanded, which he had a right to demand, would reveal the fact that the overwhelming majority of the New York delegation were voting the other way, he wanted it understood that he 01:24:00was voting for me.


BARKLEY: Now I--that--I've always appreciated that as an outstanding evidence of a man's friendship and confidence, that he did this because he wanted it known that he was doing it. And I've always appreciated it, and he knows that I have. And in addition, now that he's in private business, he still is interested in public matters, and I think that Jim Farley is a wholesome and beneficial influence on the public affairs of this country. And his acceptance of President Eisenhower's appointment on the Hoover Commission for the reorganization of the government departments in Washington, which is always a matter of concern and effort, is an evidence of his public spirit and his willingness to be of service to the country in any capacity where he might serve. And I think that's an admirable quality.

SHALETT: In your years of participation in debates and advocacy and opposition to measures on both House and Senate, have you ever been attacked in what you considered an unfair manner that aroused in you 01:25:00something of the same degree of ire that the language of the Roosevelt veto message did?

BARKLEY: Well, no. I don't think I was ever attacked personally.

SHALETT: Or your reasoning attacked. Did you ever get your ire up over--

BARKLEY: Well, I have sometimes in my intensity of advocacy of something where I had--I thought I had the facts, as a member of the committee, for instance, that had reported the bill, either in the House or in the Senate. Sometimes those who were opposed attacked the validity of my reasoning and of my facts when I felt that I knew what I was talking about and they didn't. Now, that wasn't always true, because frequently the fellow on the other side's just got as much information as you have. But in many cases where I had made a careful study and my--the validity and the basis of my argument was ridiculed, not opposed, but ridiculed as invalid 01:26:00or ineffective or unworthy or something like that, I exhibited the same feeling about it. I wouldn't call it bitterness, I wouldn't call it resentment, but it aroused in me a desire to emphasize my reasons and my logic and the validity of my position. But all that never made me bitter toward any man personally, and I never--I don't recall that in debate, either in the House or the Senate, I was ever attacked personally by any member of the Congress.

SHALETT: You don't recall any particular gadflies on the other side of the aisle you had to put up with?

BARKLEY: Well, I'll tell you, one--in the Senate, one of the men whom I--of whom I often thought as a gadfly was my dear friend who's just passed away, Bob Taft. Bob Taft was an impulsive man, I think I have already described that, and he had--he was a hard worker, and he gathered facts that he thought justified 01:27:00his position. And I'll say this, he was honest enough within two or three weeks, if he found those facts were wrong, to change his position, and that takes a courage--a man of some courage and integrity. But Bob used to have a habit of just blurting in right in the middle of a speech. He was impulsive, and he'd rise up out of his seat and without even addressing the chair, so that the chair could ask me if I'd yield, he'd just rise up out of his seat like a covey of birds that are being flushed by a hunter and barge in right in the middle of a sentence. Well, that irritated me a little bit, and I would sometimes come back at him with some vigor, and now and then a little ridicule, because I felt sometimes that he assumed that he knew all--he knew everything, that his was the last word on any subject that he discussed, and I challenged the validity of 01:28:00that attitude. But that all happened in the heat of debate. And things may happen in the heat of debate that wouldn't happen in calm days. And usually where anybody in the heat of debate says something that's a little out of order or it reflects in any way upon the integrity or character of his opponent, he usually withdraws it from the record or apologizes and eliminates it so that it does not affect the personal relationships of the men.

SHALETT: Can you recall any laughs that you ever produced at Taft's expense in such a situation?

BARKLEY: Oh, I would have to almost examine the record to remember those. I--there were many, but I can't, right now, reconstruct them so as to give you the bill that was up or what we were talking about. But many times, and especially in committees when--I remember one time in the Banking and Currency Committee we had a whole houseful--had a roomful of witnesses. It was a public hearing, we 01:29:00were talking about controls, price controls and so forth, and there was great controversy over that legislation. Mr. Taft and I were both members of the committee, and I was acting as chairman of the committee because Senator Wagner was ill. He was the chairman. I was the next ranking member, and so I presided over these hearings. And Mr. Taft would--he would barge in in the committee just like he would in the Senate, and he did it vigorously and loudly. And I remember on one occasion he did that and I came back at him with some quip that tickled the audience very much, although I can't recall now what it was I said.

SHALETT: Something like, "Bob, that reminds me of," huh?

BARKLEY: (laughs) Yeah. That--I can't reconstruct the language, but we--

SHALETT: Maybe we can fill that in.

BARKLEY: --we might fill that in. I think it may come to me. I hadn't thought of it in a long time.


BARKLEY: But all of that--that was a very human quality, and you have to take account of human nature when you're dealing with men in public life, because they feel that they have just as 01:30:00much right to their position, and they do, as you have or I have.

SHALETT: Have you ever been called to order and required to take your seat and then proceed in order?

BARKLEY: No sir, I never have. Never was.

SHALETT: Remarkable.

BARKLEY: And that's a peculiar thing. I think I've described that rule in the Senate.

SHALETT: Yes, you have.

BARKLEY: It's one of the relics of antiquity. Under that rule, nobody ever decides whether you are out of order or not, but if any senator demands that you sit down, you've got to sit down. And one day when I was in the chair ruling on something in connection to that, I said that if a man repeated the Lord's Prayer in this Senate, any senator could call him to order and make him sit down, and it's the truth, claiming that he had violated the rule--rule nineteen against reflecting on the integrity and character of a senator.

SHALETT: What prompted you to say that? Was there a lot of unnecessary challenging?

BARKLEY: Yeah, it was so--what made me say that was that the rule itself is so ridiculous that no matter what a man says, he may not reflect on the character or reputation or the integrity of another senator. But if some senator objects to what he 01:31:00said, he can immediately call him down and make him sit down. And then some other senator will move that he proceed in order, and that motion is carried, and he goes on with his speech, but nobody ever decides whether he was out of order in the first place or not. And I was discussing that rule, hoping that it might be amended someday, and I said that under that rule if a man repeated the Lord's Prayer here on the floor of this Senate, any senator could call him down and make him sit down until he got consent of the Senate to go on in order. Well, of course, that was a rather far-fetched illustration, but it's the truth. Could be.

SHALETT: I think we're close--

[Pause in recording.]

SHALETT: We're close to the end of side one, reel fifteen. I'm going to read a little line from a very small dictionary which has just been published. We'll mark this: Add Veep. "Many new words are included, such as canasta, hydrogen bomb, cortisone, Veep, orlon, and jet propulsion." Now this is the end of side of side one, 01:32:00reel fifteen.

[Pause in recording.]

SHALETT: This is side two, reel fifteen. Senator Barkley will continue with his discussion of personalities.

BARKLEY: One of the men whom I became well-acquainted with and came to admire in the House of Representatives was Henry T. Rainey of Illinois. Mr. Rainey had been a member of the House for a good many years. His home was in Carrollton, Illinois. He lived on a large farm. While he was a lawyer by profession, he was also a farmer, a very active and successful farmer, and he was a man of immense reserve power. He had a very large head, crowned with a shock of coarse, iron-gray hair, which made him 01:33:00appear very distinguished. He was the type of man that you'd turn around and look at on the street if you met him, and wonder who he was. He also was a member of the Committee on Ways and Means, like many of these others whom I've discussed. He also became leader of the House and became a speaker of the House of Representatives. And he was a--he was not only a lawyer and a farmer, but he was a scholar, and he was a very studious and serious man. He was very impressive in appearance, in speech, and in manner. He had a peculiar manner of speech. He had a rather peculiar enunciation of words and peculiar gestures, none of the common, ordinary ----------(??) of speeches and gestures. And he was a man of wide experience, wide sympathies, and wide knowledge. He did 01:34:00not remain speaker during a very long period, but while he was speaker he established a reputation as one of the able speakers of the House of Representatives since its organization. He was a serious man. He had a very delightful sense of humor, but he didn't indulge in frivolity. He was serious in his thought and in his speech, and the people of Illinois were very proud of him, and his Congressional district was proud of him. And he made a great contribution during the long term during which he served in the House to the legislation of the House and the Congress on all subjects. But he specialized more on tariff and taxation, because the Committee on Ways 01:35:00and Means of the House of Representatives is, as I've said, the outstanding committee. That's a committee to which I would say a larger number of members aspire than any other one committee. It is the committee of committees. Now, it is not only the taxing committee but it determines the committee membership of all the other members of the House, as far as the Democratic side is concerned. I think the Republicans have a Committee on Committees in the House, but the Democratic members of the Ways and Means Committee in the House of Representatives constitute a Committee on Committees and have for a long time. They did when I was in the House and so forth, and because of that power and the long tradition that the Ways and Means Committee has enjoyed of being the top committee of Congress, able men aspire to it and gravitate to it, and they become experts in taxation, chiefly, because if they're worthy of their membership on it, they're 01:36:00bound to study the philosophy of taxation, the history of taxation, the effect of taxation upon industry and upon people. And in that way, Mr. Rainey, along with his colleagues on the committee, became what would be regarded as expert legislators on the subject of taxation. Chief Justice Vinson of Kentucky, whom I've mentioned before, became a member of that committee and became an expert on the question of taxes. And when I went to see Mr. Roosevelt to get him to appoint Mr. Vinson to the Court of Appeals there in the District of Columbia, one of his objections was that Fred had become a tax expert as a member of the committee, and he was very tenacious in holding the views he entertained in regard to the details of taxes. I mention that merely incidentally, because those who go on the committee 01:37:00and are required to deal with the question of taxation, which has been so complex and so burdensome as a result of World War number two, and going on back by comparison even to World War number one, and also during the Depression when the government was compelled to indulge in so many activities to get the country out of the ditch into which it had fallen, the question of taxation and its effect upon society has always been, in the last generation, a very important problem. Now, there are some people in this country who believe that the power to tax ought to be used to distribute wealth among the people. And the Supreme Court, I think through Chief Justice Marshall, once remarked in a decision that the power to tax is the power to destroy, which is true, but no sensible man or no sensible committee, no sensible Congress would want to tax people 01:38:00just for the purpose of destroying them. But there are many people who feel that since the accumulation of wealth in the hands of comparatively few people, of which complaint was made when I was a boy to the extent of predicting the downfall of the republic because of the large amount of the wealth accumulated among the few people and the comparative poverty of the rest of the people, that the power to tax ought to be used for the purpose of distributing the wealth of the country more equitably among the people. I never was able to espouse that theory of taxation. While I believe that any fair method that more equally distributes the opportunity of men to accumulate wealth and to become successful is justified, but somehow or other I've always felt that taxes were raised to support the government and 01:39:00not to entrench any particular theory of human society. And the Constitution of the United States authorizes the Congress to raise money for the support of the government to pay its debts and carry on its defenses, but it--I have never been able to find--I'm a pretty liberal interpreter of the Constitution, and always have been. I've always felt that there's certain implied powers there, not written out, but I never have been able to espouse the theory that the government should tax people just in order to give the money to somebody else, that the primary function of taxation is to support the government and pay its expenses. And that's true not only of the federal government, but of state and county and city governments. And--but the question of taxation has entered into the theory of detailed tax laws, and especially is that 01:40:00true in the income tax. And it results that the taxes do have a great--a profound effect upon the distribution of wealth, even though that may not be their purpose, because as income taxes have increased from the original three percent in the bill written by Cordell Hull back in 1913 to the eighty or ninety percent in certain brackets upon individuals and corporations under recent tax legislation, the result has been that through the automatic power of Congress to tax people for the support of the government, there has been a consequent and incidental redistribution of wealth, because high taxes in the high brackets, applied to men of great wealth and great income, certainly reduces their ability to accumulate and to hoard wealth of any kind. And through the dis--through the 01:41:00expenses of the government paid out upon projects and defenses and employees and all of that, it does automatically work a sort of redistribution of the wealth of the country. But I've never thought that was the primary object of taxation. And if we did not have--if we had not had World War I, and we had not had the Depression, and hadn't had World War II, the income taxes probably would have gone along in a normal way. They would have been increased as the very necessity of government increased in dealing with many problems, but the history of our country and its relationships during the last generation has made it necessary to increase and impose burdensome taxes on the people, and that has automatically resulted in a sort of a leveling-off. And that was one of the objections I had to President 01:42:00Roosevelt's veto of the tax bill about which we disagreed. He used that phrase, that this is a bill for the relief of the greedy instead of the needy. Nobody ever heard of a tax bill being a relief bill. A tax bill doesn't relieve anybody. It imposes burdens upon people, and it was to me a new theory that a tax bill had been written. Of course, it was not true. It was a--it sounded more like a political pronouncement than it did a legitimate and logical criticism of a tax bill, because a tax bill is not a relief bill at all for anybody. It doesn't relieve anybody of burdens of taxation, it imposes them. So, evidently the description of that bill carried with it some sort of implication that a tax bill ought to be a relief measure and that it ought to relieve the needy instead of the greedy. Well, that was, I thought, an erroneous conception of the function of taxation. Well, I'm getting away from Mr. Rainey, but (laughs) it is a thoughtful interlude 01:43:00there about the function of taxation, and I was describing the expert knowledge that all members of the Ways and Means Committee and the corresponding Senate Finance Committee, if they are worth their salt on the committee and study the question, they become experts on taxes. In the House today, Congressman Jere Cooper of Tennessee who is the ranking Democratic member of the Ways and Means Committee and would be the chairman of the committee if the Democrats should get control, he's been on that committee for years and years, he's been in the House of Representatives for years. He was--he defeated Congressman Finis J. Garrett, who was in the House a long time, and is now a member of the Court of Claims, I believe, of the government of the United States. He's a real expert. He knows the question of taxation. Well, 01:44:00that's just a passing tribute to Jere Cooper, who was a very valuable and able man. And he's been kept by his constituents, wisely, in the House of Representatives for years and years, I don't know how long, twenty or thirty years. Well in that way, Mr. Rainey became not only a tax expert, but he became a great power in the advocacy of certain theories of taxation and in the levying of them. And he was a broad-minded man, a very attractive man, and so was his wife, she was a very lovely woman, and we became great friends, and I was a great admirer of his. And I won't go into any more detail about him, but I'd like to switch from him to another great Illinois son with whom I served in the House during his later years there. Of course, I had known of Uncle Joe Cannon, Joseph G. Cannon of Danville, Illinois, long before I ever went to Congress. He had become a 01:45:00very famous Congressman over the years, during the time when the Republicans were constantly in power. And he had become Speaker of the House of Representatives. He had seriously thought of being a candidate for the presidency, and he was, in one or two conventions, maybe three or four, a tentative, but not active or aggressive candidate for president. Jim Watson, in--James--Senator James E. Watson, in his book I Knew Them, to which I have referred heretofore in connection with Mr. Harding, tells about--a story about Uncle Joe Cannon and the convention. I think that--I don't remember which one it was. One of the conventions at which Uncle Joe's name--everybody called him Uncle Joe. Of course, the dignified name was Joseph Gurnsey Cannon.

SHALETT: Wasn't he a gentleman with chin whiskers?

BARKLEY: Yeah, he had chin--he looked a little like Lincoln. He 01:46:00wore a beard that resembled Lincoln's somewhat. He was not tall like Lincoln, but he was a picturesque-looking man. And everybody in the country knew who he was and referred to him as Uncle Joe. Even before he was old enough to be called Uncle by the people generally, he was Uncle Joe Cannon. Well, Jim Watson says in his book that he called up Uncle Joe Cannon down at Danville one day and asked him to come up to the convention at Chicago to place somebody in nomination for either president or vice president. (laughs) And at that time it seemed not to be customary for a candidate for president to appear at the convention, or even to go to the city where it was being held, on the theory that the office should seek the man, and not the man seek the office. There was a time when the presidency was looked upon in that dignified way. A man didn't go out and make a scramble 01:47:00for it, like running for sheriff or county judge or justice of the peace. (laughs) That was a long time ago, though. Well, he said he called up Uncle Joe Cannon to come up there and nominate somebody, and Uncle Joe said, "Why, Jim, I'm supposed to be a candidate for the Republican nomination. Do you think it would be proper for me to come up there?" And Watson said, "Well, Uncle Joe, if you're a candidate, nobody up here's heard of it. I think it'll be all right for you to come on. (both laugh) He said Uncle Joe went up there and performed the function that he'd been called up about. Well, he became a very--he got into a terrific fight in his own party. He became a sort of a czar, like Thomas B. Reed before him had become. And I've spoken of Reed in his capacity as a Congressman and candidate for president and Speaker of the House of Representatives and all that. Well, 01:48:00the--there was a progressive movement within the Republican Party, which finally headed up in the nomination of Theodore Roosevelt for president in 1912, after Taft defeated him for the Republican nomination. And at that time, the Speaker of the House had more power than he has had since. They took that power away from Mr. Cannon and other speakers. He had the appointment of committees. The Speaker of the House appointed all committees, and therefore all members of committees were beholden to him. Not only did he appoint a Republican member, but he appointed Democratic members to committees.

SHALETT: That's a lot of power for one man.

BARKLEY: Oh, it's a tremendous power for a speaker, now, one man, the speaker, who presides over the House of Representatives, to appoint all committees. Well, out of that thing and other matters, grew a revolt within the Republican Party and an effort was made in nineteen hundred and--after Taft was elected in 1908 and before the Democrats got 01:49:00control of the House in 1910, an effort was made to unseat Uncle Joe Cannon as speaker. And men like George W. Norris, who later became a senator from Nebraska, who was then a member of the House, and Mr. Gardner of Maine, who was a progressive and a follower of Theodore Roosevelt, and many others whose names I cannot recall, because they were numerous, joined by the Democrats, the majority of the Democrats, offered a resolution declaring the speakership vacant in order to get rid of Speaker Cannon. The resolution would have been adopted, except that certain Tammany Democrats in New York refused to go along with their own party members and voted against it. And Uncle Joe was retained in the speakership then until the Democrats came into power and elected Champ Clark as the speaker. And Uncle Joe was also defeated 01:50:00in the--I think it was in 1912 in the Wilson landslide, Uncle Joe Cannon was defeated in his district, but he came back again two years later. And then until he died, I was a colleague of his in the House and became well acquainted with him and talked with him many times in a familiar way and friendly way. He was a very fine gentleman, but of course he had--having lost the power of the speakership, and having been defeated and been out during a two-year period, when he came back, he had nothing like the influence and the power that he had had over the years when he was the speaker and when he was the leader of the Republican party in the House.

SHALETT: Did the defeat take the heart out of him? Or was he--

BARKLEY: No, no. He was still vigorous and active in debate and alert and took part in all the discussions. Even then he 01:51:00was up in the eighties, and for his age, very active.

SHALETT: Cigar smoker all the time.

BARKLEY: Oh, he was an inveterate cigar smoker. All the cartoons of him had a cigar sticking at an angle of about forty-five degrees up through one corner of his mouth. And the cartoon--he lent himself very well to cartoons. You know, the cartoonists make a caricature of a man, they don't necessarily try to make him look precisely like a true photograph would look, although it's sufficiently like you for the people to know who you are. But they cartooned Uncle Joe unmercifully, those who didn't like him and wanted to make him look ridiculous. But whether you are friend or foe, his countenance, and his manner, and his reputation, and the tradition about him all lent themselves to cartoons. And when I first went there, they took me one night down to a club there in Washington called The Boar's Nest. It's not there now anymore. And all over the place were cartoons 01:52:00of Mr. Cannon.

SHALETT: This was B-o-a-r.

BARKLEY: B-o-a-r, yes. B-o-a-r (laughs), yes. Well, that's where they met socially and I suppose for cards, and maybe as old John Garner used to say, "To strike a blow for liberty," and so forth. And anyhow, I was never a member of it. I was taken there once or twice as a visitor. Well, there's a very--there were some very amusing things that Uncle Joe--he was quite a human being. And the first woman--I'll tell you this because it's very amusing and it illustrates his type of man and his type of humor, even at his own expense. The first woman ever elected to Congress was Jeanette Rankin of Montana. She was a Republican. She was elected, and she was there when war was declared against Germany in 1917. And she voted against the declaration of war and then almost fell back 01:53:00in her seat and fainted. She didn't really, but they said she did because she was torn between two opinions, and finally as a woman didn't want to vote for war under any conditions and voted against it. But she had the respect of the members of the House on both sides. Well, under the rules of the House, anybody who is up speaking has the right to be uninterrupted unless by their own consent. And when they're debating the details of a bill in the committee of the whole House on the state of the union under the five-minute rule, which can only be extended by unanimous consent, members hesitate to yield to interruptions because it takes up a good deal of their five minutes or their ten, if they get another five. Well, Miss Rankin was up making a speech one day about something, and Uncle Joe was sitting there listening. And finally he got an urge to interrupt her, and in order to do it, 01:54:00he had to rise and address the speaker. So he rose and said, "Mr. Speaker." And the speaker said, "Will the lady from Montana yield to the gentleman from Illinois?" And Miss Rankin, with a very gracious bow, said, "I will be delighted to yield to the gentleman from Illinois." Well, Uncle Joe, being then about eighty-five, whispered to the fellow--the member sitting by him, he said, "My God, she's yielded to me, and what can I do?" (Shalett laughs) That was a typical and characteristic response of Uncle Joe.

SHALETT: Salty old--

BARKLEY: Salty old fellow, yes. Yes. It became a very amusing story that was passed from--all over the House and has been current ever since, and I've repeated it many times. It's sort of like another one I heard about him told by Jim Watson. (laughs) They were over in Missouri campaigning one time for the Republican ticket, and 01:55:00Jim--Uncle Joe spoke first. And they were in a community where a lot of Uncle Joe's old boyhood friends had moved over from Illinois, and there was a great settlement of Illinois natives who had known Uncle Joe in his boyhood. He spoke first and walked down off the platform and was mixing around among these old boyhood friends of his, and Senator Watson went on and spoke, and he finished. He descended from the platform and went out into the crowd where Uncle Joe was mixing around with his old boyhood friends. And they had to leave for somewhere, maybe St. Louis. Anyhow, they were not spending the night there, they had to leave. And so Uncle Joe was telling these old friends of his goodbye, and one of them put his arm over his shoulder and said, "Well, Joe," he said, "I hope you live to be a hundred years old and are indicted for rape." And Uncle Joe says, "Indicted? Hell." He said, "Anybody can be indicted, I want to be convicted!" (both laugh)

SHALETT: That's a classic.


BARKLEY: Yes. Well, all those things illustrate the humanity about him which made him popular, even in defeat. And I enjoyed one or two--I don't remember now--probably two terms of service with Uncle Joe Cannon, because he was a famous man whom I had known of and about and read a lot about long before I had ever gone to Congress myself.

SHALETT: Well, as a young Congressman you seem to have picked up a lot of wisdom and experience from veterans of both parties. I suppose as speaker and vice president later you kept your door open for newcomers and tried to give them--

BARKLEY: Oh, yes.

SHALETT: --the same sort of guidance.

BARKLEY: Well, yes. I was about thirty-four years old when I was--I was thirty-four years old when I was elected to Congress. I had a birthday in the meantime afterwards, and I was thirty-five, just past thirty-five, when I went to Washington as a member of Congress. 01:57:00Well, there were a lot of old veterans there from whom I wanted to get advice, and whom I wanted to know. They were men of reputation and famous, and I was anxious to drink in from them any wisdom that I could by contact or by advice, and so forth. So I made it a point to have long conversations with men like that in order that I might get the atmosphere of the legislative branch of our government. And I think I profited very greatly by that. And I tried when I became a sort of a veteran member myself after many years of service to give to the younger members who came along, either in the House or the Senate, as I was afterwards transferred, the benefit of what experience I'd had as I had received the benefit from these older men when I first went there.


BARKLEY: There's another one--another member of the House about whom I should like to speak at this time, because he--there are many of them. I can't hope to cover all of them, but Joseph W. 01:58:00Byrns--

SHALETT: You want to talk?

BARKLEY: Yeah, I'll talk. Joseph W. Byrns of Tennessee was a member of the House when I went there. He was from the Nashville district. Later, his son, Joseph W. Byrns, Junior, served one term but was defeated by Percy Priest, I think, who is now still a member of the House. Well, Congressman Byrns and I became great friends. He was a member of the Appropriations Committee. And he became the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, which likewise is a very powerful committee because it holds the purse strings of the government. It appropriates all the money. No money can be expended out of the treasury except by appropriation of the Congress. And it has long been the custom for all appropriation bills to originate in the House. A great 01:59:00many people think that the Constitution requires appropriation bills to originate in the House, but that is not true. It requires revenue bills raising revenue to originate in the House, but it does not require appropriation bills to originate in the House. But for long--from long custom, all appropriation bills originate in the House of Representatives, and as a result of that, many people think they have to originate there. But at any rate, the Appropriations Committee, which holds the purse strings of the government, is a very powerful committee. All government departments and bureaus and personnel have to come there to get their money appropriated to pay the expenses of the government, and the chairman of that committee is a very powerful man in the legislative set-up, always has been under any party. Under--no matter who's in control, the chairman of the Appropriations Committee can be a czar if he wants to be. I don't 02:00:00think it's been very often that they acted as czars, but anyhow they have great power. Well, Joseph W. Byrns of Tennessee had been a member and was a member of the Appropriations Committee when I first went there and remained, of course, so, and went up gradually, as members do on all committees and became chairman of that committee. And then he became speaker. He became the leader of the party, and automatically--almost automatically, but not exactly automatically, it took the vote of members, but through tradition that had never been broken in my time or in my recollection, except in the case of James R. Mann of Illinois, of whom I have already spoken, Joe Byrns became the Speaker of the House of Representatives. And he was a very able speaker; he was a very fine gentleman, a man of the highest moral character. I wouldn't say he was a great statesman in the 02:01:00sense that Webster, Clay or Calhoun or Champ Clark or many others, but he was a useful, hard-working, conscientious, highly intelligent man with a sense of fairness and justice and personal, as well as official, honesty and integrity, never excelled by any man whom I've known in any capacity. He died as Speaker of the House during his second or third term as such. And so he was one of the men for whom I entertained great respect, and from whom I received many valuable lessons as a young Congressman, because he'd been there a good many years before I went. Then there's another man, of course, I cannot drop off here from any personal recollections of members of the House of Representatives without mentioning Sam Rayburn, because Sam and I went to the House on the same day. We were elected at the 02:02:00same election, 1912. And we went into the House together. We went on the same committee together, the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce. And I was placed ahead of him on the committee, whether because my name began with 'B' or--and his with 'R,' or whether because Kentucky was admitted to the Union before Texas. Both of those considerations may have entered into it, because they have a sort of unwritten rule up there, both in the House and in the Senate, that where two members go on--new members go on the same committee at the same time, they will give a ranking position to the one from the state that was admitted to the union first. Or in some cases, they may decide alphabetically. It's an arbitrary decision, but they have to make it one way or the other, unless they draw 02:03:00lots and decide it that way, but they don't do that. Well anyhow, Mr. Rayburn and I, at the beginning of the Wilson administration, became members of the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee, which, with the exception of the Ways and Means Committee was then, and has remained, I think, the greatest legislative committee in the House of Representatives, because it dealt with matters of transportation, it dealt with matters of veterans compensation, it dealt with matters of navigation, aids to navigation, and all sorts of things, interstate commerce, which later expanded to buses and trucks, airplanes, televi--radio, telephones, all methods of communication and transportation that are agencies 02:04:00of interstate commerce are handled in that committee. And it was that committee that, as I now recall--yes, I know it was, because Sam Rayburn, as the chairman of that committee under Roosevelt, introduced a bill creating the Securities and Exchange Commission and regulating the stock market as a result of the investigation, which I participated in in the Senate, of the abuses of the stock market during and following the Depression back in the Hoover days where the stock market was used in an unscrupulous way, as the hearings showed, to induce people to go in and invest their money and resulted in the loss of billions and billions of dollars. I sometimes, at that time, described it as the moths flying around the candle, in a financial situation that attracted them and was being boosted by many high officials, as I have 02:05:00already referred to. And all of that resulted in legislation to curb that sort of thing. Well, Sam Rayburn and the committee over which he presided sponsored that legislation. Well, because of his position in the committee and the chairmanship and the sponsorship of bills, he later became the leader, the Democratic leader of the House of Representatives.

[Pause in recording.]

BARKLEY: And he became speaker, and he was speaker longer than any other man in the history of the United States Congress, longer than Clay, longer than Cannon, longer than Champ Clark. Champ Clark was speaker eight years, and Mr. Cannon was not speaker that long. There have been others who have been speaker for eight years, but no man had ever exceeded that. And sometime last year, I think, Mr. 02:06:00Rayburn celebrated the fact that he had, on a certain day, served as Speaker of the House of Representatives longer than any other man in the history of that body.

SHALETT: Does Sam Rayburn ever show any flashes of humor in his presiding remarks?

BARKLEY: Not much, no.

SHALETT: He's not a humorous man?

BARKLEY: He's not given to it. Now, he has a great sense of humor, and he enjoys an exposition of humor, and he will--in private conversations he will exhibit a very attractive and sometimes impish (laughs) sense of humor. But I don't think he exhibits it in his presiding over the House or in his debates in the House, though now and then he tries to illustrate a point by some. But he's a very serious man, and he's a very consistent man. He's a very able man, and he has been kept in Congress from that one district for over forty years, which is a great tribute to him, and incidentally a tribute to his district, its wisdom, because he is a good legislator. He is the kind of man 02:07:00that I used to think of when I, as a young boy, compared the British custom to our custom, and I felt that the British had the best of the argument when they kept their good men in Parliament for a long, long time like Gladstone and like Lloyd George and now like Churchill, who's been in Congress--in the Parliament more than forty years. Well, Sam Rayburn, all through these years, he and I have been great friends. We were, as I said, associated for fourteen years on that committee. I outranked him because of the reasons I've said. When I left the committee to go to the Senate, then he stepped up into my place and became the chairman of it, which I probably would have had if I'd stayed in the House. And I've often joked him by saying that if I hadn't gotten out of your way, I would have been the chairman of that committee and I would have been the Democratic leader of the House and I would have been the speaker instead of you. 02:08:00And he enjoys the little reference and frequently he says himself that, "I was tramping on Barkley's heels all that time. I was walking on his heels, trying to get him out of my way." Well, I got out of his way when I went to the Senate, and I think there's a parallel between his service and mine that cannot be said of any other two men in the history of the Congress. We served together fourteen years on that committee. I went to the Senate and went to the same committee in the Senate, though I never became the chairman of it. We worked together in support of all the legislation, first in the Wilson administration way back yonder, and then we worked together in opposition to a good deal of legislation, but frequently in support because the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce is not necessarily a political committee, and frequently Democrats and Republicans can agree on legislation that goes through the committee. I became the Democratic leader of the Senate; he became the Democratic leader of 02:09:00the House, simultaneously. He became Speaker of the House and therefore presided over the House. I became vice president and presided over the Senate, so that our careers over the forty years have paralleled to a greater extent than any other two men. I don't believe any other two men in the history of the Congress ever held those positions simultaneously, starting together on the same committee and working together all through that period. And it's a matter of--to me of great pleasure and pride that Mr. Rayburn and I have worked together like that, and that our careers paralleled in that way.

SHALETT: Do you ever tease Mr. Sam about the fact that he's remained a bachelor all these years?

BARKLEY: Well, I--yes, I've teased him a lot about that. And after I had gotten married to my second wife four years ago, I was making a speech one time at a banquet where Sam was present, and I said that I, in the mean--a lot of weddings had taken place after mine, and a whole lot of prominent 02:10:00people. And I named them in this rather humorous reference, and I said, "I have started the greatest matrimonial trend in the history of the United States," and naming all these others who had followed me, including the Bishop Holt of the Methodist Church who married my wife and me. And I turned to Sam Rayburn, I said, "Sam, in view of all this, I don't see how you can hold out any longer. I think you ought to be the next victim." Well, he had a lot of fun out of it, and the crowd laughed, and I've teased him a lot about it, and he takes it very well. Well--

SHALETT: In your--if I can throw this in, in your early days as a member of the House, were you ever consciously or unconsciously snubbed by an older member in seeking advice?

BARKLEY: No, no. No, never. Never.


BARKLEY: The fact of the business is, an older member rather regards it as a compliment for a young man to come and seek advice from him and take--try to take advantage of his long 02:11:00experience and his knowledge, not only of legislation but of parliamentary procedure, because it takes a man a--actually a lifetime almost to learn the rules of procedure in the House of Representatives and in the Senate. I have frequently said that a man has to be there at least two years before he knows how to move to adjourn. That's quite--not quite literally true, but it's a--it does illustrate. The rules of the House and the Senate both are the accumulation of 170 years. They started out based upon Jefferson's Manual. Among Jefferson's other great achievements, he was a great parliamentarian, and he wrote a book that's called Jefferson's Manual, and it's now still used. And the rules of the Senate and the House both stem somewhat from Jefferson's Manual. They're--some of them are out of date now because the Senate and the House 02:12:00have adopted specific rules in certain fields not covered or that were no longer useful in the procedures of the House due to the increase in membership and business. But it takes a long time to learn those rules. And they're all--they're made up also not only of the written rules, but they're made up of innumerable decisions of the chair in both houses, which are recorded in the Congressional Record and have been compiled, first by Asher G. Hinds, who was parliamentary clerk of the House under Thomas B. Reed. And Hinds' Precedents became the established bible of the rules of the House of Representatives, and in some cases, by indirection, the Senate. They've been made modern and brought up to date by Congressman Clarence Cannon of Missouri who was parliamentarian for a while under Democratic speakers. I think Champ Clark brought him 02:13:00there.

SHALETT: No relation to Joe.

BARKLEY: No, no. No, no relation. No relation at all. And he compiled a set of books called Cannon's Precedents, bringing these precedents up to date. And I think he's working on a--probably on a new set of them. Anyhow--

SHALETT: He's an interesting fellow.

BARKLEY: Very interesting. It's just like learning--it's just like mastering the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States, to master the decisions of the House and the Senate. Unfortunately, the Senate doesn't have any such compendium as the Hinds' Precedents or the Cannon Precedents as to its rules, and it's more difficult for a member to master the long line of decisions, some of which have been overruled by subsequent presiding officers, and so forth. I overruled a decision of a previous presiding officer in the Senate, and I was overruled, in turn, by the Senate when it refused to adopt my interpretation. But all 02:14:00that contributes to the maze, the absolute maze, of rules and precedents and interpretations which make it very hard for a man who is not there a long time to learn the procedures of either house.

[End of interview.]