Oral History Interview with
Former staff member in the office of the legislative counsel
of the U.S. Senate, 1934-46; Administrative Assistant to the President
of the United States, 1947-50; and Special Counsel to the President, 1950-53.
Subsequent to the Truman Administration Murphy served as Under Secretary
of Agriculture, 1960-65; and chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board,
Charles S. Murphy
May 19, 1970
Jerry N. Hess
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Transcript | Additional Murphy Oral History
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This is a transcript of a tape-recorded interview conducted for the Harry
S. Truman Library. A draft of this transcript was edited by the interviewee
but only minor emendations were made; therefore, the reader should remember
that this is essentially a transcript of the spoken, rather than the written
Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. ) within the transcript indicate the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the oral history interview.
This oral history transcript may be read, quoted from, cited, and reproduced
for purposes of research. It may not be published in full except by permission
of the Harry S. Truman Library.
Opened May, 1971
Harry S. Truman Library
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and Restrictions | Interview Transcript
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Oral History Interview with
Charles S. Murphy
May 19, 1970
Jerry N. Hess
HESS: Mr. Murphy, most of the questions we have this afternoon are sort
of clean-up type questions. Letís start off with the public opinion mail.
Just to what extent did the public opinion mail that came into the White
House influence staff decisions, and did you ever read any of this public
opinion mail that came in?
MURPHY: I did not read very much of it. Trumanís staff included one of
the Presidentís secretaries who was designated as the Correspondence Secretary.
Most of the time we were there it was Bill Hassett and he was primarily
responsible for the handling of the mail, helping the President answer
some of it personally and supervising the handling of the rest of it.
Occasionally, they would give letters of particular interest to me, but
we did not regularly see
any of the mail actually. From time to time we
would get a summary of the mail that was being received, the number of
letters on particular subjects, and then the views they were expressing.
HESS: Do you think that it had much influence on the other White House
MURPHY: I don't think so. We had not at that time perfected this business
of following the mail to the extent that I believe that it has been done
HESS: Following the mail and the polls, and all the whatnots.
MURPHY: The polls were beginning to come along, and we were interested
in them, and all of us read a number of newspapers, and I think generally
speaking we knew what was going on in the world.
HESS: Mr. Truman always spoke disparagingly of the polls, particularly
after they said he would be defeated in Ď48. What was your view of the polls?
MURPHY: Well, I suppose they were somewhat less clear cut than his, but
tended in the same direction.
HESS: On special interest groups, just what was the reaction of the President
and the White House staff towards special interest groups, and here I
have in mind such things as CIO for labor, National Farmerís Union for
farmers, National Association of Manufacturers--if they had any influence
at all during the Truman years, not specifically those groups, but what
type of interest groups, Bínai Bírith, perhaps, for the Jewish groups?
MURPHY: I think generally we tended to regard them
as special interest
groups if they were opposed to us, and if they supported us we tended
to regard them as public interest groups. So sometimes we liked
all of them; and sometimes we liked none of them, and we, I think, had
a pretty good working relationship with a good many of them. I think President
Truman and his staff too, recognized that these different groups had a
particular point of view and a particular interest to support, and sometimes
that would coincide with what the President regarded as the general public
interest, and sometimes it would not. I think he, generally speaking,
gave them credit for integrity and honesty for the point of view they
represented, because it was his job to discount, if thatís the word, their
point of view, just the right amount, to arrive at a good judgment as
to what was the real, general, overall, public interest.
HESS: Would you think that the National Association of Manufacturers
would have somewhat less influence in the Truman White House, than say the CIO?
MURPHY: Yes, I would think so. The working relationship with the labor
unions was, generally speaking, good, not just the CIO, but the AF of
L as well, and some unions at that time, as I recall, were not in either
group. As I remember, the machinists were an independent union at that
time. They were then headed by a very fine man, who I think really deserves
to be thought of as a labor statesman, and I believe President Truman
had the same view. (Albert J. Hayes) I knew he had high regard for William
Green, who was then the president of the AF of L and also a very high
regard personally for Philip Murray, and no question about this. While
President Truman, I think,
would tend to look somewhat skeptically at
the views and positions of these people, he also would find himself more
often than not in agreement with them about issues of general public concern.
They were quite active during that period, the labor unions were in matters
of general public concern as distinguished from what you think of ordinarily
as strictly union matters, wages and working conditions for union members.
The railroad brotherhoods, I guess, were independent at that time, and
President Truman had some fairly close association with some of the railroad
brotherhoods dating back to the time when he was elected to the Senate
HESS: Which of the civil rights groups, interest groups seemed to have
the most influence: NAACP?
MURPHY: I donít have any clear recollection about
that, Jerry. I know
at one time, incidentally, we had a man on the White House staff, Steve
Spingarn, whom I suppose you know, whose father was for many years the
president of the NAACP, and while I don't have any actual recollection,
would be confident that the President had a high regard for the NAACP.
I do remember one Negro leader, a woman, Mary McLeod Bethune, who came
to the White House a number of times, and I think President Truman had
a high opinion of her.
HESS: Did you ever speak to her when she came into the White House?
MURPHY: No, I don't think I ever did.
HESS: Did you ever hear the President speak about her, to say what his
opinion was of her?
MURPHY: Yes, I think I did.
HESS: What did he say?
MURPHY: Well, I donít remember his precise words, but I know that I came
away with the impression that he had a high regard for her, and a good
opinion of her.
HESS: Do you think he had about the highest regard for her as he did
for any of the colored people of that age?
MURPHY: I wouldnít say that. I wouldnít say anything different. I just
donít have that good a recollection about all of it, about his relationships
with different black people, to give you a judgment like that offhand.
HESS: One thing that you mentioned just a few minutes ago, was Mr. Trumanís
close working relationship with the railway brotherhoods, extending from
1940. Now, he and A.F. Whitney had a falling out during one of the strikes,
I believe in 1946. Do you recall that?
MURPHY: Just vaguely. He had a falling out with a number of his good
friends from time to time.
HESS: And Mr. Whitney at that time swore that in the next election he
would use every last cent in the treasury of the railway brotherhood to
defeat Mr. Truman. But he did not, he changed his mind. Do you recall that?
MURPHY: Not very clearly, but what you say sounds right as far as I can
remember. He had a falling out at some point with John L. Lewis, as I
recall, quite a spectacular one, and also with the Marines at one point.
HESS: Did Lewis ever come into the White House very often?
MURPHY: My recollection is that he did during some periods. There was
quite--I don't remember just which period--but my recollection is, they
had quite a falling out and for a time they did
not see anything of each other.
HESS: What difficulty did it cause President Truman about his remark
about the Marines? What do you recall about that difficulty?
MURPHY: My recollection is not very clear, but such as it is, at some
time he spoke of the Marines as a police force, and this caused considerable
adverse reaction among the Marines, and not very long after that they
were having a meeting here in Washington of some Marine organization,
and he had been invited to come over and speak, and went over and did
speak, and as I recall, this was the time when he said something to the
effect that when he made a mistake it really was a beaut.
HESS: Was it discussed among the staff, one, that he should accept this
invitation and go speak, and number two, what he should say once he got
MURPHY: I would be confident that it was. I have a fairly clear recollection
that it was. This was the kind of staff discussion in which Harry Vaughan
would play a prominent part, and if you're interested in getting somebody
who remembers it, well, I dare say, Harry Vaughan will remember the whole
thing very well.
HESS: Just one general question on Red China. Do you recall if there
was ever any plans made during the Truman administration to recognize
MURPHY: I do not have any recollection on that that would be worthwhile
one way or the other. I don't remember a great deal about Red China. The
principal thing that I remember is that the President did send General
Marshall to Red China on a mission.
HESS: That was early in the Administration.
MURPHY : That is right. I would guess that when General Marshall went
that the whole range of possibilities would have been considered as to
just what might be done, or might not be done. Well, at that time, I guess
China was Nationalist China, and they were having a revolution
there, and I suppose that was before the time when you began to think
of it as Red China.
HESS: Do you recall any discussions of recognizing Red China after Chiang
Kai-shek went over to Formosa and there were two separate Chinas: A Red
China and a Nationalist China?
MURPHY: I do not recall any discussion of that.
HESS: Concerning Mr. Trumanís papers. Was there any thought given to
the possibility that if his papers were opened too soon after the Administration
that the Republicans would go
in and have a fishing expedition in the
papers and try to find evidence of misconduct and try to find justification
for the phrase "mess in Washington," if the papers were opened
too soon after the Administration?
MURPHY: I donít remember any particular consideration being given to this.
HESS: Have you ever heard of the statement that the President may
have made at a meeting on January the 19th, 1953 (this was the evening
before the inauguration ..of General Eisenhower), stating that what he
would be remembered for would not be the Marshall plan or point 4, but
would be for the reorganization of the White House office in such a manner
that no future Presidents could make mistakes.
MURPHY: I have heard of this before. I donít have any recollection that
the President said this.
HESS: Were you present wherever he was the night before the inauguration;
was he in Blair House, was he in the White House?
MURPHY: Well, he would have been back in the White House by then. I donít
remember being present. I think I have heard that this is something that
he is reported to have said to General Eisenhower.
I do know that President Truman very high regard for his White
House staff, perhaps far higher than we deserved, and he thought that
he had the White House well organized and I am sure that he hoped that
his successor would maintain the same kind of organization, but going
so far as to say heíd be remembered for this rather than the Marshall
plan or the Truman Doctrine, or things of that kind, I donít have any
recollection of it.
HESS: What were your duties connected with the transition from the Truman
administration to the Eisenhower administration?
MURPHY: They were rather limited, I guess. After the election, President
Truman was returning from Missouri to Washington. He had been in Missouri
to vote. My recollection is that from the train he sent me a telegram
saying to get ready for an orderly turnover of the Government to the Republicans.
I started thinking about it at that time, and after he returned to Washington,
he sent me a memorandum, a copy of which I have somewhere, because Iíve
seen it in recent years, telling some of the things that he wanted done
in connection with the transition, and the last thing that he said he
wanted me to do was to get a definition of "Trumanism."
HESS: What was your definition of Trumanism?
MURPHY: Well, the most Iíve ever done toward defining it, I. guess, was
the talk I made out at the Truman Library three years ago, so Iíll refer
you to that.
HESS: Two years ago.
HESS: Was it three?
MURPHY: Iíve checked it recently, so Iím pretty sure this is right. After
this, I tended to get rather heavily involved in the staff work on the
messages to Congress. The President decided that he would send to the
Congress a State of the Union message, he had to send the Budget message,
and he had to send an economic report. He also decided that he would make
a speech to the American people in the nature of a farewell speech. I
expect he made this on the night of January 19, although I donít recall.
If he did--whenever he made it--I expect that I was pretty close at hand.
You asked if I was there on that night.
The work on these messages to Congress, in particular, did involve questions
of transition, in the first place, whether they should be sent.
It was a real question as to whether the President under the circumstances
should deliver the State of the Union message. He decided that he would,
and in connection with the budget, you have real questions as to how you
handle the budgeting for this transition between administrations. Now,
this was the first time that the questions had come up in this context,
the first time since the twentieth amendment, twenty-first amendment,
that there had been a transition from one administration to another as
a result of an election.
HESS: The twenty-second, I think.
MURPHY: Well, the one that changed the inauguration date. This was the
first time that there had been this kind of transition, the first time
that it ever happened. In working on these questions, I think I was working
on transition. In terms of working on the housekeeping aspects of it,
I did not do a great deal.
The President did invite General Eisenhower to send in a representative
to work with the White House staff, and more particularly, with the Bureau
of the Budget, to make preparations for the transition. He also gave general
instructions to Cabinet members and agency heads, that he wanted them
to do all they could to facilitate an orderly transition. I think this,
perhaps the first and maybe the main thing that President Truman did,
was to set the tone or policy, and the policy unequivocally was that he
wanted this to be an orderly turnover, and he wanted the Government to be
in as good shape as possible, and get the new administration off to
as good a start as possible.
General Eisenhower did designate a man whose name I cannot remember at
the moment. He came to the White House and stayed there for some weeks,
and worked much more with John Steelman than he did with me.
HESS: Did that man work under Sherman Adams?
MURPHY: I doní t think so. I doní t know who he reported to at that time.
He was a business executive who did not stay in the Administration. I
apologize for not being able to remember his name. I just donít.
President Truman, at one point, got some reports that this man was being
rather unpleasant to some of the secretaries, the stenographers on the
White House staff, and he called him and gave him a dressing down about
that, and I don't think he saw him again after that. John Steelman kept
in touch with it quite closely. My recollection is that General Eisenhower
also designated someone to work with the Bureau of the Budget in a liaison
capacity during that period.
HESS: Did you work with those people in your work on the Budget message?
MURPHY: No, I'm sure I did not. David Bell might have. I think David
Bell would have been working on the Budget message and working with me,
but firsthand, I don't think I worked with those people.
HESS: Did you have any working relationship at this time with Sherman Adams?
HESS: Was he in evidence?
MURPHY: No, not in Washington.
HESS: What time did he show up?
MURPHY: Inauguration day, I guess.
HESS: He did not come in before inauguration?
MURPHY: Not so far as I recall. My recollection is that they had an operation
in the Commodore Hotel in New York where they were getting ready and putting
the Administration together, and Sherman Adams was there, oh, I suppose
as chief of staff of that operation. I don't recall that he came down here.
HESS: How long after the twentieth did you stay?
MURPHY: I left on the twentieth, at noon on the twentieth.
HESS: What did you do at that time? Did you, go back into private employment,
MURPHY: Well, a little bit later, I started to practice law. You say,
go back into private employment. At that time I had been working for the
Government since I was 18 years old, and it was not exactly a matter of
going back. I had worked at private employment before I was 18 years old.
We started to work young in my part of the country. I donít think I came
to the office on the twentieth, actually.
The Dean Achesons had the President and Mrs. Truman and the members of
his Cabinet, and two or three other couples, I guess the John Steelmans,
and the Henry Fowlers, and my wife and I, for dinner, although it was
a mid-day or afternoon meal. It was an elaborate luncheon, perhaps, at
their home, in Georgetown, shortly after the inauguration ceremonies.
We went to that, and afterwards, we lived in Silver Spring, Maryland
at the time and the Trumans were leaving late that afternoon, and did
leave later that afternoon by train to go home, and my wife and I drove
our car to the railroad station in Silver Spring and got on the train
and came to the Union Station in Washington, and then we got on the Trumanís
train and rode with them from the Union Station in Washington to Silver
Spring as they were leaving town.
HESS: What seemed to be his attitude at this time, happy, relieved to
MURPHY: Basically, I would say yes. There was a lot of sentiment involved.
Iím sure he was reluctant to be leaving a lot of his friends, but I think
the overriding feeling was one of relief and happiness at being able to
HESS: What was Mrs. Trumanís attitude?
MURPHY: I think hers probably was more strongly in that direction than his.
HESS: Had you attended the inauguration at noon?
MURPHY: No, I'm sure I did not go to that one.
HESS: Any particular reasons why you did not go?
MURPHY: Well, I guess there are two: In the first place, I don't think
I was invited, and in the second place, I didn't want to.
HESS: Why didn't you want to?
MURPHY: Well, I wasn't particularly happy about it. I didn't see
why I should go.
HESS: The wrong man won.
MURPHY: That's right.
HESS: Did you recall the names of any of the men that you worked with--the
Eisenhower staff people. There were a couple of names you did not recall,
is that right? The people who came down from the Commodore Hotel that Eisenhower
MURPHY: I did not work with any of them.
HESS: One worked with John Steelman, is that right?
MURPHY: Yes, but this was not in connection with John Steelman's regular
line of work.
This was in connection with the housekeeping arrangements on the White
House staff, and what do you do about keeping secretaries or not keeping
secretaries, what rooms are available for the use of the staff of the
incoming President, and really it's just the housekeeping business for
the presidential staff, if you think particularly of that. This was a
special assignment, as I recall, that President Truman gave to John Steelman,
was to be the liaison person on this kind of thing.
HESS: Nuts and bolts type of work.
MURPHY: Much of this, of course, would have been with and through Bill
[William J.] Hopkins, who is still there, and has done the same thing
for a number of other people since then.
HESS: But you really didn't have anyone from the Eisenhower staff working
with the White House staff?
MURPHY: Not in my part of the White House staff, no.
HESS: What is your evaluation of the success of that transition?
MURPHY: Well, I think on the whole it was successful. There was some
handicap because of the rather cool relationship between President Truman
and General Eisenhower at that time.
The policy, I think, was set by President Truman at that time that has
been followed since
then, and that is basically to try to do it in as
orderly a fashion as you can and to try to help the new administration
get off to a good start as best you can. Now, the techniques have been
improved some since then. There has been a good deal said and written
by scholars on the subject that would tend to suggest that the process
was invented at some later period, but I donít think it was really. There
have been, I guess, three: Truman-Eisenhower; Eisenhower-Kennedy; and
there was the Johnson-Nixon, and I think the basic pattern was set by
President Truman, which I guess was the right pattern, although at that
time, I was not particularly enthusiastic about it.
HESS: What was the basis for the cool relationship between President
Truman and President Eisenhower?
MURPHY: Well, I think it grew out of the campaign, and General Eisenhowerís
attacks on and desertion
of General Marshall, and President Truman's very
strong reaction publicly to that.
HESS: Did you ever hear him make any comments in private on that matter?
MURPHY: I'm sure I did. I don't remember what they were, but they would
be quite consistent with what he said in public.
HESS: In 1956 several men ran for President, and in his book, Mr.
Citizen, Mr. Truman states that the reason behind his support from
Mr. Averell Harriman in 1956 was not because he thought Mr. Harriman could
win the nomination, but rather to "make it easier for Stevenson to disassociate
himself with me politically." What is your view of that, and the events
MURPHY: Well, I regarded it as pretty nearly a complete disaster, and
I guess I still do.
I am somewhat skeptical of that explanation
of the reason, although I
must say Iím completely baffled as to what the reason was.
I went to that convention, and in some fashion I was in touch with President
Truman shortly before the convention. I thought it was distinctly
understood that he was not to state any preference or support or opposition
for any of the candidates. This may be something that I will want to seal,
by the way.
On the train on the way to the convention, he issued a statement attacking
Governor Stevenson, I thought in just an indefensible way. In the first
place, I think somebody put him up to it.
HESS: Who? Itís going to be sealed.
MURPHY: My recollection is, I thought it was Dave [David] Noyes and Bill
And there was fertile ground there, because Stevenson in 1952 did not
support President Truman
as he should have. He should have just for reasons
of loyalty, honesty, integrity, and just plain politics.
I still think to this day that if Stevenson had run on the Truman record,
he would have been elected President of the United States, but he didnít
do it. He went out and tried to disassociate himself with Truman, and
he spoke out there on the West Coast about the "mess in Washington,"
which I think was wrong. Well, Iím sure that that had rankled in President
Trumanís mind, and in Mrs. Trumanís mind, and mine, from then until 1956.
So, when someone came along, if they did, and started talking about
disassociating himself from Stevenson, why, I expect they found pretty
fertile ground. Thatís what happened.
Then he got to Chicago, and for several days this jockeying was going
on back and forth, I got some inkling of what was going on,
and I was
disturbed and distressed about it, and I tried to see him to talk to him
about this, but I think it was apparent that he was not eager to talk
to me about it, and in addition to that, the people about whom I was suspicious,
I thought made a particular effort to see that I didnít get an opportunity
to speak to him alone, and I didnít, until after the nomination. And if
youíll recall then, Stevenson was nominated, and then it was left up to
President Truman after that to speak to the convention. At this point,
why, he was interested in getting some help with his speech, and these
people that had been sticking so close to him before that, were no where
to be seen, and at this point I had no trouble getting to talk to him.
So much help as he got on that speech from the staff, he got from me and
the people who would have been working with me. I donít remember who was
there at the time, but possibly it was David Lloyd or others. And if you
ever have an opportunity to look at that speech, the first few opening
paragraphs, in fact, I think I wrote most of it when you get right down
to it. I must say, I stayed awake all night long wondering how in the
world to open that speech.
HESS: Even though he did not think too favorably of Mr. Stevenson at
this time, do you think that he really thought that Averell Harriman was
the candidate to support in Ď56? Why did he support Averell Harriman in
MURPHY: Well, I would suppose that if he was going to oppose Stevenson
and support someone else, the next best looking someone else was Averell
Harriman. I know he had a very high regard and much admiration for Averell
Harriman. I donít know that he thought Averell Harriman
was a particularly
strong, potential candidate, but he had been elected Governor of New York,
which surprised a good many people, and he was Governor of New York and
traditionally thatís a good base from which to run.
Incidentally, you didnít ask me this, but Averell Harriman was a candidate
for the nomination in 1952. I donít remember ever having told this story,
but President Truman went out to the convention in 1952, and I went with
him. He flew out on his plane, and he left here after the convention was
in process, and the roll call vote, as I remember, the first roll call
vote on the nomination, was taken while we were on the way to Chicago.
Then the convention took a recess, late in the afternoon. We got to Chicago
and went to the Blackstone Hotel, and just after we arrived there the
President called me in to his bedroom and said, "I want to talk to
you." He said,
"I want you to do something for me ."
I said, "Yes, sir."
He said, "I want you to find Averell Harriman and tell him to withdraw."
Now, I had never been in Chicago before except as a part of the Presidentís
party. I had no idea where the convention was being held, no idea where
Averell Harriman was. And he says, "You go find Averell Harriman
and tell him to withdraw."
So I said, "All right, sir." So I started out to look for Averell
Harriman. I did a reasonably good job of finding him, I might say, with
a lot of luck.
I did find out where the convention was being held, and I got someone
to take me out there, and I got into the convention hall and shortly after
I got in, I saw someone I knew who happened to be working with Averell
Harriman, and he took me to Averellís place there in the
This, perhaps, had taken an hour after I got these instructions from
President Truman and by the time I got there, Harriman had already issued
a statement withdrawing. He and Mrs. Harriman were sitting by the television
waiting for the statement to be read on the news broadcast, so I sat with
the Harrimans while the withdrawal statement was being read, and thatís
how I happened to be there.
HESS: Why did President Truman want him to withdraw?
MURPHY: I donít know. I can surmise, but I just donít have any clear
recollection. My recollection is what he told me to do. "You go find
Averell and tell him to withdraw."
HESS: So you found him.
HESS: While the Democrats were out of power, the Democratic Advisory
Council was set up.
MURPHY: That is right.
HESS: I would like to ask just a few questions about that. What was your
association with the Council, and why was that Council set up?
MURPHY: I was retained by the Democratic National Committee at that time
as special counsel, I guess.
The Committee had a meeting which I did not attend. It must have been--oh,
it was quite late in the calendar year, probably in December. They adopted
at the meeting a resolution, which in rather general terms, provided for
setting up this kind of operation, whether they actually gave it a name,
I don't know.
HESS: Was this '52?
MURPHY: No, it was after Paul Butler got to be chairman of the national
committee. I donít know. Steve Mitchell was head of the national committee
for two years, and left in 1954, I guess, so it would have been some time
after 1954. I just donít remember the dates. This resolution in the national
committee, I think, was sparked largely by Philip Perlman, who had been
the Solicitor General in the Truman administration, and who, for many
years, had been quite active in Democratic politics in Maryland, he was
quite frequently the alternate or representative who attended for the
Democratic National Committeeman from Maryland.
Well, he and Paul Butler, and I expect Colonel [Jacob M.] Arvey from
Chicago would have been interested in this, they got the resolution passed,
so then the question came to "What do you do next." Well, at
this point, Paul Butler asked me in my capacity as Special Counsel to
try to write up a frame of operation, which I did. Now, the reason I remember
the time of year, was because this is the way I spent most of the Christmas
vacation, was writing the constitution, as it were, for the Advisory Council.
As I recall, the draft that I prepared by and large was the plan of organization
that was adopted and used during the life of the Council.
And one of the key prerequisites--this must have been after the draft
was written, and before the Council was actually put in operation--was
to get a plan that could be agreed on by President Truman and Adlai Stevenson.
This got to the point where it involved personalities to some degree.
Finally, it became apparent that Stevenson would be more likely to agree
to something if Tom Finletter were involved in the operation of it, and
President Truman would be more likely to
agree to something if I were involved in it.
And here was Paul Butler who was chairman of the national committee and
here was Phil Perlman who was kind of the moving spirit in this. Well,
this gave us an even number of persons. We decided that we would have
something which I think was called the administrative committee. It was
kind of an executive committee that sort of looked after the operation
of the thing. We decided that we needed another man so we would have an
odd number of members. So at this point, I think I suggested, at any rate,
someone suggested Henry Fowler. So Henry Fowler was asked to become a
member of the administrative committee and did. So this administrative
committee pretty much ran the business of the Advisory Council from then
on, these five people selected persons who were invited to become members
of the Council, and as I recall the operation, they had some working
made up of experts in various fields who were not members of the Council
itself. It was, I think, by and large, a successful operation, in fact,
I think, a surprisingly successful operation. People have tried to copy
it since then, but they havenít had the combination of circumstances,
I think, which made it possible for them to do it in the same way, and
then I donít believe that theyíve done it as successfully.
HESS: There were several members of the Senate and the House who were
invited to become members. Some did, but there were more turndowns, more
rejections from the House and the Senate than there were acceptances.
Why didnít the Senators and the Congressmen want to join?
MURPHY: Well, I think largely because Speaker Rayburn didnít think he
HESS: What did he have against it?
MURPHY: Well, I think thereís a tendency on the part of congressional
leaders to think that they are the leaders of the Democratic Party
when they donít have a Democratic President in the White House. They have
much basis for this. I donít quarrel with them about this.
Lyndon Johnson was invited to join at the same time that Speaker Rayburn
was, and my recollection is that he responded tentatively, but somewhat
favorably at the outset, and after he conferred with Mr. Rayburn he decided
not to do it.
I suppose it was fairly clear then that one of the main purposes of the
Advisory Council was, if I might oversimplify it a little bit, to keep
the Democratic Party liberal. By and large, the liberal elements in the
Party were not as heavily represented among the Democrats in Congress as the
conservative elements; and by and large, it was true then, at any
rate, and I think itís true now, that if the Democrats propose to elect
a President, that they have to do it mainly in the northern and western
part of the country, where what we call the liberal votes are important.
So this was one of the purposes of the Council and would not, for that
reason, be greeted with unrestrained enthusiasm by all the Democratic
leaders in Congress. And if youíll check the Democratic members of Congress
who accepted invitations and became members of the Council, I expect youíll
find pretty uniformly that they were liberal Democrats.
HESS: Hubert Humphrey for one.
MURPHY: Jack Kennedy, as I recall.
HESS: Iíve got a question on that. Mr. Kennedy did not join until 1960,
and in the book on this, Politics Without Power: The National
Committees, by Cornelius P. Cotter and Bernard C. Hennessy, Atherton
Press, 1964, they say that Mr. Kennedy joined in 1960 only with the approaching
presidential contest and that the Kennedy strategists felt a need for
a liberal image. What would you say about that?
MURPHY: I have nothing to add or subtract.
HESS: Do you think that Kennedy would have reacted in such a way--for
MURPHY: I donít know that I would use the word expedient. It seems to
me it was perfectly--if thatís what he did--a perfectly permissible...
HESS: He joined sort of late, though?
MURPHY: I donít see anything wrong with that. Better late than never.
HESS: Just as long as he joined. All right. If some of the other more
members had joined, would that have put a crimp
in the style of the Democratic Advisory Council? Could they have issued
liberal, substantive statements , if they had the conservative Senators
and Congressmen on?
MURPHY: Well, thatís something weíll never know. Thatís a little bit
like what would have happened if Russia had accepted an invitation to
come in to the Marshall plan.
HESS: We just donít know.
MURPHY: We just donít know.
HESS: Do you think that a widely representative group could be created:
liberals, conservatives, northerners, southerners, congressional leaders,
and party leaders?
MURPHY: I suppose the answer to that would be yes, although asking me
what I thought that long
ago is kind of aÖyes.
HESS: Sort of long after the date, isnít it? Anything else come to mind
on the Democratic Advisory Council?
MURPHY: Well, yes. There was, as long as President Truman stayed on it,
this was something that he and Speaker Rayburn did not agree about, and
I think fairly regularly if the subject came up, Mr. Rayburn would tell
him he thought he ought to get off of it, and fairly regularly President
Truman would decide not to get off of it. And I am satisfied that he stayed
on the Council because he thought the Democratic Party ought to be kept
liberal, and this was his contribution to doing that. He was, in terms
of personalities, far more compatible with Speaker Rayburn and Lyndon
Johnson than he was with most of the members of the Democratic Advisory
Council. In fact
he never looked very comfortable at the meetings. I think
he thought this was his duty and he did it.
HESS: Tell me about the meetings. Did you attend the meetings, too?
HESS: Were they held over there at the La Salle Building on the 11th
floor? The corner room on the 11th floor?
HESS: Do you recall any particular meeting, any thing stand out about
any of the meetings?
MURPHY: I donít know that I do particularly. Have you seen this room,
by the way?
HESS: Yes, thatís where Charles Tyrolerís office is.
MURPHY: Charles Tyroler. We got Charles Tyroler as the executive director...
HESS: Thatís where Philleo Nash had an office for a while.
MURPHY: And Charles Tyroler was discovered and suggested to us by Tom
Finletter, who had known him over in the Pentagon.
They had this great big L-shaped table over there, and the general pattern
of the meetings, as I recall, was that those of us who were on the staff
and the administrative committee, would try ahead of time to get something
in the nature of a working draft of the things that we thought the Council
might wish to say. Then we would have meetings and the Council would meet,
and you would have some discussions, and after the discussions, then you
would have a drafting staff group, who would go off and undertake to revise their
working draft to make it conform with what the Council had indicated
it wished to say. By and large, the members of the Council were quite
tolerant as to language. We did not have a great deal of trouble with
them about specific words, and he had more trouble, I guess, with Governor
Stevenson than anyone else. Of course, he was quite an artist and a craftsman,
and I suppose the quality of our work was not up to his usual standards.
HESS: Did he try to rewrite everything?
MURPHY: No, that would be going too far, but he tried to rewrite a good
many things. He was sometimes not as prompt in giving his reaction as
some of the other members were.
The Council also had some committees. They had one, as I recall, that
generally speaking was concerned with matters of foreign policy, chaired
by Dean Acheson, and one concerned with
matters of domestic policy, chaired
by Ken [J. Kenneth] Galbraith. They were both very able persons.
These committees were made up, generally speaking, of people whom you
generally would regard as experts, some college professors, people of
that kind, including one whom I remember particularly who was very helpful,
Paul Nitze, who helped quite a lot with the drafting. Ken Galbraith did
right much of the drafting from time to time. Dean Acheson, Iím sure,
did some drafting.
Dean has always been a hard worker. A lot of people when it comes time
to write, they disappear, but Acheson never disappeared when it was time
HESS: What were the duties of Charles Tyroler?
MURPHY: The normal duties of an executive director of an operation of
this kind. To provide for
space and facilities and staff and stationery,
to make the physical arrangements for the meeting, to get the mail flowing
in and out and to see that somebody did the work that needed to be done.
He did an extremely good job at it, by the way.
HESS: We have several other questions. How is your calendar? Are you
pressed for other things for today?
MURPHY: No, we can go ahead for a while.
HESS: Fine. After the period of the Truman administration, Mr. Matthew
J. Connelly experienced some difficulties. What do you recall about that?
MURPHY: Well, one, I think itís one of the worst cases of political persecution
that I ever heard of. It appears to me that the Eisenhower administration,
at least the Attorney General,
came into office with the purpose of doing
everything he possibly could do to discover and make some kind of case
of wrongdoing against the Truman administration. Sometimes I wondered
if they actually believed all the stories that were circulating about
the dishonesty in the Truman administration. I couldnít during the election
think that anyone behaved the way they did later, unless they themselves
were prostituting the political process very badly, which is what Iím
inclined to think they were doing, as a matter of fact.
They convened a grand jury in St. Louis. I have never known what they
were looking for mainly. in this, I think they discovered something that
they hadnít been aware of, and that was the business about Matt Connelly
and [Theron] Lamar Caudle and some businessman in St. Louis who had some
problem. They then managed to get an indictment against Lamar
Matt Connelly for, as I recall, "depriving the United States of their
best services." I think thatís what they indicted them for.
I think that Matt was indiscreet and Lamar was stupid. I donít think
that either one of them was venal; I donít think that either of them should
have been indicted. I knew something about the Caudle business because
I had been into it earlier and at that time, I thought it was appropriate
for the President to ask for his resignation, which he did, by the way,
and it was a little slow coming in and so the President announced his
resignation before he got it. Do you have this story?
MURPHY: Well, this happened: The Ways and Means Committee, or a Subcommittee
of Ways and Means,
was conducting an investigation and they ran into some
of this business about Lamar Caudle and they agreed that the counsel of
that committee should call me and tell me about .it and invite me to come
up and read the transcript. Well, this call came, just as I was getting
on a plane to go to Key West with President Truman, so I could not go.
And I asked David Stowe to go read it, if my memory serves me right. Dave
went and read it and called me up and told me at some length what he had
found, and it seemed to me that these things that Lamar Caudle had done
were really not very bad, but they were stupid; he should have had better
sense, and it was the kind of thing that in my judgment didnít deserve
peremptory firing, but he ought to leave, he should be given a chance
to resign. I reported this at some length to the President and told him
that that was my recommendation, and
he said, "All right, call Howard
McGrath and tell him we want Lamar to resign."
So I tried to call McGrath on the phone and I couldnít get him, and I
got the number two man in the Department, at that time I think he was
called The Assistant to the Attorney General, Peyton Ford. Itís
the job that would be Deputy Attorney General now. And I told him that
the President wanted Lamarís resignation and wanted it right away, and
told him why. Well, this came as a surprise, and I suppose something of
a shock. Well, he at that point managed to find the Attorney General,
and the Attorney General didnít agree with this decision apparently, so
about a day later we got a call back to Key West wanting to argue about
this, and the President said, "No, tell him I want his resignation."
It didnít come that day, and I think the next day he had a press conference
in Key West and
he announced Lamar Caudleís resignation over there, before
it was received. It had been written and was in the mail by that time.
Now, another incidental story. My present senior partner in this law
firm, Graham Morison had been an Assistant Attorney General in the Truman
administration, and had resigned some months before the end of the administration
in the summer of 1952, as I recall. In 1953, it must have been, when this
grand jury was sitting in St. Louis, we were subpoenaed to come out there
and testify at the same time, and we went together.
It happened that on the day we were there, President Truman was in St.
Louis to address an annual convention of the Communication Workers of
America and they had a big hotel suite for him. He left at the end of
the day to go home and left this suite for overnight. These Communication
Workers said, "Weíve got this
suite for President Truman, why donít
you and your partner stay in it tonight?" And we did. Great big suite,
two bedrooms, he had one bedroom and I had the other. When we started
to leave the hotel room the next morning, Graham and I went by the cashier
just to make sure that everything was in order and they looked at it,
"Complimentary, that is fine, go ahead. No wait, hereís one telephone
call, ten cents."
So I reached in my pocket to get a dime to give them for the phone call
and Graham Morison said, "Wait a minute Charlie, letís find out who
made that call."
I said, "No, letís give them the dime and go ahead."
This is about all that occurs to me to say. The rest of what happened,
I think, is pretty well on the public record about the trial and Connelly
HESS: Do you think Herbert Brownell, the Attorney General, could have
conducted such a campaign without the knowledge of the President?
MURPHY: No. And incidentally, I think something else that Brownell did,
which is at least as bad and maybe worse, was his accusation against President
Truman about Harry Dexter White.
HESS: Were you in on the decision as to whether or not President Truman
MURPHY: When you say appear, you mean appear and testify?
MURPHY: Yes, I was in a fashion.
HESS: Tell me about it.
MURPHY: As well as I can remember. He was in New York City and I went
up there. He was
working with Sam Rosenman and I think the legal research
had been done and he, with the legal advice of Sam Rosenman, had decided
not to appear in response to this subpoena, I guess, from the House Un-American
Activities Committee and the chairman of the committee at that time was
a Congressman from Illinois whose name started with a "V." [Harry
H. Velde] At any rate, the question arose naturally as to how was
the response to be made. So I ended up with a letter from President Truman
saying that he would not appear and testify and the letter was given to
me to bring back to Washington, and to decide whether or not to deliver
it after I got here. I took that letter and I went to see a then Congressman
from Pennsylvania, "Tad" [Francis E. ] Walter. His nickname
was Tad. I had always thought of him as quite a conservative Congressman,
and much to my surprise when I got to his office
here was a great big
picture of President Truman on the wall. I found out he was a great admirer
of President Truman. Well, he was a senior Democratic member of the House
Un-American Activities Committee. So at this point I sought and got his
advice on the subject, and my recollection is that on the basis of his
advice I decided not to deliver the letter. I donít think it was
ever delivered, but I had it in my pocket, a letter from President Truman
saying that he would not respond to the subpoena.
I think that Walter took me around to see this other Congressman who
was chairman of the committee, as I recall, and we had a talk about it,
and he decided that he would withdraw his subpoena, or not press it. I
expect you can check the record and find about this, but Iím clear in
my recollection that I had this letter in my pocket. Iím not
clear about what happened up there, but my recollection, such as it is,
is that I went to see Tad Walter, he took me to see this man, and he decided
that he would withdraw the subpoena, and he was somewhat amused and not
too unpleasant about it, as a matter of fact (the man who was chairman
of the committee).
HESS: It might have been a good way for him to get out of it.
MURPHY: The other aspect of this was President Trumanís speech. You remember
he did make a speech on the subject. I helped some in the preparation
of that speech.
HESS: Do you recall if Sam Rosenman helped write it too?
MURPHY: I donít. Marx Leva helped and Henry Fowler helped. I remember
working on it in
their law office. They were together in a law firm at
that time. That's where the staff work on this was done mainly. Marx had
worked with us on the White House staff right much in preparation of speeches
and messages having to do with National Defense matters. He was a very
HESS: Do you recall what speeches he may have helped on, what times he
may have come in to help?
MURPHY: In a general way, yes. We had during the period that I was Special
Counsel, from 1950 to 1953, particularly, well, I guess after the Korean
war started, which would have been in the summer of 1950. We had designated
liaison people from the Department of Defense and the Department of State
who worked with my staff group regularly, and during the first part of
this period, the man from the Department of
Defense was Marx Leva, who
was then an Assistant Secretary, as I recall. Then he left the Government
and the man who was designated for this was Frank Nash; and from the Department
of State, part of the time, we had Paul Nitze and then later, I guess,
we had Marshall Shulman.
So the speeches, particularly during the fall of 1950, the speeches and
messages to Congress having to do with the Defense posture and the Korean
war and the military establishment, Marx Leva would have worked with us
on those speeches.
You may recall that earlier than that there was the budget ceiling on
the Defense expenditures, about fourteen billion dollars, and Iíve always
thought that Jim [James E. ] Webb was primarily responsible for this,
although Louis Johnson got most of the blame.
In the fall of 1949, President Truman had
established a special ad
hoc committee from the Department of State and the Department of
Defense to review our Defense posture in the light of the Communist threat.
They produced a paper and I knew nothing about it at the time, but President
Truman, gave me a copy of this paper, it must have been in the very early
spring of 1950, and it was--well, I was working real hard in those days
and I didnít have time to read that paper at the office that day, but
I took it home with me and I read it at home that night. Well, after I
read that paper once, I didnít have time to go to the office the next
day. I stayed at home all day and read that paper over and over again,
and it seemed to me to establish an altogether convincing case that we
had to spend more on defense, that we had to strengthen our defense
posture very markedly.
I didnít purport then, or since, to be an
expert in this field, but this
seemed to me to be very plain, and the question then was, "What do
you do next?" I went back to the President and recommended to him
that this paper be referred to the National Security Council and put in
the National Security Council staff machinery. That was done. It became
NSC 68. I also recommended to him that for this purpose that he ask Leon
Keyserling, who was then the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers,
to sit with and serve as a member of what was called the senior staff
of NSC because the reason that had been given for the cutback in defense
expenditures was that if we spent more than that on defense it would destroy
the economy. So I thought that if we were going to talk about and make
decisions on the basis of what would destroy the economy we ought to have
the Presidentís Economic Adviser in there, and so Leon Keyserling attended these
meetings. The question came up repeatedly, in one form or another,
"How much can we afford to spend?" And in one form or another
Leonís answer always was, "I donít know, but you havenít reached
it yet." He always said, "You can afford to spend more on defense
if you need to."
This, in the late spring of 1950, we, in this operation--this is the
only time I suppose that I ever went regularly to the meetings of the
NSC staff, but we were trying to find out through this machinery, using
all the Presidentís advisers and the departments, what was the best thing
to do about our defense posture. We came, I think, to a firm judgment
that our course ought to be sharply changed from what it had been. And
so the next question in 1950, in June, when the North Koreans invaded
South Korea, and from then on we explained it in terms of the Korean problem,
which I think was permissible. It got kind of muddied, but we had in mind,
I think, a clear belief that the general necessities, so far as defense
was concerned, required a large increase in our defense strength as well
as the Korean fighting. So I expect youíll find in presidential documents
all during that period, sort of an effort to explain this in a two-fold
fashion, maybe with particular emphasis on the Korean part of it.
Now, one of the things that grew out of this was a recommendation to
Congress and a message to Congress from the President asking for funds
to increase our military strength and military establishment. This was
an extremely important message. We had by that time developed a practice
of working on messages that when departments had a real critical interest
in the matter we were working on, we would give them an opportunity to
at most of the drafting sessions, and this one got to be
the largest group I ever had, and it got to the point that every time
I wanted to open up my paper I had to have fourteen people sitting around
the table. So we finally got most of it done, except for one thing, and
we needed a number to put in, a number of dollars that the President was
asking Congress to appropriate, and I could not get an answer from the
Department of Defense. General Marshall was then Secretary, and I couldnít
wait any longer, so I heard people talking about different numbers and
I took the biggest number that I had heard anybody mention and I wrote
it in. Then we started circulating the draft for clearance.
HESS: Trying to give yourself a little leeway.
MURPHY: When General Marshall got this draft with the number in there,
he was somewhat put out about it, but at any rate, I got my number...
HESS: Did he lower that number?
MURPHY: I don't have a clear recollection, but I don't much think so.
I think the number stood, but you asked--what made me think of this--you
asked what would Marx Leva have helped us on, he would have helped on
HESS: As you mentioned, Louis Johnson got most of the blame for the cutback,
but you said that James Webb had a hand in that, too, is that right?
MURPHY: Yes, he was the Director of the Budget.
HESS: Do you think he was the leader of the group that was trying to
cut back military spending at that time?
MURPHY: I do.
HESS: What makes you think so?
MURPHY: I was there, I heard him.
HESS: What was Louis' Johnson's attitude?
MURPHY: My impression and recollection is that he was carrying out orders
in this regard as best he could. This is what the President told him he
had to do, and he tried to do it. Louis Johnson had many faults, but in
this matter I think this is what he was doing. I think he was doing his
best to carry out the President's orders, and to explain them and justify them.
HESS: But most of the advice at that time for holding down military spending
was coming from Jim Webb? Some of the advice.
MURPHY: Well, I suppose it was coming from a lot of places, but my clear
recollection there is that he was the leader, and an effective man. Jim's
a very effective person. And he was the
Director of the Budget, and when
the Director of the Budget tells the President, "This is all the
money you can afford to spend," this is pretty powerful stuff.
HESS: What was his main argument?
MURPHY: "If you spend more than this it will ruin the economy. This
is all the economy can stand," which I didnít believe then--well,
frankly I didnít pay a great deal of--you know, I wasnít very heavily
involved in this, as a matter of fact, until we got this paper
that got to be NSC-68, and then I began to wonder. I had been hearing
that 14 billion dollars is all you can spend. If you spend more than this
it will wreck the economy, and I thought the people that were saying this
knew more about the economy than I did, and it didnít occur to me to question
it seriously until I got this paper. Then I began studying the subject,
and after that I began to be very doubtful that this was all the money
you could spend.
HESS: Did you say that NSC-68 was written by that ad hoc committee
in the fall of Ď49?
MURPHY: Yes, I think thatís what I said, and generally speaking this
is true. My recollection is that this is the same paper. It may be that
NSC-68 is a paper that came out of the NSC after all the processing was
done. But if this paper was not NSC-68 it was the basic document for it
from which the NSC exercise took off. This document was then referred
to the National Security Council and started then as NSC-68 exercise.
HESS: As one who has worked for several Presidents and has had ample
opportunity to observe the Presidency as an institution, do you think
that there are any changes that might be made
in the institution of the Presidency?
MURPHY: Well, I would not make any basic or fundamental changes. It has
great difficulties, but I don't know of anything else that wouldn't be
likely to work less or work more poorly.
HESS: Are there any things that demand too much of a President's time
that might be cut off? Too much ceremony? Send the Vice President out
to make a speech, in other words?
MURPHY: Well, I don't think you can give a clear cut answer to that.
I would say the answer is about 40 percent yes and 60 percent no. Some
of them should be cut off, but you can't just cut them off with one fell
swoop because what makes them meaningful in many cases is that it's the
President, and if it's not the President, it's not the President. You
just can't get around that. That's one of the facts of life. It's
job, it's almost impossible for anybody to handle. I don't know of any
way that you can make it manageable. You can put layer on layer of White
House staff, and what you do, if you're not careful, is to make the President's
job more difficult instead of less difficult, because the principal purpose
of the White House staff ought to be to sort out the layers and sooner
or later you've got to get it down to that one man.
HESS: Do you think the larger White House staffs, as there are now, and
as there have been in the last few years, are not as good a way of running
the White House as it was during the Truman administration?
MURPHY: That's what I think. I think the White House staff, as an organization
in the Truman administration, was about right. I would have it somewhat
bigger, and when you get right
down to what I mean by somewhat, I would
say about twice as many of professional-level people as President Truman
had. I would have them organized generally along the same lines that he
had them organized. Incidentally, I wrote a memorandum on this in the
fall of 1968.I think some Presidents have had the White House staff over-organized,
and some have had it under-organized, and I think President Truman had
it just about right.
HESS: Who had it under-organized?
MURPHY: I think Roosevelt did, I think Kennedy did. I guess I would say
the Johnson staff was under-organized; there was more than enough of it.
In terms of an orderly operation, I think the Eisenhower staff was over-organized.
HESS: Do you think that was a reflection of the Generalís military training?
MURPHY: I would guess so. And Iím inclined to think that from what I
read in the paper, that the present White House staff is somewhat over-organized.
Although on the whole I think they have a pretty good approach to this.
Itís a terrible problem. I have the greatest sympathy for anybody that
has to try to deal with it.
HESS: I expect anybody who has been over there has sympathy for them.
MURPHY: Yes, and one way, I guess, that they still meet it. One way we
met it in the Truman days, those of us in the little key group worked
seven days a week and about twelve hours a day. I donít recommend that
to people as a way of life over a long period of time.
HESS: What in your opinion were Mr. Trumanís major contributions during
MURPHY: Oh, I donít know. Other people have done
this much more extensively,
and undoubtedly better than I. I guess I just wouldnít answer that question
at least without considerable reflection, and I havenít been thinking
in those terms particularly. I do think his accomplishments in
the foreign policy field are greater than in the domestic field.
HESS: Why did he have more success in the foreign field than he did in
the domestic one?
MURPHY: Well, I suggested in this talk that I made out at the Truman
Library three years ago, that I thought this perhaps was because he was
his own chief staff man in the foreign policy field. I looked around the
White House to see who I would think of as his chief staff man in the
foreign policy field and I decided he was it.
HESS: Where would you place Mr. Truman on the
scale from a liberal to
a conservative, to use two terms that a lot of people donít like to use.
MURPHY: Oh, I would place him on the scale somewhat to the left of the
center, a moderate liberal, and a convinced liberal, I might say. I donít
like to use the word dedicated because so many people have used that about
other liberals, I donít think he was a professional or a professing liberal
particularly. I think he is much more congenial on the average with people
who are conservatives; but in terms of his public policies, I think he
thought, and in the spectrum as it existed then, that the policies of
the liberals were right, by and large. He didnít go all the
way with them on all questions.
He had his years of experience in the Senate, you see. He was up there for ten
years, and dealt, as Senators do, with this whole range of issues.
Heís a smart man; heís got an awful lot of sense, and he understands whatís
going on, and when he went to the White House he understood these issues,
particularly the domestic side. He hadnít had a great deal of exposure
to foreign policy issues, and he was a liberal in the Senate and had the
same views when he came down here. I think the spectrum has shifted some
since then, at least it appears to me that way. I would expect his views
now would be about what they were when he was in the White House. I expect
this would place him a little nearer the center now, the center of what
we have now than what we had then.
HESS: We have already discussed a few of the Presidents of the past few
years, but how would you rate the Presidents of the recent years,
Roosevelt to the present, in terms of their effectiveness, their administrative
ability, their intellectual ability and as men?
MURPHY: Oh, well, I don't know. As a man, I'd rate President Truman tops.
Roosevelt, I did not know personally, although I was here in Washington
during most of his Presidency and in a job where it was my business to
keep up with what was going on in the Government and what he was doing.
I suppose in terms of intellectual ability I would rate him very high,
maybe tops. What were your other questions: Administrative ability--I'd
rate President Truman tops in administrative ability.
HESS: How would you rate President Kennedy on administrative ability
and intellectual ability?
MURPHY: I'd rate him pretty high in intellectual
ability, and not particularly
high in administrative ability.
HESS: How would you rate General Eisenhower on administrative ability,
HESS: How about our present man?
MURPHY: Well, kind of low medium, I guess.
I saw General Eisenhower--well,
I met him a number of times, but the only time I ever had an opportunity
to listen to him at any length was in the spring of 1968. President Johnson
went to Hawaii and took me out there with him, and on the way back stopped
at Edwards Air Force Base and President Eisenhower came up and had breakfast
with him. During the breakfast discussion President Johnson had six or
eight members of his staff who were with him sit in and listen. Some of
of the staff, I think, participated in the discussion to some
extent, although I did not.
I was, I would say, greatly surprised at General Eisenhower, the ability
with which he spoke, the cogency of what he said, and the way he had his
sentences organized. It was not the impression that I had had in my mind
all these years at all. And I thought that what he said made real good
sense and I thought he had it well arranged, and he handled it with some
finesse, I would say, which I think was required under the circumstances.
Talking to an incumbent President and giving him advice, I think you have
to be kind of careful to say enough and not say too much. I just thought
he did a remarkable job. So, I would rate him higher now than I would
have if you had asked me that question in 1967.
HESS: Whatís your estimation of Mr. Trumanís place
in history, one or
two hundred years from now, if the world lasts, how will Mr. Truman be
MURPHY: I think his place in history is well established, and I think
itís a rather high place in history. I think that among other things,
much constructive work has been done to accomplish this since the end
of his term. I think heís done quite a lot of it, and I think his place
in history looks much higher now than it did in the fall of 1952, and
even in 1953.
HESS: Can you give me an example of what you see that he has done that
will raise his estimation in history?
MURPHY: Oh, I think his Memoirs have helped; I think his speeches
have helped; I think his general attitude has helped; and among other
things, I think he just flat refused to go off and sulk in the corner
and accept a verdict that was an adverse verdict which might very well
have been rendered if the final verdict had been rendered at the time
he left the White House, the fall of 1952. People were saying some awfully
bad things about him in Ď51 and Ď52.
HESS: Do you have anything else to add on Mr. Truman and the Truman administration?
MURPHY: I donít think of anything right now, but I expect if you kept
asking me questions I could keep talking forever.
HESS: We may be back.
MURPHY: All right.
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