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: Good morning, Senator. We're going to resume our discussion this morning with some of your comments on Senate personalities, I understand.

BARKLEY: Well, yeah. Since I've been talking about members of the House with whom I was associated, I think I should devote some little attention to members of the Senate. It is even more true in the Senate than in the House that I cannot, of course, mention all the outstanding members who were there when I was elected to the Senate or who came during my tenure of office in the Senate because, on account of the smaller number of senators, as compared to the House of Representatives, it is easier for a member to obtain attention and to secure recognition and to make for himself some reputation as a senator and legislator in that body of the 00:01:00Congress, because it has been said sometimes, rather facetiously but with an element of truth, that every senator is a prima donna to some extent. Of course, I think probably that's an unjust description because every senator who comes to the Senate appreciates the responsibility and the obligation under which he rests. And he seeks to justify that obligation and that responsibility and his per--performance of the duties under it by constant attention, by more or less glamorous debate, and by other means, perfectly 00:02:00legitimate, which draw him to the attention of the public. And I suppose it might be said that every senator who engages in the debates there in the Senate is somewhat like an actor or may be an actor. Some of them really are good actors, not actors in the sense that they're playing a part or just pretending, but they are really good performers, and make an impression upon the Senate and upon the country by reason of their ability in debate. The quiet senator who is satisfied to work in a committee where, as a rule, the public never looks in, of course, will not obtain that public acclaim, nor that newspaper publicity or notoriety which attaches to one who is more vigorous in debate, more glamorous and in some cases more sensational. So I could not expect to cover the entire 00:03:00Senate during the twenty-six years during which I was a member or presided over it. But there are a few outstanding members, and I think I ought to--I certainly want to mention in this comment. When I was elected and went to the Senate, General Dawes was the vice president of the United States, and he swore me in. I took the oath of office under him. And as I've already indicated, we became great personal friends. I'm not going into that now.

SHALETT: Does the vice president always swear in a new member?

BARKLEY: Oh, yes. the vice president, unless he's disabled in some way, or unless there is no vice president, and in which case the president pro tempore of the Senate--that means president for the time being, that 'pro tempore' is a Latin phrase, which means for the time being. But always the vice president swears in the new members 00:04:00unless there is some disability or there's a vacancy. So among those who were outstanding members of the Senate when I arrived was one whom I wish especially to mention, Senator Thomas J. Walsh of Montana. Senator Walsh had been a great lawyer back in his state. I think he had been born in Wisconsin, though I would not be certain of that. That doesn't matter. But if he was, he followed Horace Greeley's injunction, "Go west, young man. Go west." Well, Wisconsin is regarded as being pretty far west, but that wasn't far enough west to suit Senator Walsh. He went out to Montana. And he was elected to the Senate out there, and at once became recognized as one of the ablest lawyers in the Senate, and one of the 00:05:00best and most logical debaters in the Senate. And as I have already said, it was under his supervision that the Teapot Dome scandal was exposed in the Harding administration. Senator Walsh and I became very warm personal friends. He, of course, was my senior by many years, but that makes no difference in association in legislation and in business and in many other respects. I have, I think, already referred to the friendship between George Bernard Shaw and Winston Churchill. Although Mr. Shaw was nearly fifteen or twenty years Mr. Churchill's elder, they were great personal friends. So that--the question of difference in age doesn't make much difference anyway. The junior grows up a little bit, and the senior grows down a little bit, and they meet at a common level 00:06:00and become great friends. Well, that's what happened with Senator Walsh and me. He--I--even before I went to the Senate, I knew him. And we had traveled together in Europe, going to Stockholm first to the Interparlimentary Conference, which was the first one I attended, which is, I think I've already described, an international organization of members of parliaments and congresses, which is over sixty years old and which played a great part in the first and second Hague Conferences back at the turn of the century. Well, we traveled over Europe together and became very close in a way. Of course, you know, when you travel with a man, you learn a good deal about him, and you become very well acquainted. That was in 1921, six years before I went to the Senate, but that traveling acquaintance kept us in touch with each other while he was in the Senate and I was in the House. And then when I went to the Senate, he was 00:07:00already a good friend of mine and I was of his. Well, he was not what you'd call a--the old-time type of orator. He didn't make speeches in the Senate in the flamboyant fashion. He did not gesticulate too much, although he did make gestures that emphasized what he was saying. But he was more the lawyer in debate in the Senate, the advocate, logical, well-informed, knowing his subject exhaustively. And he had already become, and continued to be, one of the outstanding lawyers and debaters and legislators, and he rendered invaluable service to his country. He had been the permanent chairman of the convention in Chicago in 1932, which nominated Roosevelt the first time for President. I was nominated 00:08:00and elected as the temporary chairman without a fight, without any opposition, but Senator Walsh had opposition for the permanent chairmanship in the person of Mr. Jouett Shouse, who rather represented the Raskob, Alfred E. Smith element, which were not quite satisfied with the nomination of Mr. Roosevelt. They were loyal friends of Governor Smith, and he still clung to the hope that maybe he might be nominated at the convention, but of course that did not happen. And--but that element put forward Mr. Shouse in opposition to Senator Walsh. And he was--but Senator Walsh won the nomination and presided as permanent chairman over the convention and was active in--he had been active for Roosevelt prior to the convention, and of course after the nomination and during the campaign, he was active in campaigning for him. And when Mr. Roosevelt selected his cabinet, he announced the appointment of Senator Walsh as his attorney general. Well unfortunately, 00:09:00I should say, Senator Walsh died on the eve of the inauguration, and President Roosevelt was confronted with the necessity of selecting another attorney general. Well, he only had a few days in which to make that selection. But he made a very fortunate selection, in my judgment, in the person of Homer S. Cummings, who had, back in the--prior to 1920, had been chairman of the Democratic National Committee, who had delivered the keynote address at the Democratic convention in San Francisco that nominated Cox and Roosevelt, and a very able lawyer and a very great American, in my estimation. And I'm happy to record him as one of my most devoted friends. Well, he was named as attorney 00:10:00general, rather sort of an interim attorney general. But he accepted the appointment and served a number of years as attorney general, and he was a very able and a very conscientious and valuable attorney general during the years in which he served. Well, of course, everybody recognized Senator Walsh's death was a loss to the country and to the administration, but of course, you know, those things happen. You--men become so embedded in the memory and in the estimation and the esteem of the people that you wonder whether their place can be filled when the hand of death touches them. But somehow or other in the providence of almighty God, usually somebody is raised up to take the place of a man who may be regarded as indispensable to the 00:11:00public. It is a common phrase that no man is ever indispensable, and I suppose that's true, but still you think of men sometimes as being indispensable. The only man in the history of the United States whom I regard as probably having been indispensable was George Washington, because he was the one man who inspired our revolutionary forefathers from a military standpoint, and from the leadership of our troops. There were many other men, like Adams and Jefferson and Madison and Franklin and a lot of others, but from all standpoints, taking the history of the Revolutionary War, if there was an indispensable man in connection with it, it has always seemed to me that George Washington was that man. Well, of course, Senator Walsh having passed away, the administration and 00:12:00the country lost his services thereafter. There's another man whom I should like to mention of an entirely different political faith from mine, but who was an outstanding senator, and who, until he became feeble in health, was a very dynamic member of the United States Senate, as he had been a dynamic governor of his state. I refer to Hiram W. Johnson. Hiram Johnson, I think, had been attorney general of California. He engaged in a fight against the Southern Pacific Railway, which had obtained a political grasp over at California somewhat similar to that which the L&N Railroad had done in Kentucky back in the nineties, as a result of which, the Goebel era and period and episodes and all that happened in Kentucky. He was elected governor of California, 00:13:00and he continued that fight until he really won his fight against the political domination of California by this railroad. Well, he was governor. He was the--he was nominated on the ticket with Roosevelt in 1912 when Roosevelt established the Bull Moose Party, as he called it, taking its name from the bull moose, when he said he felt like one. And Hiram Johnson, then governor of California was nominated for vice president on that ticket. And while they got more votes than the regular Republican nominee, Mr. Taft, they did not, of course, get enough to win. They got more popular vote; they got more electoral votes than Mr. Taft. Well, finally Hiram Johnson came to the Senate. Well, he was--he came to the Senate from California and stayed there until 00:14:00he died. And he played a very important part in the campaign in 1916, when Hughes was running against Woodrow Wilson. It seems that Mr. Hughes, when in California, ignored Hiram Johnson. Efforts were made to have them to meet each other, but it seems that Mr. Hughes for some reason, maybe he did not approve of Hiram Johnson, maybe he didn't like him, he didn't want to be under obligation to him, or for some reason, he did not court Mr. Johnson in California, rather rebuffed him when he was in California campaigning. For as able a man as Mr. Hughes, it seemed almost incredible that he 00:15:00would ignore or rebuff or pass up as important a figure as Hiram W. Johnson in California. And as a result of that, while Mr. Johnson did not take any active part either for Mr. Wilson or against Mr. Hughes, Johnson's friends so--were so offended and outraged by the neglect that many of them, thousands of them, voted for Woodrow Wilson. And as a result of that, Wilson carried California, which turned the tide and decided which--whether Wilson or Hughes would be elected.

SHALETT: I think Hughes went to bed thinking--

BARKLEY: Hughes--I was just about to say, on the night of the election, Hughes went to bed thinking he had been elected president of the United States. He woke up the next morning to find that Wilson had carried California and that he had been elected president of the United States. I mention that, because it shows how fortuitous 00:16:00circumstances, which I've sometimes described as either accidental or providential, play such an important part in human affairs. Well, when I--during my service in the Senate, during--concurrent with that of Senator Johnson, we became great friends, personally, and our families became great friends. As a matter of fact, Mrs. Johnson had always all her life had Democratic leanings and sympathies, although she was always loyal to him, of course, and never went out of her way to express her Democratic sympathies to the extent of embarrassing or injuring her husband, she really fundamentally was a Democrat. Well, Senator Johnson was a dramatic and dynamic man. During his prime, I think there was no more attractive debater or forceful speaker than 00:17:00Senator Johnson.

SHALETT: I think we're at the end of the reel, Senator.

BARKLEY: All right.

[Pause in recording.]

SHALETT: Side one, reel sixteen, Senator Barkley continuing with recollections of Hiram Johnson.

BARKLEY: As things developed internationally and the world situation became involved, resulting finally in World War II and the rise of Hitler, Senator Johnson progressively became a confirmed isolationist. He opposed most of the legislation that President Roosevelt recommended and I advocated and fought for, prior to the beginning of World War II and during its progress. Of course, 00:18:00he voted for the declaration of war after the attack on Pearl Harbor and supported measures necessary to win that war, but in the international relationship, he had been one of the outstanding opponents of the League of Nations, along with Senator Lodge and Senator Brandegee. And Senator James A. Reed of Missouri, though a Democrat, was opposed to it, and opposed to many of the policies of Woodrow Wilson to such an extent that the Missouri Democratic convention refused to send him as a delegate from the state, though he was a senator, to the convention that met in San Francisco. Well, I think it's fair to say that Senator Johnson became embittered over the international situation and over the policy of our government and frequently referred to men involved in that as war-mongers and things of that sort. But notwithstanding all of 00:19:00that, in his later years when he became physically disabled and the consequent result was that he was not mentally as vigorous as he had been in previous years, it sort of wound up as a tragedy for a man who had been so outstanding, so dynamic and so vigorous and so influential in the country and in the Senate to reach a point where he lost all that because of his physical condition, as a result of which he was weakened in his ability to perform his duties, and he finally died with the respect and sympathy of everybody who had known him, notwithstanding disagreement with him. Well of course, there's another outstanding senator who did not serve with me, or with whom I didn't serve.

SHALETT: Excuse me one second, Senator. I think at that point pretty much the same tragedy occurred with another great senator, Bob Wagner, didn't it?

BARKLEY: Oh, yes. Yes. That's true. And it happened also to 00:20:00senator Glass.


BARKLEY: For two or three years, Senator Glass, by reason of illness, was unable to appear on the floor of the Senate. And the same was true of Senator Wagner. He--both of them--Wagner finally resigned, but Senator Glass did not. He remained a member of the Senate, though incapacitated to perform its duties. And he was liable to, and received, some criticism from newspapers and from some of his friends and others because he did not resign and let the governor of Virginia appoint, or the people of Virginia elect, someone who was physically able to perform the duties and--

SHALETT: It left Virginia with one senator.

BARKLEY: Yes, it practically left Virginia with one senator, and because of that we frequently had to arrange pairs, both in the committees and in the Senate, where some other senator in opposition to the position held by Senator Glass would agree not to vote, so that the result was the same as if he had been present and 00:21:00voting. Sometimes it was rather difficult to obtain those pairs, which are not a part of the rules. They're just gentlemen's agreements out of longstanding custom in the Senate. And the same is true in the House, that if a senator is absent for any reason and he wants his membership in the Senate to count, he will get some other senator, either a Republican--usually a Republican or a Democrat as the case may be, so that they may be paired against each other, especially on partisan matters. Sometimes he gets a member of his own party who disagrees with him to refrain from voting on account of the absence of the other senator, and that pair is announced in the Senate and the House when their names are called. And it is a tribute to the integrity of senators that rarely, if ever, is that gentlemen's agreement broken between the two men who have agreed 00:22:00that they will pair, as they call it. Now--

SHALETT: May I ask, at that point--I think that's rather interesting--does the majority leader ever have to arrange the pairs? Or is that the duty of the absent senator?

BARKLEY: It's the duty of the absent senator or somebody speaking for him. As a matter of fact, we have in the Senate a pair clerk on each side. He is an employee of the Senate operating under the Secretary of the Senate and under the representative of the minority in the Senate.

SHALETT: Is he known as such? A pair clerk?

BARKLEY: Oh, yeah. He is known as such. He has other duties, but if a senator is going to be absent on a certain day when there's to be a vote, or whether there is or not, he'll go to this pair clerk and say, "I'd like for you to arrange a pair for me with some senator who's on the other side." And it's part of his duty, and he keeps a record of all that. He has to know where these senators are, if they're absent, why they're absent. And he has to arrange the pair with somebody who's willing to pair. And of course, 00:23:00it works both ways because, unless it's a vital question in which a senator wishes to vote and to announce his vote, they're usually very accommodating, because the time may come within a week or two or a year when he may want to pair with somebody because of his absence. And if he persistently or stubbornly refuses to pair with any other senator who's going to be absent, it makes it more difficult for him to be accommodated when the time comes when he wants one.

SHALETT: Who was your pair clerk as majority leader? Was that "Skeeter" Johnson? Or--

BARKLEY: "Skeeter" Johnson. His name is Felton W. Johnson, but they--everybody called him "Skeeter," and so forth. He's now secretary to the minority in the Senate.

SHALETT: If we can continue this very interesting digression a minute, what you've said touches on what the Senate is often called, a gentlemen's club. It is a gentleman's club--

BARKLEY: Well, yes. It is. It's often said that a senator will attack another senator over some vital question, or even may skirt 00:24:00around attacking his personal integrity or his official integrity, but that when somebody on the outside attacks one of these senators, they all come to his rescue. That isn't quite true, but it is a body of gentlemen. Everybody feels that he is associating with gentlemen, and with rare exceptions, he is. Now and then, somebody comes to the Senate just like somebody gets in the church or in a lodge or fraternity or in the legal or medical profession who is not exactly the type of gentleman you'd like to associate with, but as a rule they're temporary and the country runs along just the same. But it is looked upon as a group of gentlemen, cultured gentlemen in every sense of the word, and they always keep their word with one another. And I don't mean just with one another, but on these matters of procedure where a senator wants to be recorded as 00:25:00being for or against some measure, if he's got to be absent on the day when there's a vote, it's usually easy to arrange a pair with some other senator who would vote the other way. So the result is the same if both were there voting opposite each other. They just refrain from voting, and the result's just the same as if they were there voting against each other.

SHALETT: Senator, who were some of the Republicans who were minority leader, and I suppose in one case majority leader, when you were the number-one man on the Democratic side of the aisle?

BARKLEY: Well, you see, I was elected majority leader in the summer of 1937. As a result of the presidential election of 1936 when Governor Alf Landon of Kansas was the Republican nominee and carried only two states, Maine and Vermont, in the entire union, the Democratic 00:26:00majority in the Senate was so overwhelming that it almost left the Republicans without membership. The Democrats had seventy-five senators out of the ninety-six. The Republicans had seventeen. And then there was Senator Bob La Follette, Junior, who was neither Democrat nor Republican, but was a Progressive, an Independent, so that it was a wonderful victory in 1936, but really that top-heavy majority worked rather badly in one sense, that we had such an enormous majority in the Senate that it rather dissipated the individual responsibility of members of the majority. We had such a big majority that a lot of senators say, "Well, it doesn't make any difference whether I'm there or not. If I want to go home or I want to go somewhere else, there'll be plenty of Democrats there to vote for the administration measures." And it was bad for discipline; it was bad for cohesion. We had no trouble passing the 00:27:00program of the administration until it got up to the Court fight, which I've already talked about. But Charlie McNary, Charles L. McNary of Oregon, of whom I am going to speak presently, was the minority leader during all the time that I was the majority leader, and he was minority leader also before I became majority leader. He was minority leader when Senator Robinson of Arkansas was the Democratic majority leader. Of course, Garner was vice president at that time. Prior to that, under Mr. Hoover, Charles Curtis of Kansas was the vice president. He had been a senator from Kansas for a long time. He was part Indian and was proud of it. He had been majority leader, Republican majority leader, during part of the time under Mr. Hoover--no, not--prior 00:28:00to Mr. Hoover. He was elected vice president with Mr. Hoover. Prior to that, he had been majority leader of the Senate until the Democrats came into power in the Senate. He was a very able legislator, not glamorous, not an able debater--I mean, not an orator in any sense of the word, a very quiet, effective, and popular senator and was made the Republican leader in the Senate under Coolidge. Well, he was elected vice president, and they told a lot of funny stories about him. I don't know whether any of them were true or not, but very amusing. Everybody called everybody by their first name in the Senate. I always called Charlie McNary 'Charlie.' He called me Alben. I don't think I ever called Mr. Curtis 'Charlie,' because I hadn't been in the Senate but a year or two when he 00:29:00was elected vice president, but everybody else called him Charlie. And after he was elected vice president, one of his old colleagues in the Senate one day said, "Charlie, what about so and so?" And Mr. Curtis says, "Where do you get that Charlie business?" He said, "I'm vice president now, and I want you to address me as Mr. Vice President." Well, that was a matter of common talk around there, and it was difficult to understand the sudden change in the stern attitude of Mr. Curtis when he became vice president, as compared to that which he assumed when he was senator, when everybody called him Charlie, just like everybody calls everybody else by his first name, just the same if you're school boys together. Well, I liked Mr. Curtis, and he was always courteous to me, not playing on words. (both laugh) He was both courteous and Curtis to me when I was--when he was vice president. And his sister, Mrs. Edward Gann, who was involved in that famous social controversy in Washington with Mrs. Nicholas Longworth 00:30:00as to who should precede the other when they were both present at a social function. It was more or less ridiculous, and yet it was very interesting, and it livened up all social discussions and social conversation in Washington. Mrs. Gann had married a man who'd born--been born and reared and lived in Kentucky, and he was a good friend of mine. And so was Mrs. Gann, and remained so until her death very recently. Well, Charlie Curtis did not live very long after he retired as vice president. But he was recognized as one of the efficient and effective, quiet, undemonstrative legislators in the Senate while he was a senator, and was a very efficient and attentive vice president. There was nothing particularly glamorous that happened during his administration as vice president. He presided over the Senate with dignity and with courtesy. Now, I'd like to say something about--you mentioned a while ago Bob 00:31:00Wagner, senator from New York. Of course, Senator Wagner and I went in the Senate together. He had been a judge up in New York for a good many years. And I think he was nominated to run against Senator James W. Wadsworth, who was at that time a Republican senator from New York. It's been a good long time ago, and I might have to check on that, but I think he defeated Senator Wadsworth. And he, of course, was a great friend of Mr. Roosevelt. He was elected senator, as I was, in '26. He had been a member of the legislature of New York prior to that. I think he served with Roosevelt in the legislature of New York, going way back to 1910. Anyhow, he was not only a personal friend, but he was a great sympathizer with the Roosevelt 00:32:00policies and the Roosevelt program. So he came to the Senate at the same time I came. There were five of us who went in at the same time, four of us from the House, and one, Mr. Wagner, from outside of the Congressional circle. There were other senators that came in, but there were five of us in that particular group. Well, Senator Wagner and I--Judge Wagner, as he was first called when he came there, just like I used to be called 'Judge.' When I first went to the House, everybody called me 'Judge' because I'd been a judge down home. And if you're ever judge, you know, it's just like being elected Justice of the Peace, they'll call you 'Squire' all the rest of your life. So for a long time, I was called 'Judge' when I got to Congress. And then of course, when I was elected vice president, having been senator for twenty-two years, people still called me senator, and they do now. 00:33:00Most people now are getting back in the habit of calling me senator again. Well anyhow, Judge--Bob Wagner came there, and he was ready for the part he played after the Roosevelt election. He went along with all of us during the Hoover administration. As the Depression was approaching and as it was spreading, and our economic foundations were crumbling everywhere, Mr. Wagner went along with all the rest of us in trying to devise some remedy for that situation. Then when Roosevelt came in, Mr. Wagner played a very important part in the legislation that was enacted during his early days as president. The National Recovery Act, the Wagner Labor Relations Act, which of course took his name because he was its author, which was not repealed outright, but so greatly 00:34:00modified by the Taft-Hartley Act later that you could hardly recognize the original act sponsored by Senator Wagner. He was very active in advocating and helping to pass the Social Security program, which was enacted under Mr. Roosevelt and which is still part of the fundamental acknowledged policy of our government now, without regard to politics. And he was a--Mr. Wagner was an able lawyer, a very logical and sound debater, a little more progressive than some of his colleagues thought he ought to be, but no more so than I was or many other senators who were sympathetic with the remedial legislation that Congress was called upon to enact. Senator Wagner had been a member of the Banking and Currency Committee of which I was a member, and we worked together in all the legislation that came out of that committee. And when 00:35:00he became ill, he was the chairman of the Banking and Currency Committee. He became ill and unable to perform his duties. I was the ranking member, and so I took over as the acting chairman of the Banking and Currency Committee, during which, of course, we had such important legislation as price controls and all those things that were controversial and that had to be enacted, though, as a result of the war and the war economy and the inflation that was sapping the income of the people by high prices. And high prices always preceded increases in wages. They had to use the high prices that they were compelled to pay in order to persuade employers or the Labor Relations Board or any other labor agency that's set up by Congress to give wages that would be adequate to the expenses that they incurred in support of their families. So Bob Wagner was a very able senator and a very patriotic American. He had been born 00:36:00in Germany and came to this country when he was a mere child, but he was as loyal an American in all sense of the word as any man who was born in the United States and traced his ancestry back to the Mayflower or some other old boat that brought a lot of them over here. Well now, I think I'd like to comment now on Senator McNary, Charles McNary. Charlie McNary had been governor of the state of Oregon before he came to the Senate. And after he and I became colleagues and close friends, we discovered that our grandfathers had been born within five miles of each other in North Carolina. That shows the strange migration of peoples, what happens to families, which goes to explain the cosmopolitan makeup 00:37:00of the American people. His father--his grandfather was born in North Carolina; my grandfather was born in North Carolina, the two of them within five miles of each other, and not much separated in age. My grandfather went up--when he became grown, married and lost his wife at the end of a year, moved to Tennessee and then up into Kentucky where I was born. Charlie McNary's grandfather went further west and wound up in Oregon, where Charlie McNary was born. But when we got back to the Senate, sitting across the aisle from each other, he as minority leader and I being the majority leader, we discovered that our families had been that closely related. One of them had migrated entirely across the continent, and the other only halfway. Well, Charlie McNary had been the governor of Oregon, and he was a good 00:38:00governor, from all reports. I was, of course, not out there; I didn't know him at that time. But as soon as he came--as soon as I got to the Senate, he and I became very good friends. As a matter of fact, though he was a loyal Republican, he had many sympathies, many viewpoints that were not altogether dissimilar to my own, and he supported a good deal of the Roosevelt programs after Roosevelt came into power. And particularly is that true in regard to agriculture, because he had rather prided himself on being well-versed, if not an expert, in the farm situation, and he had been the joint author of the McNary-Haugen bill, which had been vetoed by Coolidge and Hoover. And that didn't create very much sympathy on his part towards the agricultural--[tape interference]--I was not majority leader, of course, when 00:39:00Roosevelt came in and was not for four years after that. But I was assistant majority leader to Senator Robinson, and had occasion frequently to discuss things with Senator McNary as minority leader. And then when I became majority leader, we became closer together and worked more closely together. He was of great help to me insofar as he could do so without, in any way, affecting his own responsibility as a leader of the Republican minority, which had dwindled down to only seventeen senators. And he was very liberal in his viewpoint, and he was always cooperative with me. He would help me iron out difficulties on his own side, so that there would not be delay in voting or delay in the consideration of measures, and frequently he supported the measures. And as a matter of fact, in that critical and crucial time within the so-called hundred days after Roosevelt's inauguration, many Republicans voted 00:40:00for the program, the NRA, and for the banking legislation, and for other legislation that was enacted, which I will discuss in another place. So I have a very warm memory of Charles McNary. He was not a glamorous man, he was not a loud-speaking, foot-stomping, arm-waving type of speaker, but he was a very effective advocate of whatever he believed in, or against anything he didn't believe in. And he was of great service to this country, and I think he was one of the really great senators with whom I served in the Senate until the day of his death.

SHALETT: As to his liberality, he was selected by Willkie, who was not only a converted Democrat, but a liberal, to be his vice president in--

BARKLEY: Oh yes, that's true. Of course, when Willkie blitzkrieged (laughs) the Republican convention in Philadelphia in 1940, got the Republican nomination, although he had been a Democrat and had been the campaign manager in 00:41:00Indiana of the Democratic candidate for United States senator out there, I think, only four years--four or six years before that, but he didn't agree with the Roosevelt policies, especially the legislation against holding companies. And he was associated and connected with the Commonwealth & Southern Utility Company in the South, which later sold out to the TVA. Mr. Willkie became a Republican and was nominated for president in 1940 by the Republican convention. And as always happens when his views and wishes were sought by the convention as to his running mate, he chose Senator Charles L. McNary, because he was of course a life-long Republican, but at the same time a liberal Republican, whose views were in harmony with his on most economic domestic problems.

SHALETT: You had no personal contact with Willkie?

BARKLEY: No. He appeared before our committee when we were investigating 00:42:00holding companies, and were in--getting ready to pass the bill, which was later enacted. He appeared there as a witness, but I had no other contact with him until after he was nominated and after he was defeated. I didn't see him during the campaign. But after he was defeated for President in '40, he came to Washington a great deal. He appeared before committees. He appeared before the Foreign Relations Committee in a very effective advocacy of one of Mr. Roosevelt's programs to--that affected our international relations, our aid, and Lend-Lease and things like that. I think he made a very positive and very valuable statement before our committee on the question of Lend-Lease and other measures that were preliminary to our getting into the war. But the war was on in Europe, and progressively it was spreading, and the question of what 00:43:00our attitude should be toward many things affecting the war and affected by the war, Mr. Willkie became a great supporter of the Roosevelt administration and program. And he and Mr. Roosevelt, though they had been candidates against each other, rather grew into a very determined and, I think, valuable to the country, friendship and sympathy.

SHALETT: Did you ever hear Roosevelt comment on Willkie as a dangerous--I mean, an adversary to be respected?

BARKLEY: Oh, yes. He realized that Willkie was a resourceful man, and he was a tremendous advocate. He was a large man, a very fine-looking man; he had a magnificent voice. He was not a finished orator, but he was very powerful in his advocacy. And Roosevelt recognized--he came to recognize the danger of Willkie, because when he--when the campaign first started out, he determined he wasn't going to make any speeches. The international situation was dangerous, war was moving on up to 00:44:001940, the war breaking out in '39, people began to call it a phony war, that nobody was doing anything but just making faces at another, Hitler and France and England and the rest of them. But of course, later on it really became a genuine war; it was no longer phony. And that thing was developing, and Mr. Willkie was making a tremendous campaign and great crowds and a great deal of enthusiasm. And I think Mr. Roosevelt rather overestimated the danger, and he decided he'd make some speeches too, so he went out on the campaign tour.

SHALETT: Did Roosevelt ever talk to you personally about Willkie?

BARKLEY: Oh, several times. Many times. Mostly in a casual way, but after the election, he talked about him more than he did during the campaign. He als--he frequently rather laughed about Roosevelt having changed--I mean, Willkie having changed his politics so suddenly, that he'd been a Democrat four years before and now he's the Republican nominee for President, 00:45:00which was a rather strange thing, and it was a symbol of Republican uncertainty. They didn't have any man within their own ranks whom they wanted to nominate very enthusiastically, or they thought could win. And when Willkie came on the scene as a sort of a new Lothario coming up--no, Lochinvar. (both laugh) Lochinvar, coming up out of the west, although he had moved east.

SHALETT: Didn't know about this Lothario. (laughs)

BARKLEY: Well, they had such an institution--such a human--he was quite a boy in his day, but anyhow, Lochinvar is the man I'm thinking about. They grabbed him at the convention, as if they'd found some new fountain of life. And so Roosevelt commented, more or less seriously, but sometimes facetiously about that. But after the election and Willkie showed his desire to be of help to the country--that's all right, doesn't bother me--Roosevelt rather warmed up to the idea, and he invited 00:46:00him down to Washington many times to confer, and the two fellows really became pretty good friends. And I think Roosevelt appreciated the help that Willkie gave him. You see, Willkie made a trip around the world, I believe, after he was defeated. At least he made quite an extensive trip abroad, came back and wrote that little book called One World, which showed that he was a confirmed internationalist. And on the question of international policy, there wasn't any great difference between him and Mr. Roosevelt after the campaign was over and the result was so overwhelming.

SHALETT: Well, as a matter of fact, the Republicans seem to be doing their best work these days with people whose politics were doubtful. We didn't know for a long while whether Ike was a Democrat or Republican, did we?

BARKLEY: No, he didn't--of course, he spent his life in the military, and there was no occasion, I guess, for him to indicate whether he was Democrat or Republican. And even after he got out of the military and became president of the University--Columbia University, he didn't advertise it. And there was a great deal of uncertainty, even when 00:47:00he went--when he was sent over by President Truman to take charge of the NATO organization, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, as to whether he was Democrat or Republican. And the fact of business is, I think there was a widespread belief, I don't know whether there was anything to it or not, because I never talked to Mr. Truman about it, but that Mr. Truman had urged Mr. Eisenhower, General Eisenhower, to become a Democratic candidate for President, even in 1948. I doubted that--

SHALETT: You doubted that.

BARKLEY: --because I never heard anything about it, and of course it was generally understood that Mr. Truman expected to be re-nominated. But anyhow, that merely is evidence of the uncertainty as to what Mr. Eisenhower's politics was. And I never had much doubt about it, because his whole family were Republicans, his antecedents were Republicans. And while he was in the Army, it wasn't necessary for him to say anything about it, and while he was president of Columbia University, it wasn't necessary to say anything about it, and certainly not when he went back to Europe in charge of the organization of the North Atlantic 00:48:00Treaty Army and so forth, there was no occasion for him to do it. But finally when the Republicans decided they wanted to win, and they thought he was their best bet, why, he revealed that he'd been a Republican all of his life, and that satisfied them as to his political loyalty and so forth. But that--the parallel between Eisenhower and Willkie is not quite the perfect parallel.

SHALETT: No, that's not--of course.

BARKLEY: Willkie had really been a Democrat all of his life until--and had voted for Roosevelt in '32 and in '36.

SHALETT: That's right. Um-hm.

BARKLEY: And then he became a Republican in 1940. I often wonder whether, when a man changes that suddenly after a lifelong of allegiance and support of one party, that he completely loses the impressions that he had while he was belonging to another party. And I 00:49:00think probably Mr. Willkie discovered after he was defeated by Mr. Roosevelt that he still was part-Democrat, notwithstanding he had become a Republican. (laughs)

SHALETT: Um-hm. Well, party tags are a funny thing anyhow--

BARKLEY: Oh yes, yes. Of course, Lincoln had been a Whig all of his life; he had supported Henry Clay for President, and he had been elected to Congress as a Whig. He became a Republican. Of course, there was no Republican Party at that time, and the Republican Party was organized largely around the slavery question. And Lincoln became not only a Republican, but he of course became its nominee for president in '60 and was elected president.


BARKLEY: So there's nothing--if a man is sincerely convinced that he's been wrong, either in politics, religion, business, or economics, the only honest thing to do is to change his viewpoint. And Lincoln had an expression that he'll follow any man as long as he's right, but when he goes wrong, he'll leave him. And that was when he 00:50:00was becoming prominent. That's a course that man has to be judged by himself. He can be the only--it's like religion. A man's religion and his relationship to his maker is a personal matter with him, and he's not to be criticized, in my judgment, if he modifies his views in the light of new information or greater knowledge and so forth. So I never criticized Mr. Willkie for becoming a Republican after a lifelong of loyalty to the Democratic Party. Neither did I ever criticize General Eisenhower for withholding from the public his political affiliations while he was in the Army and while he was president of Columbia University. He had a perfect right to keep that to himself, and there was probably no occasion--and it might have been improper for him to have done so, so that when he revealed that he 00:51:00was a Republican, I was not surprised at all, and that's what I expected to hear from him whenever he did have any occasion to do it.

SHALETT: You say Mr. Truman never mentioned to you even casually the rumors, I think, such an eminent journalist as Mr. Arthur Krock put into print that Eisenhower had been tendered the nomination? The subject was just never mentioned between you two.

BARKLEY: Never was. I, of course--

SHALETT: Truman didn't even say, "That so-and-so's misquoting me"?

BARKLEY: No, no. He--no, he never mentioned it. It was never talked about. I don't know whether he did or not. Now, I'm not sure about this--I haven't read--I've been--I haven't read General Eisenhower's book, Crusade in Europe, since it first came out. I have a vague feeling back in the back of my head that he said something about it.

SHALETT: Well, he said that Truman said, "You can have anything you want, including the Democratic nomination for President," but this was a later development.

BARKLEY: Yes, that was a later development, and I doubt very 00:52:00much, frankly, if Mr. Truman said that. Whether he--

SHALETT: Well, he'll put that in his memoirs.

BARKLEY: I suppose so. I don't know whether he said it or not, and if he did, it may have been facetious, it may have been a causal compliment that he was paying the general, because I never (laughs) had any very firm conviction that Mr. Truman was not going to accept the nomination in 1948 if it were tendered to him. And I knew it would be, because unless there is a terrific disaster within an administration that makes a man wholly unavailable, any man who's president of the United States can secure his own re-nomination. That was proved back in 1912 when Mr. Taft, whose administration as president was regarded generally as a failure, had enough power as president to control the convention and secure his own nomination against Roosevelt, against a popular hero like Theodore Roosevelt.

SHALETT: Speaking of minority leaders, weren't you once pitted against the late Kenneth Wherry? Or did he come in later after--


BARKLEY: Well, he came in--no, he came in later. He was acting--you see, after Charlie McNary died, Wallace White--Senator Wallace White of Maine, who had been a member of the House a long time, and with whom I had served in the House, and with whom I served for years in the Senate, and who was a grandson of William P. Frye of Maine, who years ago in another generation, another century really, back before the turn of the century, had been president pro tempore of the Senate. He was a very distinguished senator from Maine, and I used to read about him as a boy. Senator Eugene Hale, whose speech I got on the Cuban independence situation at my commencement, and Senator William P. Frye and Senator George Edmunds of Vermont, and George F. Hoar of Massachusetts, all those old fellows who served back in the 80's and 90's were outstanding men, and I 00:54:00read about them as a boy. And I used to read about Senator Frye of Maine. Well, I had no idea that when I--if I ever came to Congress I would be serving with his grandson, and that I'd serve with him in the Senate. So Wallace White was made the minority leader after McNary passed away. And Wallace White was as sweet a human being as I ever knew. He was as clean a man in his private and his public life as I ever knew. And he was a friendly man. A lot of the Republicans who were bent on embarrassing the Roosevelt administration all they could made life miserable for Wallace White by prodding him all the time with a pitchfork or a sharp stick to make him do things he didn't want to do and he didn't think he ought to do as minority leader. And he used to tell me all about it and complain at the treatment he got from some of 00:55:00them. But he was a fair man, and he was a good legislator. He was not a forceful man in debate, because he was small of stature and his voice was not strong. But he was recognized everywhere by Democrats and Republicans as a very sincere man who pursued a policy individually and as a leader of his party which he thought conformed with his duty. And I have a very--I had a very great respect for him. He retired voluntarily from the Senate and was succeeded by Mrs. Margaret Chase Smith, who is now the senator from that state.

SHALETT: And then did Wherry succeed him?

BARKLEY: Wherry succeeded him, yes. Wherry was--

SHALETT: He was a gadfly.

BARKLEY: --acting minority leader part of the time, because Wallace White was not in very good health.

SHALETT: Wherry was ----------(??).

BARKLEY: And Wherry was the whip. He was the whip of the Republican Party. Now, the whip is a term entitled to the 00:56:00senator who is chosen to, not necessarily automatically as assistant leader, but it usually works out that way, unless there is an actual assistant leader. Wherry was the whip of the Republican Party, entirely different type from Wallace White, a very sincere and honest fellow, but obstreperous, and rather rough in his method of debate, not in the sense that they were discourteous, but that he was a new, raw type that came in. And he was--he prodded Wallace White a great deal to take positions that he didn't think he should.

SHALETT: Wherry moved very fast.

BARKLEY: And Wherry moved very fast. Yes, he did. He moved very fast. And then of course, he was made the minority leader. He sat opposite me during the term--the rest of my term as senator before I became vice president. And while in private conversation and 00:57:00in behind-the-scene negotiations as to procedure and what should come up, and this, that, and the other, he was not at all hard to get along with. But on the floor, he seemed to feel that he had to make a show for his party, and he wasn't always as agreeable in public discussion as he was in private conference.

SHALETT: Did you ever get any ----------(??)?

BARKLEY: I liked him though; I liked him very much. I took him--when General Eisenhower cabled General Marshall for a Congressional delegation to come over there and view these atrocity camps, which I've already mentioned, I asked Mr. Wherry to go along as a member, and he did. And he finally, after the third visit to one of these camps, said, "I'm sick. I don't want to see any more. You go ahead and write the report."

SHALETT: He was an expert witness, I think, because he was also an undertaker, wasn't he?

BARKLEY: Well (laughs)--well, he'd been--he was a lawyer and an undertaker, and he had several business and professions out there.

SHALETT: But did you ever get any laughs at Wherry's expense 00:58:00when he'd get so wrought up and needle you and snort and--

BARKLEY: Oh, I did. He'd rear and snort and beat the desk with his fists. And one day I was replying, and I walked across the aisle that separated the Republicans from the Democrats, and I walked right over and I almost split the top of his desk imitating him in his methods of oratory. And it created quite a lot of merriment in the Senate and the galleries too.

SHALETT: Did he laugh?

BARKLEY: He laughed too. Oh yeah, he got as much fun out of it as anybody. Yeah, he was a very nice fellow. He had a premature death. Of course, he went almost in--after the same fashion as Senator Taft, I think with the same malady. Nobody realized it; he didn't realize it. When Congress adjourned, he had been out a few days or maybe two or three weeks on account of illness out at the Naval Hospital, I think. But nobody realized it as fatal, and I learned of his death in Tokyo. My wife and I were in Tokyo. When we had come back from Korea, I learned of his death, and I wired Mrs. Wherry a 00:59:00telegram of sympathy from Tokyo, and she appreciated it very much.

SHALETT: Do you think it's effective for a party, either party, to put a man in as majority leader who is a violent, rip-snorting partisan?

BARKLEY: Well, the proof of the pudding is in the eating thereof, as we say about so many things. I think it is not as effective for any party to make an inexperienced man, who is given to great emotion and outbursts, either in anger or in despair, majority leader or minority leader either, because a minority leader and a majority leader have to give the appearance of calm, deliberate, studied, experienced, dependable action. And if you fly off at the handle, as 01:00:00we used to say back in my boyhood days, because of sudden anger and sudden heat, you cannot be as effective as you could if you didn't have that quality. But those things are natural with men. They're--they either have them or they don't have them. But Wherry having been whip of his party, and having been acting minority leader during Senator White's absence, he had rather the inside track on the majority--the minority leadership. And he had--he'd been very active in certain matters while the Republicans had control of the House in the eightieth Congress as a result of the election in 1946. And Wherry had been active also in the advocate--advocacy of legislation for small business. He--we created a Small Business Division in the--during the war in the War Production 01:01:00Board. We recognized that small business would probably suffer because of the necessity for large war contracts, and big business and big corporations could afford to send representatives to Washington, and of course, many of them were on the boards, because in the very nature of things the government had to call on experienced businessmen and manufacturers in order to coordinate and organize the economic and industrial powers of the nation for war purposes. And in that process, the little man was apt to be squeezed out. So we set up a Small Business Division in the War Production Board, which was supposed to function for small business and did a good job of seeing to it that small business got some reasonable share of the contracts that the government had to let. Of course, you know, it--you take a man, head of a 01:02:00department like the War Department, Navy, or any of those contracting agencies, it's much easier to make a contract with a big producer, one contract to cover everything, than it is to spread it out among a lot of little producers. And the tendency was to ignore the little man and to concentrate on the big people. And for that reason, Congress set up this Small Business Division in the War Production Board, which served a very excellent purpose, and, I think, justified itself. Well now, in all of that, Mr. Wherry had been active as an advocate of small business. And he had some claims on his party. At least they were recognized and he was made the majority leader. Now I never had any trouble working with Wherry on the whole. He would sometimes give vociferous demonstrations of his opposition or his advocacy of something, but after he got it out of his system, then we could sit down and usually come to an amicable understanding 01:03:00about either the procedure in the Senate or about the provisions of a bill where there was room for some adjustment between the different parties.

[Pause in recording.]

BARKLEY: There are many senators--getting back now to the mention of senators with whom I served, there are many senators on both sides of the aisle whom I would like to mention, but it would be impossible for me to do justice to all of them, and therefore I will not undertake it.

[Pause in recording.]

BARKLEY: But I would like to mention young Bob La Follette. I think that young Bob La Follette was one of the most valuable legislators with whom I was ever associated. He had been the secretary to his father, old Bob, as they called him, who had been a representative in Congress, had been governor of Wisconsin, had been 01:04:00elected senator a number of times, who was an isolationist in the sense in which that term was used in World War number one. He opposed our war with Germany, and he opposed many of the measures intended to help win the war. And he opposed them so bitterly and so consistently that there was a movement on to expel him from the Senate as a result of his opposition to the war and the measures. And at one--at that time he was very unpopular in the minds of all the people who felt that, notwithstanding his environment or his views, that when we got into a war with another country, that we ought to support the government of the United States. Well anyhow, that passed away, as all such things do ultimately pass away. And in 1924, when the Democrats nominated John W. 01:05:00Davis and Charles W. Bryan for president and vice president, and the Republicans nominated Mr. Coolidge and General Dawes, there was dissatisfaction with--among a lot of people, especially among the labor organizations, and particularly the railway labor organizations, with both tickets, so they met in an independent convention and nominated Roosevelt--I mean, La Follette and Burton K. Wheeler, who was a Democrat, Montana, on the Progressive ticket for president and vice president. And he got five million popular votes in that election, although he did not, of course, get--I'm not certain whether he carried Wisconsin or not--check in on that, he may have carried Wisconsin and he may have gotten his own electoral vote. Anyhow--well, when he died, young Bob La Follette came to the Senate. He had been secretary of his 01:06:00father, and he had been a very valuable secretary. He learned the processes of legislation, and his judgment had matured until he was recognized--well, at first people said, "Well, he's just--he was appointed or elected because he was the son of his father, but he's nothing like old Bob," they'd say. "Young fellow." And it wasn't long, though, after he got to the Senate until we all began to recognize that young Bob La Follette was entitled consideration on his own merit. And while he never affiliated with the Republican Party because he followed the tradition of his father, it was really a La Follette Party in Wisconsin called a Progressive. But gradually--because Bob was re-elected time and time again until his last race. He had to decide whether he would run 01:07:00again as a Progressive or go back into the Republican Party and run as a Republican in the Republican primary, or join the Democratic Party in Wisconsin and try to be elected as a Democrat. Frankly, I urged him to pursue that course. He had really supported most of the Democratic legislation, the Democratic program, under Franklin D. Roosevelt.

SHALETT: Did he come and ask your advice on it?

BARKLEY: Well, I'm not certain whether he came to me or I went to him. We talked several times about it. And I said to him that I thought he was not a real Republican in the sense of the word that the average Republican is considered. He'd been progressive, he had really been more Democratic than Republican in the support of Roosevelt's program. He had gone far afield from the attitude of his father in World War I and had voted for 01:08:00the war against Japan as a result of the attack on Pearl Harbor. He had supported the war measures; he had sat in with Secretary Hull and with Vandenberg and with me and others in the formation of the charter of the United Nations before the San Francisco meeting and all that. So he had proved himself not only progressive and liberal in matters of legislation, but he had also demonstrated that he was not an isolationist in the sense that his father had been in World War number one, that he was--he had almost become an internationalist, that is, he believed in cooperation. He believed that there ought to be a new international organization set up for preserving the peace and stopping aggression, whereas his father had been opposed to the League of Nations back in the--at the end of World War number one. Well, I--well, that time came when he had to make a 01:09:00decision, and I talked to him two or three times about it, not that I had any right to try to control his ultimate decision, but he--we were great friends and close friends, and many Democrats felt the same way about it, and I said, "I think you ought to run as a Democrat out there. You're not in sympathy with the old stand-pat attitude of the Republican Party in Wisconsin, and the Progressive Party probably has about run its course as such." Well, he said that most of his Progressive friends who'd been supporting him during the years when he ran as an Independent or Progressive were gradually working their way back into the Republican Party and that he felt--and that they were advising him to go into the Republican Party and run as a Republican, and that he felt that that's what he should do, take their advice and follow their example, which he did. He ran in the primary and was defeated, as you know, by the present junior Senator from Wisconsin, Mr. McCarthy. But I want 01:10:00to draw no invidious comparisons between the choice of any state for senator, but I'm proud to say that in my whole service in the Senate, I do not recall any man who was more valuable as a legislator, who understood more thoroughly the legislative process, who was more forceful in advocating what he believed in, and more independent and courageous in it than Bob La Follette. And I regretted his defeat and his retirement, and I think the whole Senate, regardless of politics, regretted his defeat in Wisconsin, and of course, were shocked and grieved beyond expression when, unfortunately for some reason that I'll never understand, he took his own life a year or so ago.

SHALETT: Do you happen to recall how close the Republican victory was over the Democratic victory after McCarthy received the nomination? I was 01:11:00just wondering if possibly if La Follette had run as a Democrat with the Progressive and Republican backing that he would have attracted, if the course might have been different.

BARKLEY: Well, of course, I don't know. I don't recall the majority in the November election after the primary. And of course, it would be purely speculative for me to say that if Mr. La Follette had gone into the Democratic primary he would have been nominated and elected. I can't be sure of that; nobody can. But I want now to get back to the father, old Bob. He had the reputation of being a very forceful speaker. I knew him as a senator, and while I was in the House he came to my hometown at Paducah and addressed a Chautauqua--large Chautauqua audience there. It was in the days of the Chautauqua when it was popular, and outstanding speakers were invited to address Chautauqua audiences on public questions, and 01:12:00Senator La Follette came there. He was an expert on transportation. He'd studied that, and he'd had that to contend with out in Wisconsin, and he became active in it in Washington, and then he was of course unalterably opposed to all forms of monopoly and trusts and combinations. My recollection is that he used that subject as--for his address at the Chautauqua in Paducah. Well anyhow, he was opposed to many of the Wilson policies, among them a shipping bill, as I recall it, that was pending in the Senate. And he made--he--up until recent weeks or months, he had the outstanding record of making the longest continuous speech ever made in the Senate. More than eighteen hours he stood on his feet without interruption and spoke against this shipping bill. He was engaged in a filibuster against it, and he held the 01:13:00record until recently Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon in the Senate, I think, spoke for twenty-two hours continuously. That wasn't necessarily a filibuster of the same nature that the one that Senator La Follette was engaged in, but anyhow he had occasion to speak that long, and he outstripped the old Bob La Follette in the length of his speech. Well, I--that leads me to discuss filibusters, if you don't mind me--

SHALETT: I'd love to hear it.

BARKLEY: --injecting that subject into it.

SHALETT: They're a great tribute to the human larynx and kidney, aren't they?

BARKLEY: (laughs) Well, presumably. I never quite understood the mechanics to which long-winded senators resorted in their ability to stand on their feet eighteen hours or twenty-two hours, but maybe they had some proclivities of the camel--(Shalett laughs)--who is said to go across the desert for eight days without water. Of course, it's a different--entirely different situation. Anyhow--


SHALETT: Why don't you--at the beginning, why don't you describe the rules that a senator is bound by?

BARKLEY: Yeah, I was going to. Yeah, I was going to. The rules of the Senate--of course, the filibuster became a prevalent custom at the end of each short session of Congress, which I've already discussed, when Congress had to adjourn on the fourth of March whether it was through or not. And it would not meet again until the first month in December every other year, unless a president called them into extra session. And that deadline on the fourth of March lent itself admirably during the last few days of that short session to the efforts of any man who wanted to kill legislation, because if he could speak until the--twelve o'clock on the fourth of March, or if he had a few members who would work with him to relieve him to speak against any proposition until twelve o'clock on the fourth of March, why the Senate--the Congress had to adjourn automatically. 01:15:00Years ago--it hasn't been done lately, but years ago they used to move the clock back for an hour or two to keep twelve o'clock from coming at the appointed time so that they might either wear a man out who was trying to filibuster against legislation or, if there was time, to pass a bill or two during that extra hour or two. Well, that's no longer customary either in the House or the Senate, I think. Well, the rules of the Senate that work for those who desire to filibuster provide practically unlimited debate. It has been a tradition of the Senate that any senator who gets the floor may speak as long as he can stand up there and speak. The rules of the Senate do not require a senator to discuss the matter before the Senate. He can talk about anything. And on many occasions, senators have taken up the time of 01:16:00the Senate reading newspapers, reading the Bible, reading poetry, all sorts of things that will consume time.

SHALETT: Telephone books.

BARKLEY: Telephone books, yes. Sears Roebuck's catalogs, things of that sort that have no relevancy.

SHALETT: I didn't think you were supposed to read those in the Senate. (laughs)

BARKLEY: Well, you read them in the Senate, yes. You can take up a considerable length of time reading all the articles in Sears Roebuck's catalog if you haven't anything else to talk about. And of course, when a senator is trying to kill time to prevent the passage of some bill, he doesn't care what he's reading, it doesn't make any difference. He may discuss the bill awhile, and then he may go off into a newspaper, into poetry or Sears Roebuck's catalog or the telephone directory or anything.

SHALETT: This is the end of side one. I'll reverse immediately.

[Pause in recording.]

OTHER VOICE: --of reel sixteen of the Barkley tapes.


[Pause in recording.]

SHALETT: Side two, reel sixteen.

BARKLEY: Well, so, that the filibuster has been a device resorted to by a small group of senators who could not carry a point if it came to a vote. They're usually in the minority, and that's why they filibuster against the vote, because they usually know that if it comes to a vote, whatever it is, they will be in the minority, and that the majority will pass the bill or the resolution or whatever it may be. Now, way back before my day, one of the outstanding accomplishments of the filibuster was the defeat of what was known as a force bill, known as the Lodge Force Bill, introduced by Henry Cabot Lodge known as the Lodge Force Bill introduced by Henry Cabot Lodge, the elder.

SHALETT: F-o-r-c-e.

BARKLEY: F-o-r-c-e. It was a bill, I don't know the details 01:18:00of it, and it's not nec--it was a bill, however, that in one way or another proposed to use federal soldiers in the South in the matter of elections, presumably to protect the right of the people to vote. But it was called the Force Bill colloquially. It didn't have that name in the bill. But anyhow, the senators from the South who opposed that legislation, against whose states it was evidently aimed, were able to kill it by reason of a filibuster. And they have used that example forever since as a justification of the filibuster, claiming that if it had not been for their power to debate the matter interminably without restriction that the bill would have passed if it came to a vote, and therefore their states would have been victims of that sort of legislation. Well, the filibuster has been resorted to, not only in matters affecting sectional legislation, or legislation that 01:19:00would affect a section of the country, but it was used effectively by Senator La Follette, as I said, against a shipping bill that Mr. Wilson was advocating. And it was also used against a bill permitting our American ships in World War number one to arm themselves to protect themselves against submarines or against attack by German navy vessels. And that came at the end of a session and was killed, because it had--Congress had to adjourn on the fourth of March. Well, in order to get away from that thing, largely, at least as a part of the reason for getting away from it, the Constitution was amended by a resolution offered by Senator George W. Norris of Nebraska, with whom I served and who was one of the outstanding liberals in the Senate, somewhat after the fashion of La Follette. Although he ran as a Republican most of the time, he came to 01:20:00Congress as a Republican, he was elected to the Senate as a Republican, he ran out there as an Independent in one of his races and was supported and endorsed by the Democratic Party. But in his last race, he was defeated in the primary by Mr. Wherry, and Wherry came to the Senate in his place. Well, Norris introduced a resolution similar to one which I had introduced, to which I've already referred, when I first went to Congress as a freshman to abolish the so-called short session so that filibusters could not kill legislation at a deadline in March. Well, when Senator Norris introduced that resolution, it was supported by the Roosevelt administration by an overwhelming majority of the Senate, and it was adopted by the necessary two-thirds of both houses and submitted to the states and ratified by the necessary three-fourths of the states and became a part of the Constitution providing that Congress shall now meet on the third day of January each year, 01:21:00hence remain in session without any deadline until it has finished its work, presumably. Of course, its work may never be finished. It always has to adjourn sometime without--with something unfinished. But anyhow, it could go on up into the summer, as it now does practically every year. Well, that didn't stop the filibuster. Still they continue, and it continues particularly with reference to legislation affecting what's called civil rights among the people. It has been used, and it has been used effectively, to kill legislation outlawing the poll tax as a requirement for voting in certain states. It has been used against legislation providing for what they call FEPC, Fair Employment Practices Commission, which Mr. Roosevelt established by executive order while he was president, but after that had to be provided 01:22:00by law, because it was done as a war measure, and when the war was over the president had no power to issue an executive order creating a fair employment practice. It was also used against legislation outlawing the lynching, called anti-lynching legislation. Now, my position on those bills has always been in favor of them. The lynching of human beings became a national disgrace in this country. Fortunately, it has been discontinued now to such an extent that it's almost disappeared, and that's come about, I think, by the agitation and the publicity and the education of our people against that sort of thing. But I supported anti-lynching legislation on the same ground that I supported anti-kidnapping legislation, on the same ground that I supported legislation making it a federal offense for a man to steal an automobile and take it across a state line, or to take one across a state line knowing that 01:23:00it was stolen, and I support it on the same ground that the Mann Act was legislated, outlawing commercial vice in the United States in interstate commerce. I never could see any legalistic or constitutional objection to passing a law outlawing this--the lynching of a human being by a conspiracy of other people where that's--that thing outraged the Constitution or the institutions of our country any more than to outlaw the kidnapping of a child and taking that across state lines, or the taking of a woman across state lines for immoral purposes, or the taking of an automobile across state lines, and all other--a lot of other things that have been made federal offenses because it was recognized that states could not cope with that sort of a situation where a 01:24:00man was kidnapped, or a child kidnapped, or an automobile stolen and taken across the state line into some other state. Well, I supported anti-lynch legislation, but it was always the subject of a filibuster. Whenever any attempt was made to bring it up, you could always depend upon a filibuster, and under the rules of the Senate permitting interminable debate as long as a man could stay on his feet, and he doesn't even have to yield for the purpose of adjourning, he can stay on his feet. And while he's on his feet, nobody can interrupt him unless he violates the rules of the Senate in some way, in which case he can be called to his seat, and then he has to proceed on motion of the Senate, that he may be proceed--permitted to proceed in order.

SHALETT: Is the filibusterer allowed to take refreshments or to lean? He must stay erect, not lean against his desk or--

BARKLEY: No, he can lean against his desk all right. He's supposed to stay erect, but in--I think in one or two cases where a man was ailing, they permitted him to speak from his 01:25:00chair.


BARKLEY: That doesn't happen often though.

SHALETT: How about refreshments? Can he take coffee?

BARKLEY: He can take coffee; he can have orange juice or water. He's not supposed to bring a sandwich or anything like that in on the floor. Now, I--the filibuster was also invoked against the anti-poll tax legislation. As you know there are certain states now--I think the number has been decreasing by action on their own part--but I think there are six or seven states that still provide that a man shall pay his poll tax before he shall be entitled to vote. That applies to everybody, not just to one race; it applies to all the voters in that state. And an effort has been made for many years to get rid of that requirement. It really is a throw-back to the old days of property qualification for voting. 01:26:00And when you analyze it, it's difficult to see any more reason for depriving a man of the right to vote because he didn't pay his poll tax, which amounts to a dollar and a half or two dollars a year, while his failure to pay his tax on his property, his home, or his business does not deprive him of the right to vote. And obviously, that legislation was enacted not to raise revenue, but to make it harder for certain people to vote. Well, as we got into wars and the draft law came along, where--by which the government could reach its arm into every home in the nation without regard to race, creed, or color and take the strongest man in that home to fight for democracy all over the world, it came to be believed generally--and I shared that belief--that it was not democratic to take a man all over the world to fight for our own institutions, and when he had fought for 01:27:00them and had shed his blood for them and laid his life on the altar of his country for these institutions, to deny him the right to vote or participate in those democratic institutions when he got back home was a denial of democracy and a denial of equal rights among the people. So I advocated the abolition of the poll tax as a qualification for voting. And when the legislature of Kentucky many years ago submitted an amendment to our state constitution providing for the poll tax as a qualification for voting, I opposed it. I was a young man, a young lawyer at the time, but I opposed it actively and voted against it, because I didn't believe that any form of property qualification ought to be imposed as a requirement for making a man eligible to vote. But whenever that legislation has been up in the Senate, the filibuster has been resorted to as a device by which to kill it, on the ground that 01:28:00it invades the rights of the states. Well, I would much prefer the states would cure that situation themselves, and many of them have done it. And in Louisiana they repealed the poll tax as a requirement for voting, and the votes of the people increased by seventy-five percent, showing that many people had not paid their poll tax. It was not just the colored voter or the colored citizen; white people didn't pay their poll taxes, because under some of the laws if you don't pay them for five years or ten years, you've got to pay them all the way back for all these missing years before you can vote, which is a tremendous burden upon poor people. Well, when Louisiana abolished it, the number of votes increased by nearly seventy-five percent. Then North Carolina abolished it, and her votes increased by ninety percent, showing that all people, white and black and everybody, had 01:29:00failed or refused to pay their poll tax as a qualification for voting. And then Florida repealed the poll tax, and the votes in Florida increased by over a hundred percent. But there was no change in the political complexion of the government, showing that those who feared that the repeal of the poll tax would impose upon them a system of government they did not desire were mistaken. More recently, Georgia has, by action of her own legislation, repealed the poll tax. And I hope that all the states--

SHALETT: Tennessee has.

BARKLEY: Tennessee has, yes. She first tried it, and her Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional. But I think she has now gotten around that, either by constitutional amendment or in some other way, and has repealed it. So one by one, the states have abolished the poll tax, but there are still five or six of them that retain it. And the reason why I have supported federal legislation, and those 01:30:00who advocate it have supported federal legislation, to outlaw the poll tax is because that in the election of president and vice president and members of the House of Representatives and the United States Senate, which are federal officers dealing with the federal government, the state had no right to deny her citizens the right to vote in those elections because they hadn't paid a poll tax. So I'm hoping that the states one by one and will speedily repeal that antiquated requirement, which goes back to the days of property qualification, but designed chiefly to prevent people from voting because they wouldn't or couldn't pay their poll tax. And--but if the states do not do it, I still, if I were a member of the Senate or the House, I would vote to outlaw the poll tax as a requirement for voting in presidential and Congressional elections. It has been used also very effectively against fair practice legislation, and I--in many cases, men are more bitter against 01:31:00that then they are against the repeal of the poll tax or even anti-lynching, because they claim that it injects the federal government into industry and in the methods of employment and takes away from employers his right to choose his own employees in the states. Well, I don't agree that that is the result. It makes it unlawful for him to discriminate against a man because of his race or religion, but he has the freedom to--for any other reason which he thinks effective or legitimate to refuse to employ a man or a woman either in his factory. Well anyhow, the filibuster has been used chiefly against this form of legislation. I always believe--I've always believed in majority rule. I realize the situation in these states that object to this kind of legislation, but we've got to look at this thing, as 01:32:00I see it, from a national standpoint. And in two world wars we have exercised the power of government to take the ablest men in our states. Nobody objects to that. Nobody questions the right of the federal government to do that, but we have done that in order to defend our institutions, our democracy, our way of life. And it seems to me not only unjust but hypocritical for us to say to every home, "We'll take your best man out and send him all over the world to fight for democratic institutions, but when he comes back he can't vote in the process of government unless he walks up and pays a poll tax levied by the state." I think that's undemocratic. I think it's unjustified, it's outmoded. I think that even those who have defended it admit that it's outmoded but they want the states to abolish it. Well, if the states won't abolish it, I think the federal government has an interest in its own elections and the election of men who are to run the federal government, and therefore that requirement ought not to interfere with the 01:33:00freedom of the people to vote in presidential and Congressional elections. Well--but every effort to abolish the filibuster has failed in the Senate. Every effort to liberalize the rules so as to abolish the filibuster has failed in the Senate. Now they adopted a rule by which they--which they call cloture, which means the closing of debate, where if sixteen senators would sign a petition to close debate, file that with the vice president's secretary in open Senate, and at a certain day vote on that, and it required a vote of two-thirds of all the senators present and voting to adopt cloture. Well now, two-thirds vote is hard to obtain in a vote on a motion to close debate, because unlimited debate is a tradition of the Senate that goes back for a hundred years, and men they hesitate to yield that privilege because many of them may not know when some time may come when they'd like to use the power of unlimited debate against something 01:34:00that they oppose, and so forth. Well, when the Congressional reorganization bill was passed a few years ago, which was supposed to liberalize Congressional procedure and streamline the legislative process, they provided for an amendment of that rule. Ostensibly, it was supposed to liberalize it. As a matter of fact, it made it tighter and more difficult, because now sixteen members can sign a petition for cloture, it'll be voted on on the day fixed in the rules and in the law, but now it requires sixty-four of the ninety-six senators to vote for that rule before cloture can be imposed. In other words, if there are only sixty-four senators on the floor, all sixty-four of them have to vote for this rule in order to close debate, and therefore it makes it more difficult to adopt the cloture motion now than it did even before the so-called liberalization. Now, I go right back to my 01:35:00original proposition. I believe in majority rule. I believe in it in our country. It prevails in the election of all of our state and county offices. It prevails in the election of Congressmen. It prevails in the election of president and vice president in the Electoral College. It prevails in the election of the United States senators. It prevails in nearly every deliberative body, political or economic in this country. Now, it seems to me that the Senate of the United States ought not to be hobbled and handicapped by an ancient rule of that sort that makes it necessary for sixty-four senators to vote for a close of debate before the Senate can control its own business and bring a measure to a vote. And in that sense, I have opposed the cloture. I never took part in one. As majority leader, I tried my best to break a filibuster when one was in progress, but I found it absolutely impossible to break one if there 01:36:00was a few--if there was a determination on the part of a few senators never to allow a thing to come to a vote, they can hold the floor one by one until you have to do something. You have to either lay aside the measure that's before you or run the risk of transacting no other business as long as they can talk, and that might run for months and has done it for as much as six weeks.


BARKLEY: So that's--

SHALETT: The filibuster usually is a rather sorry spectacle that detracts from the dignity of the Senate.

BARKLEY: Oh, yes. The filibuster is--it is a sorry spectacle, and it's unjustified and it's out of date and it's absolutely contrary to the theory of democratic majority rule. And as a matter of fact, when a filibuster is on and known to be on, the Senate is practically empty. Nobody will stay there and listen to a senator harangue for hours and hours, except somebody who may want to be recognized as soon as he sits down to continue the filibuster and help him out in the effort, all of which takes away from the dignity of the Senate and brings the whole legislative process into contempt. Well, I have animadverted upon the question of filibuster, probably at 01:37:00greater length than I intended, but I feel very deeply about it. And I have been confronted with it many times as majority leader, and I have learned my own--by my own experience how difficult it is to defeat a filibuster if there is a determined effort on the part of as many as half a dozen senators to kill a bill, no matter how long they have to debate it.

SHALETT: Did you describe the other day Huey Long's famous filibuster, which was quite a marathon of its day?

BARKLEY: Yeah, I des--I talked about that.

SHALETT: I believe we have that.

BARKLEY: Yes. I don't know that I went into any great detail, but I did refer to it and discussed it.

SHALETT: Of course, you were--

BARKLEY: It was in that filibuster that some of these rather amusing passages took place that I did relate.

SHALETT: Yeah. I think he gave his pot liquor dissertation then?

BARKLEY: Oh, yes. He--on one of his tirades there when he was filibustering, he took quite a long time of the Senate describing his pot liquor recipe. Now, a lot of people don't know what 01:38:00pot liquor is. I was familiar with it as a boy. Pot liquor is the juice that is left in a pot where you boil cabbage or beans or some other vegetable with ham or bacon. And it leaves a very rich, mellow, tasty soup, really, but it's called pot liquor because it's the essence of a vegetable boiled in a pot. And that's the liquor that's in a different sense, of course, from bottled-in-bond that you're familiar with.

SHALETT: (laughs) Of course, you were spared--not being in the Senate at the moment, you were spared having to sit through Mr. Morse's marathon.


SHALETT: I don't suppose you even read it in the Record, did you?

BARKLEY: No, no. I was busy. I didn't have time to read it, and of course, I personally liked Wayne Morse. I--

SHALETT: Well, you like everybody. (laughs)

BARKLEY: I know. Well, I don't like everybody. Not everybody. Some I like better than others, but I rather like Wayne Morse, he's an interesting sort of a fellow. Politically, I guess you'd call him 01:39:00a maverick, but that's a word that I don't like to use in regard to a man, although it is applied frequently. But in the sense that he's irregular and undependable so far as political affiliation is concerned, he is one. But nevertheless he is a valuable man, I think. He serves a useful purpose, and he has--he's called the turn on a lot of his reactionary colleagues in the Senate, both Democratic and Republican, because there are reactionaries on both sides of the aisle, according to my experience. And Wayne Morse has, I think, rendered a valuable service in that regard since he's been in the Senate, and his fate in Oregon is a matter for the people of Oregon to determine. But I did not read his twenty-two-hour speech; I was busy. I had no particular occasion to, and I haven't read it, I don't know whether as long as I live I'll ever have time to read it or not, but I have a good deal of respect for Wayne Morse's sincerity.

SHALETT: It was pretty rough rolling him out of his committee 01:40:00assignments, wasn't it?

BARKLEY: Yes. Yes. That's true. Now--and they treated him a little different from the way they treated Bob La Follette. Bob La Follette was not a regular Republican.

SHALETT: This is old Bob.

BARKLEY: No, young Bob.

SHALETT: Young Bob. Um-hm.

BARKLEY: He was not a Republican. He didn't come there as Republican, but yet the Republicans assigned him his committee assignments and he was treated the same way of any other senator. He couldn't be assigned to Democratic places on committees because he was in the minority, but the Republicans usually took pretty good care of Bob in the way of committee assignments and he got on important committees. He got on Finance, he got on Foreign Relations, and I think on--well, others. I'm not--don't remember now, but I know he was on both of those committees, and they were--he was assigned by the Republicans. Well now, Wayne Morse had been on Armed Services and on Labor, the committees which he'd served on. And he wanted to retain them, but the Republicans of the eighty-third Congress booted him out rather ruthlessly, and I thought unceremoniously, although it was none of my business as a Democrat, 01:41:00but it was a matter of some concern to the American people in the process of legislation, that a man should be kicked off of committees where he had been assigned and where he'd served just because he didn't go along with the party of which he was supposed to be a member.

SHALETT: Senator, before we fold up for the morning, I wonder if we might add one little human footnote that you told us at dinner last night on Woodrow Wilson's great love for Vaudeville. I think the subject came up when you were reminiscing about the wonderful old minstrels you used to see as a child, Al G. Fields and such.

BARKLEY: We were talking. I was re--I was a little nostalgic myself in talking about the love that I had for the old-fashioned minstrel show. I remember when--and Al G. Fields Minstrels were the outstanding minstrel organization. And I remember one of his in-men, interlocutors, Lew Dockstader I think was his name, a very famous minstrel performer, and the 01:42:00shows were always good. They were relaxing, they were funny, and Al G. Fields's Minstrels used to come to Paducah when I was a boy. And at about 11 o'clock they'd get out on the streets with their long-tailed coats cut in the fashion of an evening coat, and braid up and down the side of their trousers, and they'd get out on the street and parade about eleven o'clock to advertise that that night they were going to show at the Kentucky Theatre, and with their orchestra and their trombone and their--all their different horn instruments. They made life very merry. Well, when I went to Washington, I still retained that love of the minstrel show. And what's now Keith's Theatre in Washington, which is a moving picture emporium, was then Chase's Theatre, and it was taken over by the Keith Orpheum circuit, 01:43:00and for a long time it was a Vaudeville show. Now, they didn't have the Al G. Fields Minstrels, but they did have minstrelsy, and they had a very high type of Vaudeville show, all kinds of acts. Well, Woodrow Wilson used to go to Keith's about once a week, either Saturday afternoon or Saturday night. Frequently on Saturday afternoon at the matinees, Woodrow Wilson would show up in a box.

SHALETT: With Mrs. Wilson?

BARKLEY: With Mrs. Wilson, yes, and sometimes some guests. I never was a guest of his, because I was a young Congressman. I didn't--he didn't know me well enough to include me in his parties, but I frequently saw him at the theater and watched him to catch the reaction that he had towards these humorous quips and jokes and songs and one thing and another, and he thoroughly enjoyed the minstrels.

SHALETT: He unlaxed.

BARKLEY: He unlaxed. He'd laugh, he'd chuckle, you could hear him 01:44:00all over the theater if something really funny happened. He had a very deep, bass laugh. Now, his voice was not baritone in its ordinary speaking tones, but when he laughed, he laughed deeply in his throat. And you could hear him laugh all over the place at some very funny thing that some of these Vaudeville performers would put out, and it was a--really a great joy for me to see him at the theater, even at a distance. I might be in the middle of the theater or over on the other end, but I was a great admirer of Mr. Wilson and I was anxious to catch his reaction. And it really afforded me almost as much pleasure to watch him and his reaction as it did to watch the stage and see the performers. Well, that happened--that went on, of course, until World War I broke out. Then, of course, it ended all of his theater-goings. He had--

SHALETT: The performers would really play up to him--

BARKLEY: Oh, they played up to him, and they'd get off things that were particularly aimed for him, and he would just enjoy them to the fullest extent. He got great relaxation. It took him 01:45:00away, his mind away, from the terrible responsibilities of his office. And it was a very human thing to do, because a man who can enjoy humor, however austere he may be in outward appearance or in approach, if he really enjoys humor and relaxation like that, you can count on him being a pretty good human being. Well, after he--after the war was over, after he became ill and was paralyzed on one side, he retired from the presidency, he frequently went to the theater also on Saturday afternoon at matinees. And sometimes my wife and I and maybe the children would attend the same show. And he'd be in a box over on one side, and during the intermissions he'd look around over the audience to see who was there whom he could recognize. And he always recognized me and waved at me and once or twice motioned for me to come over to the box and talk with him while--during the intermission. I always enjoyed that, and Mrs. Wilson was always with him. And they were delightful little interludes and little visits after he no longer was president and 01:46:00when he was still afflicted by this paralysis that he incurred in his great effort to convince the American people that they ought to join in the League of Nations.

SHALETT: Did the showboat used to come to Paducah?

BARKLEY: Oh, yes. The showboat came to Paducah, and I used to go down to the wharf, the river's edge at the foot of Broadway, and see the showboat. And I want to tell you something. These old showboats--these old shows that are put on at the showboats were just about as fine a type of entertainment for the average American as anything I ever saw in a theater. They were very funny. A lot of it was slap-jack comedy, but still I enjoyed it, where you'd see some fellow jump through a trap door and go--disappear and come back yonder through another trap door, and here he'd go, and somebody--it was really very funny, although it was--when you look back at it now, it seems ridiculous.

BARKLEY: And didn't they have singing and--

SHALETT: Oh, they had a lot of singing.

BARKLEY: Drama. Drama. They had comedy. Yeah, they had--


SHALETT: Melodrama.

BARKLEY: Melo--it was more 'melo' than dramatic too. (laughs)


BARKLEY: But it was an institution.

SHALETT: And then they had an orchestra and a band with tailcoats on(??)?

BARKLEY: They had everything in the way of entertainment. Comedy, they had make-up people, they'd have man dressed up and blacked up--painted up as charcoal and stuff like colored comedians, and they were very good. They were very good, and I used to enjoy them. And of course, that's all gone now. The movie picture and the moving picture, the radio, and the television has supplanted all that. And as a matter of fact, it's--it has almost supplanted, except in New York and one or two of our larger cities, the legitimate theater, which was the scene of real drama and tragedy and all the arts that were--that accompanied the profession of acting. But change comes about, you know.

SHALETT: How about the circus? Did that come to Paducah?


BARKLEY: Oh, yeah. The circus came there; it came regularly. It came to other towns. Of course, it came to the smaller towns before I went to Paducah.

SHALETT: You used to work--

BARKLEY: I used to get--yeah, when I was a kid and the circus came to town, I'd get a job carrying water to the elephant, or maybe feeding the elephant with hay, or doing some other--helping to drive the stakes down to set the tents steady. And I'd get--sometimes they wouldn't pay me anything except admission into the show when it started. And that was plenty, because I wanted to see the show and didn't have the money to pay fifty cents or a dollar, so I'd work my way into the show by helping them around their animals or their wagons or their tents. But of course, when I got to Paducah and became a young lawyer after finishing my school, I didn't work around the tents or the circus, I paid my way in, but I always went. And then when my family began to grow, I took them to the circus and 01:49:00they always enjoyed it, the animals, but I enjoyed the trapeze performers and the comedians, I think, about as much as I did anything else in the show.

SHALETT: You're sort of a Grand Ole Opry fan. You often quote Minnie Pearl, don't you? Cousin Minnie?

BARKLEY: (laughs) Well, yes. I listen to the Grand Ole Opry down at Nashville, which I believe is put on and sponsored by Prince Albert smoking tobacco.

SHALETT: Sometimes. Sometimes rat exterminator and--

BARKLEY: Yeah. Well, most of the time since I've been listening to it, it's been P.A., they call it, Prince Albert. And I enjoy Minnie Pearl. I met her at the inauguration in '49, she and Red Foley and Rod Brasfield from Hohenwald. And quite a number of the Grand Ole Opry performers were at the inauguration in '49. And I went out to the inaugural ball out in the armory, and by the way there this whole Grand Ole Opry outfit was sitting there and--

[Pause in recording.]

BARKLEY: --lovely visit with Minnie Pearl, who is a very cultured 01:50:00woman in real life, but appears as an awfully ignorant country girl in this show. And this Rod Brasfield is about as funny a comedian for about five minutes as anybody you ever listened to. And Rod--I mean, Red Foley is--he has a magnificent baritone voice. He was born in Kentucky; his parents still live up at Berea, Kentucky, the seat of Berea College, which is a great institution for the education of boys and girls who work their way through college. So I'm a sort of a devotee of the--I like hillbilly music too, I can listen all day. I don't like all the singing. It seems like it's all based on broken hearts and jilted women and men, but I do like the instrumental music, these steel guitars. But I really enjoy it, because it takes me back to my boyhood days and to the fundamentals of American life back among the people.

SHALETT: President Roosevelt, for his entertainment, used to have to very 01:51:00occasionally call a show into the White House because he couldn't go to the theater. Isn't that true?

BARKLEY: That's true. He--

SHALETT: Did you attend any of those performances?

BARKLEY: I attended some of them. I remember one when King George and Queen Elizabeth of England were in this country, and they were guests at the White House. And he had a musical for them. And he had--instead of sending to the theaters in New York to get some Grand Opry talent or Fritz Kreisler as a violinist or anything like that, he got some of the Southern Negro spirituals to sing. And he had--what's the famous colored--

SHALETT: Marian Anderson?

BARKLEY: Marian Anderson and people like that.


BARKLEY: And he seemed to have a desire to exhibit before King George and Queen Elizabeth the folk songs of America, taken back from the rural sections to show, really, what life away from the great cities represented. And King George and Queen Elizabeth seemed to enjoy 01:52:00it very much. It was something new to them. I don't know that they'd ever seen anything like it in the way of music, but--

SHALETT: It must have been very impressive.

BARKLEY: Very--they seemed to enjoy it very much, and Roosevelt seemed rather proud that he could bring that sort of talent to the White House and have them perform before the King and Queen of England.

SHALETT: Um-hm. Well--

[Pause in recording.]

SHALETT: This temporarily is the end of side two, reel sixteen.

[End of interview.]