Oral History Interview with
Director of the Research Division of the Democratic National Committee for the 1948 presidential campaign.
William L. Batt, Jr.
July 26, 1966 and July 27, 1966
by Jerry N. Hess
[Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]
This is a transcript of a tape-recorded interview conducted for the Harry S. Truman Library. A draft of this transcript was edited by the interviewee but only minor emendations were made; therefore, the reader should remember that this is essentially a transcript of the spoken, rather than the written word.
Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. ) 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 It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.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 November, 1966
Harry S. Truman Library
[Top of the Page | Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]
Oral History Interview with
William L. Batt, Jr.
July 26, 1966
by Jerry N. Hess
HESS: Mr. Batt, we are interested in your association with Mr. Truman, and with the Truman administration. What was that association and when did it begin?
BATT: It began when the planning for the Truman campaign was underway. You may have heard of a small planning group made up of a number of Cabinet and sub-Cabinet members of the Truman administration who were concerned about the President's re-election well before the campaign began. You've got a reference to this? In this group were Mr. Ewing, who was then administrator of what is now HEW; Charlie Brannan, who was then Under Secretary of Agriculture; Charlie Murphy; Clark Clifford; George Elsey; Dave Bell on the
White House staff (I think Dave was one of the group; I'm not sure; very active in the group were Leon Keyserling, who was then with the Council of Economic Advisers; Dave Morse, who was then Under Secretary of Labor; and "Jebby" Davidson, then Assistant Secretary of the Interior.
Now, these are the names, which particularly come back to me and were the most active members. And they were doing a kind of "Kitchen Cabinet" job of planning the President's campaign for re-election way before the convention, way before any of the formal activities, back at the beginning of that eventful year of 1948.
HESS: Just about when did they get underway?
BATT: It must have been very early in the year, either the end of '47 or January of '48. Their informal method of planning was around a weekly dinner, Wednesday night, I believe, in Jack Ewing's apartment at the Wardman Park Hotel. This group became concerned about the fact that they had very little continuing staff work going on to support their efforts, and very little staff at the national committee or anywhere else. They were all caught up in the business of Government, and there were very few people working on an advance look at the campaign.
So they were casting around, I gather, for somebody to set up a little shop to do some of this backstop work for their efforts. I had known Dave Morse during the war and during a campaign I ran for Congress, unsuccessfully, back in '46, outside Philadelphia. I think it was Dave Morse who suggested my name as someone who might be able to organize a little "think" group and writing group. I was in business at the time in Philadelphia and delighted at an opportunity to get back associated with the administration and with Government. I hadn't been in the Government since before the war. I'd wanted to be outside so I could run for Congress and be active in the community. So they asked me to come down and think about the possibility of heading this up. I didn't have to give it much thought. It was so much more interesting than what I was doing at the time.
Then Clark Clifford took me up and talked over the idea with the then chairman, Senator McGrath, of the national committee, because their hope was that the national committee -- we discussed the pros and cons of setting up this little group in the national committee or in the White House and they thought that in the
national committee there would be much more freedom of action. So we set it up in the national committee. They asked me to go up in a back room and work up a budget, which I did and it came to about eighty thousand dollars, if I remember correctly, to run an operation of the size they wanted for the nine months between then and the election day. This was approved then by Mr. McGrath and we set about looking for space and people. We found a little office space (they didn't have any space in the national committee building, which was then the Ring Building). We found some space up on Dupont Circle. The only trouble with it was that they were digging the underpass that year, and it was miserably noisy, but we took it.
Then we looked for staff.
HESS: In looking for staff what kind of people were you after?
BATT: We were looking for generalists. We were looking for exceedingly knowledgeable guys who knew the issues before the country and who were also good at research and were good at writing. Fortunately, through my association with both the American Veterans Committee, which I was on the national board of, and my association with the Americans for Democratic Action,
which I was also on the National Board of, and chairman in Philadelphia of both of these organizations, I had known Kenny Birkhead. Ken was one of the first people to come on board, and we needed a good journalistic type. He knew of a fellow named Frank Kelly, who he knew was just leaving the Associated Press and was going to start writing a book, so we persuaded him, Mr. Kelly, to come with us. He's now vice president of the Fund for the Republic. He later became Scott Lucas' administrative assistant on the Hill. He was an exceedingly talented writer.
Dr. (Johannes) Hoeber I had known in Philadelphia in organizing ADA, and he worked on my campaign. Later he joined Mayor Clark's reform government in Philadelphia as Assistant Welfare Director.
Dave Lloyd I knew was an exceedingly talented lawyer here in town and I persuaded him to come on board. He later went on the White House staff.
Phil Dreyer I had known, I believe, through AVC. He was from the Pacific Northwest, knowledgeable and active in natural resources matters. He is now in
business and Democratic County Chairman in San Bernardino, California.
Then our junior partner was John Barriere, who is now the assistant to the Speaker of the House, who was an exceedingly bright, Ph.D. candidate from the University of Chicago, who was here on some kind of a research grant and was recommended to me by Joe McMurray of the Senate Banking and Currency Committee.
So, we assembled a staff, and these all, of course, had to be people who could come in a hurry because we didn't have any long lead time.
HESS: What were the main things that the Research Division was expected to do? Just what was the job?
BATT: Well, the first thing we were asked to do, was to put together in a format which could be used both for the present speechwriters and for candidates around the country, what we call the "File of the Facts," which every campaign has had -- essentially boiling down the problems the country faced; the accomplishments of the Truman Administration to meet those problems, and anything we could dig up on the opposition in relation to these particular issues.
It was all issues-oriented; the President wanted the campaign to be issue-oriented. So this obviously broke down into the farm problems; the foreign affairs problems; and the problems of veterans; the problems of housing; the problems of price control -- these were the big issues in '48 -- of prosperity; the same issues on which the election was later fought.
Then we assigned each member of the staff, myself included, an area of work. Then we set about putting together these "Files of the Facts" and then exchanging manuscripts and editing each other; and then we duplicated these and put them together and they became, and I've still got a set, if the Library would like them -- I don't know, do they have one?
HESS: Yes six, we have a set.
BATT: Good. And then these became something which we drew in our speechwriting efforts and all of the other speechwriters drew on in a handy reference of the principal statements that President Truman had made on these issues and the key votes in the House, lining up generally the Democrats against the Republicans; showing the positions of the two parties. I'd say it was a piece of selective
research and it was not objective research because we frankly weren't objective. We were trying to prove a point and argue a case, and that was that the country would be far better served if the President's policies were continued.
HESS: On the subject of speechwriting, just how were the speeches written?
BATT: This is interesting because when it came time to get into the speechwriting, the major speeches were written in the White House. If my memory serves me, Charlie Murphy was in charge of those, and had several people around the administration helping on preparing first drafts of those speeches. We took on the job of first drafting the back platform speeches. Now the back platform speeches were great fun to do. They were brief. The President wanted to get in some local color, and he wanted to get in a national issue which was meaningful in that community and he wanted to get in in short form the position of the Democrats and the position of the Republicans, as evidenced by their votes in Congress. This generally was the framework we used; Now, how do you get local color about Mt. Ida, Arkansas?
Well, we did it through the WPA Guide, which was our secret weapon, and we got a complete set out of the Library of Congress. The WPA Guides are a gold mine about every community of any size in the United States as you know. Also the President himself from his Truman Committee travels had a vast compendium of odd, assorted knowledge. He was a bug on history anyway, and on many of these communities themselves. Between the WPA Guides and Harry Truman, there was an amazing collection of local background, so when he went into James Whitcomb Riley's hometown, he was quoting from Riley's poetry about the old swimming hole. I remember talking to newspaper men later who traveled on both the Republican and Democratic trains and were impressed by the fact that the President had something to say in each place and also had taken some trouble to brief himself on each area, while Dewey's speeches all came out alike. It was the same speech. He used a set speech the way some people do. I think that certainly one of the things that helped the President was this WPA Guide business.
Then on every community he went to, we had a folder made up, and we had a quick sketch of the town;
and the history of the town; and the geography of the town; and the sociology of the town, which we pirated out of the WPA Guide. The political background was supplied by the national committee people in the Ring Building -- "On the State here are the key leaders, here's the national committeeman, the national committeewoman, here's the important people and here's the political breakdown." We never saw that. Then a draft of the speech was in the same folder, so if he had twelve communities to hit in one day, and he often did, he could brief himself on those the night before or on the trip when he wasn't talking to local "nabobs" on the train.
George Elsey, then, was on the train, and he took that material and very often reworked those back platform speeches. We noticed from studying final drafts that he did a lot of rewriting at the beginning and towards the end of the trip when everybody got more exhausted, our drafts were coming out with fewer changes. Either that or the President liked them better and didn't want George to change as much. At any case, George, as I understand it, worked in a cubicle on the train on the back platform stuff essentially,
and Dave Bell worked on the major speeches based on material which had been provided from the White House by Charles Murphy and his crew around the Administration.
All the Washington material was sent out twenty-four hours ahead by the White House air courier system to the train.
HESS: Did any of the members of the Research Division work on drafts of major speeches?
BATT: Not as a rule. Dave Lloyd might have on occasion. I worked up the first draft of the acceptance speech at the convention, but that was simply because nobody else was doing it and I suggested to Clifford one day about three weeks before the convention, "Is anybody drafting the President's acceptance speech?"
He said, "No, do you want to take a crack at it?"
I said, "Sure," So I went home that night and started to work up a draft on the acceptance speech. Very little of which survived.
HESS: On that subject, do you know who proposed the calling
of the Turnip Day Session?
BATT: Yes, we think we did.
HESS: You think you did? Tell me about it.
BATT: Well, I'd be curious to know what other theories you've got.
HESS: Oh, there are several.
BATT: We had staff meetings every day. The President was getting smitten hip and thigh at this time by the 80th Congress. Then the Republican convention came along and passed a very pious platform advocating many of the things that Truman had advocated and all of which the Republicans in Congress had voted against. We were cogitating how in the world to dramatize this fact. It was just before one of these Wednesday night dinners and we had a staff meeting. We were kicking this around...
HESS: The White House staff?
BATT: No, no. This is our own staff at the National Committee Research Division. We concluded that one way in which this could be dramatized would be for the
President to call Congress back and ask them to do what the Republican convention had endorsed.
HESS: Just about when was this, do you remember?
BATT: It was between the Republican convention and the Democratic convention, and it was also, of course, at the time I was working at Clark's request, on the draft for the President's acceptance speech. So we went up that Wednesday night and I made the best case I felt I could make advocating the callback of the Congress to this little "Kitchen Cabinet". I was voted down.
HESS: Who voted you down?
BATT: The group didn't accept the idea. I don't know. Nothing was formal. I didn't sell the idea. You know, when you try to sell an idea and you don't.
HESS: Do you remember who said anything against it?
BATT: No, I cannot reconstruct that evening for the life of me, but I know that I came back the next morning rather sheepishly and reported to my gang that I'd made the best case I could, that there was some support for it,
but that on balance it had been voted down. It might conceivably have been Jack Ewing, but that's only a hunch, and I say that simply because Jack was perhaps a little more conservative than many of us, and sometimes on the "be careful" side of these arguments. But then, my gang said, "It's too good an idea to drop. You cannot quit fighting. It's a beauty." So, I remember then asking Clark Clifford for either an appointment or...I think -- I talked to Clark on the telephone and said "We want to pursue this idea; we think it's too darn good."
And then he said, I think, "Put it in a memorandum."
So, I'm not sure whether we put it in a memorandum or not, but I went down and argued the case again with Clark and then heard no more of it until the President came up at two o'clock in the morning or whatever it was and announced the Turnip Day session in the convention. But Clark was far more receptive to the idea that next day than the group had been, of which Clark was probably a member the night before. There is a memorandum in the files out in Independence on something, because the fellow who is writing a book about this
campaign came and told me about a memorandum in the files that I had signed. I don't know if it was on this subject or not.
HESS: There is an unsigned memorandum in Samuel Rosenmen's file. I have a Xerox copy of it but unfortunately it's at the National Archives. I don't have it with me now.
BATT: I could tell if I wrote it.
HESS: I'll bring it.
BATT: On this subject?
HESS: On this, yes. On the wisdom of calling a special session. It's an unsigned memorandum.
BATT: Why unsigned?
HESS: I don't know.
BATT: Who is it addressed to?
HESS: That I'm not sure of either.
BATT: If it's not addressed to Clifford -- well, I spent some time with Sam Rosenman during that campaign too.
HESS: I'll see that you get what I have though.
BATT: All right, then I can read it over and I can tell you if it's my language or not.
That ends the story. As far as we were concerned, we argued this case as passionately as we knew, both in this "Kitchen Cabinet" dinner and then the next day, or the next day but one, in Clifford's office at the White House, to Clark personally.
HESS: Do you think he was instrumental...
BATT: Oh, I think Clark, undoubtedly, was the guy who persuaded the President. Clark would know. He'd know. Ask Clark how that came about. He may remember our involvement or he may not. What are the stories you get. I'd be curious...
HESS: Well, there is one story saying that Bernard Baruch had something to do with that. Other people think Samuel Rosenman might have had something to do with that. Also one book I've seen said that the draft of that speech was made by Clark Clifford and Samuel Rosenman, thinking that perhaps there it was.
BATT: The idea was discussed way before the speech was written.
HESS: That's it. We don't know exactly where it came from. I'm saying this is one good thing, this is one little gem that we got today, is when this idea first came up.
BATT: The idea of the special session came before the speech.
HESS: Yes, and this memory of yours, this is the first time that you remember anything being said about the special session?
BATT: Oh, yes, when we had our discussion of it up in that "Kitchen Cabinet," that Wednesday night in Jack Ewing's room, I'm sure that it was the first time, as far as that group was concerned that the subject had been raised, and no reference was made to a previous discussion of it, and you had everybody connected with.
HESS: I should have brought that memo with me today, but I didn't. I'll see that you get that.
BATT: That's all right. Do you have my home address?
HESS: I sure do.
BATT: I must tell you one more thing about the acceptance speech, because it's a lovely one. When I was in Philadelphia, listening to the President, and listening, of course, carefully because I was curious to see if any of my language stayed in, only one idea I had in my draft stayed. This is quite a story. When I paced up and down our little apartment the night when Clark had first given me this assignment, I was asking my wife, who is a very perspicacious young lady, "We've got to give some reason. What reason can the President give for wanting to be re-elected?"
She said, with that gorgeous, deceptive simplicity that women are capable of, "It's all very easy, because we're right and they're wrong."
So, I put that in. "We're going to win because we're right and they're wrong." And out of the entire draft which ran for over fifty minutes, that one sentence is the only thing that stayed.
HESS: And that was your part, was it?
To go back just a minute, I'm interested to know if the Research Division helped in any way on the trip
that was taken by the President in June of 1948, which was sort of a curtain-raiser for the campaign?
BATT: Where did he go?
HESS: He went out to California to accept an honorary degree at the University of California.
BATT: Did he make speeches on the way?
HESS: Yes, he did. It was sort of a prelude to his whistlestop speeches. He went out through, I think, Iowa and up around through Oregon and then down. This was in the first two weeks of June.
BATT: We very possibly may have. I just don't know.
HESS: I didn't know if they had anything at that time or not, or if that was too early?
BATT: Oh, no, we were functioning. Oh, sure, we were functioning before that. The first speech we had anything to do with was the Young Democrat speech which was here at the Mayflower Hotel, which I think was more like May, and it was the first speech in which he had taken a fighting stance -- went off the defensive completely
and went on the offensive. We had first drafted that speech in our office.
HESS: Do you remember what parts of the final speech came through that were parts of your draft?
BATT: No, I don't know. I don't know, but I do know that the whole attitude we had firmly, strongly recommended.
HESS: Wasn't that the time that he said, "There's going to be a Democrat in the White House for the next four years and you're lookin' at him." That's what I was wondering, if you people had come up with that or something.
BATT: We may have. I think Kelly...did Kenny remember that at all?
HESS: No, we didn't hit on this. He wasn't sure exactly when…
BATT: We wrote that speech in our office, I'm sure of it.
HESS: That's the thing, he wasn't sure when the functions of the Research Division got underway.
BATT: We were functioning close to eight months, so we were going strong then. And what sticks in my mind is that that speech was written by Frank Kelly, because that was one hell of a good speech. And he was our best writer.
Second oral history interview with William L. Batt, Washington, D.C., July 27, 1966.
HESS: I just handed Mr. Batt a copy of the unsigned memorandum from the papers of Samuel Rosenman entitled "Should the President Call Congress Back," dated June 29, 198. Does that strike any familiar notes?
BATT: I'll have to study it. This is exactly the points -- these are the points that we made in arguing the case with the "Kitchen Cabinet" and with Clark Clifford. I notice also, that the references are to "we," -- "the answers as we see them," which indicates a collective effort.
HESS: Sounds like a group, definitely.
BATT: It might very well have come out of the Research Division.
HESS: This is one of the puzzles out at the Library. This is one thing we'd like to find out, is who wrote this memo. It's from the papers of Samuel Rosenman, but as you know the way memos and papers get around that doesn't mean that he wrote it. This is the same memorandum that was referred to by R. Alton Lee in his article "The Turnip Session of the Do-Nothing Congress, Presidential Campaign
Strategy," which is an article from the Southwestern Social Science Quarterly of December, 1963.
BATT: It might be of interest to you to...have you interviewed Clark Clifford yet?
HESS: No, no, not yet.
BATT: Well, hang onto this and ask Clark if he recognizes the authorship and if he remembers the discussions we had back and forth both in the Ewing Wednesday night dinner and in his office afterward. This memorandum might have come from our shop to Clark, and it might have been a joint effort of Clark and Sam Rosenman. The "we" is interesting.
HESS: When I left Independence I Xeroxed that copy so I could take it around and show it to everyone who had a hand in the acceptance speech to see just where the idea of the Turnip Session came in and, more particularly, if we could identify the author or authors -- sounds like more than one -- of this particular memo. It's one of the unsolved mysteries of the Truman Library. But we haven't interviewed Mr. Clifford or Mr. Rosenman yet.
BATT: How about Mr. Murphy? Have you asked Mr. Murphy?
HESS: We have had some interviews with him, but this hasn't been touched on.
BATT: He might have a clue, but I'm sure that Clark Clifford is going to be the key to your mystery. If you're seeing Dr. Hoeber later in the day, you might ask him. Did you ask Mr. Birkhead if he...
HESS: No, I didn't. I sure didn't. I was just trying to remember back a couple or three weeks. I think we hit upon this particular subject but not on this memo. We will ask Mr. Clifford, Mr. Rosenman, Mr. Murphy and Dr. Hoeber and see if they recognize it.
BATT: Well, of course, the interesting thing to me -- the exciting thing is, of course, that the President seized on the suggestion and did something about it and I think (I don't know what analysts of the campaign would indicate, but I think it was the high point of the speech in which he took the offensive and got off the defensive.
HESS: Do you think it was an important thing for him to do?
BATT: Yes, I think it was, because after all he didn't run against Dewey and Warren, he ran against the 80th Congress, and this dramatized -- this, it seems to me, was his whole strategy, the awful do-nothing 80th Congress.
HESS: Why was that decision made?
BATT: I don't know, except that it was fairly obvious because the 80th Congress was a known quantity. Its voting record was ghastly and it voted down everything that Truman had proposed, much of which has later become law under the new frontier after a distressing gap of a dozen years. Its record was a known thing. It was personified by Taft, and after all Dewey was a relatively unknown quantity. He was a good governor of New York; Warren was a good governor of California. They didn't have much of a record to run against. You've got to run against something -- so instead of President Truman saying "This program was fine, and this was fine," he could attack the 80th Congress and blame most of the country's problems on the fact that they had not followed his recommendations.
When you talk to Clark Clifford, have Clark explain to you how the State of the Union message in January, in effect, was the first blow of the campaign. The President outlined what he felt the country needed, fully aware that the Congress was going to vote ninety percent of it down, the domestic side particularly. Then the issue presented to the Congress was, "Do you want to go
ahead and meet the country's problems with President Truman, or do you want to be against everything and be generally negative and not meet the country's problems with the 80th Congress." Its record was there, and it was also personified by Taft and some rather less attractive, less glamorous figures in the party.
HESS: Was there a time when this decision was made? Did a group get together and say, "Well, we can't really attack Dewey; we can attack the 80th Congress; so let's do that."
BATT: I don't recall how or when that was made. I'm sure that it was kicked around at length, but I think that what happened was, the President tried it out in an early speech, it might have been the Young Democrat speech. I'd like to see that speech again, but in any case, that speech got a very warm reception and he decided, I think -- it's like one of those things, you try things out and you take the lines that seem to be well received.
HESS: One thing I wanted to bring up just to see what you say. Now, many authors say that the 80th Congress wasn't all that bad, and particularly wasn't all that bad to
Truman, and that Truman will really be known in history for what the 80th Congress passed for him, the Greek-Turkish Aid Bill, the Marshall Plan and things of that nature.
BATT: Oh, the Congress was great on foreign policy, because of the bridges that the President was able to build to Vandenberg, and with the help of the Eastern Republicans, he was able to get a bipartisan coalition going. On foreign policy his record is sensational and this is probably the basis on which most of his reputation will rest. And the 80th Congress did it for him. No doubt about it. But the meat and potato issues in an election are the domestic issues, and on the domestic issues they gave him almost nothing that he asked for, including Medicare, among other more...
HESS: He really turned the campaign into one on domestic issues.
BATT: Domestic issues entirely.
HESS: All right, fine. Let's get back to a couple of the things that we hit upon yesterday. You mentioned the campaign train. Did any members of the Research Division
ever travel on the campaign train?
BATT: Not to my knowledge. Not that we wouldn't have loved to join the train, but George Elsey -- have you interviewed George yet?
HESS: We are in the process of interviewing him.
BATT: George, and David Bell -- was Murphy on the train or back here?
HESS: He went on some of the trips, I understand, but I don't believe the majority of them.
BATT: I think Bell and Elsey and perhaps one or two others were on the train and they did that hard "donkey" work and felt that we were more useful back in the store.
HESS: So members of the Research Division stayed here in Washington, normally?
BATT: Yes, by and large. There might have been an exception. Maybe Dave Lloyd went on a trip towards the end, I'm not sure.
HESS: How was the general liaison between the Research Division and the White House carried on, and between the
Research Division and the members of the White House when they were on the train? Did you do that?
BATT: Yes. Well, we all did it as the demand developed, but by and large we were daily in touch with Charlie Murphy's office, Clark Clifford's office...
HESS: Who did you see in the main, who did you talk to?
BATT: With Murphy, I think probably, personally.
HESS: And then when they were on the train, when Murphy wasn't there.
BATT: Then there must have been somebody back in Murphy's office or associated with Murphy who was providing that link. But we would feed stuff down to the White House office every day, and they would send it out with the White House mail to the train.
HESS: What about your liaison between the Research Division and the regular Democratic National Committee? Just what type of relationship did you have with the Democratic National Committee?
BATT: Well, we had perfectly a cordial relationship whenever we needed help from them or they needed help from us,
but generally speaking, there was very little contact between the two because we didn't need help from them and they didn't need help from us, by and large.
HESS: Did J. Howard McGrath ever come up to the building by Dupont Circle?
HESS: Did you get down to the Ring Building very often?
BATT: Oh, yes. Well, I'd be down to the Ring Building every couple of weeks. Our dealings were very seldom with Chairman McGrath, if ever; but occasionally we'd have some dealings with Jack Redding or with some of the other staff.
HESS: Did you ever hear Chairman McGrath or Jack Redding say anything about how they thought the Research Division was functioning?
HESS: Did you meet Mr., Truman very often during the '48 campaign?
BATT: Oh, no. No, we didn't meet Mr. Truman very often. I believe that two meetings stick in my memory, one was when I was first being interviewed, or had about decided to come and do
this. I believe Clark Clifford took me in to see the President and he chatted with me for a while on what he saw as the utility of a little shop like this, and expressed some pleasure that I was going to come on board.
Then another visit that I recall, was when either Clark or Charlie Murphy arranged for us to come down to one of his broadcasts from the basement of the White House during the campaign. It was a speech that had something to do with the International Ladies Garment Workers -- that sticks in my mind -- and he had invited us to come down and to bring our wives and our secretaries and the staff and afterward, I think, George Elsey got us all to line up in the hall and introduced us all to the President. That was a lovely thing to do in the middle of all that activity, and it meant a lot to the troops, as you can imagine, and to me. Then outside of meeting a train or two, you know, when he'd be back from a trip, we used to get as many people in town as we could to come down and meet the train as a kind of a voluntary effort.
Those were the two meetings with the President that I remember.
HESS: Did you ever get back any reports from the President or about what the President was thinking about the value
of the Research Division?
BATT: My recollection is that Charlie Murphy and George Elsey, in particular, who were working with our material were very complimentary about it and it was quite clear that it came in handy. But the best reports that we got back were the transcripts from the White House on exactly what the President said, and it was quite obvious that he was using the material that we provided and this was the closest thing we got to a report. And he was obviously getting -- we'd read press reports. We got newspapers from all over the country, and we subscribed to about twenty of the best newspapers in the United States and we could see the reaction he was getting and so this was the best kind of report on the utility of the Division.
HESS: Mr. Truman made a decision one time to speak more from outlines and off the cuff. He remarked about that in his Memoirs. Was the Research Division involved in that decision?
BATT: Well, this was a matter of a lot of discussion both in the staff and in the Wednesday night suppers in Ewing's
suite. The President was not an effective public speaker before the campaign began. And he was searching for style which would be most comfortable for him. I think it also had something to do with his eyes, the focusing on a script. He didn't read a script well. Very few people can read a script well. I can't read a script well. So, I recall he was always experimenting with something different and at some point in the proceedings Clifford, and/or Murphy developed this idea of a speech written in the form of an outline where every topic entrance was a complete sentence and it was also a jumping-off point for extemporaneous remarks, and the prepared speech was written this way, and it was typed in oversize type. He used this technique down at the Departmental Auditorium, and I remember the occasion well. I took my wife down there. It was some kind of a meeting, I don't know what the occasion was. It might have been handicapped workers, but I don't think so. It was around about May or June of '48. For the first time he tried this technique of prepared sentences and extemporaneous remarks intermixed, and it went over great. I remember all of us concluding "This is it! He's found it!" This then was the technique that was
used from then on. He could, if he wanted to, stick to everything that was prepared, that he'd worked on, that was prepared for him, or he could take off from it, and he just fit in that like a hand in a glove.
HESS: Do you recall who determined the itinerary for the President's trips in 1948? How were those determined?
BATT: I don't know. I don't know at all. I have a feeling that the national committee had a hand in that. We had nothing to do with it.
HESS: In October of 1948, the President proposed to send Chief Justice Vinson to Moscow but that never did get off the ground.
BATT: I remember that. I remember that and a lot of the discussion on it, but I don't remember the details at all. I don't even remember where the suggestion came from.
HESS: That was my question.
BATT: I don't think it came from our shop. It didn't come from me personally, but whether it might have come from one of our fellows I'm not sure. Did Birkhead have
BATT: I remember the discussion at length, and I remember it was debated pro and con, and it might have been in Ewing's Wednesday night suppers.
HESS: What did you think were the biggest issues in the campaign in '48?
BATT: Well, the issue, of course, that we tried to make -- that the President tried to make -- was the 80th Congress. And I think, as far as the people were concerned, that was the principal issue. In relation to it, the other issues of Medicare or housing or inflation were of perhaps lesser importance.
HESS: How much of a threat did you think that Henry Wallace and his Progressive Party would be to the Democratic chances; the Democratic candidate?
BATT: Well, of course, we were quite worried about this, because it was obviously a marginal election and he had not only Wallace but he also had Thurmond, so I was going to say foreign policy was no issue. It certainly
was no issue with the Republicans that I recall -- much of an issue -- except I suppose they were still beating -- they were talking Yalta a lot, the "betrayal" at Yalta. But I don't know whether they made any points with the "betrayal" of Yalta, except maybe among Polish voters. I think that's what they were after. I remember going down and talking to Chip Bohlen and getting his first hand account of the Yalta conference, writing that up in our "File of the Facts" on "Foreign Policy," which I wrote. But my recollection is that the Wallaceities wanted to make foreign policy a big issue. We were concerned about the Wallace people and about the Thurmond people but I don't think we sweat much blood over them because obviously you had to fight the Republicans.
HESS: In the summer of '48 was when Elizabeth Bentley and Whittaker Chambers came out with their accusations leading to the investigations of Communists in Government. Did that cause any difficulties for the Research Division?
BATT: My recollection is that we had a paper on it. We did some research on it and Dave Lloyd did it and one of
"Files of the Facts" was on the issue of communism in Government, and this again was all tied up with the Yalta issue and again with the Pacific issue about how General Marshall really lost to China to the Communists -- this was another attack -- but again I don't think that was the fundamental issue. I suppose the fact that Wallace was out there on the Left really helped us in this regard, because the Communists had pretty well identified with Wallace and there obviously were none of them hanging around the Truman campaign.
HESS: How important did you think that the Negro vote was going to be in the election?
BATT: Quite important. Quite important, and of course the President was very popular among Negro voters because of his strong stand on Civil Rights, because of the President setting up the Civil Rights -- the Truman Civil Rights report. I remember meeting with several Negro leaders on several occasions, among whom was Clarence Mitchell, counsel now of the NAACP, and discussing the Negro vote.
HESS: Do you remember what he had to say at that time? Did he think anything should be said to sway the Negro vote or...
BATT: No, I don't recall what we recommended as a result of those meetings. I'm sure we kept Murphy and Clifford informed of any impressions that grew out of them. I remember, too, Raymond Pace Alexander, who is a prominent Negro attorney in Philadelphia, coming down to visit with us and letting us have his ideas. I .don't recall though anything in particular that came out of those sessions in terms of particular speeches or particular positions. I think the President had his position.
HESS: What do you think his attitude toward the Negro voter was -- towards Civil Rights?
BATT: I think his attitude was the best attitude we'd had in the country up until that time. Because of the Civil Rights report, of the commission that President Truman set up on Civil Rights was the furthest that any public body had gone in terms of blueprinting what we needed in the country, and the President got a great deal of support from the Negro
community as a result of it. I've never seen the analyses of the breakdown by race in his vote but I'm sure he did exceedingly well. Have you seen any?
HESS: Yes, I think it is quite high.
BATT: I'm sure he did exceedingly well. He did exceedingly well with the Jewish vote because of the fact that we were the first country to recognize Israel.
HESS: How important do you think that was to the campaign?
BATT: Oh, I'm sure it was enormously important. Dewey carried New York, though I suppose, didn't he? Well, when you win by a couple of votes, anything could have been the difference. The amazing thing is that he won at all in view of the fact that he had two splinter parties of the Democratic Party running against him, and essentially running against him. Normally this would have thrown the election to the Republicans and it probably darn near did.
HESS: On this same subject -- this involves Negroes also -- in the book Out of the Jaws of Victory…
BATT: Oh, excuse me, the very fact that Thrumond was in the race helped him with the Negro vote, see?
BATT: Just as the very fact that Wallace was in the race dulled the Communism in Government issue.
HESS: Helped siphon off the...
BATT: The extremists on far Left of the Democratic Party were way over there where you could see them, and the extremists on the far Right of the Democratic Party were way over there where you could see them.
HESS: On this that's also on Negroes. In the book Out of the Jaws of Victory, Jules Abels has it that the Democratic campaign was aimed at four distinct interest groups: labor, the farmer, the Negro, and the consumer. What do you think about that?
BATT: I think every Democratic campaign since Jackson-Jefferson -- has been aimed generally speaking, at -- I don't know how you aim at the consumer -- of course prices were an issue, but everybody's a consumer. But, generally speaking, the President was aiming the campaign at the
have-nots and saying that the historic truth, with a few exceptions in history, that "the Democratic Party is for you." And the Republican Party is the party of big business. He made no effort to bridge the gap to big business as President Johnson has. Of course, times were different, and business, I must say, was acting most asocial and had done their best to take the shirts off the American people right after the controls went off in '46.
HESS: What do you recall about the importance to the campaign of the refusal of the 80th Congress to appropriate money to the Commodity Credit Corporation for grain storage bins?
BATT: Well, the significance of this escaped me entirely until a conversation with Mike Monroney, who was running for re-election down in Oklahoma. This issue might have decided the campaign. Maybe this was the decisive issue in Illinois and Indiana, and the Midwest upset that determined the results of the election. Did we lose Ohio, or did we win Ohio by a whisker?
HESS: Just won it, I believe.
BATT: But Indiana, who, Lord knows, nobody expected, and these Middle-Western states went for Truman. The first time it came home to us was when we were looking for material for the President to campaign through Oklahoma. The way we did this, the way we tried to discover what the issues were locally, was to talk to the fellows who were running their own campaigns out there on the phone. I've known Mike Monroney for years and I called him up and he is, of course, an old newspaper reporter anyway, as well as a sensitive politician running for re-election. I called him and I said, "What are the issues in Oklahoma?"
And he said, "There's only one, and it's this Commodity Credit Corporation storage bin vote in the 80th Congress. This is it. The President ought to hit it and ought to hit it hard and talk about very little else when he's in Oklahoma."
This is the recommendation we passed to the White House. Probably other people did too. And he did, he hit this one hard. And the reception he got, you see, proved to him that it was hot, and he was very shortly after that back again through the Middle West. Whether
he was heading west through Oklahoma or east through Oklahoma I don't know, but he had occasion then to make that issue through the farm states and he did it with devastating effect. But again it tied in with the issue of the 80th Congress, and it tied in with the issue of the big interests versus the little fellow, you see. I suspect, too, that the President was someone with whom the Middle West could identify with, and the small-town man and woman and the farmer could identify with, and Dewey was someone whom they distrusted. I distrusted Dewey and I'm no farmer from the Middle West. I'm an Eastern boy, but I wouldn't buy a secondhand car from him.
HESS: Why did you distrust Dewey?
BATT: Well, I don't know. This is a question. I don't know. Whether he was the picture of the big city prosecutor using...This is how he made his reputation. He was very cleverly using every device in the book. This might have been one factor. Another one might have been the Brownell syndrome -- the big-city group handling the Republican convention with all the slickness that you associate with Madison Avenue in New York.
I don't know what it is. Dewey tried to wrap himself around Owosso, Michigan, but he never succeeded. He was always the big-city boy.
HESS: Looking back, what did you think was perhaps the major campaign strategy mistake made by the Republicans? They lost the election; what did they do wrong?
BATT: Well, one of them, of course, was their overconfidence, they were so bemused by the fact that ninety-nine percent of the press in the United States supported them, and that the polls looked so good that they thought they had it in the bag before the campaign began, and this, I suspect, is always wrong, even if you are -- even if this had been the fact, and maybe it was the fact at the time. Dewey, of course, is the coldest cookie that ever came down the pike. If they'd put the ticket the other way around, they might have won; I think they would have won.
HESS: With Warren.
BATT: Warren and Mickey Mouse -- anybody -- but Warren at the head of the ticket would have gotten these people in the middle. I suspect that a lot of this campaign was
decided in the last twenty-four hours. It was the undecided people who really didn't know how they were going to vote. And the thing that swung, I suspect, these people was an innate distrust of Dewey and an admiration for the essential straightforwardness of President Truman. Easterners who were maybe pretty negative on Truman when he was President, when they had to face the moment of truth and go to that polling box -- and I've talked to so many people who didn't know the day before how they were going to vote -- ended up voting for Truman. The analysis of the election done by the Survey Research Center people at Michigan is fascinating. They took a sample of people both before the election and the same people after the election and of course, a carefully selected sample by background and so forth -- and it was a fascinating behavior pattern. In the last analysis, that margin was probably provided by the personality of the two men and the fact that President Truman is just personally a more human and more attractive person, and in whom people had more confidence than they did in Dewey. What mistakes did they make? I can tell you one silly little mistake that they made and we capitalized on: Dewey made the same speech
everywhere he went. He had Stanley High, I think, from Readers Digest on his train. He had a high-priced bunch of writers. God knows what they wrote because everything -- maybe they worked on the big speeches -- because everything in the back platform speeches was the same. He apparently made the same speech everywhere he went. The general philosophy seemed to be, "I've got this is the bag, why work? Why make any effort?" One little one he made, which I suppose he really can't be blamed for. The train at one stop -- the engineer started the darn thing up and he backed the train into the crowd. You've heard this story?
BATT: And he said something about that S.O.B.; the engineer. The Railroad Labor Union spread that all over their newspaper and sent it to everybody who ever belonged to the Railroad Workers. But labor was very helpful. We did a lot of work with the labor people.
HESS: You mentioned the polls. Did you people pay very much attention to what the polls were saying?
BATT: No, just read them.
HESS: Do you think Mr. Truman concerned himself very much with the polls?
BATT: I don't think so, no, I don't think he was sensitive to polls as President Johnson was, except he kidded them some when the subject came up, and of course, he had a lot of fun. Sure, I suppose he was. I suppose every political person watches the polls like a hawk, but my point is, he took his line, and he didn't change that line a great deal as he went down the road. He picked up the Commodity Credit Corporation issue during the campaign, but the general line he took I don't think changed a great deal during the campaign. He started against the 80th Congress back in January with the State of the Union message. He was campaigning against them all the year.
HESS: You made an interesting point there about the relationship between Dewey and Warren. What type of relationship did they have? Did they get along very well?
BATT: I got the impression that they ran two quite independent campaigns, Warren was on another train covering other country, and not making a very colorful campaign
as far as I can see. I don't think Warren had much effect on the campaign one way or another. Not that Vice Presidents perhaps ever have, but he was a disappointment as a campaigner.
HESS: I have a list of names of people who worked in the White House, and I wonder if you could tell me if they worked in any connection with the Research Division, or perhaps what they did during the campaign. What about Charlie Ross?
BATT: No, no connection.
HESS: What about Matthew J. Connelly?
BATT: Matt used us once, and that was the night before the final day of the Turnip Day session. He called us on the phone and said "We've got to get the President's positions in the Record before this ends, and they haven't been put in, and I want speeches on all the basic issues, and I want them by tomorrow morning, in my office by tomorrow morning at ten o'clock. Then we'll deal them out to the Senators and we'll have them given as speeches during the afternoon." That was probably a Saturday afternoon. I remember because Kenny Birkhead stayed up
all night working. We got this assignment at about eight o'clock at night. I got everybody rounded up and we got down to work at six, or something like that, in the morning, did some work the night before, and we got them all dictated and got them over to the White House by ten o'clock, is my recollection. Then we took them up to the Hill and delivered them to the Senators that we'd been asked to and then we sat in there in the gallery and watched them give these speeches. That's the only time we did a job from a request of Connelly that presumably came from the President.
HESS: Clark Clifford we've hit on several times.
BATT: Clark was the kind of "Father Superior" for the exercise although we had a lot more dealings from day to day with Charlie Murphy.
HESS: Did you have any dealings with John R. Steelman?
HESS: Now there's a man by the name of James Sundquist who wrote speeches in the White House.
BATT: Oh, yeah, we worked occasionally with Jim, and I've
since known him intimately, but during the campaign, not particularly, no. He worked for Murphy.
HESS: Yes. Now, these speechwriters that were called in there, did they work with the Research Division any in writing the speeches?
BATT: They had all our stuff.
HESS: They took your material and then they...
BATT: Well, I'm sure they had other sources too. They probably got drafts from the departments. If it was on conservation, probably Interior would have a draft the they'd start with, or maybe they'd start with, or maybe they'd throw the whole thing in the wastebasket, I don't know. They had a lot of the material, and I'm sure our "Files of the Facts" were among the things that they worked from, because what we had done had been pulled -- all the Republican records, the Democratic records, the President's records and the basic facts on the issue -- we all put it in one handy form and the speechwriters used those, yes.
HESS: How about George Elsey?
BATT: I had a lot of contact with George, perhaps more than almost anybody there, because of the fact that he had the back platform assignment on the train. He drank milk the whole way too.
HESS: Did he? What about Harry Vaughan?
HESS: None at all. David Niles?
BATT: Almost none. Occasionally on the race problem we would discuss things with Dave Niles. Was Philleo Nash there then?
BATT: With Philleo and Dave.
HESS: But that's the main thing, to discuss minority problems and things of that nature with those two men. Donald Dawson?
BATT: None with Donald at all.
HESS: There were some other people that were called in as speechwriters. Did you ever hear of these people during
the campaign or do you know anything about them? David Noyes, Albert Carr, and John Franklin Carter.
BATT: I've heard the names, but that's about all.
HESS: Did you know at that time that they were working in the White House as speechwriters? Can you recall?
BATT: David Noyes...all I can say is that the name sounds familiar.
HESS: What about William Bray? Was he on the train at the time?
BATT: Did he work for the national committee?
HESS: That's right. Just what was his job, do you remember?
BATT: No, I don't.
HESS: In August, Leslie Biffle set out on a trip disguised as a chicken farmer in his truck. Did you ever talk to him about that?
BATT: No, I never talked to Les about that. Wonderful idea.
HESS: Did you think Mr. Truman was going to win that election?
BATT: I had a split personality on it. We were so committed, of course, I passionately hoped that he would. Intellectually, I suspected he wouldn't. One minute, hope would be predominate and I would be convinced he was going to; the next minute, the polls would predominate and I was convinced he wouldn't. We did see a flaw in the polls, and we saw a flaw in the polls before the election, and I think it was the flaw that threw the pollsters off.
HESS: What was that?
BATT: We paid, obviously, some careful attention to the polls. They predicted that the undecided vote would split exactly the same way as the decided vote had split and they ruled out the influence of the trend. The trend was running for President Truman. The last poll was taken a week or maybe ten days before the election day, so you've got an upward curve going like this, you see, for President Truman, but at that point, the majority is still Dewey. You disregard the trend entirely, and you extrapolate on a straight-line basis and then you take the undecided and you split them the way that the decided are split ten days before the election. I'm convinced that
this is what happened. I don't know whether they did this consciously in an effort to predict the result and therefore influence the result because of the bandwagon effect. I've always been suspicious a little bit of Gallup because his identification was so close with the Republicans, and his was the leading poll in those days. There was no Louis Harris poll. It was the best known poll. What other polls were there?
HESS: Roper's, was one.
BATT: Elmo's...and was he wrong too?
HESS: Oh, yes.
BATT: Whether they did it consciously -- Elmo was a Democrat so he couldn't have done it consciously. Whether they did it consciously or whether they -- I'm sure there was a feeling that this was going to be the result and "My Lord, we don't want to be on the wrong side," but I think that we tagged that one beforehand. They threw out the trend entirely.
HESS: Looking back, just why did it seem that Mr. Truman was going to be defeated, to you? Why were the polls running
this way? Why was it so one-sided?
BATT: Oh, I think the polls were accurate up until the point where they predicted how people were going to behave ten days hence. I think they were probably accurate as to reflecting...
HESS: They reflected public opinion, but what was happening to make public opinion that way?
BATT: Why was the President unpopular -- he hit his low point way back, six months or a year before the election. I haven't seen those...
HESS: I think so; I think that's about right.
BATT: Right after he came into office he was tremendously popular -- the honeymoon period and everybody sympathized with him -- the President dying. Why was he unpopular? He may have been unpopular in some part because of the divided picture that people got -- the President fighting Congress. People don't like this. They like the feeling that the leadership is together and the country is going somewhere. This may have been a big factor. I know it was in state politics in Pennsylvania when the Governor was fighting the legislature. People get a confused picture.
They don't know the details. They get a picture of confusion and lack of leadership at the top and "Well, he can't do anything with Congress." Impotence. By the same token, when President Johnson did very well with Congress getting everything through, this was chalked up as a big one in his favor. Why else? They, of course, were exceedingly critical of the Harry Vaughan connection and some of the people he had around him, who he shouldn't have had around him. The communism in Government issue probably made a lot of hay but that was primarily later, wasn't it. That was the McCarthy era and people got so sore at Acheson and that was primarily after the election.
HESS: That came later, the accusations of Bentley and Chambers though came during the summer.
BATT: That probably didn't do any good.
I must say that there's an image problem there too, I'm sure that experts have gone into. After all, the image of success in this country is the businessman or the professional man who has been a big success in private life and here's a rather unsophisticated courthouse politician who couldn't make a go of a haberdashery store;
who does not talk as if he came out of the best schools, and this is not the kind of image that we want as our President, quote, unquote. This is the little old lady in Keokuk, I think; her attitude. People like an image of a world leader that people can identify with. Why did people like Eisenhower? My goodness, he didn't do anything. And he was one of the weakest Presidents, as a group of historians said, that we've had since Buchanan. But he was people's idea of what a President ought to be. And I think President Truman was a switch for them. They hadn't seen anything like President Truman. Wilson looked and talked like a President. Hoover was a world figure. Even Harding looked more like a President, than President Truman.
HESS: Where would you place President Truman in history?
BATT: Oh, I think history is going to rank President Truman very high. I think they're already beginning to, because of the basic issues that he raised -- not just the Truman Doctrine in Greece and Turkey, but getting the entire United Nations into the Korean business; the firing of MacArthur, making quite clear the predominance of the
civil over the military; the Marshall Plan certainly changed the history of the world, and the way in which he managed that baby in Congress was a masterpiece. Of course, this all had to do with Vandenberg's coming over -- the arch isolationist -- coming over and becoming an internationalist.
HESS: Mr. Batt, in 1949 you ware appointed the special assistant to Secretary of Labor Maurice Tobin to develop programs for economically depressed areas. Could you tell me about that?
BATT: Certainly. The recession of 1949 came along and I saw it rather dramatically up around Philadelphia, and as an interested citizen came down to try and persuade the executive branch to take some action. There was a split personality on the part of the administration, because on the one hand they wanted, like any administration, to make things look as good as they could. Then people wouldn't make the recession worse by oversaving. On the other hand, they didn't want to see the needs of people go on unmet. I remember some extensive discussions with Leon Keyserling and others of his staff to try to persuade the Council of Economic Advisers to take at least
some cognizance of the view that there were places with heavy unemployment in the country and something ought to be done about it. The midyear report, I think, the midyear economic report in '49 made the first mention I'd seen anywhere in the country of the fact that there were areas of chronic unemployment that had been with us a long time, and perhaps the Government ought to be thinking about programs to meet their needs.
I was a casualty of that recession, personally. The firm that I was with in Philadelphia, which has since gone out of business, was having tough sledding and laying off their most recent employees, of which I was the most recent. I was unemployed, so I was down here, among other places, looking for a job. The job that I felt needed doing badly was program development. Not just for the Council of Economic Advisers to recognize the existence of depressed areas in the United States, but for the administration to do something about a program to meet the needs. Talking to various people around town I finally convinced Clark Clifford that this was something that the Federal Government ought to get into. The logical place, he thought, to put it was in the Labor Department because the Bureau of Employment Security and the United States Employment Service, had just then been transferred from the Federal Security Agency over to the
Department of Labor. We obviously couldn't get any legislation out of Congress. There was an effort made, I believe it was that year, by a group headed by the Council of Economic Advisers to put together a big bill comprising a whole market basket of measures to counteract the recession, but it had never had a chance in Congress. It was sponsored by Senator Murray, among others. I wanted to see some program. We were able to persuade Secretary Tobin to buy the idea of a small office which would work on the depressed areas problems in the Department of Labor -- Clark Clifford asked him to do it -- and we came up with a program, an idea, to ask all the governors using unemployment funds, BES (Bureau of Unemployment Security) funds, to establish full employment committees in each of their hard-hit cities and to then backstop their efforts with a small staff at the state level in the state BES. I thought the way to start this thing was a letter from the President, and I drafted one. Secretary Tobin proposed this to the President. It came back from the President that, since the Secretary had taken on the responsibility of the Bureau of Employment Security, that the suggestion logically ought to go from him to the governors. It did go from him. Also I think there probably was some concern in the White House that they didn't want to show the President overly
concerned with the recession of '49. So he did send a letter to every governor, and asked them to call a conference on unemployment in their states. One objective was the establishment of local full employment committees to do a more effective job development effort, to retrain people and do many of the things we've done since -- in general, to augment the efforts of the employment service. A few governors, a half a dozen or so, cooperated, but the one that did the slam-bang job was Governor Warren of California. He set up a good program. When we got the Bureau of Employment Security to adopt this program across the country and to encourage the establishment of local full employment committees, (and that program is still going in a small way), that in essence was the beginning of the Area Redevelopment idea, which later became a law of 1961 and I came down to administer it under President Kennedy.
HESS: And in 1950, you were the American representative to the UNESCO conference on Full Employment. Do you have anything to add to that?
BATT: Well, I was an American representative. The American delegation was headed by Isador Lubin, and I went along on his
staff and participated in meetings at the State Department for several months before that to develop an American position. Out at Lake Success, was one of those rather inconclusive discussion groups among nations about how the world could achieve full employment based on a long report from an Australian economist, among others. I don't think a lot was accomplished there in terms of program, and program was what we were looking for. But it was a fascinating experience.
HESS: Fine. Mr. Batt, going back just a little bit to the Research Division, could you give me a thumbnail sketch of each of the members of the Research Division to show why these particular men were hired. Just what qualifications did these individuals have that someone wanted them on the Research Division?
BATT: I think that in almost every case I had recruited them myself. We were looking for men who were generalists but with some expertise in the areas where the campaign was going to be fought. We knew pretty much what the issues were, so we went after people who were particularly knowledgeable in these particular areas, and of course, when you recruit people for a six to nine month job, you
are limited to people who can leave their business or whatever they are in, or their profession, and come with you. I remember distinctly that we got Kenny Birkhead, particularly, because of his background in the field of race relations. He and his father before him had been very active in NAACP matters, and he was very knowledgeable in this whole area.
HESS: How did you hear about Birkhead?
BATT: Well, I had known him through the AVC -- American Veterans Committee. We had both been on the national board together and very active in that.
David Lloyd I had known through the Americans for Democratic Action in which we had both been active. He was on the staff of ADA at that time and I was, as I say, a national board member of ADA and a admirer of Dave's, and he was a lawyer and he was very knowledgeable in the field of civil rights and of this whole business of the loyalty program which was an issue at the time.
Phil Dreyer -- we felt we needed somebody who was knowledgeable on resource issues and on the West, and this was his background.
Frank Kelly had no particular area of specialization,
but Frank was one tremendously good writer, and we knew we were going to have many writing assignments and we felt weld better try and find ourselves a professional writer and he was superb at that.
Johannes Hoeber came out of a welfare background and we knew that he had been active in campaigning for Medicare, and he had some labor background and welfare background too. He eventually ended up as Deputy Director of Welfare for the City of Philadelphia.
John Barriere, came recommended to us from the Hill, and John was the young -- he was a utility outfielder. We used him everywhere. He also turned out to write well and came out of the University of Chicago graduate school, where he had been a student of Paul Douglas', and was highly qualified as a researcher.
So, we tried to get a spread in terms of knowledge-ability and expertise.
HESS: On Dave Lloyd. He went from here to the White House, is that right?
BATT: That's right.
HESS: Who picked him for the White House? How did he make that move; do you remember?
BATT: Well, probably Murphy. We all worked very closely with Charlie, and Dave did some of the best writing that came out of our shop, and they knew it, and towards the end of the campaign, my recollection is, they just grabbed him and said "We need him to beef up our writing staff." So, it was a very natural transition.
HESS: Do you have anything else you want to add on the Research Division? Do you think we've covered it?
BATT: No, but I wish you'd give me your address in case I get any brilliant ideas about things I wish I'd said, I can write you.
HESS: All right.
[Top of the Page | Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]
List of Subjects Discussed
Alexander, Raymond Pace, 37
Americans for Democratic Action, 4, 62
American Veterans Committee, 4, 62
Barriere, John, 6, 63
Batt, William L., Jr.:
American Veterans Committee, member of national board of, 2, 62
Bell, David E.: 1
Americans for Democratic Action, member of national board of, 2-3
analysis of pre election polls, 52-54
appointment as special assistant to Secretary of Labor, 57
candidate in 1946 Congressional election, 3
concern with unemployment problem, 57-60
Democratic National Committee, Research Division, as Director of, 3
evaluation of Republican Party in 1948 Presidential campaign, 43-45
evaluation of H.S. Truman as President, 56-57
first association with Truman Administration, 1
prepares draft of H.S.T's 1948 nomination acceptance speech, 11, 18
re popularity of President H.S. Truman, 53-56
re proposed trip of Fred M. Vinson to Moscow, 33-34
special session of Congress, 1948, advocates calling, 11-15
Truman, H.S., meetings with, 29-30
U.S. Representative to UNESCO Conference on Full Employment, 1950, 60-61
member of H.S.T.'S Presidential campaign train party, 27
Birkhead, Kenneth M., 5, 33, 47, 62
work of major speeches on H.S.T's 1948 campaign train, 11
Bohlen, Charles E. (Chip), 35
Brannan, Charles F., 1
Campaign, Presidential, 1948. See Presidential Campaign, 1948
Clifford, Clark: 1, 3, 11, 21-24, 28, 30
consulted re calling special session of 80th Congress, 1948, 14
Congress, 80th. See 80th Congress
and development of unemployment relief programs, 58-59
relationship with Democratic National Committee, Research Division, 48
Connelly, Matthew J., 47
Council of Economic Advisers, 57-59
Davidson, C. Girard (Debby), .2
Dawson, Donald S., 50
Democratic National Committee, Research Division:
compilation of material for 1948 Presidential campaign speeches, 6-10
Dewey, Thomas E., 24, 42-43, 44-46
Congress, 1948 special session, suggests calling of, 11-15
drafting by of H.S.T.'s Young Democrats speech, May 14, 1948, 19-20
drafting of "whistle stop" speeches, 1948 Presidential campaign, 8-10
"Files of the Facts," 6-8
evaluation of work of, 30-31
liaison with the White House during 1948 Presidential campaign, 27-29
offices during 1948 Presidential campaign, 4
organization of, 1-4
relationship with the Democratic National Committee, 3-4, 24
selection of staff members, 4-6, 61-63
Dreyer, Philip, 5, 62
80th Congress, 1948 special session of, 21-25, 34
origins of proposal to call, 12-17
Elsey, George: 1, 30, 49-50
member of H.S.T.'s 1948 Presidential campaign train party, 27
Employment Security, Bureau of, 58-60
speechwriter on President H.S. Truman's 1948 campaign train, 10
Ewing, Oscar R. (Jack), 1, 2, 14
"Files of the Facts," 6-7, 36
Hoeber, Johannes, 5, 63
Kelly, Frank K. 5, 62-63
Keyserling, Leon H., 2, 57
Labor Department of, 58-60
Lloyd, David D.: 35, 62, 63
appointment to White House staff, 63-64
Lubin, Isador, 61
staff member, Democratic National Committee, Research Division, 5
work on major speeches, 1948 Presidential campaign, 11
McGrath, J. Howard, 3, 4, 29
McMurray, Joseph, 6
Mitchell, Clarence, 36
Monroney, A. S . (Mike), 40
Morse, David A., 2, 3
Murphy, Charles S., 1, 8, 28, 30, 48
Nash, Philleo, 50
Niles, David K., 50
Polls (1948 Presidential campaign), 43, 45-46, 53-54
Presidential campaign, 1948:
"big business" as an issue,40
Presidential election, 1948:
campaign issues, 34
civil rights as an issue, 36-38
Commodity Credit Corporation appropriation as an issue, 40-41, 46
communism in Government as an issue, 35, 39
Democratic party campaign strategy, 23-24, 39-40
foreign policy as an issue, 34-35
identification of President H. S. Truman with local candidates, 41
Israel, importance of recognition of, 38
labor unions, support of Democratic party by, 45
Murphy, Charles So, in charge of writing major speeches, 8
planning for by members of the Truman Administration, 1
planning of President H. S. Truman's whistlestop itinerary, 33
relationship between Dewey and Warren campaigns, 46-47
Republican party campaign strategy, 42-45
speechwriting for, 8-11, 47-49
support of Republicans in press and polls, 43
WPA Guides, use of in drafting H. S. T.'s whistlestop speeches, 9
analysis of voting in by U. of Michigan Survey Research Center, 44
Progressive Party, 34
Jewish votes as a factor in, 38
Middle Western states support of H. S. Truman, 40-42
Negro vote, importance of, 36-39
Recession, 1949, 57-60
Redding, Jack, 29
Roper, Elmo, 53
Ross, Charles G., 47
Steelman, John R., 48
Sundquist, James, 48-49
Thurmond, J. Strom, 34, 35
Tobin, Maurice J., 59
Truman, Harry S.:
attitude toward polls, 46
"Turnip Day" session of 80th Congress, See 80th Congress, 1948 special session of,
attitude regarding civil rights, 37-38
80th Congress, 1948 special session, calling of, 24
80th Congress, 1948 special session, utilization of as campaign issue, 24-25
emphasis on domestic issues in 1948 Presidential campaign, 26
foreign policy accomplishments as basis for his place in history, 26
image as a Presidential candidate, 42
interest group focus in the 1948 Presidential campaign, 39-40
issue orientation of 1948 Presidential campaign, 7
June 1948, pre campaign trip, 19
popularity as President, 53-56
speaking style, 31-33
speechwriting for during 1948 Presidential campaign, 8-11, 47-49
State of the Union address as start of 1948 Presidential campaign, 24-25
straightforward approach as campaigner, 44
and unemployment, problem of, 57-60
use of speech outlines, 32-33
Vandenberg, Arthur H., 26
Vaughan, Harry H., 50, 55
Wallace, Henry A., 34, 35, 36
Warren, Earl, 24, 43, 60
[Top of the Page | Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]