Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Oral History Interview with
James I. Loeb

National director, Union for Democratic Action (1945-47) and Americans for Democratic Action (1947-51); Consultant to President Harry S. Truman's special counsel (1951-52); Executive Assistant to Governor W. Averell Harriman (1952); U.S. Ambassador to Peru (1961-62); and Ambassador to Guinea (1963-65).

Saranac Lake, New York
June 26, 1970
By Jerry N. Hess

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 It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.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

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

Oral History Interview with
James I. Loeb

Saranac Lake, New York
June 26, 1970
By Jerry N. Hess

HESS: All right, Mr. Loeb, we should be recording. Would you like to start with a statement?

LOEB: Yes, I should say, in the first place, that I had a "junior" in the brief time that I worked at the White House, but I dropped the junior about ten years ago. I decided I wasn't John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and my father died in 1950, so I dropped the junior.

HESS: I'll mark it off my list.

LOEB: What I would like to say, so that there will be no misunderstanding, is that I'm very happy


to be interviewed about anything that I had any relationship with, but I would like to leave no impression that I consider myself an important person in the Truman administration. I don't think President Truman would remember me at all. My contacts with him were very brief. I had some exciting moments but the excitement, as will be pointed out in the course of this interview, was always through Charles Murphy. I was engaged as a per diem consultant for a period of three months, and then, as I recall, I was extended one month, and that was it. So I don't want anyone to think that I consider myself a close associate of Harry Truman. I would be proud to be if I had been. My partner, Roger Tubby, was, of course, a very close associate, but I was not. And with this reservation, I will be glad to answer any questions you may ask, Jerry.


HESS: Good. Let's start with a little bit of your background. Will you tell me a little bit about your background, where you were born, where were you educated, and a few of the positions that you have held?

LOEB: Well, I was born in Chicago in 1908, in August. I'm about to be 62. I was educated at a private school in Chicago and then we moved out to the suburbs and I graduated from the high school in Highland Park, which is now called the Highland Park High School. It was then called the Deerfield Shields Township High School. I then went to Dartmouth College for four years, although I had to take a semester off for ill health, which was the effect of insomnia, but I made it up and graduated with my class.

From that point on I was, I might say, a nightmare for any career counselor. What I did subsequently seemed to be absolutely by chance.


I graduated in June of 1929, which as everyone recalls, was the height of our prosperity and everybody assumed the prosperity would continue everlastingly. I assumed that I was going into my father's insurance business. Then I made some money during that summer. I had made a little bit of money as managing editor of the yearbook at Dartmouth, but I kind of inherited what we used to call a "play class" in the suburbs of Chicago. Inherited in the sense a University of Chicago football player had, had it. He had graduated from college and so I took this play class and it turned out to be very lucrative. I had five and six year olds that I took care of in the morning, and seven through twelve in the afternoon. I had an assistant. The second year, as a matter of fact, I had as many as seventy kids. We just took them to the public beaches, taught them how to swim, played baseball


with them, and charged their parents plenty, and I made more money that first summer, I think, than I did for the next thirty years. I made considerably over a thousand dollars -- in the 1929 value of the dollar -- in ten weeks. Then I decided that maybe I'd see the world before settling down to my father's insurance business. So another chap from Dartmouth, who is still a bachelor and is now the personal assistant to William Paley of CBS, although he has nothing to do with the radio or television business (he just handles his finances), and I went to Europe and we landed with a walrus-mustached Frenchman, who had been an exchange professor of French at Dartmouth. I had had only freshman French and knew very little. But he was in Montpelier in the southern part of France, and that's where we went. I may say I learned French, mostly playing bridge with the law students at the


cafes and with Professor Morfin. Then one day he said, "Why don't you teach French?"

I said, "I don't know enough French to teach it."

And he said, "Well, you know more than most people teaching French in the United States." I think probably he was correct, but I was too. Through him, to make a long story short, I got a teaching fellowship at Northwestern and I never got into my father's insurance business. I started teaching, then got my Ph.D. after another year in France (so that I had two years in France), and I finished my Ph.D. in 1936. As I often say, having graduated with an A.B. from Dartmouth and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Northwestern, and two years in France, I was fully prepared for unemployment. I became unemployed.

I came to New York and was unemployed for a year, and then finally got a job at a place,


a strange institution, called Townsend Harris High School, which was the prep school part of City College and was under the Board of Higher Education in New York City. An interesting reason for that is that I had no education courses, and despite the fact that I had a Ph.D. I was not qualified to teach in the ordinary public school system, but I was qualified to teach in Townsend Harris, because it was under the Board of Higher Education. They had quite a few such Ph.D.s with no education courses. This was an institution that took all the bright boys from all over the city and put them through high school in three years. [Fiorello] La Guardia cut it out of the budget. For some reason he didn't cut out the girls counterpart which still exists at Hunter College, Hunter High School.

At that point I was associated with Reinhold


Niebuhr and others in starting the Union for Democratic Action in 1941, which was enormously expanded and became something of a major institution in 1947 as the Americans for Democratic Action, and I was the first national secretary. I left it in 1951 for only one reason. I thought I had been at this kind of work so long that I was getting stale. Chester Bowles talked to me about going to India with him. Tom [Thomas W.] Braden, who now writes a column with my good friend Frank Mankiewicz, a column which I include in my paper, almost got me in the CIA. Tom was then Allen Dulles' assistant, and I filled out all the CIA forms. But then the suggestion came, probably through David Lloyd, that I join the staff of the White House temporarily on a per diem basis, and that I did. That takes me up to the White House period.

HESS: What are a few of the positions that you've


held since that time?

LOEB: Well, as I say, this was a temporary situation. At the end of the four months Murphy wanted me to go over to work at the Democratic National Committee for Mr. McKinney, and that was all set. I may say, rather immodestly, that it turned out that I had traveled more politically, in a sense, been in more states and had more contacts than most of the people at the White House, on the White House staff at the time, so I began to be given political jobs and Charlie wanted me at the national committee.

Perhaps this is not the right time to go into the whole Stevenson business, but after it was all set for me to go to the national committee, then the Stevenson people in Chicago wanted me to organize the "Draft Stevenson" campaign which I was about ready to do when Stevenson issued the statement, we thought,


pulling out. Then Averell Harriman asked me to open an office for him, and I became executive director of his campaign, which is a story in itself, and then afterwards his personal assistant, not in the Government, just outside the Government. When our side lost in 1952, through a combination of circumstances, Roger Tubby and I decided to try to buy a paper together, and we bought this paper and we have been at Saranac Lake as co-editors and co-publishers of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, and since 1960 of the Lake Placid News, a weekly, ever since, except that Roger Tubby hasn't been back since 1960, and I took four and a half years out to serve President Kennedy as Ambassador to Peru and then to Guinea in Africa. Since then I've been right back here.

HESS: Fine. Let's go back to 1941 for just a moment and the Union for Democratic Action. Can you tell


me a little bit about the founding of that organization? Why was it founded? Why was it thought to be necessary to have an organization of this nature at this time?

LOEB: Because it all had to do with the foreign affairs battle at the time. There was the William Allen White Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies, but many of us on the liberal side and some who were or who had been members of the Socialist Party, felt that it was a pretty conservative organization. We wanted to be interventionists but at the same time we wanted to express our views about domestic policy, and as I recall, we called it a "two-front fight for democracy both at home and abroad."

A lot of people at that time were pretty disillusioned in terms of the foreign policy, the pacifist foreign policy of Norman Thomas, who was a great public figure and a great human


being, but probably was more pacifist than anything else, and also a civil libertarian, for which I respected him. But many of us didn't go along with him on the issue of war, and as you recall, the interesting thing was that the Union for Democratic Action, with Reinhold Niebuhr as chairman, was founded on May 10th. At that time, the Communists and all of the Communist fellow travelers were also isolationists, because this was during the period of the Nazi-Soviet Pact. But then, following June 22 when the Soviet Union was invaded by Hitler Germany, the Communists immediately became arch-interventionists.

As a matter of fact, it was said of Michael Quill, who was head of the Transport Workers Union, who was at least a fellow traveler, if not more, that he changed his line faster than anybody else. He is reputed to have changed


his line in the middle of a speech when somebody handed him a notice saying that the Soviet Union had been invaded, and he's supposed to have changed his line from calling it an imperialist war to calling it a war of liberation. Whether this is true or not, I don't know, but anyway, this was the situation. And we remained, as I may say, staunchly anti-Communist, the Union for Democratic Action did, and later the ADA did too.

As the situation changed, the Soviet Union by this time had broken its pact with the Nazis, was invaded, and then we were at war, we were in effect allies with the Soviet Union, and a great united front grew up in all sorts of circles. As a matter of fact, those of us in the Union for Democratic Action, and later in ADA, were resistant of it, staunchly resistant. In fact, we were called by some people the "hang-back


boys," because we refused to be involved in anything, even most of us in things like the Russian War Relief, because we felt it was Communist controlled. It's a long story.

HESS: What do you recall about a few of the people who were instrumental in the organization of the UDA? What kind of a man was Reinhold Niebuhr?

LOEB: I may say at this point for any researchers, the best thing that was ever written about the Union for Democratic Action was written by a fellow who, while he was a student at Harvard, came up here to my home and worked for me on the newspaper during the summer, and lived with us. We've had a number of students (as summer assistants), from all around. He did his senior paper on the Union for Democratic Action, and it is a substantial research job. He went through all of the old files, and it's probably


available in a number of places, and it's an excellent job. His name is Adam Clymer and he is now the correspondent of the Baltimore Sun in India. He was the correspondent in the Soviet Union, but only for about eight months. He was thrown out by the Soviet Union because I think there was something going on in front of the United States Embassy, and somebody hit him and Adam hit him back. Adam was later, as they call it at Harvard, president of the Harvard Crimson, which is in effect editor. He is a very brilliant guy and he has done a real study of the Union for Democratic Action. Adam Clymer has been for some years one of the most important political reporters for the New York Times.

HESS: What do you recall of the attempt of the Americans for Democratic Action to try to get General Eisenhower to run on the Democratic ticket in 1948?

LOEB: I remember a lot about that.


HESS: Why was that thought desirable?

LOEB: Well, I may say the founding meeting of the Americans for Democratic Action was chaired by a great man, Elmer Davis, and he opened the meeting with a remark which I never forgot. He said, "This looks very much like the United States Government in exile."

And in the early days of the Truman period one would have to say that a lot of people were a little bit disappointed about President Truman's appointments, although some of the appointments, I may say, in retrospect, turned out to be much better than we thought at the time.

There was a great fuss and fume when Jim Landis, former Dean of Harvard Law School, was replaced at the CAB. Jim Landis, a brilliant guy, who was Joseph Kennedy's lawyer, ended up in jail. I think his replacement at the CAB was Joe O'Connell, who came from Saranac Lake, New York, where we are


right now. His brother is a contractor here and I see him (Joe), every summer when he comes up. He's a fine guy. There were quite a few such appointments and there was quite a bit of disillusionment.

One has to remember history, and I have lived enough of history to know that my judgments are somewhat tempered now in my old age, but most of us liberals, we've been wrong many times and liberals always will be, so will conservatives, but we all recall the convention of 1944.

Henry Wallace was our hero at one time, and when Roosevelt dumped Henry Wallace we thought that his replacement by Harry Truman, who was a machine politician of no great stature, we thought, was a great disillusionment for us, and we were solely disappointed. So that naturally the liberals were inclined to pick out all the flaws they


could find, appointments or anything that was said, that the President did. Some of his appointments weren't good, I think. His legal appointments weren't particularly good. Then, of course, there was the obvious fact, as I said, that anybody who knew anything about politics knew that Harry Truman had absolutely no chance of winning the 1948 election. Nobody could be so silly as to think that could happen. So that there was the kind of ideological split between President Truman, who was a non-intellectual, and the intellectual liberals, and also this very pragmatic thing that everybody knew he was going to be defeated.

The Eisenhower thing came in a very peculiar way. I believe it is true that the first person to be impressed with Eisenhower from the, you might say, the liberal-labor side, was Sidney Hillman, who met him when he went to Germany and


was impressed. And it was through Sidney Hillman that Eisenhower was then invited to speak by Philip Murray to the CIO convention, which I believe was in Atlantic City in -- I have to be careful of the date here, and I can't remember what year it was -- and I happened to be there at the time. We had our labor connections and I used to go to these conventions from time to time. And somebody had written a very good speech for General Eisenhower, and it was kind of a pro-labor speech. Phil Murray got to know him and fell in love with him. He obviously was a very charming man, and from that point, since everybody realized that Truman had no chance of winning, the question was whether Eisenhower could be persuaded to run on the Democratic ticket.

As a matter of fact, we were persuaded in the ADA by the CIO, which preferred that somebody


else do the main work rather than do it as a labor organization. Jack Kroll, who was head of the Political Action Committee of the CIO, and Milton Eisenhower were really the people who conferred more frequently than anyone else. Then there was a board meeting, or kind of an expanded board meeting in Pittsburgh at which the decision was made that we should do this; so it was not made at the (ADA) convention.

Eisenhower for a whole year was clearly available. Everybody who saw him agreed on this, and he would see almost anybody, he was then president of Columbia University; he saw Chester Bowles; he saw Leon Henderson; he saw all sorts of people.

HESS: And he was receptive?

LOEB: He was extremely receptive. If Robert Taft had been the Republican nominee as an isolationist,


I have no question in my mind that General Eisenhower would have been available.

HESS: And would have run on the Democratic ticket?

LOEB: And would have run on the Democratic ticket.

HESS: If he could have gotten it away from President Truman.

LOEB: Yes, if he could have gotten it away from President Truman. And I have no question in my mind that if he had been available he would have been nominated, whether that was right or not. I may jump over a bit to say that, as late as February, 1952, when I was working at the White House, Charlie Murphy asked me clearly on behalf of the President if I didn't think Eisenhower could possibly become a candidate on the Democratic ticket in 1952. By this time all of us had been disillusioned in Eisenhower


because of all sorts of things that he had said. I wasn't interested, but Charlie Murphy kept saying, "Well, you know, if he's a Democrat and he's surrounded by some of us, he might be very different." Well, I was no longer interested in that. In fact, all of us had been very embarrassed about our episode in 1948.

I might add a little interesting ironic touch. At that board meeting in Pittsburgh, Lester Granger -- he was a member of the board and was then head of the National Urban League, or the executive director of it -- came to me first when it looked like we might be making some kind of a gesture toward General Eisenhower, and he said, "Jim, I have to tell you that if this organization in any way condones or approves the possible candidacy of General Eisenhower, I will have to resign. As a Negro I will not be able to face my constituency if I belong to an


organization that in any way endorses Eisenhower." He (Eisenhower) had made some statements before a congressional committee which were anything but progressive on race issues. To make a long story short, Lester Granger did resign from the ADA. Later on, after Eisenhower became President, Lester Granger was his principal White House advisor on Negro affairs, and was very close to Eisenhower, and I got a fund raising appeal letter from him for the Urban League. Although I had never given to the Urban League before (I had always given most of my contributions in that field to the NAACP), I thought it was worth ten dollars, so I wrote Lester a letter reminding him of the fact that he had resigned from ADA because of our gesture toward Eisenhower and now he was Eisenhower's principal advisor. He wrote back a very cute letter and said, "Well, I'm glad I resigned then, because if I hadn't, I would


have had to resign now for exactly the opposite reason."

So that's how we got into that. And of course, we had an Eisenhower or Douglas proposal. I still have a button, an Eisenhower or Douglas button.

HESS: How did Mr. Douglas' name come up?

LOEB: Well, we were never sure that General Eisenhower was available, and there were some people who had growing doubts. I remember Chester Bowles when he went to see Eisenhower. He got off the (so-called) train immediately after he left General Eisenhower's office. He wasn't at all impressed by his comments. And Justice Douglas had some friends, one of whom was David Ginsburg, who was very active. I believe that he was a very close friend (of Justice Douglas). I think he had been Justice Douglas' law clerk earlier, and he was influential. Other


people who were interested were influential in ADA, and it was perfectly clear that Douglas was available. There was no question about that. He wasn't announcing; he was on the bench, obviously, but he was available. In fact, there was quite a bit of talk of his being the Vice President, which he turned down. He knew that Truman couldn't win either.

So that's how we got to the convention, and that's where we got on the Eisenhower-Douglas thing. Some of us were rather embarrassed about it afterwards, very embarrassed. President Truman kidded us about it, you know.

HESS: Jumping ahead just a bit, but did President Truman ever mention this to you at the time that you were working at the White House?

LOEB: No, my contacts with the President -- I don't think I ever had what you might call a personal


conversation with him. I sat in on several speechwriting sessions with the President and, you know, a few chance meetings, but I never really had a personal conversation.

HESS: What do you recall about the part that Joseph Rauh of Washington, D.C. may have played in the episode of trying to get General Eisenhower to run, anything particular?

LOEB: Joe Rauh is one of my closest friends and a great man in my opinion. One of the greatest of my generation. Much greater than he is given credit for being. He is Mr. ADA; he is also Mr. Civil Rights, Mr. Civil Liberties. He was just one of us who was very actively involved.

HESS: Do you recall if David Lloyd had a part in this?

LOEB: I rather doubt it. I can’t remember that he


did. If he did, I just can't remember. There were people who didn't agree with us about this.

It was not a unanimous thing. We all, of course, knew that Truman couldn't win. Everybody knew that.

HESS: Foregone conclusion.

LOEB: Yes, that's right.

HESS: What do you recall about the dispute over the civil rights plank at the 1948 Democratic Party platform?

LOEB: Oh, I was very much involved in that. I think I can tell you the whole story. At this point again, I should make one caveat, and that is that I am talking entirely from memory; I have very few, if any, notes at all from this period. I never was going to write a book about this...

HESS: You were the only one, I guess, who wasn't


going to write a book.

LOEB: I want to be the only one. The only non-career ambassador not to write a book. It's tempting, but I've resisted so far. But what I wanted to tell you is that what I say should be checked by historians if they're going to use any of this.

We had a board meeting or an executive committee meeting in ADA around March. I hope nobody will call me a liar for a month or so, but it was around that period of time. One good friend, who had a tragic history, sat in with us, and that was Edward [Kettlewell, Jr.] Prichard. Everybody remembers Edward Prichard.

Edward Prichard was one of the real young brilliant geniuses of that New Deal period. He was the deputy to Justice Byrnes when Byrnes left the bench to be the economic czar during the wartime period. Prichard was an enormous man who


was finally drafted and lasted about two weeks in the Army because he was really too fat. When he was finally drafted he said, "They have scraped the bottom of the manpower barrel and now they have taken the barrel." And he was really too fat for military service. He was an absolutely brilliant man, whose best man at his wedding was the Chief Justice of the United States, Chief Justice Vinson. And I guess we should mention that fact that for reasons that nobody will ever be able to understand, he was finally charged, arrested and jailed for stealing votes in Kentucky where he was from. His lawyer was Paul Porter. They tried everything, but he was disbarred, and it was one of the saddest cases. I think he is now back in practice again. He lived in Paris, Kentucky, I believe. Nobody could ever figure this out, except the one explanation was that, going back to Kentucky, he wanted to


do what other Kentuckians did, and that was steal votes, and so he did. He did it for Senator [Virgil Munday] Chapman, whom he didn't like. Whether he had a bet -- no one could ever understand.

But anyway, "Prich" as we all called him, who might have had a great future, and even when he was disbarred used to do research work and briefs for the Chief Justice of the United States, but Prich came to our meeting. He was a good friend. And we were talking about this coming, disastrous campaign when Harry Truman and the whole Democratic ticket were going down, and we decided that we ought to at least go down fighting on certain issues, and one of them was civil rights. At that point we started a campaign to get a strong civil rights platform at the convention.

We got the mayor of Minneapolis, a fellow by


the name of Hubert Humphrey, to send out letters, which we drafted, in fact, even had typed and everything else. They came out on his stationery as mayor of Minneapolis, in which he said something to the effect that, "In association with National Committeeman James Roosevelt of California, and National Committeeman from Illinois Jacob Arvey, I appeal to you," and so forth and so forth, "to pledge yourself to support a strong civil rights plank at our national convention."

That was the beginning of it, and we really went to work on the delegates on the issues. By this time we were pretty sure that we couldn't get very far in anything else, and particularly after Dewey's nomination at the Republican convention, it was obvious that Eisenhower was not available, and so we went to work on this issue. Originally -- it's a long and exciting story.


I don't know how much detail you want -- originally, the chairman of the platform committee was Senator [Francis John] Myers of Pennsylvania. We had three people, only three votes out of a committee of something like 108 on the platform committee, who were for this minority resolution: Hubert Humphrey, Andrew Biemiller, now the chief lobbyist for the AFL-CIO, he was a Congressman off and on...and Esther Murray, who was the National Committeewoman from California. There were only three who signed this, although afterwards, others said they wished they had been approached.

There was a little background, because before the civil rights issue came up, there was an issue that came before the credentials committee on the seating of the Mississippi delegation.

I can't remember whether Mr. Barkley as temporary chairman or Mr. Rayburn as permanent


chairman was in the chair. I can't remember which one, but they took a voice vote, and the regular Mississippi delegation was seated on a voice vote, but a good many people thought that the majority recommendations -- and by the way, Adlai Stevenson was a member of that credentials committee -- that the recommendation of the credentials committee had been defeated, and a number of delegations got up and asked to be recorded negatively. This was sort of the background of the fight.

We, at ADA, had rented a fraternity house at the University of Pennsylvania as our headquarters, and we really had a regular campaign strategy, and invited all sorts of people who were not involved with ADA at all. One of them, as I recall, who was very key, was Jack [John Francis] Shelley from California, who was, I believe, the chairman of the delegation from California, a real, big tough guy, later a


Congressman, but he was from the AF of L teamsters, I think. He came to our caucus and he said, "The California delegation is split on a good many things, but we're absolutely united on this issue of civil rights and I pledge to this group that if Sam Rayburn doesn't give us a roll call vote on this issue I will lead the California delegation onto the platform, and I will take over the microphone physically." The delegation went to see Mr. Rayburn and in effect warned him that there would be trouble if we didn't get a roll call vote on this issue.

A number of things happened which finally all played into our hands, such as a headline in the Philadelphia paper, which, I don't quite recall, but the point of it was, DEMOCRATS REJECT STRONG CIVIL RIGHTS PLANK. This was the gist of the headline, which made a lot of northern Democrats feel, "Well, we can't afford to


do that." We had a lot of people with us on this kind of an issue.

Interestingly enough, in terms of what happened in the 1968 convention, one of the things that helped us considerably was the unit rule. There were a number of delegations. I remember one which was very crucial, the Kansas delegation, where there was one woman who was absolutely passionately devoted to this cause, civil liberties, civil rights, and she was so active that the other members of the delegation said, "O.K., we'll vote with her on this issue." If they had had a vote they might have voted her down, but on a unit rule she got the entire delegation. That was a major thing.

Then Eugenie [Moore] Anderson, whom President Truman later appointed as the first woman ambassador in our history, was one of our group: Joe Rauh, Milton Stewart, who had been the research


director of the President's Civil Rights Commission that wrote To Secure These Rights, was one of them. But I would credit Eugenie Anderson, with whom I've had many differences since then, but she's still a good friend, with the genius of putting in that minority plank, "We support President Truman's civil rights program," in so many words, using the name of President Truman, despite the fact that the President himself was not in favor of this, nor was Mr. Barkley, later the vice-presidential candidate, nor was the chairman of the party, Senator J. Howard McGrath, from Rhode Island. Nevertheless, we had the Truman name on our side.

One episode took place, which can be checked with Hubert Humphrey, but it's a wonderful story. While he was standing up there, and you remember that he was just the mayor of Minneapolis, and this was his first experience in big time national


politics -- he had already, I believe, been nominated for the Senate, and nobody thought he could win either -- but he got up at that convention and while he was waiting to speak for the minority plank, there were two fellows standing on that platform, one was Jim Farley, and one was Ed Flynn. They were talking to each other, and Jim Farley said, "This is a terrible thing; it's going to split our party, and we've got to prevent it."

Ed Flynn said, "Jim, you're absolutely wrong. This is the kind of thing that's going to make our party and these young fellows are going to be the leaders in the future. I'm with them and I'm going to help them." He went over to Hubert Humphrey and he said, "Mr. Mayor, my name is Ed Flynn."

And of course Hubert Humphrey said, "Oh, yes, Mr. Flynn, I know who you are."

And he said, "I'm all with you, what can I


do for you?"

And you know, Hubert was never at a loss for words, and he said, "Thank you very much, Mr. Flynn, it would be very helpful if you would go over and speak to Dave Lawrence." Dave Lawrence was really the boss of the Pennsylvania delegation. Mr. Flynn did so, and this was really the crucial point -- Dave Lawrence said he was with us, and therefore, the entire Pennsylvania delegation voted as a bloc, which put it over, including, by the way, the chairman of the platform committee, who was the sponsor of the majority resolution, who was Senator Myers. This did it, and I must say that this was one of the most exciting moments that I've ever had. As I walked with the young mayor from Minneapolis out of that hall, I actually thought he was going to be shot. This was the time when, after the victory was won, all the Dixiecrats walked out, including


some who later did not join the Dixiecrats -- Senator [Richard B.] Russell walked out -- Senator [Strom] Thurmond and so on, and so forth. And it was very tense, very tense.

HESS: What did you think that Mr. Truman's view was at that time? Now, October, the previous October, the report that you mentioned, To Secure These Rights had come out, and then on February 2, 1948, the Ten Points Civil Rights Message was sent to Congress. Both of these things seemed to imply a strong civil rights feeling in the administration, but then we come to the convention and there is a disagreement among historians as to what Mr. Truman's views were at this time, as to what kind of a plank should go in, a strong plank, or a plank that might be conciliatory towards the South.

LOEB: Well, I would have to say that the majority


plank was not against civil rights; it was a plank which anybody who believed in civil rights could have accepted, but it was not as strong as we would have liked. It didn't go whole hog and we were frankly looking for a fight. And I think that we were right in the sense that we thought that what seemed to us a rather desultory campaign would be enlivened if on a moral issue such as this, the party would speak forcefully.

I would suspect that President Truman felt as a politician that we were going too far, but then he's a pretty old man now and has been for the last few years.

HESS: At the time that you were working in the White House what did you feel was Mr. Truman's view on civil rights at that time, late in the administration?


LOEB: I have no question but that he was pretty far advanced on civil rights. I have no objections to anything he did or said in the field of civil rights, at all. I had no particular responsibility in that field at the White House. As you know, we will soon get into the thing, I had basically only two functions at the White House: One I started with, and the other I managed to get afterwards; otherwise, I wasn't active in many of the issues.

HESS: We'll get into that in just a little bit.

How instrumental in Mr. Truman's eventual victory in 1948 would you think that the strong civil rights plank was?

LOEB: Oh, I suppose it could be argued. One of our arguments for it always was, for those people who were worried about the defection of the South, that Franklin Roosevelt, who was elected to the


office four times, could have been elected every one of the four times, if he had lost the entire South, and that the South, at least at that time, was not as important as some people thought it was. In my view, and maybe this is a prejudiced view, I think that this ringing victory actually brought some excitement into the campaign, and it made the Democratic Party seem like a very principled organization. I know some of the young people were even then beginning to feel that they wanted to do something in the field of civil rights.

For example, I remember twelve years later when I was representing Hubert Humphrey in Madison, Wisconsin, the Governor, Gaylord Nelson, had a young assistant, who I believe is now the chairman of the party, by the name of Winner, I think. He was quite young then. But


while Governor Gaylord Nelson, who was a particularly good friend of mine, was taking no sides in the competition between Senator Kennedy and Senator Humphrey, his young assistant was passionately for Humphrey and he said one day, he said, "Oh, I will never forget listening on the radio, and hearing that great speech that Mr. Humphrey made on civil rights at that convention. That was one of the greatest moments I remember, and I was only eight years old!"

So I did think it had some influence. I've often thought, by the way -- this is another issue -- that you could almost document the fact that Henry Wallace's independent candidacy was enormously helpful to Harry Truman in the election. I said that the other day to some people after I noticed that Senator Eugene McCarthy had an article in the New York Times about the possibility


of a third party. In fact, I wrote to my friend and former colleague, Ken Galbraith, that I thought I could document that it might be equally helpful if Senator McCarthy could get the SDSers and the Black Panthers and all the extremists together in a third party, it would help elect a good liberal to the Presidency in 1972. I think this happened in 1948 to a great extent.

I know candidates for Congress who were originally worried by the Wallace candidacy when the Wallace people talked about ten million votes, but finally, what really happened is some candidates lost a thousand voters on the far left and they gained about three or four thousand in the middle. What I'm really saying is, that in my political judgment, the fact that there was a Dixiecrat candidate on the right, and there was a Wallace candidate on the pretty


far left, made the all-out liberal position of Harry Truman seem a middle position, and the middle is a very attractive position for the great mass of American voters. We have a middle-of-the-road psychology.

HESS: All right, sir, I understand you went to the Progressive Citizens of America Convention in the summer of 1948 to testify.

LOEB: Yes, and I'll tell you how that was. We had testified before the Republican platform committee In fact, Mrs. Gifford Pinchot had testified for us in ADA, and Leon Henderson testified before the Democratic platform committee. After this great victory in the civil rights thing, which was the most exciting moment that I'd ever had, I came right up here to Lake Placid, just nine miles from here, to rest from exhaustion, and to visit some friends that I had come up to


visit several times, not knowing that I would ever land here and live here permanently, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Epstein. Mr. Epstein -- both of them have died -- Henry Epstein ended up as a State Supreme Court Judge, had been deputy mayor of the City of New York, and so forth, and Mrs. Epstein was a labor arbitrator and was Mayor La Guardia's labor advisor, and was particularly active in ADA; she was, I think, national treasurer.

So, I was with them at Lake Placid when I got a phone call. It had been decided by the ADA, I imagine the executive committee in my absence, that since we had testified before the Republican committee and the Democratic platform committee, we should also testify before the Progressive platform committee -- there was a blanket invitation to everybody, a mimeographed invitation -- because it was felt that we should challenge them on the issue which was the major


issue on which the Progressive Party was founded in 1948. That was the issue of the Marshall plan.

Mrs. Roosevelt had made it clear to us in ADA that she thought our particular function in that campaign was to do battle with the Progressive Party. She thought we were in a better position to do it than some of the old line Democrats, since we had been associated with Wallace in many ventures, and so on and so forth.

So, it was decided not only that we should testify, but that I should testify because I was considered the in-fighter, so to speak, in this kind of left of center factionalism. So I went back to Washington. I consulted a young man whom I'd gotten to know because he had helped on one little pamphlet which we did on the Marshall plan, who was involved in the early days of the Marshall plan, by the name of George


Ball. And he helped me write the testimony, which centered on the Marshall plan. We challenged, in effect, the platform committee of the Progressive Party. It was an amazing experience. The only time I had a real, front-page headline in the New York Times, because I was the only opposition witness. The only other non-Communist witness, in effect, was the old man who had – Townsend -- old man [Dr. Francis E.] Townsend had a pension plan and he’d testify anyplace whether it was right, left or center.

HESS: Trying to put the Townsend plan across.

LOEB: Trying to put the Townsend plan across, yes. It was very interesting. I got up there, I talked to Eric Sevareid who was there, who recounted an interesting experience. The chairman of the platform committee was Mr. [Rexford Guy] Tugwell, whom I didn't know. And Eric Sevareid told me that he had had a very interesting experience on


the first day. I was scheduled on the second day of the hearing. There had been someone who had testified from Puerto Rico, and he started his testimony by saying, "I refuse to testify in the language of American imperialism." He then testified in Spanish, in a very excited demand for Puerto Rican independence. Tugwell had said nothing, and Eric Sevareid went up to him afterwards and said, "Mr. Tugwell, you've just written a monumental book on Puerto Rico where you were Governor, and the whole point of the book is that independence would be disastrous for Puerto Rico."

And Tugwell said, "That's right."

"Well, why didn't you say anything?"

"Oh," he said, "if they want a plank for the independence of Puerto Rico, let them have it."

He took the same position on the Marshall plan, actually. He was a friend of Henry Wallace from the old days so he was the chairman


of this thing.

When I came in I went up to him and introduced myself and said, "Could you tell me when I'm going to appear?"

And he said, "You better ask the secretary of the committee," and the secretary of the committee was Lee Pressman, general counsel of the CIO, who probably was the most important Communist in the country. I say Communist, because if he wasn't, he owed them money, and he certainly was a Communist influence. So I went up to Pressman, and he said, "I don't know." He wouldn't tell me. And frankly, I don't think I ever would have gotten on had it not been for the press (now I'm part of the press), but the press always likes controversy. So, finally between Stewart Alsop and Jimmy [James H.] Wechsler and Eric Sevareid and Howard K. Smith, who was a liberal in those days, he's pretty conservative


now, they kept on badgering Pressman and the chairman to find out when I was to testify.

After reading the text of my testimony, I said, "Mr. Chairman, is there no discussion?"

And he said, "No."

I said, "It would seem to me that the issue that I raised is at least of sufficient importance, namely the Marshall plan, to warrant some discussion by your committee."

He said, "No, thank you very much."

I turned and walked out, with the help of four of Philadelphia's finest, because there was a real lynch spirit then in that room, and as I was walking out of the door I heard -- in this rather large, huge room in the convention hall -- I heard Mr. Tugwell reading a statement and I turned around to listen. He was reading -- it was a disgraceful thing -- a prepared, mimeographed statement denouncing me for my testimony


and saying that I was doing that as a paid agent of somebody or other. It was a rather disgusting statement prepared by some Communist which Tugwell read. Anyway, that was that episode, which, I think, had some influence at that time.

HESS: Just what was the ADA's part in the campaign against Henry Wallace and the Progressive Party, what was their role?

LOEB: Yes, I'd like to go back, if I may, just a little bit to do some background about our experience with Henry Wallace. As I have indicated before, he was supposed to be the heir apparent to FDR, and when he was dumped we were all very disappointed. He was then, as everyone will recall, named Secretary of Commerce by President Roosevelt, and at that point, we organized a dinner in New York to honor Henry


Wallace. As a matter of fact, we did it in cooperation with the New Republic magazine, but I was, in effect, the organizer of it. Henry Wallace came up and gave me his speech, and I must say, it shocked me. There was one line in his speech in which, in effect, he practically said that he was ready to form a third party. I remember going to him in his hotel room and saying, "Mr. Wallace, after all, you've just been nominated by President Roosevelt to be Secretary of Commerce. Isn't this a little strange? If I were a newspaperman, this would be my headline."

"Oh," he said, "I guess you're right." And he took it out. But he really was strangely naive politically. The strange thing about Wallace is that I think he was a good businessman; he made money in everything he touched and he was a pretty good administrator, but he was politically naive.


I will also have to say that -- this is the Loeb theory -- that there are a whole series of people in public life in recent years, who thought they should have been President and were stopped by somebody. They somehow got twisted. Briefly, I'd say Al Smith, who later joined the Liberty League, who thought he should have had a second chance to run. Jim Farley certainly thought he had some promise from Roosevelt that he would be the candidate after two FDR terms; and James Byrnes. Henry Wallace was the only one that went left. Most of them went pretty conservative afterwards, but anyway, that's my theory.

Then, I would have to say to you that we made a kind of an experiment in ADA. We realized that C.B. [Calvin Benham] Baldwin was very close to Henry Wallace, and we realized that Baldwin was very far to the left. He became farther to


the left when he divorced his wife and then went around with and later married somebody, who was really, I think, probably a Communist. We made some test cases. We got invitations to Henry Wallace from places in the country where the invitations were backed by labor and farm people -- really substantial invitations in plenty of time, and Wallace always turned them down. I don't think he accepted any one of the invitations we got to him, and we realized that he was going pretty far away from us. Then when he made that speech at Madison Square Garden, his famous speech at Madison Square Garden, he was far gone.

I will say another thing here that should be checked and perhaps if you haven't, you should check this with Eugenie Anderson, it's a very interesting detail.

In about, I would say, March of 1946 I was asked to write a letter to the New Republic.


Bruce Bliven, the editor, asked me to write a letter. I always kidded him that it was a way of getting an article without paying for it, as I had done quite a bit of political writing for the New Republic, and this was a letter on the united front of liberals and Communists, which I termed more front than united. This was a very controversial article, and they had all sorts of pros and cons on it for months and months afterwards -- Mrs. Roosevelt came in on my side and so forth. The reason I mention this is that one of the people that wrote me about it was a woman from Red Wing, Minnesota by the name of Eugenie Anderson. It was the first I'd ever heard of her, and she asked if I would come out sometime. They had some problems in Minnesota, and she wanted to introduce me to the young mayor. Let me go ahead a little bit and say that after Henry Wallace gave this speech in Madison Square Garden


and then had to resign as Secretary of Commerce, he began going around and making speeches for so-called liberal candidates running for Congress and the Senate, and he got to Minneapolis. I have this in a letter someplace, if I could ever find it, from Eugenie Anderson. Let me see, this would be in probably the fall of '47. Do you recall when Wallace was ousted as...

HESS: September.

LOEB: It must be September, around September of '47, I think. In any case, that can be cleared up.

HESS: September of '46.

LOEB: September '46.

HESS: He was asked to resign on September 20, 1946.

LOEB: That's right, and it was that summer in the end


of August that I had gone out finally -- we summered in northern Wisconsin, and I had taken the Sioux Line from Rhinelander and Mrs. Anderson met me -- it was the first time I had met her -- at the end of the line and we spent the day with the people around Minnesota. That's another story.

Then Wallace went out campaigning for candidates for Congress in '46. I had gotten to know Mrs. Anderson very well. She wrote me a long letter in which she described what happened out there.

What I was talking to them about was the united front, and this is when Hubert Humphrey made a major decision that night at a meeting at which I was to be the main speaker, but at which he made the major speech to an off-the-record meeting. He said, "We will never win a state-wide election, nor will we deserve to win one, unless we clean up our own mess." He


admitted that at the previous meeting of the Democratic Farmer-Labor party, in the interest of harmony, they had practically given their party away. And he said, "I think we should start tonight," this was before ADA, and they did, and they cleaned up their party and this is how they all came to prominence: [Orville] Freeman, Humphrey and so on and so forth.

But Mrs. Anderson wrote me a letter describing the entrance of Henry Wallace in Minneapolis. The two factions fought over him. Humphrey, since he had the police and he was mayor, won, and they took Henry Wallace to a hotel. The mayor described to this man who had been Vice President of the United States the problem; they had, especially the Communist problems in the Democratic Farmer-Labor Party, thinking that he could convince him (Wallace) that he should be careful in his associations. They


didn't think he was really lost yet. I would urge you to check this in the public record at some future time because Mrs. Anderson told me that Henry Wallace actually said to them in that room (she was present), "I think if you got in touch with the Soviet Embassy, they would understand this problem and they would help you out in your party in Minneapolis." He actually suggested that the Russians would be of help in calling off the Communists in a political party in Minnesota.

This showed how far he had gone. The very idea that he would even suggest this to the mayor of an American city!

So, in 1948, we made no bones about it. We were distinctly an anti-Communist organization, we really thought by this time that Wallace was captured at least, and we just went about it in every way that we possibly could. As I


have suggested, Mrs. Roosevelt had said she thought we were in a better position. All the old New Dealers which were with us at that time, and so we carried on a regular campaign on this Wallace issue.

HESS: You have mentioned it, but just how much of a threat did you believe that J. Strom Thurmond would be to a Democratic victory?

LOEB: Well, we did at that time, and I must say that I think the situation has changed politically with the South and everything else. But at that time, we were absolutely convinced that the South did not carry enough weight, no matter what happened in the South, that if you had a liberal President and if the mood of the country was liberal, the liberal President, as Roosevelt had done four times running, could carry the country. He didn't even need the South. Strom Thurmond could have some influence


in only a few states. Of course, they did have some influence. Truman was not on the ballot in two or three of the states I know of: Alabama, and Louisiana, among others. I can't remember how many states Thurmond carried.

HESS: I think it was seven.

LOEB: Was it seven?

HESS: Five or seven, something like that.

LOEB: But as I say, except for the fact that Truman clearly lost New York because of the Wallace thing, I still think that Wallace was an asset because Truman was "way out" and down-the-line liberal on almost every issue you could think of at that point during that campaign, and the Wallace campaign put him in the middle of the road position, I think. Certainly many of the congressional people felt that they were better


off by having this little splinter party.

Now when they started, they talked about 10 or 15 million votes. Obviously if they had gotten anything like that it would have been disastrous, but they ended up with, what was it, about a million...

HESS: No, I thought it was more than that...

LOEB: Not much more than a million and a half, and a half a million of them were in New York and about a half a million were in California. Those were the two states.

HESS: In May of 1948 the U.S. Government extended recognition to the State of Israel. Now, how did that affect the election, do you think, the Government's recognition of the State of Israel?

LOEB: I haven't the slightest idea. I didn't have


any relationship to that at all. The only thing that I could say, about the 1948 election, since, as I have indicated, everyone knew that Truman was going to lose, he had real financial problems. I know of one person, that's Abe [Abraham] Feinberg oŁ New York, who raised a considerable amount of money for Truman, and this is the only way that I can think it affected the election at all. Abe Feinberg is very active in Jewish affairs, including Brandeis University. I think that one oŁ the people, a friend of mine who was very instrumental in that, was David Ginsburg, who I understand had something to do with the early recognition. He was very close to Chester Bowles and Paul Porter and all those people from the OPA. The same David Ginsburg was the executive director, and in fact wrote the Kerner Commission report, had been general counsel oŁ OPA, and a brilliant young man.


HESS: Did you ever hear anything about the role in the recognition of the State of Israel of Clark Clifford?


HESS: Oscar Chapman?

LOEB: No. I really had no connection with that at all. I can't even remember the issue except that I remember that it was done.

HESS: Did you make any speeches in 1948 during the campaign?

LOEB: Oh, I might have gone to some ADA chapters and made speeches; I have to say that I usually was the organization man. I was not the great public figure. I was the campaign manager type, and until, I guess, I was named Ambassador to Peru I didn't have any particular role in the front office. I was usually in the back office.


HESS: In your opinion, what were the largest issues in that campaign, would you say civil rights, or recognition of the State of Israel, or labor matters, Taft-Hartley?

LOEB: What is the name of my friend the economist, the political analyst who was the one person who predicted Truman's victory?

HESS: Louis Bean.

LOEB: Louis Bean, yes, who had gone to see the Speaker of the House, Mr. Rayburn, one day and said, "Mr. Speaker, I don't think you're going to be the Speaker of the House after the elections of 1946."

Louis Bean talked of, as I recall, the Truman victory, which he had predicted, as something -- didn't he use the phrase, the "Green Wave?" He thought the agricultural issue was the major issue. I can't remember precisely the


context. But Harold Stassen, in speaking for Dewey, after Dewey was nominated, made a boo-boo on something having to do with food storage, wheat storage, some kind of an issue which Dewey never was able to get out of.

HESS: There was an issue when in the rewriting of the charter of the Commodity Credit Corporation, Congress left out the provision for purchasing grain storage bins for the wheat and corn in the Midwest.

LOEB: That's right, and this was a very important issue. As a matter of fact, a young fellow who was the head of our first student group, whose name was Walter Mondale and is now the United States Senator from Minnesota, did either a senior paper or master's degree paper on this election in Minnesota. It was a fantastic business He had a map of the State of Minnesota,


and those counties which went for Truman and those counties which went for Dewey, and there was an absolutely clear delineation between the dairy farmers and the grain farmers. The dairy farmers all went for Truman because of this issue. That was a terribly important issue for them, because it meant lower prices for grain, for feed grain, because there were no fewer storage facilities, the grain farmers couldn't afford storage, and they had to dump it. It was a very interesting study. But this had a great impact, especially, on any grain farmers throughout the country, and any hog farmers who were dependent on the grain.

HESS: Even Iowa went Democratic in that election.

LOEB: I think that was a major issue.

I also think another kind of issue was that Dewey really was a very unattractive


personality to middle America, certainly. He was too much eastern establishment, not that other eastern establishment people haven't been more successful. But I remember, I think it was James Wechsler, who at that time was following Dewey on the train, and one of the remarks, at someplace he stopped in Michigan, which I think was Dewey's hometown, the reporters were all taking pictures of him, you know, and they'd all say, "One more." And finally one of the reporters said, "Governor, would you smile for us?"

And Dewey said, "I thought I was."

HESS: He thought he was smiling.

Were there any particular mistakes on the part of the Democrats that year, do you recall, 1948?

LOEB: I really don't recall that closely. I'm sure


they must have made mistakes.

Interestingly enough, we always talked about a balanced ticket. I think that this fantastic upset was fashioned by the most unbalanced ticket in all American presidential history. After all, Truman and Barkley were two peas in a pod. They were from adjoining middle states, they both had senatorial backgrounds, they were just about the same speed politically. There was nothing balanced about that ticket at all. Yet, this was the greatest upset in history.

Maybe I should inject here the best political story I've ever heard. It's the story about his election, which I've often used in several languages and I heard it right up here at Lake Placid after Governor Rockefeller defeated Harriman in 1958, despite all the speeches I could write for Mr. Harriman. The first time Governor Rockefeller appeared here was before


the meeting of the Associated Industries here in New York, which is the National Association of Manufacturers affiliate; I must have been the only Democrat there. I was there as a reporter for my paper.

Governor Rockefeller was introduced by an elderly fellow who was the president of Bausch and Lomb, and had a great sense of humor and kidded the young governor, treating him as a young whippersnapper, and the last thing he said to him was, "Governor, I hope you've learned one thing during your short career in politics that's very important, which a good friend of mine, who was one of your predecessors in your high office, learned the hard way, and that's that you never can tell who is going to win an election until the last vote is counted. My friend Governor Dewey learned this the hard way. I remember that day in early November 1948,


when we were all down there at Republican headquarters and everybody knew that Tom Dewey was going to be President; and around 11 o'clock the votes had been coming in pretty much as everyone expected, when the Governor turned to his wife and he said, 'Frances, how would you like to go to bed with the President of the United States?"'

"And Mrs. Dewey said, 'Sure, why not?' So off they went to bed. Well, it appeared that Mrs. Dewey had a radio by the bed, and it must have been about 4:30 in the morning when she rolled over in bed and she nudged the Governor and said, 'Tom, is Harry Truman coming here or do I have to go to the White House?’"

I think that's a great story.

HESS: It certainly is. Where were you on election night in 1948, do you recall?


LOEB: I certainly do, and no one will ever forget where he was on that night. All night long we sat up in my house at 41st and Ingomar in Washington, D.C. listening to the returns. Couldn't believe it.

HESS: Surprised at the outcome?

LOEB: Oh, absolutely. I think it was Senator Brien McMahon who was once asked whether he had predicted it and he said, "No, don't add me to your growing list of liars." No, I certainly didn't predict it.

HESS: Just one question on Mr. Truman. Independence, Missouri and Jackson County have always been characterized as Southern and rural and what would you see in Mr. Truman's background, coming from a section of the country like that that would


make him liberal on civil rights matters?

LOEB: Perhaps I'm a collector of ironies; perhaps am, because my closest friend for all these years has been Reinhold Niebuhr, who wrote The Ironies of American History. In the case of President Truman, it's ironic that the two fields for which I think his Presidency will be remembered were fields in which he really had no reason to be constructive. They were the fields of civil rights and foreign policy.

After all, here was a man who had, if I'm not mistaken, never been abroad, except as a soldier in the First World War, and had no intimate knowledge of foreign policy, and yet he will be remembered in that field for the Marshall plan, Berlin, Greece and Turkey, and Truman Doctrine and so on and so forth. I may say, on the other hand, I think the one thing that may balance this aspect of Harry Truman is


perhaps his decision on the bomb, and other people, including my wife, still think that while they have great respect for President Truman, it was a decision which this Nation will regret. Not only the first bomb, but the second one immediately thereafter.

HESS: What is your view on that?

LOEB: I'm told that he made it rather quickly as he did make decisions, and he didn't call on anybody to hear any opposite views, that when Secretary Stimson came and told him what the situation was from the viewpoint of the military, he said, "Fine, go ahead."

And I think that it -- I'm afraid I think that the decision may have been a disaster. He did it without warning; without any threats, then the second one, the fact that it was an Asian country may never be forgotten. Never


the less, other than this, in the field of foreign policy, I think he will be well remembered, and in the field of civil rights, although as I indicated earlier in this interview, that after his Presidency, he made some statements that were rather shocking to us, comments in the field of civil rights, when some of the civil rights battles came up, and it naturally got rougher than anyone wanted it to be. But nonetheless, his commission was the first major step in the civil rights field.

It's ironic that one always thought of FDR as the great liberal in this and every other field, and yet this step of Harry Truman's did much more in the field of civil rights than was done in the Roosevelt period. Similarly, some of us who were never fans of Lyndon Johnson would have to say that he accomplished more in the field of civil rights than Jack


Kennedy ever did, in fact, than a great many Presidents put together ever did. And this was the field in which we were most worried about Lyndon Johnson.

HESS: You mentioned President Roosevelt. Just how would you compare the liberality, the liberal spirit of President Roosevelt and President Truman as to their pronouncements and as to the way that those pronouncements were actually carried out?

LOEB: Well, this would be very difficult to analyze. Both of them were obviously politicians. I think they were in entirely different positions because of their backgrounds. Roosevelt once said to someone, as a matter of fact I remember who he said it to, he said it to Harold Laski. I remember seeing Laski in England, and he knew Roosevelt through Felix Frankfurter, Justice


Frankfurter, and Laski had said to Roosevelt (I think he told me this in '49 when I was over there -- no, it was before that, it must have been before that), he asked FDR why he kept Cordell Hull in the Cabinet -- aside from the general field of free trade and so on, Roosevelt really worked through Sumner Welles -- and he said to Laski, Roosevelt said, "You must realize that Cordell Hull is the only member of the Cabinet that brings me any political strength that I don't have in my own right." This was probably true of FDR. This is why he dumped Wallace, because Wallace added nothing that Roosevelt couldn't get in his own right.

HESS: On his own.

LOEB: Yes. Truman, I think, was in a somewhat different position because Truman was a sort of a, more a Cordell Hull type. I would say that in some of his pronouncements Truman was more down-the-line liberal when he finally got into the exciting race of '48 than Roosevelt had ever been. But I think some of these


comparisons are pretty invidious. They were both politicians.

You know, there's a .great story about FDR that he was having tea with Mrs. Roosevelt one afternoon and he had two visitors one right after the other: One was the Secretary of the Interior, and one was the Secretary of Agriculture. This was at a time when there was a great jurisdictional dispute over who should control the forest lands. And Mr. Ickes in his own inimitable way expressed his viewpoint, and the President said, "Harold, don't worry about me; I'm entirely with you."

Then he left and Wallace came in as Secretary of Agriculture and expressed his view, and President Roosevelt said, "Henry, I couldn't agree with you more; I'm entirely with you."

Mrs. Roosevelt listened to all this and


when Wallace left said, "Franklin, I don't understand this at all. Since we have been sitting here you have had two of your Cabinet members come in and express entirely opposite views on a particular issue, and you agreed with both of them."

And according to the story, the President is supposed to have said, "Eleanor, I couldn't agree with you more."

So, I really wouldn't want to compare their liberality. They were people from entirely different backgrounds, in different political contexts.

HESS: How did you come to be a member of the White House staff?

LOEB: Well, I suppose it must have been David Lloyd who suggested it. Charlie Van Devander, who at that time was in charge of public relations at


the Democratic National Committee, had sent a memo to Joe Short, the Press Secretary, in which he suggested that he thought it would be invaluable and it would be appropriate for the President to get -- well, each department in the Government to review the previous twenty years. I think some place there must be the full text of Charlie Van Devander's letter.

HESS: This?*

LOEB: Well, that was the net result of it. Charlie's original letter had a note from Harry Truman on the bottom that said, "I think this is a good idea; let's look into it." Something like that. "Signed HST."

But nothing happened with it for some months. I guess everybody was too busy. So it was known that I was about to leave, or had left the ADA, not for any reasons of

*Twenty Years of Teamwork. "The Story of What The American People Have Accomplished Since 1932," Compiled From Official Sources by Senator Clinton P. Anderson.


principle or anything, I just felt that in ten years you get drained of ideas and somebody else should take it on. I guess maybe Dave Lloyd had suggested that I could come in on a per diem basis to get this thing started.

Then, there was quite a discussion about how it should be done. Well, I may say, we did get it started and the way it worked was that Charlie Murphy would call up, usually not the Cabinet members, but the deputies, the under secretary or the department heads and he would suggest what was on the President's mind. He would suggest that Jim Loeb was on the staff on a per diem basis and would he talk to me. I remember seeing Webb in the State Department, and I don't know who all else, mostly the under secretaries and sometimes the secretaries. I would go over and tell them what the idea was, and ask them to assign somebody to write the



This is the way it worked, except that there got to be kind of a discussion which I think is in your notes here, as to whether the President wouldn't get a certain considerable flak if he, if the White House, asked for these political reports and they were used. Quite frankly, this is a part that I would like to be kept closed for some years, because it was a political operation. When this material began coming in, we fed it to the research bureau of the Democratic National Committee where Bert Gross was in charge, even before this thing ["Twenty Years of Teamwork"] came out. It was finally decided that for the White House to ask for these things and then to make public these departmental histories of success during the presidential year, a political year, that it would be a little bit too obvious. Then it was


decided -- I think there's a memorandum here that somebody suggested that the Majority Leader Senator [Ernest] McFarland, might ask for these, but I guess actually the President was closer to Clinton Anderson or for some reason perhaps McFarland didn't want to do it, and I guess he (the President), talked to, or somebody talked to Clinton Anderson and he then agreed to do it. In effect, I worked with him. We drafted the letter in the White House, and Clinton Anderson in his senatorial capacity then wrote to each of the department heads and asked -- I think a copy of the draft letter is there, and that's the way it worked, although we did it in the White House and we sent the material to the Democratic National Committee and when it all came out together, I edited it, sometimes sent it back for further material, and this is the document that became "Twenty


Years of" -- what is it -- "Twenty Years of Partnership?"

HESS: Twenty Years of Teamwork.

LOEB: I know one thing about it: That when the draft finally came back from Interior Department, it was absolutely shocking. Most of the other stuff was really pretty pedestrian writing. I can say that; I'm a pedestrian writer myself. I don't claim any Arthur Schlesinger, Galbraith talents, but most of it was bureaucratese stuff, fairly well done, but not any deathless prose. All of a sudden, all this stuff comes from the Interior Department, and my goodness, it was practically a prose poem. I mean, I wouldn't think of editing it. I couldn't figure out -- it was just beautiful. You know who Oscar Chapman's speechwriter was who did it? Bruce Catton.


HESS: Bruce Catton.

LOEB: Bruce Catton, yes. And believe me, it was some…

HESS: He had the best there was, didn't he?

LOEB: He had the best.

HESS: Very good.

LOEB: And I must say, then, after I made the rounds of the various departments and conferred, I really had nothing to do. And it was a very embarrassing thing. Sometimes, it is more embarrassing if you have too much to do, but in my case, after the first couple of weeks of this, waiting for these reports to come in, which wouldn't come in for a month or so, I found myself saying to Charlie Murphy, "For God's sake, give me something to do. I'm not earning my" -- whatever the hell I got per day.


And that's how I got into politics.

HESS: Did he give you something to do at that time when you asked him?

LOEB: Yes, he certainly did. He certainly did. In fact, the reports became a secondary aspect of it.

He discovered that I had lots of political contacts, and I knew quite a bit about politics. He gave me some little chores first. We used to have bull sessions almost every afternoon around 5:30 before going home, Charlie and I, and people would come in. I think I was, at least Adlai Stevenson thought that I was responsible for all his troubles because I planted the Stevenson seed at the White House, not directly through Harry Truman, but I was -- if you want me to go into this...

HESS: I certainly do, but I'm afraid we're going to have to get another reel of tape.

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