Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

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 30, 1967
By Jerry N. Hess

[Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | Additional Connelly Oral History Transcripts]

This is a transcript of a tape-recorded interview conducted for the Harry S. Truman Library. A draft of this transcript was edited by the interviewee but only minor emendations were made; therefore, the reader should remember that this is essentially a transcript of the spoken, rather than the written word.

Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. [45]) 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 It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.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
Independence, Missouri

[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 30, 1967
By Jerry N. Hess


HESS: Mr. Connelly, at the end of our discussion Tuesday, we were talking about the Cabinet and your duties in relation to the Cabinet, and there are a couple of other questions I would like to ask you on that subject. Today, don't want to get into the Cabinet appointments themselves, but just about your duties on the Cabinet--to keep things in a chronological order. Did any of the other members of the White House staff have occasion to sit in on the Cabinet meetings, other than yourself?

CONNELLY: No, none of the members of the White House staff sat in on those meetings, with one exception, John Steelman, who regularly sat in on the Cabinet meetings.

HESS: What percentage of the Cabinet meetings would


he sit in on?

CONNELLY: Well, he sat in on practically all of them. He sat there as a participant in the discussion, and I sat there as a reporter.

HESS: I see. So he didn't take notes or anything of that nature?

CONNELLY: Except when I was not available, and he would take the notes in my place.

HESS: Did he give you those notes?

CONNELLY: Oh, yes.

HESS: Fine. So you have the complete set even from when you weren't there?

CONNELLY: They're all there in the Library.

HESS: Was there an agenda worked out ahead of time for the business that was to be taken up at the Cabinet meetings?


CONNELLY: Well, Cabinet meetings were very seldom held with an agenda, except the President might want to bring up some particular subject. Otherwise, it was just an open meeting, and he handled that deliberately because his predecessor, unfortunately, did not have a Cabinet (the members would not talk in front of each other), and he was determined that he would eradicate that procedure and have a real Cabinet and let each Cabinet officer bring up his own problems and there would be discussion among other members, if they agreed or did not agree with his position.

HESS: On September 23, 1945, the New York Times published a story that in a Cabinet meeting Wallace had proposed that Russia be given the secret of the atomic bomb, and according to a statement in the book Out of the Jaws


of Victory by Jules Abels, Wallace said that the idea was proposed by Henry Stimson, and he blamed you for that particular leak. Do you remember anything about that episode?

CONNELLY: No, offhand, the only comment I recall Wallace making was that the Russians would have the atomic bomb in seven years anyway, so why should it be such a big secret. So, with reference to any leak from me, I never heard of it.

HESS: This was one thing that I had run across in my background work, and I wanted to bring that up.

CONNELLY: Well, I know that there was never any leak about Cabinet proceedings from me in any event or in any discussion.

HESS: At a later date we will cover the Cabinet appointments them selves, but right now I'd


like to ask one question that I should have asked in our last interview. During the time that you were with the Truman Committee, did you have any working relationships with Mr. Truman's private staff; and the second part of that question: What do you remember about the various members of that staff?

CONNELLY: Oh, certainly we had relationships because that was his principal project at that time. Prior to that he was just a Senator from Missouri, but even lower than that because the Senator from Missouri. in those days was Bennett Clark, and Truman was not known publicly outside of the Senate, except in the State of Missouri. But when you referred to the Senator from Missouri, it was taken for granted that you were talking about Bennett Clark, who was the senior Senator, and had been in the Senate for many years. But Truman, before the Truman


Committee was organized, was not well-known.

HESS: What was the relationship between Senator Truman and Senator Clark?

CONNELLY: The relationship was very cordial up to a point. They had minor differences, naturally, but Senator Clark seconded the nomination of Senator Truman for Vice President. So they worked very closely together in the interest of the State.

HESS: On Mr. Truman's private staff, who was there besides Victor Messall, Harry Vaughan, Mildred Dryden, and Catherine Bixler?

CONNELLY: Reathel Odum, and Lauretta Young--that was the total staff, until General Vaughan left for the wars in Australia, and then Bill Boyle left the committee to act as secretary to Senator Truman in General Vaughan's absence.


HESS: Were those people particularly effective in their work?

CONNELLY: Well, the people in his office had very little to do with the committee activities. Their work was principally Missouri business, and there was never any direct conflict between his office staff and the committee staff, because the committee was set up independently of his personal office.

HESS: When Mr. Truman became President, of course, Harry Vaughan made the switch with him from his personal staff to the White House, but why didn't the others? Miss Odum was the secretary to Mrs. Truman, is that correct, in the White House?

CONNELLY: That's correct.

HESS: Mildred Dryden did not make this switch.


CONNELLY: Mrs. Dryden had left before he was sworn in as President. She had other employment in Washington. Miss Bixler had other employment in Washington, and the other girls, who had been with him for many years, stayed with him. They were Reathel Odum, Shirley Green, and Lauretta Young, and of course, General Vaughan. He had returned from Australia.

HESS: Taking April 12, 1945, as the date now, just what were the problems relating to staffing, that presented themselves at this date? I have reference to probably the decisions about which of the Roosevelt people to keep, what other people to bring in. Were those problems during those days?

CONNELLY: Those problems were problems, but we decided that the best thing to do was to keep as much of the Roosevelt staff together as possible, because Senator Truman, myself or Harry Vaughan


knew nothing about how the White House was operated. We had to keep these people together so that we would have a continuity of the running of the Government. We purposely made that decision because we needed them, and there should be no blanket-turnout of people who knew what they were doing when we did not. So, those people were largely kept because of that fact. Secondly, Steve Early, who had already announced his retirement from the White House, stayed on to help us in that transition, and to work out a blend between the White House people of Roosevelt and the little group that Truman arrived with.

HESS: Did the President rely on anyone in particular to make these decisions?

CONNELLY: Those decisions were largely worked through me.


HESS: Through you?


HESS: Did he ask you to do this to take on yourself the responsibility of looking out after the staff?

CONNELLY: He said to keep the ball game going.

HESS: Shortly after he became President, he left for Potsdam, of course. Was this part of your duties when he was gone?

CONNELLY: Yes, he asked me to go to Potsdam with him, and I said, "No, I think somebody should be here to take care of the store." So, I stayed in Washington while he was in Potsdam, to coordinate the communications between the White House and him in Potsdam, and of course, on route.

HESS: I have the names of several of the people


who worked in the White House during Mr. Truman's administration. Some of these were holdovers from the Roosevelt administration. Some of them came in sometime later, but I'd just like to ask you a few questions about these various individuals, and a little bit about what their backgrounds were, what their duties were in the White House, how effective they were in those duties, and things of that nature. Let's start with the gentlemen who were Special Counsels to the President, the first one being Samuel I. Rosenman.

CONNELLY: Judge Rosenman had been counsel to President Roosevelt for several years, and in the same theory of keeping Roosevelt's people together because they should know what was being done in the White House, what was required, Judge Rosenman agreed to stay on and help President Truman, and did for several


months or years. I forget when he did leave.

HESS: He left on February 1, 1946. He was there a little less than a year. What seemed to be his relationship with President Truman?

CONNELLY: It was a very close relationship. President Truman relied on him for legal decisions and points that had the legality problem, and he helped him on legislation, and he helped him on messages to Congress. He had been formerly a speech writer for President Roosevelt, and I believe, he and Robert Sherwood wrote most of Roosevelt's principal speeches. But the Roosevelt style and the Truman style were two different things in making a speech, because Truman would not be effective in using the Roosevelt technique in speechmaking. They were two different people, two different personalities. If he had copied Roosevelt he would have not come over as being very sincere.


HESS: Tell me how Mr. Truman's speaking ability evolved and developed during this time?

CONNELLY: Well, when I first worked with Mr. Truman on the Truman Committee, the few minor experiences I had with him in speechmaking were pretty sad. He had a great tendency to want to get things over, and you'd give him a prepared speech and he couldn't wait until he got to the end of a sentence so that he could get started on the next one. As a result, the delivery was terrible.

HESS: He had a tendency to rush it just a little, is that right?


HESS: What speeches do you recall that he gave?

CONNELLY: He made very few, very few.

HESS: Do you recall any of the particular occasions


where you were present when he spoke?

CONNELLY: No. He made a speech at some kind of lawn party in Washington, and it was a pretty sad situation. When he became Vice President one of the first things I wanted to do was to try to correct that little fault of his about rushing through a speech.

HESS: How did you go about that?

CONNELLY: We had a boy named Leonard Reinsch, who was a speech adviser on radio, which was the media, of course, in those days; and he was from the Cox Broadcasting Company. He had worked on the technical side of speeches for Roosevelt, in presentation and engineering, and so forth. So, when Truman returned to Missouri to prepare for his campaign for Vice President, I brought Leonard Reinsch to Kansas City. Leonard Reinsch and I made


arrangements with a friend of Mr. Truman's, named Tom Evans, who owned a radio station. He had a studio set aside at his station and we'd have Mr. Truman come up there to work on the speech of acceptance that he was going to make in Lamar, Missouri, his hometown. We had a text of the speech, and we would have him come up to the studio every morning, and have him run through it and record it, and we'd play it back to him and point out where the bugs were. Eventually, we finally worked him down to completing a sentence without running through it. So, he turned out to be much improved, and as he went along, eventually he had more confidence, and he made a better speech. But it took a little training.

HESS: Who worked with you on writing that particular speech? Did you help write that acceptance speech?


CONNELLY: No, I don't believe so. I think that was largely developed at the National Committee.

HESS: That was the speech at his birthplace when he was informed that he was the official nominee of the party, is that right?

CONNELLY: Yes, a committee of Senators went out to announce to him that he had been selected. We had a very funny experience. Tom Connally was to introduce him, the Senator from Texas. We looked at Senator Connally's speech, and it was too long. We made a very bad mistake, Reinsch and myself. We just crossed out what Connally was not supposed to say in the speech, but we didn't block it out, so when Connally got up to make his speech, he ignored our markings and continued on and cut in on the President's time. But that was one of those things, because Senators are not known for terminal facilities.


HESS: We discussed Tuesday about a few of the speeches that were given during the campaign and some of the people that helped in the writing on those, but after Mr. Truman became President, who helped write the initial speeches, who helped write the speeches that were given, let's say, shortly after he became President?

CONNELLY: Initially it was George Allen, his man Friday, Eddie Reynolds, who was a speech writer, and had several college degrees, a good writer.

HESS: Where had he come from? What was his background?

CONNELLY: He had been with George Allen for many years in private industry. Judge Rosenman, I'm not sure that Clark Clifford was there. I don't believe he had gotten to the White House at that time. And myself.

HESS: When did Clifford make his appearance at


the White House? When did he come in?

CONNELLY: He came to the White House with Commodore Vardaman, who became Naval Aide to the President, shortly after we arrived at the White House, he was brought back to be Naval Aide by General Vaughan, who had served with him in World War I in the artillery.

HESS: This is Commodore Vardaman?

CONNELLY: In the Second World War Vardaman entered the Navy. He was in Okinawa and General Vaughan brought him back to become Naval Aide to the President.

HESS: Then Vardaman brought Clifford.

CONNELLY: Vardaman then brought Clifford in as his assistant.

HESS: Where had he met Clifford?


CONNELLY: In St. Louis, Missouri. Clifford had been his lawyer in St. Louis.

HESS: I have it down that Mr. Vardaman came in on May 4th of '45, shortly after. The first date that I have for Clifford is about the same. In fact, it's about a month earlier. I'll have to check that. I have an April the 4th date, and that's probably wrong.

CONNELLY: That's wrong, because I know that he did not arrive until Vardaman picked him as his assistant.

HESS: So, he was assistant naval aide, probably brought in at the same time--it's a typographical error.

Also, in Mr. Truman's Memoirs he states that Judge Rosenman helped him write the twenty one point message that was sent to Congress on September 6, 1945.


CONNELLY: I believe that is correct, but I think the principal architect in this speech was Clifford.

HESS: What can you tell me about that?

CONNELLY: I don't recall. I sat in on the discussion about the speech, but my contribution to speeches were largely negative. If I knew something didn't quite agree with the President's own thinking, I'd object to it. If there was a word used, or a phrase used that you have difficulty in delivering, I would object to that. When he first read the draft of a speech, I always sat in and went through the speech, and he would make changes, or suggestions, or he would want to say it his way, and then when we got through with that discussion, he would take that draft home, and he would have Mrs. Truman review it. And if she didn't like some phase of it, she would


make corrections. So we would finally get together again, and work out the final product. There are many instances, in fact, in most, where the President himself made the changes or revisal to what he wanted to say.

HESS: Was the President usually present at the first session when it was first discussed what was going to be in a speech?

CONNELLY: Oh, yes, definitely.

HESS: This would be before the wording had been decided upon.

CONNELLY: Right, he would say what he wanted.

HESS: This is the way it would originate?

CONNALLY: That's correct. And then there would probably be six or seven of the staff in the White House work on the draft of a speech.


They would probably wind up with seven drafts before they would finally present it to him. He would read it in front of the staff who had worked on the speech, he would read it aloud, and then he would be interrupted from time to time for changes.

HESS: Who were the principal speech writers?

CONNELLY: Clark Clifford, Rosenman--Rosenman originally--Charles Murphy, David Bell, David Lloyd--there are a few more--George E1sey.

HESS: Did Charles Ross sit in?

CONNELLY: Charles Ross sat in, yes. He never participated in writing the speeches, but he always sat in on the review of the draft.

HESS: What were his main contributions?

CONNELLY: Charles Ross?


HESS: Yes.

CONNELLY: He was Press Secretary. He was the mouthpiece of the President.

HESS: But I mean when it came to writing the speeches? Was he...

CONNELLY: He was there as an editor, but he didn't have time with his job to be a creator. But he would be an editor of every one of them.

HESS: Judge Rosenman left the White House in February of 1946, did he play any particular role in White House affairs after he left?

CONNELLY: No, other than contributions of ideas for speeches or messages to Congress.

HESS: But he would still make those contributions?

CONNELLY: Yes, he did, for quite a while. When there was a message to Congress going up,


Clark Clifford, who had succeeded him, would call him and ask him to come to Washington and sit in on the preparation of a draft for a presidential message or a presidential speech.

HESS: Did he also help Charles Murphy in the same way?

CONNELLY: I do not know if he helped Charles Murphy. I think by that time since Clifford left, I believe Rosenman did not contribute after that.

HESS: Clifford left January 31st of 1950.

CONNELLY: Well, I'm pretty sure that Judge Rosenman was long gone on contributing to speeches.

HESS: Now, the Judge did come back and help some in 1948, isn't that right, for the preparation of the convention, for the matters that went on at the convention?


CONNELLY: That's right. I think he came back to help Clark Clifford prepare the usual draft, which was not a speech, it was an outline.

HESS: How was that done?

CONNELLY: Well, instead of making a formal speech, we decided that the best thing to do was to make an outline and let the President make the best impression off-the-cuff, with guidance from an outline. He was a much better speaker off-the-cuff than he was from reading a printed text.

HESS: Who helped set up that outline?

CONNELLY: I believe Rosenman helped on that with Clifford. The same group that Clifford had working on the other speeches set up the outline.

HESS: Did the Judge go on any of the campaign


trips in 1948?


HESS: Why didn't he assist through the entire production, the convention and the campaign? Why was he there just for the convention, do you recall?

CONNELLY: I'm not sure whether he was at the convention.

HESS: But his services weren't used through the campaign?

CONNELLY: Oh, no, no. He may have given some telephonic advice but he didn't actively participate in the campaign.

HESS: Anything else about Samuel Rosenman that comes to mind?

CONNELLY: Well, he left the White House and went


into private practice of law.

HESS: Why did he leave?

CONNELLY: For money.

HESS: Wasn't making enough money in the Government, is that right?

CONNELLY: Oh, of course not.

HESS: And when he left there was a period of time from February the lst until July the lst, when there was no Special Counsel. Was there any particular reason for that lapse of time?

CONNELLY: That was because the President wanted to make sure that he would get somebody who could follow in Rosenman's steps and knew what the job would be about and eventually he settled for Clark Clifford.

HESS: Were there any others that were under



CONNELLY: There may have been in his mind, but these I wouldn't know about.

HESS: Had Mr. Clifford been active in any way in Mr. Truman's senatorial campaigns?

CONNELLY: No, not in any way, that I know of.

HESS: Was the role that he played as Special Counsel different in any significant manner than that played by Judge Rosenman?

CONNELLY: Well, it was fundamentally the same. It was a question of examining bills that came to the President for signature and also getting the opinions of department heads, and making recommendations for signature or veto. His position was largely legality of documents that the President had to approve or disapprove.

HESS: Did he contribute any political suggestions,


any political advice to the President, as well as legal advice?

CONNELLY: Oh, certainly, he gave him opinions and suggestions like everybody on the staff did.

HESS: Was Mr. Clifford a good political adviser?

CONNELLY: I would say that Mr. Clifford was too academic to be a good political adviser, because Mr. Clifford's experience in politics had been nil, so from the point of practicality, I would not say he was a very good political adviser.

HESS: Why did Mr. Clifford leave the White House in 1950?

CONNELLY: Mr. Clifford had an ambition to become Attorney General, and when the President appointed an Attorney General to succeed Attorney General Clark, Mr. Clifford was very


unhappy, and he told me himself that he was under the impression that he would be the new Attorney General. We had luncheon one day and I explained to him that it was a political problem. There are little divisions in our country such as Catholics and Protestants, and I knew that President Truman was going to be severely criticized for not replacing Frank Murphy on the Supreme Court, who was a Catholic, by replacing him with Clark who was not--Tom Clark. So, I told Clifford probably what the reason might be. Mr. Truman had a little problem making that decision, and there would be great reaction among Catholic groups but by appointing a successor to Tom Clark as Attorney General who was a Catholic--I knew I would get the brunt being one myself, but if the criticism came to me I would have a complete offset.

HESS: This was when J. Howard McGrath was appointed?


CONNELLY: That is correct. And if they came to me I would say, "Well, when did you have two Catholics on the Cabinet?" And there was no argument.

HESS: Did you discuss this with Mr. Truman at this time?

CONNELLY: Certainly I did. And he agreed with me. As a matter of fact, I suggested McGrath.

HESS: Was there much of an objection raised at the time that Tom Clark was appointed to the Supreme Court, to the effect that it should have been a Catholic appointment?

CONNELLY: Oh, all over the country.

HESS: That's right.

CONNELLY: All over the country. Being a Catholic, I was the fellow who got the heat from the Catholic groups.


HESS: What was Mr. Truman's attitude about this?

CONNELLY: He could care less. He had no religious bigotry at all. He didn't care what you were if you could do a job.

HESS: Had Mr. Clifford discussed the possibility with Mr. Truman about his becoming Attorney General?

CONNELLY: At one time President Truman--Mr. Clifford told me--offered Mr. Clifford an appointment as Under Secretary of State and Mr. Clifford told me that he didn't want that, but that someday he would like to be the Attorney General. He told me that Mr. Truman said, "Well, I'll keep that in mind."

When McGrath was appointed, Clifford, naturally, was upset, and that was what brought about his departure from the White House.

HESS: And the day after he left, Charles Murphy


was appointed Special Counsel to the President. What can you tell me about Mr. Murphy? What was his background and how did he come to be a member of the White House staff?

CONNELLY: Charles Murphy had worked as legislative counsel to the Senate. He had been there for several years and he was well-known to Mr. Truman, and was highly respected up there. Charles Murphy is and was then a very able lawyer. One time when we were trying to build up a new staff, which could be Truman's staff, I invited Mr. Murphy to lunch. We had lunch, and I told him that the President would like to have him in the White House. He said, "Well, I would kind of like it too, but I've got to get clearance with Senator Barkley," who was then, I believe, the majority leader.

HESS: About what time was this? Do you recall, '45 or '46?


CONNELLY: Probably late in '45 or early in '46.

So, he went back to the Capitol, and he talked with Senator Barkley who was not very happy about the idea. Barkley wanted to know if the White House was trying to steal his brains. Murphy called me and he said, "It's no dice. Barkley won't let me go."

I'd say that within about a year later, Murphy called me and he said, "Is that job still open? I talked to Senator Barkley today and he thinks he's standing in my way, and I can take the job if it's still open."

I said, "You've got a job," which pleased Mr. Truman very much, because he had very great respect for Charles Murphy.

HESS: He was Administrative Assistant from December of 1946 until February the lst of 1950, when he became Special Counsel. Did he carry on the job of Special Counsel in any different manner than



CONNELLY: I would say only in one way, because the same problems arose for him that arose for Clifford. I would say that he was a little less flamboyant. He was a very level headed fellow, his feet were on the ground, and his main ambition was to do a job, where I believe Clifford's ambition went a little beyond the job he was in. All of the time I was with Murphy he never indicated in any way that he wanted to be anywhere but where he was. I would say that that was the principal difference.

HESS: The gentlemen who held the job as Secretary to the President, your name is first, we'll just skip that name, and start with William D. Hassett.

CONNELLY: William D. Hassett we inherited from


the Roosevelt administration and we used to call him the "Poet Laureate of the White House." His job was to write messages for the President's signature, write proclamations, which the President also signed. But that's principally what his activity was.

HESS: What had been his background?

CONNELLY: He was an old newspaperman and one of the assistant press secretaries to Steve Early under Roosevelt. We made him Correspondence Secretary technically, but he was still Secretary to the President.

HESS: Did he ever help out with the speech writing?

CONNELLY: He sat in on them, but he contributed very little because he was, I'd say, in the stratosphere. He was a literary figure. But as a politician, no.


HESS: And for the last few months of the administration after the death of Joseph Short, his wife was Correspondence Secretary.

CONNELLY: I made the suggestion to President Truman after Joe Short died, because we had a very short time to go, that it would be a nice tribute to Joe Short as a loyal and hard worker for Mr. Truman to appoint his wife to that position. So that the President agreed with. But Mrs. Short never had the real authority that her husband had, and after Bill Hassett resigned, we put her in Bill's place and got Roger Tubby, formerly from the State Department to become Press Secretary. That was close to the end of the administration.

HESS: Why did Mr. Hassett resign? That was in July of '52.

CONNELLY: For reasons of health.


HESS: The White House press office: We start off with J. Leonard Reinsch. Mr. Reinsch was in the press office for just a little while from April 12 to May 15. Why was he there for such a short time?

CONNELLY: Mr. Reinsch wanted very much to be press secretary, but the White House press, even more so than today, was press, in other words, newspapermen, and they personally resented what they called a radio man. They didn't like the idea of a radio man being press man for the President. That was very widely discussed between the President and myself, and I made a suggestion to the President that I go to Steve Early who was still at the White House and ask Steve to make a poll of the press people at the White House (the White House correspondents) and to have them recommend who should be Press Secretary. Because I wanted somebody who would


be respected by the press, and who could be accepted by the President. So Steve Early took that poll. He came to me with two recommendations and he told me that he didn't think the President would go for either one of them. I asked, "Why?"

He said, "They both are with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch," which had been very violently opposed to Senator Truman when he was Senator.

I said, "Well, those are the recommendations, let's give them to the President. Let him make up his mind."

So Steve Early said, "Mr. President, these are the two top boys on the list. One is Charlie Ross, St. Louis Post-Dispatch; and the other is Pete Brandt, St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The President grinned and said, "You know, I was thinking about Charlie Ross myself.


Did you know he was a classmate of Mrs. Truman and myself in the Independence High School?" which neither Steve Early nor I knew.

So Steve Early was flabbergasted, of course, but pleased. He said, "Well, I'll get in touch with him."

Charlie was covering the United Nations in San Francisco at that time. When he finished his tour of duty out there, he came back to Washington. Steve Early set up an appointment to have him come over and see the President. The President had left by the time that Charlie Ross arrived; he had gone back to the Blair House, where he was living at that time. We went over to see the President, and he said, "Charlie, how are you? I want you to be my Press Secretary."

Charlie said, "I just can't turn that down."

He said, "Charlie, how are you going to be


on your retirement with the Post-Dispatch?

Charlie said, "I don't know, this is the first I knew about it."

He said, "Well, I want to know." So, he turned to me and said, "Matt, get that no-good Pulitzer on the phone. I want to talk to him," which I did.

So, he told Pulitzer, the Post-Dispatch publisher, that he wanted Charlie Ross for Press Secretary. Pulitzer said it was a great honor. He said, "Mr. Pulitzer, I'm not through with you yet. Where's Charlie Ross on his retirement? Is he going to lose it?"

Pulitzer told him, "No, no, we'll take care of that. He'll have his retirement."

He said, "O.K., I wouldn't accept him if he was going to be cut out of his retirement." So, that was arranged.

We sat down again. Truman sent for some drinks to celebrate the occasion. We had the


first drink and he turned to me and said, "Matt, get Miss Tillie Brown in Independence on the phone."

I asked, "Who's Miss Tillie Brown?"

He said, "Charlie and I know. She was our school teacher."

So, I finally got Miss Tillie Brown. The President got on the phone and the President said, "Miss Tillie, who do you think this is?"

She said, "Well, I don't know."

He said, "This is Harry Truman."

She said, "The President?"

"Miss Tillie, who do you think I have with me?"

She asked, "Who do you have with you?"

"Charlie Ross. He's going to be my press secretary."

Well, it was such a touching scene. Steve Early was a pretty touch guy, a hard-boiled newspaperman. But I can be very frank


and say that Steve Early and I had little droplets when we heard that conversation. Steve Early finally said when we left that day, "Boy, what a man. I'll never forget it. I loved Roosevelt, but we have a President."

HESS: How was the problem of J. Leonard Reinsch handled?

CONNELLY: I suggested to the President that the gracious way to do it was to call James Cox, who was the former candidate for President, and was head of Cox Enterprises, and have Cox tell Leonard Reinsch that he, Cox, could not afford to let him go, that he was too vital to his organization, which was done.

HESS: What kind of duties did Mr. Reinsch undertake in behalf of the White House after that time?

CONNELLY: Every time we had a broadcast we would


call Mr. Reinsch and tell him to come to Washington, that the President was going on the air, and we wanted him there to supervise the broadcasts.

HESS: He handled the technical arrangements of the broadcasts after that time?

CONNALLY: That's correct.

HESS: Charles Ross is next on the list. What kind of a Press Secretary did Charles Ross make?

CONNELLY: Charles Ross was a very intelligent, quiet, but effective Press Secretary. Charles Ross had the ability to exude confidence. And the press corps admired him tremendously. And having been picked by them, or the key members of that group, they naturally couldn't take any offense to his appointment, because they had recommended him. Charles Ross, all during his job in the White House, became an excellent


Press Secretary. He had great relations with the responsible members of the press, and he made a great Press Secretary.

HESS: During the 1948 campaign, did he make any of the trips?

CONNELLY: Oh, yes, all of them.

HESS: What were his duties at that time?

CONNELLY: The same as they would be at the White House. He would brief the press on what was going to happen, and what they should expect, where the speeches were going to be, so that they were completely filled in on all the activities of the day. If some event came up which came through from Washington, he would inform them of any developments from the home office. Every trip that the President made, Charles was there.


HESS: Mr. Ross died on the afternoon of December 5, 1950. I understand that that evening was the evening when Margaret Truman was singing at Constitution Hall and the next day, I believe that there was a letter written to a critic by the name of Paul Hume. Is that right?


HESS: What do you recall about that?

CONNELLY: I recall it very well. I arrived in the office the next morning and the President called me in and said, "I want you to read something."

He had this longhand letter and I read it and I said, "You're not going to send this."

He said, "I knew you'd say that. It's already been mailed." He said, "You don't like that?"

"Hell, no."


He said, "Wait a minute, I'll show you something else."

He reached in his desk drawer again. He said, "Here's the first draft."

So, I read that. I looked at it and I said, "All right, I'll settle for the one you mailed."

HESS: The first draft was worse, is that right?

CONNELLY: Oh, brother!

HESS: I believe that when Charles Ross died, Steve Early was called back for just a couple of days, wasn't he, two or three days, to act as Press Secretary?

CONNELLY: That's right. When Charles Ross died I called Steve Early. John Snyder was at the concert and I was in the next box and at the intermission, Snyder called me over and said, "Well, what are you going to do about Charlie


Ross' successor?"

I asked, "Well, do you have any ideas?"

He said, "What about Bill Hillman?"

I said, "No."

He said, "Do you have any ideas?"

I said, "Yes, I'll call Steve Early when I get home from the concert, and ask him to fill in until the President decides who he wants." So, Steve Early agreed and showed up at the staff meeting the next morning.

The President said, "Steve, what are you doing here?" Friendly, of course.

He said, "Oh, Matt called me last night and asked me if I would fill in temporarily until you decided on a successor to Charlie Ross. That's why I'm here."

So, naturally, Truman expressed his appreciation because it took Steve away from a private job. Until Truman made his decision on who he wanted, Steve remained on the job.


HESS: What was Mr. Early doing at that time?

CONNELLY: He was with the Pullman Company--Pullman Standard Car Manufacturing Company, railroad cars.

HESS: What was your objection to Mr. Hillman?

CONNELLY: Mr. Hillman had the same qualifications that Mr. Reinsch had. He was a radio man. At that time he was a radio commentator. But he had been helping John Snyder improve his public image. John, in those days, was not received very well in the press. He was a number one target for a fellow named Drew Pearson. So Bill Hillman was moved in to help him with his press relations. Naturally, having that association with Bill, it was the first thing that Snyder thought of in connection with the White House job.

HESS: How was Mr. Short chosen?


CONNELLY: Mr. Truman chose him himself. He had watched him during the campaign--Joe Short covered the campaign--he covered the presidential trips, and he impressed Mr. Truman.

HESS: He was from the Baltimore Sun, is that right?

CONNELLY: Baltimore Sun, that's right. He was a correspondent for the Baltimore Sun at the White House.

HESS: Did he make an effective Press Secretary?

CONNELLY: Yes, he did, but of course, he was an anticlimax. Following Charlie Ross, naturally, was a letdown for the press. But he made a very effective Press Secretary.

HESS: Why was it a letdown?

CONNELLY: Because of the respect they had for Charlie Ross, he was a "dean," but Joe was


one of their own. You know the old story--prophet without honor in your own territory.

HESS: Mr. Short died in September of 1952.

CONNELLY: I believe that's right.

HESS: September 18, 1952, and at that time, Irving Perlmeter and Roger Tubby were both placed as Acting Press Secretaries for just a short while until Mr. Tubby was made Press Secretary by himself in December of that year. What kind of men were Mr. Perlmeter and Mr. Tubby?

CONNELLY: Well, Mr. Tubby had been information officer at the State Department, and Joe Short regarded him very highly. Mr. Perlmeter, Short knew him through, I believe, through Internal Revenue. But he had always been more or less a Government information officer. He didn't have the wide connections with the national press that Tubby had had with the


State Department and that's why Tubby was selected over Perlmeter.

HESS: I believe Mr. Perlmeter also had a heart attack during the '52 campaign.

CONNELLY: That's correct. I believe that was in Oregon.

HESS: So, he had health problems as well.

CONNELLY: That's right.

HESS: And the Assistant Press Secretary under Charles Ross had been Eben Ayers. What do you recall of Mr. Ayers?

CONNELLY: Eben Ayers had been with Steve Early for many years, I believe, prior to our coming to the White House. And then Charlie Ross took over, he kept Eben Ayers on as his assistant. But Eben had very little opportunity to front for him, because Charlie Ross


was always on the job. So Eben Ayers was always more or less a second man.

HESS: Was he fairly effective in the job?

CONNELLY: Oh, yes. He had to be or he wouldn't have been there. Charlie Ross ran his department. Nobody else in the White House interfered.

HESS: And as the gentlemen who had the post of Administrative Assistants, I'll start off with--I have these by the date that they came to the White House dating back into the Roosevelt period. The first few names are holdovers from the Roosevelt administration. William McReynolds?

CONNELLY: William McReynolds was the personnel officer for Roosevelt and shortly after we came into the White House we began to get a little information about his activities, and he


was not the type of man who would represent Mr. Truman's thinking about Government.

HESS: Such as?

CONNELLY: Well, number one, he was widely criticized for nepotism. I believe he had about nine relatives on the Federal payroll, which did not appeal very much to Mr. Truman. And shortly thereafter, he pulled a few indiscreet acts as director of personnel.

HESS: What did he do?

CONNELLY: This I don't recall; there were minor things, but they were important indications that he was not going to be Truman's man. So he had a departure shortly thereafter.

HESS: He left May 31.

CONNELLY: It wasn't very long.


HESS: James M. Barnes?

CONNELLY: James M. Barnes was a very able fellow, a lawyer in Washington. He was very well liked by the President, but Mr. Truman had an idea about filling his particular spot. He wanted to get his own men, because you can't operate an army or a family unless somebody is with the army or with the family. James Barnes remained a very close friend with President Truman, but President Truman thought he had someone else for the job he wanted done. So it was an amicable departure.

HESS: Who did he bring in in his place, do you recall?

CONNELLY: I forget in what niche Barnes operated. Each one of the Administrative Assistants had a certain function, but who succeeded him I couldn't say.


HESS: He left on July 10, 1945. The next name is Lauchlin Currie.

CONNELLY: Lauchlin Currie was administrative assistant on foreign affairs and I believe he left and went over to the State Department.

HESS: He left on June 30 of 1945.

CONNELLY: The circumstances surrounding his departure I don't recall.

HESS: Jonathan Daniels.

CONNELLY: Jonathan Daniels had been appointed by Roosevelt to succeed Steve Early as Press Secretary when Steve resigned, and he was Press Secretary when we arrived. He was a very highly emotional fellow. He frankly went pretty much to pieces after Roosevelt died. We knew that he did not have the stability that the President would want in this job.


HESS: I have heard that Stephen Early made the announcement of President Roosevelt's death and that Jonathan Daniels resented that somewhat, since he was officially Press Secretary at the time. Is that correct?

CONNELLY: This I don't know.

HESS: He was Administrative Assistant to the President until May of 1945. He did come back to assist in the 1948 campaign. Whose idea was it to bring Mr. Daniels back to assist in the '48 campaign?

CONNELLY: I believe it was Mr. Daniels'.

HESS: How did he get this across?

CONNELLY: He just showed up.

HESS: He didn't have any particular connections in the White House?


CONNELLY: No, he was always friendly, the President was always friendly with him, partly because of his father. The President respected his father very much, Josephus Daniels, who was Secretary of the Navy under Woodrow Wilson.

HESS: Did Mr. Daniels make any of the campaign trips in 1948? 1 believe there was one when they went down South, North Carolina...

CONNELLY: I believe that was the one. That was it.

HESS: And that is the only one that he went on.

CONNELLY: That I can recall.

HESS: Did Mr. Daniels ever express an interest to you in returning to the Government in any capacity?

CONNELLY: Oh, yes.


HESS: What was his idea?

CONNELLY: Well, we were at Key West one time and the President invited him down to visit with him while we were on this vacation trip, and Jonathan approached me at Key West one evening, I remember it very well, and he asked me if I would talk to the President about making him Secretary of the Navy. I said, "Well, I'll talk to him, but these things he has to do himself. They're not my appointments. All I can do is to tell him that you're interested."

He asked, "Would you do that?"

I said, "Certainly." And I did. I didn't get a very loud response from the President on the suggestion.

HESS: What was the President's attitude?

CONNELLY: Well, he listened to me and made no comment.


HESS: David K. Niles. What was David Niles' background?

CONNELLY: He handled minority group problems for Roosevelt, and we kept him in the same job, because he was very effective. He was very effective with the Jewish groups, Negro groups, Slav groups, in fact, all the minority groups in the United States David Niles was effective with. And they had great respect for him and they trusted him.

HESS: Did his responsibilities go outside the realm of minority groups?


HESS: Was he a very effective political adviser when it came to advice on minority groups?

CONNELLY: Oh, very much so. Originally he was with Harry Hopkins and Harry Hopkins was


administrator of WPA and David Niles was an assistant to him. Then when Harry Hopkins came to the White House, he brought David Niles with him.

HESS: Mr. Niles, I believe, died in 1951.

CONNELLY: That is correct. He was also very effective in the problems we had in connection with the recognition of Israel.

HESS: What part did he play in that?

CONNELLY: Well, he used to get the sentiments from the Jewish groups around the country. He used to get information that was not available to the State Department. The State Department was not widely accepted by the Jewish groups in this country. But he worked very closely with me and with Clark Clifford in advising the President on the whole Israeli situation.


HESS: Do you recall a few of the names of the people with whom he had contact in these various Jewish groups?

CONNELLY: All of them.

HESS: Who were they?

CONNELLY: Well, you can name your pick, David Dubinsky, Abraham Feinberg. You name any leader in the Jewish faction, and he had intimate contacts with him.

HESS: What position did Mr. Feinberg hold at this time?

CONNELLY: Mr. Feinberg was in private business. He was the president, I believe at that time, of the Kayser Company, who manufactured hosiery and women’s wear. Then he later became a partner in Kayser Roth, which is probably the largest in the business now. He later became chairman, I believe he was


chairman of the executive committee of the American Trust and Banking Company here in New York.

HESS: What was the basis of his connection with the State of Israel?

CONNELLY: Mr. Feinberg?

HESS: Yes.

CONNELLY: He was intimately associated with the leadership to try to get the recognition of Israel. And of course, clandestinely, I found out later, he arranged for the shipment of armament to Israel during that war they were having after the partition.

HESS: Was Mr. Max Lowenthal also one of Mr. Niles contacts?

CONNELLY: Oh, very much so, very much so. He was interested in the picture, what was going on,


so being in the practice of law outside and having no connection with the Government, he was in a position to get information which would be helpful in resolving the whole problem. He used to report to Mr. Niles and to me about what he had learned in various Jewish groups around New York and from people who were financing the campaign around New York. That information came to us primarily through Max Lowenthal and through David Niles.

HESS: Did Mr. Feinberg continue to give advice after the death of David Niles?

CONNELLY: After the death of David Niles, I selected Abe Feinberg myself as our point of contact, because we used to get requests from the heads of different Jewish groups and not having knowledge of who was who or what was what or what their angle was, I could call Abe Feinberg and ask him about this


individual who was requesting an appointment.

He would say, "He's O.K." or "Don't bother with him."

HESS: And those duties he performed in an unofficial manner, is that right?

CONNELLY: That's right. That's after Niles died, because prior to that time Niles handled everything of that nature. Philleo Nash followed Niles. He had been an assistant to Niles, but he didn't have the contacts that Niles had.

HESS: Mr. Nash had been in the White House from about '45 or '46 until '51 when he was made Administrative Assistant at the time of the death of David Niles.

CONNELLY: That's correct.

HESS: Was Mr. Nash particularly effective in his work?


CONNELLY: Yes, he was very effective, but he did not have the experience that Niles had. What he had learned he had learned through his association with Niles. But he was very effective.

HESS: Were there any tasks that Mr. Nash could carry out that Mr. Niles would not? What I have reference to here is perhaps speech writing, or messages to Congress--were there things that he worked on that Mr. Niles did not?

CONNELLY: Not that I would know of. If there were, they were very incidental, maybe he would make a suggestion connected with something involving a minority group which should be included in a presidential message. But those were channeled through Clifford or Murphy.


HESS: When Mr. Niles was living, did he like for everything dealing with minorities to be handled in his office? Did he want to know what was going on in minority affairs?

CONNELLY: Whether he wanted to know or not I can't answer. But I know that that was the duty assigned to him, to keep informed about what was going on, what the opinion was, what their moods were.

HESS: The next name on the list is George J. Schoeneman.

CONNELLY: I believe he followed McReynolds. He had been with the Internal Revenue Service. He was a career man, and he was in charge of personnel records at Internal Revenue, so looking around for a successor to McReynolds, Schoeneman was recommended by Bob Hannegan, who was then Democratic National Chairman and who had been


previously Commissioner of Internal Revenue. He recommended Schoeneman to take over that slot, which he did.

HESS: He was liaison officer for personnel management for awhile, and then special executive assistant. Then he left in 1947.

CONNELLY: Yes, he left. The President admired him very much, and he appointed him to a vacancy as Commissioner of Internal Revenue.

HESS: Raymond R. Zimmerman?

CONNELLY: Raymond R. Zimmerman was originally suggested by George Schoeneman. He was more or less a career man in personnel around Washington. He never cut the mustard, so he had a pretty short career.

HESS: He left early in 1947 also, but he wasn't particularly effective?



HESS: Richmond B. Keech?

CONNELLY: Richmond B. Keech was recommended by, I believe, the senior judge of that time with the courts in the District of Columbia. And Richmond B. Keech came in on legal problems. He was very able and gained the respect of the President. When a vacancy occurred on the courts in Washington, the President appointed him.

HESS: That was in October of '46 after being there one year, October of '45 to October '46. And Donald Dawson came in in 1947.

CONNELLY: That's right. He was with the RFC, and he was director of personnel, I believe at RFC. I had known of his activity, and I checked him out pretty well. He was brought in then to take the personnel job, which he


did very effectively, and he gained the respect of the President.

HESS: Mr. Dawson later had a little trouble with his old RFC connections, did he not?

CONNELLY: I don't recall if he did.

HESS: Frederick J. Lawton.

CONNELLY: Frederick J. Lawton was originally with the Budget Bureau, and I believe he became chief of the Budget Bureau after the retirement of--was it Jim Webb or Frank Pace. I've forgotten which.

HESS: I believe he came from the Budget, and then he went back to the Budget after a short time at the White House. Do you recall why he was brought in? He was there from April of '48 until September of '48. Do you recall why he was brought in for this period of time?


CONNELLY: I do not recall offhand, unless it was connected with the preparation of the material for the next presidential message to Congress, economic report or something of that sort.

HESS: David Stowe came in in 1947.

CONNELLY: I do not recall who recommended David Stowe. David Stowe had been active in labor relations, and he may have been suggested by John Steelman, but he arrived at the White House and he turned out to be a very effective, and a very efficient operator.

HESS: He was deputy to Mr. Steelman for several years, wasn't he, '47 to '49, deputy to The Assistant to the President?

CONNELLY: That probably is how that transition came about. And as a result of his activities with Steelman, then he became an administrative assistant.


HESS: George Elsey.

CONNELLY: George Elsey was in the Navy when he first arrived at the White House, and I think he was in the so-called Map Room--a secret room at the White House--and he used to brief the President of secret movements during the war. And I believe as a result of that, Truman or Clifford recommended him--I believe Clifford probably recommended him as an administrative assistant after the war was out of the way.

HESS: Mr. Elsey left in 1951. Do you know why he left the White House at that time?

CONNELLY: Yes, I do. He had a little problem. He was talking when he should be listening.

HESS: Any particular time?

CONNELLY: Well, there was information that sort of leaked out which was pretty well traced back


to George Elsey.

HESS: What information was that?

CONNELLY: I don't recall. I know it was some inside material that shouldn't have gotten out.

HESS: Stephen J. Spingarn.

CONNELLY: I don't know who recommended him. But he was there for awhile, but he reported directly to Clifford. I had very little personal contact with him except at staff meetings, but he operated pretty much under Clifford.

HESS: I believe he was brought in in early 1948 to help write the President's message on civil rights, the so-called "Ten Point Message" of February the 2nd.

CONNELLY: That could be. Well, that would be Clark Clifford, I'm sure. Spingarn's father


was, I believe, the first president of the NAACP.

HESS: His father and uncle, Joel and Arthur, were both involved.

CONNELLY: That's right, I believe so, I'm sure his father was one of the first presidents, if not the first president of the NAACP.

HESS: He was called back during the '48 campaign, isn't that correct?

CONNELLY: Well, he would have been called back by Clark Clifford. He probably worked on speeches.

HESS: Did he go on any of the campaign trips?

CONNELLY: He may have, as an assistant to Clark Clifford.

HESS: Do you recall him being present on the



CONNELLY: Offhand, I don't. He may have been, but off hand I don't know.

HESS: And then he left in October of 1950 to go to the Federal Trade Commission. Do you know why he made that switch from the White House to the Federal Trade Commission?

CONNELLY: I believe that would have been at the recommendation of Clark Clifford. I was never very close to Spingarn because he reported directly to Clifford and I had very little contact with him.

HESS: David Lloyd.

CONNELLY: David Lloyd came in principally as a speech writer, and I believe he was recommended by Clifford. But I know he reported directly to Clifford.


HESS: He came to the White House staff shortly after the 1948 campaign. He had been a member of the Research Division of the Democratic National Committee.

CONNELLY: That may well be. I don't recall. I never knew him until he arrived at the White House.

HESS: Did he make an effective speech writer?

CONNELLY: He was very good as a speech writer, and also he was pretty alert as a researcher. He worked very hard in setting up the foundation of the Truman Library. And later, I believe, he became the Executive Director of the Truman Library Corporation.

HESS: The corporation that was set up to build the building. David Bell?

CONNELLY: David Bell, I don't recall, but he was


discovered by Clifford--I'm not sure--I think he was at the Budget Bureau.

HESS: He was brought over as an executive assistant at the White House both in '47 and in '49, and was brought over from the Bureau of the Budget during that time.

CONNELLY: That's right. I believe he was at the Bureau of the Budget--he'd worked principally with Clifford or Charlie Murphy, but I know he worked with the Counsel to the President.

HESS: Then he was administrative assistant on his own from December of '51 until the end of the administration.

CONNELLY: That came about because his work had been admired by the President during the time he had been assigned to the White House.

HESS: Was he an effective speech writer?


CONNELLY: He was an effective speech writer, and also a very brilliant boy.

HESS: Do you recall anything that he may have had a hand in that we haven't mentioned?

CONNELLY: No, no, your best information on that would have to come from Charlie Murphy or Clark Clifford.

HESS: And the next name on the list is Clayton Fritchey.

CONNELLY: Clayton Fritchey was an old newspaperman and we thought he might be helpful in connection with the campaign.

HESS: He was brought in in June of '52 and left in December.

CONNELLY: He was more or less a liaison man for the press between the national committee and the White House.

HESS: And then I have a few people that I believe were on Dr. Steelman's staff, Dr. John R. Steelman. And he had two titles, at two


different times, as I understand. He was first Special Assistant to the President, from December of '45 until December of '46, and then he was The Assistant to the President. The first question is what had been his background and how did he come to be a member of the White House staff? The second question is why was he given the title The Assistant to the President?

CONNELLY: His background is that he had formerly been Director of Conciliation in the Labor Department under Roosevelt. He was considered to be very able and knowledgeable about labor matters, and I believe somebody talked the President into bringing him in, because in those days after the war there was considerable labor difficulty. And he came in as an adviser to the President to give advice on labor matters. Now, I frankly didn't react too well to it


because I tried to convince the President that he would be overriding his own Secretary of Labor with that relationship. But he thought about it and decided to do it anyway. So then he became really the labor boy after that. And that was his principal function.

HESS: Did he do a very good job in that?

CONNELLY: He was very effective. He was very effective.

HESS: Did it create any problems between the White House and the Labor Department?

CONNELLY: Naturally, there was a little resentment initially, but it was worked in such a way that the Labor Secretary was convinced that this would be helpful to him.

HESS: How did he obtain the title "The Assistant to the President?"


CONNELLY: I'm not certain of this because it's merely hearsay with me, but I believe he had a conversation with the President and convinced him that in the interest of prestige that he would like to have that title. Beyond that I don't know.

HESS: How did he get along with the people who held the job Special Counsel, Clifford and Murphy?

CONNELLY: Well, I would say all right.

HESS: No particular enmity?

CONNELLY: No, not that I can recall because the President wouldn't stand for it from the beginning, because he wanted each man to run his own show, and he did not want any interference between them. If there was a question of jurisdiction, he would decide, because he wanted a ball team.

HESS: Did any problems like that ever arise, things


like that?

CONNELLY: Minor ones, but they never got out of hand. The President would never allow them to get out of hand.

HESS: I will just name a couple of the people who worked for him, there were quite a few. Russell P. Andrews?

CONNELLY: He worked for Steelman. I don't know much about him.

HESS: William Bray.

CONNELLY: Bill Bray used to be secretary to Jim Farley when he was Postmaster General and Bill Bray needed a job and he had done some favors for Truman when he was Senator--through Farley, of course--as a result of that, I talked to Truman and told him Bill Bray was not doing very well and he had


a political background and could be helpful to us and he put him on the staff. I believe he worked under Steelman.

HESS: Did he go on the campaign trip in 1948?

CONNELLY: Oh, yes, he came on as sort of an assistant to me. He would greet the local politicians, because most of them knew him, having been with Farley. He was very helpful in that vein, as he was in Michigan, there was a state delegation that would ride from Detroit to the next town where they were from, that sort of thing. He would greet them first and make the arrangements to bring them in to meet the President on their way off the train. We'd have them in one car and bring them through the President's car and they would be able to get off at their own home stations so the local people could say that they had seen the President, and they got a handshake


with the President on the way out. They filed through the door just like a receiving line so they could say that they saw the President and had shaken hands with him and the local people could see them off at the back end of the train.

HESS: Some people were picked up at one stop and were carried to the next stop.

CONNELLY: That's right, so they could say they rode on the President's train.

HESS: Those were the dignitaries of a little higher stature, the ones that got to ride from one stop to the next, is that right?

CONNELLY: Well, they were picked by the local committees.

HESS: By the local committees?

CONNELLY: In the states--state committees. The


key figures in the party in say a town like Lansing, well, they get off and they would say they were on the President's train and people would say, "That's right. I saw him getting off." It was just a political gimmick.

HESS: Who picked the people who do not get to ride from one station to another, but just come in and walk through the car and then get off?

CONNELLY: The local committee.

HESS: The local committee picks both groups of people.

CONNELLY: That's right.

HESS: Was Mr. Bray on the campaign train in '52?

CONNELLY: I believe so.

HESS: The same job?



HESS: Well, there are several others here, James Fitzgerald, does that ring a bell?

CONNELLY: He worked for Steelman.

HESS: Charles Jackson.

CONNELLY: Steelman.

HESS: Dallas Halverstadt.

CONNELLY: I believe that was for Steelman, too.

HESS: These are all men who worked for Mr. Steelman, I won't read the whole list.

All right, here's a few people who held jobs as special assistant to the President for various assignments. I won't read them all. How about Edwin A. Locke, Jr.? Now, we mentioned him Tuesday, when we were discussing the Truman Committee. Mr. Truman used him several times as his personal


representative of the President for China in 1945 as special assistant to the President in 1946 and '47. Was there any discussion at any time of bringing Mr. Locke in as a permanent member of the White House staff?

CONNELLY: I believe the President offered Mr. Locke that opportunity, but he was doing well in outside business, as a matter of fact, I believe he's now vice president of a bank here in New York. I believe Chase. But he never wanted to get involved on a permanent basis. He was brought in on special assignments, which he conducted very well, too.

HESS: Kenneth Hechler was special assistant to the President from '49 to the end of the administration. What was his background?

CONNELLY: Largely labor problems. He later became


representative in Congress from West Virginia, but he reported sort of jointly, I believe, to Steelman and Charlie Murphy.

HESS: Was he an effective employee?

CONNELLY: He was a very able fellow, yes.

HESS: Richard Neustadt was special assistant from 1950 until the end of the administration.

CONNELLY: That's right. He was one of the top speech writers for the President. He later became a professor, I believe, at Harvard.

HESS: There were some men that had the title of legislative assistants that served on the White House staff, and they were brought in in 1949. That brings up several different subjects, as well as just these men, it brings up the general subject of congressional liaison. Joseph Feeney and Charles Maylon


were brought into the White House staff in 1949 with the definite title: Legislative Assistant to the President, but there had been no one on the staff with that title until this time. How was the business of legislative liaison handled before these men were brought in?

CONNELLY: Partly by me.

HESS: Could you give me an illustration of how that was done?

CONNELLY: Well, of course, every Congressman and every Senator wants to talk to the President and if that happened there wouldn't be room for anybody else, so it had to be done on a lower level. If they had a local problem in their own state and wanted to call it to the attention of the President, or they had some bill that they were interested in that


they may have sponsored, or we may have had some bills that we wanted to get down on the Hill, and to inform the right sources they could be done either of two ways: Either at the meeting in what we called the "Big Four" with the President, the leaders of the House and the Senate; at the lower level I would handle it myself. Then it got to be too much because I had too much to do, so I hired Feeney for the Senate because he had been liaison man in the Senate for several years for the Navy, and Maylon had been liaison man for the Air Force. So they both knew the Hill and the members on the Hill because of previous favors they had done for Senators and Congressmen.

HESS: Did you pick these two men?

CONNELLY: I picked them, with the approval of the President, of course. So they used to do the


leg work for me on the Hill which I formerly had to do on my own, which I didn't have time for.

HESS: Now the "Big Four" meeting usually was on Monday morning, is that correct?

CONNELLY: Usually, yes.

HESS: Did they really discuss business--matters of congressional liaison business during those meetings?

CONNELLY: Oh, always. That's what the meetings were for.

HESS: I have been told that it was sort of a social get-together.

CONNELLY: Oh, no, definitely not. No, they were there to do business.

HESS: Now, during the first administration this


was Barkley from '45 to '46--Senator Barkley, Sam Rayburn and Scott Lucas?

CONNELLY: Scott Lucas, I believe, was Senate whip at that time.

HESS: And who was the fourth man?

CONNELLY: And after Lucas was McFarland. He succeeded Barkley as majority leader. From the House was Rayburn and McCormack.

HESS: Would the President conduct some of this liaison himself? If he wanted to take something up with someone in the House, would he phone Sam Rayburn?

CONNELLY: Oh, surely.

HESS: Was Sam Rayburn the main point of contact in the House?

CONNELLY: He was the Speaker. McCormack was


majority leader.

HESS: But Mr. Rayburn was an exceptionally strong leader.

CONNELLY: Oh, definitely.

HESS: Whereas, in some administrations or under some speakers it might have been all right to phone someone else on the Hill, but for Mr. Rayburn wasn't it usually the accepted practice to centralize your phone calls and phone him when you wanted something, is that right?

CONNELLY: That's correct. The President always believed in working with the leader. Unless there was some particular Senator in charge of some committee he wanted to get a message to where the bill was in that committee and he wanted his views known to that chairman of that committee.


HESS: On the Senate side, was Leslie Biffle very influential?

CONNELLY: Very influential. He was secretary of the Senate and he'd been there for a long time and he was respected by the members of the Senate.

HESS: Would the President ever phone him to try to implement legislation?

CONNELLY: Yes, he did. If he didn't, I would. As a matter of fact, we had a direct line from his office to the President's office.

HESS: From Leslie Biffle's office?

CONNELLY: Yes. Leslie used to have about three phones in his office and the White House phone was designated by a red, white and blue ribbon he had wrapped around the telephone.

HESS: Now the meetings for the "Big Four" continued


on in the second administration did they not?


HESS: So actually Feeney and Maylon were largely leg men, is that right?

CONNELLY: That's right.

HESS: Head counters more or less.

CONNELLY: Yes. They reported directly to me.

HESS: And then in 1951 John A. Carroll was also brought in, is that correct?

CONNELLY: That's right.

HESS: Was he brought in to take over from one of the men?

CONNELLY: No, no, he operated in different channels doing the same thing. He had been in the Senate, as you know.


HESS: From Colorado.

CONNELLY: That's right. And then he was defeated, and the President liked him and he needed something to do, so he would visit different Senators he knew on a very close basis. He used his influence to get what the President wanted.

HESS: He was used in a little different manner?

CONNELLY: That’s right.

HESS: One list that I have found--I do not have it with me today--listed as being an employee in your office or under your supervision was Franklin N. Parks, one of the old Truman Committee men.

CONNELLY: Well, Franklin Parks I called in on a special assignment with Herbert Maletz.

HESS: What was that assignment?


CONNELLY: They were brought in to prepare a case for General Vaughan when he was appearing before a congressional committee, and they came in at my request to work with Max Lowenthal in setting up testimony for General Vaughan to give before the committee.

HESS: What was that particular testimony on?

CONNELLY: Oh, I forget now explicitly, but they were doing a little smear job on the General. They brought up the old "deep freeze" situation where Vaughan had arranged to get some deep freeze units for members of the White House staff and other people in the official family.

HESS: Were there any other times when Parks and Maletz were used during the days of the Truman administration?

CONNELLY: No, not that I know of.


HESS: The Military and Naval personnel: The Chief of Staff to the President was Fleet Admiral William B. Leahy. He was there from April 12, '45 until March, '48. What kind of a man was Admiral Leahy?

CONNELLY: Admiral Leahy was a very capable naval officer. He was also a very intelligent fellow and he had been there under Roosevelt as a sort of a White House contact with the Navy Department, in fact all the military, and the White House. And he had two offices, one in the White House and one in the Pentagon. He would report every morning to the President on military and military secret problems, which I had nothing to do with and wanted nothing to do with because if there was any leak, I would not have a finger point to me. So all top secret information regarding military matters was brought to the President every


morning after the staff meeting by Admiral Leahy and usually the Naval Aide accompanied him.

HESS: For the Naval Aides, Vice Admiral Wilson Brown stayed around for just about a month after April the 12th.

CONNELLY: Yes, he was a holdover from the Roosevelt days.

HESS: And then the first Naval Aide was Commodore Vardaman whom we have mentioned.

CONNELLY: That's right.

HESS: He was brought in on May 4, 1945. And Rear Admiral James A. Foskett?

CONNELLY: He succeeded Vardaman. He was recommended by the Navy Department to succeed Vardaman when Vardaman was moved up to the Federal Reserve Bank.


HESS: Why was Mr. Vardaman moved up to the bank?

CONNELLY: Well, it was a fourteen year appointment. The President thought that Mr. Vardaman had been a little cause of annoyance while around the White House and getting into things that didn't belong to him or shouldn't have, so it was suggested by the President that Mr. Vardaman take this job at the Federal Reserve Bank and he could put his feet up on the desk for fourteen years, and that if he kept his mouth shut he would get along all right.

HESS: And Rear Admiral Robert L. Dennison came in in January of '45 and stayed until the end of the administration.

CONNELLY: That's right.

HESS: What kind of a man was Admiral Dennison?

CONNELLY: When we first met Admiral Dennison,


he was the captain of the Missouri when we made a trip to Rio. On the way back Admiral Foskett fell out of favor with the President because he wouldn't tend to his own chores, he was a little too impressed with sightseeing. So he told me he had to get a new Naval Aide. I called John Sullivan who was then Secretary of the Navy and told him that I'd like to see him. He came over and I told him the problem; so I said, "Will you go back and come up with three recommendations and get the files for each of the ones you recommend," which he did. So he came back and among his recommendations were Captain Dennison. So I said, "Well, I've got news for you, I don't think you have to go much further." I said, "He made a very fine impression on the President and on me on that trip back from Rio," because when we returned to Washington from Rio on the Missouri,


Dennison was its captain.

So he said, "Well, I'll tell you, there's one thing I'd like to do." He said, "The wife of the Naval Aide is very important, too."

I said, "That's correct."

"Suppose I set up a dinner at my house. Do you think the President and Mrs. Truman would come out so that they could both take a look at Mrs. Dennison?" I knew Mrs. Truman knew the Captain because she was on the Missouri and she liked him, but they didn't know Admiral Dennison's wife.

So they had dinner at Sullivan's house, and the next morning the President said, "We have a new Naval Aide." So Dennison came in, and Dennison stayed on until we left. He was very capable, bright, conservative--never pushed anything, but did a job.


He retained the respect of the President.

HESS: And Commander John Tyree, Jr. was Assistant Naval Aide to the President for a short while.

CONNELLY: Was that under Brown?

HESS: Yes, it was and I think it continued under Truman for just a little while.

CONNELLY: Well, I believe he probably was there until Vardaman brought Clifford in.

HESS: And then Clark Clifford whom we have already discussed, and then Commander William Rigdon.

CONNELLY: That's right. Ridgon had been there prior to Truman, but he was sort of a junior officer. He never contributed anything to the policies of the office. He more or less was the office manager for Admiral Leahy and for the Naval Aide.

HESS: Was he also in charge of Shangri-La at



CONNELLY: That's right.

HESS: Was he in charge of the Williamsburg?

CONNELLY: Well, of course, the Naval Aide was really in charge, but Rigdon did the work.

HESS: Did he do a fairly effective job?

CONNELLY: Well, he was very effective. He did very conscientious work.

HESS: And the Air Aide was Major General Robert B. Landry from 1948 to '53.

CONNELLY: He was recommended by the Air Force. The President decided we should have a third aide, so Landry was recommended to the President by the Air Force and he became Air Force Aide. That caused a little consternation.

HESS: In what way?


CONNELLY: Well, I recall that very well. I went out to lunch one day after Landry had arrived. When I got back--we used to have a receptionist in the White House lobby named Bill Simmons--when I got back from lunch, he said, "Mr. Secretary, would you go in and see Secretary Ross? The poor man has not been out for lunch."

I said, "What's the matter with him?"

"Well, you'd better see him. General Vaughan had a press conference."

And I said, "O.K." So I went in and Charlie Ross was at his desk, his head in his hands. I asked, "What's the matter?"

He said, "Oh, that damn Vaughan has done it again."

"What did he do this time?"

"Well," he said, "he met the press in the lobby today and they wanted to know what the situation was with the new Air Force Aide.


Well, he announced he was going to be senior aide and the other two aides would be under him."

HESS: Ross told me General Landry came in and said, "To hell with this, I'm going back to the Air Force."

And then Captain Dennison came and said, "To hell with this, me too."

I told Ross to forget it. "I'll take care of it."

So the President came back from lunch and I informed him, "We've got a little problem."

He said, "What is it this time?"

"Your military aide."

He said, "Oh, what in the hell did he do now?"

"Well, he had a press conference apparently and he announced he was going to be senior


aide and the other aides would be junior to him. "

He said, "He did what?"

"Look, as a favor to me could I bring Charlie Ross in and brighten him up a little bit?"

He said, "Yes."

So with that he picked up the phone and called General Vaughan, "Harry get over here on the double."

So Charlie came in and Truman said, "Charlie, I'll straighten this out. Don't worry about it. I'll correct that." He said, "You go back and announce to the press there's not going to be any difference between the aides at the White House. Each will have their own positions and equal rank."

"Can I tell them this?"

"Of course, you can tell them this. That's the way it's going to be."


So Charlie went back through my office, and Vaughan came in and inquired, "What does he want? What does he want?"

I said, "I don't know."

So, I escorted him into the President and left. He came out with his tail between his legs, walked through my office without saying a word, and went back to his office. So that was the end of the seniority of Harry Vaughan as chief of the aides.

HESS: And General Vaughan was also coordinator of Veterans' Affairs from July of '46 until the end of the administration. Just exactly what did that post entail?

CONNELLY: Well, he would call the Veterans' Administration if there was somebody who wanted a transfer or somebody wanted to be upgraded or somebody would try to get into a veterans hospital, things of that sort.


HESS: There were a few men who served as special consultants at various times; George E. Allen was one.

CONNELLY: That's right. George Allen was the advance man for President Truman when he was running for Vice President and occasionally we had had contacts with Allen. I had worked with his assistant, a fellow named Eddie Reynolds, in writing speeches. He participated in some of the speeches when the President was Vice President and later contributed to some of the speeches after he became President.

HESS: Was Mr. Allen in Washington at the time Mr. Truman was sworn in on April the 12th?

CONNELLY: I am not sure. I believe--yes, I believe he was because he worked on the first drafts of the speech that the President had to


give to Congress and the speech that he had to make to the troops overseas. Yes, he was there.

HESS: Who else helped on that particular speech?

CONNELLY: Allen and Eddie Reynolds, Hugh Fulton originally came in and he wanted to take over the speech which didn't go over very well with the rest of the boys. I expect toward the latter part, John Snyder may have been there. He was in Mexico when President Roosevelt died. He and Senator Symington may have been in on part of it. I believe Sam Rosenman was in on part of it.

HESS: The first official duty I have for George Allen was Personal Representative for the President for the Liquidation of War Agencies, and the starting date on that is August 30, 1945, and that ran until January


of '46, about six months, but was Mr. Allen at the White House between April and August?

CONNELLY: Yes, he spent part of that time on a study of the possible reorganization of the White House setup, and he was accompanied by two boys who were in the service. One was named Jim Windom, he was a commander in the Navy and another one named Sam McIlwain, who is now a law partner of Clark Clifford. Mr. Allen was, of course, senior, and these two other boys worked on the possible reorganization of the staff functions at the White House, probably streamlining them. And from that, I believe, he later became director of the RFC.

HESS: Why was he chosen to send over to the RFC? Any particular reason?

CONNELLY: Because he had so much experience in the banking business and insurance, and he was


considered by the President to be very capable in financial matters.

HESS: And John Caskie Collett was Special Consultant to the President in 1947.

CONNELLY: That's right. That was just on some special function. He was a Federal judge in Kansas City.

HESS: There are a couple of others; Harry Hopkins, Advisor and Assistant to the President from '41 to '45, '46 to '47. The President used him right after he came into office.

CONNELLY: I believe so. I believe he sent he and former Ambassador Joe Davies to Russia to make a personal report to him on what they could find out about what was going on in Moscow.

HESS: Why was the decision made to send those men on that mission?


CONNELLY: I don't believe I know. I think it was partly on the recommendation of the State Department because Ambassador Davies had been Ambassador to Russia prior to that time.

HESS: And Major General Frank E. Lowe was President Truman's confidential observer in Korea. Do you recall anything about that?

CONNELLY: No, I don't know what that meant, you'd have to ask Harry Vaughan about that.

HESS: Now that, of course, doesn't cover everyone who was a staff member. A name that I skipped earlier was Ed McKim. Why was Ed McKim added to the staff?

CONNELLY: Ed McKim happened to be in Washington at the time that Roosevelt died, and he had been a friend of Truman's. He had been in his battery in World War I. He was a successful insurance man in Omaha, and Truman


suggested that as long as he was in town, he might just as well stick around and give him some help. So he was appointed an administrative assistant.

HESS: Now did he have the title of Chief Administrative Assistant?

CONNELLY: Yes, he first went to the Chief Clerk at the White House and announced that he would be Chief Administrative Assistant, for which there was no such title.

HESS: He gave himself that title.

CONNELLY: That's correct. So the Chief Clerk called me and said, "There's no provision for a title like that."

"Well," I said, "I knew nothing about the title. As far as I know he was administrative assistant, period, which he did revert to."


HESS: What were his duties? What were some of the things he did?

CONNELLY: Well, he didn't have any specific duties. He initially decided he was going to make an investigation of the White House personnel, and without any knowledge on my part or any knowledge on the President's part that I know of, he requested the FBI to make an investigation of all the White House personnel. So when that information got around--I believe the FBI did start--and one of the staff who had been with Roosevelt came to me and said, "They are beginning to grumble."

I said, "What's the matter? My job is to try to keep harmony between our people and the old crowd until we find out where we're at."

He said, "People around here are beginning


to ask who came in here, Truman or Dewey."

I said, "Where did that come from?"

"From your friend Mr. McKim."

I said, "Well, I'll take care of it."

So I told the President about it and he said, "Well, he was a sergeant in my battery once, I busted him and I can bust him again. That's a fine way to make friends."

So to make it look good, he transferred him to another department and later he faded out and went back to his own business.

HESS: Yes, he left in June of 1945.

This pretty well finishes the things that I have on the staff. Have we left anyone out?

CONNELLY: Not that I can think of offhand. I think we've got it pretty well covered.

HESS: What about anyone that may have worked in


your office?

CONNELLY: Well, my senior girl was a girl named Roberta Barrows, and when I first arrived at the White House, Steve Early introduced me to her. She had been previously secretary to General [Edwin M.] Watson, who was my predecessor with Roosevelt, and prior to that with Marvin McIntyre, who was also a secretary of Roosevelt's, and she had been in the White House since the time of Herbert Hoover.. So Steve Early brought me in and introduced me to her and he suggested to me that if I had any sense, I would keep her on that desk because she knew the ropes. So I said, "Well, Steve, you should know."

He said, "Well one assurance I can give you beyond the fact that she's the right girl for the job, she’ll be as loyal to you as she would be to anybody else she has worked for."

I said, "Well, that's good enough for me."

So, I went out and I asked her if she'd like to have the job and she agreed. I said,


"I think you and I will get along well." She stayed with me until I left, but she knew every point in Government. She was a complete help to me, I frankly would have been lost without her there in the beginning and she made a great contribution not only to me personally but to the President himself. There wasn't any member of that White House staff that I: know of who didn't have the highest regard and respect for her. As a matter of fact, the staff was talking about her on one of our trips to Key West about the way she handled the telephone and the President was very much interested. So we came back and one day she was busy on the phone and she was looking out the window alongside her desk, and the President came out quietly and sat on the edge of my desk and just listened, when she turned around and was very much flustered with him being there without her


knowing it. She popped to her feet automatically. He said, "Now, sit down, young lady, I've heard about you and I came out here to learn," which, of course, pleased her. But he found out what the boys were talking about, and she made an amazing contribution to our effort. I know that neither he nor I will ever forget it.

HESS: How were relations between the members of the White House staff? Were there any conflicts that aren't generally known?

CONNELLY: No, because, as I said before, if any conflicts developed, the President would take care of them automatically. He wanted no part of that. He wanted a family.

HESS: On the subject of the President's staff meetings, or the staff meetings of the White House staff, how did the President run those



CONNELLY: He had a staff meeting every morning. Originally he had them at 9 and then later he put them off until 10, but at the staff meetings the same personnel were there at each meeting.

HESS: Who attended?

CONNELLY: They were attended by the three secretaries: Ross, Hassett and myself. They were attended by Steelman, and it varied in administrative assistants depending on what subject was coming up, sometimes there'd be three there or sometimes five, and also included, of course, was the counsel, but the regular members were the secretaries, counsel, Military Aide, Naval Aide, Air Force Aide and then additional administrative assistants, sometimes the pattern would vary.

You probably want to know how they were


conducted. It was done the same way every morning. Each member of the staff had a location around the desk. It started first with Bill Hassett who was on Truman's left hand, then it would go around in a semi circle. He would go around, Hassett first; then it would be Clifford or Murphy, counsel; then it would be one of the administrative assistants; then Dr. Steelman and then the other administrative assistants would sit on the side. It was done that way, and each one would bring up the problems of his own department, and if there were any discussions, it was discussed openly with the whole group. If there were any differences of opinion, we would bring it up then and settle it. The President made that clear. That's the way he operated.

HESS: Did the President usually like to have a


solution presented at the same time that a problem was brought up?

CONNELLY: You would make recommendations, but he would decide pro or con.

HESS: Was there a time in 1946 when it was thought that perhaps staff meetings ought to be discontinued because of the "Kitchen Cabinet" objections that were being raised in the press? Do you recall anything about that?

CONNELLY: I don't recall. It may have happened because the press always has to have something to shoot at.

HESS: In the New York Times I found indications that that may have been discussed.

CONNELLY: It may have been discussed but if it was discussed, it was of short tenure. But it wasn't discussed by the President or members


of the staff.

HESS: Did you attend the President's pre-press conferences that were held on Thursday before the press conferences?

CONNELLY: Oh, yes.

HESS: How were those conducted?

CONNELLY: Charlie Ross or Joe Short, whoever happened to be Press Secretary at the time, would come in with a list of suggested questions that might be asked at the conference and then we would hash out what reply should be made to it, and the President would make the final decision on what the answer to that particular question, if it came up, would be.

HESS: Who else would attend those meetings?

CONNELLY: Well, there would be the Press Secretary,


Steelman, Clifford, myself and, I think, maybe once in a while if some particular problem might be coming up, one of the administrative assistants or two, and the Naval Aide and the Military Aide and the Air Force Aide.

HESS: The press conferences were held in Mr. Truman's office until April 27, 1950 when they were moved from the President's office over to the Indian Treaty Room.

CONNELLY: That's correct. In the old State Department building. It was right across the street.

HESS: Did you stay in Mr. Truman's office when the press would come in when it was held in his oval room?

CONNELLY: Oh, yes. All the key members of the


staff would be there.

HESS: And did you make the trip over to the Old State, War and Navy Building?

CONNELLY: Oh, yes, always.

HESS: Do you recall anything of interest that might have come up at any of the press conferences?

CONNELLY: Offhand--I know there are a lot of things that came up there but I'd have to check the transcripts to really evaluate what I consider to be something of magnitude.

HESS: A little while ago we were discussing Mr. Truman's speaking style. How did he develop his extemporaneous speaking style? Some people say that it showed great improvement during the trip that was taken in June of 1948, would you agree with that?


CONNELLY: I would say definitely. He was not a natural public speaker and did not like to make speeches. As a matter of fact, I believe that in the Senate I doubt if he made more than a half a dozen speeches all the time that he was in the Senate. He was not known as a speaker, and, as a matter of fact, in my first association with him he was pretty terrible. He was much more effective when he could talk off-the-cuff,--in other words, extemporaneously, but reading from a prepared text, he always lost something. He could not get it across from a prepared text where if he went off-the-cuff and he was sure of his grounds, he could be very effective and also very dramatic.

HESS: Why did the President decide to take that trip in June of 1948?

CONNELLY: That so-called nonpolitical trip?


HESS: That so-called nonpolitical trip.

CONNELLY: That was a good name for it, but actually, he had to get well-known around the country, and that was a prelude to the campaign.

HESS: Whose idea was it to take that trip?

CONNELLY: I believe the idea originally came from the national committee. This I'm not sure of because it was sort of thrown together in those days and everybody had a hand in it.

HESS: Did you go along on that trip?

CONNELLY: Oh, yes.

HESS: What do you recall about the trip?

CONNELLY: What I recall mostly is it was a back-breaker. He made so many stops, he covered so much territory and, as you know, he is an early riser and he would be up at 5 o'clock


in the morning. If we were at a station somewhere, he would be out on the back platform talking to the railroad workers. He had the advantage of getting to bed early whereas I would have a little problem of arranging the next day's events. I would be up until 2 or 3 in the morning.

HESS: What were your duties on that trip?

CONNELLY: Coordinating with the advance people on the trip mostly or greeting people that came in and we shook hands.

HESS: Who were the advance people on the trip?

CONNELLY: On that early one I'm not sure. I think Oscar Chapman did some advance. He had contacts through the National Committee on who we should expect to see in different states--the National Committee did a lot of it. I believe Don Dawson did some advance work on that trip.


HESS: How does an advance man go about his business? What are the tasks?

CONNELLY: Well, he goes into a town ahead of the President and sets up the arrangements--where the meeting will be held, how it will be held, who will be there, who will introduce the President, who will be the people on the platform with the President, where the location will be, what time it will be, what broadcast facilities there will be, and coordinate all the activities in advance of the President coming into town. The Secret Service would also have to go ahead and make the security arrangements.

HESS: In Omaha that year they had a rather sparse crowd show up at the meeting. What went wrong that time?

CONNELLY: Well, the thing that was very bad--we


left that pretty much in the hands of Ed McKim who had just retired to Omaha to the insurance business, but without knowledge or without experience the thing turned out to be pretty much of a fiasco. We had the biggest hall in town and it was almost a death knell for the campaign but fortunately we were able to pull out of it. It was so widely publicized that it was a flop and that there was no public interest, and following on what was happening before the convention, it indicated that the president was not getting anywhere, and the people wanted no part of it, and they wouldn't even turn out to see him. So that was a great handicap but that was because of local arrangements.

HESS: When the president passed through Carey, Idaho and dedicated the airfield to the wrong person, do you recall anything in particular


about that?

CONNELLY: Yes, somebody gave Charlie Ross the wrong information on the thing. The President left the hotel and we followed him out, I knew where we were supposed to go but by that time the cavalcade had stopped and the President was greeting, I believe, a private flyer or some woman, I don't know. I didn't participate in it because it was just for a few minutes and then it was time to pick up again. I didn't even know what happened until we got to the next stop. It was wrong information given to Charlie Ross,

HESS: Who wrote the speeches on that trip?

CONNELLY: That was organized by, I believe, Clifford who was then counsel. I know he was. And Clark had a group picked from the staff, some of the boys we had mentioned earlier, I believe,


as speech writers, David Lloyd, Charlie Murphy. Some of these speeches referred to one phase of an operation, say it was foreign affairs, we would get suggestions from the State Department which would be forwarded to Clifford or Murphy who would incorporate the ideas in the speech in the President's own way.

HESS: I believe at a luncheon that was held in Berkeley the President was introduced by Dr. [Robert G.] Sproul who was in charge of the University of California. Were you there at that time?

CONNELLY: Yes, I was.

HESS: As I recall, the introduction that he obtained from Dr. Sproul was none too complimentary, is that right?

CONNELLY: That's correct. That was arranged by Ed Pauley who was on the Board of Regents of the


University of California, so that's how that appearance came about.

HESS: Continuing on with information relative to the very eventful year of 1948, what can you tell me about the background and the operations of the Democratic Policy Committee in 1948?

CONNELLY: Do you recall who was on that so-called Policy Committee?

HESS: I believe Oscar Ewing was on that.

CONNELLY: I recall the group, Oscar Ewing, Leon Keyserling and I forget--I think I went to two of their meetings.

HESS: Where were they held?

CONNELLY: In a suite at the Carlton Hotel. As a matter of fact, they were just thinking and accomplishing nothing, so I didn't return to the third meeting.


HESS: What were they trying to accomplish?

CONNELLY: Trying to develop a policy for the campaign, but my interest was not so much in the strategy of perfecting a policy as in the strategy of political practicality, that's what my field was, so I left it largely to the eggheads.

HESS: Do you recall who else was on that committee?

CONNELLY: Well, there are two that I do recall. I only went to two meetings. They were small. There were no more than four or five people there. Those two I remember. Oscar Ewing established himself as head of this so-called Policy Committee.

HESS: Was he a very good political adviser?

CONNELLY: Offhand I would say no.

HESS: Why?


CONNELLY: I don't think Oscar had ever been in a precinct in his life, so he was trying to dictate policies from the top. I would much rather get the opinions of the state chairman or a local committeeman than I would the boys around Washington who were dreaming up policy.

HESS: On February the second of that year was when Mr. Truman sent his ten points message to Congress on civil rights.

CONNELLY: Well, that was part of his inauguration speech. That was incorporated in the message to Congress. That was largely drafted by Clark Clifford and the boys in his group.

HESS: And in the October previous to that, the President's Committee on Civil Rights came out with their report To Secure These Rights, and then the rather strong ten points message. Did the people in the White House think such a


strong stand on civil rights might offend the Southern States and cause a bold of the Southern States as actually happened during the convention?

CONNELLY: Oh, sure, that was a calculated risk. But the major point of the thing was he had to make that statement in the interest of civil rights, that these people should be entitled to franchise which they were being denied, particularly in the south. That was a calculated risk.

HESS: Do you recall the president making any comments along these lines?

CONNELLY: Oh, he was for the program as he outlined it, and it knew that he would get--having been partially southern himself--he knew what the reaction would be in the south. It wasn't any secret to him that it came about.

HESS: Well, during the convention itself there were


two civil rights planks that came into being. One was the so-called regular civil rights plank and then the second one was the Humphrey-Biemiller plank that was finally passed and put into the platform.

CONNELLY: That's correct, and that's what caused the setting up of the Dixiecrat movement.

HESS: Which of those planks did the President support? Didn't he support the regular plank?

CONNELLY: Initially, because, I believe, the Humphrey proposals didn't come up until it was brought up on the floor of the convention, but after it was resolved by the platform committee, he stuck with the platform.

HESS: Looking back on those days of the Philadelphia convention in 1948, what are your memories, what do you recall? Just start at the beginning.


CONNELLY: Well, in 1948 1 remained, naturally, in Washington and some of the Cabinet officers, some of the people from the administration were in Philadelphia. John Snyder, I know, was in Philadelphia, and we had the train ready to go and John Snyder was to contact me when he thought it was a propitious moment for the President to go to Philadelphia. We didn't want to go up there before something was pretty much wrapped up, so I blocked out appointments the afternoon of the last day of the convention. The President and I watched the "ball game" on television in his office and we watched the little moves the different people on the platform were making and what you could read behind the scenes that the average fellow wouldn't ordinarily watch. That gave us a little guidance of what was going on up there. We finally got a call from Snyder and set out for Philadelphia, and when


we arrived there the plans had been changed. They were not ready for us. So Barkley and the President, and myself and I think there were one or two others, sat on the balcony outside to try to get some air--he didn't get on that night, I believe it was pretty near 3 o'clock in the morning. We did a little staging and brought him in as his introduction was being started so when he came in, we held him in the wings until his introduction was over. So, of course, there were very mixed emotions in that auditorium, but shortly after he got into his speech you could see things beginning to change. It was a very forceful speech and he worked from an outline not a prepared text, and he really punched those points. He had things pretty well swayed by the time he left there, and he got an ovation, so a couple of seasoned reporters--I remember one very well, Earl Godwin of Washington, came up to me and


said, "I never heard a better political speech. This should do it."

And one of the other boys who was there, I forget which one now, came up with similar comments about the speech. But, unfortunately, we were off the air so that three quarters of the country couldn't hear it anyway, so that part was missed because of the manipulations in the convention which went awry but if we had gone on earlier as we planned it, we would have had nationwide coverage which he never did get, so it was largely lost. But the thing that came out most people remember is that he was going to call Congress back, they called it the "Turnip Congress."

HESS: Whose idea was that to call the Eightieth Congress back into special session?

CONNELLY: His own.


HESS: Mr. Truman's own idea.

CONNELLY: That's right.

HESS: Could you tell me about the developments behind that idea?

CONNELLY: The details I can't remember now because it's been so long ago. I know it was his own idea, in fact, he was the one that brought up the name "Turnip Congress."

HESS: How important was that, do you believe, to his eventual success in November?

CONNELLY: It made some people pretty happy that he had guts enough to do it. It made other people unhappy who had to go back to work, particularly the members of Congress. So I'd say it was kind of a two-way story but it accomplished nothing, and he knew it wouldn't; but he just wanted to make the record that he


wanted the job to get done. So that was the reason for that.

HESS: Did you feel before this time, before the convention, that there was a possibility that the party might not renominate Mr. Truman as its standard-bearer?

CONNELLY: Well, I know it was not only a possibility but it was a threat. Some of the leading people in the party, as a matter of fact, sent him a telegram suggesting he withdraw, which came to me first and which I gave to him, naturally, signed by some people like James Roosevelt and Jake Arvy, who was the leader of Chicago, Bill O'Dwyer, who was then mayor of New York, Joseph Casey, who was a member of Congress and there were others who were not enthusiastic about his chances of victory.

HESS: Did they mention in the telegram who they


would like to have run?

CONNELLY: Yes, they suggested he step down and nominate Eisenhower, because they thought Eisenhower would be a winner and Truman wouldn't.

HESS: I believe the Americans for Democratic Action were even backing General Eisenhower.

CONNELLY: I believe they were, yes. All the so-called liberals were backing Eisenhower. Whatever liberals are, I don't know.

HESS: On the subject of the vice-presidential nomination that year, who did Mr. Truman want to run with him on the ticket? Who was his first choice?

CONNELLY: First choice for Vice President? I believe his first choice, I may be wrong on this, was Bill Douglas, but when Barkley started running


himself with the aid of Les Biffle, he was his manager, we could see that on the television of the convention we were watching in the office, but as a result of that we decided Barkley would be the best.

HESS: How was Leslie Biffle managing Senator Barkley there that you could see on television?

CONNELLY: Buttoning and buttonholing the delegates on the stage. And then he pushed Barkley in front of the cameras. There was no question that Biffle wanted Barkley.

HESS: After Senator Barkley was notified that he might be nominated, he referred to himself as a "warmed-over biscuit,"

CONNELLY: That's correct because he knew he was not the first choice.

HESS: Why do you think he wanted the nomination?


CONNELLY: For President.

HESS: For President?

CONNELLY: Oh, yes, Barkley wanted to run for President.

HESS: He did not necessarily want to run for Vice President?

CONNELLY: No, that was not his intent at all. He was running for President.

HESS: Did he think he could take the nomination away from Mr. Truman?

CONNELLY: Every politician thinks he can win. Mr. Truman at that time was at a pretty low ebb in popular opinion.

HESS: So his goal wasn't Vice President?

CONNELLY: Oh, definitely not, no. He was running for President. So was Claude Pepper.


HESS: Anyone else?

CONNELLY: I don't believe there were many at that convention who were not.

HESS: Well, moving through the convention and the nomination of Mr. Truman and Mr. Barkley, anything else come to your mind before we reach the days of the campaign?

CONNELLY: Well, between the convention and the start of the campaign which officially began on Labor Day, I was not only kind of busy with my own job but working with members of the National Committee to get the show on the road, work on the itinerary, line up the people who we'd have to meet in different states, who were the important ones and who were not, and labor leaders and that kind of thing, all those things have to be done.

HESS: How is an itinerary worked out?


CONNELLY: It's worked out--now we'll say where is the key place to start? Well, usually Democratic Presidents start Labor Day in Detroit, that's the bid for the labor vote because the labor vote was usually Democratic so that was the big thing, the President's big labor event.

HESS: Cadillac Square, usually.

CONNELLY: Yes. From there on it would go on usually out to the northwest. Other times it would verge. It would start through the southwest and move up the west coast and back east through the northwest and then the midlands in Chicago, make special dates for a state like Iowa, they have a big farm festival where they'd have about 300,000 people.

HESS: The National Plowing Contest.

CONNELLY: The National Plowing Contest. So that was probably the biggest crowd we had in the


campaign. I believe we must have had over 300,000 at that plowing contest. They came in from all over the Midwest. Planes, a lot of the farmers had their own planes and, of course, it was pretty tough to figure out how these farmers could be so broke when they could own airplanes, but that's part of the game. But it depends on what were the key spots at the right time, if you can figure it out.

HESS: Do you recall the impression that the President may have made on those farmers in Iowa that year? Was it favorable?

CONNELLY: It was favorable because he was one of their own. And when they had that boner of the picture taken with Dewey and Warren standing up against the farm gate which was upside down on the front cover of, I believe, Newsweek. They showed the gate upside down and then every


farmer would laugh, of course.

But Truman got to them because he was forthright and down to earth and they understood his language. They liked the way he looked. "He looks like one of us." Dewey made a big mistake in this campaign.

HESS: What was that?

CONNELLY: Following Truman, He had practically the same itinerary. He came in a day after Truman or two days after Truman and the contrast was still in the minds of the farmers particularly. They'd see this city slicker and they'd still have the memory of how the President looked like them. That made a very definite impression.

HESS: Were there any other mistakes that the Republicans pulled that year?

CONNELLY: Well, Dewey pulled that famous one on the


railroad engineer who backed the train up by mistake and Dewey on the back platform over the microphone made a few unkind remarks about the engineer and that took care of the Railroad Brotherhoods.

HESS: How much of a threat to Mr. Truman's victory did you think Henry Wallace and the Progressive Party would be in 1948?

CONNELLY: I knew it would hurt in New York particularly because there are so many left wingers up there. The labor boys in New York, Dubinsky, Alex Rose and that crowd, they were all Wallace men because he was farther to the left than Truman and they were for Wallace naturally, and he did prevent Truman from carrying New York.

HESS: What could have been done to have prevented Wallace from cutting out such a big block of votes and keeping the state from going


Democratic? If it went Republican just because of the Wallace block of votes, what could have been done to prevent that?

CONNELLY: Well, very little because after Wallace declared because of the financing, because a lot of these people don't think beyond New York and they thought they could put him over, and, of course, they had Communists in the act, and Paul Robeson, so that group you couldn't reach anyway. They probably would not have voted for Dewey. They would have voted for Truman because he was the only one left. They do it on that basis. But they still thought that Wallace was a Messiah, so what could be done about it, 1 don't know, except money. As a matter of fact, the last week in the campaign I arranged to pump some more money in here but it didn't do any good. Because the contributions were very


meager in that campaign. We'd go into a town like Chicago, we wouldn't know how to get the train out. We didn't have the money to pay for the freight, and I would call Washington and talk to Louie Johnson, "Come on. Let's get going here." He'd get on the phone and try to talk up enough money to get the train moving. That's how tight it was.

HESS: Did that happen very often?

CONNELLY: All during the campaign. People didn't think that Truman was going to win so why back a losing horse. So that's what happened. That's why he didn't get any money. Nobody thought he was going to win. By nobody I mean the big contributors. And these dollar contributions in a political campaign don't mean a thing. You spend more money servicing those contributions than you do by collecting them because you have to pay for clerical help and


acknowledgements, and what have you got left? So we didn't do that.

HESS: There were times too when the money was running a little short when it came time to pay for air time, is that correct?

CONNELLY: Oh, surely.

HESS: Radio more than television, at that time.

CONNELLY: Surely. I'll tell you a story about that. Now at the start of the campaign our first appearance was to be in Detroit on Labor Day. There was a fellow named Levinson, I believe he was state treasurer or something with the Democratic Party up there, and he had promised to raise money to buy coast-to-coast radio time for that Cadillac Square appearance. So about two nights before the convention, Roy Turner, who was then Governor of Oklahoma, was in Washington at a little


cocktail party for some of the people from the Democratic Committee at the Statler Hotel. One of the girls from the Committee came in with a telegram in which Mr. Levinson said he had not been able to raise the money and therefore could not arrange the broadcast time. She showed the thing to me and I showed it to Roy Turner, and he said, "Well, that broadcast is going to be made. How much is it?"

I believe we needed $25,000. So he takes his check book out and he said, "That broadcast goes on."

He handed the check to the girl from the National Committee. So that's how that broadcast was made, otherwise it wouldn't have been. That happened repeatedly during the campaign because all during that campaign we operated on a shoestring. But that's a typical example of what we were running into. The fund raising was done by Louis Johnson at the


National Committee, Colonel Louis Johnson, he later became Secretary of Defense.

HESS: Did he make an effective treasurer for the Committee?

CONNELLY: Well, he was a driver. It required something like that to get the job done. We managed to squeak through it O.K. and then the day after the election Johnson got offers of checks from other people he had written to during the campaign. But after Truman won, of course, many of the people who were out to lunch came in with checks. I remember one very particularly. A fellow named Louis Rosenthal who was a chairman of the board of Schenley Liquor, he had made a contribution of $25,000 to Dewey, and a day after the election he called Johnson and Johnson called me. He said, "What do you think I should do? The election is over."


I said, "You have to pay your bills, take it. Just make a little notation."

HESS: Of when it came in.

CONNELLY: Keep it in mind that he came in the day after the election.

HESS: They had some difficulty, getting a treasurer for that campaign, didn't they?

CONNELLY: Yes, they did and nobody wanted it, so I sent for some of the leading fund raising boys of the Democratic Party, and I set up a meeting at the White House with the President one afternoon. I brought William Pawley who was then Ambassador to Brazil; I brought back James Bruce who was Ambassador to the Argentine; Stanton Griffis, I believe, was Ambassador to Spain, so we held a meeting and William Pawley suggested that he would act as a chairman with this group and they would raise the money.


I believe Mr. Pawley started reading the Gallup polls and a few days later he announced he was leaving for Spain on business and he was gone for four months, but I think he began to think that the chances for him raising the dough were a little dim and he didn't want any part of it. You don't run a national campaign without money, and especially since the advent of television.

HESS: I understand in the campaign that Secretary Krug was rather scarce, is that right?

CONNELLY: Well, frankly all the Cabinet members were a little bit scarce. Of course, the Secretary of State couldn't get involved, Secretary of Defense couldn't get involved, so the only two really fighting--or I'd say three fighting Cabinet members in the campaign were Maurice Tobin who was Secretary of Labor, Charles Brannan who was Secretary of Agriculture


and Oscar Chapman, Secretary of the Interior. But the rest of them were not very active.

HESS: What about John Snyder?

CONNELLY: John Snyder was never on the front lines. He was the "Colonel House," he thought, of the Truman administration, so he may have raised some money behind the scenes, but he never appeared out front.

HESS: How much of a threat did you believe that J. Strom Thurmond and his States' Rights Party was going to be?

CONNELLY: Well, I figured with a combination of Wallace and Thurmond in the act, it would cut pretty deeply into Mr. Truman's bid, but it was very doubtful to me after the civil rights position that the President took that we would carry a solid south. Those "red necks" down there would never go for anything that even


had the smell of civil rights. They'd rather stay home.

HESS: During the campaign did you have anything to do with the Research Division of the Democratic National Committee--William Batt, Jr., Johannes Hoeber, Kenneth Birkhead, Frank Kelly?

CONNELLY: I had contact with all of them. When they formulated something, it was channeled through Bill Boyle or the chairman and then to me.

HESS: I understand that they were set up as an arm of the Democratic National Committee but their main job was speech writing for the campaign, is that correct?

CONNELLY: That's correct. Not only for the President but for the speakers during the campaign throughout the country. All that


speech material was cleared through Clark Clifford.

HESS: In Out of the Jaws of Victory, Jules Abels said in telling about the differences between the Dewey and Truman campaign trains, "There was a good deal of obtuseness in dealing with local politicians, who never got the red-carpet treatment from Dewey's aide, Paul Lockwood, that they got from Truman's aide, Matt Connelly."

CONNELLY: I believe that is correct. You see I know Paul Lockwood, as a matter of fact, I think he was probably the most affable, friendly fellow that Dewey had around him, but Paul Lockwood never had any experience in national politics. Paul Lockwood was the assistant district attorney when Dewey was a crime buster here in New York City, and then he became his secretary when he became Governor, but Paul never had


the front line political experience. He was a very able fellow, but he didn't know the dirt farmers, let's put it that way, and they didn't know him. I had the advantage because these people would come to Washington to see the President. If they couldn't see him, they were in a spot when they went home. So I would have the assignment of seeing National Committeemen, state chairmen, sometimes a county chairman, if they were big enough, but make sure they saw somebody, so they could go back and when people said, "Well, did you see the President?"

"No, but I had lunch with Matt Connelly," or dinner with Matt Connelly, or had cocktails with Matt Connelly, so they'd have something to take home with them. As a result, these fellows got to know me better, naturally, than they did the President, because I was the in between guy.


HESS: So when you went out in the field, you were known?

CONNELLY: Oh, yes, definitely known.

HESS: What was Bill Boyle's role in the 1948 campaign?

CONNELLY: He was assistant to Bob Hannegan and he coordinated the activities between the campaign train and the National Committee and he would forward these things along to me on the train. We had telephone contact all the time.

HESS: There were three men that were called in to help on speeches during the 1948 campaign. Could you tell me about those three men, why were they brought in, and what did they do; David Noyes, Albert Carr and John Franklin Carter?

CONNELLY: Well, frankly they did very little.


We brought them in for fresh ideas and fresh blood and probably have some concept of what the people expected to hear out in the country that the people who were in our group wouldn't know. But their contribution, I think, was very small.

HESS: Who brought them in?

CONNELLY: I suggested Noyes to Bill Hillman originally and Noyes had been in public relations and he had been in advertising. He was formerly with Lord and Thomas Advertising, and he was considered to be a pretty bright boy. At that time he had become personal public relations consultant to a lot of the key figures in Hollywood like Sam Goldwyn, so I thought he might be able to provide something fresh as an idea man. As a formal speech writer, no.

Albert Carr was more of a draftsman for


Noyes, but they never did come up with much that was special.

I believe Carter may have come in through the National Committee or through somebody who got to Charlie Murphy or Clark Clifford, but how he came into the act, I frankly don't know. It was through one of those three channels.

HESS: How did those men get along with the regular staff? Did they have any particular conflicts with the regular members of the staff?

CONNELLY: No, I don't believe there were any particular conflicts. I think there was a natural pride of authorship among them which is bound to exist but it never materially developed into anything serious. There weren't any open rows between them; there may have been differences of opinion about the material, but beyond that I'd say, no.


HESS: What comes to mind when you think about the campaign, the trip that you took? Anything stand out--any particular stops, any particular speeches--the speech in Harlem for instance?

CONNELLY: Oh, the speech in Harlem came quite as a surprise to the local boys particularly the mayor of New York, Bill O'Dwyer. Because after he saw that turnout for the President in Harlem, he saw the light and then he got on the bandwagon with a bang because he would never have believed that unless he saw it himself. Then he began to realize that in this part of the woods this fellow Truman was going over with the little people, which he did. The great thinkers were skeptical all the way, and they had to be shown and they were.

HESS: When the train would pull into a station, would any of the staff members get off and mingle with the people to find out what the


little man standing in the back of the crowd may be thinking, may be saying?

CONNELLY: We usually had one or two of the boys rotating around in the crowd to see what they were thinking and what they were saying.

HESS: And would they report back?

CONNELLY: They would report back to me.

HESS: And then did you report to the President?

CONNELLY: The President or to the speech writers to give them a cue on what they were thinking in that part of the woods. But I was on the back platform all the time--every stop. And then if I wasn't there, I had something else I had to do like pick up a phone call from the National Committee, they'd have to call while we were in the station, then I'd have Bill Bray out there and then I had David


Stowe out there. He later followed and did some of the same things that Bill Bray did, but there was always somebody out there to see what was going on and make a personal observation on their own.

HESS: Many of the speeches given that year, of course, were the "whistlestop" type speeches from the back platform. How were they written?

CONNELLY: They were written on the train. We'd get material from the National Committee on what was to be identified with this town. Did they have a paper mill or something they were kind of proud of, and what research would be done by the National Committee and passed along to Clifford and his crew. And we'd go into like Haverstraw, Iowa and there'd be something of local interest that we worked in at the beginning of the draft. Usually they


were just outlines because they used to run twelve or eighteen a day, so you couldn't have a prepared speech at every stop. The prepared speech was for a meeting in some town at night or at a luncheon, but the whistlestop speeches were largely outline speeches, or off-the-cuff completely.

HESS: Were the prepared speeches, the major speeches, written on the train or back at the White House or at the Committee?

CONNELLY: Well, it was a combination of both. They would send drafts out from Washington, from either the National Committee or the White House, and they would go directly to Clifford and his crew of speech writers. Then they would take them apart or if we had time between speeches--of course, every major prepared speech was reviewed on the train. Truman would do the same thing; he got his staff down


and would read it and if there was something we didn't like about it, we'd cut it or something he didn't like about it, he’d cut it, or some insert would be made, but that would be done on the train. Then it would be mimeographed for press release.

HESS: Who was helping Clifford with the speech writing on the train?

CONNELLY: Murphy, Dick Neustadt, Dave Lloyd, I think Dave Bell was on a few of them.

HESS: Was George E1sey there?

CONNELLY: George Elsey was not there. But the usual crew that worked with Clifford would be on the train, I mean, the major ones in the group.

HESS: In October of '48 the proposition of sending Chief Justice Vinson to Moscow was discussed.


What can you tell me about the background to that episode?

CONNELLY: That was in '48?

HESS: Yes, October of '48.

CONNELLY: I remember vaguely there was some discussion, but I can't remember enough details to be of help to you.

HESS: Well, quoting again from Out of the Jaws of Victory, "The idea of the Vinson mission was attributed at the time to Clark Clifford. Clifford emphatically denies that he was the source and says that the idea came to the President from someone in the advertising world. But Clifford got a stream of letters denouncing him. Apparently the idea came to Truman through his aide, Matt Connelly."

What do you think of that quote from Jules Abel's book, Out of the Jaws of Victory?


CONNELLY: Frankly, I wouldn't presume on a mission of that kind to have anything to do with it, because I didn't think that was my department. I never got involved in foreign affairs.

HESS: Since your name was mentioned in the quote, I thought I'd better read it off.

CONNELLY: Well, yes, you can be factual about that because I know that I would never presume to make any suggestions like that to the President.

HESS: In your papers at the Library there is a portfolio containing clippings from the Houston Chronicle with notations concerning Jesse Jones and it is entitled, "Top Turncoat 1948." What does that bring to mind?

CONNELLY: It brings to mind that Jesse Jones joined the parade and took a run out on Truman.

HESS: Did you keep some clippings and things of that nature?


CONNELLY: Yes, I had a clipping service of my own. It was made from local papers largely of clippings people sent to me, and in the process of moving, somewhere along the line the damn things got lost including my own personal press clippings, you know, pictures and that sort of stuff that's all that was there. It got lost in moving somewhere.

HESS: I have heard that James J. Maloney who was chief of the United States Secret Service is supposed to have gone with Dewey on election night in 1948, do you recall anything about that?

CONNELLY: Yes, I recall it very well. James Maloney brought the White House cars up to New York so that after the election results came in he would be in a position to take over the new President. So the White House cars were not out in Independence or Kansas


City. After we came back from the election, I found out about Mr. Maloney up in the Roosevelt Hotel in New York and not with the President, so it didn't sit too well. So we decided in the interest of harmony that we should replace Mr. Maloney which we did.

HESS: Who was with the President that night?

CONNELLY: Jim Rowley, Frank Barry.

HESS: He went up in Excelsior Springs on election night.

CONNELLY: And the other agent, I believe, was [Howard S.] Anderson.

HESS: Were you out in Kansas City?

CONNELLY: Oh, yes.

HESS: Did you stay at the Muehlebach that night?



HESS: What do you recall about election night?

CONNELLY: Well, Bill Boyle was out there with me and we were both on the phones all day calling different states, talking to people on the National Committee or state chairmen and they would report what was going on in their bailiwick, so we worked there through--I'd say it was about--I guess we were on the phone until 6 in the morning. I recall one very well, we had a state chairman out in Ohio, Ray Miller, we had talked to him earlier and we had a little coffee table for the phones that you could sit at and phone, drink coffee and eat sandwiches. We didn't leave that damn room. Bill Boyle found out that Ray Miller was not at the headquarters which kind of perturbed him a little bit, so he asked them where he was and they said, "Well, he has gone home."


So we got him on the phone at his home and told him to get the hell back to headquarters and keep score, which he did, and then, as you know, we eventually carried Ohio, but Ray had given up early.

HESS: Wasn't there something about some misplaced votes there for a little while in Ohio?

CONNELLY: Oh, in every election you run into misplaced votes or padded votes, that's part of the game. They register names on tombstones, that's all part of the game. It works on both sides. It depends on the alacrity of the local officials.

HESS: Did you think Mr. Truman was going to win the 1948 election?

CONNELLY: Yes, I did. I probably was one of the few who admitted it on the staff. They'd all say, "Well, of course, we're going to win,"


but as far as taking a positive view on it, for instance I think we were going into California and Dave Noyes was on the train at that time and he came into my room and he said, "I want to talk to you."

I said, "Sure."

He said, "Do you really think that Truman has a chance?"

I said, "What do you mean, does he have a chance? He's going to win."

He said, "Well, I wish I could agree with you."

I said, "Now you're supposed to be the smart fellow, why don't you think he is going to win?"

"Because he won't get enough votes."

I said, "The answer is smart, but you're operating on a false premise, he's going to get the votes, and he will, get enough to win. It’s not going to be a landslide, don't let


me kid you for a minute, but he is going to win."

I think I'm the only one on the staff besides Truman who thought he would.

HESS: Did you ever hear Mr. Truman make any observations during the campaign, express any feelings of confidence?

CONNELLY: Yes, he always had confidence. He always had confidence.

HESS: Was there ever a time when the confidence might have slipped a little bit?

CONNELLY: He never showed it to me. As a matter of fact, on election night--I think you know the story about what happened to him--he went to bed. Every once in a while he'd wake up, go out to the Secret Service boys and say, "What's happening?" So they'd give him the latest; they had the radio, "Oh, we're doing


all right," and, go back to bed again.

So, finally he, got up and he says, "Come on boys, let's go; we're in."

That was, I would say, about 6 in the morning. He came prancing into the hotel. We hadn't seen him since, oh, practically all election night and he didn't even tell me where he was going, which was smart because the press boys had been bugging me and bugging Charlie Ross, "Where is he, where is he?"

No one knew.

HESS: What made you think he was going to win the election? What gave you confidence?

CONNELLY: I thought that by the time he got through campaigning, particularly through the west where he was elected--the way those farmers took to him, I knew he had them. But my first tip-off on his winning was not Cadillac Square because that was organized,


but we rode from there up to Pontiac, Michigan and along the highway from Detroit to Pontiac I'd see people alongside the highway, this was not organized and there were a lot of them out there. That's the difference. This tells me what I want to know. Because the Detroit thing was to impress people--it was organized, they had to be there. So that was my first tip-off.

HESS: Were there other places in the campaign where you saw evidence of this?

CONNELLY: You could see it there in the Midwest. We went out to Iowa for that plowing contest, so I got a pretty good indication from that. The turnout there was not for the plowing contest, it was for the President, but all the family came along in station wagons or their private planes, and the response he got out there was really something to hear. So I


knew where it counted, he had them.

HESS: Is there anything that stands out in your mind about the vacation in Key West after the victory in 1948?

CONNELLY: Yes, there is one incident I am reminded about. Charlie Ross and I stayed in Washington to organize the mail after the election, so we went down, oh, I believe the week following the President and his family. When we arrived at the airport, the press crew was out to the airport, and they had an open convertible and they escorted us from the plane to the convertible and they had a parade going through downtown. When we got to the naval base camp, at the gate they had a colored high school band to lead Charlie Ross and me into the naval base. So out in front of the presidential quarters was the entire family and the staff to take a review of Charlie Ross and I. By the time


we got inside the base they made us get out of the car and walk at the head of the parade. So that incident I'll never forget.

HESS: They were making you review the troops?

CONNELLY: No, the President reviewing the troops--Charlie Ross and me.

HESS: Anything else about that time down there?

CONNELLY: Yes, the President made me an offer down there.

HESS: What was that?

CONNELLY: He called me aside and he said, "I know how hard you worked in this thing and what you've done."

I said, "Well, it was hard but it was a pleasure."

So he said, "I want to ask you something." He said, "I don't want a snap answer."


I said, "Well, ask me. I don't know how to answer until I hear the question."

So he said, "How would you like to be Postmaster General and chairman of the National Committee?"

I said, "The answer is no."

He said, "I told you to think about it."

I said, "That's right, you did. I did think about it, and the answer is still no."

He says, "You know what you're turning down?"

I said, "Yes."

He said, "Why? This isn't offered to many."

I said, "Yes, I know why." I said, "With you I belong at the rat hole. So I'll stay to protect you at that rat hole, I know the deal. That's why my answer is no."

End of discussion.


HESS: Have you ever had any regrets?

CONNELLY: No, but I did know that that's where my value to him was, to protect him from the interlopers.

HESS: Guarding the door.

CONNELLY: That's right.

HESS: On the subject of Key West, in the copies that we have of William Rigdon's logs at the Library I found that you went down there on just about all the trips, is that correct?

CONNELLY: That's correct.

HESS: What comes to mind when you think about the trips down to Key West, other than the one that we have mentioned?

CONNELLY: Well, they were all pretty much the same. We'd have people come down from


Washington on special critical matters that were coming up at that time. He would fly them down to Key West to discuss this; they'd probably stay a couple of hours; maybe occasionally one would stay overnight, but very rarely longer than that. So as soon as they completed what they came to. discuss, they'd go right back to Washington. But he had a pretty set pattern down there. He would get up in the morning and go through the mail; then he would proceed to the beach. I managed to make it out once or twice, but that didn't appeal to me very much, so most of the staff would go with him and they'd play volleyball or pitch horseshoes or something. The party would come back for lunch, we'd all have lunch, then he would go and take an afternoon nap, and at 4 o'clock he would convene with the crowd again, unless there was some business that he had to do, and they had a poker table set up


permanently on the porch of the White House down there, so the members of the staff would get involved in a poker game, and this happened every day at 4 o'clock, they'd play until dinner and then go back and play again. There were occasional exceptions for a movie, and they would play probably until 11 and break it up and go to bed.

I'll never forget when Admiral Dennison arrived on the scene, and I never played poker, I don't know the first thing about it, so Admiral Dennison, of course, being the official host was at that poker table at every session, which he loathed, but he came to me one day and said, "You know you're pretty smart."

I said, "What do you mean, Bob?"

He said, "You don't get in these poker games."

I said, "I don't know anything about it."

He said, "You must have seen this coming.


You're smart. You never get into one of them."

I said, "I don't play."

He said, "You're pretty smart." He said, "I bet you play, but you knew what was coming. Here you go out on the town at night and I'm stuck."

I said, "That's right, Robert, but you're the host," because it was a Navy base.

But that intrigued Bob, how I had enough foresight not to get involved in the poker games because Mr. Truman loved to play poker. Not for the sake of winning, and he established this little thing which I thought was very good. He made it very plain he wanted no gamblers around; you could play for fun, there's a difference, but he put a ceiling on the pot. If anybody got a little ahead, he had a poverty pot and they'd have to throw their excess winnings into the pot and the other fellow could draw on the pot, but nobody ever


got hurt in the game. The game would go on for two weeks but nobody was ever hurt. Nobody ever made a killing; nobody ever lost his shirt.

HESS: What was the limit, do you recall?

CONNELLY: No, I don't.

HESS: How was the work of the White House office carried on when you were down there?

CONNELLY: Well, we always had our assistant key people. It all depends on who went on the trip. If it was a top boy, like Clifford he would have Charlie Murphy, but there would always be somebody at home to cover home base.

HESS: Did you usually spend part of the morning working and going over mail and things of that nature when you were at Key West?

CONNELLY: Oh, yes, or taking telephone calls from



HESS: In October of 1950 President Truman took a trip to Wake Island to see General MacArthur, what do you recall about that?

CONNELLY: Well, when that decision was made to go--frankly I do not know who suggested it or why he accepted it, but I happened to be in New York that weekend and I got a call from Jim Rowley of the Secret Service asking what I knew about the trip to the Pacific, and I asked him if he was out of his mind.

"Well," he said, "you'd better get back here, something's going on."

Well, I was closed in initially, it was very foggy in New York, and I finally got a plane and got back to Washington in time for the staff meeting the next morning, which was on a Monday; so the meeting was on when I got there and I walked in. "What's this stuff about


the Pacific?"

"Oh," Truman said, "that's all arranged. I want you and Donald Dawson to handle the advance in San Francisco. I want a TV show, and you and Don Dawson can handle that setup when we return from Wake Island."

I said, "What's this all about?"

He said, "Well, it's all arranged, it's been announced and everything is worked out."

So I waited for the meeting to break up, and I went back into the room and I said, "What's this I hear about you going to see MacArthur?"

He said, "Yes, that's what the trip is about."

I said, "Could I ask you one question?"

He said, "Surely."

I said, "When does the king go to the prince? I think this operation stinks."

He said, "Never mind, never mind, the decision is made. You and Don take care of


San Francisco."

So Don Dawson and I went to San Francisco and made arrangements, got the Opera House, got the TV set up, so they arrived back from Wake Island and Don and I went out to the airport to meet them, went back to the hotel and I said, "Got the speech for television?"

"Oh, yes."

So among the speech writers on that trip were Dean Rusk and David Lloyd, I believe, were the two top writers, so I read the draft and I went in to him and I said, "Look, I still want to know why did you go to Wake Island--this doesn't say anything--what's your reason? I've been booming this thing out here in San Francisco to build up an audience for you. Are you going to give them the State Department bromide?"

He said, "Yes, this is flat."

I said, "You're damn right it's flat." I said, "For God's sake, get these boys to put


in something you can say, something you can tell the American people why you went there."

So he called Dean Rusk and Dave Lloyd in and said, "You have to rewrite it. Matt doesn't like the speech. He says it's not going to explain anything as to why the trip was made."

So they worked all night trying to rewrite the speech and it came up a little bit better, but I'd still like to know why he went.

HESS: Did you ever hear where the idea originated?

CONNELLY: No, I've got my own suspicions, but I could never prove them. Nobody would ever admit that he suggested it. I know pretty well who suggested it but I don't know enough to say who it is. It was not a member of the White House staff, I can assure you of that.

HESS: Well, we're running low on tape. Shall we knock off?

CONNELLY: All right.

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