Oral History Interview with
Matthew J. Connelly
Chief investigator for the Senate Special Committee
to Investigate the National Defense Program (the Truman Committee), 1941-44,
Executive Assistant to Senator and Vice President Truman, July 1944-April
1945; and Appointments Secretary to the President, 1945-53.
New York, New York
November 28, 1967
By Jerry N. Hess
[Notices and Restrictions | Interview
Transcript | Additional Connelly Oral History
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
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 It may not be published in full except by permission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 May 1969
Harry S. Truman Library
[Top of the Page | Notices
and Restrictions | Interview Transcript
| Additional Connelly Oral History Transcripts]
Oral History Interview with
Matthew J. Connelly
New York, New York
November 28, 1967
By Jerry N. Hess
HESS: Mr. Connelly, the primary interest in our interview is, of course,
your relationship with Mr. Truman. What was that relationship and when
did it begin?
CONNELLY: I did not meet the then Senator Truman until the day I walked
into his office. I was recommended by Senator Lister Hill of Alabama.
I was purposely trying to establish another relationship which Senator
Hill had suggested as a trouble-shooter for the White House. Senator Hill
called me one afternoon and said he would like to see me and to call him
off the Senate floor. I made that appointment, and
Senator Hill took me
back to his office in the Senate Office Building and there he said, "We
just had a meeting today of the Military Affairs Committee," of which
he was a member and of which Senator Truman was a member. Senator Hill
told me that Senator Truman was going to have to have a very important
investigation, and he wanted me to work on his committee. I was not very
happy about it because of the original understanding I had with Senator
Hill, however, I kept the appointment with Senator Truman on the following
morning. I walked into his office; I had never met him, as I said before,
so he said, "Come in." He said, "I know all about you. I know what you
did in Missouri, Chicago, and other committees you've been on. We have
a very peculiar situation here. I have been authorized to become chairman
of this committee, however, it has not been determined what our appropriations
to be. I do not know what I can pay you, but I will say this
to you, if you go along with me, you will never have any reason to regret it."
I replied, "Senator, I came in here to say no, but the way you talk is
refreshing in Washington and you've got yourself a deal."
"Well, we're agreed, so we'll arrange for space and some of the mechanical
things like handling the mail."
I said, "I'd be very happy to." And that's where it began.
HESS: Who was the first one hired for the staff of the Truman Committee?
CONNELLY: Matthew J. Connelly.
HESS: In one of the books I have read by Harry Aubrey Toulmin, Jr., Diary
of Democracy, he mentions that "Fulton's first step was to
both a legal staff and a staff of investigators; in that he showed his
capacity and from that organization much of the success of the Committee
grew. One of his smart moves was to pick Matthew J. Connelly as his chief
investigator, a keen, diligent and discreet man with an unusual grasp
of governmental procedures," but Mr. Toulmin just had his chronology wrong,
is that right, in saying that?
CONNELLY: Yes, he was in error on that, because Mr. Fulton was not hired
as counsel to the committee until after I'd been appointed by Senator
HESS: He was hired the last day of March--March 31, 1941. Tell me about
the staffing of the Truman Committee. You were the first one that Senator
Truman got for the staff. Who came next? Just how was this staff set up
CONNELLY: The second appointment of the committee as far as I know, was
Charles Patrick Clark, and Charles Patrick Clark did not know of my conversation
with Senator Truman. We had previously worked together on the Committee
to Investigate Campaign Expenditures under the chairmanship of Senator
Gillette of Iowa. Charles Patrick Clark later told me that he was appointed
to the committee through the good offices of Senator Smathers of New Jersey.
He knew nothing about my previous conversation with Senator Truman, and
amusingly he later took credit for getting me the job. So the first two
appointments were myself and Charles Patrick Clark.
HESS: Toulmin goes on to say, "The first staff primarily consisted of
Hugh Fulton as chief counsel, his assistant and later his successor, Rudolph
Halley, Harold G. Robinson, its auditor,
Matthew Connelly, its chief investigator,
and its present chief counsel, George Meader." So he left out Charles
Patrick Clark but included the other men which we will get to here in
just a minute.
One question I would like to ask before we get on to the men who served
on the Truman Committee, could you tell me a little bit about the committees
on the Hill that you had served for before this time? Just a little bit
of your background on the Hill.
CONNELLY: Yes, my first experience on the Hill was an investigation of
the relief program in Washington, D.C.
HESS: What time was that?
CONNELLY: That was in 1938. It was a joint committee of the House and
Senate. We conducted an investigation of the relief program
D.C.--in other words, the local welfare program. That lasted for a period
of, I would say, about six months. Senator Thomas of Oklahoma was the
chairman of that committee. From that I went to the House Appropriations
Committee to investigate the WPA. The chairman of that committee was Congressman
Tabor of New York--no, he was the ranking Republican member--the chairman
was Clarence Cannon who was also chairman of the full Appropriations Committee.
So from there I went to the Committee to Investigate Campaign Expenditures
in the election in 1940. That was under the chairmanship of Senator Gillette.
On that committee was Senator Hill of Alabama who I had worked under as
chairman of the subcommittee to investigate the Kelly-Nash machine in
Chicago. This was about four weeks before the election of 1940. From there
Senator Hill, after the conclusion of the hearings in Chicago, asked me to go to
Alabama to make an investigation of the Willkie campaign. He
was then campaigning for President. Which I did. After completion of that
investigation, I returned to Washington and that is when Senator Hill
suggested to me that he wanted me to go with Senator Truman.
HESS: Did you find that the background that you gained in serving on
those other committees helped you in your duties on the Truman Committee?
CONNELLY: Well, it certainly did because I was conscious of one thing,
I learned what members of Congress had to do--what their responsibilities
were, what their problems were--and my number one job was to do the bidding
of the chairman of that committee which I always found to be fair.
HESS: Mr. Connelly, what positions did you hold
on the staff?
CONNELLY: I held the position of Chief Investigator and that is all.
HESS: I have read that you and Charles Patrick Clark at different times
held the job as Executive Assistant. Is that title incorrect?
CONNELLY: That title was never used on the committee.
HESS: Never used on the committee. Well, I have read in a couple of books
that someone was assigned to help the chairman with some of the various
duties and their title might have been Executive Assistant. That was just
CONNELLY: That was incorrect.
HESS: Now, let's review a few of the people who served on the committee
and if you could tell me what their respective backgrounds were,
why these particular people were called in to be members of the committee--this
is asking you to remember back quite a ways, but if they have any specific
duties that you recall--any times that you may have worked with them--anything
that might help scholars out in a better understanding of the people who
served on the Truman Committee? Now the list I have is not complete.
CONNELLY: Are you referring to the members of the Truman Committee?
HESS: The staff.
CONNELLY: I think it should be the staff.
HESS: The staff of the Truman Committee, that's right. I'll ask you about
the Senators a little later. That is quite right. Sometimes I say Truman
Committee and what I mean is the staff and not the Senators, but we'll get into
those later. Now the ones that I have listed here I have in alphabetical
order. The first is William Boyle, Jr.
CONNELLY: William Boyle, Jr. was a native of Kansas City, Missouri. He
was hired by Senator Truman, the chairman. He had practiced law in Kansas
City; he had been known to Truman for many years. When he arrived in Washington
Senator Truman called me to his office and told me that while Boyle did
not know much about the Washington pattern, he was going to put him under
my wing, and he would appreciate it if I would steer and guide him through
the maze of Washington, which I was happy to do. William Boyle became
a very successful investigator for the committee. He later became secretary
to Senator Truman when his then secretary, Harry Vaughan, had been called
to active duty in the Army. So Bill Boyle
left the committee and worked
directly in the office of Senator Truman. He later became an assistant
to the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Bob Hannegan, and
then following that became chairman of the national committee.
HESS: Do you recall anything that he may have had a hand in--any particular
assignment he may have had in the days of the Truman Committee?
CONNELLY: Well, specifically no, but I think one of the major projects
he was on was the housing problem. I know he had worked on other phases
of the Defense Program but I'm sure that was one of them.
HESS: How were the various assignments allotted to the committee members,
to the staff members?
CONNELLY: Assignments were allotted three ways: either by Senator Truman
himself, by Hugh
Fulton, or by myself.
HESS: Did you try to pick a person who may have some special competence
in a field or did it depend on who was available at the time?
CONNELLY: The recruiting was largely done by Charles Patrick Clark who
was associate counsel. Charles Clark would interview these boys first;
then he'd refer them to me and if we agreed that the fellow had the potential
then that fellow was appointed. In some instances members of the committee's
staff were recommended by Senators but in most instances on the basic
force that we had, it was done through that channel. Sometimes Hugh Fulton
also picked his own men for investigators on the committee.
HESS: After the men were already hired and on the committee though, how
were the assignments made?
CONNELLY: It all depended on what we thought each investigator was particularly
qualified for. It's hard to say why each one would get a certain assignment.
Sometimes it might have been the fact that he would be available when
other investigators were engaged in something else.
HESS: Fred Canfil.
CONNELLY: Fred Canfil was an old wartime buddy of Senator Truman. Fred
Canfil was on the committee, but Fred Canfil I would not say was one of
the most qualified investigators we had on that committee. He was kind
of an independent operator and reported only to Senator Truman.
HESS: Only to Senator Truman?
CONNELLY: That's right. If Canfil had a little problem or was getting
mixed up in something, Senator Truman would call me and ask me to
on this or find out whether Canfil had the facts, could they be corroborated,
and in other words, complete the investigation that Canfil had originated.
HESS: Was there any particular field in which he was particularly qualified for?
CONNELLY: Canfil reported directly to Senator Truman. Senator Truman,
I don't believe, many times knew what Fred Canfil was doing, but after
he would roam around on his own--he never reported to me, he never reported
to Fulton--but after he roamed around and got his nose into something,
he'd tell that to Senator Truman and then Senator Truman would tell me
to check it out.
HESS: A man we mentioned several times, Charles Patrick Clark. Just what
was his background?
CONNELLY: Charles Patrick Clark was graduated from
Georgetown Law School.
He had worked on several congressional committees. In fact the first time
I met him was as a member of the staff of the then Gillette Committee
to Investigate Campaigning Expenditures in 1940, so I got to know him
on that committee. Then later he was appointed by Senator Truman to the
committee staff and then he became associate counsel.
HESS: Were there any particular areas of investigation that he spent
more time on than others?
CONNELLY: No, I don't believe he ever made any investigations. He handled
the administrative side of the committee.
HESS: For that matter did Hugh Fulton, who was chief counsel, take part
in any of the investigations?
CONNELLY: He took part in some of them on the
basis of initiating them,
but the leg work was left up to the staff members who were investigators.
HESS: The next one in line is William S. Cole.
CONNELLY: William S. Cole was appointed to the committee by Senator Truman
through the influence of Senator Owen Brewster of Maine. He was a personal
friend of Senator Brewster, and in the interest of harmony--Mr. Truman
took a bipartisan attitude toward the committee--he never asked one person
who was employed by the committee what his politics were, and Senator
Truman insisted it be bipartisan. Cole was a very able lawyer from Maine,
and Cole did a very thorough job.
HESS: Hugh Fulton, the next name in line. We've mentioned him several
times, but what was Mr. Fulton's background?
CONNELLY: Mr. Fulton was a graduate of the University of Michigan Law
School. He came to the Truman Committee from the Department of Justice.
He was an assistant United States Attorney in New York and later, I believe,
on one case, the Associated Gas and Electric Company, he was made a special
assistant to the Attorney General to prosecute that case in New York.
Mr. Fulton came to the committee on the recommendation of the then Attorney
General, Robert Jackson. When Senator Truman called Mr. Jackson to his
office and told him he was going to have this committee, and he wanted
the best lawyer in the Department of Justice to become counsel for him.
So that's how Mr. Fulton came into the Truman picture.
HESS: Was he a good chief counsel?
CONNELLY: Hugh Fulton was a very good lawyer, but he was completely inept
in the political
conditions that you must face in any job of that nature
working for the Congress of the United States.
HESS: Could you give me an illustration of that statement?
CONNELLY: Mr. Fulton had the opportunity once in a while to step on other
people's toes because Mr. Fulton moved pretty quickly--very bright--but
sometimes not quite the right judgment.
HESS: Rudolph Halley?
CONNELLY: He was a protege of Mr. Fulton's. He was U.S. Assistant District
Attorney in New York and he worked under Mr. Fulton in the case that Mr.
Fulton worked on as a special assistant to the Attorney General.
HESS: And then when he resigned in '45, he went into practice with Hugh
CONNELLY: That's correct.
HESS: Walter Hehmeyer?
CONNELLY: Walter Hehmeyer was also an appointee of Hugh Fulton's. He
was designated to handle the press, because he never had experience in
investigation, so he became the press officer with the title of investigator.
HESS: Just how was that done? How was the committee's relationship with
the press carried on?
CONNELLY: Well, Hehmeyer was the contact with the working press. In other
words, if they wanted to know something about the committee's activities,
their first step would be to go see Walter Hehmeyer. He was liaison between
the committee and the press.
HESS: Was the relationship between the committee and the press very good?
CONNELLY: Very good.
HESS: Could you give an illustration?
CONNELLY: Well, an illustration would be after the completion of the
first report of the committee, it was very widely seized upon by the press,
and after that first report the press picked up more interest. They realized
that this was going somewhere and this would be news.
HESS: Were there any problems of information being leaked to the press,
information that the committee would really not want to be known?
CONNELLY: Not that I knew of.
HESS: Did Mr. Hehmeyer conduct most of the business himself or was anyone
else on the committee assigned to help him in that field?
CONNELLY: He conducted that himself. He reported directly to Fulton.
HESS: Robert L. Irvin?
CONNELLY: Robert L. Irvin, he was also hired by Charles Clark. He was
graduated from the University of Michigan and he was a very able investigator.
HESS: Donald M. Lathrom?
CONNELLY: He was also hired by Clark, so when he arrived on the committee,
I talked to him and told him we wanted to know something about what was
going on in our program of defense in the Air Corps section, so he was
assigned to conduct the investigation of the air program, which he did,
and that's the only thing he ever worked on with the committee.
HESS: Did he do a pretty good job on that?
CONNELLY: He did a very good job.
HESS: Frank E. Lowe?
CONNELLY: Frank E. Lowe was a brigadier general from Maine. Now, exactly
how he became tied up with the committee, I do not know, except it was
through the influence of Senator Brewster of Maine, also a member of the
committee. Lowe's activities were always kind of a mystery to me because
he never reported to me, but he established himself as sort of a liaison
between the committee and the War Department, so whether he was on the
committee's payroll, I don't know but I don't believe he was.
HESS: One of the items I found that concerned General Lowe came from
Toulmin's book and he says, "One of the most important factors in the
cooperation of the Committee with the War Department was the appointment
of Major General (then Brigadier General) Frank E. Lowe. He was not a
liaison officer but he was the executive
officer of the Committee." He served from
August 11, '44 to May 16, 1946. That's what Toulmin has about it.
CONNELLY: Well, it may be that he became an executive assistant after
I left the committee, this I don't know.
HESS: They called him executive officer, in the lower case, so I don't
think that was a specific title.
CONNELLY: He never made any investigations.
HESS: Getting off the track just a little bit, how were the relations
between the War Department and the Navy Department and the committee?
Were they good or not?
CONNELLY: Initially they were very difficult.
CONNELLY: Because the Army and the Navy, as you
know, are very close
knit. They resented any intrusion by a congressional committee or anyone
else. During the course of back and forth, the Navy and the Army finally
found out that it would not be in their own interest, or the interest
of the country, to refuse to cooperate with the committee. As a result
of that, the resistance was broken down and we got very good cooperation
from the Army and the Navy.
HESS: Do you recall the names of the people that usually carried on the
business with the committee, with the War Department and with the Navy
Department during those years. When the committee would want to contact
somebody in the Navy Department or at the War Department, who would they
CONNELLY: We established liaison with both Departments. General Arthur
Wilson was the initial
contact we had with the War Department. General
Wilson had known Senator Truman. General Wilson was then in the office
of General Marshall. General Wilson through his intercession and his knowledge
of Senator Truman and his intimate relationship with General Marshall
was designated by General Marshall to be the liaison from General Marshall's
office with the committee. He did a very good job. He brought together
without knocking heads the interests of both. He remained in that capacity
until the war started and then he went into active service and was transferred
HESS: Who took his place?
CONNELLY: Colonel Knowles, Miles Knowles, from Michigan, and he worked
with then Under Secretary [Julius H.] Amberg. After General Wilson departed
Colonel Knowles took over.
He worked very closely with the members of the committee and with myself.
HESS: Did he do as creditable a job as his predecessor had done?
CONNELLY: Well, it was difficult in the beginning but gradually, because
the ice had been broken, he worked in very well; he was a very bright
attorney. I think at one time he was a partner of Amberg who, I believe,
was Under Secretary, and I got to know him very well--we got along very
well and we cooperated very well.
HESS: Did you have any times that the military was trying to bring some
pressure on the committee when the committee was going out to the Army
camps and things of that nature and finding evidences of waste?
CONNELLY: No, we never had any objection of that kind. General [Brehon
B.] Somervell was then
moved from Quartermaster to construct all these
Army camps. Now, I personally made some of the initial investigations
of the Army camp sites that were being constructed, and in each of these
General Wilson accompanied me on these investigations.
HESS: Before the Truman Committee was established, Mr. Truman took a
trip around to see several Army camps. As I understand, that was one of
the reasons behind the establishment of the Truman Committee.
CONNELLY: That's correct. He made a personal investigation of his own
and didn't completely like what he saw, and he proposed this investigation.
It was voted on and agreed to by the Military Affairs Committee of the
HESS: Do you recall hearing Mr. Truman speak of that trip?
CONNELLY: Oh, many times.
HESS: Roughly what did he say?
CONNELLY: Well, to the point that he was not satisfied, he thought that
some improvement could be made on what the Army was doing with Army construction,
camp construction, and that was the first phase of the investigation of
the program that we got into.
HESS: Did you ever hear Mr. Truman sort of put in capsule version what
he thought the purpose of the Truman Committee should be?
CONNELLY: He thought the purpose of the Truman Committee should be the
investigation of how the program was being constructed, but he did not
want any part of telling the armed services how to run the war. He thought
that that should be left to the generals.
During the Civil War they had a committee
to investigate the conduct
of the war. Mr. Truman, as you know, was a very good historian, and he
did not want any repetition of what happened during the Civil War by any
HESS: You mentioned General Somervell. Do you recall anything in particular
about the relations between the committee and General Somervell?
CONNELLY: In the beginning stages General Somervell was very hostile.
General Somervell was a very brilliant general, but he was also a martinet,
and he resented any intrusion or stepping on his toes, but that did not
impress Senator Truman, he went ahead anyway.
But after we completed our survey of camp construction, General Somervell
finally agreed, and so testified, that the Truman Committee saved the
Government two hundred million dollars
on Army construction alone.
HESS: Who was the liaison from the Navy Department--we discussed the
War Department--do you recall?
CONNELLY: Hugh Fulton handled the Navy Department. He had a friend who
had been a law partner of his named Eugene Dunn, who was in the Navy,
so Hugh Fulton hand-picked him as the Navy liaison. He served in that
capacity while I was there.
HESS: Were the problems with the Navy fundamentally pretty much the same
as with the War Department?
CONNELLY: Oh, certainly because this combination--well, let's not say
combination but a contrast of interest between civilian and brass, as
we call the Navy and the Army.
HESS: Our next man on the list, Harry S. Magee.
CONNELLY: I believe he was hired by Charles Clark. Harry Magee was a
very amiable fellow, but I
would not consider him as one of the top investigators
of the committee. I believe his major assignment was to investigate mica
mining in connection with defense procurement.
HESS: In your roll as chief investigator did you also take part in investigations
or were you more a coordinator of what the other people were supposed to do?
HESS: On that, just for a minute, what were a few of the investigations
that you personally helped in?
CONNELLY: Well, I personally conducted the initial investigations of
new Army camp construction. I covered Fort Stewart in Georgia, Fort Davis
in North Carolina, Indiantown Gap in Pennsylvania, and on all of those
excursions I was accompanied by General Wilson.
HESS: What type of conditions did you find?
CONNELLY: Principally, lack of planning. The construction program between
the two World Wars was handled by the Quartermaster Corps. Now the Quartermaster
Corps in the interim apparently had done nothing. So now they were faced
with a big buildup and no plans for it. My first exposure to that was
at Fort Stewart in Georgia. They sent a general down there or colonel,
I forget now, to initiate the construction, so he reported to the Pentagon--not
the Pentagon at that time, the War Department--and he asked for a layout
of plans. The only thing he could find was some blueprints of a camp which
was designed for World War I and that was for an infantry brigade. He
was building a camp for antiaircraft, so he just put the plans under his
arm and started from the ground, and had to improvise to complete
was required of him. Now the result was they would provide initial allocation
of say eight million dollars. That would eventually pyramid into something
like twenty to thirty million. It was all done catch as catch can.
HESS: How would you handle a problem when you would go out and find something
CONNELLY: Well, my job was to find out what was going on, so the first
thing I would do was report to the camp commander.
HESS: Conditions as they stood then.
CONNELLY: Right. Then I would look at the records-- what the accomplishments
were, what the initial cost estimate was, what it developed into, then
I would go to civilian appointments. They appointed architect engineers
to help the camp commander build the camp, and these were civilian engineers,
so, of course, they were always
in a hassle with the brass, and after
I got the camp commanders position, then I would talk to the architect
engineers and they were never hesitant to tell me what the truth was,
what was going on on that base; so after getting the Army's side and the
civilian engineer's side, I got a pretty good picture of what was going
on at that camp site. And on that I based my report.
HESS: Did you also make recommendations about what should be done to
correct the matters, or did you just report the matters as you found them?
CONNELLY: I never made any recommendations.
HESS: What other investigations come to mind that you worked with?
CONNELLY: Well, I investigated the DuPont operation in Indiana.
HESS: Which one was that?
CONNELLY: It was near Albany, Indiana. I investigated the construction
of a plant, the Hercules Powder Company, in Kansas.
HESS: The Sunflower Ordnance Plant near Lawrence?
CONNELLY: That's right.
HESS: What did you find wrong there, do you recall?
CONNELLY: Faulty construction. I had pictures which I took with a small
camera; I had pictures of cracks in the foundation and other defects,
and based on that they had a hearing on the thing in Kansas City. It was
just cheap, shoddy construction and the Government was paying a good deal
for it. They didn't like the fact that I took pictures, and they found
out about it the day after I took them. I went back to the base and their
Public Information Officer decided he would like to have the pictures
or he'd like to have my camera, and that day I
did not have my camera.
The prints of the pictures were already sent to the committee in Washington.
On the basis of the pictures alone plus the information I got, they decided
to hold a hearing in Kansas City, and the hearing didn't establish anything
very good. That was it.
I investigated the Willow Run Plant in Detroit. The Ford Motor Company
was making B-24 bombers, and that investigation was with the cooperation
of the Ford Motor Company. That was assigned to me by Senator Truman himself
because Senator Ferguson was on the committee, and he was from Michigan.
So with the cooperation of the Ford people, I was in the plant for about
two weeks making my own observations, and because of security they had
given me a badge. They looked around at all their executives to find out
who I would pass for--they had a badge and photograph of each one. They
finally picked one
of the vice presidents and temporarily took the badge
away from him and they gave it to me. I was in that plant about two weeks,
and finally I thought it was time to go in and see the colonel who was
in charge for the Air Corps, so I walked into his office after two weeks
and I identified myself. He says, "What can I do for you?"
I said, "I'd like to talk to you about your program."
So he started in detail to give me the usual story. I said, "Colonel,
before you get too much involved, it's only fair to tell you I've been
in this plant for two weeks."
"Well, how did you get in here?"
I said, "That's not the point, Colonel. I'm only fair to you. I have
been here for two weeks, so forget the book and tell me what's going on."
HESS: Did he?
CONNELLY: Up to a point. He couldn't kid me. I'd been there, and he knew
it. A very funny one, while I was in that plant General [William S.] Knudsen
was in charge of the Air Corps production. He arrived at the Willow Run
Plant but fortunately I saw him first because that would have caused quite
a hoopla because he would have recognized me on sight. He had been in
the office of Senator Truman regularly.
HESS: You mentioned an investigation that they held in Kansas City. What
was the procedure of setting up these field investigations? Were they
usually held on some of these more minor cases?
CONNELLY: You mean on committee hearings?
HESS: Committee hearings, yes.
CONNELLY: Not unless they thought there was some valid reason for them
to make a hearing on the thing not just take an investigative report.
HESS: Now some of the more important hearings such as the Curtiss-Wright,
the Canol Project, those were held in Washington, is that right?
CONNELLY: Most of the hearings were held in Washington.
HESS: What would be the criteria for holding one in the field as opposed
to holding the hearings in Washington?
CONNELLY: It depended on the interest of the committee and how they voted,
whether to have a field hearing or to have it in Washington. That was
determined by the committee itself.
HESS: When they would hold one in the field, who
would go to hold it?
Would one of the Senators go?
CONNELLY: Yes, one of the Senators. If it was important enough, the chairman
would go, with probably three or four other Senators. The full committee
would not go.
HESS: Would Hugh Fulton usually go to the field hearings?
HESS: How was a field hearing conducted? Would Mr. Fulton do most of
the cross-examining, or would Senator Truman...
CONNELLY: Mr. Fulton would initiate the examination and each Senator
in turn would be provided an opportunity to ask questions that were of
interest to him.
HESS: And the next man on our list is Herbert Maletz.
CONNELLY: Herbert Maletz was hired by Charles Clark. He was a graduate
of Harvard Law School and I believe he worked in Washington for about
a year or maybe more, not much more, as an attorney. How he became connected
with Clark I do not know, but he arrived on the committee and Clark, of
course, asked me to screen him which I did and he was appointed, and he
developed into one of the most competent investigators the committee had.
He has gone on to other activities in Washington. He was in private practice.
He was counsel for the antitrust committee of the House, and has now just
been appointed to the Court of Claims as a judge.
HESS: And he will be here in New York City.
CONNELLY: In New York City.
HESS: Do you recall any investigations in which
he may have had a hand--may
have been assigned to?
CONNELLY: Yes, he was on the investigation, I believe it was housing
with Boyle. They worked as a team for quite a while. When Boyle first
came in, as I know, he did not have any experience around Washington,
Maletz had some, and then they would report directly to me and if I felt
something was not going right, I would direct it to the proper channel.
HESS: What comes to mind when you look back on that housing investigation?
HESS: What was involved? What were the big things involved?
CONNELLY: Well, naturally, most of the big things involved were defense
housing, and I never got
into the details but I worked on the report with
them while they were writing it, and it was largely with the Defense Department
program, and housing of personnel, civilians and otherwise.
HESS: What were the big bottlenecks? Getting the materials?
CONNELLY: Materials and Labor.
HESS: Joe L. Martinez?
CONNELLY: He was a protege of Senator Chavez from New Mexico, and he
was a lawyer who graduated from law school in Washington. He had worked
around the Hill as deputy Sergeant at Arms, patronage jobs, and he was
recommended to Senator Truman by Senator Chavez. He reported to me, and
he worked largely under my direction.
HESS: Do you recall any investigations that...
CONNELLY: Well, he worked with me in that Sunflower Ordnance job.
HESS: Did he also have a camera?
CONNELLY: No, he did not.
HESS: George Meader?
CONNELLY: George Meader was a personal friend of Hugh Fulton's, he hired
him, and I believe he gave him a title of assistant counsel.
HESS: Assistant to the chief counsel.
CONNELLY: That's right, and he reported directly to Fulton; of course,
he coordinated with me on special investigations. Matter of fact, he did
not do very much on investigations because he was under the impression
that if he was given an assignment, he had to spend time with it. A congressional
committee is not like a law court. A congressional committee
know the story, but George was a detail man, he later became a member
of Congress, but George reported directly to Fulton, and I think he would
probably spend six months on one case. In a congressional investigation
you have to have it ready for the committee.
HESS: And he was appointed chief counsel on October 1, '45.
CONNELLY: That was after Fulton left.
HESS: Franklin N. Parks?
CONNELLY: Franklin N. Parks was graduated from Georgetown University.
He also was hired by Charles Clark. Frank Parks was one of the best investigators
we had. He was diligent, bright, and did a very commendable job. I believe
he's now with the Atomic Energy Commission.
HESS: Do you recall any investigations in which he had a hand?
CONNELLY: Off hand I don't remember.
HESS: Harold G. Robinson?
CONNELLY: Harold G. Robinson was an appointment of Hugh Fulton's. He
was a former FBI agent; worked with Fulton when he was in New York in
the Justice Department, so Hugh Fulton brought him in there and he thought
that Harold G. Robinson should have my job on the committee. For some
reason Senator Truman disagreed with him.
HESS: Hugh Fulton thought this? Is that right?
CONNELLY: Hugh Fulton wanted him to have the job of chief investigator,
and apparently he discussed it with Senator Truman and Senator Truman
didn't agree with him. So he became
an investigator on the staff.
HESS: I believe they named him chief investigator when you left, is that
CONNELLY: That's correct.
HESS: Do you recall anything he worked on?
CONNELLY: Well, the boys on the staff gave him a nickname, "Two Case"
Robinson. In other words, if he'd get an assignment to investigate an
ordnance plant, which he did, the one I remember was the Wolf Creek Ordnance
Plant in Tennessee, and he spent over six months on it. He was trained
in the FBI pattern. He had every I dotted and every t crossed, so he was
meticulous, but slow, whereas another investigator would complete his
case in a week or two, he would probably take six months on one, but he
was a very good investigator of that type, but not the type for a congressional
HESS: Haven Sawyer?
CONNELLY: Haven Sawyer was an appointee of Owen Brewster, the Senator
from Maine who was on the committee, but that was one of those things;
he just came in, cut clippings, but never made an investigation.
HESS: Wilbur D. Sparks?
CONNELLY: Wilbur D. Sparks was a personal appointment of Senator Truman.
He was a very good investigator after he learned the ropes. He later became
a law partner of Fulton's after he left the committee.
HESS: There was a time when he was in charge of the committee's staff
office, is that right? He was in charge of administrative details.
CONNELLY: That was after Truman left if it happened at all, I really
don't know, but he
was an investigator when Senator Truman had the committee.
HESS: Hendrick Suydam?
CONNELLY: I don't know who recommended him. I believe he was appointed
by Clark, and I think he had some financial background and I think his
field of activity while he was with us was some sort of investigation
of the financial trust like RFC--some of the financial agencies in Washington.
HESS: On that subject, what were the relations between the Truman Committee
and the Reconstruction Finance Corporation? Were they pretty good? Mr.
Jesse Jones was over there at that time, correct?
CONNELLY: Well, Mr. Jesse Jones was there. Originally Mr. Jesse Jones
was not cooperative with the committee, but after having a few experiences
of the committee throwing things in his face which he apparently ignored...
HESS: Do you recall an illustration of that?
CONNELLY: Well, one of the things was that at the beginning of the war
the Alcoa Company had a monopoly with the RFC in aluminum. The Reynolds
Company was trying to get into the act but they were completely frustrated
by the RFC; so the Truman Committee took a look at that and through its
interest in the RFC operations, Reynolds was finally given funds to begin
the operation of aluminum plants. Up to that point they were making tin
foil for chocolate bars and cigarette wrappers but had no facilities for
construction. As a result of the Truman Committee breathing down Jones'
back, the Reynolds Company was finally given some contracts through the RFC.
HESS: What had been the reasons for his opposition, do you recall?
CONNELLY: Well, I'm not able to answer for him, but I do know that it
was a closed door to anybody but Alcoa. So that was the beginning of the
breakthrough on the monopoly on aluminum. Then Kaiser came later. That
was a result of the Truman Committee, too. So instead of having one source
of supply during the war, we had three, Alcoa, Reynolds and Kaiser.
HESS: Do you recall any other illustrations of connections between the
RFC and the Truman Committee--the relations between the two?
CONNELLY: After John Snyder, who was a banker in St. Louis, became a
deputy to Jesse Jones, the ice was broken because John Snyder, Harry Vaughan
and Senator Truman were three
World War I colonels from Missouri in the
field artillery; so with that closeness, Snyder finally persuaded Jesse
Jones that he'd have to relent. So that was how that was accomplished.
HESS: And that was really brought about by John Snyder?
CONNELLY: That's right.
HESS: What was the relationship in those early years between Senator
Truman and John Snyder?
CONNELLY: It goes back to World War I when because of their association
during the war they became close friends.
HESS: Do you recall anything about their association after Mr. Truman
got to Washington?
CONNELLY: Well, yes.
HESS: Before his appointment as the Secretary of the Treasury and the
Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion--while Mr. Truman was still Senator.
CONNELLY: Certainly. Now, the inner workings of Senator Truman's office
in his early days I knew nothing about, I didn't even know him until the
day he hired me, but I later found out that John Snyder had one of the
girls in Truman's office reporting directly to him.
HESS: Do you recall her name? It wasn't Reathel Odum was it?
CONNELLY: I wouldn't use it.
HESS: As I understand it Mr. Truman had asked Mr. Snyder if he could
have someone from his staff to help him when he came up to Washington.
CONNELLY: That could be true. I know that John Snyder had a pipeline
in that office.
HESS: She was reporting directly to John Snyder what was going on in
CONNELLY: That's right.
HESS: That's interesting. All right, let's move on to one more. The next
name is Marion Toomey.
CONNELLY: Marion Toomey was classified as an investigator, but she was
actually secretary to Hugh Fulton.
HESS: And another lady, Agnes Strauss Wolf.
CONNELLY: She was an investigator for the committee She had some background
in social service. Her activities on the committee were a little vague
to me; she reported largely to Hugh Fulton.
HESS: As I mentioned earlier those are not all of the names that I could
have put down on the list. Are there any major omissions, anyone else
whose name should be mentioned, who I just did not include on the list?
CONNELLY: We had a boy named Morris Lasker who graduated from Harvard
and Yale Law School and he was hired by Charles Clark. He became a fine,
good investigator. He is now practicing as a lawyer here in New York;
I know he's been recommended for a Federal judgeship, but he was very
good. Another fellow that Clark hired was Peter Ansberry. Peter Ansberry
was somewhat of a socialite. He was editor of the law journal at Georgetown
University, but as an investigator he never measured up. He was too opinionated,
so I tried to help him and say, "Now look, did you ask this fellow this
in the interview?"
Then I'd say, "Well, this is quite important."
But he was always a little hostile to corrections. I would say he was
not one of the top boys on the staff.
HESS: On that question, what makes a good investigator?
CONNELLY: The ability to get along with people, number one. Number two,
not to act like a copy. Number three, to know how to listen, and number
four, not to antagonize a witness, and, of course, an appreciation for
facts not fancy.
HESS: How did Mr. Truman handle his relations with the committee staff?
CONNELLY: His relations with the committee staff were largely handled
through Hugh Fulton, but
if he had anything he was particularly interested
in, he would call me and say, "What is going on on this?"
So I would report to him that the case had not been completed and I thought
he should wait for a report, and then he could judge, which was always
agreeable to him because he wanted the whole story. So he had good relations
with the staff, all of them including Fulton. They all liked Senator Truman
because he gave them respect. He was never an authoritative type chairman.
He'd say what is this, and let them explain to him what they thought,
and if he didn't agree, he'd tell them, and tell them why. So the relationship
between Truman and the staff, I would say, was excellent.
HESS: What was the relationship between the staff members themselves
other than just petty
frictions; what was the general relationship of
the staff members?
CONNELLY: With whom?
HESS: With each other.
CONNELLY: We were very congenial. Of course there were little irritants
but it was a very congenial operation. In fact, 1 don't know of any great
dissent we had with each other in any case, other than personalities,
which you're bound to have in any family.
HESS: Was there any one member of the staff that was in charge of speech writing
chores, and was that a very big task?
CONNELLY: No, because there was not very much speaking. Truman did very
little speaking when he was head of that committee. He might go to a Masonic
meeting and make a speech
or to some type of civic organization. I would
say that there was very little of that, and Truman in those days was not
a very good speaker anyway and he was not very often invited, and furthermore
he was not known out of the state of Missouri, because nobody in the country
ever heard of Truman until he had that committee, and that was a springboard
to his being selected for Vice President. We never had an official speech writer
on the committee, never.
HESS: I understand that the committee staff held a portion of its meetings
in the so-called "doghouse" in Mr. Truman's office, is that right?
CONNELLY: As a complete unit? No, he would call individual members in,
Fulton, Clark, or myself, but that was about it.
HESS: Informal meetings more or less?
CONNELLY: Yes, just personal reports to him on what was happening and
he wanted to know what it was.
HESS: Now, of course, the "doghouse" was in his…
CONNELLY: Senatorial office.
HESS: His senatorial office.
I have read that Donald M. Nelson who was chairman of the War Production
Board quite often visited Senator Truman's offices and also the Truman
Committee staff room is that correct?
CONNELLY: No. He visited Senator Truman, and I believe that on a few
occasions he may have come into the staff offices.
HESS: What was the relationship between Donald Nelson and the War Production
Board and the
Truman Committee? Was it pretty good?
CONNELLY: Not initially, no. Donald Nelson was appointed, of course,
by Roosevelt, but I made an investigation of the War Production Board
myself and Bob Irvin worked with me on that case. They were reluctant
because it was principally staffed by people from private industry. Now,
private industry was reluctant to give up productive or profitable business
of their own to contribute to the war effort. It was largely staffed by
so-called "dollar-a-year" men. Now, the "dollar-a-year" men were divided
in their loyalty to the company which had loaned them to the Government
or to the Government itself, and if there was a question of balance, it
usually went in favor of their own industry. Until that was broken down,
things were not being done like they should be done. As a result of the
exposing the dragging of feet, the War Production Board
finally was made to contribute something to the war effort. In the initial
stages it did nothing or very little.
HESS: Do you recall if Senator Truman said anything in your presence
about his opinion of "dollar-a-year" men?
CONNELLY: His opinion was just what I said, that he didn't have complete
trust in them because of their divided loyalty.
HESS: In his statement to the Senate on August 7, 1944, when he resigned,
the only man mentioned by name in a derogatory manner was a person, as
Mr. Truman mentioned, a "dollar-a-year" man, and so I wanted to know what
his attitude was.
CONNELLY: Well, that was his attitude about all of them. It wasn't a
question of questioning
their honesty; it was a question of how could
they do a job for the Government when they were so tied by loyalty to
their own industry. And there were very few exceptions to this.
HESS: Edwin A. Locke, Jr. worked for the War Production Board at that
time, too. How closely did Edwin Locke work with the committee?
CONNELLY: He was the liaison man from the War Production Board with the
committee, and I worked with him very closely. He was a very able fellow
and a very fair fellow. He turned out, in my book, to be one of the best
public servants from private industry in the War Production Board.
HESS: How were the relations between Senator Truman and the other Senators
who served on that committee? Now 1 have a list of them
listed in the
order of their appointment to the committee. The first is Carl Hayden
CONNELLY: Well, he served very shortly, and he was never very active
on the committee.
HESS: Tom Connally of Texas?
CONNELLY: Tom Connally of Texas was, well, he was quite a prima donna,
but he and Senator Truman got along very well.
HESS: James Mead of New York?
CONNELLY: James Mead of New York succeeded him as chairman of the committee,
and Jim Mead was very conscientious as a member of the committee.
HESS: Did he get along with Senator Truman?
CONNELLY: Oh, very well, in fact, Senator Truman recommended him to take
his place as chairman
when he left to run for Vice President.
HESS: This is asking you a question about something after you had left
also, but what kind of a job did it seem to you that Senator Mead did
in comparison with the job that Senator Truman had done?
CONNELLY: There was no comparison. Senator Mead never could come up to
the chairmanship that was Senator Truman's.
CONNELLY: Well, whether he didn't have the ability or whether he didn't
have the interest, I don't know, but I know he was never considered as
a successful chairman of that committee.
HESS: Mon C. Wallgren of Washington?
CONNELLY: He was very close to Senator Truman. He was very active in
As a matter of fact, Senator Truman later appointed
him to the Federal Power Commission.
HESS: Quite a friend of Mr. Truman's.
CONNELLY: A very close friend.
HESS: Joseph Ball of Minnesota?
CONNELLY: Joseph Ball of Minnesota was a kind of progressive Republican
and he and Senator Truman never had any problems. They cooperated very
well. As a matter of fact, it's a matter of record that the Truman Committee
never had a minority report.
HESS: Was there ever a danger of someone not going along with that? Did
you ever have a report that someone sort of held out on to the last minute?
CONNELLY: That was resolved by having the full committee meet in Senator
and they would discuss their differences and left
HESS: Was this done very often?
CONNELLY: There were always differences. On every report that was being
made there may be some minor differences, but they were always resolved
before they left that office with the result that they went out completely
in accord for any report that was put out by the committee.
HESS: They were all unanimous.
HESS: I was just wondering if there were any one or two times that it
really came down to the wire, if it was a very close thing?
CONNELLY: Those things I cannot answer because I was not at the meetings.
They were just for
the members of the committee and Hugh Fulton.
HESS: Owen Brewster of Maine?
CONNELLY: Owen Brewster of Maine was on the committee. Owen Brewster,
I would not quite say was completely bipartisan, but when the decision
was down, he joined in. I would not say he was one of the most effective
members of the committee.
CONNELLY: Because the other Senators on the committee didn't have complete
trust in him.
HESS: In his Memoirs, volume one, page 189, Mr. Truman states
Senators Brewster and Vandenberg tried at times to make another Committee
on the Conduct of the War out of our committee by attempting to bring
the Congress into control of the operations of the military establishment,
but we never permitted that to happen.
CONNELLY: That's right.
HESS Did Senator Brewster give Senator Truman rather a difficult time
CONNELLY: At times. Of course there was a clash, but that was what I
meant by saying that I wouldn't call Senator Brewster completely bipartisan
on that committee. As far as I know, he was the only exception on that
committee to Truman's policy of maintaining the committee on the basis
on which he wanted, not to interfere.
HESS: This was the only Senator that really gave him trouble on that
point, is that correct?
CONNELLY: That's correct.
HESS: Do you recall Senator Truman making any statements about Senator
Brewster at that time along this line?
CONNELLY: Senator Truman would make a little ad-lib
comment to me on
many things and on many members of the committee. He'd say, "Oh, he needs
to be slowed down, he'll be all right." It was never serious.
HESS: Do you recall anything he may have said about Senator Brewster?
CONNELLY: Not offhand, no.
HESS: Carl Hatch of New Mexico.
CONNELLY: He was a very close friend of Truman's.
HESS: Clyde Herring of Iowa?
CONNELLY: Well, he was on the original membership of the committee, I
believe, but he did not participate very actively. He was pretty old at
HESS: Harley Kilgore of West Virginia?
CONNELLY: Harley Kilgore of West Virginia was a
so-called liberal. He
was largely a labor Senator, and he used to have big ideas about what
the committee should do and suggest investigations. Now unless it had
some merit Senator Truman never went along with it. Occasionally he would
say, "Well, you had better go take a look if Kilgore wants it, but I don't
think you'll find much."
HESS: And he also served as chairman for a short time, October, '46 to
January, '47, I believe.
CONNELLY: Well, that was after I left.
HESS: That was after Mead.
Styles Bridges of New Hampshire?
CONNELLY: He was on the committee but never very active, but he and Truman
got along well.
HESS: Harold Burton?
CONNELLY: Harold Burton was probably one of the
most dedicated members
of that committee--fair minded, astute, and Truman thought very highly
of his ability and his intelligence. And as is a matter of record, he
later appointed him to the Supreme Court.
HESS: And Homer Ferguson?
CONNELLY: When Homer Ferguson first joined the committee, I attended
a hearing, and I had never met Senator Ferguson before, so after the committee
hearing that day, Senator Truman called me and we talked about some other
matters which I forget, and he said to me, "I think we've got a good man
in this Ferguson."
I said, "Senator, I don't like to disagree with you, but I don't think
He said, "Why not?"
I said, "I noticed at the hearing today that he asked questions for the
sake of asking, and that can get somebody in an awful
lot of problems."
HESS: What did he say then?
CONNELLY: He said, "That didn't occur to me." He said, "I'm glad you
brought that up because I'll be watching for it."
HESS: All right, those are the Senators that served during the time that
you were with the committee and that Mr. Truman was chairman of the committee.
CONNELLY: That's correct.
HESS: There were others that came along later, but we won't go into those.
Did the committee have problems with military secrecy in its investigations?
CONNELLY: We never got involved in military secrets. If it was restricted
material, we regarded it that way.
HESS: Do you recall anything about the committees coming across evidence
of the research on atomic energy that was going on during those years?
CONNELLY: I remember that very well. Fred Canfil, who as I said before,
used to browse around practically on his own, and report to Senator Truman,
arrived up in Hanford, Washington, he called me--"Something's going on
up here, I'm going to find out what it is."
I said, "O.K." So he browsed around and he tried to crack into the Hanford
Project, which was part of the atomic bomb deal. Very shortly after that
General Marshall came up to see Senator Truman and he said, "Senator,
we've got a very important and top secret project out in Hanford and one
of your investigators has been out there and he's trying to find out what's
going on. I'd appreciate it if you would stay out of it."
And Senator Truman said, "I didn't know this, but your wishes will be respected."
Canfil was pulled off, quickly.
HESS: Did Canfil ever tell you where he got the tip to go out to Hanford?
CONNELLY: The only thing he knew was that there was a lot of construction
going on up there--there was Government construction and he wanted to
find out what it was all about.
HESS: Did he ever talk to you after he got back and tell you what he
found out there, just in a personal way?
CONNELLY: No, I just got word to him, "Get the hell out of there."
So, he came back to Washington and said, "What's the idea of pulling
me out. There's something going on out there."
I said, "The orders are that you're to
stay out of there, period."
HESS: Did he take that order?
CONNELLY: He took the order.
HESS: Can you tell me what you recall about the problems caused by Albert
B. Chandler's swimming pool?
CONNELLY: Yes, I was assigned to that case. Senator Truman called me
one morning and he said, "I want you to go to Kentucky. I was just talking
to Senator Barkley. Apparently 'Happy' Chandler is involved in some difficulty."
So I said, "Well, what's it about?"
He said, "Oh, something about the opponent who's running against him
for election has accused him of having a swimming pool built of critical
materials that a contractor supplied." He said, "I want you to go down
there and find out what it's all about." He
said, "I know that Barkley
wants Chandler back in the Senate."
I said, "Oh, one of those."
He said, "Well, you go see Chandler and get his side of it," which I
did. Chandler suggested I contact some people he knew down there and they
could fill me in on what the story was, but then it was up to me how it
should be handled; so because of Barkley's interest, he was then majority
leader, it had to be handled with gloves, especially knowing that Barkley
wanted Chandler re-elected. So I went to Kentucky and on the train I thought
of how I was going to handle this. So I reasoned the best thing to do
was to meet the plaintiff first who was running against Chandler. I stopped
there in Lexington, went to see the fellow the next morning in his law
office, and when I arrived in his office, he had all the press there,
cameras, the full treatment. I
went in to him and I said, "There's a reception
committee out front."
He said, "Yes, I know."
"Now what is your complaint?"
He said, "Well, the swimming pool that this contractor built for 'Happy'
I said, "Have you ever seen the swimming pool?"
He said, "No, but here are pictures of it."
So, I talked to him maybe for half an hour, asked him questions. I said,
"Now, that's very interesting. Would you reduce that to an affidavit form?"
He said, "No. I can't sign an affidavit; this is hearsay with me."
I said, "Thank you very much," so I walked out and I met the press and
said, "No pictures, no interviews, I make my report to the committee,
period. I say nothing and
my orders are no pictures."
"Well, when you go to Louisville they will have pictures there."
I said, "I will make a deal with you. I know you guys work for a living,
too. There won't be any pictures in Louisville either, and no interviews."
Well, they didn't like it but they had to take it, so I left. I met the
contractor, went through his records, went out to see the pool and while
I was there with the state chairman of the Democratic Party, Chandler's
wife came out, she didn't know me, and she said, "Bob [his name was Bob
Humphreys, he was the state chairman], what are you going to do about
those OPA people? They're raising hell about me getting a couple of new
Well, the state chairman practically went into the pool himself with
this little demonstration. I ignored it, it was all right
with me, so
we left there and he said, "Oh, brother."
I said, "I know what you mean. I didn't hear it."
Well, after getting the whole thing wrapped up, I got all the records,
found out that the steel in the pool was, you know, used steel; it wasn't
good for structural steel--it had been used before. So I got the thing
all wrapped up, came back to town, and I reported to Truman directly.
He said, "Well, Barkley is edgy. What are we going to do?"
I said, "Well, all right. Now," I said, "when you report to the Senate
that there has been an investigation, that you just got a personal report
of the investigation, I would suggest that after you go on the floor,
let me write out a statement for Senator Hatch, the father of the Clean
Politics Bill and let him follow you and read his statement."
So I dictated this statement to one of the girls, and went over and gave
it to Senator Hatch. Truman made a little speech about the pool. Hatch
followed with the statement I had written, then Barkley took it over from
there. Well, all it meant was I put holy water in the swimming pool, but
that was what you call politics.
HESS: A few of the more well-known cases that came before the committee
were the Canol project, the question on the tank lighters, the matters
of the Curtiss-Wright airplane engine. Do you recall anything in particular
CONNELLY: Yes, I recall. The Canol project I had nothing to do with.
That was handled directly by Hugh Fulton. That was one they developed
in hearing, based on a complaint, of course. On the Curtiss-Wright thing,
that was handled
by Donald Lathrom, and I collaborated with him to some
extent. What was the other project?
HESS: The tank lighters.
CONNELLY: That tank lighters I had nothing to do with. That was handled
by Hugh Fulton himself.
HESS: What other important cases come to mind, looking back on the days
of the Truman Committee?
CONNELLY: I would say those two things.
HESS: What was the relationship between Mr. Max Lowenthal and Mr. Truman
during Mr. Truman's days in the Senate?
CONNELLY: Mr. Max Lowenthal served as counsel for Senator Truman during
the hearings on the setting up of the Civil Aeronautics Board. That was
long before I had met Senator Truman. Now, I believe, he was recommended
as counsel on that
committee by the chairman of the full committee to
Senator Truman, who was then Senator Wheeler of Montana. I believe that's
how their relationship was established. As a result of that, they always
had mutual respect for each other and it has continued up to the present day.
HESS: Did you know Mr. Lowenthal when you were on the Hill?
CONNELLY: No, I did not. Oh, I may have met him casually. He came into
the Senator's office, I may have met him, but I got to know him intimately
during his White House operation.
HESS: I understand there was an operation conducted under his general
supervision to prepare answers to the charges that Senator McCarthy was
making in the early fifties, is that correct?
CONNELLY: Not that I recall. He had nothing to do
with the White House.
HESS: Why did Mr. Hugh Fulton leave the committee in 1944, do you recall?
CONNELLY: To accompany Senator Truman on his campaign for Vice President.
HESS: Did you accompany the Senator on his campaign?
CONNELLY: He arranged for a leave of absence for me from the committee
and made an arrangement with Senator Mead who was to follow him that if
we won the election, I would stay with him, and if we lost, I would have
my job back with the committee.
HESS: Did any of the other members of the committee go on the campaign
with Senator Truman besides you and Mr. Fulton?
HESS: The reason why I asked that, Donald Lathrom...
CONNELLY: No, he had nothing to do with the campaign.
HESS: ...resigned about that time. His resignation was effective on August 31, 1944.
CONNELLY: Well, he went into the private practice of law in Washington.
HESS: Now, Bill Boyle resigned in March of '44. I believe at that time
he went to the Democratic National Committee.
CONNELLY: He was assistant to the chairman, Bob Hannegan.
HESS: Did he provide any assistance to you people during the campaign?
CONNELLY: Oh, yes, through the national committee.
HESS: Do you recall what forms his assistance may have taken?
CONNELLY: Well, he would communicate with us on the campaign train, suggesting
stops we were to make and who were the key people to see and information
of that type in connection with the campaign. Truman had to do the campaigning
HESS: Before we proceed, Mr. Connelly, looking back on those days from
1941 to 1944, the days of the Truman Committee, have we omitted anything,
anything else come to mind?
CONNELLY: Well, I know we've omitted a lot, but you don't want to go
into it in detail.
HESS: What stands out in your mind when you look back on those days?
CONNELLY: Well, I thought it was an unusual
congressional committee because
there was very rarely a congressional committee to make any kind of report
which is unanimous, and I think it's a great tribute to the then Senator
Truman, that he was able to handle the members of the committee up to
ten Senators in such a way that prevented or didn't make possible a minority
report. For in his ability to get along with other Senators, give each
one credit for his part on the activities without any discrimination regardless
of politics, was real statesmanship.
HESS: How instrumental do you think Mr. Truman's handling of that committee
was in his eventually getting the nomination on the Democratic ticket?
CONNELLY: His chairmanship of that committee made him a candidate for
the Vice President of the United States because of the work of that committee,
and during the proceedings of the
committee before he became Vice President
in a press poll he was considered to be one of the top ten Senators in Congress.
HESS: On the subject of the 1944 convention and campaign and Mr. Truman's
part therein, what was the earliest that you heard a discussion on the
possibility of Mr. Truman being chosen to run as Vice President that year?
When did you first hear of that?
CONNELLY: The first time it occurred to me was in a conversation with
Bob Hannegan who was then National Chairman, and I said, "Bob, who's going
to become the next Vice President? Is it going to be Wallace again?"
He said, "God forbid."
HESS: Do you recall about when that conversation was?
CONNELLY: That was sometime during early '44 or late '43. 1 said, "What
is the matter with
He said, "Nothing."
I said, "Well, why don't we do something about it?"
Hannegan said, "We will."
So following that, Hannegan naturally could operate with openness and
I could not because I was still on the Truman Committee, but Hannegan
and I would compare notes every once in a while, so one day Senator Truman
had Hannegan up to his office and he said, "Look, I know what you two
fellows are up to and I want you to cut it out."
And Hannegan looked at me and said, "Do you know what he's talking about?"
I said, "I don't have the vaguest idea."
Truman said, "Well, I do and all I want you to do is cut it out. I'm
not interested in becoming Vice President. I'm very happy in the Senate."
Well, we just looked at him like it was complete news to us. Hannegan
stayed with him, he had some matters to go over. When he came out to my
office Hannegan said, "Hey, kid, what are we going to do next?"
HESS: About what time was that? Early '44?
CONNELLY: It was early '44 or late '43.
HESS: Keeping things in a chronological order, let's move next to the
convention. Did you go to the convention in Chicago in 1944?
CONNELLY: No, I did not because I was still chief investigator for the
Truman Committee, and as such not active in politics.
HESS: Did you hear Mr. Truman say later about what may have transpired
in Chicago that summer?
CONNELLY: Oh, I got reports on that from him and
also from Bob Hannegan.
I knew before the convention started that Truman was going to be nominated
for Vice President.
HESS: How did you know?
CONNELLY: Through my association with Bob Hannegan. Now Bob Hannegan
was pretty well informed, because he knew the southern delegation would
not go for Henry Wallace. Hannegan tried to persuade Roosevelt to go along
with Truman. Hannegan, Ed Pauley, who was then treasurer of the national
committee, Frank Walker, who had been former Postmaster General and also
former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, had a meeting with
Roosevelt at the White House and Roosevelt was very reluctant, but they
finally agreed that he would take Truman, but Truman was not his first choice.
HESS: Who was his first choice?
CONNELLY: His first choice, I think, was Wallace at that time, and later,
I think, he brought William O. Douglas, who is now on the Supreme Court,
into the picture.
During the convention, Roosevelt went through Chicago but didn't go to
the convention. The train was parked in the railroad yards in Chicago
and he was transferred to the west coast, I believe he was going to dedicate
a dam in Oregon. So Hannegan went down and asked him to give him a letter
that Hannegan could take to the convention and Roosevelt agreed. Roosevelt
dictated a letter to his secretary, Grace Tully, listing the three candidates
for Vice President who would be acceptable to him. One on the list was
Douglas, two was Wallace, three was Truman. Hannegan got to Grace Tully
and rearranged the names and put Truman on top, then Hannegan went to
the convention with that letter. Now,
the Wallace crowd was well organized
and they stampeded that convention and almost got Wallace, but Hannegan
finally cut the thing off before they could have a vote, and partly through
Jackson--is it Jackson from Indiana--the chairman?
HESS: Samuel Jackson.
CONNELLY: Sam Jackson, yes. Sam Jackson didn't want to quit. Hannegan
said, "You recess the convention or I'll throw you off that platform."
He had the organist playing "Iowa." Neale Roach who is in public relations
now in Washington, went up to the organ and on Hannegan's instructions
pulled a fire ax off the wall and cut the cable. That's how close it was.
So that's the story of how Truman became Vice President.
HESS: About that meeting that was held in the White House, did you ever
hear of the name George
CONNELLY: George may have been there, I'm not sure, because at that time
he had an affiliation with the national committee.
HESS: And I believe Ed Flynn from New York.
CONNELLY: Ed Flynn may have been there, I'm not sure. I know Frank Walker
was there. I'm not sure about Ed Flynn. I know Ed Flynn was for Truman.
HESS: As you know, Jimmy Byrnes had asked Mr. Truman to nominate him
for the post...
CONNELLY: That's correct.
HESS: ...the Vice Presidential post, and in his Memoirs, Mr. Truman
says that he now thinks that Byrnes knew at the time that he, Mr. Truman,
was also being thought of as a possibility.
CONNELLY: I'm sure he did, but he did ask Truman to nominate him.
HESS: That's right.
CONNELLY: And Truman agreed.
HESS: Why did he ask him? Was he trying to cut Mr. Truman out?
CONNELLY: Well, of course. Jim Byrnes was a very Machiavellian character,
as Truman found out the hard way when he made him Secretary of State with
his administration. Because Byrnes then thought he was the real
president. I knew Byrnes a lot better and a lot more keenly than Truman
did, because I knew in the beginning when Truman started that committee
Jim Byrnes didn't want him to have the committee, and Jim Byrnes was chairman
of the committee which made appropriations for Senate committees and he
gave Truman $15,000 as the appropriation
for the committee. Truman talked
to me about it and said, "What are we going to do to build up the staff
So I suggested to him that he call the department heads and place his
personnel on the department payrolls, which we did. I went on the National
Housing payroll. I don't know what payroll Clark went on. It might have
been the RFC, I'm not sure, but I know that we were first put on the department
payrolls until Truman got more money, then we switched to the committee
HESS: What was your opinion of Mr. Byrnes later on after you moved to
the White House and he was Secretary of State?
CONNELLY: The same thing my opinion was before that, I never trusted him.
HESS: Why was he appointed?
CONNELLY: I don't know. Truman appointed him. Why, I don't know. When
Truman was sworn in as President, Byrnes came in with a fully prepared
speech that Byrnes and his boys had written for Truman. I read the thing.
Now Byrnes just didn't give this to him as suggestions, he read it to
him in his office. After he left, Truman showed me the speech. I said,
"Look, we've got ten guys in the Cabinet Room writing your speech, you
can't use this, this is Jimmy Byrnes' not Harry Truman's." He threw it
in the basket.
And the breaking point came when Byrnes went to Russia. On his way back
he called a press conference without consulting the President. So I had
to reach him and tell him to cancel the conference, and come down to the
Williamsburg--we were down there for the weekend. Admiral Leahy
was a staff member at that time. As a result of that, the conference
canceled, and Byrnes was told that his job was to report to the President
of the United States, not to the public, before him. So that was the beginning
of the end for Byrnes.
HESS: Were you on the Williamsburg that weekend?
CONNELLY: Yes, I was.
HESS: What was Jimmy Byrnes' attitude when he got to the Williamsburg?
CONNELLY: Well, he had everything all wrapped up. He announced he was
going to make the speech; he was going to have a press conference but
that was quickly killed, and he left like a dog with his tail between
HESS: Did the President talk to him in private?
CONNELLY: Yes, he did, but first when Byrnes arrived we were having dinner
and Admiral Leahy sat directly across from Byrnes at the
dinner table, then Leahy took him apart
to a fare-the-well. He never let him off the hook.
HESS: What was the main gist of his conversation--that he should not
have agreed to make the address before checking with the President?
CONNELLY: Of course, he was put in his place, which he didn't like.
HESS: What did the President say at that time?
CONNELLY: He was very quiet to a point and he said, "Well, that's the
way it's going to be. I'm President."
HESS: Well, back to the days following the convention after Mr. Truman
had been chosen over Mr. Wallace. I believe Mr. Douglas did not want the
nomination, is that right? Mr. Douglas turned that down.
CONNELLY: He was lukewarm. He didn't say yes and he didn't say no.
HESS: Wallace wanted it but he didn't get it.
HESS: What were the decisions that had to be made at that time, dealing
with the campaign?
CONNELLY: The national committee had to set up a schedule. Truman came
back from Chicago after the convention and the office was a madhouse naturally
after his trip back to Washington--photographers, press, so at 5 I locked
the door and said, "I think you've had enough for today."
He said, "Yes, it was quite a day. Let's go back to the 'doghouse,' I
want to talk to you." There he said, "How about a drink? You. like that
damn Scotch, don't you?"
I said, "I'll mix them."
He said, "No, I'm up to something. I'll mix them." So he made a drink
and sat down. He said, "You know, I've got to make a campaign trip?"
I said, "I assumed you would."
He said, "I want you to go along with me."
"You want me to go along with you! What do I know about politics?"
He said, "Never mind that, you've got a pretty good teacher. I want you
with me because we have to do the campaigning for Roosevelt."
The campaign trip started in New Orleans, went across into Texas, up
on the west coast, we covered practically the entire country except the
HESS: Who went along on that campaign?
CONNELLY: Hugh Fulton, Matt Connelly, George Allen was the advance man,
he was assigned by the
national committee, Ed McKim from Omaha was a buddy
of his from Battery D, and that was about it.
HESS: Who established the itinerary?
CONNELLY: The national committee.
HESS: Now, Mr. Truman did give several speeches at that time, who wrote
those speeches? How were those speeches written?
CONNELLY: Most of them were written by Fulton or myself, or both.
HESS: What was the nature of the relationship between Mr. Truman's staff
and Mr. Roosevelt's staff during that campaign, between you people who
were on the campaign train with Mr. Truman and the White House staff?
CONNELLY: Very little if any. And any that were handled by George Allen.
I think George Allen
was suggested as the advance man for Mr. Truman by
Steve Early who was Roosevelt's press secretary. All the contacts we had
were with the national committee.
HESS: On Labor Day in Detroit on September 4th, Mr. Truman spoke at a
CIO rally in the afternoon and to an AFL group in the evening. As I understand
it, he was invited to Detroit to make one address and when he got there,
he found that the AFL and the CIO were feuding and he had to make two,
is that right?
CONNELLY: That's right. I found out.
HESS: You found out about that? Tell me about that?
CONNELLY: Well, the AFL in Detroit and the CIO were then separate organizations,
of course. The CIO had the big show at Cadillac Square,
and that was Walter
Reuther. The AFL boy up there at that time was Frank Martel. I began to
hear the little rumblings that the AFL were going to boycott the meeting.
They didn't like the idea of the CIO throwing the show. So I worked out
a deal that we do the show at Cadillac Square in the afternoon, then Truman
would attend an AFL dinner at night. Everybody was happy.
HESS: It wasn't so bad after all?
CONNELLY: Oh, no, it worked out fine.
HESS: On October the 4th Mr. Truman announced plans for a 7,500 mile
campaign trip to make four major speeches: Los Angeles, Seattle, Peoria
and Boston, and the Los Angeles speech was in connection with reconversion
and national defense in connection with the Japanese phase of the war.
Does that ring any bells?
CONNELLY: That's about right.
HESS: Do you recall who wrote that speech?
CONNELLY: No I do not.
HESS: In Seattle he spoke on light metals and power development. Power
development would be natural for...
CONNELLY: For that north country.
HESS: And Peoria was his farm speech, which would be normal.
CONNELLY: That's where the thing broke on that Ku Klux Klan business.
HESS: Tell me about that.
CONNELLY: Well, we arrived in Chicago and Truman always got to bed early.
Some of the boys in Chicago--politicians--had dinner with me, and when
we got back on the train to leave for
Peoria that night, I guess around
1 o'clock, Truman was asleep and McKim was in his own room. The press
boys were at the station trying to get the story on the Klan, I think
it was in the Chicago-American. We knew nothing about it and we
said we had no comment on it. George Allen was on the train that night,
too. So the next morning we were getting into Peoria. George Allen said
to Truman, "Look, Senator, is this really true? You know I come from Mississippi,
and hell, if I was in politics down there, I would have been in that damned Klan."
So he said, "No, George, it's not true."
When Hugh Fulton indicated he wanted to sue the paper for the story based
on some phony affidavits, I said to the Boss, "The less you say about
this the better. Just leave it alone."
We left Peoria and finally wound up in
Worcester, Massachusetts, and
on the program we had the former Governor, Jim Curley. The Klan thing
was planted in time to hit the Boston area where the Irish were, so on
the program, Jim Curley got up to make his little speech and he said,
"We have a very unusual candidate for Vice President. He goes to California,
the word comes back to us he's a Jew; he arrives in the great Midwest,
the word comes back to us that he's a member of the Klan." And he turned,
"Mr. Vice President, I invite you to join my lodge, The Ancient Order
of Hibernians. We'd be glad to have you as one of our members, and I assure
you, we will get out the vote."
I said to Mr. Truman, "That takes care of the Klan," which it did. After
that you never heard any more about it.
HESS: Did you or anyone else in Washington do any research to try to
find the basis of that
CONNELLY: Hugh Fulton did. It was later disproved, the affidavits were
proven false. We discounted any suit because we wouldn't accomplish anything.
Fulton wanted to sue but the rest of us did not.
HESS: When you were up there in Massachusetts, do you recall anything
about the situation regarding Senator Walsh and the charge by Senator
Truman that he was an isolationist?
CONNELLY: Yes, I remember that very well. We arrived in Massachusetts
and Senator Walsh was scheduled to introduce him at a speech in Worcester
on a Saturday night. I think we had fifteen radio stations. Walsh hadn't
shown up and I called his home, in fact, Walsh's sister was a high school
teacher of mine, so I called her and asked her where
the Senator was.
She said, "Well, I haven't the faintest idea."
So he didn't appear on the program at all that night. It was a Saturday.
So apparently some of the local politicians up there got to Walsh and
told him to avoid it. We had a speech set up for Lawrence, Massachusetts
on the following Sunday afternoon. Walsh showed up on that one, so he
introduced Senator Truman. After the meeting I got a couple of local politicians
up there and I instructed, "You've got to walk Senator Walsh out to the
car. He will not want to get in. You make sure he gets in and make him
ride back to Boston with Senator Truman."
And they did. They threw a body block into him and got him into the car.
They were not very cordial and Truman wanted to be polite so he said,
"Senator, you know I have a
boy from your hometown on my staff."
"Oh," he said, "I know that very well. I recommended him for the job."
But Walsh had nothing to do with my appointment.
When we arrived in Boston, Walsh would not come into the hotel; he said
he had to go home and have dinner with his sister.
The following day Truman made a speech in Providence, that's when he
took out after Walsh. He didn't make it in Massachusetts. He made it at
a luncheon speech in Providence.
HESS: Do you recall Senator Truman saying anything about the state of
President Roosevelt's health during those campaign trips?
CONNELLY: Oh, yes, very definitely. He went down to see Roosevelt which
was one of the few times he did see him, but they had to get pictures
and so forth and they took them standing on the White House lawn under the
Andrew Jackson tree. He came back and told me he was a little worried.
I asked, "Why, what's the matter?"
He said, "They're putting the Secret Service on me. I hope nothing happens
to the President."
So I said, "Well, it's a terrible responsibility, but what will be will
That was the first time he showed any outside worry about Roosevelt.
I say outside; he may have felt so personally. I know I did, because I
went to his inauguration; Roosevelt was there, naturally--'44--and I saw
Roosevelt and I knew it was not going to be long off. He didn't get mixed
up in the reception after the inauguration. He took off for Yalta.
HESS: Was there any communication between Henry Wallace and Mr. Truman
during the 1944 campaign?
CONNELLY: Not that I know of unless it was some matter affecting agriculture.
HESS: If I recall correctly, they both spoke at Madison Square Garden
at a Liberal Party rally, isn't that right?
CONNELLY: That was after Truman's nomination.
HESS: Yes, during the campaign.
CONNELLY: As a matter of fact, Wallace came very near embarrassing Truman
at that meeting, too.
HESS: How's that?
CONNELLY: They were both to speak at a meeting that was sponsored by
the garment workers' union, and Wallace dragged his feet getting to Madison
Square Garden which was stacked for Wallace, because at that time [David]
Dubinsky was a Wallace man. They had Truman in the bullpen to bring him
on, and I was there. I said, "Where is Wallace?"
He said, "Well, he has not shown up yet."
I said, "I'm going to tell you something, you're not leaving here until
he arrives and you're going to walk in with him--not separately--because
he's going to get an ovation and you're not, so if you walk in with him,
you'll be part of that ovation."
So when Wallace finally showed, and he was about a half hour late, they
walked in together. The place was stacked, of course, but that's how that
HESS: And according to the New York Times in Senator Truman's
remarks, he was quite complimentary to Vice President Wallace, and Wallace
sort of slighted Mr. Truman, is that correct?
CONNELLY: That's right. Well, Wallace was very bitter--he was very bitter--because
Wallace knew full well the state of Roosevelt's health. He saw him every
week. He knew. Everybody else in politics knew, so Wallace
became very bitter.
HESS: Anything else come to mind about events that may have transpired
before the election?
CONNELLY: Well, when Truman was nominated to be Vice President, it was
a foregone conclusion that he would be elected, because Roosevelt was
a sure thing for re-election and whoever was his Vice President would
be his successor. Everybody in politics knew that. And I'm pretty sure,
although he never mentioned it to me, that Truman knew it, too. He didn't
want it, but he knew it. He never mentioned it to me, but I know he knew it.
HESS: What was your position when Mr. Truman became Vice President?
CONNELLY: I was chief investigator on the committee.
HESS: Didn't he appoint you as his executive assistant
when he was Vice President?
CONNELLY: Oh, yes.
HESS: You were no longer with the committee then?
CONNELLY: No, I resigned after the election. Then I became his secretary.
HESS: When he became Vice President. Just what were your duties?
CONNELLY: Well, I ran the office, made the appointments, screened his
interviews, just ran the office and so forth, supervised correspondence.
HESS: What do you recall concerning Mr. Truman's decision to attend the
funeral of Tom Pendergast in Kansas City while he was Vice President?
CONNELLY: I recall it very well. He was in New York for the weekend,
I believe, with Bob
Hannegan and Paul Porter, he was then publicity man
for the national committee, and he came back to the office on Monday morning.
In the meantime, I had a call from Kansas City telling me that Pendergast
had died, so I got busy and made reservations for him to fly to Kansas
City, in fact, I got a plane loaned to him by Patterson who was then Secretary
of War, he had a personal plane. I made all the arrangements for the plane.
When Truman came back in, I walked into his office and he said, "Well,
I said, "I've got some bad news for you."
He said, "What's that?"
I said, "Tom Pendergast died."
"Tom died?" He said, "What do you think I should do?"
I said, "I know what you're going to do. You're going to his funeral."
He said, "That's right."
I said, "I made the reservation. Your plane is all set."
So, he took off--he was supposed to make a speech that night in Philadelphia,
so, of course, he was in Kansas City, I went up to Philadelphia to fill
in for him until he arrived, so I walked in and that was the subject of
discussion, "Now there's a guy, there is a guy. He doesn't forget a friend.
Why can't we have other people like that around here?"
That was one of the greatest things he ever did in the minds of the political
public. This fellow has guts. He didn't squirm a bit."
And I think that really helped us and it was popular, but he is that
kind of a fellow.
HESS: When he was Vice President, was he instrumental in the confirmation
of Henry Wallace as Secretary of Commerce, do you recall?
HESS: Shortly after the inaugural, president Roosevelt had written Jesse
Jones and asked him if he would step aside so that he could give the post
of Secretary of Commerce to Henry Wallace as a reward.
CONNELLY: That was something that Truman had nothing to do with. That
was strictly Roosevelt's department.
HESS: Back to that campaign, was there very much communication between
Mr. Roosevelt himself and Mr. Truman during the campaign?
CONNELLY: No. I recall one incident in, I believe it was Seattle, and
Roosevelt was going to ride in a parade here in New York and Truman tried
to dissuade him. He called him from Seattle and tried to dissuade him
from making that appearance here in New York, but
Roosevelt wouldn't hear
of it. It was a very filthy time of year, it was raining, and in Roosevelt's
physical condition Truman didn't think he should do it. Roosevelt did it anyhow.
HESS: As I understand he rode in a convertible with the top down and
got a bad cold.
CONNELLY: That's right.
HESS: Did they have very much communication during the time he was Vice
HESS: How many times do you think that Vice President Truman saw President
Roosevelt in that short time, January 20 until April 12?
CONNELLY: I would say at the most would be two or three, if that. Maybe
HESS: Well, one question that sort of dovetails through all of this time,
dealing with Mr. Hugh Fulton. Was there some talk about Mr. Fulton being
appointed as chief counsel to President Truman after he became President--to
take Sam Rosenman's spot?
CONNELLY: Well, I'll tell you how that came about. We went to Roosevelt's
funeral up in Hyde Park, and I looked at the Washington papers that we
had on the train. There was a press conference that Fulton had had in
Washington without Truman's knowledge announcing that he would either
be counsel to Truman or Attorney General, he wasn't sure which. So I just
clipped that, and he was taking a nap on the train coming back from Hyde
Park and I put the clipping on his bed. When he came out he said, "Did
you put that there?"
"Yes." I said, "I thought you might
be interested." So while he was perturbed,
he didn't say much. So he said, "It is interesting."
So he went back and resumed his nap. But that was self-designation on
the part of Fulton which did not appeal to Truman.
HESS: I have read that President Truman and Hugh Fulton "broke." Do you
think that was the cause of their breaking or had they had other conflicts
CONNELLY: No, it was a series, well, not exactly a series. Fulton arrived
at the White House the morning after Truman was sworn in. He had his nose
up against the gate and Truman was then in his own apartment, he was not
in the White House, so Fulton and one of the reporters went out to Truman's
apartment and they rode back with him from his apartment to the White
House. Truman had to make two speeches; so he had George Allen, Eddie
Reynolds, who was
a speech writer with George, and a couple of other boys
in the Cabinet Room, and we started preparing his speech. Well, Fulton
came in and he sat in, he announced that he was going to write the speech,
so the other boys told me, "We're going to leave."
I went over to see Truman and I said, "You have a little revolution on your hands."
He said, "Yes, what's up?"
I said, "Fulton just announced that he was going to write your speech
and the other boys said, 'If he's going to write it, we're leaving."'
He said, "Send him in to me, I'll take care of it. Tell the other boys
to stay where they are."
So he brought him into his office and he said, "Hugh, I want you to do
something for me. I want you to go back to New York and stay there until
I send for you."
So that was the departure of Hugh Fulton.
HESS: Continuing on chronologically, this gets us up pretty well to April
12, 1945. Mr. Connelly, would you tell me about your thoughts on that
day when you heard about the death of President Roosevelt?
CONNELLY: Well, on that day I was in a separate office from the Vice
President's, with Eddie Reynolds who was helping us write speeches, and
we went back into the Senator's office and one of the girls just had the
phone in her hand when we opened the door. She dropped it and screamed,
"My God! The President's dead."
So naturally we were not quite sure what she meant. I asked her, "What
She was in complete jitters, but repeated it, and I asked, "Where is
"He's over in Sam Rayburn's office."
So I called over there and they told me that he had left for the White
House. He got a call from Steve Early and went to the White House, so
then when he got to the White House, he called and told me to come down
and bring Harry Vaughan and Eddie Reynolds, the fellow who was writing
the speech. (The speech, I believe, was for the Masons of Detroit which
he was going to make.) So we left and went down to the White House and
by the time we got down there, he was waiting for the Cabinet officers
and he had very little to say, as a matter of fact I didn't even approach
him. Frankly, I felt like everybody else, I was in a state of shock. Bob
Hannegan was there, the National Chairman, so after the swearing-in, we
left and Bob Hannegan said, "Let's go to my apartment, we have things to do."
So Vaughan and I went to Bob Hannegan's apartment at the Mayflower. His
wife was there
and he talked to his wife a little bit, then he came out
and he said, "Would you fellows excuse us." He said, "My wife and I want
to go to church and say a prayer for the President."
So Vaughan and I left. The next day we reported to the White House, and
I told--we only had four girls who had been with him in the Vice President's
office, Vaughan and myself--so I told them that we'll do our business
in the Cabinet Room, don't touch a pencil on any desk until Roosevelt
is buried, and after the funeral we'll go to work and take our respective
places. But that was his staff when he arrived at the White House.
HESS: Who was there that morning; what regular members of the Roosevelt
staff, do you recall?
CONNELLY: They were all there.
HESS: What was their general attitude at that time?
CONNELLY: Well, the same as everybody else's. They were confused, shocked,
stunned. "What's happened? What's the new fellow going to be like?" Because
none of them knew him and he didn't know any of them. Because he walked
into something completely unknown to him; he was never consulted by Roosevelt,
so he walked into a job with complete ignorance of what the job involved.
And I hope it never happens again.
When Eisenhower came in, Truman agreed to have Eisenhower send his key
people in before Eisenhower became President to find out what the ropes
were, what was done, what had to be done, what each member of the staff
did, so they were briefed before Eisenhower came in.
HESS: This is jumping ahead just a little bit, but do you think that
the transition between the
Roosevelt and the Truman administration and
the Eisenhower administration was fairly smooth?
CONNELLY: From Truman to Roosevelt's there was no transition, it was
just there, but in the Eisenhower transition, if you want to call it that,
Truman suggested that Eisenhower send his key people in advance so they
would know what was going on, and the transition could be accomplished
smoothly, which it was.
HESS: Were there any hitches? Did Sherman Adams get along all right?
CONNELLY: Well, Sherman Adams at that time was not on the scene, but
the key people with Eisenhower who were to staff his office were on the
scene, and they had access to any information we had. They interviewed
different people in different departments.
HESS: Let me ask you just a general question of what were your duties
during the time that you were in the White House?
CONNELLY: Well, it was a little complex. Officially, I was appointments
secretary, I handled all the appointments for the President. In addition,
I had to act as a sort of contact man for the politicians from all over
the states. Every politician who came into Washington could not get in
to see him, it would be impossible, so that job fell on me with the result
they could go home and say, "Well, no I didn't see the President, but
I talked to his secretary and he's going to get me some help," because
it saves face for them in their home state, or have dinner with them or
go to a cocktail party for a state delegation and that was all left to
me just to keep politics a little bit smooth. I handled all the politics in the
White House except for Truman and at his own level and their level,
he would handle it. And we maintained a liaison with the national committee,
to see about political things--working together is part of the game--it is a game.
HESS: Any other duties? I know you had many and they were varied.
CONNELLY: Yes, well, I attended all the Cabinet meetings.
HESS: Tell me about that.
CONNELLY: Well, I'd make longhand notes, and it was suggested, I believe,
by Jimmy Forrestal, who was then Secretary of the Navy and later Secretary
of Defense, that we should have a shorthand report on Cabinet meetings,
what each fellow said, period. So Truman suggested that to me and I said,
"No. You have found out now that Roosevelt never really had a
meeting. He would hold a meeting but members would not talk in front of
other members, because he played one against the other so they'd go around
the other way and talk to him personally. But if you have a record of
what's going on in the Cabinet, they're not going to speak for that record,
where if they could speak off the cuff, they will say more and you will
have closer cooperation between them," and he agreed. So I took just longhand
notes like, "Forrestal took this position," and so forth. He'd go around
the table, always in the same order, he'd go from his left around to his right.
HESS: Did you sit in on all of the Cabinet meetings for Mr. Truman's
full period of his administration?
CONNELLY: With a few exceptions.
HESS: And those are the notes that you tell me that
are now out at the
Truman Library, is that right?
CONNELLY: That's right, but not in the Library, according to what Dr.
Brooks told me. They're in Mr. Truman's personal possession.
HESS: How did President Truman look upon the Cabinet? Just what did he
think the duty of a Cabinet was? Were the Cabinet members his principal
advisers or did he have other advisers in regular Government agencies
that he would place as much or more credibility on their advice as he
would a member of the Cabinet?
CONNELLY: No, definitely not. Each Cabinet member was responsible for
his own department, and whatever came from that department to the President
came through the Cabinet member. He never used anybody to undermine any
member. When he appointed them he said, "This is your job, you're
not going to have any interference; you run it, period. You can pick your
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