Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Oral History Interview with
Oscar R. Ewing

Attorney, Hughes, Hubbard & Ewing, New York, New York, and predecessor firms, 1919-1947; Assistant Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, 1940-42; Vice Chairman, 1942-47; Special Assistant to the U.S. Attorney General, 1942 and again in 1947; Acting Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, 1946; Administrator of the Federal Security Agency, 1947-53; and organizer and member of an unofficial political policy group during the Truman administration, 1947-52.

Chapel Hill, North Carolina
May 2, 1969
by J. R. Fuchs

[Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | Additional Ewing 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 It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.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 July 1971
Harry S. Truman Library
Independence, Missouri

[Top of the Page | Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | Additional Ewing Oral History Transcripts]

Oral History Interview with
Oscar R. Ewing

Chapel Hill, North Carolina
May 2, 1969
by J. R. Fuchs


FUCHS: Mr. Ewing, I thought that we would go ahead with a few more matters concerning your administration of the Federal Security Agency and might start by asking about an attack on you by Representative Daniel A. Reed, a Republican from New York who, I believe, demanded that Mr. Truman recall you from a London Health Conference. Do you recall anything about that, sir?

EWING: Yes, I had gone to England and a number of other places in Europe to get firsthand information about how their health services were functioning and how well they were succeeding. In London I learned that the Medical Society of Muncie, Indiana had been sending money to a group over there that was opposing the British health service. At a press conference I was asked questions about it and I said that I thought it was no business of the Medical Society in Muncie, Indiana to be taking sides on the medical problems of Britain. That apparently stirred up some controversy. Lord Horder, who was the physician to King George VI, who was on the throne at that time, got into the controversy


in some way. I don't recall the details because the incident wasn't very important. After I returned home I learned that Representative Reed had demanded my recall but I don't think I even knew of it until I got back home.

FUCHS: What year was that, sir?

EWING: I think that was late in '48 or early in '49.

FUCHS: I see. The Social Security Act of 1950 was generally accorded to have been one major Fair Deal accomplishment, and I believe you appeared as a witness before committee hearings in regard to that. Do you recall anything of that situation?

EWING: That was the bill where we were able to get Social Security benefits extended to people who were permanently and totally disabled. That was something that was very much needed. If a man died who was sixty-five or over leaving surviving dependents, those dependents would get certain benefits. But if he were twenty-five and became permanently and totally disabled there were no benefits payable to him or to his dependents, yet the man was economically dead, just as much as if he had been buried


in the ground. We felt the law should be amended so that people who became totally and permanently disabled could draw benefits, and if they died their dependents should get certain benefits, too.

FUCHS: I believe that the state relief boards were against this rather strongly. Do you recall anything of that and how did you overcome this opposition?

EWING: I don't recall.

FUCHS: In 1948 you worked out an agreement, I believe, in which Gallinger Hospital in Washington, the municipal hospital, would be open to Negro doctors and that they would be accepted for residency or internship. Do you recall anything about how this came about? And the implementation of it?

EWING: Oh, yes. At that time there were only two Negro medical schools in the United States, one of which was Howard University in Washington and that was within the bailiwick of the Federal Security Agency. Shortly after I became Administrator, it was brought to my attention rather vividly that there was a great shortage of doctors in the United States and a necessity to find


ways and means to get more of them. But I was particularly concerned when I learned that there was really an acute shortage of Negro doctors. There were various counties in the South where there was not a single Negro doctor and on the whole Negroes got short shrift from the white doctors. For instance, examples were given me where Negro workmen would go to a doctor for a shot of some kind and the doctor would give him the shot right through his work overalls.

I conferred with Dr. Mordecai Johnson, the president of Howard University, and also with the dean of the medical school at Howard to find out if there was anything that we might do to increase the output of Negro doctors by Howard University. Dr. Johnson told me that the output of graduate doctors of Howard Medical School was severely limited by a rule of the American Medical Association, that required a medical school to have a certain number of clinical hospital beds for each student. He said that in Washington the only teaching hospital for Howard medical students was Freedman's Hospital, which was also under my jurisdiction. It wasn't a large hospital so the result was that Howard Medical School could only educate the number of students for which Freedman's Hospital


could supply the required number of clinical beds. Dr. Johnson added that in Gallinger Hospital, the great municipal hospital in the District of Columbia, the teaching privileges were only given to Georgetown University Medical School and the George Washington Medical School. Gallinger did not extend teaching privileges to Howard professors. Well, I thought that was something I might do something about. So, I first got in touch with the commissioners of the District of Columbia. They were the governing body of the city, and they recognized the problem but seemed reluctant to do anything unless I could get the two universities, that is George Washington and Georgetown Medical Schools, to agree to some change. I then discussed the problem with the presidents of the two universities. I got the most cordial cooperation from both of them and also from the dean of the medical school of George Washington, but the dean of Georgetown was very much opposed to allowing Howard medical professors having teaching privileges in Gallinger.

FUCHS: Internships?

EWING: No, they weren't internships. It was a question of


whether or not Howard professors could take their students into Gallinger and the patients there could be used for clinical teaching.

FUCHS: Was not the privilege of interning there also involved?

EWING: It was. It was involved but it was more important to get this privilege for medical professors at Howard University to take their students into the hospital in order to have clinical cases to show their students. It's an essential part of teaching in a medical school. And, as I say, the dean of Georgetown was very much opposed to it.


EWING: He just didn't want Negroes in the school, it was a pure racist attitude.

FUCHS: In the hospital?

EWING: Yes, I mean in the hospital. So, I went back to Father Guthrie, the President of Georgetown, and had no trouble whatsoever with him. I simply said, "Father, this is a religious medical school. It is a medical


school run by a church. The dean of your medical school is opposed to allowing Howard professors bringing their medical students into Gallinger Hospital for teaching purposes. I just don't see how a Christian organization can take that position."

"Well," he said, "I don't either." And he straightened that out in no time so the Howard University Medical School was given the teaching privileges.

There was also a question of how the patients would be assigned. The dean of the Georgetown Medical School argued that no white patient would consent to having a Negro doctor. I took the position that that was up to the patient, and not up to the dean of the medical school to decide in advance that the patient wouldn't want a Negro doctor. I asked what system they were then using in assigning patients between Georgetown and George Washington Medical Schools. I was told that number one was assigned to George Washington, number two to Georgetown and so on, alternately.

"Well," I said, "why don't you just include Howard as number three?"

That was finally agreed to and they had no trouble. I learned afterwards that there were a few white patients


who did not want a Negro doctor and some Negro patients who didn't want a white doctor. And it balanced out all right. So, it's been a great help to Howard University. I think they were able to increase their graduating class from seventy-five to a hundred. That figure sticks in my mind, but it could be something different.

FUCHS: Now, do you know that Negro interns were accepted in 1948 at Gallinger Hospital?

EWING: When you pin it down to 1948, I would say no, for the simple reason that even after Howard got this right to take their medical students into Gallinger, Howard made a very cautious approach. They started by taking over services only in subjects where they had really topnotch teachers. There were a few areas, I don't remember what they were, I just say pediatrics for example, I don't know that that was it, where they would be weak and they didn't take on that service until they got their own house in order and had a strong faculty in the particular subject. I'm not sure just at what point they began taking interns but it did come I'm sure.

FUCHS: The original agreement did provide that interns


would be taken on, as you recall?

EWING: As I recall, yes. And residents, too. But Howard University handled it very well. They were quite sure that they could do their part before they undertook any service.

FUCHS: Yes. Well, I have a somewhat deep interest in this because of the work one scholar is doing on civil rights and he was wondering about some of the statements made about this and when it was actually implemented; and your current biography in the 1948 issue of Current Biography stated: "Washington's Jim Crow policy toward hospital doctors was ended on February 16 , 1948 when Ewing announced Gallinger Hospital would be opened to Negro doctors and that Negroes would be accepted for residencies or internships. (They had accepted Negro patients.)" Then a recent book by Constance Green called The Secret City, Civil Rights in the Nation's Capitol, published in 1967, stated: "In 1951, the head of Gallinger Hospital agreed to accept some Negro interns, but otherwise except for a few half-hearted gestures..." and then it goes on to talk about integration in Washington and I wondered if that were just simply an incorrect


date. Then there is a letter in the files dated November 29, 1948 from the corresponding secretary of the Washington chapter of the Unitarian Fellowship for Social Justice which complimented the President for the part he took in the negotiations: "Which resulted in the admission of Negro interns from Howard University Medical School to Gallinger Hospital. Previous arrangements were obviously inequitable and impractical. We feel that much benefit to many will result from the action taken." Now, I wondered if you had any comment about this which was in November 1948, and also about the ' 51 date given by Miss Green in her book?

EWING: Well, after I got the arrangements made, I more or less put it out of my mind. The only thing I recall, two or three times Dr. Mordecai Johnson, who was president of Howard University, told me that everything was going fine. I really have no knowledge, after I got through with the original agreement, I have no firsthand knowledge of what happened afterwards other than what Dr. Johnson told me.

FUCHS: In regard to the statement that in 1951 the head of the hospital agreed to accept some Negro interns,


would you say...

EWING: No, I think that date's wrong.

FUCHS: You commented earlier about the transfer of the Bureau of Employment Security, which contained the U. S. Employment Service and the Unemployment Compensation program, to the Department of Labor in June '49. The Bureau of Employees Compensation functions were transferred to the Secretary of Labor in May 1950 under the Presidential Reorganization Plan Number 2 of 1949 , do you recall anything about that or were you in favor of that transfer?

EWING: I do not recall that at all because if the President wanted to transfer something out of my bailiwick he had a perfect right to do it and I would gladly go along. I wasn't trying to build an empire. I had headaches enough.

FUCHS: There was a controversy in 1951 regarding the making public of records in regard to welfare in the states. Do you recall anything of that?

EWING: Oh, yes.


FUCHS: Would you care to go into that a bit sir?

EWING: Well, that controversy chiefly involved the State of Indiana. I don't recall that any other state was involved. I've always been interested in things that go on in Indiana because it is my native state and I have a sister living there. Also I have a farm in Indiana and I am out there once or twice a year.

In order to explain the controversy to which you refer, I will have to give you some background. As originally enacted, the Social Security law contained no provision regulating the inspection of relief rolls and therefore anyone could look at them. In an election in Kentucky held in the late 1930s the Democrats got the names of all the persons on relief. These persons were called upon by party workers a day or two before election and were told that any person on relief who voted the Republican ticket would be taken off the rolls. This was cruel and utterly unjustifiable political pressure. It so shocked a Democratic Congress that they passed an amendment which prohibited the inspection of relief rolls by anyone except for official purposes. The amendment also provided that if any state permitted inspection for any other purpose the Federal Security


Administrator must cut off further payments of Federal funds for relief to the offending state.

During the late 1940s and the early 1950s two Indianapolis newspapers, the Star and the News, were conducting a vicious campaign against the relief program. The Star assigned to the job one of its reporters who was an expert hatchet man. He traveled about Indiana digging up cases in which relief was being given to persons who, in his opinion, were not entitled to it. For example, one case which he blew up to gigantic proportions was that of a woman on relief who had a fur coat. He would have a reader believe that mere possession of a fur coat was positive proof that that owner was illegally getting relief. It never occurred to him that someone may have given the woman the fur coat.

As a result of this campaign of the Star and the News, both of which were owned by Eugene Pulliam, a bill was introduced in the Indiana legislature at its 1951 session, which if enacted would open the relief rolls to inspection by anyone. My office warned the appropriate officials of Indiana that enactment of the law would compel me to cut off Federal relief funds to


the state. These amounted to about twenty million dollars a year. The legislature , nevertheless, under the goading of the Star and the News enacted the bill. This was a plain act of defiance of Federal law and I promptly issued an order cutting off Federal relief funds to the State of Indiana. The Attorney-General of Indiana then filed a suit against me in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to compel me to release the funds but the Court upheld my action. The Attorney-General took an appeal to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia which affirmed the ruling of the lower court. With the refusal of the courts to overrule my action, Indiana then took its case to Congress. Senator William Jenner, of Indiana, was able to get an amendment attached to a bill which permitted inspection of the relief rolls under certain specified conditions with which Indiana complied. With the approval of the amending bill by the President, I promptly released the funds. This ended the controversy insofar as the State was concerned, but not insofar as the Pulliam papers were concerned. Their hatchet man reporter went down to Greensburg,


Indiana, and visited my farm near there. His account of this trip included a number of suggestive questions. Where had I obtained the money with which to buy the farm? Where had the money come from that paid for all the improvements I had made on the place? The obvious insinuation implied in these questions was that I could not have come by the money honestly. They entirely overlooked the fact that I had practiced law in New York reasonably successfully for some twenty years. Even later Pulliam's papers continued to vent their spleen on me. In a later Indianapolis municipal election they were making a fight against the city installing parking meters in front of private residences. They referred to this as arbitrary official action just like that which Oscar Ewing had exercised when he cut off Federal relief funds from Indiana.

FUCHS: How was Jenner, and I believe Halleck was involved, how were they able to marshal sufficient support to pass an amendment; your position had been entirely legal?

EWING: Oh, yes, my actions had been tested in the courts. Jenner got the amendment through some way. I don't


think we particularly opposed it, because the amendment as they had drawn it did leave certain restrictions on divulging these names. We felt that the restrictions were enough for us to live with at least until we could see how they worked. As a matter of fact, I got a report a couple of years after the amendment had been in effect and in the whole state there had only been two applications to inspect the welfare rolls. So, it was a rumpus that two newspapers had kicked up over nothing.

FUCHS: In 1952, March, you appointed as an aide, Mr. E. L. Shainmark?


FUCHS: Was he brought in for a specific job, or what were his special qualifications?

EWING: The man who was handling our publicity functions had resigned. I say publicity functions because the Agency wanted to make public various activities about which the public should know. And the man who had been handling that resigned. It was quite a job.

FUCHS: Who was that, do you recall?


EWING: No. I don't recall his name. Mr. Shainmark had been a very successful newspaperman. He had been employed in the Hearst chain of papers as managing editor of one or two of its papers. I had called Bill Hearst to ask him about Mr. Shainmark and Mr. Hearst gave him a very warm endorsement; and it proved correct because Mr. Shainmark did fine work.

FUCHS: Donald Kingsley had served in 1948 to '49 as your assistant?


FUCHS: Then in 1949 he went to the International Refugee Organization. How did that come about?

EWING: Oh, I just think he was offered this position and it was a job that challenged and intrigued him, and he wanted to go.

FUCHS: You don't know who recommended him for that position?

EWING: No, I have no knowledge about it.

FUCHS: Dr. Scheele came up for reappointment in March of


1952. Was there any thought about not reappointing him? Was there any problem involved with that?


FUCHS: You addressed a memo to the President on February 19 referring to a conference you had in which you recommended Dr. Scheele and pointed out that the previous Surgeon General had served--I think the minimum time was eight years--and he thought he needed more time. I wonder if the President had considered, possibly, asking you to consider someone else.

EWING: No, I don't think so at all.

FUCHS: Coming back now to the 1948 campaign, although we've already discussed the political strategy board, among other things, what part did you play aside from the political strategy board, in the campaign?

EWING: Well, in early 1948, say January, I think President Truman was in the nadir of his popularity, and those of us who believed in him and wanted to see him re-elected, were doing what we could to bring about his renomination and then the next step would be his election. But at that time there were a lot of the Democratic


leaders who were openly opposed to President Truman's re-nomination. Frank Hague of New Jersey, he was the Democratic National Committeeman from New Jersey; Jack Arvey of Chicago, he was Democratic National Committeeman from Illinois; and there were a number of other Democrats influential in the party who felt that it would be a mistake to re-nominate Mr. Truman, that he couldn't be elected. I think of two sons of President Roosevelt, Jimmy and Franklin, Jr., and I think Franklin, Jr. had come out publicly opposing Mr. Truman's re-nomination. Mrs. Roosevelt, however, never wavered in her loyalty to President Truman.

Those of us who were interested in President Truman's re-nomination, felt that we had to really get busy and do something about it. Howard McGrath, who was a Senator from Rhode Island at that time, was also Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He and I were the two people who I think were most concerned about getting the re-nomination of the President, although there were others, too. But Chairman McGrath and I were the two people who were perhaps in positions to do something about it. As a matter of fact, he and I traveled about


the country extensively trying to get these recalcitrant Democrats, these influential Democrats back in line.

FUCHS: You mean, you did early in '48 go to such individuals as Hague and Jake Arvey, personally, and...

EWING: Oh, indeed. And there were many others because you often didn't know what position the national committeemen would take, so we were doing missionary work everywhere we could.

FUCHS: Do you recall any specific conversations, any objections say that Jake Arvey might have given to Mr. Truman's re-nomination?

EWING: No. I think that in all instances it was a feeling that he couldn't be re-elected. The argument that Howard McGrath and I used, was that whether anyone liked it or not the Democratic candidates had to run on the Truman record. The Democrats couldn't take the position that, "Well, we made a mistake last time but give us another chance." This would be a confession of political bankruptcy. If they didn't re-nominate the man that had served as President for almost four years, they were just


making a Republican success certain. I don't think that we converted Jake Arvey, to whom I talked two or three times, or Frank Hague; but as February came along and March came along, and April, the opposition to President Truman was gradually diminishing. Then the President made his first cross-country whistlestop speechmaking tour and that was really a great success. Truman was a fighter and when he got out on those whistlestops and laid his facts on the line, he created a warmth towards himself that had been lacking before.

FUCHS: Now, you're speaking of the so-called non-political tour of June 1948?

EWING: That's right.

FUCHS: Did the political strategy board have anything to do in recommending that he make such a journey?

EWING: Oh, yes, we urged him to do it. We didn't have to do a great deal of urging. He was delighted. I think it was on that trip that he went to a plowing contest in Iowa. There was an enormous crowd of farmers present because it had been advertised that the President would be making a farm speech. It was


in that speech that he picked up and made an issue of a matter that had been brought to his attention by Secretary Brannan. The 80th Congress, which of course, was President Truman's chief political opponent at that time, had appropriated nothing with which to build storage bins in which farmers' grains might be stored. The support program contemplated that the farmer would store his grain in a Government bin and then receive the support price. If the market price of the grain went above the support price the farmer could retain his grain and sell it at the higher market price and repay the Government loan. If the price of the grain went down the Government could sell the grain without any obligation on the part of the farmer to make up the loss. The President made the most of the failure of the 80th Congress to provide the necessary storage space. I remember his classic expression was that the 80th Congress had put a pitchfork in the farmer's back. I know the President repeated this all through the campaign and it did much to help him carry many western states on election day. And that contrasts sharply with the 1968 election when Vice President Humphrey really had no issue that particularly appealed to


farmers. His defeat was largely due, in my opinion, to this fact. He lost too many of those midwestern farm states that Truman carried in 1948. Had he had a good farm issue, I think Mr. Humphrey would have been elected.

FUCHS: There just was none that could be picked up, is that the way you feel?

EWING: Apparently not. I was not in touch with the campaign. I'm only observing the results.

FUCHS: You told me yesterday that Oscar Chapman never attended any of the strategy board meetings?

EWING: That's right.

FUCHS: But, as you know, he was very active in the campaign. What do you recall of that and was he in touch in any way with your strategy board?

EWING: No. He did an excellent job as advance man for the President. Oscar would go ahead of the President to places where the President was scheduled to speak and would make sure the proper arrangements were made. Then he would move on ahead of the President and do


the same thing at the next place. He was a most efficient advance man.

FUCHS: There was a research division organized in the Democratic National Committee. Do you know anything about how that came to pass?

EWING: Yes, I think Senator McGrath as chairman of the Democratic National Committee had that organized, and, if I'm not mistaken, the head of it was a William Batt, Jr. He had sat in on some of our strategy meetings and, of course, it was very necessary for the National Committee to have a research division. When the campaign came on there were a lot of matters that had to be studied and researched that were outside the purview of our strategy group.

FUCHS: Who was Bill Batt, and had he sat in on some of your strategy board meetings before the research division was organized, and by whose invitation?

EWING: I think he had sat in with our group before the research division was organized because he was in some position where he was active in politics. I'm not sure but that he was employed by the National


Committee before that research division was set up. I just am not sure but he was the son of William Batt who was...

FUCHS: You don't recall who suggested that such a division be set up and who suggested Batt's name as potential director for it?


FUCHS: Did you personally recommend anyone for the staff of the research division?

EWING: I don't think so.

FUCHS: Did you become acquainted with any of the staff such as Kenny Birkhead or--you knew Batt of course.

EWING: Batt is the only one I knew.

FUCHS: Johannes Hoeber?


FUCHS: Or Frank Kelly?


FUCHS: You didn't have personal contact with the research




FUCHS: What about the strategy board, was there any relationship there after the research division got started?

EWING: Well, there was a great deal of contact with Bill Batt. I think he sat in with us very often.

FUCHS: So, any recommendations to the research division would have been made through Bill Batt?

EWING: Oh, yes. He would be the liaison.

FUCHS: The campaign was, as you know, largely oriented towards the issues rather than personalities. Was this part of the recommendation by the policy board and was there any one who felt it should be more personality oriented?

EWING: No, no. You see Governor Dewey was so confident that he would be elected that his whole campaign pitch was to tell what the next administration would be doing, and his campaign never really got down to the gut issues. Mr. Truman, on the other hand, was pounding on the gut issues very hard. I don't recall that any


personalities were involved one way or the other. It was a very clean campaign in that respect.

FUCHS: You, as a member of a policy board, and the policy board as a whole, felt that you should dwell on the issues rather than aiming at Mr. Dewey and other members of the opposition?

EWING: Well, I don't recall that that question came up, it was just the way those things go. Your campaign develops just naturally in a certain way. Surprises come in and you meet those when they come because you haven't anticipated them. I don't recall any discussion of personalities being involved at all. I don't think they were.

FUCHS: The campaign involved two matters I'd like to dwell on a bit. One was the Palestine, Israel question and, of course, civil rights. Taking up the first to a degree, in 1948, March, Ambassador Austin in the U.N. gave a speech rather unexpectedly putting the United States on the side of trusteeship although earlier in '47 the U.N. voted for a partition and we had favored that. I believe a meeting was held and, it


has been written that you attended this meeting. Do you recall anything of that, after the Austin speech?

EWING: No, I draw a complete blank on that. I can tell you that whole story if you're interested.

FUCHS: I certainly am.

EWING: For a proper background one must go back to World War I. Turkey had ranged herself with the Central Powers and Lord Allenby headed the Allied army that was fighting the Turks in Palestine. In the fall of 1917 the Allies were advancing rapidly and, on November 2 , 1917, the British Government issued the famous Balfour Declaration, saying that they "view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a National Home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object." In September, 1918, the Turks were finally expelled from Palestine and the Balfour Declaration was incorporated in the Treaty of Peace, having previously been endorsed by all the Allied Powers and President Wilson on behalf of the United States. The victorious Allied Powers delegated to the League of Nations the disposition of


the territories that General Allenby had captured from the Turks. The League then designated Great Britain as the mandatory power for Palestine. The powers of the League of Nations were later vested in the United Nations.

Early in 1948 Albert Lasker, whom I knew well, came to me and said: "Jack, unless the President gets this Palestine matter settled pretty soon, the Jews will clobber him in the election this fall." Mr. Lasker talked so seriously about the situation that I thought I ought to repeat his conversation to the President. When I did the President said, "I know what Lasker says is probably true. But I am in a tough spot. The Jews are bringing all kinds of pressure on me to support the partition of Palestine and the establishment of a Jewish state. On the other hand the State Department is adamantly opposed to this. I have two Jewish assistants on my staff, Dave Niles and Max Lowenthal. Whenever I try to talk to them about Palestine they soon burst into tears because they are so emotionally involved in the subject. So far I have not known what to do."

I then said, "Mr. President, the settlement of the


Palestine problem is completely outside of my bailiwick and I know what I read about it in the newspapers, but if it would be any help to you I will be glad to study the facts and tell you what I think."

"Oh," the President answered, "I wish you would, I wish you would. It would help a lot."

The study proved fascinating. Being a lawyer, naturally I investigated the legal claims that the Arabs and Jews respectively had to the land in question. I found that under international law, when land is taken by conquest, the conqueror can dispose of it as he wishes. For instance, after the Norman conquest of England in 1066 , William the Conqueror granted lands to his various lords and the titles to land in England today start with these grants. Therefore, the grant of sovereignty given by the Allies to the Jews of lands conquered from Turkey had the same validity as had similar grants of sovereignty to Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia. The claim of the Arabs that Palestine had been their land for thousands of years was untrue. For several hundred years it had been Turkish territory and with Allenby's conquest in World War I the territory became Allied territory


for the Allies to dispose of as they wished. When the title of the Allies to a part of this conquered land was transferred to the Jews, their title to it became indisputable; and I so advised the President.

At the close of World War II Great Britain found herself in a precarious financial position. In order to curtail expenses, she began to withdraw from many of her worldwide military commitments. She withdrew her troops from India, Pakistan, the Middle East and notified the United Nations, which had succeeded to the rights and powers of the League of Nations, that she, Great Britain, would surrender the mandate for Palestine on May 14, 1948. As a substitute for the military forces she withdrew, Great Britain sought to establish close relations with Moslem nations of the area in the hope that this would give her friendly allies from East Pakistan, west across Asia Minor, the Middle East and on across the North African littoral to the Atlantic Ocean on the West.

FUCHS: As you undoubtedly know, Mr. Truman in his public statements dwelt mostly on the fact that, one, he was willing to leave the ultimate solution of the Palestine


problem in the hands of the United Nations where the British had dumped it. Two, he was mainly interested in achieving the entry of at least one hundred thousand refugees from the persecuted Jews in Europe very quickly into Palestine. How did this enter into your considerations?

EWING: Well, I don't recall exactly what his public statements were. But as a practical matter vis-a-vis the State Department, the State Department was urging him to capitulate completely to the Arabs, and our group advised the President to take a position to the effect that he would not consent to any modification of the boundaries as set up by the United Nations as a successor of the League of Nations.

FUCHS: Under the partition plan?

EWING: Yes, that he would not consent to any modifications of those boundaries except as it was agreeable to Israel.

FUCHS: Now this was after, you are thinking of after the creation of the state in '48?


EWING: No, I'm thinking even before then. I think he didn't use the word Israel, I think it was the Jewish Agency that was representing Jewish interests at that time.

FUCHS: That is correct.

EWING: So that left things as they were, as the United Nations had determined; and the Jews accepted the boundaries that the United Nations had fixed. The Arabs refused to accept them. They said that they were going to war unless those were changed. They went to war the very day that the State of Israel was proclaimed and President Truman had recognized the new State of Israel within a matter of hours after it was proclaimed.

FUCHS: What do you recall of Secretary of State Marshall's position in this?

EWING: Well, perhaps I could answer that if I continue this narrative. As you know, in the war, where the Arabs attacked on May 16, 1948, the Jews really crushed the Arab forces and expanded their own territory. They captured territory in West Galilee and the Negev,


particularly, that the November 29, 1947 resolution had given to Arab nations. Then a truce was made under which Egypt was allowed a slice of land clear over to the Dead Sea. This strip of land crossed a strip that was to be held by Israel for access to the Negev. Of course, such an arrangement was bound to bring another conflict.

FUCHS: Did the original partition plan of the U.N., November ' 47, give the Negev to Israel?

EWING: No, it did not. The Israelis captured it in the first conflict. Then the United Nations after a truce had been made, sent Count Bernadotte of Sweden to Israel to try to come up with a peace arrangement that would be satisfactory to everyone. He finally formulated his recommendations which were very pro-Arab. They gave the Negev back to Egypt and the West Galilee territory back to the Arabs.

FUCHS: Trans-Jordan?

EWING: Well, Trans-Jordan was divided up in the original assignment of territories by the United Nations in their resolution of November 29, 1947.


FUCHS: In the partition? In '47?

EWING: Yes. And that proposal of Bernadotte's was completely unacceptable to the Jews. But during this time emotions got out of control and Count Bernadotte was assassinated. His immediate successor as mediator was Ralph Bunche. Mediation got nowhere and in the hope of making progress a conference was called of the Foreign Ministers of the states involved to consider the Bernadotte plan. The Conference met in Paris in, I think, September of 1948. President Truman was still maintaining his position that he would consent to no modification of the boundaries of Israel except as was agreed to by Israel. While the conference was going on in Paris the President was making campaign trips every week out of Washington. He would return on Thursday or Friday and we would all work over the weekend on his speeches for the following week. On Sunday, October 17th, 1948, I had just started from my apartment in the Wardman Park Hotel to go down to the White House to work on the speeches for the following week. I was met in the lobby by a Western Union boy who said that he had a cablegram for me. I. reached out for it but he said, "There are collect


charges of $86 on this cable."

"Well," I exclaimed, "in that case you can keep the cable as far as I'm concerned."

FUCHS: I don't blame you.

EWING: Then he answered, "I can give it to you because the charges are guaranteed."

So, I opened the cablegram and saw that it was signed by Lillie Shultz. Stupidly I didn't place Miss Schultz right then. I should have because I had had previous correspondence with her. She was a correspondent for the magazine The Nation. The publisher of The Nation was Miss Freda Kirchwey. In the message Miss Shultz said that notwithstanding the President's instructions General Marshall as chairman of the American delegation to the Foreign Ministers Conference, was planning to agree to the Bernadotte plan. I didn't know what to do but I went on down to the White House, and at the first opportunity showed the cable to Clark Clifford. Clark said, "I don't understand this but we had better wait until we break up at noon and show the cable to the President." Which is what we did. The President read it and said, "Why, I can't


believe this. I just can't believe that General Marshall would do that." After a moment he said: "What do you suggest I do about it?"

I spoke up and said, "Mr. President, I have a suggestion. It is that you ask General Marshall to submit to you for approval any statement that he proposes to make before he makes it."

The President thought that was a good idea and replied, "Do you and Clark mind drafting such a cable during the lunch hour and let me see it; we'll get it in shape and send it off." When we convened after, lunch, Clark and I showed the President our draft, he approved it and it was sent off. That message read as follows: [Mr. Ewing, at this point in the interview, referred to Volume II, page 167 of the Memoirs of Harry S. Truman.]

October 17, 1948



I request that no statement be made or no action be taken on the subject of Palestine by any member of our delegation in Paris without specific authority from me and clearing the text of any statement.

That cable was sent and we assumed everything was under control. At least I thought so because I was not in touch with everything that might be going on at the


White House.

We now jump to the Thursday before the 1948 election. As you know, the Democratic candidate for President always goes to New York that day, makes a tour of the five boroughs and ends up in the evening making a speech at Madison Square Garden. That day I again came down into the lobby of the Wardman Park Hotel and was again met by a Western Union boy with a cablegram--no collect charges this time. But it was again from Miss Shultz. It said that notwithstanding the President's instructions tomorrow (Friday) General Marshall will agree to the Bernadotte plan unless he receives counter instructions. Well, I knew that President Truman was in New York on his tour of the five boroughs. I knew Clark Clifford had gone up with him. After thinking it over, I decided to hop a plane and go to New York. I got there about two o'clock, went over to the Biltmore Hotel where the President was stopping and where Democratic headquarters were, hoping I'd find Clark. When I got there I was told that he and Mrs. Clifford were out on a shopping tour. There was nothing I could do but sit down and wait, which I did. Clark got back to the


Biltmore, I'd say around five o'clock, and I showed him Miss Shultz's telegram. "Oh, that woman is crazy," he said. "Marshall sent a draft of a statement that he proposes to make and I thought it was all right." He suddenly added, "By the way, I've got Marshall's proposed statement right here in my briefcase." He got it out and read it over twice. Then he turned to me and exclaimed, "Well, I'll be damned. She's right. This proposed statement starts off 'In line with the President's instructions' and so forth and I've got to confess I was too busy to read it to the end, but the cracker is in the end. He proposes to go along with the Bernadotte plan. There's nothing we can do about it until the President comes back and we can take it up with him." So we waited around and it was about eight o'clock before the President returned to the hotel. You know, a President is always surrounded by hangers-on who want to shake his hand or say something to him. It was about half past eight before Clark and I were able to discuss the matter with him. The cable upset the President very much and after a short silence he asked, "What on earth can we do to prevent this?"


I said, "Well, Mr. President, I made a suggestion before, which didn't work out too well, but I've got another one. Why not this time tell General Marshall what to say."

"That's a good idea," he answered. "Do you and Clark mind missing the speech at Madison Square Garden tonight and use the time to draft a statement for General Marshall to make?"

"Of course," we said, "we'd be glad to."

So, we did. It wasn't hard because we were both so familiar with the whole problem that we could do it very quickly.

The President was quite late in getting back to the Biltmore that night because he went on the air at eleven o'clock, and it was at least half past twelve by the time he returned to the hotel and got rid of the people that wanted to see him. We were then able to show him what we drafted and he thoroughly approved it. He asked that one word be changed. We had put in the draft "You are directed to make the following statement." He said, "Change that word 'directed' to 'requested.' I don't have to direct Marshall."


With that I went off to bed and Clark had the job of calling the Under Secretary of State, Bob Lovett, at his home in Washington and got him out of bed. Apparently before an open window, Mr. Lovett took down Clark's dictation of the message. Then the Under Secretary had to call the State Department coding office, they had to code the message and get it on the wire. Mind you, there was six hours difference in time between Washington and Paris so it would be nip and tuck as to whether the President's message would reach General Marshall before he had delivered his statement to the conference.

Well, I knew nothing about what happened in Paris after that except I saw in the paper that General Marshall had made the statement we had drafted for him.

It was several months later when my secretary came in and said that there was a Miss Lillie Shultz and a Miss Freda Kirchwey outside who would like to see me. I said, "Well, I would sure like to see them." So, they were brought in with Miss Shultz saying, "Mr. Ewing, I thought you might like to know what happened in Paris after the new instructions came to General



And I answered, "I certainly would."

"Well," she said, "I knew General Marshall was to make his statement that Friday. I had awakened with a rotten headache and also felt terribly frustrated. I thought I knew what was going to happen, that much of what we were struggling for was going down the drain. About half past nine I received a telegram from New York saying that new instructions had been sent General Marshall." She went on, "I didn't know what the new instructions were. But I got dressed hurriedly, grabbed a taxi and rushed to where the conference was being held. The session hadn't started but the audience was there and the delegates were up on the platform. I rushed in waving the telegram and shouted out loud, 'Has the American delegation received their new instructions?' This caused considerable consternation, as I walked down and I handed the telegram to the person at the Secretariat's desk. He read it over, walked over and gave the message to Ralph Bunche. Then a thing happened that I understand never happened before and never has happened since. The chairman of the meeting decided that the translations of statements


that were being made should be made consecutively rather than simultaneously. It was a beautiful filibuster to give the American delegation time to get their new instructions.

The result was that General Marshall wasn't asked to make his statement until after the instructions had been received. I'm perfectly sure that this is what saved the Negev and some of the other territories involved for the State of Israel. "

Just to add a little human touch to this. Several years later Mrs. Ewing and I were invited to have dinner with some friends of ours in Scarsdale, Jewish friends, and one of the guests was a man named William Epstein. He was a Canadian, but he had been attached to the Secretariat's office of the United Nations. When we were talking after dinner, I related this story much as I have told it here. I noticed that Mr. Epstein was very nervous as though he wanted to say something. When I finished he leaned over he said, "Mr. Ewing, I was in charge of the Secretariat's desk of the conference that day and it was I to whom Lillie Shultz handed that telegram. And it was I who walked around and gave it to Ralph Bunche."


FUCHS: Did you ask Miss Shultz how she was so well apprized of what Marshall was going to do originally and also how she received premature notice that Marshall's instructions had been changed?

EWING: No, I didn't ask her. She was a newspaper correspondent and they have their sources of information. She did not tell me from whom she got the telegram but I'm pretty sure that I knew. Carl Sherman was the treasurer of the New York Democratic State Committee at that time, and I saw a good deal of him that day in the Biltmore. I'm quite sure I talked things over with him. I noticed that after he knew what I was working on he stuck very closely to me for the rest of the day. So, from that I simply assume that it was Carl Sherman who cabled Miss Shultz. He knew Miss Shultz very well and as he was Jewish he was naturally very much interested.

FUCHS: You said that Lovett took this message down in front of an open window.

EWING: In longhand. You see he was in Washington. Clark was in New York.


FUCHS: Why did you mention the open window?

EWING: Well, no significance other than the torture that it put to the Under Secretary of State.

FUCHS: Oh, he didn't catch cold or anything?

EWING: Not that I know of, but I am sure he was quite uncomfortable. I think he indicated that to Clark later and Clark told me.

FUCHS: Why did Miss Shultz, who had, you said, written you before, cable you and why had she written you before and also what about Miss Kirchwey having been in touch with you before?

EWING: No, Miss Kirchwey had not been in touch with me. You see, after the President asked me to get into the Palestine matter and make a study of it for him, I think this got noised about in Jewish circles and they knew I was in touch with the situation. I'm sure they knew that after my study I was in sympathy with their position, and they felt that it was a direct means of contact with the President on this particular issue. I assume that.


FUCHS: Was it in the press that you were advising on the Palestine situation?

EWING: No, I don't think so. I don't think so.

FUCHS: You originally went, you said, to President Truman in connection with this as a political matter?


FUCHS: Had you knowledge of Zionism? Had you favored the Zionist position prior to this?

EWING: No. I really knew nothing more than the casual newspaper reader. I don't recall that I had any strong feeling one way or the other. It was as a result of this suggestion of Albert Lasker's that I had my talk with the President, and his saying that he was getting conflicting pressures and wished he could get some impartial advice, that I offered my services. The President welcomed them and I went to work and brought Clark Clifford in on it.

FUCHS: How much would you say political consideration entered into your final judgment as to the rightness of the two parties in the conflict?


EWING: I don't think any at all. I investigated the conflict as impartially as I knew how because I wanted to give the President completely impartial advice. I might have thought that one thing would have been better from a political point of view but you don't consider that when you are advising the President of the United States, and he didn't want political advice from Clark or me.

FUCHS: Yes. It has been charged that much of the President's White House position on Israel was based on politics, as you know that would be largely in consideration of the large Jewish vote in New York and other metropolitan areas.

EWING: Well, a President, I don't care what President, whether it was Truman or someone else, if he took any stand in any controversy he'd be accused of politics in some way or other. We tried to give him the most unbiased advice of which we were capable. And that was the kind of advice he wanted. He wanted complete justification, legally and morally, for any position that he might take. He did not allow any political consideration to influence his position.


FUCHS: We originally started this discussion by my asking you about the meeting which was held, as I understand it, rather hurriedly convened to decide what to do to counteract Austin's statement putting the United States on the side of trusteeship whereas President Truman had just come out giving Chaim Weizmann assurances that we stood for the U.N. partition scheme and you don't recall that meeting; however, it comes to my mind, and I'm not certain of this, that at least at one meeting, and I believe that it was Secretary Marshall who pointed out that political considerations were involved and he said to Clark Clifford--I'm not certain this was Marshall, but someone said to Clark Clifford, "You wouldn't be here if it wasn't political:" Do you recall anything of that?

EWING: Yes. I am sure General Marshall said that, but I am not sure whether he said it in a meeting I attended or whether Clark told me what General Marshall had said. I believe it was the latter. I think Senator Austin made his statement without approval from the President and I'm quite sure that the President was upset by it.


Your specific question was whether I had attended a meeting, and I don't think I did.

FUCHS: What were your views of General Marshall as the Secretary of State in general and in relation to Israel?

EWING: Well, number one, General Marshall was a great general. One of the greatest that we have ever produced in this country. He temperamentally, having come up through the military, handled everything by staff work. The advice that would come to him as Secretary of State would come through channels. That was the way he was accustomed to working. The State Department itself was very pro-Arab. At that time the Near East desk was headed by Loy Henderson, and Mr. Henderson was a very vocal protagonist for the Arab cause. In all of our conferences, of which there were quite a few with the President, it was General Marshall, Mr. Henderson and Dean Rusk who represented the State Department while Clark Clifford and I would be there defending the President's position.

FUCHS: These were in the President's office?


EWING: They were in the Cabinet Room.

FUCHS: Did he have Niles in attendance?

EWING: No. No, nor Lowenthal. As I have said that while he was very fond of them and had every confidence in them, this was an issue in which they were so emotionally involved that he felt their advice might not always be the best.

FUCHS: Did Sam Rosenman enter into the...

EWING: I don't think he was involved in this at all.

FUCHS: Why do you think Mr. Henderson was so pro-Arab?

EWING: Well, I can only speculate but I can do that. You see, Mr. Henderson was very pro-British and when the British had to pull in their military forces from the Far East, the Near East and the North African littoral, the British substituted for their military presence alliances with Moslem countries across that same area. I think that Mr. Henderson's support of the Arab cause was due to the fact that he wanted to help the British in their alliances with the Moslem countries. Now that is pure speculation on my pact, but I cannot explain it


in any other way.

FUCHS: What about Secretary Forrestal of Defense?

EWING: I don't recall that he was ever involved in these discussions.

FUCHS: Would you care to go on a little bit about your meetings with Marshall and the others? We were talking, I believe of Marshall.

EWING: Well, you asked me what I thought of him. Marshall, as I say, he wanted everything to come up through channels and he wanted everything decided that way. If a proposition came to him, he referred it down to the staff so that it would come back to him through channels. He said several times in our discussions that there was to be no politics in the State Department. He was inferring that our point of view was based on political considerations. General Marshall overlooked one thing in this attitude and that is that foreign affairs are simply the extension of the politics of the Government into the external world. To attempt to handle foreign affairs in a political vacuum is an utter absurdity.

FUCHS: You just can't stop at the water's edge?


EWING: No, it's carrying out your domestic policies.

FUCHS: Anything else about General Marshall?

EWING: No, no.

FUCHS: Would you say there was anything cynical about the statements of the President in subscribing to a more or less tacit agreement with the Arabs, that I believe started with President Roosevelt, that no unilateral action would be taken in regard to Palestine that would change the basic situation there. That he would consult both the Jewish Agency for Palestine and the Arabs, and yet came out strongly for the admission of a hundred thousand refugees. I just wondered if you would have viewed that as a change in the basic situation?

EWING: I believe all that happened before I got involved in the Palestine question at all.

FUCHS: Yes. Well, this was prior to '48 that most of these statements were made. Of course, coming out for partition, accepting that, was a change in the basic situation as it existed prior to Mr. Truman coming into office; but, of course, he had said that


we would abide by the United Nations and that was their decision. I just wondered if you had views upon that. Getting back more directly to the '48 campaign. Do you know anything of the reported and disputed story that Mr. Truman approached General Eisenhower to take the nomination in 1948?

EWING: I understood it was true. I had no connection with it. At that time President Truman had a very high opinion of General Eisenhower and General Eisenhower's politics were not then known. No one knew whether he was a Democrat or a Republican.

FUCHS: Cabell Phillips, as you may recall, in his book The Truman Presidency said that Kenneth Royall was in conversation with Mr. Truman and said that he couldn't support Mr. Truman if Eisenhower were available and Mr. Truman asked Royall to go and make the bid to Eisenhower, which was turned down; but Mr. Phillips does not give a source for this. He said that the statement was submitted to the principals, Royall, Eisenhower, and Mr. Truman when he was writing the book, and Royall said the account was essentially accurate but he did not say that he could not support


Mr. Truman if Eisenhower were considered for nomination. Mr. Eisenhower said that you would have to refer this to Mr. Truman, in so many words. He didn't want to comment on it, and Mr. Truman said the story is not true. Of course, this leaves the natural question, where did Phillips get this story. As a responsible scholar he should be willing to identify his source but he just slides over it. Did you ever hear this before about Royall?

EWING: No, I never heard about Royall. I read that in Phillips book, but I have no knowledge of it except that it was generally understood that President Truman had told General Eisenhower that he would support him. Now if he says he didn't do it, why I would accept his word for it.

FUCHS: Well, this is not the first instance where its been recorded that he said that he did not make an approach to General Eisenhower. Did you ever discuss the Eisenhower potential candidacy with Mr. Truman?

EWING: I have a feeling that I did but I have no recollection of what that conversation consisted.


FUCHS: Early in that year when you did visit some of these Democratic leaders who were not looking too favorably on Mr. Truman as a candidate did you ask them who they wanted for President?

EWING: Oh, no. I was selling a candidate. I was trying to line them up for the President.

FUCHS: You never said, "Well, now that you don't want Mr. Truman, who would you prefer?"


FUCHS: That would be a negative approach.

EWING: Well, I felt there was only one person that should be nominated.

FUCHS: Did you play an active part in the '48 convention?

EWING: I did somewhat but, you see, I was in office then. I was not a delegate. I think I appeared before the Resolutions Committee on some issue, I don't even remember what it was; but it was something controversial and we felt that it was desirable for someone from the administration to present the administration's view to the Resolutions Committee. I don't remember for the life


of me what it was.

FUCHS: What about the platform making?

EWING: Well, that would be done by the Resolutions Committee.

FUCHS: Did you have anything to do with the civil rights plank?

EWING: I don't think so. I don't think so. I remember the controversy over that very well, and that was when Hubert Humphrey made his minority report--I am not sure whether it was a minority report or whether he just got up and said that a group of liberals felt that the plank that had been drafted by the committee was too mild. They were successful in getting the convention to adopt the plank that they thought ought to be put into the platform and a number of the Southern delegations got up and walked out.

FUCHS: Do you know how Mr. Truman felt about the two planks?

EWING: Yes, I think I do. Naturally, as the prospective candidate, he wanted a plank that, if possible, would satisfy both sides of the controversy. This was the


plank that had been drafted by the Resolutions Committee. I think the draft that Senator Humphrey urged probably in the end was more beneficial to Mr. Truman's candidacy than had he run on a platform containing the plank that tried to give something to both sides.

FUCHS: Why do you think it turned out that way?

EWING: Well, the Negro vote turned out to be almost solidly for Mr. Truman.

FUCHS: Did you travel on the campaign train?

EWING: I was on two or three trips, but not all of them because I had a job to do.

FUCHS: Any anecdotes that come to mind?

EWING: No, not particularly. The President was very effective as a campaigner. He was not good at reading a prepared speech and our group, particularly those of us who were working on speeches, urged him to speak from notes or off-the-cuff because he was very effective that way. His personality got over to the audience then, whereas when he was reading a prepared speech--he never had good eyes and it was difficult for


him to read a thing like a speech. Often the text would be so far off he couldn't see it--but he was very effective when he talked off-the-cuff or from notes on cards.

FUCHS: You say your group did urge him, was that a message that was carried to him by Clark Clifford?

EWING: Yes, oh, yes.

FUCHS: At the recommendation of your policy strategy board?

EWING: I think it was. It was a common feeling, but I think it was more particularly the opinion of those of us who were actually working on the President's speeches.

FUCHS: Scholars are always interested in speechwriting. I wonder if you could tell a little bit about how you entered into that in this campaign? And the group of course.

EWING: Well, all of the speechwriting was done under Clark Clifford's supervision. In other words it all headed up there. There were a number of the President's assistants who made contributions, George Elsey, Dave Lloyd.


FUCHS: Wasn't he in the research division at this time?

EWING: I don't know. I know he helped us on the speeches. I thought he was working in the White House at that time.

FUCHS: What about David Bell?

EWING: Dave Bell, yes, very much. And one or two other men who came in when there might be a particular subject that someone from, let's say the Interior Department, might have particular knowledge. If so, he would be brought in.

FUCHS: Now, was Charlie Murphy involved?

EWING: Oh, I think he was, very much. He was assistant to Clark Clifford at that time and I think he was very much in the picture.

FUCHS: Did Clifford travel on the train?

EWING: Yes, he did, because I know this, that as we divided up the work, when they'd be out on the train, by and large if they wanted something in Washington they would communicate with me, and I would try to


get whatever they wanted. It might have been a bit of information or it could have been almost anything. They didn't always communicate with me, they might communicate directly with someone else.

FUCHS: Did you participate in speechwriting sessions in the White House?

EWING: Oh, yes. We worked there practically every weekend, all through the weekends of the whole campaign.

FUCHS: Where did you work?

EWING: In the Cabinet Room. There would usually be several of us there working on a speech. Clark would make a draft, this was the usual course, somebody else might make a draft, but by and large the draft that we were presented with usually came from Clark. Often we had been given a copy of the draft in advance so that we could come prepared with any comments we might have. But I think more often the draft was given to us when we gathered in the Cabinet Room, and then it would he read out loud. The President always sat in on those sessions. It would be read out loud and anyone would stop the reading if he had


any comment to make, and if they'd make a change or eliminate or add to it this would be done right there.

FUCHS: Who would generally read the speeches?

EWING: Generally Clark. In fact, I think he always did. But it was always the President who decided things and the speeches were always his speeches.

FUCHS: Saturdays and Sundays?

EWING: Well, it might be if the President got back on Thursday, it might be Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday. We just had to adapt ourselves to his itinerary.

FUCHS: Now, your meetings Monday night in the Wardman Park continued throughout the campaign?

EWING: Oh, yes.

FUCHS: No speechwriting sessions were held in the Federal Security Agency?

EWING: No. They were always held in the Cabinet Room at the White House.

FUCHS: The speech you gave before the National Urban


League in Richmond, Virginia on September 10, 1948, I believe had a mixed reception. Do you recall anything about that?

EWING: What was it about?

FUCHS: Well, you spoke largely about civil rights and the Negro vote. That they should support President Truman, and as reported in the New York Times: "When Mr. Ewing completed his speech there was mild but brief applause from about half of the audience. The audience at no time applauded any of Mr. Ewing's references to President Truman as the champion of Negro rights." I thought that this was rather strange in view of the nature of the National Urban League and this address being before three hundred of its delegates.

EWING: I have no recollection of that.

FUCHS: Are there any things that stand out in your memory about any of the speeches that you worked on?

EWING: There's only one incident that I recall. We were working on a speech that the President was to make in Boston. I don't recall before what audience. That particular speech had been drafted by someone who did


not usually work with us. I don't remember his name, but I think he was Jewish. The speech that he had drafted went completely overboard for the Jewish cause. I felt that from the point of view of a candidate for President that there was no sense in making extreme statements. We argued that out. Those things that I felt were too extreme were eliminated. This was a group that was all working for a common cause and there was the best of feelings all the way around on it.

FUCHS: Do you recall any feeling between, say, the conservatives represented by Snyder and the liberals represented by you and Clifford? Points that you discussed?

EWING: No. As far as I know, I don't think Mr. Snyder was ever--in fact I know he was never in on any speechwriting sessions. He may have talked to the President about something in the speeches but he never sat in on any of the writing sessions.

FUCHS: What about Sam Rosenman?



FUCHS: Jonathan Daniels?

EWING: I'm not sure that Jonathan was in the White House at that time.

FUCHS: No. Let me refresh your memory. He had been out of the White House but he did come back on the train, I believe, but you didn't come in touch with him.

EWING: Well, I may have. Jonathan was there at the latter part of President Roosevelt's term, before he died, and I know that he came back afterwards. I think he became President Roosevelt's Press Secretary when Steve Early died.

FUCHS: He came back as a consultant in the '48 campaign.


FUCHS: Traveled on the train, at least part of the time; and there was another gentleman, J. Franklin Carter, did you come in touch with him?

EWING: If I did I don't recall it.

FUCHS: What about David Noyes at that time?


EWING: I don't think Dave was ever on the train. He could have been. Dave was very helpful, but whether he was in on the speechwriting I am not sure. I think he occasionally was or at least contributed ideas.

FUCHS: Did you ever come in touch with Sam Brightman in the research division?

EWING: Yes, Sam was at that time, I think, publicity director for the Democratic National Committee. And he would obviously be in touch with the research committee of the National Committee.

FUCHS: Do you recall a William J. Bray on any of your campaign trips?

EWING: That name's familiar.

FUCHS: Nothing stands out in your memory?


FUCHS: Mr. Ewing, do you recall the statement by Mr. Truman that he made in his acceptance speech about recalling Congress?

EWING: Oh, yes.


FUCHS: Do you know how that came about. Who proposed that session?

EWING: I think Clark Clifford did, at least that was my impression at the time. I think that the President very readily, instantly, saw the political advantage in doing it, and it turned out very well politically.

FUCHS: Do you recall seeing a memorandum about the proposal to recall Congress? We have a copy of it in the Library in, I believe, Sam Rosenman's files which is unsigned and, of course, it wouldn't have necessarily have been written by him.

EWING: No. I'm sure that it was Clark that told me about it. Whether it was his idea or not I don't know. I knew about it before he made that speech.

FUCHS: Did you ever hear the suggestion that Bernard Baruch had something to do with it?

EWING: Oh, no. I wouldn't think that because he and Mr. Truman didn't get along at all.

FUCHS: Do you know Bernard Baruch?


EWING: Oh, I know him very well.

FUCHS: Do you recall anything in connection with him in the Truman administration that might be of interest?

EWING: After I became Federal Security Administrator, I know Mr. Baruch came to see me a number of times with various suggestions. I don't recall what they were, I just know he did. What had happened was that when the 1948 campaign started to get under way, I believe the President asked Mr. Baruch to become treasurer of the Democratic National Committee, or at least participate in fund raising, and that Mr. Baruch declined and indicated that he would not be in favor of the President's candidacy. I think the Presidential relations with Mr. Baruch up to that time had been rather friendly. I gathered that the President felt Mr. Baruch's refusal was a slap in the face, and after that Mr. Baruch's approaches were more or less rebuffed by the President.

FUCHS: Did you know of this approach to Mr. Baruch at the time or just from later reading or tales about it?

EWING: No. The President told me about it.


FUCHS: Did he ask for suggestions for...

EWING: I think Baruch's approaches were after the election. I don't think Mr. Baruch's attitudes changed until after Mr. Truman had been re-elected, and I know the President felt he was trying to get back on the bandwagon again in coming to me and asking me to make certain suggestions to the President.

FUCHS: Did J. Howard McGrath attend many of your meetings, or any?

EWING: Yes, he attended a few and he knew what was going on all the time. He encouraged us in our work.

FUCHS: You had a good relationship with McGrath?

EWING: Oh, it couldn't have been better.

FUCHS: Who did you favor for the vice-presidential nomination in 1948?

EWING: Well, the President talked to me about that. I may have brought the subject up with him, but I know that I discussed it with him, because he was giving real consideration to who would be politically the best person to have


as a vice-presidential candidate. I would say, about two weeks before the opening of the Democratic National Convention in 1948 , he asked a group to come over to the White House on Sunday afternoon and discuss the whole question of who would be the best candidate for Vice President. We sat on the south portico on the second floor that President Truman had had installed. There must have been a dozen or fifteen people there. Senator McGrath, Chief Justice Vinson, Clark Clifford, Oscar Chapman, and quite a few others whose names I do not recall. We sat around for quite awhile discussing various names and got nowhere, there was no consensus. So, the President asked Howard McGrath, as chairman of the Democratic National Committee if he would appoint a committee from out of the group that was present that afternoon to give further study to it and try to come up with a recommendation. When we broke up, I had my car there and I asked Howard if I could give him a lift to his apartment. And he said, "Yes." As soon as we got into the car he said, "Jack, about this committee, I would like you to be chairman of it if you will. But," he added, "I've heard your name urged and, of course, if you're interested in the vice-presidential


nomination, why, I should not appoint you as chairman of this committee."

And I said, "Well, Howard, forget that. I'm not interested at all."

Then he continued, "Well, then if you'll chairman the committee, why, I'll appreciate it."

Our committee met. I forget who all were on it. Clark Clifford was, I think Oscar Chapman was. I can't recall the others. You see, this was twenty-one years ago. At the outset we put down on a yellow pad the name of every person who might be given consideration, and discussed each person on the list, the pros and cons. When we decided that the person being considered would not do we would strike his name from the list. I have that yellow sheet on which I wrote those names somewhere in my papers but I've looked for it recently and can't put my hands on it. In any event, we finally eliminated everyone except Mr. Justice William Douglas and Senator Barkley. We finally decided that our first choice was Justice Douglas. The controlling consideration in that decision was our concern about the labor vote and we thought that Mr. Justice Douglas would have more appeal to the labor vote than Senator Barkley.


FUCHS: Was this decision made in the one meeting? Where was the meeting?

EWING: I don't remember that. I have no recollection of where that meeting was held, but I know I've got that yellow sheet and name after name was stricken off except those two.

FUCHS: You came down to the two in that one meeting?

EWING: There was more than one meeting and then probably we telephoned back and forth between each other, and anyhow when we got all through we had narrowed the choice to those two names. President Truman said he would accept our recommendation and he tried to get in touch with Justice Douglas to ask him to run for Vice President. By this time it was oh, probably the Thursday or Friday before the convention opened. The President found that Mr. Douglas was out in the State of Washington on a hunting trip, and wasn't able to get hold of him until, I think, Friday night. Mr. Douglas said he'd like to think the matter over until the next day. The next morning Mr. Douglas telephoned the President saying that he would prefer to stay on the United States Supreme Court. With Douglas' refusal


of the nomination the President was perfectly willing to go along with the nomination of Senator Barkley.

The Democratic National Committee gave a dinner in Philadelphia at one of the hotels on the Saturday night before the convention opened. There had been quite a buildup for Senator Barkley for Vice President among his senatorial friends and that movement was led by Leslie Biffle. I remember very well Mr. Biffle accosting me at the dinner as I was walking between tables, and giving me merry hell because our committee had chosen Douglas. He was violent. He didn't know that Douglas had refused. I didn't want to say anything about it until the President had telephoned Barkley asking him to run. Apparently the President had not talked with Barkley by the time of the dinner or at least Biffle didn't know about it. But the whole point of it was that we just stopped doing anything about trying to get the nomination for Douglas.

FUCHS: How did Biffle know that you had decided on Douglas?

EWING: I don't know. He got the word some way. I have no idea how he got it.

FUCHS: How did you mollify Biffle at the time?


EWING: I didn't mollify him. After he had spoken his piece he went on back to eat. Many of Senator Barkley's colleagues were for him so that when you had President Truman's approval for his nomination, why, there was no problem.

FUCHS: Anything else that stands out in your memory about the convention, perhaps in regard to the civil rights plank, or anything else that occurs to you?

EWING: No, I don't think so.

FUCHS: It's been said that the campaign was aimed largely at four groups: The farmer, the Negro, labor, and consumer. Would you agree with that and did your policy strategy board have anything to do with zeroing in on these

EWING: Well, in a national campaign you've got to direct your efforts at these great, large groups. Political management of a campaign means trying to get just as many under the tent as you possibly can. Even though they may be at completely opposite poles. We had made a real drive at labor that started off with the President's veto of the Taft-Hartley bill.. We made a real


drive for the Negro vote that started off by the President putting into effect all of the recommendations of the Civil Rights Commission's report that could be done by executive order. The President also recommended legislation to carry out all of the committee's other recommendations that required legislation. We, of course, had the Jewish vote in mind. What we did on that I've described in considerable detail already. There was the farm vote, I've already described how President Truman appealed to them on the things that the 80th Congress had not done. There were various other smaller groups that I don't recall. There were some things that we did in hope of gaining the support of the Mexican vote in the Southern states along the Mexican border. I'm sure the Democratic National Committee had a minority group division. I don't recall specifically anything that they did but I'm sure they were working.

FUCHS: There were two executive orders issued that touched on civil rights but they were not released until after the convention. The first, 9980, was issued July 26, '48 in regard to fair employment practices within the


Federal establishment and then Executive Order 9981, establishing the President's Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services. And it had been charged that these were ready for release before the convention but were held up until after the convention for obviously political purposes. If so, do you know if this is true?

EWING: Well, I know I worked on that executive order relating to the armed services to require complete integration of the armed services. I think I described that to you before.

FUCHS: This was the order establishing the President's Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity.

EWING: You mean in the armed services?


EWING: Well, there wouldn't have been two executive orders. That must have been the one on which I worked, but I don't recall that it involved anything but integration. It may have very well. Whenever we got those executive orders in final shape, I think they were issued. I don't


recall that any of them were withheld.

FUCHS: You don't think that anyone said, "Well, let's wait till after the convention and this will make a good splash or kickoff for the campaign in line with our plank on civil rights."

EWING: No. I don't think so.

FUCHS: What about the finances of the campaign. Did you come into touch with that? Have any remarks about the difficulty or non-difficulty of raising funds? Or Mr. Louis Johnson who was appointed treasurer.

EWING: Well, about my only contact with money raising was that I was asked to make a contribution and I did. Louis Johnson wasn't treasurer that year was he? Well, he might have been. Ed Pauley was the treasurer of the ' 44 campaign. That's right. Louis Johnson was treasurer in 1948. I remember very well we were pretty hard pressed for money in the 1944 campaign and had accumulated quite a debt. When Roosevelt was re-elected, Ed Pauley sent out telegrams to any number of people who hadn't contributed anything previously in which he asked them to help make up the deficit; and the money


just poured in.

FUCHS: This was in '44?

EWING: Yes, 1944.

FUCHS: What about in '48, then?

EWING: I really was not in touch with that. I don't know.

FUCHS: How did you originally meet Bernard Baruch?

EWING: I think he just asked for an appointment with me and came in to see me, when I was Federal Security Administrator. I don't think I'd met him before.

FUCHS: Were you acquainted with Louis Johnson?

EWING: Oh, yes. Yes, I had known him for some time. I don't remember when I first met him. He was active in the National Committee before he was treasurer. I think he helped raise money. I'm not just sure who was treasurer before he was but I think he succeeded Ed Pauley. It's a little hard to keep all the change of officers straight in my mind.


FUCHS: Was there anyone you recall at the time that you felt was dragging his feet in regard to Mr. Truman's candidacy?

EWING: In '48?

FUCHS: Yes, sir.

EWING: There were a few people to whom Mr. Truman had been very good that I thought were dragging their feet. But I'd rather not mention their names.

FUCHS: How did you feel about the press in regard to the party's efforts in '48?

EWING: I don't think the attitude of the press was any different in 1948 from what it is in almost every election. An overwhelming majority of the press usually supports the Republican candidate. That is something we Democrats just have to take in stride. I have always questioned how much influence the press has. I think their influence is inclined to be exaggerated. Voters generally vote emotionally and then they look around for reasons to justify their emotional desires; and to a certain extent I suppose the news media arouses these emotions but do not create


them. The press may stimulate them but I don't think they change many of them. They stimulate those that are already there rather than change them.

FUCHS: As you know, the 80th Congress became sort of President Truman's "devil" in the '48 campaign. Was this ever brought up as a concrete suggestion or proposal in your policy board meetings, that you recall?

EWING: No, I think that was a thing that originated with Mr. Truman himself. He really made a lot of this issue on his first whistlestop trip to the West Coast, which was before the convention. At that time, of course, the Republicans hadn't chosen their candidate and, since he had to have an antagonist he used the 80th Congress. That was the only Republican record that the President had to attack. After Governor Dewey was nominated as the Republican candidate for President his campaign was so innocuous, he was floating around in the upper stratosphere most of the campaign and didn't make much of an object for attack. Mr. Truman had found the response to his strategy of attacking the 80th Congress so successful that he continued the attacks throughout the campaign.


FUCHS: In regard to, one, the Dixiecrat movement and the Henry Wallace challenge, did your policy board have any suggestions how they might best approach these two factors?

EWING: Well, as I recall, as far as the Dixiecrat movement was concerned, we just felt we had to let that take its course. There wasn't much we could do there without going back and retreating from our civil rights positions, and I think we played it down hoping that the normal Democratic majorities in the South would be adequate. Of course, they were not because the Strom Thurmond Dixiecrat ticket did capture a few of those southern states. As to Henry Wallace, we didn't know of anything more than had already been done to attract the labor vote, which was where Mr. Wallace's strength primarily lay. That didn't prove enough in New York; we lost New York, but we felt there was nothing more we could do. But you see, it was the farm vote in the midwest and western states that gave Mr. Truman his majority even with the loss of New York.

FUCHS: What about the itineraries for Mr. Truman's so-called "whistlestop" tours. Did you have anything to


do with the planning of them?

EWING: Nothing whatever.

FUCHS: Do you recall any specific responses suggested by your board during the course of the campaign to certain things that Mr. Dewey might have said or done?

EWING: I do not recall any. There probably were some but I don't recall any.

FUCHS: Did John Steelman play any part in the campaign that you recall?

EWING: I don't think so. John kept the homefires burning while the rest of us were politicking.

FUCHS: Do you think the Jewish vote came across for Mr. Truman in New York? Of course, as we know, you felt there was nothing more you could do, and the Democrats did lose New York.

EWING: I feel quite confident that Truman got a very heavy percentage of the Jewish vote.

FUCHS: By that time the State of Israel had been created and he had recognised it immediately, and it seems logical


the Jews would have voted for him although there were still disputes over there.

EWING: I think President Truman lost New York verv largely because of the Wallace movement. Wallace had a great deal of support among labor and based his whole campaign largely on appeals to labor. Not all laborers supported him but many did.

FUCHS: What about the role of Gael Sullivan in 1948? Do you recall anything that might add to the story about him?

EWING: Gael I think was executive director of the Democratic National Committee.

FUCHS: I believe that's correct.

EWING: I think he had that title, and Gael was a smart cookie and did his job well. You see, Senator McGrath had his senatorial duties to do and Gael stayed in National Committee headquarters and ran that office. Senator McGrath couldn't possibly attend to all those details.

FUCHS: Did Mr. Sullivan ever meet with your group?



FUCHS: What about [John M.] Jack Redding?

EWING: He never met with our group.

FUCHS: You knew him?

EWING: Oh, yes.

FUCHS: In 1947 there is a memo to Mr. Connelly dated December 17th, from the White House papers, which said that you had phoned to say that you had just returned from a trip to the west and had various and sundry things to talk with the President about as soon as you could see him. Do you recall that trip or what you might have been bringing back?

EWING: What's the date?

FUCHS: December 17, 1947.

EWING: Well, I think it was on that trip that I talked first with Jake Arvey about the President's re-nomination.

FUCHS: I just thought it might ring a bell.

EWING: I know that of all the people I talked to on that trip it was from Jake Arvey that I first ran head on into opposition to the President's re-nomination.

FUCHS: There was a letter, on February 2nd, to you from


Matthew Connelly in which he forwarded a photograph and he said: "...also as a halo seems to be a glistening above your brow, let me contribute this as my memento in connection with your candidacy." And then you replied on February 4, '48 thanking him for the picture of the President signing the proclamation in regard to juvenile delinquency which he had forwarded to you, and you said, "If you keep kidding me, I am liable to begin to take my alleged candidacy seriously. Wouldn't that be awful!!" What were you kidding about?

EWING: I don't remember.

FUCHS: You don't think that was in connection with the potential vice-presidential candidacy, might have been joshing about at that early date?.

EWING: I don't think so. There was considerable talk about the possibility of my being the Democratic candidate for Governor of New York in '50, and actually there had been talk about it probably before '48. Ed Flynn, who was the undoubted Democratic leader of New York, had publicly stated that he wanted me to be the candidate for Governor in '50. But mention of my name in connection with the


Vice Presidency was some time after February 2, 1948 so Matt must have been referring to the New York Governorship. It was a few weeks before the 1948 convention that some columnist wrote that I was being considered as a possible nominee for Vice President. As a result a number of my friends spoke to me about it. I did not take the suggestion seriously but I did decide to speak to Ed Flynn about it. He was undoubtedly the most important Democratic leader in New York State and any New Yorker's candidacy for national office would have to have Flynn's support. When I broached the subject to him, he exclaimed: "For God's sake, Jack, don't allow that to happen. Truman is going to be the worst defeated man who ever ran for President. It will ruin you politically and I want you to be the Democratic candidate for Governor of New York in 1950." After that whenever anyone mentioned my being a possible candidate for Vice President I just pooh-poohed the idea.

FUCHS: You went to New York on a trip with Mr. Truman to speak at a St. Patrick's Day dinner in March of 1948 . Do you have any recollection or anecdotes about that?


EWING: No, none that I recall.

FUCHS: When did you become confident, if you did, in 1948 that the President was going to be successful in his bid for re-election?

EWING: Well, a couple of months before the election I became confident that he would be re-elected. That was no particular feat of intelligence on my part because I had some pretty sound bases for my prediction. At that time the State of Maine held its state and congressional elections in September. When you put the combined vote of the three Democratic congressional candidates together in both 1946 and 1948 they showed marked increases in the Democratic vote over what it had been in the 1944 election; and if we held that same percentage of gain throughout the country we should have carried the Congress in 1946. But what happened between the 1946 September Maine election and the November elections elsewhere, was the extension of the draft and meat rationing. There was so much opposition to those two things that we lost both Houses of Congress. In 1948 in the Maine election in September, if you put the votes of the three congressional Democratic


candidates together, it showed a very sharp increase even over 1944. And those were real polls. They were real votes. It wasn't any Gallup poll or anything like that. This was real.

FUCHS: It showed an increase over ' 46 , too?

EWING: Oh, yes, very much over '46. So. I had no hesitancy in feeling that if nothing happened between September and November in 1948, that the President would be re-elected. In 1948 we tried to be very sure that nothing happened between September and November that would upset the applecart. We succeeded in this and Truman was elected.

FUCHS: Did other members of your group share your confidence?

EWING: I really don't know. I'm pretty sure they did. I know India Edwards, who was Vice Chairman of the National Committee and head of the Women's Division, on the basis of the same reasoning, was quite confident that Mr. Truman would be re-elected.

FUCHS: She a good friend of yours?

EWING: Oh, yes.


FUCHS: Do you feel she played a considerable part in the election?

EWING: Well, it's awfully hard to say, to answer that one way or the other. I think that she contributed as much to Democratic success as any chairman of the Women's Division could. It's awfully hard to say how much a national committee or even a local committee contributes to an election. Actually, take a county committee, the only two things that a local organization can do to help win an election is to get Democrats registered and get Democrats to the polls on election day. Political organizations change very few votes, it's minimal. It's getting Democrats registered, and getting Democrats to the polls on election day that counts.

FUCHS: Where were you election eve?

EWING: You mean when election returns came in?

FUCHS: Yes. The election night.

EWING: I was at my apartment at the Wardman Park Hotel in Washington. We had a few friends in, and I remember staying up all night. It was daylight before I was sure, absolutely sure that President Truman had been re-elected.


FUCHS: Who was with you, do you recall? And when did you go see the President next?

EWING: I don't recall. Oh, there were a number of people at the apartment with us. There was a cousin of mine, she was a commander in the Waves, she was there. I think Don Kingsley and his wife were there, and I think John Thurston and his wife. I don't recall who else. I'd say we had a dozen or so people there.

FUCHS: Who brought John Thurston into FSA?

EWING: Don Kingsley brought him in, and then when Don Kingsley resigned John Thurston became the assistant administrator.

FUCHS: There's a memo in the file, dated January 3, 1950 that you were returning from your European trip about January 17th and on January 24th you were going to speak to the National Press Club and were anxious to see the President before you made this speech, and you asked for an appointment. Do you recall that trip and have any idea what you might have wished to take up with the President at this time?


EWING: I remember the trip, of course, very well and I remember this speech. I couldn't tell you what I said but I remember making it. That was--what was that date?

FUCHS: This trip was in January, 1950. Maybe you had left at the end of '49 but you were coming back on January 17th. I just wondered what that trip was, just a pleasure trip or were you on official business?

EWING: Oh, I'm sure it was official business. I'm trying to think.--I think that was the trip that--well, I made two trips and I can't straighten out in my memory what I did on each.

FUCHS: Well, there was one at the end of the administration when you went to, I believe, Europe and then over to India and various places.


FUCHS: That was in 1952 with Wilbur Cohen.

EWING: Yes. Well, then this is the trip that I made at the end of 1949--it was a rather extensive one. I was really trying to find out a lot of things. I went to London, and it was there I tried to find out all I could


about the British health service; and then we went to Ireland, and then to Scotland, because Scotland had a little different setup on the health service than England. Then I went to Stockholm to learn all I could about the Swedish health service; and from there I went to Switzerland, then to Rome, and then I went on to Israel. Israel had requested that we give them a lot of help on some of the education and welfare problems that they had. The request was such that I really had to know more about the local situation if we were to act on it. I did go out there and it happened that the American Ambassador to Israel at that time was a classmate of mine at Indiana University, James G. McDonald, and he entertained Mrs. Ewing and me. We were guests of his at the embassy. Mr. McDonald gave a dinner in our honor which was attended by the entire Israeli Cabinet. Ben Gurion was there, Mrs. [Golda] Meir, Mr. [Moshe S.] Sharrett, who was Foreign Minister. I don't recall the names of the others but the entire Cabinet was there. This gave me an excellent opportunity to talk to them. Then Mr. McDonald arranged for us to go down to President Weizmann's home at Rehovoth for tea. President Weizmann was very cordial. We had tea and then


he asked me to go into his study with him. He had had quite a long letter prepared which he wanted me to take to President Truman. He was greatly concerned about the way Egypt and some of the other Arab countries wave rearming and--I forget the details. I still have that letter and I'm sure that I asked for that appointment with President Truman in order to deliver President Weizmann's letter to him and also to report to the President other things from other places which I would do verbally.

FUCHS: Is there anything that comes to mind about your speech before the National Press Club?

EWING: No. I don't remember. I think that speech dealt largely with national health insurance and telling what I had learned in other countries about their health services.

FUCHS: Just about a year later in 1951, February, your secretary phoned Mr. Connelly and asked for an appointment for you before the President went to Florida, and said that you had a report ready to make on New York judgeships and also the conversation you had had with


Governor Fielding Wright of Mississippi. Do you recall anything of that? Incidentally, they put a note on here that you were told to talk to Boyle instead.

EWING: My vague recollection is that the Democratic organization in New York had made a recommendation for a Federal District Judge, to whom there was considerable opposition. I think the Bar Association was opposing the man who had been recommended by the New York Democratic organization and the President or somebody had asked, I can't remember who did, somebody asked me to come up with a new recommendation. I think I recommended Lloyd Garrison if he would accept the judgeship. Mr. Garrison felt he could not accept it for personal reasons. I don't even recall what they were. Fielding Wright, Governor Wright of Mississippi, had come into my office to talk about some Mississippi welfare matters and again I must confess I don't remember details. But I was to be down on the Gulf Coast in Mississippi making a speech. What's that city down there?

FUCHS: Biloxi?

EWING: Biloxi, yes. Governor Wright heard that I would be


there and he invited me to come up to Jackson and spend the night at the mansion. He very kindly motored to Biloxi to pick me up and we rode back together to Jackson. I spent the night in the mansion and we talked out some of his problems on welfare.

FUCHS: Is there anything you feel I've overlooked about the '48 campaign that we should discuss?

EWING: I don't think so.

FUCHS: The Korean war, of course, coming along in 1950 resulted in a certain amount of upheaval in Government. How did it affect the Federal Security Agency, if in any way?

EWING: Well, I think it would affect our activities in maternal health and child care. We had a lot to do with those matters. Soldiers would go away and leave their wives, often in pretty desperate circumstances. And that was true if their babies were born while their fathers were in service. There were a lot of chores that the Child and Maternal Welfare Section had to do. Its workload increased quite a bit.

FUCHS: What about problems in connection with education?


EWING: Well, I'm sure there were some. I don't recall them.

FUCHS: Nothing springs to mind?

EWING: No, no.

FUCHS: How did you view Mr. Truman's differences with General MacArthur in the conduct of the war? I don't know if you came into that in any way. Your policy board didn't deal much with warfare, if any?

EWING: Oh, no, we didn't. I quite accidentally got involved, well, really, not involved because I was nothing but a messenger. This was at the time when General MacArthur was driving the North Koreans north towards the Yalu River, which was the boundary between North Korea and Manchuria.

After the battle of Inchon, MacArthur's troops had advanced to the 38th parallel. Advancing further into North Korea raised the possibility of Chinese intervention. After a pause, MacArthur undertook to drive all Communist troops out of North Korea. As his troops advanced up the peninsula the likelihood of intervention by China became more threatening and


he was repeatedly warned of this danger. All of his answers were to the effect that he was confident from his own intelligence sources that the Chinese were not going to intervene.

Bill Lawrence, who broadcasts now for ABC, at that time was in the New York Times Washington bureau. One day he came over to see me and said he had a message that Mr. Sulzberger wanted to be delivered to Mr. Truman and would I be good enough to convey the message. I said, "Why, yes, I would be glad to."

"Well," he said, "Mr. Sulzberger wants the President to know that every source of information that the New York Times has in the area of the Korean conflict tells us that the Chinese are going to intervene and that General MacArthur definitely should be prepared for Chinese intervention and should shape his actions with that in view."

When I repeated Mr. Sulzberger's message to the President he exclaimed, "I know that. I'm very much concerned about it. I cabled General MacArthur yesterday telling him virtually what you're telling me and here's the answer that I just got from him."

The President then showed me the telegram from


MacArthur saying that there was no possibility of the Chinese coming in; that his intelligence all indicated that they had no intention of coming in and then there were words to indicate that he knew the situation better than Washington, in effect saying, "Keep your shirt on. I've got everything under control." Actually, at that very moment the Chinese were already infiltrating over the mountain between MacArthur's two columns. It was within a day or two of when the Chinese struck. And as we know, it would have been a military disaster had not General Matthew Ridgway been put in charge, and it was he who was able to rally the American and other allied troops and contain the attack.

FUCHS: Did you by chance have prior knowledge that MacArthur was going to be dismissed before it appeared in the paper?

EWING: No, I think I knew that the President was considering it, because he was greatly disturbed about the situation, but I don't think I had any actual knowledge that he had decided.

FUCHS: You say there was a proposal that you run for


Governor of New York. Would you care to say a little about that?

EWING: Well, I don't know that there is much to say. As far back as 1942 Mr. Flynn talked to me about the governorship. He felt that if I were to be a candidate I would need a public build-up. I think it was he who spoke about it to Attorney-General Biddle and when the Justice Department was seeking someone to be a Special Assistant to the Attorney General to prosecute William Dudley Pelley out in Indiana I was given the appointment. In 1947 I was again appointed Special Assistant to prosecute Douglas Chandler for treason. These assignments, plus the fact that I was Vice Chairman of the Democratic National Committee led to my appointment as Federal Security Administrator in August 1947. When I told Mr. Flynn in early 1948 that some of my friends were talking to me about the vice presidency, he heatedly urged me not to consider it, that Truman would be badly defeated and if I were on the ticket with him I would be ruined as a future candidate for Governor of New York for which he wanted me to run in 1950. Later, when the fight for National


Health Insurance became so hot, I knew Mr. Flynn was opposed to it. Two or three times he came to me and said: "Jack, your fight for National Health Insurance is hurting you politically in New York."

The New York Democratic State Convention in 1950 to nominate candidates for governor and other state offices was held in Rochester. Right up to the time of the convention Mr. Flynn was saying publicly that he wanted me to have the nomination. My good friend Dan O'Connell, the Democratic leader of Albany County had my name presented to the convention but Mr. Flynn saw to it that the nomination went to Congressman Walter Lynch of the Bronx. Years later I received a letter from my good friend, Theodore W. Kheel, giving a sidelight on that situation. Mr. Kheel is probably the outstanding mediator in labor disputes in the country and at this point I would like to quote part of that letter:

It's...almost ten years...since that eminently astute politician, Ed Flynn, made one of his major mistakes: his failure to support you for the Gubernatorial nomination in 1950. Since this was the first time in my career that I had anything to do with the great man and my experience with him related to that "blooper;" I remember it very clearly. Perhaps I told you about it at the time, but I'm not quite sure. But it's worth noting for


the record in any event, so here goes.

In the race for the nomination that year, the labor leaders had announced a list of five or six candidates whom they said were acceptable. You were not only on that list but were in fact the number one choice and somehow or other I was designated by the labor fellows to tell Mr. Flynn privately that you ranked in that spot among their preferences. And I did, and then listened as, with the wisdom that had come to him from his years of experience, he explained to me why you wouldn't do. 'Jack's a fine fellow,' he said. (I think he called you Jack, or perhaps it was Oscar--I don't remember that too clearly.) 'But with that medical issue, he just can't be elected.'

This was, I assumed, an observation born of careful study by the old pro. But he continued. 'Why, I was talking to my druggist the other day and he said to me, "Mr. Flynn, if you name that Ewing fellow for Governor, by God we're going to vote against you."' Up to that time I thought it was only amateurs like myself that based political judgments on what the driver of the last cab I was in had to say. Ed Flynn apparently used his druggist.

But there was more. 'Let me tell you the kind of a fellow who would make a perfect candidate,' he said. 'Congressman Walter Lynch. He's got a good voting record. Hasn't stepped on anyone's toes. And everybody likes him. He can't miss.'

The nomination the Democrats made that year is, of course, part of the official record, including Dewey's devastating observation immediately after the nomination was announced: 'Who's Lynch?' he inquired, and that was the end of the campaign.

I regretted the decision of Mr. Flynn all these years both because I'm sure you would have been elected and made a great governor and also because that campaign would have proven that the 'medical


issue' was the best one the Democrats could possibly have had.

I never held it against Mr. Flynn that he failed to support me for the nomination for Governor in that Rochester convention. A political leader's first responsibility is to win elections by an honorable means. No matter what Mr. Flynn had said to me in the past, if, when it came time for the nomination, he was convinced that I could not be elected and someone else could, it would be his duty to support that other man. I am sure there was nothing personal in Mr. Flynn's decision.

FUCHS: Did you ever run for any office, then?


FUCHS: Now, on May 31, 1952 Ed Pauley wrote Matthew Connelly and wanted him to pass a letter on to the President that was to the effect that of all of the potential candidates that had been in California assisting the Pat Brown delegation and to carry on their own candidacy--and this is a quote--"Jack Ewing made the most friends and the most progress. They all liked him immensely and the liberal views for which he stands as well as his forthright


manner. They all regret that his national candidacy had not been more seriously considered up to this time." That referred to what?

EWING: Well, I think some people had suggested me for nomination for President in '52 . And as a matter of fact, my name was presented to the Democratic National Convention. But I didn't cut much of a figure in that. I didn't know Mr. Pauley had written that letter. It's very nice.

Perhaps I ought to explain how my name happened to be put in nomination for President in the 1952 Democratic National Convention. After President Truman had announced that he would not be a candidate for re-election, naturally there was a lot of conjecturing as to who the candidate might be. President Truman had offered Governor Adlai Stevenson of Illinois, to support him for the nomination, but Governor Stevenson refused the President's offer. Stevenson said he did not want to be President. This was like a slap in the face to Mr. Truman--that any man would seriously decline to be considered for the presidency. Personally, Mr. Truman was a humble man but he had enormous respect for the office of President. Stevenson's attitude left him


without a candidate. Obviously, he would have more influence on the choice of the person to head the Democratic ticket in 1952 than anyone else. In this situation, a number of men indicated they would like to run. There was Avere1l Harriman of New York, as well as three southern Senators, Richard Russell of Georgia, Estes Kefauver of Tennessee, and Robert Kerr of Oklahoma.

In the midst of all this, Joseph E. Davies and I rode home together from some dinner one evening. He had been active for years in Democratic politics and had been American Ambassador to Russia for a time under President Roosevelt. Out of the blue he began urging me to seek the nomination for President. Evidently he had been giving this some thought because he presented a number of arguments why I should do so. The principal one was his belief that National Health Insurance could be made a winning issue. This was, of course, heady wine for me and started me thinking. Then several other friends of mine talked to me along the same lines. These were chiefly members of our little advisory group.

As I thought the matter over I decided to discuss


the problem with two close and experienced friends--Clark Clifford and Daniel P. O'Connell, the Democratic leader in Albany, New York. (I did not talk with Ed Flynn because he had told me that he felt the health insurance issue was political liability.) Clark was already committed to support Senator Kerr but he strongly advised that my name be presented to the convention because he said the picture was so confused that no one could tell who would be nominated. Clark was very close to President Truman at that time and I got the impression, whether rightly or wrongly, I do not know, that the views he expressed were those of the President.

After my talk with Clark, I went to Albany to discuss the matter with Dan O'Connell for whose political acumen I had great respect. He too felt that the situation with regard to the nomination was so confused that nothing might happen and he would have my name put in nomination by Mayor Erastus Corning of Albany. At the convention Mayor Corning made an extremely nice nominating speech. However, after my talk with Mr. O'Connell the tide began running for Governor Stevenson notwithstanding his reluctant attitude and statements like "Pray let this cup pass." Stevenson was nominated


and I got a few votes from personal and political friends of mine.

FUCHS: You had a debate, apparently, with Senator Capehart in May of 1952, and a gentleman wrote the White House and said that, "...if the Democratic party is as well equipped with other spellbinders in presenting the facts to the American public, between now and November 3rd, we will have no worries on Tuesday, November 4th, as to which party will be swept into office." Have you recollections of that debate with Senator Capehart?

EWING: I just remember that I had one. I recall no details.

FUCHS: Was this on primarily, National Health Insurance or Social Security or...

EWING: No, I don't know what I talked about, but it was a campaign speech rather than advocating a program.

FUCHS: Yes. Because this was prior to the convention, it being in May of '52.


FUCHS: What part did you play in the 1952 convention and


the proposals for various candidates, and so forth?

EWING: Well, nothing except that my name was presented. I was nominated by Mayor Corning of Albany in New York, and got a few votes, but by the time the convention had come, it was quite certain that Adlai Stevenson would be nominated.

FUCHS: Was your group still operating then?

EWING: I'm not sure when we stopped. I know we stopped when Stevenson was nominated, because he was inclined to disassociate himself from Mr. Truman at that time.

FUCHS: Did you think that wise?

EWING: I don't think it's ever wise. I don't think any man who is taking a nomination can succeed by repudiating his predecessor if his predecessor was of the same party.

FUCHS: Do you recall when you first learned that Mr. Truman would definitely not seek re-election?

EWING: No. I do not recall it. I think my first definite indication I had of it was when the announcement came. I knew he was considering what to do because he could if he desired, run for another term. The constitutional


amendment that limited the President to two terms did not apply to him.

FUCHS: Do you recall him making a statement after the election in 1948 that he would not seek re-election in 1952 when he would be sixty-eight?

EWING: I don't recall that. I know this, that I talked with the President in probably March '52. We were talking politics and about who the Democratic candidate might be. At that time, he very emphatically said he would not support Adlai Stevenson for the nomination.

FUCHS: Who did he favor then?

EWING: He didn't know.

FUCHS: What part did you play then in the '52 campaign?

EWING: Oh, I think I made a lot of speeches but that was all.

FUCHS: At the end of your tenure you and Wilbur Cohen made a trip around the world which was brought under some censure by a particular Representative, H. R. Gross of Iowa. And I was wondering if you recall anything about that?


EWING: Oh, yes. I was asked to make that trip by the State Department. The reason they asked me to do it was this: The Communists out in Asia, particularly Southeast Asia, had a line of propaganda that was to the effect that the Americans really weren't interested in people as people; that they were only interested in making dollars and Hollywood movies and various things of that kind, and that they were not interested in education or welfare, or things that would help people. The State Department wanted someone to go out there and make talks, particularly to the colleges and schools because that was where the Commies were spreading their propaganda and where it seemed to be having some effect. Secretary Acheson thought that it would be a good idea for me to go and try to combat this propaganda because I headed up the activities of the Federal Government in those fields. So, I went out and the expense of my trip was not charged to the Federal Security Agency at all but to the State Department. I haven't any idea how many speeches I made. I know I made seven in one day, I went to seven different schools and colleges. That was in Tokyo. In Delhi I made several speeches a day, as well as in other places in India. Then,


also I had been invited to speak at an international conference on education in Bombay, so we planned the trip for me to arrive in Bombay at the time I had been asked to speak. Representative Gross--of course, he's a chronic nitpicker--made a speech about this in the House of Representatives and indicated that this was a misuse of Federal funds, and demanded that the Controller General investigate my accounts and disallow the payments. I got a telegram from the Controller General asking me to make a report on the trip. I wired back that when I returned I would be delighted to give him full details which I did when I returned to Washington. The Controller General held that the whole trip and everything about it was entirely proper. So that ended Mr. Gross' diatribes on the subject.

FUCHS: I believe you attended some Cabinet meetings?


FUCHS: What were they like? How did Mr. Truman conduct them?

EWING: Well, I didn't attend many. I was only asked to attend when something was to be discussed by the


Cabinet that was within my bailiwick. I remember one particular Cabinet meeting--and Jim Forrestal refers to it in his memoirs.

In the latter part of January 1948 there was a good deal of public discussion about our military policy and there was a Cabinet meeting on January 30th where the President brought up the matter for discussion. Secretary Forrestal in his memoirs, rather his diary [Walter Millis (ed.) The Forrestal Diaries (New York: The Viking Press, 1951), pp. 368-69.] has this reference to that meeting of the Cabinet and I'm quoting:

The President invited discussion of universal military training. I said the principal suggestion I had to make was that there be a concentration in the National Military Establishment of responsibility for securing suggestions for embodiment in the legislation from other government agencies. I expressed the hope that there would not be too many of these, because of my feeling that to get any legislation through at this session was going to require steady effort and a good deal of legislative skill. I was particularly gratified to have Oscar Ewing, the Federal Security Administrator, say that he felt that any extraneous action such as social training would weaken the chances for the bill, and that, therefore, they should be excluded. It was his opinion that the bill could only pass on the grounds of being a military necessity. I expressed complete agreement with Mr. Ewing and said I hoped we would not be burdened with any of the kind of suggestions that Mrs. Roosevelt had tried to promulgate several years when the subject first came up--in the field of training in its broad social sense.


FUCHS: Very interesting. Any other Cabinet meetings that you recall?

EWING: No. No, I don't.

FUCHS: What about the 1953 transition? Did any problems arise there, do you have any thoughts about that, from the Truman to the Eisenhower administration?

EWING: No. I took that trip around the world to which I have referred and we returned to Washington January 15th, 1953. I had learned of Mrs. Hobby's appointment as Federal Security Administrator by President Eisenhower while I was, I think, in Istanbul. I had sent her a cable offering to cooperate with her in any way I could. When I got back I found a very nice note, but that was about all. I then sent to the President my resignation as Federal Security Administrator effective on the termination of President Truman's term and received an extremely nice letter from him regarding my services. If I may I would like to put the text of that letter in this recording at this point.

The White House


January 19 , 1953

Dear Jack:

In accepting your resignation as Federal Security Administrator, effective January twentieth, I want to express my appreciation for your devotion to public service and your contributions to the cause of health, education and security.

Your administration not only has been dedicated to the highest ideals of democratic process; it also has been marked by practical contributions to good government. You have taken the initiative in promoting efficiency and economy throughout your Agency and have blazed a new trail in regional organization to improve your services.

In the past five years, the departmental stature of the Federal Security Agency has been repeatedly demonstrated. If the departmental name is still to come, you and I have the satisfaction of having laid the foundation.

In the past three years, social security has moved far toward the goal for which it was enacted eighteen years ago. Millions more now have the benefit of its insurance protection, and this protection has been increased. Meanwhile, there has been a gradual and healthy reduction in the number needing help under public assistance provisions and some incease [sic] in their payments. In education, Federal aid to schools in areas overburdened by Federal activity at least has helped these communities to meet some of their worst emergencies. Meantime people everywhere have been alerted to the school crisis confronting their own children. Public health and related services have made marked advances in medical research, control of chronic diseases, hospital construction, and rehabilitation of the disabled. You have performed a real service in strengthening food standards and in directing enforcement of the law against dangerous drugs--a job which has become doubly necessary in the current welter of new


scientific developments, both harmful and beneficent.

One of your special personal contributions has been in identifying what still needs doing--as, for example, in the continuing movement to solve the problem of the cost of medical care. We are all indebted to you for your insistent reminders that the job is far from done--for children, for the aged, for the disabled, and for us all.

I know that you will find satisfaction in the assurance that you have fought the good fight, along with all of those who believe that the strength of the Nation lies not only in its armaments but still more in its citizens.

You have my best wishes.

Very sincerely yours,

(signed) Harry S. Truman

FUCHS: You also, as sort of a capstone, received several awards for your public service. Do you care to mention those?

EWING: Well, I received the Sidney Hillman 1950 award for meritorious public service. And then I later received the Philip Murray award in 1953. There were various others.

FUCHS: You received two awards, then, named after very prominent labor leaders.



FUCHS: And then, finally, Medicare or national health insurance of sorts was passed under the administration of President Johnson. Do you care to say something about that?

EWING: Well, by the time Mr. Johnson became President he supported Medicare very strongly. The proposed legislation embodying Medicare had been considered by the Ways and Means Committee in the House and the Finance Committee in the Senate. These Committees had made some excellent improvements in the bill and when it finally passed both Houses it was a much better bill than the one I had originally proposed in 1952. It was more comprehensive and did a better job. President Johnson was very gracious about one thing. In view of President Truman's having, in his administration, been the sparkplug that brought about the first introduction of the legislation, President Johnson went clear out to Independence, Missouri to sign the bill in the presence of former President Truman; and President Johnson asked me to accompany him on the trip.

FUCHS: Did you have a conversation with Mr. Truman on that occasion?


EWING: Well, I just went down the line with the others, and he got up and put his arms around me and he couldn't have been more cordial; so was Mrs. Truman. But I had no time for any words. It was a long line .

FUCHS: You say that you did speak in 1952 on behalf of Adlai Stevenson.

EWING: Oh, yes.

FUCHS: Did these requests for you to speak come through his headquarters or the Democratic National Committee in Washington?

EWING: It would be a request from the National Committee probably. It might be that a request for me to make a talk had come to the National Committee and they would ask me to take the assignment.

FUCHS: What about Samuel Rosenman. Did you have any relationship with him at some time?

EWING: Nothing except that we were very good friends. I had a great admiration for Sam, for his ability, and for him as a person.

FUCHS: What was the situation in regard to national health


insurance under President Kennedy in his short tenure? Did you know President Kennedy?

EWING: Oh, yes. Actually I had known President Kennedy since he was a little boy because the Kennedy family lived for a time in Riverdale, New York and that was quite close to my home there. My older son and Jack were classmates in the Riverdale country school. I didn't know him well, I merely knew him as a boyfriend of my older son. But, actually, Jim, my older son, had kept in touch with Jack. I don't recall having seen Jack when he was in the House, but I saw him a number of times when he was in the Senate, and after he was President, I saw him once. Governor Sanford of North Carolina and I had an appointment with him.

FUCHS: Do you recall what that was about?

EWING: Yes, it was about getting the Environmental Health Center located in the Research Triangle in North Carolina.

FUCHS: You wanted it located here?

EWING: Yes. It was to be one of the institutes of the Public Health Service. Governor Sanford had asked me


if I would help him in his endeavors to get it located in the Research Triangle; and I told him I would be delighted to give him any assistance I could. I made several trips to Washington and talked with the Public Health Service people about it. At first they were very anxious to have the Center located in Washington and, of course, we wanted it in the Research Triangle. I was completely convinced that Washington was one of the last places that the Center should be located. One of the reasons for urging the Research Triangle location was that if there were a nuclear attack on this country it would be very important that there be an environmental health organization functioning to help solve problems that could not possibly have been foreseen. To have an organization functioning that could perhaps find solutions for some immediate unforeseen problems might save many thousands of lives. If there were a nuclear war you know perfectly well that Washington would be much higher on the target list of the enemy than Chapel Hill or the Research Triangle. Finally, the Johnson administration, through Larry O'Brien, got Congress to put a provision in the bill to the effect that the Center had to be located at least


fifty miles from the District of Columbia. That necessitated the Public Health Service re-appraising the problem of location, and they came up with a strong recommendation for the. Research Triangle. I'm sure they are very happy with that decision.

FUCHS: It has been located here?

EWING: Oh, yes.

FUCHS: Just what is the Research Triangle?

EWING: The Research Triangle is a body of land that lies in about the center of a triangle consisting of the University of North Carolina of Chapel Hill, Duke University of Durham, North Carolina, and North Carolina State University at Raleigh. It's a body of about five thousand acres of land. They don't permit any manufacturing there, it's exclusively for research. All of the plants in the Triangle are engaged exclusively in research. Some of America's great corporations have research facilities in the Triangle. IBM has a big research center there, and also Celanese Corporation, Hercules, and others. Although the park has only been going about ten years, it's second in size in the


United States and is second in the number of scientists that are employed.

FUCHS: Now is this--are these research institutions taxable?

EWING: Oh, yes. Well, what happens is, take IBM, they come in and buy land. They've got about four hundred acres of land, and, of course, from then on their operation is subject to local real estate taxes and other local taxes. They're just like any other factory. Now the Research Triangle Foundation, which accumulated this land, and is selling it off, liquidating it, is not taxable for the simple reason that if they make any money or any profits at all it goes to the three universities. The foundation is a non-profit organization.

FUCHS: What was the purpose of setting up such a park? Provide jobs in the area aid a tax base or just what?

EWING: No, back in the middle 1950s some of the leaders in North Carolina were greatly concerned over the facts that the state's economy was based on industries--chiefly tobacco and furniture--that were not moving


forward. The state's industry was not involved in the new electronics technology, or polymers or any of those things. A professor at the University of North Carolina came up with the idea that the way to attract industry to an area was to encourage topnotch research concerns to establish themselves in that area and that production facilities would follow research into the area. Also, it was believed that research activities would be attracted to an area where they would have access to universities. This furnishes researchers with a backstop for their own activities. This was proved true. Very definitely, the Research Triangle has been a great success. You know, a company like IBM wouldn't come to the Triangle if they didn't think it was an advantageous location. Hercules has recently completed a research plant here. I keep saying here, but I mean in the Research Triangle. I happen to be a Director of the Research Triangle Foundation and a member of its Executive Committee.

I'm also a member of the Research Triangle Regional Planning Commission. That is a planning commission for the three counties: Wake County where Raleigh is located; Durham County where Durham is located, and Orange County


where Chapel Hill is located. our Commission can only recommend to a city council and the board of aldermen of these cities and to the county commissioners, any one or more, of the three counties that they do this or that. These municipal legislative bodies decide for themselves on any action that may be taken. But it's worked out very well because the mayors of each of the three cities are members of our commission. There's another member of the commission who has been chosen by the cities to represent them and we also have the chairmen of each board of county commissioners as well as another member of each board of county commissioners or a representative of them. Then there are three members at large who are appointed by the Governor. That's the source of my membership. I was chairman of the commissioners for four years. The original concept was that the chairmanship should be rotated every year but the Commission was good enough to ask me to serve for a longer time.

FUCHS: Is there compensation connected with these positions?

EWING: No, none. None whatever, for either position.

FUCHS: Did your connection with this have something to do


with your coming to Chapel Hill?

EWING: No. This all happened after I came to Chapel Hill. Mrs. Ewing and I came down here, because we felt that we ought to get away from New York City. Personally, I was very fond of New York City and still am, but the noise and dirt got so bad we could not take it any longer. I had retired when I got out of office in January of 1953.

FUCHS: You didn't go back to law practice after January 1953?

EWING: No. Mrs. Ewing and I discussed where we might go. She wanted to go to San Francisco because she loves San Francisco, and I like it very much; but my two sons were in the East and I didn't want to be quite that far away from them. I wanted to be far enough away so that we didn't get into each other's hair, but be near enough so if any emergency came up we could get together quickly.

FUCHS: Where are they located?

EWING: The older son, James, is in Keene, New Hampshire. He and his partner publish three papers in New Hampshire.


My younger son, George, is located in Canandaigua, New York, and he has the local paper there. Both boys became newspapermen and neither had any interest in law. I had always felt that I wanted to live in a college town when I retired because there is always a lot of intellectual activity around. We finally settled on either Charlottesville or Chapel Hill. Then I finally decided that I didn't want to live in the same state with Harry Byrd, so we came to Chapel Hill.

FUCHS: Did anyone influence you in coming here or was it just a selection of yours?

EWING: No, I knew it was very attractive, and it was a liberal university, and the town itself appealed to me very much. There's no industry here at all. The only industry is the university, and the servicing of the university, so it makes it a very attractive community.

FUCHS: Your son, Jim, I believe you said, sat in on some of the meetings of your...

EWING: No, it was George.

FUCHS: Oh, George, your younger son.


EWING: Yes. He was in Washington most of the time I was there and I just asked him to sit in with us.

FUCHS: Did he participate?

EWING: No. No.

FUCHS: I heard a story that Cole Porter was a classmate of yours at Harvard.

EWING: No. He was a classmate of Paul McNutt's; and at Harvard one of the professors was named "Bull" Warren. He was a little overweight, had a big, thick neck, red faced--but he just scared the life out of his students. On the first day that he met a first year class he'd say, "Now, gentlemen, would you turn and look at the gentleman on your right. Now, would you turn and look at the gentleman on your left. One of you three will not be here next year." And he really put the fear of the Lord in your heart.

FUCHS: You had him for a professor?

EWING: Well, I'd had him in my first year at law school.


EWING: So, as Paul McNutt related it to me, he and Cole


Porter were attending a class in Property I which Professor Warren taught. That particular day Professor Warren called on Cole to give the syllabus of one of the cases that was in the textbook and Cole wasn't prepared. So, he didn't make a very good presentation at all and it irritated Warren very much. Finally Warren leaned over his desk and said in a very supercilious way, "Mr. Porter, why don't you give up the law and play the fiddle."

And Cole Porter got up out of his seat right then and walked out of the room and never went back to the law school. But he didn't do so badly.

FUCHS: I did sort of get off the track when I asked you about progress towards national health insurance under Kennedy. Did you have any reflections upon that?

EWING: No. I don't recall any particular efforts that were made during his administration. I have no doubts that bills were introduced because by that time a Senior Citizen's Council was becoming a political force They didn't become really strong until President Johnson's administration.

FUCHS: I only have one remaining question and that's how


did you get your nickname "Jack?"

EWING: Well, my father's favorite uncle was named Andrew Jackson Ewing, and when I was on the way into this world my father and mother decided that if the child were a boy they would name him Andrew Jackson Ewing. About a month before I was born a cousin of mine, who was a lad about eighteen years old and a great favorite in the family, died. His mother, who was more or less a major domo of the Ewing family, was very insistent that his name be carried on and that I have that burden. So, I was named Oscar for this dead cousin. My middle name, Ross, was my mother's maiden name. So that's how I got my name; but father from the day I was born called me Jack and all my friends call me that. I never liked the name Oscar, and when I first went to Indiana University I thought seriously of using only the name Ross Ewing. But I didn't do it and I've managed to bear my burden.

FUCHS: Very well. Anything that you can think of that I've overlooked? I'm sure there's much but...

EWING: Oh, I think you've done an excellent job in your inquisition.


FUCHS: Thank you very much, sir. I certainly appreciate it and have enjoyed it.

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