Oral History Interview with
Longtime personal friend of Harry S. Truman and treasurer for his 1944 Vice-Presidential campaign.
Lewis T. Barringer
April 15, 1969
by J. R. Fuchs
[Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]
This is a transcript of a tape-recorded interview conducted for the Harry S. Truman Library. A draft of this transcript was edited by the interviewee but only minor emendations were made; therefore, the reader should remember that this is essentially a transcript of the spoken, rather than the written word.
Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. ) within the transcript indicate
the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the oral history interview.
This oral history transcript may be read, quoted from, cited, and reproduced for purposes of research. It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.
Opened October 1971
Harry S. Truman Library
[Top of the Page | Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]
Oral History Interview with
Lewis T. Barringer
April 15, 1969
by J. R. Fuchs
FUCHS: I'd like to ask you first, Mr. Barringer, if you would give me a little of your personal history. When and where you were born and where you were educated and something about your career, your business and so forth.
BARRINGER: I was born in Spencer, North Carolina, June 30th, 1900.
FUCHS: Where did you go to school?
BARRINGER: I'm a graduate of the University of Memphis Law School and have been connected with the cotton business since 1919.
FUCHS: Is that when you came to Memphis?
BARRINGER: I came to Memphis in 1929, where I have lived since. It was 1937 that I first met Senator Truman.
FUCHS: How did you happen to meet him?
BARRINGER: In our cotton operations, my firm did considerable business in the State of Missouri.
FUCHS: Was that principally in St. Louis or what town?
BARRINGER: Principally in the five Bootheel counties of Missouri.
FUCHS: This was buying cotton that was grown there?
BARRINGER: Yes. Cotton was the largest agriculture crop for that section.
FUCHS: What towns did you visit in the Bootheel there where you might have met Mr. Truman?
BARRINGER: Caruthersville, Missouri was the main center of most of the cotton marketing activities. It was on occasions that Mr. Truman visited that area that I first became acquainted with him.
FUCHS: Why did he go to Caruthersville, for any particular reason that you remember?
BARRINGER: Naturally being in politics and feeling that to understand the thinking of his constituents and their needs he found that it best served the people for him to have personal contact and get firsthand understanding as to their views.
FUCHS: Well, then as you recall, you didn't know of Mr. Truman as the Presiding Judge of Jackson County. Your first contact with him was as a Senator from Missouri.
BARRINGER: My first acquaintance with him was at a time after he had first been elected Senator.
FUCHS: When were you first active in any degree, even as a contributor to Mr. Truman's senatorial career?
BARRINGER: In the 1940 campaign for U.S. Senator.
FUCHS: In what way did you become involved there?
BARRINGER: In the cotton business, being a relatively active operation for about eight months out of the year and the cotton year beginning in September, actually the season wound up most of the time in late spring, which gave the person considerable slack time during the summer months. Therefore, learning that Senator Truman had over the years shown distinct interest in cotton's problems, it was only natural that when campaign time came along in 1940 that whenever I had a few spare days I would go to Missouri and join in on the general campaign, helping in any way possible to help to create interest in Mr. Truman's behalf.
FUCHS: Was he generally popular in the Bootheel district of Missouri?
BARRINGER: Senator Truman was unusually popular in southeast Missouri.
FUCHS: Was that because he was a Democrat or do you think it was a lot because of his personal qualities?
BARRINGER: It was both personal and Democratic. However, even though he had always enjoyed much strength in that area, the big problem was to be sure that the voters did not take his re-election for granted just because that area might carry in his favor; but since
those people were his friends and the main thing was to be sure that the vote turnout was as large as possible in order to offset some areas where other candidates might be somewhat stronger than Mr. Truman. I think, however, that the 1940 election proved the value of southeast Missouri voters to Mr. Truman's successful re-election, due to the fact that by reason that he carried that area so heavy, it was of material benefit in offsetting areas where other candidates were somewhat stronger than Mr. Truman.
FUCHS: That area's closer to St. Louis than to Kansas City, why do you think he was stronger there than say some of your more substantial Democrats in St. Louis who were interested in the senatorship?
BARRINGER: Southeast Missouri being an agricultural area rather than manufacturing, had always found Mr. Truman so much interested in their problems that it was natural for them to feel a close tie with his views.
FUCHS: Now, were you acquainted with Bob Hannegan and Bernard Dickmann in 1940 at the time of the senatorial race?
BARRINGER: I was acquainted with Mr. Hannegan but not Mr. Dickmann.
FUCHS: There was supposed to have been a defection at
the last moment arranged by Hannegan that threw a lot of votes to Mr. Truman in St. Louis. Do you have any knowledge of that?
BARRINGER: No, I did not.
FUCHS: Well, now, after Mr. Truman was re-elected and went back to the Senate in '41, as you know, he set up the Truman Committee. Did you have any relationship with the Truman Committee or with Mr. Truman during that period?
BARRINGER: I saw Mr. Truman frequently during the time in which he was chairman of the Truman Committee. However, insofar as the committee was concerned, its purposes were not of an agriculture nature and were more in connection with defense contracts; therefore, as agricultural matters went that committee had no occasion to deal with our problems. However, as a United States Senator, agricultural problems affecting Missouri were frequently before Congress; therefore, in matters related thereto, Mr. Truman was certainly consulted.
FUCHS: What do you recall of any of his staff members that he had at that time in his senatorial office?
BARRINGER: Mr. Victor Messall was his Administrative Assistant during most of the period when he was Senator.
FUCHS: Did you know him personally?
BARRINGER: I did.
FUCHS: Was he, in your opinion, a capable, efficient servant for Mr. Truman?
BARRINGER: He was.
FUCHS: Why did he leave Mr. Truman in early 1941?
BARRINGER: I think that he felt that he could go in business for himself and earn more money than his job in the Senate was paying.
FUCHS: You don't know if he ever tried to go back to Mr. Truman after he became Vice-President?
BARRINGER: No, I don't.
FUCHS: Who else do you recall in his office?
BARRINGER: I think Harry Vaughan was there for a while, wasn't he?
FUCHS: Yes, he succeeded Messall. Were you personally acquainted with Vaughan?
BARRINGER: I knew him real well.
FUCHS: What did you think, upon reflection, about Vaughan and some of the troubles that he got into from time to time?
BARRINGER: It seemed that the General could get himself into situations that were needless, and he tried to help too many people without taking time to find out or learn the merits of the situation and that
was what did damage. Just slap-happy, he thought he could do forty things at one time.
FUCHS: Well, you were in Washington frequently you say, in connection with cotton matters, I suppose. With whom would you normally deal and what were you trying to do there?
BARRINGER: Most of it was cotton problems and I would say ninety percent were with the various agencies, since cotton and other agricultural commodities were under rigid Government regulation; therefore, any firm with a sizeable operation had to first start with a Washington agency under which regulations were issued covering the various aspects of the handling of cotton.
FUCHS: Were there any principal regulations or problems that were aggravated by the war effort that you had to deal with? Do you recall?
BARRINGER: You experienced much difficulty by reason of the war, which created extensive regulations; however, agriculture in the '30s had come under many new forms of Government regulations and controls by the reason of the fact that agriculture had reached a virtual bankruptcy stage in the early '30s and the Government had sought to establish programs which were of benefit to
producers. Therefore, you had two situations: One, where the Government was trying to help the farmer's income and then, on the other hand, during the war he had numerous regulations brought on by the war.
FUCHS: Did you ever have any personal contact with Henry Wallace when he was in the agricultural setup there?
BARRINGER: I had some contact with him but it was limited.
FUCHS: What about with Claude Wickard?
BARRINGER: I had a fair amount of contact with him. However, in his instance as in others, the Secretary of Agriculture had limited duties insofar as various regulations were concerned.
FUCHS: Did you have a preference between those two as the Secretary of Agriculture? Just as a matter of interest, do you think one performed more capably than the other?
BARRINGER: I think Mr. Wallace was the stronger Secretary without a question.
FUCHS: What about Clinton Anderson and Brannan? Did you come in touch with them and do you have any comments about their policies or effectiveness?
BARRINGER: Secretary Anderson made a good Secretary. I knew him real well. Secretary Brannan did a good job and I believe was more active as a Secretary than Mr. Anderson.
FUCHS: Was there anything that either of these last two gentlemen did in regard to cotton, if only indirectly through their department, that you thought was laudable or should have been done differently?
BARRINGER: Secretary Anderson by the reason of the exact time when he was serving, more or less followed the patterns of agriculture laid down by Mr. Wallace by the reason of the fact that the war slowed down any major changes during that particular time. However, when Mr. Brannan became Secretary, we had had so many needs for supplying foreign nations who had been closely associated with the United States in their military activities, that whatever surplus we had had in former years had dwindled to where the big question was how to produce sufficient agriculture products to care for the United States as well as to share a portion with our foreign friends. So, Mr. Brannan was faced with the problem as to how to improve our supply in the face of severe shortages. To this end he had a more difficult job than Secretary Anderson, and it must be said that he did all in his power to meet the needs of feeding the United States as well as sharing with the allies.
FUCHS: Now, Mr. Brannan succeeded to the office of Secretary of Agriculture in May '48, which, of course, was before Mr. Truman was re-elected and served all of the years, then, of the Truman Administration up till the time when Mr. Truman left office from May '48 on. Do you think agricultural surpluses were not a major problem during that period?
BARRINGER: Shortages existed all the way through Mr. Brannan's term of office. And it was very severe.
FUCHS: What was the situation in regard to cotton during that period?
BARRINGER: The supply of cotton had become so serious that the Security Council placed the disposal of cotton export under rigid control.
FUCHS: To bring us down to the present in regard to cotton. Do you think that the subsequent administrations have made it more difficult for you to operate? The Eisenhower and the Kennedy and Johnson, or have things become better for you as far as regulations and your activities in the world of cotton?
BARRINGER: The Eisenhower administration created unlimited problems for agriculture and, as a matter of fact, Mr. Benson should have been termed "Secretary of Dis-service for the Farmer" instead of
Secretary of Agriculture.
FUCHS: What was the major problem there as you see it?
BARRINGER: The problem with Mr. Benson was -- he stated that the best way for the farmer to operate was to go it alone. However, if he intended that that should be the program for the farmer he should have offered and sought farm legislation which would have removed some of the acreage restrictions under which the farmer was forced to operate; in other words, if the farmer was to operate without Government help in the way of payments. Agricultural laws which were on the books were very burdensome to the producers.
FUCHS: Did you personally seek any legislation on the Hill that would alleviate this situation, either during Mr. Brannan's years or Mr. Benson's years?
BARRINGER: I worked for agricultural legislation at the time when war controls were placed into effect. The Office of Price Administration issued many regulations which affected agriculture and cotton in particular. Therefore, in order for cotton to maintain its proper place in agriculture and the economy of the country, it was necessary that agriculture statutes be passed by Congress which would give cotton fair treatment.
FUCHS: Do you recall with whom you worked in Congress on this matter?
BARRINGER: When the agricultural acts were handled by Congress, Senator John H. Bankhead was chairman of the agricultural committee, and it was with him that I talked over most of the cotton problems.
FUCHS: At a later period, perhaps, did you work with the office of the Legislative Counsel on the Hill that was writing legislation and perhaps some on cotton?
BARRINGER: It was through Senator Bankhead that I became acquainted with the Legislative Counsel for the Senate. In that connection, Mr. Charles S. Murphy, who was on the staff of the Legislative Counsel handled agricultural legislation.
FUCHS: Did you bring Mr. Murphy to Mr. Truman's attention?
BARRINGER: I did. When the Republicans had control of the 80th Congress, Senator Taft, who was chairman of the Banking and Currency Committee, had discovered in his working with the Legislative Counsel's office that Mr. Murphy was a most competent person. I observed that Senator Taft was so frequently calling on Mr. Murphy for such a substantial portion of his time that I figured that if Mr. Taft needed the services of anyone to the extent that he was using Mr. Murphy, that he should have sought out a
Republican; and I saw no reason for a good Democrat having to put up with so much Republican indoctrination, that I put in a plea to Mr. Truman that he should find a spot somewhere for Mr. Murphy. The result being that after several months, Mr. Truman placed Mr. Murphy in his office at the White House.
FUCHS: To your knowledge did Mr. Truman know of Mr. Murphy to any degree before you called him to his attention?
BARRINGER: Yes, Mr. Truman knew Mr. Murphy quite well. Anyone who was as active in legislative matters as Mr. Truman experienced continuous dealings with the Senate Legislative Counsel's office.
FUCHS: Were you in a position to make an observation as to the influence and position of Mr. Murphy in the White House, say as in relation to some of those who received more notice, such as Clark Clifford?
BARRINGER: I'll say this for Mr. Murphy, that whoever Mr. Murphy was working for, Mr. Murphy always tried to put that particular person's interest ahead of his own and he tried to do exactly what that particular person desired. And now, that's been the whole thing there. Mr. Murphy, you and I know, wanted to do just the best that Mr. Truman wanted
done and Mr. Truman knew that.
FUCHS: One reason I mention this is, as I'm sure you know, certain writers have said that with the exception of Clark Clifford, all the Truman staff, administrative assistants, special counsels, and so forth in the White House, were rather second-rate and I just wondered how you felt about that.
BARRINGER: There's no truth in it and I think that proof of it lies in a recent situation in which Mr. Johnson, that's President Lyndon B. Johnson, exercised when he knew that he was not going to run for re-election as President of the United States. Before any announcement was made, Mr. Johnson transferred Mr. Charlie Murphy, who was chairman of the CAB, to the White House for the purpose of handling all transitional matters of turning over the Lyndon B. Johnson administration to the Republicans. I do not know of any situation under which more expert knowledge is essential than when a President turns over the termination of his term to an incoming President. Mr. Johnson had observed Mr. Murphy over many years prior to his appointing him as Under Secretary of Agriculture, and then placing him in the chairman's job at the Civil Aeronautics Board. So, I don't know of any greater responsibility as well as confidence
that could have been placed in a man as Lyndon B. Johnson placed in Charles Murphy; because in turning over the files of one administration to another there are so many incidents that could come out of such a situation that they would be hard for the President to live down. I don't believe Mr. Johnson would have put anyone into that job that he figured was not of the highest caliber in every way. Further on that matter, I've heard remarks by people in high positions of government, state that they had never seen a smoother transition from one administration to another than that handled by Charles S. Murphy. And you know, I have heard a lot of folks say they couldn't understand this thing, for Mr. Murphy could just go to any law firm that he wanted in Washington and go into partnership with any law firm there. That's his caliber.
FUCHS: Now, I don't know how much knowledge you have of his activities as Under Secretary of Agriculture. Do you have anything that you might either criticize or laud about his work there?
BARRINGER: Mr. Murphy undoubtedly was one of the best administrators that has ever been in the United States Department of Agriculture. I've never
talked to anybody anywhere that will admit that Mr. Murphy's not the top administrator that has ever been in there. And I understand, also, in talking to people acquainted with airline operation, and they say that Mr. Murphy put more patterns of essential handling of matters before the Civil Aeronautics Board than anyone else has ever done. In other words, it goes back to prove that he is a fine administrator of Government affairs and I think that if you had to pick out an administrator, people who have dealt with Charlie Murphy would put him tops anywhere.
FUCHS: I'm sure you know of the recent decision by the Nixon administration to rescind some of the route allocations that the Johnson administration made in its last days. Do you have any observations about that situation?
BARRINGER: I would say that the Johnson decision was strictly political and that it was a wide departure from that which was recommended by the Civil Aeronautics Board.
FUCHS: Then you feel there is justification for President Nixon's action in this case?
FUCHS: Did your path ever cross that of Clark Clifford
who, of course, was from St. Louis originally?
BARRINGER: I saw Clark frequently, but had very little in common with him.
FUCHS: Do you know how Mr. Truman looked upon the performance of Clifford both as his counsel and then subsequently in the various jobs he has held, and as a lawyer?
BARRINGER: I think he had considerable respect for him. However, I noticed that he had not been called in for preparing many speeches for him since he left office.
FUCHS: Why do you think that's so?
BARRINGER: I think that he called in writers who worked on ideas which were more in keeping with Mr. Truman's. I think that one reason that Mr. Murphy has been so highly regarded by Mr. Truman since Mr. Truman left Washington, is that anytime he called on Mr. Murphy to help him on a matter it was always done with the idea that it followed as near as possible Mr. Truman's own wishes and desires.
FUCHS: Then your implication is that this might not have always been so with Mr. Clifford?
BARRINGER: I think that's true.
FUCHS: What about David Lloyd? Did you know Mr. Lloyd?
BARRINGER: Mr. Truman had considerable confidence in Mr. Lloyd.
FUCHS: Did you regard him as a first rate administrative assistant, first rate man in the White House?
BARRINGER: He was but he was not in the Charlie Murphy class. But he was certainly a most trusted staff member and he was entitled to that recognition, and I think that everybody felt that he always put his job first.
FUCHS: Did you have a chance to observe David Niles or Philleo Nash?
BARRINGER: I did not know Philleo Nash to any extent. I knew Dave Niles in a general way but not close.
FUCHS: What about Dave Noyes?
BARRINGER: Dave Noyes was very competent in his own way. However, his was more a public relations matter rather than many administrative details.
FUCHS: Did anything ever come to your attention where you thought he might have either done a disservice to Mr. Truman or done a particular good service?
BARRINGER: I don't know that much about him; but it seemed that in every way that I knew him, I never did see that he tried to take any advantage.
FUCHS: I believe that you were acquainted with Eddie
BARRINGER: Generally. I never did know him too well, but he always had a nice appearance, but I never did exactly know just how deep he got into matters, though.
FUCHS: Well, to go back a bit. In the 1940 campaign, did you come in touch with such individuals as J. V. Conran, who I believe was a political power of sorts in southeast Missouri? Just what is his position down there?
BARRINGER: I knew him but in a general way; but I never was associated with him closely.
FUCHS: What about Judge Roy Harper.
BARRINGER: I knew Judge Harper quite well. He lived at Caruthersville prior to being appointed judge. Roy being a lawyer, naturally went into politics to a considerable degree, and in all political campaigns he was usually real active.
FUCHS: Does the name C. L. Blanton mean anything to you?
FUCHS: Do you recall of any particular situations in Pemiscot County in that election that might have swung the vote? I saw a reference to it in the files we have of Mr. Truman's.
BARRINGER: No, I don't.
FUCHS: To come up on the 1944 campaign in which Mr. Truman was running for Vice President. You were in Chicago at the convention, I believe?
FUCHS: Would you care to relate what you recall of the situation there and what actually occurred? How you happened to have gone to the convention and so forth?
BARRINGER: Ahead of the convention there was, as usual, considerable speculation as to who would be nominated to the Vice President's spot, since it was presumed that Mr. Roosevelt would head the ticket. Since Mr. Truman had had such wide experience as chairman of the Truman Investigating Committee which handled investigations of broad scale defense contracts, his prominence led to much thinking that he had an excellent chance of getting the vice-presidential nomination. Therefore, many of the people that I knew in politics thought that it would be well for everybody in favor of Mr. Truman to be at the convention; so, I was one of those of his many friends who attended. The main opposition at that time came from Jimmy Byrnes and Henry Wallace. The record will show though, that when the Truman name was placed before the convention it did not take
long to settle who was going to be the Vice President. The delegates moved very quickly to take Mr. Truman.
FUCHS: Did Tom Evans first make your acquaintance at the 1944 convention, or did you know him prior to this?
BARRINGER: I believe it was in 1944 at the convention.
FUCHS: Did Mr. Truman personally request that you come up there?
BARRINGER: I believe he did.
FUCHS: What hotel did you stay at?
BARRINGER: Palmer House.
FUCHS: Palmer House. Was Tom Evans at the Palmer House and was he there before you arrived?
BARRINGER: I'm not sure what hotel he was staying in. I believe, though, that he was at the Palmer House, too.
FUCHS: What was the convention headquarters, the Democratic headquarters hotel?
BARRINGER: I believe the old Morrison Hotel was the headquarters. Mrs. Truman was there, too.
FUCHS: Do you know of the call that Mr. Truman was supposed to, I guess overheard, he didn't talk with Mr. Roosevelt. Mr. Roosevelt called and talked to Bob Hannegan and some of the others, and Mr. Truman was in the room. Did you ever talk with him about that?
BARRINGER: No. I'll tell you, I think the man that knows about as much about that and Mr. Truman, too, or next
to Mr. Truman that is still living is Ed Pauley.
FUCHS: You know Mr. Pauley?
BARRINGER: Quite well. But Ed and Bob Hannegan were the ones who were talking most frequently with Mr. Roosevelt.
FUCHS: Mr. Truman, of course, said he was committed to Jimmy Byrnes when he went to Chicago, and then, subsequently, he has said that he felt when Byrnes called him up to request his support, that he, Byrnes, already knew that Mr. Roosevelt was thinking of himself, of Mr. Truman, for the position. Do you have any remarks about that?
BARRINGER: No, but I'm sure that that is probably the situation. Because, in other words, when it comes to reaching for an office as high as the presidency or the vice-presidency of the United States, there are many tight situations that occur, and many means are used or employed to accomplish winning the top spot.
FUCHS: Tom Evans has said, I'm sure publicly, that Mr. Truman wanted you to come to Chicago to work against his being nominated for the vice-presidency. Do you think that that is true and an entirely candid statement and that Mr. Truman felt that way.
BARRINGER: I think that's right. I think that Mr. Truman
was satisfied with the office as United States Senator from Missouri and preferred to continue in that office rather than to being nominated as Vice President and which he had good reason to believe would eventually put him in as President of the United States. I think that he felt that he was well satisfied in being a United States Senator. And I think that was kind of his feeling and I imagine it was Mrs. Truman's as well.
FUCHS: Did he invite you to Chicago to accomplish the same purpose?
BARRINGER: No, he didn't go into it from that aspect at all.
FUCHS: In other words he didn't ask you up there to help him fight off those who wanted him to have the nomination?
BARRINGER: No, I think the main thing was that he wanted to be sure that he had people around him that were his friends.
FUCHS: Before the nomination, did you work actively in any way to get him the nomination?
BARRINGER: I most surely did.
FUCHS: In other words, from the time. that you arrived in Chicago you were in favor of him getting the nomination.
BARRINGER: I felt confident that if he could get the nomination and would become President that he would certainly make one of the country's outstanding Presidents.
FUCHS: Did you have the feeling then, that if he were elected Vice-President that he might become President?
BARRINGER: I did.
FUCHS: What did you do precisely, if you can recall, towards achieving the end of getting him nominated?
BARRINGER: I sought out every delegate that I could that I thought would support him and naturally I sought out the ones that I thought could get other delegates to follow them.
FUCHS: This was in delegate blocs other than Missouri?
BARRINGER: Right. Right.
FUCHS: Did you have something to do with getting publicity material to appear suddenly, that is banners, posters, and so forth?
BARRINGER: Yes. We had groups organized and set up to handle all phases of getting the candidate before the convention.
FUCHS: What part did you play in the campaign after Mr. Truman received the nomination for Vice President?
BARRINGER: Mr. Truman immediately asked me would I serve as treasurer for his campaign to which I agreed to do.
FUCHS: You set up a committee for this I understand.
BARRINGER: There was a separate finance committee organized under the laws of Congress in compliance with those statutes covering candidates running for Federal office.
FUCHS: The campaign then developed with you serving as treasurer. Just how did you operate setting up the committee and so forth? Who was on it that you recall, principals?
BARRINGER: I don't remember all the members of the committee; but we needed funds to conduct the campaign and we sought financial help from whatever sources were available to us.
FUCHS: Did money come fairly easy?
BARRINGER: Money never comes easy in a campaign. It requires a lot of hard work to raise funds. It comes mostly by personal contact and not by letter writing.
FUCHS: How were the monies handled?
BARRINGER: Well, as the funds would come in they were deposited in the bank and the checks drawn to cover expenses.
FUCHS: What bank did you use?
BARRINGER: A bank in St. Louis. I forget the name of it, but it was a St. Louis bank.
FUCHS: What was Tom Evans' role in the campaign fund committee?
BARRINGER: Tom, like everyone else close to Mr. Truman who worked in the campaign, sought out as many people he knew and contacted them for financial support.
FUCHS: Did you work very closely with Tom?
BARRINGER: Right. Tom was on the committee. I'm trying to think who else we had on that committee. Tom was one of the leading workers on the committee.
FUCHS: I believe Tom was chairman, according to a document in your files. Some of the other members were: Paul Dillon from, I believe, St. Louis. Do you have any comments about him?
BARRINGER: No, I don't.
FUCHS: Tom H. VanSant.
BARRINGER: I knew Tom VanSant, but just generally.
FUCHS: Who was Leo B. Parker of Kansas City?
BARRINGER: I don't remember him.
FUCHS: H. S. Shapiro?
BARRINGER: Shapiro was an attorney there. I only knew him in a general way and he seemed to be mostly working for Shapiro's interest.
FUCHS: I believe you related to me when I interviewed you
the last time, in preliminary conversation, something about his contributions. Do you recall that now?
BARRINGER: We returned his contributions. Whatever financial contribution he made we returned it to him.
FUCHS: I think you will agree that that is a bit unusual. Why was it done in this case?
BARRINGER: Well, it seemed that he was more interested in Shapiro's affairs than he was interested in Mr. Truman. Which we found out after the election.
FUCHS: In what way?
BARRINGER: He was seeking too many political favors.
FUCHS: Was Mr. Truman aware of this?
FUCHS: Was he aware that the money was returned to Shapiro?
BARRINGER: I'm sure that he was later on, yes; not at the time it was returned, though.
FUCHS: There was a Frank Schwartz on the committee. Do you recall who he was?.
BARRINGER: No, I don't.
FUCHS: How about Joe McGee?
BARRINGER: I knew Joe well. Joe was a hard worker, too.
FUCHS: Eddie McKim?
BARRINGER: I knew Eddie after he came to Washington for a short stay. I never did know him when he lived in Kansas City.
FUCHS: Then there was a man from Los Angeles, Charles L. Burdge.
FUCHS: Jules E. Kohn? From Kansas City.
BARRINGER: I didn't know him. I only knew of him. I didn't know Burdge at all.
FUCHS: How about Harry Schwimmer?
BARRINGER: I knew Harry generally. I don't know him too well.
FUCHS: There was a document in your file that indicated that you didn't want too much publicity about this separate fund raising campaign as apart from the Democratic National fund raising campaign. Why was that so? How are funds normally raised?
BARRINGER: Well, ordinarily you have an active presidential campaign and the fact is there is so much effort placed on the head of the ticket that sufficient funds come in to take care of the entire cost of the campaign. However, since Roosevelt was not expected to campaign too heavily and since Mr. Truman was going to have to do most of the
traveling, Mr. Truman feeling that campaign money was hard to come by in the best of conditions, and with Mr. Roosevelt not out campaigning in the normal fashion, Mr. Truman feeling that he ought to have some of the people that were well known to put him on a campaign and extra effort to assure that the Democratic Party had sufficient funds to see it through a successful campaign. Mr. Truman's reasoning was quite good. Democratic candidates did win and when the campaign bills were presented the party had outstanding bills amounting to a half million dollars as compared with some of the later candidates' five to eight million dollars.
FUCHS: Do you recall anything of the charges made when Mr. Nixon became involved with "slush fund" charges in 1952, that the surplus fund from this committee of 1944 had been used as a "slush fund" for Mr. Truman?
BARRINGER: In answer to that question. The records will show that any funds not spent during the campaign tour were turned over to the treasurer of the National Democratic Committee. These funds were turned over on the installment basis due to the fact that it was
not known exactly when all outstanding bills might be rendered that were chargeable to Mr. Truman's campaign. Therefore, sufficient money was held until the time that payment had been made against any expenses.
FUCHS: To retrogress just a little bit, Senator Kenneth McKellar at the convention did not, as I recall, switch his vote from their favorite son, Governor Prentice Cooper to Senator Truman on the vice-presidential roll call even after it was quite certain that he was going to get it. Do you have any idea why he did not do that?
BARRINGER: I do not. I know that the Senator was very close to Mr. Cooper, but I do not think that he had very good reason to remain with Mr. Cooper all the way through since due to the fact that after the election Mr. Truman invited Senator McKellar, as president pro-tem of the Senate, to sit in as vice-presidential replacement at all Cabinet meetings. In all of his association with Senator Truman and/or President Truman, I never heard him make a remark that was not complimentary. So, to figure why Mr. McKellar stayed firm with his original vote for Mr. Cooper in controlling the Tennessee delegates, I do not know. There has
been some question raised that he might have felt some obligation to Jimmy Byrnes and thinking maybe that Mr. Truman did not have a chance to win the nomination, I do not know. But I do not think that the chairman of the appropriations committee of the United States Senate had anything but high regards for President Truman. If there's anything there, strictly off the record, I think that was what it was. He just didn't think Mr. Truman could carry and maybe Jimmy Byrnes would have if he come in there. He knew that Prentice Cooper couldn't do it, see. I mean it wasn't a Chinaman's chance. So, I think he was just trying to outguess him.
FUCHS: I knew you were very close to Senator McKellar. I guess you felt it would have been too presumptuous to ask him why he did this? Did you ever ask?
BARRINGER: It would have, and even though I was close to him, I guess more than anyone other than his family could be, had he wanted to tell me it was none of my business he would have certainly told me so.
FUCHS: While we are on the subject of Senator McKellar, do you know why he was so strong against David Lilienthal of TVA?
BARRINGER: Not unless he had misled the Senator on some
occasion to perpetuating Mr. Lilienthal's ideas to the adverse thinking of Senator McKellar, along with the matter that Mr. Lilienthal was a fair liberal thinker to which point one would probably have to classify Senator McKellar as a moderate conservative. The Senator at times did vote on legislation which some of the liberals joined him on, but by and large, his actions and his thinking were very conservative.
FUCHS: How did "Boss" Crump in Tennessee here feel about Mr. Truman becoming a vice-presidential nominee and subsequently Vice President?
BARRINGER: Mr. Crump had a very pale view toward Senator Truman becoming Vice President and even President. However, in February of '49 following the election in '48, Mr. Crump told me personally that he had made a great mistake in his opinion concerning Mr. Truman. I am sure that had another election been coming up any time for Mr. Truman during Mr. Crump's lifetime he would have been among his strong supporters.
FUCHS: Why did you think he revised his estimate of President Truman at that time?
BARRINGER: I think that up until the campaign of '48 he did not think that Mr. Truman had the qualifications that would measure up to Mr. Crump's standard for
the President of the United States. However, seeing Mr. Truman come through that campaign to take Mr. Dewey to the cleaners as he did, Mr. Crump without a doubt, saw that he had been badly wrong in his opinion of President Truman.
FUCHS: Now during the years Mr. Truman was President, April '45 to January '53, I believe you were in the White House and saw Mr. Truman frequently?
BARRINGER: I saw Mr. Truman nearly every week during his term as President of the United States.
FUCHS: What did you generally see him about? What might have been the subject of some of your conversations?
BARRINGER: The association with Mr. Truman ran along general lines as to how the public was receiving his administration, and in special matters which Mr. Truman had a particular interest.
FUCHS: Do you recall any specific matters that you advised with him about? Either to do with cotton or other Government programs, policies?
BARRINGER: The matters covered generally were those which affected public opinion in connection with his administration, along with agricultural as well as defense projects. Also matters pertaining to appropriations, which Mr. McKellar happened to
be chairman of the Senate committee. One matter of general interest to Mr. Truman was that he felt that our defenses required some reinforcing. One project in that connection happened to be the matter of wind tunnels, the outgrowth of which was the AEDC located at Tullahoma.
FUCHS: Now that was what, for the record?
BARRINGER: AEDC. Air Engineering Development Center.
FUCHS: It came then to be called the Arnold…
BARRINGER: It then became known as the Arnold Engineering Development Center.
FUCHS: How did you come into that matter?
BARRINGER: Mr. Truman told me that he had had poor experience in obtaining cooperation for establishment of an Air Force Academy the year before and that he felt that the wind tunnel program must be legislated and would I look after the matter for him.
FUCHS: How did they come to select Tennessee as the site for the wind tunnel program?
BARRINGER: Tennessee was selected originally two or three years prior to that by the Army Engineers as the most logical site for such a project.
FUCHS: Why was that?
BARRINGER: The Army Engineers had studied geographical
conditions surrounding the German wind tunnel center and felt that if they could use the same methods of establishing one for this country along the same idea which the Germans had proven that it would serve the military to a most efficient advantage.
FUCHS: Did the Tennessee Valley Power Authority enter into this in any respect?
BARRINGER: It did in a way, and it was considered in the pros and cons by the Engineers, as well as other strategic regions.
FUCHS: Now they put these tunnels at...
BARRINGER: Tullahoma, Tennessee.
FUCHS: I believe that they were also considering Covington and Dyersburg, Tennessee. What recommended Tullahoma over those other sites?
BARRINGER: The thing which occasioned that idea was none other than Senator Estes Kefauver, and it was over such numerous recommendations of his to various other Tennessee locations which caused President Truman to lose all faith in Senator Kefauver's dependability and judgment. The President figured that Mr. Kefauver was creating chaos by inviting practically every town in Tennessee to put in a request for the wind tunnel. You see, it was after
the establishment of the wind tunnel and the tough decision as to where the tunnel should be placed, that Senator Kefauver had very little favor with Mr. Truman.
FUCHS: What was the relationship between Senator McKellar and Kefauver?
BARRINGER: Senator McKellar had very little appreciation of Senator Kefauver's ability and his interest in matters other than something which was of special interest to Senator Kefauver.
FUCHS: Did you come in touch to any degree with Secretary of the Air Force Symington during these negotiations regarding the AEDC?
BARRINGER: During the period of seeking legislation and the construction of the wind tunnels, it was necessary to consult with Secretary Symington on many and numerous occasions.
FUCHS: What was your opinion of him? Do you have any comments about Secretary Symington? Did he get along with Kefauver and so forth?
BARRINGER: Secretary Symington was a very hard and efficient worker. He was most honest in his every effort and did everything that he could in his power to be a man on the team.
FUCHS: I believe that Mr. Truman has been criticized
for not pushing missile development during his administration. Isn't this somehow related to missile development? Do you have any thoughts about that?
BARRINGER: I don't think anyone can say that Mr. Truman ever backed away from a fight. Yet, he did not wish to go out and pick a needless argument. Mr. Truman was a man who believed in preparedness. He also knew there was a limit to the funds which Congress would appropriate. It was just as in the case of the wind tunnels, it was money hard to come by, but when Congress was convinced, they voted the program. Senator Lyndon Johnson had this to say about that matter during December 1949: "The air battles of tomorrow will be decided in the wind tunnels of today." He spoke a mouthful and his remark points up the significance of the new center which is to be constructed at Camp Forrest, Tennessee.
FUCHS: Now Camp Forrest was near Tullahoma?
BARRINGER: Camp Forrest was Tullahoma.
FUCHS: I see.
BARRINGER: Twenty thousand acres.
FUCHS: Is there a special dam that was built in Tullahoma, or was there one already there?
BARRINGER: No, there were free-flowing rivers. But there were several rivers that did flow through there which was most essential in establishing and that was one of the determining factors, of placing the wind tunnels at Tullahoma. The flow of water was of most importance to the location. I might say that during the time when the site was being discussed, interest representing Cal Tech suggested that the flow of water might change and then what would happen to the wind tunnels? To this question I told the inquirer that springs flowing and helping to form mountain streams in the Appalachians have been running for generations, and that based on a long period of years, of free-flowing water, that there was no cause to worry over that particular matter; but on the other hand if the wind tunnels were located in Arizona where there was so much sand blowing all the time, I wanted to know how much damage must be expected from the sand getting into such fragile instruments necessary to run the operation in connection with wind tunnels. You know what that darn bunch of cookies did, they had the Cal Tech crowd and they were working through Doctor Graham, and had him ask me that question.
FUCHS: How did they respond to this inquiry about the effects of sand?
BARRINGER: That ended the question on that matter.
FUCHS: After the tunnels were there I believe there was an organization from St. Louis, ARO, Inc.
BARRINGER: ARO was headed up by General L. J. Sverdrup, I believe. He was the partner in Sverdrup and Parcel Engineering Corporation from St. Louis.
FUCHS: What did the ARO stand for? Would that have been Air Research Organization or something like that?
BARRINGER: I'm not sure just exactly what those initials were for except they did put it together as a corporate entity.
FUCHS: Well, in 1953, Senator Gore attacked this corporation, which was operating AFDC, saying that it was a gyp as they were operating on the cost plus contract. Do you recall those charges and what came of that?
BARRINGER: Senator Gore, as usual, speaks many times when he should be listening. After he made the full investigation of the operation of the wind tunnels he became a big supporter and has continued so up through the present time.
FUCHS: In one of your folders of papers that I went through I found an advertisement which apparently
appeared in a Kingman, Arizona paper, the import of which was that they thought they would get the wind tunnel except for the fact that Harry S. Truman needed the "Solid South." I was wondering how much politics actually entered into this selection.
BARRINGER: That had nothing whatsoever to do with the wind tunnel being located in the South. The East was trying to get the wind tunnels; the Midwest was trying to get the wind tunnels; Cal Tech knew they did not have the water supply that they could offer and suggested that they locate them in Arizona or Nevada, and that they would open a branch of the university there so as to study aerodynamics. But when Congress appropriated the money, the authorization and the money, I'm sure it felt that the location selected or made upon the study by the Engineers would be the determining factor as to where the facility would be constructed. As I said previously, before any member of Congress had any idea that wind tunnel legislation would be offered, the Army through its studies had already concluded that Camp Forrest measured up ahead of any other location.
FUCHS: What position did the Secretary of Defense, who I believe was Johnson at the time, take upon this
BARRINGER: Secretary Johnson took a very dim view of this project. Not only of this project but every other project. Mr. Truman was a man of peace but Mr. Truman was a man who believed in preparedness. Secretary Johnson came so near dismantling our military preparedness program that Mr. Truman found it necessary to replace him. And you know, that's just about what it was all about, too. He just let it fall apart.
FUCHS: Did you ever discuss Mr. Johnson with Mr. Truman?
BARRINGER: I did and I discussed Mr. Johnson with Mr. Johnson.
FUCHS: What was the gist of that discussion? Would you mind having it on the record?
BARRINGER: The gist of it was that Mr. Johnson was living in the past and underrated the ability of numerous other nations to set traps for the United States and to cause untold trouble. The fact was that Mr. Johnson was living in the past, as his record will show, and never anticipated so many international difficulties military-wise as have come into being since he left the Defense Department and throughout all administrations and currently to date.
FUCHS: How did Mr. Johnson react to your criticism of his policies?
BARRINGER: He felt that anyone who believed in preparedness was for spending money unnecessarily.
FUCHS: What was your relationship with Senator Kefauver?
BARRINGER: Just about as little as anyone could have. I was always on the opposing side throughout his campaign.
FUCHS: Did you have any knowledge of the development at Oak Ridge during the war?
BARRINGER: I did not.
FUCHS: To go back just a little bit to '44, did you have any contacts with Sidney Hillman at the convention in Chicago?
BARRINGER: No, but he played a very prominent part and he was strong in the political game.
FUCHS: Did you ever run into him in Washington, anything that you can relate about?
BARRINGER: No more than just general meeting on occasions of functions, social functions.
FUCHS: Did you go to the notification ceremonies at Lamar in August 1944 when Mr. Truman was officially notified that he was the Democratic vice-presidential nominee?
BARRINGER: No, I didn't go out there on that. We were just starting to get our campaign together.
FUCHS: I wonder if you would care to make an appraisal of the various Secretaries of Agriculture, perhaps starting with Henry Wallace under Roosevelt, and then Claude Wickard who served for a couple of months under Mr. Truman, and then, of course, you had Clinton Anderson and Charles Brannan.
BARRINGER: Secretary Wallace made a very strong secretary for agriculture and did a great service for the farmers as well as the consumers. Mr. Wallace believed in a fair farm income, fair prices for the farmer and fair prices for the consumer. He was very progressive, he was a tireless worker and believed strongly in his convictions. He had good ideas from the economic viewpoint as well as a very progressive leader in research for a more efficient agriculture. He had great interest in trying to produce two bushels of corn where one had previously been raised. Mr. Wallace, further, had a feeling for politics and a philosophy that was somewhat on the liberal side and sought to prove to his friends that he could be elected to high office and was something more than just being Secretary of Agriculture. I would say that his administration at being Secretary of Commerce was not as outstanding as that as being Secretary of
Agriculture, and neither did he show up too strong politically when he sought higher political offices.
Secretary Wickard was nothing like the strong figure exemplified by Secretary Henry Wallace. Very few major pieces of agricultural legislation were required during his term of office; therefore, the part which he experienced was that of being an administrator of what was already on the legislative books. Even as an administrator he was not too forceful in promoting new ideas. Secretary Wickard's ideas of administration usually referred back to his activity on the farm, and in looking back he administered it back to about the same degree.
The administration of Secretary Clinton P. Anderson, while not involved in so many new legislative matters, was kept busy trying to be a very progressive administrator. Secretary Anderson believed strongly that the Secretary should run the field of agriculture and not have any reverence of the old AAA committee. That's when they did away with the AAA committee just about that time, you know. That was like the political arm that the unions use.
FUCHS: Of the CIO?
BARRINGER: That's right. The AAA was the boss, you see. They were the ward-healers. They and Mr. Anderson didn't get along very well. In other words they disappeared but they'd like to stay there even if Congress declared the AAA unconstitutional through the Schecter sick chicken case, why, they didn't want to give up their prerogatives, see. Secretary Anderson, however, had higher sights than being Secretary of Agriculture and went back and ran successfully for the United States Senate seat from New Mexico, to which he was elected and has continually served since that time.
FUCHS: Were you sorry to see him resign to run for Senator, had he been favorable to good conditions for cotton?
BARRINGER: Senator Anderson had been fair and whenever you do get a good administrator you certainly feel a loss in his moving out, not knowing how the incoming new man might carry on. However, in this case, it happened to be Charles C. Brannan, who was young enough and progressive enough to carry the load in a magnificent way. Secretary Brannan had very strong ideas as to what he thought was the right program and feuded with Congress over his views.
However, Congress had other ideas and continued the programs more or less along the Henry Wallace ideas. In the many battles which Charlie Brannan had with Congress, he kept his good reasoning and carried out the legislative acts for agriculture in a most satisfactory manner.
FUCHS: Did you personally favor the Brannan farm plan?
BARRINGER: I favored part of the Brannan farm plan. I still favor it but I'm not in favor of the entire Brannan farm plan. It becomes so expensive on the conservation side of farming that it would become prohibitive to the taxpayer. The fundamental thinking today insofar as cotton agriculture is concerned, is in favor of the production end of the Brannan plan but in strong disagreement as to the conservation side which is that of idling land at extremely high costs.
FUCHS: How would you compare Mr. Benson as an agriculture secretary to Mr. Brannan?
BARRINGER: One more point before we get to Mr. Benson. Secretary Brannan always did his best to serve the public and do what he thought was its best interest. He was just as courageous in following the public's views as he was in trying to sell some favorite idea which he might have originated. In further comment
on the Brannan farm legislation, and what is often termed as the Brannan plan, I might say that President Truman listened most patiently to every word Mr. Brannan had to say in its behalf, but I want to say that President Truman never did endorse the Brannan plan.
We come to Secretary Benson. Mr. Benson's philosophy toward agriculture seemed to be to let the farmer go his own way and if any problems were created, let the farmer live them out. Secretary Benson was very derelict in offering legislation in behalf of agriculture which would have maintained or continued farm programs on a progressive alignment. Agriculture programs under Mr. Benson offered very little progress and/or benefits where agriculture was concerned.
FUCHS: This is a little bit out of the period with which we are concerned, but have you any thoughts about Orville Freeman?
BARRINGER: Orville Freeman, next to Henry Wallace, was the strongest Secretary to serve the United States Department of Agriculture. Mr. Freeman, while different from Secretary Brannan, had ideas of his own; but Mr. Freeman was always willing to take the best that Congress would give him and come as near doing
the most with it as anyone ever to hold the office as Secretary of Agriculture. He was a tireless worker. He had good vision, confidence in himself, and respect for the producers of farm products, and good reasoning ability as to how to be fair to the consumer.
FUCHS: Could you cite any specific examples, perhaps in relation to cotton, in which he exhibited this ability to make do with what Congress gave him?
BARRINGER: Secretary Freeman picked up where Benson left off. He found it necessary to honor a price commitment made by President Kennedy, or rather a program. However, on his learning what the Benson legislation, together with Mr. Kennedy's commitment, had brought in the way of bringing adverse effects to cotton with Mr. Kennedy's reassessment of cotton programs, Secretary Freeman fought the battle with Congress to put legislation into effect which would offer cotton a chance to survive. The proposed legislation, however, was not realized until Mr. Johnson became President. Incidentally, the cotton legislation, HR 2000 was Mr. Johnson's first piece of major legislation to pass Congress after he became President.
FUCHS: Did you work actively towards passage of that bill?
BARRINGER: I was just as active towards the passage of that legislation as anyone could be. Cotton was in bad, tight circumstances when the legislation was proposed and it is still in difficulty. However, had not that legislation or some similar to it have been enacted, cotton would have fallen into a greater decline than exists today. Further had the cotton programs lost, the effects no doubt would have caused numerous agriculture programs to fall into such disrepair that bankruptcy among agricultural people could have been as widespread as it was in the early '30s when Mr. Roosevelt became President and began to offer legislative assistance to obtain fairer prices for farmers of all commodities.
FUCHS: In your activities in support of legislation favorable to cotton, I suppose you might fairly call them lobbying activities, do you work through the agencies of the Cotton Council or do you work directly with some of the...
BARRINGER: Primarily we work with established associations that are operating in the interest of their members.
FUCHS: Then in your endeavors, for instance, in support of H.R. 2000 would you have dealt with any particular people in say the White House or on Capitol Hill? Would you care to mention that?
BARRINGER: Generally we worked through the Department of Agriculture and the chairman of the committee handling the legislation. As to the cotton program, Mr. Nixon himself is committed to one-price cotton which is the basic philosophy of H.R. 2000.
FUCHS: Just what, briefly, does that mean to the uninitiated?
BARRINGER: One-price cotton terminology reflects that American cotton will sell in domestic market at the same price as in the foreign market, without any subsidy being paid on the export of any American cotton. That ties us in now, you see, to the Nixon administration, don't you see, as far as agriculture goes, and that gives support all the way through to, you might way, to what Mr. Freeman thought, and here it is on cotton, now, being accepted in the main by Mr. Nixon, at least in principle.
FUCHS: You were acquainted I believe, with Will Clayton? Can you tell me a little bit about him and your relationship with him and his policies?
BARRINGER: Mr. Clayton I believe served as -- didn't he start off as Under Secretary of Commerce? I know he was at one time head of the RFC.
FUCHS: I'm not sure where he started. He was in the State Department at the time of the...
BARRINGER: Then from RFC he went to State Department and there he was Under Secretary for Economic Affairs which dealt primarily with foreign nations in establishing trade treaties and formulating ideas on the matter of international monetary agreements. I believe that Bretton Wood was maybe in the beginning, then they had a long meeting in Puerto Rico, I think, that covered South America maybe. But Mr. Clayton was primarily a finance man. I've known Mr. Clayton since 1925. At that time he was head of the firm Anderson, Clayton and Company which was the largest cotton merchandising firm in the world. That firm today may not be the largest handler of raw cotton, however, I doubt if there is any firm that does exceed it in volume of business done. However, financially, I know of no firm which anywhere near approaches it in net worth, any cotton firm.
FUCHS: Did you ever hear of Mr. Clayton's ideas being the background for the Marshall plan?
BARRINGER: No, but it was an instance parallel to the Marshall plan in which Mr. Clayton best illustrated his ability.
FUCHS: And what was that?
BARRINGER: International trade. And I think that in the Marshall plan that was basically the reason for its
inception, that is to re-establish world trade in every foreign country that was possible.
FUCHS: The Korean war, I believe, brought about the necessity for certain controls on cotton in 1950. Have you any reflections on that?
BARRINGER: The supply of cotton was greatly reduced by the Korean war and to such an extent that it was necessary for the Security Council to announce controls on exports. The shortage of cotton worldwide had become so evident that speculation in price was becoming very evident, and Mr. Truman asked if there was any way to handle the inflationary situation without complete controls. Too, he did not want what limited supplies we had to fall into enemy hands or their agents. In view of his inquiry, I began a study with the various affected agencies, Agriculture and Defense, on the matter so as to prepare a report for Mr. Truman on the situation. During this particular time a letter came from Mr. Clayton written in longhand from Bretton Wood expressing his views about the matter without being solicited, but by reason of some observations coming to his attention, and that some controls he thought was essential. However, inquiries made from Defense Department and Agricultural Departments, along with
comments from the Commerce Department, Mr. Truman was convinced that some control must be made; therefore, he had the National Security Council announce that as of that day any cotton moved as export must do so under a permit issued by the Department of Agriculture. There was quite a howl set up by the exporting trade and some of the cotton producers, but Mr. Truman maintained cotton under rigid export controls until he saw that the way was safe to modify the original decision.
FUCHS: Did you feel that Mr. Truman had any appreciable understanding of agricultural matters as well, or specifically cotton matters, or that he was solely dependent upon advisers?
BARRINGER: Mr. Truman was well qualified on agricultural matters as any member of Congress. He was a qualified student on the subject and while he may not have gone into the utmost fine detail of some specifics, he understood the basics and the principles which followed him all the way through his office as President of the United States.
FUCHS: In May 1947, Mr. Truman was to speak at the Delta Council meeting in Cleveland, Mississippi, and, as you know, Secretary Acheson, who was then of course, an under secretary of the State Department, delivered
the address. Did you play a part in the scheduling of that speech? What do you recall of that occasion?
BARRINGER: I did, and Mr. Truman was prepared to go to Mississippi and make a talk until he learned that one of the Senators from that state at that time, Mr. Bilbo, was showing much disregard and respect for some of Mr. Truman's views to which the President figured there was nothing on his part to be gained by offering Mr. Bilbo the slightest opportunity to cast any reflection on any ideas that Mr. Truman might hold.
FUCHS: Do you know who suggested that Acheson take his place in delivering this speech, which is said to have been the precedent speech on the Marshall plan prior to the more full enunciation of it at Harvard College by Marshall.
BARRINGER: I'm sure that Mr. Truman's occasion for selecting Dean Acheson to fill the engagement at Stoneville was by way of suggestion to Mr. Truman that Stoneville was one of the top places in which to advance the idea of the Marshall plan and was one of the main Truman aims of Mr. Truman and/or his staff. Conjecture on this matter that Stoneville was the proper place to make this announcement, was proven by the fact Secretary Marshall later went
to the National Cotton Council annual meeting in Atlanta for a further offering of the idea; and to tie in the Stoneville idea as to where the plan originated, the Mississippi people had a horseback rider proceed from Mississippi to Atlanta, Georgia to highlight the idea that the Marshall plan was on the way. Did you ever hear that?
FUCHS: No. What year was that?
BARRINGER: That was in January or February that Secretary Marshall was in Atlanta and, of course, now it could have been that Dean Acheson followed in May after that, instead of that January in Atlanta; but they had the horseback rider from Mississippi make a horseback ride from Mississippi to Atlanta where Mr. Marshall was attending that convention and he handed him the proclamation of those people proclaiming the Marshall plan.
FUCHS: That must have been in '48 then.
BARRINGER: Now, you know you talk about the marches and all now. Now, there was that fellow that they had ride horseback and carrying the proclamation for the Marshall plan, don't you see?
BARRINGER: So, other words, Mr. Truman knew that Mississippi was stirred up over the Marshall plan idea.
It was going to get commodities -- we needed markets -- and that was going to help get the commodities out of this country and promote trade, don't you see?
FUCHS: You mentioned one time that you had offices in the Mayflower Hotel on the same floor as Senator McKellar and Louis Johnson. Do you recall now the anecdote you told me before?
BARRINGER: That likely was in connection with the Tullahoma wind tunnel. It was during the time which they were seeking authorization for the wind tunnels . Louis Johnson, of course, was not in favor of the tunnels or anything that went in the way of building up our defenses. Senator McKellar, who was handling the legislation for the wind tunnels on the Senate side jointly with some other Senators, was seeking inquiry from Mr. Johnson about support for the wind tunnel authorization, to which point Secretary Johnson told Mr. McKellar that Barringer seemed to be the most exercised over securing that legislation and that he saw very little to come from it. Which brought a reaction from Senator McKellar letting the Secretary know that the Senator was strongly in favor of it. Mr. Johnson told him that if I would just hold my shirt that there was little to worry about in the way of planning new defense projects. I might
add, however, that Secretary Johnson found himself in outfield with little support and the wind tunnel legislation went forward. Not only did it go forward but real legislation was started in the way of major space laboratories of which everyone is most knowledgeable today. Yet the small beginning for aerodynamics was started at Tullahoma. Some of the major planners or scientists of aerodynamics were insisting all along that launching pads for space ships be included in the Tullahoma project. However, Dr. VonKarman, who was the chief adviser insofar as planning for this facility was concerned, thought that launching pads at that time would be fully twenty years ahead of need. The main question which seemed to be the most prominent in Dr. VonKarman's mind was to be sure that the tools were available with which to advance aerodynamics when the time was necessary. I think that the Doctor did not want to create the wrong impression with the peoples of the world as to America being a nation standing for peace rather than one seeking to dominate the world through being the most dominant nation defense-wise. Now I did not know that until about three years ago when they had a meeting of the original military advisers on the establishment of the Tullahoma
FUCHS: Interesting. What part did you play in the 1948 convention and campaign?
BARRINGER: The 1948 convention was in Philadelphia. My prime interest in that meeting was to see that Mr. Truman's choice, Alben Barkley, got the nomination for Vice President, as everyone knew that Mr. Truman would without competition draw the number one spot.
FUCHS: Did you experience any difficulty in bringing that about?
BARRINGER: There were several candidates mentioned by the different thinking groups attending the convention. However, there were no really serious contenders other than Mr. Barkley. The main thing was to be sure that arguments and debates were held to a minimum to shorten the convention all that was possible, and to maintain peace among the delegates, so that when the campaign got underway, the Democrats would all be pulling together rather than for some groups to be giving comfort to the Republicans by becoming recalcitrant. The convention was held with the minimum of trouble to those -- the chairmen, the various sessions, with the exception that one group in Michigan decided to endeavor to oust the
regulars who were certified, by some way or other securing the valid credentials; but to which end the rump group evidently reached the conclusion that they were so weak in nature that they failed to show up and tried to substitute different delegates. The regulars were accounted for in a valid manner and permitted to seek their seat in the auditorium and vote their views without any further jeopardy.
FUCHS: As a southerner did you ever consult with Mr. Truman about civil rights, especially in 1948?
BARRINGER: No, not in particular. He expressed his views on such questions and they did not run counter to the views which other leading Democrats expressed as being sound and along Democratic lines.
FUCHS: Do you recall a conversation with Jim Farley and Tom Evans in the hotel lobby in 1948 in Philadelphia regarding Mr. Truman's campaign?
BARRINGER: No, I don't.
FUCHS: Did you have something to do with starting a defense fund for Matthew Connelly?
BARRINGER: No, but I attended that dinner which was held in Boston.
FUCHS: What did you think of J. Howard McGrath's
appointment as Democratic National Chairman and the service he performed therein?
BARRINGER: McGrath was a good worker who knew organization but he could not seem to create a strong enough following to earn him the leadership for the position as the Democratic chairman. He was limited it seemed in knowing how to sell ideas from coast to coast. He was a fine Down Easterner but he just didn't know enough about the thinking of people of the South or the Southwest.
FUCHS: Were you a good friend of Walter Hehmeyer's when he was with the Truman Committee?
BARRINGER: I didn't know him except just casually when he was with the Committee.
FUCHS: How did he happen to come with the Cotton Council?
BARRINGER: I'm not sure how he was introduced to these people.
FUCHS: Well, that's about all that I have Mr. Barringer. Thank you.
[Top of the Page | Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]
List of Subjects Discussed
Acheson, Dean, 53-55
Agricultural Adjustment Administration, 44, 45
Agricultural Adjustment Administration, 44, 45
Air Engineering Development Center, 34
Department of, 50, 52, 53
Eisenhower, Dwight D., agricultural policy during the administration of, 11
shortages in agricultural products, 10
Truman, Harry S., his understanding of, 53
Air Force Academy, 34
Anderson, Clayton and Company, 51
Anderson, Clinton P., 8, 9, 44, 45
Army Engineers, 34
Bankhead, John H., 12
Barkley, Alben, 58
Barringer, Lewis T.:
cotton, work connected with, 1-2, 3, 7-8, 11-12
Benson, Ezra Taft, 10-11, 46
Democratic National Convention, 1948, attends, 58-59
Murphy, Charles S., recommends, 12-13
Truman, Harry S.:
Democratic Vice Presidential nomination, 1944, efforts to help him win the, 23-24
first meeting, 1, 2
Senatorial election of 1940, supports him in, 2-4
treasurer for his 1944 campaign, as, 25-30
Blanton, C.L., 19
Bilbo, Theodore, 54
Brannan, Charles C., 8, 9, 10
Agriculture, as Secretary of, 45-47
Brannan plan, 46, 47
Bretton Woods, 51, 52
Burdge, Charles L., 28
Byrnes, James, 20, 22, 31
Camp Forrest, 37
Caruthersville, Missouri, 2
Civil Aeronautics Board, 14, 16
Clayton, William L., 50-51, 52
Cleveland, Mississippi, 53-54
Clifford, Clark, 16, 17
Congress of Industrial Organization (CIO), 45
Connelly, Matthew J:, 59
Conran, J.V., 19
Cooper, Prentice, 30, 31
Cotton, 1-2, 3
controls on the export of, 52-53
Cotton Council, the, 60
government regulations on, 7-8, 11-12
legislation concerning, 48-50
shortages of, 10
supplies of, 52
Crump, Edward Hull, 32-33
Defense Department, 52
Delta Council meeting, 53
Democratic National Committee, 29
Democratic National Convention, 1944, 20-24, 30-31
Democratic National Convention, 1948, 58-59
Dewey, Thomas, 33
Dickmann, Bernard, 4
Dillon, Paul, 26
Eisenhower, Dwight D., 10, 11
Evans, Tom L., 21, 22, 26, 59
Farley, James, 59
Freeman, Orville, 47, 50
Gore, Albert Arnold, 39
Hannegan, Robert, 4-5, 21, 22
Harper, Roy, 19
Hehmeyer, Walter, 60
Hillman, Sidney, 42
Johnson, Louis, 41-42, 56, 57
Johnson, Lyndon, 14-15, 16, 37, 48
Kefauver, Estes, 35-36, 42
Kennedy, John F., 48
Kohn, Jules E., 28
Korean War, 52
Lilienthal, David, 31-32
Lloyd, David, 18
Locke, Edwin, 19
McGee, Joe, 27
McGrath, J. Howard, 59-60
McKellar, Kenneth, 30, 31-32, 56
Appropriatins Committee, as chairman of, 33-34
McKim, Edward D., 28
Kefauver, Estes, relationship between, 36
Marshall, George C., 54
Marshall plan, 51-52, 55-56
Cleveland, Mississipi, speech concerning given at, 53-54
Mayflower Hotel, 56
Memphis, Tennessee, 1
Messall, Victor, 5-6
Morrison Hotel, 21
Murphy, Charles, 5, 14, 16, 18
Johnson, Lyndon B., relationship with, 14-15
Truman, Harry S.:
dedication to, 13-14
Under Secretary of Agriculture, as, 14-16
relationship with, 17
work on the staff of, 12-13
Nash, Philleo, 18
National Cotton Council, 55
National Security Council, 52
Niles, David, 18
Nixon, Richard M., 16, 29, 50
Noyes, Dave, 18
Office of Price Administration, 11
Palmer House, 21
Parker, Les B., 26
Pauley, Ed, 22
Political Action Committee, 44
Price Administration, Office of, 11
Puerto Rico, 51
Reconstruction Finance Commission, 50, 51
Roosevelt, Franklin D., 20, 21, 22, 29, 49
Schwartz, Frank, 27
Schwimmer, Harry, 28
Senatorial election of 1940, 2-4
Shapiro, H.S., 26-27
State Department, 50, 51
Sverdrup, Leif, 39
Sverdrup and Parcel, 39
Symington, Stuart, 36
Taft, Senator Robert A., 12-13
Tennessee Valley Authority, 31, 35
Truman, Harry S., 41
agriculture, his understanding of, 53
Truman, Mrs. Harry S. (Bess), 21
Barringer, Lewis T.:
first meeting with, 1, 2
Clifford, Clark, relationship between, 17
relationship hetween, 5
Treasurer for his 1944 Vice Presidential campaign, as, 25-30
cotton, supports controls on export of, 52, 53
Crump, Edward Hull, attitude towards, 32-33
Democratic Vice Presidential candidate, as a potential choice for in 1944, 20-24
Kefauver, Estes, relationship between, 35-36
Marshall plan, and the, 54
Murphy, Charles S.:
relationship between, 17
Senator, as a, 22-23
staff member, hired as a, 12-13
Senatorial election of 1940, 2-4
Vice Presidential candidate, 1944, choice as the, 30-31
Truman Committee, 5, 20
Tullahoma, Tennessee, 34, 35, 37, 38, 56, 57
Van Sant, Tom, 26
Vaughan, Harry, 6-7
vonKarman, Theodore, 57
Wallace, Henry, 8, 9, 20, 46, 47
Wickard, Claude, 43
Wind tunnel project, 34-41, 56-58
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