Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. ) within the transcript indicate the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the Louchheim oral history interview.
Opened January, 1975
Oral History Interview with
September 27, 1972
by Jerry N. Hess
LOUCHHEIM: This is an up to date biography including the pictures.
HESS: Thank you very much. We will place it in the appendix. All right, to begin this morning, Mrs. Louchheim, what are your earliest recollections of Mr. Truman?
LOUCHHEIM: My earliest recollections quite naturally are through stories in the media, when he was chosen to be Vice President at the last FDR convention, 1944. I was not active in the same sense that I became later in politics. However, I was an avid devotee of politics having come to Washington in the New Deal days. I was also an avid reader of various newspapers and journals. And I was very much interested in
Mr. Truman, but they were not direct recollections.
HESS: Just what did you know about him at the time that he was selected as vice presidential nominee of the Democratic Party in 1944?
LOUCHHEIM: In order to answer this question properly I think we should begin with the unfortunate and misleading aura that surrounded Mr. Truman as the vice presidential nominee in '44. A great many people were led to believe that his selection was what is now often referred to as a very -- well, perhaps the word should be "political," in the worst sense, maneuver on the part of Franklin Roosevelt to get the support that he would need from the regular politicians, the people in those days who were proud to call themselves pros -- the people who were big city leaders. And the best thing I can do at this moment is point to the current -- survivors, shall I say, of this lost breed, and Mayor [Richard J.] Daley comes to mind at once. But they were the people who really controlled the Democratic Party because they could get out a vote. And it was known that Harry Truman was very, very good news to them; which immediately made him very, very
bad news to all the intellectual liberals. Although not as famous at that time as they have become, they were nevertheless a clique, and a very talkative and articulate and literate group. They wrote; they made speeches; they went to dinners; and they spread the gospel that Harry Truman was nothing but a "ward heeler politician." So that...
HESS: Would it be fair to say that the politicians were supporting Mr. Truman and the intellectuals Mr. [Henry A.] Wallace?
LOUCHHEIM: Yes possibly. I'm not sure...
HESS: The intellectuals lost out.
LOUCHHEIM: Yes. I'm not sure when we come to '48 whether that's the way it came out, but that may have been the case in '44. I never knew Henry Wallace. My connections at that time, as I have stated in my political memoir By the Political Sea were strictly limited to membership on a 1940 finance committee. I was very happy to have this opportunity to return to my native New York City; to try to collect some money for Franklin Roosevelt. Subsequently, I did see President Roosevelt at receptions and on the day
of the inaugural luncheon, which was not a very large affair in 1941. Subsequently I never saw him, nor did I have any contact with the White House -- except, as I said they gave large receptions from time to time to which my husband and I were invited. I don't think, therefore, that I ever saw Mr. Truman vis-a-vis until the '48 convention.
HESS: Mr. Truman had been Chairman of the Committee for the Investigation of the National Defense Program that became known, of course, as the Truman Committee during the war. What weight would you place on his handling of that committee to his receiving the nomination in 1944? How instrumental was that?
LOUCHHEIM: I think it was enormously instrumental and very effective in securing the nomination for him. He had received national prominence and conducted himself with great dignity, and more than just ordinary acumen. He was not the sort of person who was handed his questions. He knew spontaneously what he was going to ask his witness as the investigation went along. I must also guard my reactions, because unless I went back into some very incomplete records, which as we
discussed earlier are very unsatisfactory, I would have to say that -- because I was absorbed in a war job, I did very little but read up on the first international effort with which I was connected, namely, the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. But I do think Mr. Truman's investigation of the National Defense Program played a large role in his selection. I have never seen anybody who rose, you might say from complete oblivion, from nobody knowing about him to become President of the United States.
HESS: What were your thoughts and impressions when you heard of the death of President Roosevelt?
LOUCHHEIM: I was working in the office in the Dupont Circle Building. I was shocked and all of us were very disturbed. We gathered in little groups. My office was down the hall from the general counsel's office (a man from New York, called Abe [Abraham] Feller, who subsequently went to the UN and had a very bad time and committed suicide). Gathered in Feller's office were a group of so-called liberals, they were wringing their hands and saying now -- what's going to happen to us -- that was the attitude. And I must say that I
doubt whether at that time I was a very independent thinker, I was part of a group of people and it was pretty hard to get away from their line of thought. I was very seldom exposed to any other, and I felt more or less the same way. We were worshipers of the New Deal; we came down with the New Deal. My husband was the thirteenth employee on the roll of the Securities and Exchange Commission. We were so thoroughly mesmerized by the Roosevelt presence -- the legend -- his style.
LOUCHHEIM: That's right.
HESS: I don't know if the word had been coined back then.
LOUCHHEIM: I don't think it had. I think that's a recent...
HESS: That's a "Kennedy" word isn't it?
LOUCHHEIM: Yes. I think he made it popular and well-known. But I feel that was not fair. For instance today we would be staggered if anything would happen to Mr. [Richard M.] Nixon. We're thoroughly familiar with Mr. [Spiro T.] Agnew. We know whether we like him or whether
we don't like him. But we didn't know anything about Mr. Truman -- really. We only knew this unhappy legend that he was a routine political compromise choice in order to get rid of Henry Wallace and to put somebody in who would help the ticket. After all this was the fourth time and Roosevelt needed help.
HESS: What kind of job did you think Mr. Truman would do?
LOUCHHEIM: Well, until the summer of '45 I had no impression of Mr. Truman. Shall we go backwards and forwards quickly? Here we are talking about Roosevelt's death in '44 and I would like...
HESS: That's '45.
HESS: April '45.
LOUCHHEIM: I'm glad you corrected me, '45. Then I would like to project myself to July of '45, when I first saw Mr. Truman climbing the stairs at SHAEF Headquarters in Frankfurt where I was stationed. He was walking along side of General [Dwight D.] Eisenhower. You may recall that I said something about them in my book,
the fiery little man and this very handsome, tall -- rather overwhelming presence of the general in full military regalia. But I got the very strong impression that day that this -- Mr. Truman was a man -- whom no one was ever going to tell what to do, who was going to be very feisty, and his own man, and I was thoroughly -- pleasantly, agreeably surprised.
HESS: All right. And you were a delegate from the District of Columbia to the 1948 Democratic National Convention that was held in Philadelphia. What do you recall of the events? Perhaps we can start with the formation of the delegation.
LOUCHHEIM: The formation of the delegation was due to Joe [Joseph L., Jr.] Rauh. I had been an active participant in voluntary activities at the national level, because the Democratic National Committee was located in Washington. I had never taken an active role in local politics. In fact, I was walking along the street one day when a woman (Helen Fuller) stopped me -- incidentally I read she died yesterday in the paper -- "Are you going to be a delegate?" And I said, "Is there a delegate from the District of Columbia?"
And she said, "Of course there is. Why don't you file?" Well, because of the friendship with Joe Rauh I was asked to file, and I was asked to file by a group of four insurgents, one of whom was Mrs. Ernest Lindley, Joe Rauh, myself and I believe, the fourth was Tilford Dudley. We were going to try to win four spots on the delegation, from a man named Melvin Hildreth, who was then the national committeman. And I had just gotten to know something about him through my friendship with Mrs. Harriman, Mrs. J. Borden Harriman. Mrs. Harriman had been the national committeewoman, associated with the committee since the twenties when she first came to Washington. She had a very low opinion of all of the members of the District Committee; the man who ran it was the numbers racket king in Washington. So when Joe Rauh asked me to become a delegate along with the others I immediately agreed. The way we ran afoul of Mr. Hildreth was very simple; he was a puppet controlled by these other people. When we went to ask him whether we should pay our filing fee with certified checks he said, "That would not be necessary." So we paid a rather large sum of money I remember -- $250.00 to file as delegates, and then received a formal
notice saying we could not be admitted as delegates because we had not given a certified check. It was the old army trick. You do what they tell you to, and then they tell you did wrong. This, perhaps we should delete the word army, I don't know why but its a well-known political trick. Subsequently Joe Rauh decided to take the case to court. I was at a luncheon when he reached me and I ran to the phone to call my husband, who was at the Securities and Exchange Commission. My husband requested permission for me to join in the suit from the general counsel and the SEC denied it, they said my husband was a government servant and I could not, in effect file a complaint against Mr. Truman. Apparently the only person that one could file a complaint against was someone who was the head of the party, or rather his surrogates, I don't know who they were. And so I couldn't go along on the suit. I dropped out. The suit, however, never got to court. It was settled out of court and we were accepted as delegates. They called me and said, "Would I join the delegation?" I protested that I really didn't deserve to because I hadn't gone along for the fight. They said they wanted me anyway. So
that's how I became a delegate.
Now the rest of the circumstances are that Joe Rauh was then a rising star in the Americans for Democratic Action, and that he was passionately for -- believe it or not [William O.] Douglas or Eisenhower for nominee for President. And this seemed rather strange to us at home, but we accepted it because we were very close to Bill Douglas. And Bill Douglas, as we mentioned earlier, was not an admirer of President Truman. I don't know why. Perhaps I did know, but I've forgotten. Whether it was on the same sort of mythical belief that no professional politician could ever handle an ideal, or could never accept an ideal, or the penance of progress. But it was a very deep-seated prejudice. So we even, my husband and I, gave a little money toward the William O. Douglas pamphlet. One of these throw-aways that people were given in order to influence them in the direction of the man described. So that we were completely committed. I took the Eisenhower thing as a joke.
HESS: What did the ADA know about General Eisenhower's political views at this time?
LOUCHHEIM: I don't think they knew anything. But I say I speak with great hesitation, because I think Rauh would be your person on this. He was the commander in chief of this little crew. I can only say that he told us what we were going to do. What signs we were going to carry and etc. The whole thing was a Joe Rauh dominated exercise.
HESS: Is he usually the commander in chief of any group that he was in?
LOUCHHEIM: Yes. But I think in -- besides being a man of great individual charm and love -- not the word "love" but of great charm and warmth; he would be the sort of person who would be tolerant of the fact that you differed with him, which is sometimes not the case with the intolerant radical liberals. Oh, he would not stop liking you, lets put it this way, because you disagreed with him which is often the case today. I've found I've made enemies that I didn't know about for taking a moderate stand on a subject. For instance I made enemies among intellectuals because I didn't criticize Lyndon Johnson in my book -- wouldn't vilify him. I was considered a traitor. So, at the time you have
to go back to this same atmosphere. The atmosphere was certainly not that we knew anything particularly against Mr. Truman, we just thought the great thing to do was to have a presence, and Bill Douglas was a very ambitious, rather youngish man at the time, and he wanted the nomination, I suspect. I don't know anything about General Eisenhower. I don't know whether anybody ever approached him or asked him or...I couldn't tell you.
HESS: Just for a minute while we are discussing the delegation, lets look down the list of delegates. This is from the official proceedings, on page 378 of the official proceedings. Would you read off the names and just tell me a little bit about some of the people who were on that delegation and, perhaps, the other groups? Were there other groups of people who may have been in support of Mr. Truman? Do you recall?
LOUCHHEIM: On the delegation?
HESS: On the delegation.
LOUCHHEIM: Again I would find it very difficult to be absolutely precise in my reply. I'm sure there must have
been, because my first comment would be that some of these people were part of the original Democratic District of Columbia organization.
HESS: And they were appointed by the Democratic Committee here in town?
LOUCHHEIM: Yes, some were members of the Democratic Central Committee.
I was one of the dupes. At the time, when I filed as a delegate to the convention, I was not told, that I also had to file for membership on the Democratic Central Committee. And when it came time to become a member of the Democratic Central Committee they kept me waiting, because by then we had reformed the committee and we had a brand new chairman, A. L. Wheeler. To be sure that I knew that he would be my mentor, and that I would be bound to him if he let me on the committee, he kept me waiting for several months. I see him on the list of delegates. He was one of the newcomers, along with myself, and the others that I mentioned earlier. Arthur Clarendon Smith and Brigadier General Albert L. Cox, and I think, Mrs. Estelle Pearce were definitely hold-overs. William L. Houston may have
been a newcomer with us. He was one of the dearest, lovliest men in a quiet way, he was probably what would be called an "Uncle Tom." He was a judge, and he was black, and he was not a young man even then, but he was a delight to be associated with. The other member of the delegation who was black was Edward Williams, who I know to be a newcomer. And who to the best of my recollection was a "firebrand." I would be able to check better if I looked at the '52 delegation.
HESS: All right. Now continuing on with the delegation I believe there are two people that we have not mentioned previously -- James F. Reilly and John Wattawa.
LOUCHHEIM: Wattawa. I believe he was an old-timer and Reilly came in with us. These are very inadequate replies to what is a precise question, and I refer you again to Joe Rauh, because my recollections are very strong when it comes to Mrs. Lindley, who subsequently became an associate, and somebody I worked with. And I did remember Arthur Clarendon Smith who was a rather aggressive public relations man who had his own moving business...
HESS: "Don't make a move without calling Smith."
LOUCHHEIM: "...calling Smith." He used to call me and finally I did go to one of his breakfasts, he used to give regular Sunday breakfasts. He was always doing things. And he was all the way over on the right on the subject of racial integration. He was a formidable foe of any kind of integration. I think it was even difficult for him to be a member of a delegation that was integrated -- which we were. He was an older man and it was too late for him to change, or to moderate his views. I remember that about him. I remember very little about Brigadier Cox, except he was impressive looking and had very good manners. I suspect he was also very much of what we now call a "right winger." Tilford Dudley was an extreme radical, a liberal CIO man. Mrs. Pearce was somebody I -- who was either in the government or in someone's office. I don't have a very clear recollection of her. Al Wheeler became a very successful real estate operator. He built most of the new houses that have been built in Georgetown, and has become a multi-millionaire. I never hear of him politically anymore. He was also a liberal, a southern boy from Georgia who had a law degree, and who kept secret the fact that he was quite wealthy. We always got the impression he was only moderately well off
while quite the contrary, he was rich, very rich. He became the Chairman of this new committee and he was the one that kept me waiting for a long time for membership.
Have I spoken about all of the members?
HESS: I think so. All right. Moving on into the convention, you mentioned several items in your book the fact that you were selected to second Congresswoman Helen Gahagan Douglas's nomination. You mentioned the Liberty Bell -- the flowered Liberty Bell. But what comes to mind when you think of the 1948 convention in Philadelphia?
LOUCHHEIM: Quite definitely I would say the most important experience of my political career occurred at the '48 convention. In terms of the selection of the Vice President -- once Mr. Truman had been nominated, or perhaps even before, there were all sorts of rumors current about whom he would select to run with him. And there was a rumor which had some authenticity, I gather, that he was interested in Justice William O. Douglas, who was then vacationing in the west. The group that I was associated with, and I will just mention two names to you, one was Abe Fortas and the other was a man called James Allen (who
was connected with the government at the same time we were in the early New Deal days and became a sort of a public relations -- that's the wrong word -- public information adviser to Justice Douglas) and who was at the convention representing the forces for Justice Douglas. Mr. Allen is now a resident of California and he is with Northrop Aviation; and Fortas you know about. I was in the room when Mr. Fortas and Mr. Allen spoke with the Justice and a man called Saul Haas on the telephone as well as Bill Douglas, about this rumor, and whether or not he would accept the nomination. I'm not certain whether I was on an extension phone, or whether I was just told afterwards what the conversation was, but I was involved for the first time in my life in some pretty heady maneuvering. It struck me that Mr. Douglas was making a mistake. That I remember, because it seemed at the time of course, since Mr. Truman had had the nomination -- that it would be a good thing for him if he was at all ambitious to be President someday, which I believed him to wish, and to get off the court, and to be in active politics. But Bill Douglas and his friends were adamant. They would have no part of anything that concerned Mr. Truman. It would be
teresting to get that story.
HESS: What did Mr. Douglas say?
LOUCHHEIM: Its hard because I -- it doesn't come back to me -- what he particularly said. I had heard him on the subject previously . I can go back to a situation, he was living in the country, living in Alexandria, or somewhere near Seminary Hill, and my husband and I would go out and visit him and his wife -- his first wife, Mildred. And at the time when Mr. Truman became President or shortly after he became President through the death of President Roosevelt – he -- I remember him standing in front of his fireplace saying, "The Truman administration is like a toboggan going down hill with no one steering."
HESS: Did he say why?
LOUCHHEIM: No. If he did -- I'll check it with my husband but to the best of my recollection it was a prejudice that may have come about through some encounter, or it may have been just this general prejudice that was held by people who thought themselves to be the saviors of the Democratic Party, because they were the new liberal forces. Just the way George McGovern and his troops feel
today. And these people represented what for George McGovern's people, the Truman people a backward look. And he was proud of his record and did not want to be associated with anyone who was a party politician in the worst sense of the word, who owed all his allegiance to people of that stripe.
HESS: Do you think Justice Douglas would have liked to have received the top position in 1948?
LOUCHHEIM: Oh, yes.
HESS: Was there much of a movement for that?
LOUCHHEIM: Yes. But there wasn't much of a movement for it. It never got off the ground as far as I recall. When you interview Joe Rauh you might bring this up, as to the strength of the movement. How many ADA people were delegates? I wouldn't be able to answer those questions. But I do feel that there was an innate and unjustified prejudice against Mr. Truman -- right through all these people. It was like stripes -- they all wore them.
HESS: What do you recall about Helen Gahagan Douglas' candidacy? When did you first become aware of that and
when were you asked to second her nomination?
LOUCHHEIM: I did not know that she was a nominee until she had somebody invite me to second her nomination.
HESS: Do you recall who?
LOUCHHEIM: No. I would have to correspond with some people. I wouldn't mind writing to Mr. Allen and asking him if he remembers, because he was the one who helped me write my speech. He and I stood in the back of the hall (I think I mentioned this in my book) writing this speech which I was supposed to make, and we felt somebody bumping into us and we looked around and it was a large live donkey. And so we decided that politics afterall had its humorous aspects. They a...
HESS: Well, he was right at home at a Democratic Convention.
LOUCHHEIM: Oh he was indeed. He was bumping us, and I don't know why somebody had let this animal loose. It seemed a rather out of...
HESS: Was there no caretaker or...
LOUCHEIM: I didn't see the caretaker, I only saw the animal
and I thought to myself, I've seen everything now at the Democratic Convention, here's a live donkey. But...
NESS: Was her nomination put forward by the ADA?
LOUCHHEIM: It could have been. I don't know. I don't want to plead ignorance, I would hate to do that, I would rather plead memory failure.
HESS: I believe that C. Girard Davidson was to place her name in nomination. Do you recall anything about that?
LOUCHHEIM: No. I didn't know him at the time. All I recall is that I had a role and I was excited about it. Lets go back a minute and mention the vice presidential parley that I was in on. And say that was -- plus the Helen Gahagan Douglas experience, which never came to anything -- that was very heady wine for a fairly naïve and unsophisticated -- hopefully politician to be -- like myself. And that I was hooked on politics forever after, because this is easy when you came in at the top, which I thought that I had. Here I was sitting in a room where they were talking to the man who -- might become the Vice President of the United States. About Helen Gahagan Douglas, I don't think that any of us felt that it was more than a
courtesy due her. She and Emily Taft Douglas were two of the women whom I had been associated with in my wartime UNRRA experiences. And it may very well have been that Mrs. Helen Gahagan Douglas remembered me when she went down the list of delegates and had somebody choose me, or ask me to second her nomination.
HESS: Did you think it was possible for a woman to receive the nomination at that time? That was twenty-eight years ago.
LOUCHHEIM: No. No.
HESS: And we still haven't had a woman nominated.
LOUCHEIM: No. There was no possibility. It was a courtesy nomination, and one which she deserved. And she belongs very much in the tradition of, certainly, the rebels in the Democratic Party.
HESS: Do you think that it would be a good thing if we could have a woman nominated?
LOUCHHEIM: I've never accepted that, Mr. Hess, as a question. In all the years when I was on the road for the Democratic National Committee I was always asked, "When will we have a woman Vice President? When will we have a woman
President?" And I would always answer, "Why don't you change your question?" After all in recent years we've lived through the genuine tragic deaths of Franklin Roosevelt and Kennedy and unexpected ascendancies to the presidency from the vice presidency -- twice. We had it in FDR-Harry Truman days and we had it with Jack [John F.] Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. So the question is wrong. Do we want a woman President? Do we want a black President? Do we want a Jewish President? These are all current and favorable. I would think a -- my answer in all seriousness to the woman question would be that until we have more women in Congress, and in the Senate, and as governors, and as mayors, and in important roles, you are never going to have the public convinced that a woman could be President. I'm not saying that she couldn't be, or that she couldn't conduct herself in a manner that was suitable.
HESS: The image needs to be changed, and revamped.
LOUCHHEIM: Well, yes. We have to change the image anyway of what a woman can and cannot do. We talked so often during my State Department days about the role of Indira Ghandi, or Madam Bandaranaike who was the
Premier of Ceylon and I would answer always that these women inherited their -- just the way Queen Elizabeth did -- their right to rule. That is a different matter. Now the nearest we came to changing the image was with Eleanor Roosevelt, who as a widow became a world figure. But if she'd been nominated instead of her husband in 1932 nothing would have happened. And I'm not sure that it would happen today. I don't think its a question of the image so much, as the confidence of the people. Maybe we were talking about the same thing and using different words. We have had two women governors, (I'm not sure of my statistics anymore) we had two women in the Senate until recent years when Mrs. [Maurine Brown] Neuberger dropped out, we've had a very few women in the Senate on their own, most of them come by the widow route. The famous line is "They use the coffin as a springboard." It is not a very pretty expression but that is the case also with women members of Congress -- to a marked degree. Even Mrs. Margaret Chase Smith whom I admire, and consider a friend, and who I respect, came by the way of her husband's death to be a member of the House, and is now the Senator from Maine. But I think this has all got to be different. Then you've got to find a woman, who if she is married
has a husband who is willing to support this activity completely, perhaps even financially, but also enthusiastically and emotionally. And I've always said that the reason that I was able to have a public life was that my husband was domiciled in the District of Columbia, and that he was willing to have me go to work. If I had stayed a housewife in New Jersey or New York City, I never would have had a public life.
HESS: All right, back to the convention. You mentioned in your book that the reason that Mrs. Douglas's nomination was not put to the floor was because the civil rights fight took up to much of the time. What do you recall about that civil rights fight?
LOUCHHEIM: Well, some of the things that I recall are very difficult to analyze. The excitement -- the fiery emergence of Mr. [Hubert H. Jr.] Humphrey; the emotion on the floor; the uncivil behavior of men and women, which I'd never witnessed before, and the eventual walkout, and the strange impression that I carried of that walkout, which was that they were all rather small shrunken-looking men. Perhaps it was just my mood, but we were in an unairconditioned hall. The men were in shirtsleeves. And
they went out in a fashion that seemed to me to make them all look like little men. I can't describe it to you in any other way. They may have been giants, but my recollection was that this phalanx of people who looked angry, and defiant, and at the same time didn't seem to belong to my kind of world. And this is another one of the recollections one has that would be helped if we had television at the time. I would know whether I was right or wrong. They may have been giants, as I say, and very prepossessing, but they did not seem to be at the time. I do recall another matter which I think received too little attention. You know in the great struggle for reforms which we seem to periodically go through in the Democratic Party, we have abolished the unit rule. But it was the unit rule that made the civil rights plank possible, and it was Frank [Francis J.] Myers of Pennsylvania who voted the entire delegation of Pennsylvania in support of Mr. Humphrey. And then I believe there was Kansas next, I'm not at all certain. But they also voted the unit rule. In other words, they didn't have to poll their delegation. They didn't have to put up with all the people in their delegation who were against and opposed. They just simply voted with those who were for it. If there was a majority -- hopefully, they won and
that was fine. But they voted the unit rule "for" and that made it possible to have a civil rights plank.
HESS: Was there very much disagreement in the D.C. delegation over that?
LOUCHHEIM: Oh, I suspect that they lined up pretty fiercely, but we supported it. I'm sure we had the majority vote.
HESS: There were twelve delegates and alternates, and six votes.
LOUCHHEIM: Well, we came down the line and I think that by time it was pretty well known that it was going to pass and maybe we got unanimity, but I don't recall. But certainly Arthur Smith wasn't with us and I'm not sure about the others that I mentioned.
HESS: Do you recall anything in particular about Mr. Truman's views on the so-called Humphrey-Biemiller plank and the other plank? The Humphrey-Biemiller plank, of course, was a minority report that was proposed by Andrew Biemiller for himself, Hubert Humphrey, and Esther Murray of California. But to a plank that had been suggested, or had been put forward by the platform committee. Do you recall any views that you may have had on which
plank Mr. Truman supported?
LOUCHHEIM: No. I would be telling an untruth if I said I did. My association with Mr. Truman at the time was very distant. I did not meet him. I did not know him.
HESS: Did you have any views at that time on what you thought Mr. Truman's civil rights stand was?
LOUCHHEIM: No. I'm sure that I learned later that his civil rights stand was moderate. And when I got to know him well I would still describe him as being moderate.
HESS: What effect did you think that the walkout of the south would have on the upcoming election? The short range implications of the walkout, which of course, as you know, J. Strom Thurmond started the States Rights Party. And then what did you see as the long-range implications of a split in the party that developed at that time over the civil rights matter?
LOUCHHEIM: Well, some of us felt that it was overdue. Let's for a minute generalize.
HESS: As Mr. Humphrey said, "It was time to walk out of the shadow of states rights into the sunshine of civil rights.
LOUCHHEIM: Human rights. But I was going to allow myself a few generalizations which I don't generally believe in.
But at the time -- in 1948 the New Deal had existed, flourished, and perhaps even spawned in many more directions than had been conceived at the beginning of the New Deal. There was only one cause left and that was the cause of human rights . And that was the cause around which the so-called dedicated New Dealer, and the farmer, and flag-waver, whatever you want to call them -- people who have to have a cause – crusaders -- wanted to rally around, was the cause of civil rights. So that in a way the walkout strengthened their hand. They had been complaining bitterly of the domination of Congress by Southerners. They had always talked about going down to the South and running people against them, against the most intransigent of the lot. And how it was difficult to associate the Democratic Party of the South with the Democratic Party of the rest of the country. I think it was a great relief to a great many people, who felt that they were free then to disassociate themselves. I think it strengthened Mr. Truman's victory potential. And so that I would say that the walk out was helpful. The candidacy of [Henry A.] Wallace eventually was not helpful.
So you had a plus and a minus there, and I would say that the plus was greater than the minus. Wallace was really a fringe candidate and I don't think ever caught too much fire. Do you remember the name of his running mate?
HESS: Glen Taylor.
HESS: From Idaho.
LOUCHHEIM: Yes. I had an embarrassing experience with him when I became vice chairman.
HESS: What happened?
LOUCHHEIM: When I first went out on the road I went to Idaho and I'd been warned by Steve [Stephen A.] Mitchell to stay away from Glen Taylor.
HESS: To look out for him.
LOUCHHEIM: Yes. And who should meet me at the airport but Glen Taylor and a photographer. He was ahead of me. And there was nothing I could do about it except dig a hole and crawl into it.
HESS: Stay on the airplane or something.
LOUCHHEIM: So that I remember this Wallace candidacy in retrospect rather unhappily. I never knew what Mr. Wallace really stood for.
HESS: Do you see any long-range implications in the split of the South from the Democratic Party at that time? Is that what we are experiencing today?
LOUCHHEIM: Yes, today we are acknowledging that we are reaping what we have sown. In other words, we had a very tenuous relationship with individuals whom we knew from the South, whom various people graded in various ways, as being good guys or bad guys. But we never had a party in the South. I remember meeting (again I must go forward to the days when I was at the Democratic National Committee) at a regional conference in the South, addressing the committeemen and the state chairmen and I said, "You will never have a party because you don't enlist the women's support." And the answer was, "Well, we don't need to. We have all the support we need. We have these organizations that work." Machines in other words, carry on the election procedures, etc. And I said, "But you will need them
because the women are telling me that the Republicans have become the party of the new look in the South. The Chamber of Commerce, the country club, the suburbs, eventually we're going to lose more than that. And we will be left perhaps with an all black party in the South, as our most reliable supporters." And I think this has come to pass.
And the men nodded their heads and some of them came privately to agree with me, but nobody did anything about it.
HESS: And they didn't agree with you in front of the group?
HESS: One other point in your book. You mentioned the Flower Liberty Bell. What do you recall about that?
LOUCHHEIM: I recall Mrs. Miller very sharply, because Mrs. Emma Guffey Miller was the national committeewoman of Pennsylvania. She was known as the "old grey mare." It was her own way of describing herself, and she was "a character" of which, there were many in the Democratic Party; but there were some pretty unforgettable ones, and Emma was one of them. She was an old-time protagonist for
the equal rights constitutional amendment and that's all she liked to talk about. She was a member of the National Women's Party. But on these occasions she was also the hostess, because the convention was in Philadelphia, and it was she who opened the magnificent Liberty Bell made of flowers. There was a subsequent outcry when the pigeons that were released from the bell floated out over the audience up into the balconies and got caught in the fans. It was absolutely tragic and upsetting to find that their wings were cut, their bodies were cut, and there was blood dropping from the fans on to the floor of the convention. So this may have been a happy idea on the part of the florist, but there were unhappy consequences.
HESS: For the pigeons.
LOUGHHEIM: For the pigeons and for the audience. I remember...
HESS: Where did you recall the bell being? Where was the bell?
LOUCHHEIM: I thought the bell was in the balcony because I remember the pigeons being there. I thought she released it from the balcony, but perhaps I'm wrong. It would be interesting to check that out.
HESS: As I mentioned before we turned the machine on, I have spoken with Neale Roach who was the manager of the convention, and I believe that he said it was on the stage.
LOUCHHEIM: I think he must be right, because after all, what would it be doing in the balcony. I just remember the episode where the pigeons got caught in the balcony. They must have flown upwards as they naturally might from the stage, which was hot and lighted. Seeking some air they flew upward. Now this was a miscued stunt, if there ever was one. Mrs. Miller -- somebody should write a biography of -- she was a lot more important than the pigeons in my later life. She also had some dire consequences from time to time. Of course, I never made any secret of my opposition to the equal rights amendment.
HESS: Why are you opposed to the equal rights amendment?
LOUCHHEIM: Well, it's perhaps a little strong to say that I was opposed to it. But at the time at which it was being "kicked around," you might say, in the '40s and '50s before there was a women's lib movement, or the women had organized in a radical fashion, it was very unpopular with the labor groups. And the labor groups don't forget, were very close to the Democratic Party.
They were very closely intertwined. And their arguments were that all the protective laws would be wiped off the books and it really is a very petty point of view; because they wanted to give all the good working assignments to men, whom they figured were the heads of families. And therefore, there was the one wage for waitresses, and one wage for waiters, and waitresses were not allowed to work at night. But I'd been influenced by the labor movement because I was associated with them as a writer from ‘49 to '63 when I wrote the column "For Women Only." But I was also quite certain, as the years went on, that the equal rights amendment was a kind of tokenism that didn't go very deep. Now I'm told that the equal rights amendment when if finally passed -- the constitutional amendment will open doors. I don't believe it will. I always felt that the greatest handicap women suffered was inadequate laws concerning equal pay. And to my great satisfaction these were finally passed. These will be a lot more important than any equal rights amendment. Because what you had for the last twenty-five years was a series of unfortunate statutes on the books, in what are called "the holier than thou state rights package" that did prejudice women's opportunities, as wives, as
inheritors of property, as custodians of children, but the point I always...
HESS: The legal aspect.
LOUCHHEIM: That's right. But the point I always made was that those statutes were still state and not federal. And that the women of that state should organize to abrogate them, which they never did. It was so much easier to stand around and talk about the equal rights amendment, as if it were Santa Claus, and it never, to me, had any real meaning or content. I wrote eighteen letters the summer a year ago, about equal pay asking women's organizations to lobby for it. I don't think many even did. Although I got some very courteous replies. I don't think women's organizations amount to a "hill of beans." I've been very disappointed in them. I'm glad there is a women's liberation movement, if for no other reason than to "shake the tree a little bit." But I've always felt that women's lobbying force -- except for the General Federation of Women's Clubs, which I think constitutes six million members, never had the open door on the Hill the way the American Legion, the Rotary Clubs, etc. had. I was very anxious to have women have
this force. And I worked in this direction -- politically and otherwise. But I never felt that they showed their power, which they have by voting and by organizing in a way to effect legislation.
HESS: What do you recall about President Truman's acceptance speech on the last night of the convention?
LOUCHHEIM: I was impressed and bedazzled by his ability to grasp what needed to be said and terse delivery, which I admired, and have admired since then. He gave what was not only inspirational in content, but also convincing in delivery, the kind of acceptance speech that people remember. They are apt to be -- oh not flat, so much as rather routine; and then of course, it was very long delayed you remember. It was...
HESS: About two in the morning, I believe.
LOUCHHEIM: Yes. It was two in the morning and by that time you're all keyed up and you could have been very much let down by what transpired -- and we were not. May I say as a postscript to that statement, that the people who were opposed to him, didn't change their minds, which shows how intransigent some people are.
HESS: At the end of his speech he announced that he was calling Congress back into special session. Why do you believe he took that action?
LOUCHHEIM: Well, I would say in retrospect, as I got to know him better, it was typical Harry S. Truman behavior -- political behavior. It was terribly good politics. It was saying to the country -- look I mean to serve as President again. I mean to have the Congress called back, so that they can do what they left undone. And this is the kind of campaign I'm going to run and you better damn well listen to me.
HESS: Do you think he thought that the Congress would really pass those things, or was he sort of setting them up nice and wide for the campaign?
LOUCHHEIM: I think he was setting them up. I think he was setting them up -- like the bowling pins in the bowling alley. He started to roll the ball on them.
HESS: Because, as you will recall during the campaign many of the speeches were directed against the so-called "do nothing...
LOUCHHEIM: "Do nothing Congress."
HESS: ...80th Congress."
LOUCHHEIM: Oh, yes.
HESS: Well there was another pretty good speech at the convention. Do you recall Alben Barkley's keynote address?
LOUCHHEIM: Oh indeed I do. Indeed I do. Alben Barkley was one of the great orators in a different way than Mr. Truman was. He was a polished orator. He had the Southern touch, which is always elegant, and the timing of his phrases was...Alben Barkley took the time away from me, if we can skip for a moment to 1953 when I first appeared on the rostrum in Philadelphia after I was appointed to be Vice Chairman -- Democratic National Committee -- the title was then Director of Women's Activities, and I was to speak for three minutes. We had bought -- could it have been television time -- not in '53 -- it could have been.
HESS: That's right.
LOUCHHEIM: Well anyway there was...
HESS: They had the coaxial cable at that time where it was not shown all over the United States but in major cities.
LOUCHHEIM: Well that may have been it. And anyway, we either had television, or radio, or both and Mr. Barkley got carried away and made this marvelous speech. And after he had completely used up my time as well as his own, he came and gave me a delightful smile, and a kiss on the hand, and begged my pardon. And I said, "I was reminded of the line in Anita Loos, you know, that "It was nice to have a kiss on the hand. But a diamond bracelet lasts forever," she adds. And I remember him that night, and I remember him in '48, and on other occasions -- it was almost like an electric spark. He would turn on the lights for the listener and in a way that I'm not sure would be popular anymore. Its interesting you know, styles change, and I don't know whether the orators days are not over. I think today's style is that of the television personality.
HESS: I've heard his success in that keynote address was why he was given the position of Vice President. Do you think that's right?
HESS: Were you present during the campaign at any of Mr. Truman's appearances?
LOUCHHEIM: No. I was -- I must tell you since we are going to be quite truthful about the campaign. I never had the courage to tell Mr. Truman this, but in September of '48 somebody called me from the National Committee in Washington and said would I come down and raise money -- I think they'd found my previous record. And subsequently, and at the time I had the habit of working these things out with my husband who was in the government. And it was important that I stay in line, etc. And I said I'd call back -- I don't remember what I did about it, but I know I didn't do it because my husband was opposed to it. Now it would be wrong to say that I hung on that. But it seemed so little likely that Mr. Truman was going to win. It was -- not perhaps as striking as the situation is today. But certainly it was in the air that Harry Truman was a great man and good fighter, but that he didn't have a chance to lead the country. The split in the Democratic Party and you know, what -- I wished I could go back to some press reports and you probably have
seen them all -- predicting doom and gloom, including the pollster Mr. [Elmo] Roper who went down and never got up again after Mr. Truman finished him off. But I did not participate in the campaign -- not because I wasn't asked, but because I was simply victimized by...
HESS: You thought Mr. [Thomas E.] Dewey was going to be victorious.
LOUCHHEIM: That's right. And then subsequently there's even a worse postscript to this, because I don't think I even voted, and that was shameful of me. I know why I didn't vote, because I couldn't. I always had one standard argument, and I finally won this fight. And I think I can take some credit for getting a constitutional amendment to give the District the vote. And at the time I had been exposed since 1934 -- we were talking about '48 -- to people as important as Averell Harriman who were in public life, but who said their residence was New York. They didn't really live in the District. And I said, "My residence is the District. My children go to school, I pay my taxes here. I subscribe to the local causes, and I intended to vote someday. I did not intend to be cast as a criminal, or as an insane person," which
was the reason. I mean we were excluded for a lot of other reasons, but that was among them and finally we got the vote. And there was no opportunity to vote from 1932 -- when did we get it -- what was the election, '64?
HESS: I believe so.
LOUCHHEIM: That I voted for...
HESS: As a resident of the District of Columbia.
LOUCHHEIM: District of Columbia.
HESS: You just couldn't vote for President.
LOUCHHEIM: No. But I was -- I went up to Cape Cod. I had just bought a house up there, and I was staying with these friends who were helping do over the house. And I went to bed very early. I was very tired and they woke me up at five o'clock. I was convinced you know, that we'd lost. And they said, "You won." I'll always remember. We all got up and had a celebration breakfast. But I was the most surprised...
HESS: But it did come as somewhat of a shock.
LOUCHHEIM: Oh, a tremendous shock.
HESS: What were the factors behind Mr. Truman's victory? Just why did he pull off this upset? Apathy on the part of the Republicans?
LOUCHHEIM: No. I would never call it apathy. I think [Thomas E.] Dewey had an unfortunate personality, but that was minimal. I think Mr. Truman caught on. I believe that one of the great parts of campaigning, or one of the great forms of campaigning was the train. And Mr. Truman was at his best at informal remarks. And he finally woke in the people the response that he deserved. I don't think that...
HESS: He enjoyed those "whistle-stop" tours.
LOUCHHEIM: Oh, yes, and he showed it. And he was a man who could reach over that gap between the biggest man in the country and the littlest person in the room, and make them feel that he cared. He had a very great honesty, sincerity, and a biting kind of truth that people liked. "Give'em hell Harry," and it was so obvious, and so apparent. I don't think it was Republican bungling. I think it was just that the man who really represented what the people wanted was Harry S. Truman.
HESS: I have been told that when they would return from a trip everybody else would be drug out and fatigued and Mr. Truman would be happy and chipper and ready to go again.
LOUCHHEIM: Oh, yes. I'm sorry that I was not a part of that campaign, but I doubt that I would have been anyway. I mean, I think I might have been used at headquarters but that's all.
HESS: How important to his victory would you say was his stand on the recognition of Israel that had just taken place? Was that important?
LOUCHHEIM: Oh, I suspect it must have been. My answers are based on guesswork so I don't like to make positive statements. But certainly the creation of Israel was very important to a large segment of persons who were practicing Jews, or even the non-practicing Jews. The refugees, the people who would come to this country as refugees from Hitler's policy of discrimination. I think it became a popular cause -- a political cause at that time.
HESS: All right. Anything else come to mind about the '48 convention or campaign?
LOUCHHEIM: Well there's something I'd like to say generally speaking about the intransigence of the people that I was associated with. And that is that -- and you can correct me on this Mr. Hess -- but the general feeling was that Mr. Truman, and the Roosevelt Cabinet, and the Roosevelt loyalists, and all of these people were dissatisfied; and that he was dissatisfied with them. That the people that he chose to work with were either unknowns, ciphers, to most of these same people. I think that worked against him. In other words in those three years, or two and a half years that he had between Franklin Roosevelt's death and the 1948 convention, he confirmed the worst fears of the people, who were, you might say on the outside, because of the death of Roosevelt. It was exactly a replica in a sense of the Kennedy-Johnson affair. Not exactly because...
HESS: Did you feel that he had broken completely away from the New Deal?
LOUCHHEIM: Yes. Oh, either that or I was made to feel that. I just begin to realize the pressure of the then current belief -- it's pretty hard to say how this belief was born. Whether it was brought about by the press, I don't know.
Has anybody studied that? But there was a general feeling that the disaffection of the lower echelon of New Dealers, which category I would put my husband in, was very widespread. They felt they no longer had a leader. They came to change their mind, but it was pretty tough.
HESS: In 1948 that was the feeling.
LOUCHHEIM: Yes. I think so. I think that was the feeling and I think it had been. I don't have the facts, but you have them in the Library, of what transpired between the Cabinet and President Truman. And I think another thing one might say is that Lyndon Johnson would have been better off if he'd done what Mr. Truman did. His whole attempt to keep the Kennedy people, and to keep the Cabinet was a mistake. He had to be his own man. Did you ever have a chance -- to break off for a minute -- to interview Dean Acheson, or did he die before the Library...
HESS: He was not interviewed. He had written so widely -- this was discussed many, many times. But he had written so widely -- so many articles and books that we did not interview him.
LOUCHHEIM: He was a neighbor and a friend, and I'd love to
have heard him on the subject of Harry Truman. If you remember in the chapter in my book on Mr. Truman I mentioned several little anecdotes in connection with Acheson. And the irony of it is, that when Mr. Truman asked Dean Acheson to be sure that he took care of the family plot and his own and Mrs. Truman's burial...
HESS: In the carrying out of the will.
LOUCHHEIM: In the carrying out of the will, Dean Acheson said to him, "Well I'm sure its not a task that I would welcome, but I have a feeling that if I don't perform it you will haunt me."
HESS: And Mr. Truman is still with us and Mr. Acheson has passed on.
LOUCHHEIM: Yes, that's right. And I think Acheson had for Mr. Truman (Acheson was a rather austere and distant man) a warmth, and an affection that was really unlimited.
HESS: The friendship between Mr. Truman and Dean Acheson interests many historians. A man from a cultured background, and a very well-educated man, and then the man from the midwest. Why do you think that Mr. Acheson had
such warm feelings for Mr. Truman? Why were they so compatible when they came from such diverse backgrounds?
LOUCHHEIM: Well, I think they both suffered from the same kind of spontaneous candor.
HESS: Shoot from the hip.
LOUCHHEIM: That's right.
HESS: As it used to be called.
LOUCHHEIM: That's right. And they both admired the qualities of loyalty and honesty.
HESS: Anything further on that thought?
LOUCHHEIM: At the risk of repeating myself, I would say that there was a natural empathy there that you couldn't dissolve with words. You couldn't beat it away with a description. You couldn't bring it back to life by being the best and the most fluent writer in the world. But being in the presence of those two men you caught something that made you feel very good. It made you feel that the reason America was strong was that two such disparate people, coming from such different backgrounds, could really light a spark together, which they did.
HESS: All right. Now moving on I'd like to get your evaluation of the men who headed the Democratic National Committee during the Truman administration. I realize that you didn't work there at the time. But just as a politician, I'd would like to get your views of the effectiveness of the men; the value of the programs they may have tied; their administrative ability, etc., things of that nature -- whatever comes to mind. Robert E. Hannegan?
LOUCHHEIM: I don't...
HESS Do you recall anything about Mr. Hannegan?
LOUCHHEIM: No. I don't recall him. He was an FDR man -- wasn't he?
HESS: That's right he was there during the '44 campaign and then continued on through the first few years of the Truman administration. And then J. Howard McGrath during the 1948 campaign. Do you recall anything about Mr. McGrath?
LOUCHHEIM: No. I never knew Mr. McGrath except as a figure. I met him only at public functions. I did know Bill [William M., Jr.] Boyle and had some slight acquaintance with Frank McKinney, and of course I knew Steve Mitchell
Bill Boyle was a terribly sweet, and considerate, and polite man. What state was he from?
LOUCHHEIM: Missouri. But he had a southerner's courtesy and chivalry, and he couldn't have been more considerate. I don't know anything about his policy. I don't know anything about his performance as chairman. I don't recall anything except seeing him at these various dinners and functions, and having him extend more than the normal gestures towards newcomers, of which I was one. I do remember that he was considered a conservative. Whether this was justifiable or not I don't know, I don't recall his political slant.
I knew very little of McKinney, but I do remember he was also Missouri.
LOUCHHEIM: Indianapolis. I associated him why -- with St. Louis. Now who was it then when I visited St. Louis? Who did or did not get along with the national committeeman, there was some sort of a ruckus. Do you remember that?
HESS: I sure don't know. But Bill Boyle was from Kansas City.
LOUCHHEIM: Well, then, it couldn't have been Bill Boyle. But, anyway, I think McKinney was around in those days. I don't know anything about any of these men really.
HESS: Other than Stephen Mitchell.
LOUCHHEIM: Yes. I knew Stephen Mitchell because he chose me, and because I worked very closely with him. And we held a very strong bond -- that is the bond of sponsor and appointee. He came to the house one night and asked me to take on the position. And I was never more surprised, because I thought he was going to ask me to be assistant to Mrs. Edwards, and I had every intention of declining. And I didn't of course, I accepted. I had accepted another position at the time which I described in my book (as head of the Women's Division for the L.L.P.E. Labor's League for Political Education) (a new position). I think Steve Mitchell was also one of those intransigent liberals that we spoke of earlier. He may have been a different kind of liberal, than a man like Averell Harriman, or Joe Rauh, or some of the rebel leaders that I was associated with. But he certainly was a man devoted to what we call progress.
And he was also anti-machine. He went home from his two-year term as chairman to run against the Daley machine and was badly trounced. He was what I would call a "Don Quixote type" liberal. He liked "tilting at windmills" and he loved a good fight. And he didn't really care if he lost or won. Just as...
HESS: Just as long as he put up a good fight.
LOUCHHEIM: That's right. And he was a most endearing human being. As I pointed out, we had great affection for one another. He was a reformer, and he was also a very strict man. He was very upset at one time when James Roosevelt was considering running, I believe it was for governor in California. Roosevelt had had one wife, and he was married then to wife number two or wife number three, and he was also running around with a nurse. I've forgotten what the precise circumstances were. But he and another Congressman who had a different kind of a record, I believe, some question of communism -- were singled out by Mitchell to be vilified on the public floor of a National Committee meeting. It was one of these mistaken gestures that really didn't have any long-range results, but made the people in the room
feel uncomfortable, including myself. I went through a good many of these impulsive gestures with Steve Mitchell, but ended up admiring him and feeling affection for him. It was he that chose Paul Butler to succeed him. He thought Paul Butler would be independent of "machine politics." He was right about that. But Butler was an extremely different human being. Mitchell was also a very devoted husband, and a strong Catholic, and I think these principles governed his life. He respected the people who were not -- I don't use the word conformists -- but who played by the rules. Not that he always did himself, as I say, when he could practice mayhem he did it with great skill and enthusiasm. One of my great sorrows is that I don't see him, and that I don't get on the plane and go to see him. He's had a stroke you know, and he is not at all well and I'm told that he has trouble speaking. Every now and then I get these notes from him, "For my love Katie" written across the page and I feel guilty, although I try to keep in touch with him. What should we talk about? What he did while he was Chairman?
HESS: Yes. During the 1952 campaign what programs did he try to implement?
LOUCHHEIM: I didn't come in until the fall of '53, after Stevenson's defeat, and I know very little about the '52 campaign. In the last ten days of '52 I was allowed to ride the train.
HESS: With Governor Stevenson.
LOUCHHEIM: Yes. And to be a guest...
HESS: Which part of the country did you cover?
LOUCHHEIM: In the East. We were in the East, we were in New England and the Middle Atlantic states. We traveled through Pennsylvania. I think I boarded the train in New England somewheres. But we did go through Rhode Island and Connecticut, etc., and down. I remember the episode when a platform fell with Adlai on it, that was in Connecticut. There was a certain sense of enthusiasm. I don't remember even whether Mitchell was on the train or not. I remember Stevenson. I remember my own role. And I remember the prison break. You remember when Adlai...
HESS: When he had to go back to Illinois.
LOUCHHEIM: Yes. He had to go back. It gave me a very
intimate glimpse for the first time, of the candidate. But I don't remember Mitchell at that time. And I...
HESS: He made the decision to go back to Illinois. He did not really have to go.
HESS: But he did make the decision that he was Governor, and he felt that his presence was required back there. All right. What do you recall about the general Truman-Stevenson relationship? You cover that quite well in your book, but one question on that, in your opinion why did Mr. Truman try to get Governor Stevenson to accept his assistance in receiving the nomination and what was the reason for Mr. Stevenson's reluctance? This is early '52, January, February, March.
LOUCHHEIM: I was at the dinner at which Mr. Truman first mentioned him. It was in the armory. Is that correct?
HESS: That's right. March the 28th of 1952 at the armory.
LOUCHHEIM: Adlai was there.
HESS: Were you surprised when Mr. Truman announced that he
was not going to be a candidate or did you think that this was expected?
LOUCHHEIM: No. I was surprised.
HESS: You were surprised. You thought he would run again.
LOUCHHEIM: I thought he was entitled to, and that he'd been very successful. I think he resented the attacks on his family. When I subsequently got to know him I decided that he was intensely sensitive to these personal attacks. He never minded political attacks on himself and his friends, but I think that he did not want his family to suffer in any way. And I also think -- perhaps being a student of American history -- he recognized that he had earned his place in history. And that it was secure and that he needn't be bothered running again, and going through the unpleasant experience of running against Eisenhower. I don't know whether at the time we knew that Eisenhower was the nominee. No, then the Taft-Eisenhower battle was beginning.
HESS: Taft or Eisenhower was the big fight that was looming and went all the way through the Republican Convention. What do you see as the Truman-Stevenson relationship -- as
you came to see it?
LOUCHHEIM: I think the choice...Lets go back to your first question -- why Mr. Truman chose Governor Stevenson, wasn't it because Mr. Truman was a sharp politician and he knew who would be a proper and appropriate candidate. I think he looked over the field.
HESS: Best man.
LOUCHHEIM: Yes. He looked over the field and decided Adlai was the man. I think Governor Stevenson resisted the nomination invitation partly because he really wished to serve as Governor again in his state -- and I think he could have been re-elected. And partly because he was always reluctant to face the possibility of public life, particularly because of his personal situation. I can't be absolutely certain, but wasn't it at this time that he and his wife were separating, and a divorce was in the offing. And Adlai, as I got to know him, was particularly sensitive about his relationship to people. Sometimes I used to think it was just women, but I think it was generally people. He felt more comfortable with men than with women there's no question about it. And if you read some of the histories written by his
sister that he was always, not uncomfortable, but unhappy in an intimate relationship with women. You seem surprised.
HESS: I didn't know that.
LOUCHHEIM: Well if you read a book by his sister called My Brother Adlai, I believe that's the title of it, you'll find that when Adlai Stevenson was at Princeton, his mother and his sister moved to Princeton -- took a house there to be near him. What more difficult situation can you envisage for a young man who is away from home, than to have his mother and sister follow him about and set up housekeeping. You can just get a fair glimpse or some idea of what this man's life was like, vis-a-vis Ike.
HESS: Far too over-protective.
LOUCHHEIM: That's right. Over-protective and over-possessive.
HESS: "Smother love" as they might call it.
LOUCHHEIM: That's right smother love is a very good word. Well, anyway, this was my feeling about Adlai. His reluctance was a feature of his character. His reluctance
to do anything. In other words, subsequent to his final decision to run -- oh, on the occasions when I worked with him after '53, "Do I have to do that, Katie" was a favorite line, "do I have to?" He never understood the hard practical fact of political campaigning. He never liked them. He liked just making speeches. But when it came to seeing the importunate callers at various stops, or when it came to visiting with people that he didn't like, he was uncomfortable. I remember in '52 we went to Easton, Pennsylvania, which was then Tad [Francis E.] Walter's district, and he refused to receive Tad Walter. Well this didn't cost him one vote. It cost him the whole damn district, and it was because of the McCarran-Walter Act. Oh, Adlai was very fond of standing on principle. Circumstances played a large role in his reluctance. He had lead an overprotective and shielded life. He was brought up in a family of means and he didn't have to do those things he did not relish. But a great many people who've been subjected to this same sort of atmosphere -- Averell Harriman comes to mind -- will do anything if they think they can get a vote out of it. But Adlai always suffered; he did not want to face the hard facts of politics. I don't think it had
anything to do with his relationship to Harry Truman. I may be wrong.
HESS: And you served on the platform committee in 1952, correct?
LOUCHHEIM: That's right.
HESS: What comes to mind? What were the top questions that the platform committee had to deal with, civil rights?
LOUCHHEIM: Civil rights. And Blair [Arthur Edson] Moody, who was sitting with me, and had a special automobile to take us back to the floor after we passed a civil rights plank, a plank that was "way out" (for that day and time), on civil rights, took me by the hand and said, "Sister, we just won the Civil War again tonight." And we rode out to the floor in triumph and he was received, and you might say carried up on adherents' shoulders, and of course, we lost the fight on the floor. It was interesting to me to find these angelical reformers, these crusader types always convinced (they were smoking opium) that they were going to win. Everything they wanted was going to become law, and fortunately, I don't think I ever was one of them. But I liked being along and hearing what they had to say.
HESS: What do you recall about the convention itself? As host governor, Governor Stevenson gave the introductory address. The welcoming address, correct?
LOUCHHEIM: That's right. And if you want to look back at the reception he received -- the fact that the convention was absolutely wild about him -- they applauded his choice of language, his delivery, all this helped him gain the nomination. Everything that he did on that platform was in effect a winning stroke for him, the very effect he was trying to avoid. Then there's a question in my mind -- was he really trying to avoid it? And to go back to the relationship between Mr. Truman and Mr. Stevenson (in case somebody does not read my book* but just reads this interview) -- I always felt that it worried Adlai terribly. I mention in the book that he brought it up when I spent the night at his house in Libertyville, and we had a long time together alone (which was very rare),he brought up the subject of his relation to Mr. Truman, "And why doesn't Harry Truman like me?" he would ask. We went through this question many times. I said that I didn't think it was a question of like or dislike, but it was a question of their being very different types of people,
*The reference here is to the book By the Political Sea (New York, Doubleday and Company, 1970) written by Mrs. Loucheim.
without any common ground. And I don't think I could have said -- you know, you learn in life that you can never change people.
HESS: I've got that part marked right here.
LOUCHHEIM: You have...
HESS: Page 100.
LOUCHHEIM: Good. The answer is simple:
Why did Mr. Truman feel such disdain? The answer was simple: they were completely incompatible. Adlai lacked the vibrant cockiness that Harry Truman exuded. And Truman had little patience, with Adlai's semantically resolved decisions.
And that's correct. And if Adlai had shown any signs, I think, of being a politician's politician, shall we say, I think Mr. Truman would have put up with the rest, with the mannerisms, with the formal manners, and the political attitudes of Adlai. But Adlai felt uncomfortable in his presence and vice versa. There was a certain feeling on Mr. Truman's part -- I feel certain -- that Adlai should have accepted the first time round when he asked him.
HESS: And he did not.
LOUCHHEIM: No. He did not exactly earn any "brownie points" by turning him down. Put it that way.
HESS: What could the Democratic Party have done to win in either 1952 or 1956?
LOUCHHEIM: Nothing. You can't run against a hero. I think also that we'd had (1932 to '52) twenty years of Democratic rule, and I think the country was ready for a moderate Republican or a Republican who wasn't really a Republican, lets put it that way. And the fact that he was a hero and dressed in a uniform, and had been the man who masterminded winning the war made all the difference in the world. I don't think Adlai ever had a chance. Don't you think he knew it?
HESS: Did he ever say that to you?
LOUCHHEIM: No. We never discussed it. Never discussed anything but the next moment. You know, when we were campaigning we were hectic, and when we were doing something else like public dinners, or official visits there was always some special point at issue. You didn't sit down and discuss this with Adlai. I never was sufficiently intimate with Adlai, I could never have said to him,
"Adlai, did you refuse because you knew you didn't have a chance, did you know that you didn't have a chance in '52?" He knew it in '56. He knew it then.
HESS: He did.
LOUCHHEIM: He took his responsibility as titular head of the party seriously. He was serious about paying off the debts, and about not being able to find anyone to take his place.
HESS: No one else would run.
LOUCHHEIM: I don't think they would have.
HESS: All right. On October the 7th of 1953 you succeeded Mrs. India Edwards as the Director of the Women's Activities of the Democratic National Committee. What changes did you try to implement either in structure or policy? What did you try to do different?
LOUCHHEIM: First of all I had a different relationship with the men in the office. India was both respected and feared by the men. I immediately established a friendly and open relationship; I don't think anybody ever feared me.
HESS: Why did they fear Mrs. Edwards?
LOUCHHEIM: Mrs. Edwards was much more devious and a much tougher woman than I was.
HESS: Came on a little stronger.
LOUCHHEIM: Yes. Some congressional wives -- you know, I founded the Democratic Congressional Wives Forum -- expressed themselves on the subject. They said they were having luncheon, not under democratic auspices, because Mrs. [Perle] Mesta was there -- she asked the question, "What did they think of me versus Mrs. Edwards?" And one of them answered, "One was a lady, and the other was a bitch." Afterwards, when the compliment was repeated to me, I wasn't so sure that it was a compliment, that maybe I ought to have done more, been a bitch, and been more successful.
HESS: Got more things done.
LOUCHHEIM: That's right. But hers was an entirely different approach, and don't forget that Mrs. Edwards maneuvered her way into the position, she was not chosen. She managed to get rid of the people around her at headquarters. She assumed the role -- whatever the title was
at the time -- she sent somebody out on the road, I've forgotten whether it was Mrs. [Gladys] Tillett or someone else, and took over. She was what is called a "takeover kid." She built up an organization of her own amongst the democratic committeewomen. She was much more astute when it came to power and wielding power than I ever became. I would have an idea, and I would pursue it madly -- and I don't know that I could report a long record of successes. I had some success -- but mainly it was because people liked me, and instinctively trusted me, approved of me. Neither Mrs. Edwards' popularity, nor her influence ever was as far spread as mine. A great many people came to me at the time and said that "Well I wasn't one of her favorites so I never got along with her." She had a group of satellites -- Mrs. Emma Guffey Miller of Pennsylvania; was one, Mrs. [Margaret M.] O'Riordan in Massachusetts was another, Mrs. Georgia Neese Clark Gray of Kansas. But she had her following and she used it, and she got herself nominated for Vice President in '52. She did a lot of things that I never would have tried to do. I was trying to broaden the base of the party. I remember I had the rather foolish idea in '53 that I would get the Volunteers for Stevenson
and the regulars together. It never worked, but I tried -- and I tried mightily.
HESS: What were the difficulties?
LOUCHHEIM: Well it was like mixing oil and water. It just wouldn't work.
HESS: Just like today, trying to get the [George] McGovern supporters together with the regular workers.
LOUCHHEIM: Yes, except that this is even more difficult. You see, there's always a group of people at the top of the economic pyramid, or the pyramid of status or prestige who want in every four years. They wanted to be there with the candidate; they want to meet him; they want to dine him and wine him; and they want to take him over. And these are the people who form the citizens for "X". And these are the very people the regulars hate. And there's some amusing stories in my book about that. I won't repeat them now. But there was no question about the fact that they in turn despised the regulars. They don't want to talk about precinct organization, or registration, or dirty work, or dirty politics, which has to be done year round in order to
keep an organization going. I don't know whether we haven't lost that volunteer army altogether. I don't know whether we're not raising a whole group of independents in the country who don't feel that they have any relation to a political party. But we did have a certain amount of loyalty. And my failures were due to that. Again it was like Adlai and Harry Truman, they came out of different backgrounds, and they just never understood one another.
HESS: What is your definition of politics and what is your definition of a politician?
LOUCHHEIM: I'm not sure that I can do better than quote myself in the last chapter in the book, which is called "Hostility and Hope;" I speak up for politics. Its hard to select a single definition. I once gave a speech at the last minute, substituted for a Congresswoman, in a nonpartisan group. I spoke about politics as being similar to family life, that compromise was inevitable, and that there was always the nagging uncle, and there was always the dreamer who felt that everything was possible. And there was always a relative who spent too much, and there was always the cousin who
saved too much, the "penny pincher." There was the intruding in-law. Family life, therefore was a preparation for politics. Not many people make this transition, but those who do feel quite at home, because they recognize that in the public arena you have to do exactly as you've done in family life. Now these may be old fashioned definitions, because we no longer have the awe and respect we had for family life; but it seems to me that if we lose this relationship (to some degree we have lost it, because of the need for more compact living, living in smaller units, units not suitable for three generations living), we've lost something valuable. We may have also lost that element in politics and for the same reasons -- technological progress. The media transcends a great many ways of communication. [Herbert Marshall] McLuhan does have something in his theory that the medium is the message, or the message is the medium. (I've forgotten which way it goes.) But it seems to me that we have to live together and politics is one of the best ways to learn how to do so. And a good politician in my book is somebody who learns more about people than he knew before he started, or she knew before she started. The human race being what it is there are all kinds of
people. And my one plea about women was always not to lump women, but to acknowledge us as different kinds of people. And to allow...
HESS: Just as men are different kinds of people.
LOUCHHEIM: That's right. Some men are going to be satisfied to stand behind a counter, at a bar, or in a court of law, and some men are going to want to be President. There is, fortunately, a great diversity in human beings. Both men and women, however, above all, are people. Not many want to be President, but most want to discover their talents and use them. I was always averse to the lumping process. I think defining "Politics as the art of the possible" is pretty accurate. But I also think its more than that -- its a course in human relations. Its a continuous lifetime education. I think possibly, even in the years when I knew Mr. Truman (to go back), he was more sophisticated and educated, and understanding, and wiser than he was when he started out, because he'd been a politician. In a very, very small insignificant way, it was the same in my own life. I might have been a hostess or what should I say -- a do-gooder or something else instead of which I turned out to be a politician.
And that in turn brought out a great many other talents that I never knew I possessed.
HESS: A good education, is it not?
LOUCHHEIM: Yes. Its a free course if you want to take it. I've missed it when I don't have access to it. One thing about going away for the summer is you miss newspapermen, a breed that is always fascinating and sometimes impossible, but always interesting. I feel the same way about politicians. The word politics is really so misunderstood. I was once on a program with -- the then Senator Joe [Joseph] Clark and Senator Hugh Scott. It was a CBS program and we were to talk about politics. In the rehearsal time I used a familiar idea that I'd used before, that is, that nobody ever gives credit to the Congressman who does the right thing, and doesn't indulge in extra curricular activities, financial or otherwise, and who answers all his mail, and keeps everybody informed, and on their toes. You only hear about the Congressman who does the wrong things. And when it came time to go on the air Mr. Scott took my lines away from me. He swiped my theory. But I've had sort of an affection for him ever since -- special affection, because he didn't seem to care. It didn't seem to him to be a matter of
principle. He was ahead of me on the program so he used it.
HESS: If he wanted to use your line he'd go right ahead and use it.
LOUCHHEIM: That's right. I do feel that. Go back to the machine politicians of the old days -- I admired them. I admired Carmine DeSapio -- I'm sorry he got caught out with a modest amount of money and for doing something that many people have done. Take Watergate, which is so much in the papers....People are used to this kind of thing. They are not as shocked by it as they might have been.
HESS: Doesn't seem to make very much of an impression does it?
LOUCHHEIM: No. Money changes hands and until we change the law there will be money, and there will be bad ways of passing money around, "through the kitchen" or washing it in Mexico.
I remember Lyndon Johnson telling me (telling two of us), that when he was campaigning with Kennedy he said, "You must never receive money on the Hill. People come and they want to give you money, and they want to give you cash instead of checks. Never take it in the Halls
of Congress, in your office or anywhere else." There were all sorts of rules at the time that were broken -- not by Lyndon Johnson, but by others. It was understood that money of this sort was being passed around. How are we ever going to overcome this?
HESS: What is your evaluation of Mr. Truman as a President and as a man?
LOUCHHEIM: The best way to answer that question is he's a man whose company I found inexhaustibly refreshing., He was alert -- tart -- even when he was being angry or vindictive about someone, or describing them in disparaging terms he was entertaining and vital and...
HESS: He wasn't dull.
LOUCHHEIM: Never. And he was marvelous -- it was an experience that I could never describe in any other way except revitalizing. And I felt the same, in quite a different way, because she is a woman, about Mrs. Truman. She restored my faith in the kind of woman that I believed in. And I really believe that she felt the same empathy that I felt for her, which was a compliment because she certainly had a very extensive acquaintance with people.
I describe in the book, you remember, the luncheon with Mrs. [Edith] Helm, whom I also admired in quite a different way, Mrs. Helm was the old-fashioned type, a very conservative, dignified, well-mannered lady. But the two of them together, I felt went together just the way we were talking previously about Acheson and Harry Truman. They came from different backgrounds, Mrs. Truman and Mrs. Helm. Mrs. Helm was one of these traditional, Navy aristocrats who -- I don't know what her state was or, whether she was Southern, or Western or what, but who felt that she belonged. I'm sure Mrs. Truman belonged but never thought about it. I've since heard two very endearing stories about Mrs. Truman, since I finished the book. Perhaps we ought to talk about them.
HESS: We certainly should.
LOUCHHEIM: One was true and accurate because I was witness to it. I used to call her on the telephone, (particularly on Sundays because that was my day off when I was working in the State Department). About a year ago, or maybe it was two years ago, Mr. Hess, I'm not sure of the time anymore, I called her one Sunday and I said, "I must
hang up now Mrs. Truman, because I know you must go to church." And she said, "Oh I don't go to church anymore, Katie." And I said, "You don't, what's happened?" And she said, "Well I have such bad, bad pains in my knees and I can't kneel anymore." And I said, "Why Mrs. Truman, you know perfectly well people won't care whether you kneel or not in church. They'll understand." And she said, "Oh, Katie you don't know those Episcopalians." It was delightful and delicious and it was so typical of Bess Truman; and I laughed and I thought to myself if I could only share this story with someone, but its too personal. I think I ended up by telling a few people whom I knew loved her and admired her as much as I did. But the other story was not mine. It was told to me by someone so you must check it out. It was that a neighbor came along one day and saw Mrs. Truman burning some papers on the lawn. Do you know this story? And they said to her, "What are you doing? What are you burning there?" And she said, "I'm burning Harry's letters to me before we were married." If you recall they had a long courtship, before she finally consented, or her family consented to let them marry. And this person, whether it was man or woman, I don't know which said to her, "You mustn't do that Mrs. Truman. Don't you know you
are burning history?" And Mrs. Truman is alleged to have replied, "Exactly, that's why I'm burning them." I don't know whether its a true story, but it is typical of the sort of remark that Mrs. Truman might have made. And there have been many exchanges between us on the subject of our daughters and our relationship to our mothers. I felt very strongly that we were not only contemporary in spirit, and age, and every kind of characteristic that :this extraordinary woman includes in her personality. I had people call me after the book came out and say, "I never knew Bess Truman. She never allowed us to know her. Now that we've read your book we really have become her admirers." And its true -- nobody knew her and nobody bothered to find out what she was really like. I guess she wouldn't allow herself to be interviewed. And during the time when she was in the White House I certainly didn't know her. And I remember the first time I met her. I guess I didn't put it in the book, Mr. Hess. It was when they were living in Blair House and I was on the Script Committee of the Women's National Press Club. We had a Script Committee every year when we gave a show which was a spoof of the administration in power. And we were invited as guests to have tea.
HESS: I think that's in the book.
LOUCHHEIM: It was my first encounter with her. She was so real, and so natural, and so pleasant, and I was so overwhelmed, because she seemed grim and almost forbidding from her photographs and what little we knew about her in the press. And I have -- as a man -- as a President I think Mr. Truman was...
HESS: How would you rate him as a President?
LOUCHHEIM: Oh, I think he was a great man in a time when we needed greatness.
HESS: How would you rate him as a politician?
LOUCHHEIM: I think he was a consummate politician. A perfectionist in the "art of the plausible." I think he knew when to turn on the goodwill, and when to turn it off. When to turn on the quarrel, and when to turn it off. He knew how to judge people. I never was too intimate with some of the people who were most intimate with him, people like General [Harry] Vaughan and others. I do know John Snyder a little better, and John Snyder would be rather typical of the kind of person Harry Truman would like and feel comfortable with.
But I also think this is true of Dean Acheson. I remember the conversation that is in the book when I went to see him the day of the funeral.
HESS: The Kennedy funeral.
LOUCHHEIM: Yes, the Kennedy...I hope you read that passage.
LOUCHHEIM: I asked him what kind of a President Lyndon Johnson would make and he said, "You never can tell until a man crosses that threshold." And he had that kind of humility, that he must have felt the same way when he crossed that threshold in 1945 -- April 1945. He was very human, and so was she, and in a way you can see Margaret as a very secure person, because she's the child of people that understood love, and marriage, and family life. So they, both Trumans had this side to them.
HESS: In speaking of Mrs. Truman, what strength did that particular woman bring to that particular man?
LOUCHHEIM: If I were to describe an ideal wife for a man in public life I would describe Bess Truman. I think
she was the most sophisticated practitioner of the art of wifehood -- greatness in small ways. She knew when to laugh with him and laughed freely. And she knew that he respected and expected dignity. That he had reverence for her, which she returned in a rather jocular fashion, but also that she never let down her guard -- that she remained warm, and she was a wonderful mother to Margaret. It must have been difficult to raise an only daughter in the White House -- in that "goldfish bowl." We used to joke about it and say daughters are someone you can never reason with. But go back to the wifehood question, if I want a…
HESS: Daughters are someone who never really...
LOUCHHEIM: You can't reason with.
HESS: You can't reason with.
LOUCHHEIM: If I were a public figure -- I would want a wife with the qualities of Mrs. Truman. She was the stabilizer in the family. She's the one who said, "I'm never going to write a book -- two hams in the family are enough."
HESS: Her husband and her daughter.
LOUCHHEIM: That's right. I'm tempted to go out and see her, but I don't know that I want to see her if she's not herself. I'm torn between the feeling of devotion and yet the last note I have in this file of many letters from her doesn't sound like her. Maybe she didn't even write it, maybe Rose Conway wrote it for her.
HESS: She would enjoy seeing you, though. I think so.
LOUCHHEIM: Well there's nobody more devoted than I am. I'm like one of those Wednesday Democrats, you know, I came late to my role of admiration for the Trumans, because I was fenced in before that. And one of the people who fenced me in was India. I remember when I was ready to come round India was smart enough to know, (although I never suspected it) that I was a potential rival and she kicked me around the corner and back.
HESS: She did.
LOUCHHEIM: Oh, yes. In '52 when I came to volunteer at the committee she said she'd been thinking of me, but it was awfully late, and she really didn't have anything very definite that she could give me to do. And when I reappeared about half an hour later with Joe [Joseph] Keenan and some other very important labor man, and
they said they wanted me to work in the labor division, which is where I belonged, and they wanted me to be this, that or the other thing, I've forgotten what they called me...
HESS: She was Vice Chairman at the time, is that right?
LOUCHHEIM: And she said to me, "Well I was just about to ask you to be my deputy." It was one of those phoney conversations. And India was very foxy, and I liked her, and I admired her, but she picked me out right away as somebody who...
HESS: She thought you were a rival.
LOUCHHEIM: Yes. Keep off the reservation. And that happened all during those four years in various forms. I don't remember just what form it took, unfortunately I've forgotten. Where is she by the way? Is she in town?
HESS: No. That's...
LOUCHHEIM: You say you have interviewed...
HESS: I have interviewed her when they lived here in town, but they have moved I believe to California.
LOUCHHEIM: Or it was Arizona I thought.
HESS: It could well be.
HESS: We just received a letter from her the other day and I've forgotten.
HESS: She moved out west someplace. But they sold their townhouse.
HESS: In the 600 block up on Constitution Avenue.
LOUCHHEIM: I was late to come to understand and know the Trumans, and I don't think I ever would have if I hadn't been appointed by Mitchell. Privately I felt (if there is anything historically private), I felt that President Truman who inherited Mrs. Edwards, never felt too happy about it. I think he knew her to be sharp but effective.
HESS: You don't think he was too happy with her.
LOUCHHEIM: I don't. I don't think he felt the way he felt towards me. Of course, I never asked him for anything, but she was an operator. And he has some very colorful descriptions of what he thought of some women in politics. He used to say to me, "Now don't you ever say I said that Katie, but" and then he'd go on and talk about what they looked like and...
HESS: I had heard that he offered her the top spot in the Democratic National Committee. Had you ever heard that? As chairman.
LOUCHHEIM: It could be possible and it could be possible that I heard it. She was very powerful and she was responsible for opening up new opportunities for women in Government, and I admire her for it. I have nothing but admiration for her, but we were two completely opposite human beings. We couldn't be more different, and our situations were different. She did her best to put the needle in me after I took over, too, you know; she kept her title of Vice Chairman. And she had her friends on the press who needled me. I remember when we came back from New Orleans in '54 she said she was going to help me, because she didn't think I was getting along too well.
HESS: And you thought you were doing all right.
LOUCHHEIM: Yes. I said I didn't need any of her help.
HESS: Thank you, but no thanks.
LOUCHHEIM: That's right. It was a very typical hair pulling in public but it wasn't very serious.
Let me go back to Mrs. Truman, I had such affection, respect, and admiration for her. I would have liked to have been her daughter and I can't say anything more flattering, or more honest than that. I felt that woman had real greatness. Magnanimity was one of her qualities.
HESS: Do you have anything else to add on Mr. Truman or the Truman administration?
LOUCHHEIM: I would like to read through my chapter again, Mr. Hess, which I didn't have time to do before we started today to see whether I've left anything out that's happened after I wrote the book. Generally speaking, I would like to say that the Trumans during their time in office were under-appreciated and not always given the support that they should have had by the public. Not by the public so much as by some
who were -- fond of their own ideas, and believed themselves to be the only true leaders of the Democratic Party. But there will always be those. I don't think they were important. In historic terms I think Mr. Truman is assured of a very, very high regard. We survived a period that could have been disastrous. I was sufficiently involved in international affairs, due to my experience with UNRRA, to appreciate what he did. What he managed to do -- how he saved Europe. And there are still, thank goodness, some Europeans alive who like to talk about it. And if he'd been able to make a grand tour every year of his life after he left office I think he would have been equally well-received, and great homage would have been paid him. Because people really understood what this man did. And I have an old-fashioned theory that western civilization is inevitably linked between Europe and the United States, and that we are a diminishing breed. Certainly where we have great strength in this country -- power, technocracy, technological advance, wealth, and resources, we also have great unresolved problems. The Europeans are in a similar position. Whether its advancing communism, or racial disturbances, or questions that
arise from the matters of economics. I happen to be married to a man who understands international finance. And I wonder whether Mr. Truman didn't live at the peak of the time when you could save Europe and see the fruits of it. I worry sometimes when I go to Great Britain, and go through France, and see what is happening in Germany, and how the French and the Germans are so far ahead of the British, who I think have in the past been the standard-bearers of Western civilization -- language-wise and character-wise. They not only fought those two wars, and held off the enemy, but as a consequence lost their empire. I don't want to cloud the oral history program with my personal beliefs but Mr. Truman will always rank high, and if western civilization does disappear it will be remembered that he did his best to save it.
HESS: We thank you very much.
Agnew, Spiro T., 6, 7
Allen, James, 17, 18, 21
Americans for Democratic Action, 11, 12
Daley, Richard J., 2
Edwards, India, 66-68,
Gray, Georgia Neese, 68
Acheson, Dean, friendship with, 49, 50
Democratic National Convention, 1948, opposition to, 18-20
Democratic nomination for President, 1952, declines, 57, 58
Democratic party, 1948, opposition elements within, 47, 48
District of Columbia delegation at 1948 Democratic National Convention, support for, 14
evaluation of, 75, 79, 86-88
Louchheim, Katie, first recollections of, 1
Presidency of the United States, succession to, 7
as President, first impressions of, 8
Presidential election of 1948, factors in victory, 45, 46
Presidential election of 1948, pessimism on election prospects, 42, 43
Stevenson, Adlai E., relationship with, 58, 59, 63, 64, 70
Truman Committee, chairmanship of, 4, 5
Vice Presidential nominee, Democratic party, selection as, 2-5
Vice Presidential running mate, 1948, selection of, 17, 18