Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum


 

Andrew J. Biemiller

Oral History Interview with
Andrew J. Biemiller

Member, Wisconsin legislature, 1936-42; with War Production Board, 1942-44; member 79th, 81st U.S. Congresses, 5th Wisconsin District; Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Interior, 1951-52; Director, department of legislation, AFL-CIO, 1956-1978.

Washington, D.C.
July 29, 1977
by James R. Fuchs

[Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]


NOTICE
This is a transcript of a tape-recorded interview conducted for the Harry S. Truman Library. A draft of this transcript was edited by the interviewee but only minor emendations were made; therefore, the reader should remember that this is essentially a transcript of the spoken, rather than the written word.

Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. [45]) within the transcript indicate the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the oral history interview.

RESTRICTIONS
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 It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.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, 1978
Harry S. Truman Library
Independence, Missouri

[Top of the Page | Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]



Oral History Interview with
Andrew J. Biemiller

Washington, D.C.
July 29, 1977
by James R. Fuchs

FUCHS: All right, Mr. Biemiller, you were going to relate an early incident in your relationship with Mr. Truman.

BIEMILLER: My first recollection of seeing Harry Truman in action was a meeting in 1942 of the old Truman Committee, which is of course the operation that first brought him into great nationwide fame. At this particular committee meeting, the committee had called up Mr. John L. Lewis, then president of the United Mine Workers, in the middle of one of the perennial labor difficulties with that union. After

[2]

a discussion of the issues involved, Mr. Lewis had come out with what was one of his favorite remarks, "My miners have shrunken bellies." Whereupon Senator [Joseph H.] Ball piped up and said, "Mr. Lewis, you know that is sheer demogoguery."

And Lewis replied, "Senator, I hurl those words back in your teeth."

It was quite a crowd. Bedlam broke loose, then Senator Truman rapped for order, and reprimanded Mr. Lewis, saying, "Mr. Lewis, you cannot insult Senators."

Lewis said, "But Mr. Truman, Senator Ball cast the first stone."

Whereupon Senator Truman turned to Senator Ball and said, "That's right, Senators mustn't insult Mr. Lewis either."

From then on the meeting was in John L.'s hands and it didn't wind up with any particular solution of anything at that particular hearing.

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Now, actually, my first real contact with Mr. Truman came at the 1944 Democratic Convention when the question of whether or not he would run for the vice-presidential nomination against Henry Wallace, who was the incumbent at the time.

FUCHS: What was your capacity at that convention?

BIEMILLER: I was an alternate from the Wisconsin delegation. And at that time Wisconsin was pretty well committed to the nomination of Henry Wallace, and having only recently become a Democrat, because I had served in the state legislature as the leader of the LaFollette Progressive Party, I wasn't being listened to too much anyhow.

However, during the turmoil that was going on over who would get that nomination, I was asked to go across the street from the stadium to the Democratic Club there and sit

[4]

down with Mr. Gene Casey, then one of the so-called anonymous assistants in the White House, and Mr. Joseph Keenan, who had been my superior as labor vice-chairman of the War Production Board. I was his troubleshooter during the war.

As we sat down, Mr. Casey wanted to know if something couldn't be done to straighten out the Wisconsin delegation. I told him what the difficulties were, and he said, "Well, my God, don't your people realize that when we nominate a candidate for Vice President at this election, we are naming the next President of the United States?"

I was a little startled, although not completely. I had known the rumors of President Roosevelt's bad health. But that was where we got into it, and we finally did wind up getting 13 Wisconsin votes out of 26

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for Truman over Wallace. That took a little doing but we did it.

FUCHS: Were you personally in favor of Truman at that time?

BIEMILLER: Absolutely, all the way. I had been right from the beginning. I always mistrusted Wallace, I thought held wind up doing the kind of thing that he did of making book with the communists when he ran in 1948 against Mr. Truman.

In that '48 campaign, which is the next thing I want to get into a little bit, we really, in Wisconsin, went all out for Harry Truman. He had come into Wisconsin in 1944 as a candidate for Vice President. We'd had a dinner for him, but very frankly it didn't stir up too much interest. All the interest in that campaign was, of course, on Roosevelt's re-election for a fourth term. But in 1948, when

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things were entirely different, and Mr. Truman came into town, he was a hero.

You will remember that in that election he rode a train constantly, up and down the country. He came into Wisconsin on a train, I boarded it at Madison and came on down to Milwaukee on the train. The newspapermen grabbed me, all of whom I'd known because of my previous service in the Congress and with the War Production Board, and said, "Now, come on, Andy, level with us, who's going to carry Wisconsin?"

I said, "Harry Truman is going to carry Wisconsin by 50,000 votes."

They said, "Look, we're not asking you on the record, we're asking you off-the-record."

And I said, "And I'll answer the same way either on or off the record. We're going to. carry Wisconsin by 50,000 votes."

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Well, when that train came through Wisconsin huge crowds appeared everyplace. One of them, for example, that I know a .good deal about, was the little jerkwater stop of Wyeville. I think the town's population is about 300 people. This train, being an old steam boiler type, had to stop there, as the name indicates, to jerk water and put it on board. Three thousand people had assembled without any attempt being made to bring them there. The word had simply spread that that train would have to stop.

When he got into Waukesha, midway between Madison and Milwaukee, the station was just crowded so that you couldn't get anybody else into it. He was speaking off the back end of a platform.

In Milwaukee we had done something that everybody told us we were crazy -- "we" meaning Democratic leaders -- we rented the American

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Association ball park, simply because we couldn't find an indoors hall worth a presidential visit. Now, this was approximately the 20th of October. I remember when I spoke, I spoke in a topcoat, it was that cold. But in spite of this semi-inclement weather, we had that ball park filled to capacity. There were about 15,000 people. Nothing like that had ever been seen before in Milwaukee. The street from the train to the ball park was just lined with people, and the enthusiasm for Harry Truman was very obvious.

Then the next memory I have of that '48 election that involves our good friend, was that we got a call the Saturday before election. Robert Tehan, then a state senator, the state chairman, and myself, happened to be in the office with him. We got a call from the Democratic National Committee, saying "Do

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you fellows still stand by your claim that you're going to carry Wisconsin?"

And we said, "Absolutely, 50,000 votes is what it will be."

Then there was sort of a gasp at the other end of the wire. We said, "What's the matter? Nothing else going well?"

They said, "Well, if you fellows are right, and if everybody else is right that we've talked to, we carry the White House in '48."

Now that was an interesting thing, because later on, when I was visiting one time with Mr. Truman in the White House, he gave me a personal rendition of that skit that he did for so many people on Mr. [H.V.] Kaltenborn, and then added, "I want to say though, that I was wrong about one thing. I put into an envelope the night before election a list of the states

[10]

I would carry. I was wrong on two, I had put Indiana in, I did not think I was going to carry Wisconsin. I lost Indiana, but Wisconsin held up, and you've only got one less vote than Indiana in the electoral college, so I was absolutely on the head with what I was going to do."

Now, we did carry, by the way, Wisconsin by 52,000 votes. We knew what we were doing. The thing was there to see, it was evident. The farmers particularly were up in arms and around the milk factories, as we called them, where cheese is made, cheese factories, why, the farmers were just openly talking about Harry Truman and how they loved him and what a great person he was, This worked out very, very well indeed.

FUCHS: How early did you feel confident?

BIEMILLER: As far as the State of Wisconsin was

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concerned, we felt confident by the first of October that we had the thing pretty well under control in that state and we kept telling the National Committee this. And we, of course, told Mr. Truman this when he came through, and when he spoke out at the old ball park there, Borchert Field as we called it. The whole thing was going very well, right from the beginning, as far as we were concerned.

FUCHS: After the convention were you somewhat concerned and considerably less confident?

BIEMILLER: No. I was a delegate to the '48 convention. I led the fight there that Senator [Hubert] Humphrey gets most of the credit for. I led the fight there for the minority plank on civil rights, which carried. And I'm not belittling Senator Humphrey; he made a great speech, but it was

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actually my resolution that came out of the committee. The way that was passed -- the story is not generally known, but it's worth getting into the record here: When I first came to Congress in '44, I had gotten to know Speaker [Sam] Rayburn quite well. In fact I was down here in December of '44 before I took my seat, and he called me in and wanted to talk with me. He said, "I know about the work you've been doing in terms of parliamentary procedure, both in the labor movement and in your state legislature. I like it. I hope you'll keep it up. I want you to learn the rules of the House from top to bottom because we have virtually nobody from the North or West that knows the rules. Only the southerners know the rules, and I'm having troubles." He added, "And if you ever show me that you're right about a rule, you'll get notice, and you'll

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get my attention and you'll get what you need."

So, I went to work and I will immodestly say, I did learn the rules pretty well, with partly some coaching from Speaker Rayburn and partly from the late parliamentarian Lou Deschler, whom the Speaker had asked to work with me. Well, the rules of the Democratic Convention are -- or were in those days -- those of the House of Representatives. Very few people understood this, and so we had to make sure that we were going to get the floor for that minority report, because I was sure Sam Rayburn did not particularly want a civil rights fight on the floor of that convention, he being from Texas and so on. So I worked pretty hard to be sure that I got all set to go on it. I got hold of his private number as soon as the die was cast and we were going to make this

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minority report, called him and he sort of grunted at me. "What are you calling about, civil rights, I suppose?"

I said, "That's right, Sam."

He said, "Well, all right, I'll see you on the platform quarter to 12." We started at 12 o'clock. And I went up with Humphrey and the Speaker said, "Now, you're sure you've got your rights protected?"

I said, "Absolutely."

He called over old Clarence Cannon, who had been serving as parliamentarian. He said, "Clarence, Andy got his rights protected?" One of the few times I ever saw Clarence Cannon smile in my life, he was a kind of a sour puss old guy. Clarence said, "Three different ways, Sam."

Sam said, "Oh, my God, the fat's in the fire." And we proceeded to have the issue out. Now, while we were waiting for the issue

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to be joined, our old friend Ed Flynn, the leader of the Bronx, and really the leader of New York State at that time, National Committeeman, grabbed Hubert and me. He said, "You kids are right, you know what you're doing. This is the only way we can win this election. Stir up the minorities." Now he said, "You stay right here with me, I'm going to send a runner down." And he brought up Jack Arvey, the leader of the Illinois delegation, Dave Lawrence, the leader of the Pennsylvania delegation, and the inimitable Boss [Frank] Hague of New Jersey. Repeated what I've just said and then said, "Can't you fellows swing your delegations? I'll swing New York."

Well, in those days at Democratic conventions nobody really polled delegations, the leader voted them, and they voted a unit rule. So we got the solid vote of New York,

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Pennsylvania, Illinois and New Jersey, and we had California already buttoned up, and that added to Wisconsin and a few other states that we were putting together, is what carried it; and I have always been of the opinion that Ed Flynn knew what he was talking about, that it was that plank that helped carry that campaign, because it did stir people up among the minority groups in this country. I am not taking anything back from Harry Truman, who I think was one of the most effective campaigners I've ever seen. He was great and one of the reasons he was so great was that he was just one of the people. I know a lot of smart alecks around this town to this day are still belittling the line that he was using off the end of the train, that after he made a little-short speech he'd first call out his good wife Bess and say, "I want you to meet the Boss," and then he would call out

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his daughter and say, "And now I want you to meet the Boss's boss."

And a lot of smart aleck intellectuals said, "Oh, that's corney stuff," and so on. I don't care what you call it, it's effective. It's the kind of way that the ordinary citizen in this country feels. It's the way that many, many people talk. And very frankly, and again to take nothing away from Franklin Roosevelt, I think the complete shift in style from a patrician intellectual, to a man of the people, who was obviously a man of the people, was a great thing to have happen. This is one reason I was convinced we would win that election, and I was never really worried about it. So I was delighted that the whole campaign worked out the way it did.

Now, very shortly after that campaign we got back in one sense to one of the things I was describing about how Wisconsin was so

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important to him to win. We had a fight on as to who should become Federal judge in the Eastern District ,of Wisconsin; and here I was, what in the parlance of the House is called a retread, a man with broken terms. I was in my second term, but they had been broken, and one other guy in his first term, Clem [Clement J.] Zablocki, nobody in the Senate, -- no Democrat, from Wisconsin. So, I suddenly found myself as a retread from Wisconsin, being the ranking Democratic politician in the Congress of the United States from the State of Wisconsin. And so I finally got word from various people that the President wanted to talk to me very much about who was to be the next judge. He knew who I wanted, but he wanted to talk about it and he wanted me to bring Zablocki along.

So, we went on down to the White House, and I had been advised previously by the former

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Justice Tom Clark, who was then the Attorney General, and by my old friend Oscar Chapman of the Interior Department, that I had better just talk plain politics, not try to make any highfalutin arguments on this thing. I said, "Okay, I understand it perfectly."

So we walked in and we started out and President Truman said, "What are you fellows here for?"

He knew all right, but you know how you start these things. And I said, "We're here Mr. President to urge you to report the name of Robert Tehan to the Senate as your nominee for Judge of the Eastern District of Wisconsin."

He said, "Look," and turns to me particularly, "here's a wire I have from the president of the Wisconsin State Federation of Labor, George Haberman, urging that I name a fellow named Carl Becker," who was the Federal DA at

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the time in Milwaukee.

I said, "Mr. President, I'm aware of that, but you also have a wire signed by 101 labor leaders, from Milwaukee and vicinity, headed by Peter Schoemann head of the building trades, and Jake Friedrick, head of the Milwaukee Federated Trades Council, the AF of L central body in that area."

He said, "Well, you do seem to know what's going on back home."

I said, "Well, I learned that from you a long time ago, that no politician is any good unless he does know what's going on back home."

Then he threw another one at me. He said, "Well, you know this fellow Tehan, he signed that roundrobin with Hague, and that Jimmy Roosevelt" -- and he was shaking his head when he said Jimmy Roosevelt -- "and a few other people, saying that I should not run in '48 and that Eisenhower

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should be the candidate of the Democratic Party."

I said, "That is true, he did make that horrible mistake. He has regretted it all the rest of his life and will until his dying day, but," I said, "on the other hand, let me remind you that he was the National Committeeman in the election last fall. You yourself have told me that you were very delighted when you carried Wisconsin because it put you over the top, and he's the man that ran the campaign. And by the normal rules of politics, it seems to me he's entitled to a very great deal of consideration, particularly with the widespread backing he has."

"Well," he said, "that makes some sense."

I said, "You know, you've got to remember, Mr. President, you've been through the political mill as much as anybody I know, there are a lot of people in politics who are looking for rewards

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and if the logical guy doesn't get this reward, you're going to discourage a lot of young people in the Democratic Party of Wisconsin."

He said, "Well, you've got something there," and turned to Zablocki and said, "Do you agree with him?"

"Oh," Clem said, "all the way, positively."

So he said, "All right, gentlemen, I'm glad to have had this chat with you. I won't tell you what name I'm going to send up, but I don't think you'll be disappointed."

By the time we got back to the Hill, Tehan's name was up there and we accomplished that. Tehan had been an old friend; I'd served with him. In fact he and I helped put the first merger of Progressives and Democrats together. He was the Democratic leader in the legislature when I was the Progressive Party leader, and we both came to the conclusion that -- the last session that I

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served in that legislature was '41 -- we both came to the conclusion that it was pretty hopeless, we were just split. Between us we had just enough votes to stop suspension of the rule, and that isn't a very powerful minority, and it was time to put a stop to this nonsense. And I ran as a Democrat way back in '44, and I'd say Tehan and I were the people that started working on this, putting the thing together, and so on. Today, as you've probably noted, the Democratic Party in Wisconsin has all but buried the Republican Party. It's a very curious development over the years.

But I want to get back to my friend, Harry Truman, whom I have such a high regard for.

In 1950 I was defeated. We came back here for a lame duck session. The Korean war was

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on. I got a call one day from Matt Connelly. He said, "Andy, the President wants to see you."

I said, "What the hell does the President want to see a lame duck like me for?"

He said, "I haven't any idea. All I know is he told me this morning, "Get Andy Biemiller down here, I want to see him. I want to talk to him." So Connelly says, "When can you come?"

I said, "Well, what's the first open date?"

He said, "Ten thirty tomorrow morning."

I said, "Fine, I'll be there."

So, I went in and Connelly still said, as I went by his desk, "I haven't any idea what's on his mind."

He opened the door for me, and I walk in and good old Harry Truman jumps up from his desk in the Oval Office, walks across, shakes

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my hand vigorously, and says, "Andy, I just want you to know I'm sick that you were defeated in this last election. We need people like you in the Congress, and I want a promise from you that you will run again."

Well, I remember muttering something like, "Well, I've got to have a job in the meantime."

"Don't worry about that, we'll take care of that. We'll get that going. But I want you to run again because you had the guts to take on the doctors of this country, and very few people have got the guts to do that." And he said, "Sit down here, I want to talk to you a little bit."

So we sat down and talked. He started out by telling me how way back when he was chief judge, I think is the title they used out there.

FUCHS: Presiding Judge.

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BIEMILLER: Presiding Judge. He had wanted to build a county hospital, and the county medical society tried to stop him, but he said, "I fought the s.o.b.s and we beat them, and by God that county hospital's there today." And he said, "You needn't tell me about the doctors and how they fight everything that's good and progressive in America and I'm glad you've taken them on over the years, I know your record." I had had a health insurance bill in the Wisconsin legislature as far back as '37 and I had handled Mr. Truman's health bill in the '49-'50 session. I ran hearings on it in the House Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee, and so we got along.

And then he said, "Come on, let's just talk a little politics anyhow." He said, "I've got a little time here today."

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So, all of a sudden I blurted something out, that I just couldn't believe I said it once I got rid of it. I said, "You know. Mr. President, one of the few things I've never understood about you, is why you opposed my old friend Tom Hennings in the primary for United States Senator in Missouri this past year."

He looks at me as though I'm very stupid, and he said, "Don't you know why I fought Tom Hennings in that primary?"

I said, "I haven't the slightest idea."

He said, "I didn't want the St. Louis boys taking over the state organization," which is about as down to earth a political answer as I've ever heard from anybody. He then backtracked and said, "Now, did you say you're a friend of Tom's?"

I said, "I lived next door to him for

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two years at the Deke house at Cornell when we were undergraduates there."

He said, "Fine, you're the man I've been looking for. You take a message to Tom Hennings for me. Tell him I want to see him. Tell him if he'll lay off the bottle, he's presidential timber, and I want to talk to him about it."

Now it's true, and unfortunately my friend Tom Hennings was a bit of an alcoholic. In fact, he became worse and worse and died an alcoholic. But I bumped into Tom a day or two after that somewhere here in Washington, gave him the message. He said, "Andy, that's the first message I've had from Harry Truman since the primary, and you can make sure I'll be going to see him soon," which he did. And for a short time he straightened out, but it later got the better of him. But I was interested that Truman could evaluate a man,

[29]

because there was no question Tom Henning was a brilliant person, and it's one of the great tragedies of our time that this unfortunate drinking habit got the best of him.

Now, Harry then came on out, the last time that I saw him in a public speech, when in 1952 he made a big Labor Day speech in Milwaukee. A speech that was directed in large part at trying to get me reelected to the Congress. I regret that neither of us were successful. We bumped into a guy named Eisenhower who, you know, sort of made things miserable, I had predicted early in the campaign that I would get 105 thousand votes and win 105 to 95. About the first of October I corrected that to 105 to 100, because I could see that Republican vote growing. And toward the end of October I wrote to the Democratic Congressional Campaign

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Committee: "I'm sorry, I think all bets are off, God knows how many votes are coming out, I'll still get my 105. I lost 112 to 105, in spite of these heroic efforts and in spite of Mr. Truman coming out to make that speech in an effort to get me back into Congress; and I certainly appreciated his doing that.

We had a huge rally, we filled the Milwaukee Auditorium on Labor Day and he was, naturally, well received. The President of the United States doesn't speak many places on Labor Day. There he was; he came on out and did a yeoman job.

Now, actually, Mr. Truman has always worked pretty well with people in the labor movement, as you know. He very early in the game proved he was a very close friend, and this is an incident that I don't think is too well-known -- people remember him for vetoing the Taft-Hartley bill in 1947, and

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unfortunately having it overridden. There had been a forerunner of the Taft-Hartley bill in 1946, the Case bill. This came up while I was a Member of the House. I went down to see Mr. Truman about it, and he said, "Andy, from what you tell me, the bill should be vetoed, but I'd like to have Members of the House ask me to veto it. I'd like to see you get 145 signatures asking me to veto that bill." He said, "That would sustain a veto."

Well, I sent him 145 signatures, and got a very nice note back saying, "You can be sure when that bill hits my desk it's going to get vetoed," and it was. And we sustained him by just two or three votes when the actual vote came up in the House.

Now, that was the forerunner of Taft-Hartley and it was a lesson to all of us. In '46 of course, many of us went down the drain. So that it was no surprise that by the

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‘47 session, the do-nothing 80th as it was correctly called (except it did a lot of bad things); it was do-nothing in the sense of doing anything for people. There were too many of us away who had been in the 79th. Many of us, fortunately, came back for the 81st along with Harry Truman. There we were doing a little bit of coattail riding. I remember I ran neck and neck with him -- in my district I'm talking about -- in the election of 1948. The other thing I remember is that he also was able to keep his friendship with many labor leaders. I think one o£ the few great mistakes he made in his life was when he insisted on passing the so-called "draft railroad strikers into the Army bill." It was a mistake. The strike was over before the House voted, but he insisted the House vote. I unfortunately wasn't present. I had been assured by the then leader of the House, John McCormack, that there

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would be nothing on the floor on Saturday. I had gone out to Chicago to debate Morris Pishbein on health insurance, doing what I thought was the Lord's work; and then I got stuck. There was no way of getting back here in time for a vote, when they decided they were going to meet on Saturday. I commandeered a Navy plane, a small one, up at Great Lakes Training Station, but we got grounded in Pittsburg -- it was a stormy day; so I just didn't vote at all on the thing.

Now, in spite of that mistake of his, which, curiously enough, Bob Taft got him out of. Bob Taft killed the bill in the Senate, and that was the end of it. He was able to eventually get back and sit down and agree that this was probably a mistake, and he and the labor leaders got together all right by the '48 election. This was important, because he needed the labor

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movement in that campaign, and we needed Harry Truman. So I was delighted to see that work out.

But his bona fides were there, certainly in the veto of the Case bill, the later veto of Taft-Hartley. He was, as I'm sure everyone knows, particularly close to the railroad unions during his campaigns for the Senate. In fact, he gave them credit in 1940 -- told me this himself -- for electing him. You remember that was the very tight one he got into. It was really a tough primary for him, and he had a lots of trouble in that one, but he survived. I think the rail people quite properly respected him, liked him, stuck with him through thick and thin.

Now, the last real memory I have of Harry Truman I want to conclude with this unless you see some gaps here you'd like to have

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filled in. You will remember that Lyndon Johnson took a couple of planeloads of people out to the Truman Library for the signing of the Medicare bill, which had been one of Harry Truman's real loves that he wanted to get passed.

FUCHS: I handled the arrangements for that; our Director was ill.

BIEMILLER: You know about it then. Anyhow I was there.

And you remember, Lyndon was passing out pens and then over in a corner the other end of the stage, Harry Truman was talking with people. So, I walked up after I got my pen from Lyndon, and I said, "Mr. Truman, I'm Andy…'

He said, "You needn't tell me who you are. You're the guy that had guts enough to take on the doctors. You're one of the few

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people I know that had the kind of guts I had to take on the doctors. And God bless you, Andy Biemiller, I hope you last a long time." You know this kind of thing that really sets you up.

Well, that, you see, coupled with the earlier incident I was telling you -- how I was a lame duck Congressman, down in the mouth, and he said, "We need you back in Congress" -- that human side of Harry Truman is something I know a lot of people know about but I experienced it. He could go out of his way and lift you from the depths right on back up where you were out scrapping. And I think it will be a long, long time before we'll see his equal again in this country. As far as I'm concerned he is the greatest President we've ever had.

FUCHS: Very interesting. I don't know how much

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time you have, sir, I have a few questions.

BIEMILLER: Go ahead, I've got some time. I've got to go over to the White House in a little while, but not right away.

FUCHS: What did you consider the most pernicious, from a labor standpoint, features of the Case bill -- as an antecedent of the Taft-Hartley?

BIEMILLER: I'd have to really check the record,. because I don't want to say something that's wrong. I'm of the opinion that what was wrong with it was, among other things, it was interfering with the right to strike. But I don't want to say that and not have it stand up, you know.

FUCHS: Of course in the 1940 election, as you pointed out, Mr. Truman, then Senator, was

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fighting for his political life, and he did get the support of the railroad leaders, the BLE and the railway trainmen. I believe that was [Alvanley] Johnston, and -- who was the other one?

BIEMILLER: [A.F.] Whitney. He's the guy he had to make up with again in '46.

FUCHS: Then after the '46 strikers draft bill they swore, I guess, eternal hate for him. Now how did he get them back together, in your opinion? They did, I don't know if John L. Lewis did, but they did come back.

BIEMILLER: No. John L. never made up with him, but Whitney did.

Have you ever met a fellow named Walter Monroe?

FUCHS: I've seen the name.

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BIEMILLER: He was in the United States Mediation Service, and he took it upon himself to bring Whitney and Truman together. And he worked on it, and he worked on it, and he worked on it. If you could locate him, that is one of the great stories about Truman.

FUCHS: He used his conciliatory talents in an extracurricular…

BIEMILLER: And got Whitney and Truman together and got Truman to say, "I made a mistake," you know, and Whitney saying, "All is forgiven;" and he went all out for him. And Whitney was quite a power in his day.

FUCHS: What about Johnston? Did he just go along with Whitney or…

BIEMILLER: I don't know. I think they all just sort of went along once Whitney had made his peace. It was Whitney who had been fulminating

[40]

more than anybody else; but he made his peace and away they went.

It's an interesting period, but Walter Monroe is the only guy that I know of -- or, I tell you who might also know something about it, and I know he's still around, Eli Oliver. Have you run across that name anywhere? I don't know where Eli hangs out these days. Eli is about 75 years old, more than that, maybe 78, he's damn good -- he was a politician of sorts and a labor leader. In fact, he was my immediate superior in the old War Production Board days. He's the guy who sent me up to listen to that Truman Committee thing you see, and so on.

I saw Eli just about a month ago, he was here. Hale and hearty all right, no problem about that. I'm not sure whether Walter Monroe is still alive. That's why I want to also get ahold of Oliver, because he's the

[41]

only other guy who knows much about that. I know he was quietly working with Walter. It was Walter Monroe that deserved the credit. He just wouldn't let this split continue, and he was quite right. That damn thing was bitter enough at the beginning that it could have influenced the '48 election, very badly. We had to get that one straightened out.

FUCHS: What was the basis of, first, your victory in '44 and then, briefly, your defeat in the next election, which would have been '46?

BIEMILLER: Well, that's '46. You remember in '46 everybody was going down the drain that was in marginal districts. I had a district that until Reuss carried it for three times, nobody had ever carried three times in a row. In fact, very few people carried it twice in a row.

[42]

It was just a swing district. It isn't anymore. It's now a very safe, Democratic district. I wish to God it had been in the shape those days it is now; although I've enjoyed what I've been doing with [George] Meany. Hell, it's a very pleasant life and it's close as you can be to Congress without being a member; and probably I've had more influence than I would as just a single member, although I would have been chairman of Interstate and Foreign about eight years ago if I'd hung around.

But that '46 election "had enough," you remember, was the slogan that the Republicans very cleverly raised. People were worried and upset over OPA and shortage of meat and so on. It was just a hopeless election. I knew I was defeated before our polls were even closed. I mean I knew it in my heart.

[43]

The Louisville polls closed at 7, they had voting machines, and they were an hour ahead of us, and they announced before 8 o'clock that Emmet O'Neal had gone down the drain, and he had been a Congressman for 22 years in Louisville; and I figured if he's getting licked, what chance have I got, a first termer in a swing district, because Louisville was supposed to be a safe Democratic district.

Secondly, the other thing that was happening -- which is really just another side of the same thing I'm talking about -- a lot of labor people were just sort of fed up with everything and they didn't turn out at all; they didn't do anything. My vote went down. In 1944 I had 78,000 to 68,000. I won by 10,000. In 146 I wound up with 58,000 votes and the Republican vote was what it had been, 68,000. This was the answer. But it was this disgust with -- and it's true, I think people were wrong, but I could

[44]

understand their attitude. They were so damn mad about rationing, and curtailment of goods and supplies.

A little minor incident but it shows you the other way the thing was working: I had saved up enough gasoline as a Member. My son was then about 5-1./2 years old, and he wanted to see a battlefield, so I took him down to Antietam. And on the way back my wife said, "Hey, there's a butcher shop, I've got some red points with me. At least we can get meat there." So we go into the butcher shop and I said to the butcher, "We have red points with us."

He said, "I don't give a damn about red points, what do you want to buy?"

We must have come out of there with about 12 pounds of meat. They weren't monkeying with rationing in the small towns, and so on, and I suppose people were finding this out.

[45]

I was delighted for about a week, we had a hell of a lot of good meat around the house and so on.

I remember also a little incident on that. Driving home I had some pretty bad tires. I drove through my birthplace, Sandusky, Ohio, and two tires blew. I got hold of the Congressman there and he was a Republican, Al Weichel, sort of between my father and me in age, and we both knew him well. So Al got hold of the local rationing guys and said, "I'll verify this guy as a Member of the Congress," and so on and so on, "give him a couple of tires." So I picked up two tires and went on to Milwaukee. You know, it took that poor guy about a year before he got cleared on giving me those two tires, even though you had two Congressmen, Weichel and myself, involved with it. This is the kind of thing that was irritating people,

[46]

and causing all kinds of trouble at the time.

FUCHS: What did you campaign on in '44, to support the war and Roosevelt, or labor, civil rights?

BIEMILLER: Absolutely, all out. All out for the war.

FUCHS: Maybe the latter didn't enter in too much.

BIEMILLER: Oh, no I was also talking to labor and civil rights, but above all supporting the war. The fellow that I ran against, had been in from ‘38 to ‘42, but he was beat in '42 by my predecessor, Howard McMurray, as a Democrat. McMurray was a Democrat. He beat this guy, Lewis Thill, about as close to a Nazi, as ever served in Congress. Lewis Thill the day after Pearl Harbor, made a speech inferring that Roosevelt had practically

[47]

invited the Japanese to bomb Pearl Harbor so as to have an excuse for taking us into the war. He was playing an extreme right wing game.

An enterprising reporter for the Milwaukee Journal, who was of McMurray's type of thinking, and mind, named Davis -- a hell of a good guy -- goes up to Thill after the speech and says, "Do you have a copy?"

He said, "I'm sorry, all that I've got is my text here, but if you'd like to borrow it for a couple of hours, you may have it."

He took it to his office, reproduced it with even the crude machinery that was in existence in those days, and so there was a copy around of Mr. Lewis Thill's speech, and we had no trouble taking care of Mr. Lewis Thill.

Now, he thought he could lick me, because, as you probably know, Milwaukee has

[48]

a very heavy Germanic northside, and he thought that the Germans would go back on me. He forgot that I had a good German name. In fact, it's one of the few districts in the United States that my name was an asset, whereas in most places it would be a difficult name for them to grasp. But Biemiller is not an unheard of name among Germans, and enough of them stuck with me that he couldn't touch me. And also, even then we had a fairly substantial black population. It wasn't as large as it is now, but it was a substantial one. They stuck with me very well. They had even when I had been in the legislature. I had been in the legislature for three terms, I was both majority and minority leader of the La Follette progressives. I wasn't a Democrat in those days. The whole thing just went well, and I ran neck and neck with Roosevelt. And I ran neck and neck with Truman in '48.

[49]

FUCHS: Now in '48 you were, of course, out of office, but a candidate. How did you become involved in a convention and with the civil rights plank?

BIEMILLER: Well, I was a delegate, I was elected. We elected delegates out there in those days. I was district delegate. I was elected by my peers to represent them on the Platform Committee. I have always been a very strong civil rights person, and I made up my mind there was going to be a strong civil rights plank in that platform. It was really that simple. I just went there with an idea we were going to have a strong civil rights plank, and I fought for it and got it; and then went through with what I told you earlier with Ed Flynn and so on, agreeing it was politically a very wise move. Ben Grauer -- one of the first TV guys, who died

[50]

just the other day -- had me on TV, I remember, on the thing.

Anyhow I was on one of those -- you remember the entire network was about five stations here on the East Coast at that time. I was on with him.

I also remember my old friend, Norman Thomas, with whom in my youth I had been associated -- in fact, I ran his campaign in the middle Atlantic states in '32 -- was there covering for the Hearst papers; and he just belittled me. He said, "Oh, Andy, stop the nonsense, you can't get a civil rights plank into that platform." Well, I want to say for him at least he ate crow when we accomplished it. But that was really what it boiled down to. I was determined we were going to have a strong civil rights plank. When I look back at that plank today, it looks like nothing.

[51]

It was a symbol. That is obviously what it was, and that's what Ed Flynn saw it as.

Walter White was then the head of the NAACP. I never saw a man so happy in my life. He grabbed me as soon as he could get to me after the event took place, and just hugged me all over, you know, and whatnot. And the then editor of the Milwaukee Journal, Ferguson, was on the floor -- sitting with the Wisconsin delegation. As luck would have it, the bare majority arrived when Wisconsin voted. We picked up a few after us, but that was what put it over. He turned to me and says, "Do you realize what you've done?"

I said, "I don't know, what do you mean?"

"Well," he said, "you know, the LaFollette boys used to go to Republican Conventions and year after year, starting with the old man, they'd offer a minority plank, and they got snowed

[52]

under. Here you come, the first time you've ever really been a delegate to a Democratic Convention and you pass a minority plank." He said, "It's unheard of."

The result was the Milwaukee Journal gave me a tremendous play, both on their radio station and in the newspaper, and went along and, you know, I got all the ink I needed. Any politician needs ink if he's going to succeed. And this turned out to be a very, very good thing. Fergie was a very decent citizen. Even though he came out of Mississippi, he really believed in civil rights. And he was editor at the time of the Milwaukee Journal.

FUCHS: Would you say that the main difference between the majority and minority was just more specific language?

BIEMILLER: Yes. That was really what it was.

[53]

And the fact they were fighting. Oh, in the Platform Committee, Scott Lucas, a little drunk, read me out of the party. He made a spread-eagle speech literally reaching way down on the floor: "Who is this pipsqueek who knows more than Franklin Roosevelt knew about Negro rights?" You know, this kind of thing? And so, I say, it became symbolism.

FUCHS: He referred to Humphrey in the same terms, didn't he?

BIEMILLER: Oh, yes, sure. And he was willy-nilly voted, however, for our minority plank; because Arvey just voted everybody. Francis Myers was chairman of the committee. He was willy-nilly voted for our plank, because Dave Lawrence just voted everybody. Manny Celler made the speech defending the majority plank. He was willy-nilly voted for the minority plank by Ed Flynn. Very curious development

[54]

but one of the interesting ironies of that convention, what went on. The Missouri delegation, if my memory serves me right I'm not sure of this; I'd have to check it out -- split on the issue. I don't know.

FUCHS: I have read that Humphrey seemed to be wavering at one time as to whether you…

BIEMILLER: Genie [Helen Eugenie] Anderson, later Ambassador to Bulgaria and Sweden, and Orville Freeman, Governor of Minnesota and later Secretary of Agriculture, and I sat up with Hubert for three hours persuading him to make that speech. He was worried about it. Finally he said, "All right, I'll do it."

As far as I know he wrote it himself.

FUCHS: He wrote it entirely by himself; it wasn't written for him?

BIEMILLER: Yes, it has all the marks of Humphrey

[55]

in it. I'd known Hubert very well since '45 and this was a typical Humphrey speech.

FUCHS: Shorter than most.

BIEMILLER: Oh, yes. Well, he knew he had to be shorter. We had been kidding Hubert all his life on that. You know the great line that his wife pulled on him one time, and he's used this to wind up speeches when he didn't know how to stop any other way. (He can get so wound up he can't quit.) We brought him out to the AFL convention in '47, when the buildup was on for him to run for the Senate against Joe Ball. And those old AF of L conventions were hell on earth to address, because everybody on that floor fancied himself as a pretty good orator. The chances were, if you spoke, people would be reading newspapers you know, so on, so on.

So, Hubert at the end of about 20 minutes

[56]

got a tremendous ovation; it didn't stop him, went right on. At the end of about 35 minutes he got another tremendous ovation; he went right on. Finally, in about 50 minutes he quit, but again a tremendous ovation. So, we, go back to the hotel, I was with Hubert and Muriel, and Hubert said, "How did I do?" He was cockier in those days than he is now, if you can believe it.

I said, "Well, Hubert, look, great; but, Jesus, what a chance you took. An AF of L convention anybody gets cheers at the end of 20 minutes they'd better quit; 35 minutes you certainly should have quit."

He said, "Goddamn it, they listened didn't they?"

I said, "Yes, they did."

Whereupon Muriel pipes up and said,, "Hubert, some day you must learn that to be

[57]

immortal, a speech does not have to be eternal."

And I've heard him use this when he gets going on a speech he doesn't know how to quit, he says, "My wife told me along time ago to be immortal a speech doesn't have to be eternal, I'm quitting."

FUCHS: That's good.

BIEMILLER: I've heard him, when he gets going. I remember at a big CIO meeting, I think it was, one time, or AFL-CIO -- it doesn't matter what it was -- but he just was going and going and going and he didn't know how to quit and this is how he wound it up. I've heard him do it a couple of other times, but in that one particularly, he had been going about an hour and a half, and there was just no end in sight,. you know. Now, he met his comeuppance the other day on this kind of thing, though -- not

[58]

comeuppance but he certainly followed it. He was due to speak and Meany was due to speak at a legislative conference of the meat cutter's union here, and he was late getting there, so they put Meany on. And Meany had literally just been introduced and said maybe five words and Hubert shows up and passes the word he's got to get back to the Senate in a hurry.

Well, Meany says, "Look, I'll yield to you, but I don't expect you to talk all morning. I'll give you just fifteen minutes." Meany timed him, fourteen minutes. So Meany congratulated him for once having learned how to make a speech with some content to it and not just ramble all over the lot, you know. That's the hell of Hubert's speeches, if you analyze them, he's rambling.

Walter Reuther used to do the same thing. He'd get intoxicated with his own voice and just

[59]

ramble and ramble, and, in fact, the newspapermen used to make up little pools as to how long Walter would speak when he started. Also sometimes they'd even go so far as to certain pet phrases he was always using, how long the speech would go before this phrase would appear. You know, the first time you hear these people they're tremendous, and this is very true. This is mainly what they're doing, they're trying to make an impression on an audience for the first time; but if you sit around listening to them time after time, you get awful fed up with it.

FUCHS: A lot of the same thing.

BIEMILLER: Yes.

FUCHS: You've already indicated that you felt the civil rights plank was very determinative in the '48. Of course, you also said that the

[60]

farm vote in Wisconsin in particular was important.

BIEMILLER: Absolutely. And boy, they wanted no part of the Republican Party; they didn't trust Dewey at all. I think one of the things that hurt Dewey most -- I'm a great believer in symbolism in politics; that's one reason, I think, Carter is going places, although I don't like what he's doing -- was that famous line of Alice Longworth, about Dewey, "The little man on the wedding cake," and that got around. Believe you me, that's the kind of thing that is devastating to a guy. Also, another thing I ran into in that campaign that struck me as stupidity on the part of the Republicans. They were circulating a story about Harry Truman that they thought was going to make him look bad and it boomeranged. The story goes that Harry and Bess and their daughter go to visit

[61]

one of the most beautiful rose gardens in the United States, just one bed, after another and each one is better than the last one. Harry finally turns to the owner and says, "Gee, tell me, what kind of manure do you use to get roses like this?"

Whereupon, as the story goes, the daughter pipes up and says, "Father, you shouldn't say manure, you should say fertilizer."

And Bess says, "You keep your big nose out of this, it's taken me 20 years to get him to say manure."

Now, why anybody thought that story would backfire on Harry, I don't know. I think, again, it made him into just a plain, ordinary, down to earth human being. There's hardly a guy in this country that doesn't occasionally say "horseshit" or something like that.

FUCHS: That's interesting, because I've heard the story

[62]

of course, but I've never heard it in this context. It was part of the campaign?

BIEMILLER: The Republicans were using it in the campaign. Yes, the story pops up in various forms, but that was the way they were using it, at least in Wisconsin that's the way they were using it. The Republicans were telling the story thinking they were going to get people mad at Harry Truman. I loved it when I first ran into it. I said, "Boy, tell it some more. Let them tell it to everybody, particularly farmers." You know, what the hell.

FUCHS: The farm vote -- I believe the story goes -- in many areas, went his way because of the lack of grain bins. That was in heavy grain areas. Was there something particular in Wisconsin, that they were…

BIEMILLER: The price of milk, which the Republicans

[63]

were always trying to keep down, they didn't like. It was really the farmers in Wisconsin just didn't trust Dewey, he was a city slicker. They thought Harry was one of them and by God, he was, and they wanted him. In that sense this is one of the reasons that Carter got elected, people identified with him.

FUCHS: Of course, Mr. Truman has been credited with saying labor did it.

BIEMILLER: Well, I think we had something to do with it; but we didn't do it alone.

FUCHS: You would give more percentage to the civil rights rather than labor?

BIEMILLER: If I had to say so, yes. But it's always a combination. How can you tell for sure? Politics is not an exact science by a long shot. You know, it goes on and on.

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I remember telling the President a story one time, that is one of my priceless political stories, and he roared because it was the kind of thing he understood so thoroughly and enjoyed so much.

When I first went out to Milwaukee, in January '33, at the invitation of the then Socialist Mayor Daniel Webster Hoan, to become part of the machinery there, I was sitting around trying to find out more about the background of politics there. I remember sitting one night with an old brewery worker, Otto Eich, a big upright fellow with crew-cut and so on, and I said, "Otto, I don't understand it." (Here the big mayoral elections are in the spring of presidential years.) "In the spring of '32 you returned Dan Hoan with the biggest vote he ever had, you elect a city treasurer, you elect a district attorney -- when nobody would run for the

[65]

job, you elect a young 26 year old kid -- you elect a majority of the Board of Aldermen, but you lose the city comptroller. How do you account for that?"

He looks at me and says, "Andrew, don't be so dumb, we run a guy with a goddamn foreign name," -- his name was Bonachowicz -- "if we run a guy with a good American name like Shimmelpfennig there is nothing to it." He was dead serious, and he meant it; and the funny part about it is he's probably right. And that story's been perpetuated in a couple of textbooks that are around and I think that it is a perfect story to show how people felt. Now, that's 45 years ago, but nonetheless, that ethnic feeling was awfully strong. Bonachowicz.was a Pole, as you might gather from his name -- a respected labor leader by the way, head of the hosiery workers which in those days was a very important union (they're now extinct

[66]

practically), but he couldn't quite make it. His opponent was also a Polish guy, named Kotecki, but that name you could pronounce a little easier than you could Bonachowicz and he was an incumbent, which also gives the guy a certain advantage. But I think my friend Otto Eich was absolutely right. Shimmelpfennig was a good American name and Bonachowicz wasn't, on the north side of Milwaukee, and part of the south side's heavy German, too. And I remember telling Harry Truman that story and he loved it. He said, "Oh, boy."

I don't know whether he ever used it himself later on, which I wouldn't have objected to. But I mean that's the perfect story to illustrate how you get into these ethnic groups and how strongly they feel, and they are the Americans. This is true to this day.

[67]

Another aspect of this, I remember one time -- I'm just chatting about politics -- Claiborne Pell was opposed by the incumbent Governor Roberts, who had been a fairly popular Governor, but got into a minor scandal over not counting some soldier's votes and barely survived as Governor. But anyhow, he's running, and our leaders up there at a little conference we had in New England one time, were pooh-pooping him saying, "Look, he's a stuffed shirt, State Department, panty waist guy, he ain't got a prayer. Roberts is a down to earth politician."

I said, "I know that, but what you may be forgetting is that Claiborne Pell speaks French fluently, and he speaks Portugese fluently and you've still got big colonies in your state of people who still speak French and who still speak Portugese. He'll go and talk to them in French and Portugese and watch what happens." He swept those areas.

[68]

The late Aime Forand came from Rhode Island and in the town that he came out of, Woonsocket, French was the normal language, not English. So, when a guy goes in talking their language they're going to listen. What the hell. These things you don't laugh off.

FUCHS: Kennedy went over big in Berlin by just a phrase.

BIEMILER: "Ich bin ein Berliner."

FUCHS: They loved it.

BIEMILLER: Sure. I mean this is just human nature, and you've got to learn how to play these things. But I was always amused at those labor leaders in Rhode Island, a couple of them are still alive. I rib them about it every now and then; "You guys said that Pell…" I. understand everything they're saying about Pell. He pulled one six years

[69]

ago in his last election, that honestly I was worried about. I thought it might cost him the election. He was in trouble. [John H.] Chafee was running against him, who has now got a seat in the Senate; he won last year. Chafee was a former Governor and a respected guy in the state. We owe Claiborne a lot on his voting record, he was a good solid citizen. So, the labor leaders in the state got busy and started putting meetings together and so on; and Claiborne comes into a big meeting one day of textile workers primarily, lot of French Canadians around and so on. He had brought with him a rather nondescript looking lady, maybe 65 years old. And he said, "Now, before I speak I want to introduce you to the woman I think more of in this world than anybody except my mother and my wife. I want to introduce my nanny."

[70]

Jesus Christ, I don't think there were five people in that room who knew what a nanny was, you know. But Claiborne comes out of this upper crust in America. But just imagine trying to talk to a group of -- Truman would not have ever pulled a bull like that. Well, in the first place he never had a nanny, but it was the kind of bull that Harry Truman would never have pulled.

I suppose the reason we all loved Harry Truman so much was just his goddamn unmitigated guts. That's what we need, and we haven't got it. A guy that's willing to fight and take on the enemy, and that unfortunately is not what's in the White House right now.

FUCHS: Were you quite concerned about the polls in '48?

BIEMILLER: Not really. I was so damn busy working

[71]

in Wisconsin that I didn't really know too much. Oh, I'll tell you another incident on this. I wound up that campaign with a small deficit of about $2,000. The Saturday before I'd been out seeing an old friend of mine, Abie Brown, who was the local agent for Crown Cork and Seal and you can imagine that he had no trouble selling his product to all of the breweries in Milwaukee. Everything was still caps in those days. Now I knew that I could always at the last minute pick up two or three hundred bucks for election day work from Abie. So I went out to hit him for two or three hundred bucks and I told him of this incident, of our talk with the National Committee, Tehan and mine, where they said, "If you guys are right we carry the country." He was interested and while we were talking the phone rang. He said, "Yes, Jim, where are you? Chicago?, Oh,

[72]

you're in your own office in Chicago, all right. What's on your mind?"

He said, "Well, you're such a red hot Democrat," as he told me the story, "I'm willing to bet you fifteen thousand to one thousand that Dewey wins."

Now, I'd heard as you have, that these bets were around, but I never seen one or heard of one before. Abie said, "Let me think a minute," turned to me and tells me what it's all about, said, "That story you told me, how true?"

I said, "Abie I wouldn't lie to you, but I can't verify any other state in the Union, I'll tell you we're carrying Wisconsin, that much I will insist."

He said, "My God, I'm tempted." He sad, "I think I will."

He said, "You're on; I'll take the bet."

[73]

The morning after elections, he called me; "How much of a deficit have you got?" I said, "About two thousand bucks." He said, "Come out and get it."

FUCHS: Oh, is that right?

BIEMILLER: Yes. He had won fifteen thousand bucks, fifteen thousand to one thousand bet. Now, I don't know how often this went on, everybody kept saying these bets were around. This is the only one I know of, at least in terms of big money, that was ever made. You know, a guy's got to be awful cocky and confident to bet $15,000 to $1,000.

FUCHS: It was a lot more money then, too.

BIEMILLER: Oh, sure. I say, Abie Brown could find the thousand all right, and he loved to get the fifteen.

[74]

FUCHS: Joe Rauh was an official of the ADA, I believe. Do you know him?

BIEMILLER: Oh, I know Joe very well.

FUCHS: It has been written in a book -- perhaps you have read it -- The Candid Biography of Hubert Humphrey, by a man named Griffiths,…

BIEMILLER: Yes, I know the author.

FUCHS: …that a White House staff assistant told Rauh that the liberals could not possibly win. Do you know who was involved in that by any chance?

BIEMILLER: No.

FUCHS: He didn't identify the man.

BIEMILLER: Rauh actually wrote the minority plank that we put in, the wording of it. I had broken with ADA at that time; I was the first

[75]

political director of the ADA. Leon Henderson went off on a tangent. He was part of this Eisenhower crowd and I resigned, I said, "To hell with you." Henderson was the leader of ADA at the time, you know. We used to call it a government-in-exile. That's really what it was. It was Leon Henderson, Paul Porter, Wendell Wyatt, and so on. I had resigned from ADA, and I was mad. I had a lot of fun in '68 in the Humphrey campaign when ADA wouldn't endorse Humphrey. Labor leaders kept coming up to me saying, "Haven't seen you resign lately. What's the matter with you, why haven't you resigned from ADA? Most of the fellows have."

I said, "Oh, you guys are such Johnny-come-latelies. I resigned in 1948, I didn't have to wait until '68. I never did have any use for what ADA did after they got out on that Eisenhower binge. They were a very integral

[76]

part of that Eisenhower thing. Henderson was convinced that Truman couldn't be re-elected. Also, you see, ADA was primarily intellectuals, and most of them didn't feel comfortable with Harry Truman. He wasn't their kind of a guy. And he wasn't, thank God. We didn't need that kind of a guy.

Now, on the other hand, they had no use for Wallace either, that was the tragedy of it. They finally did back Truman in the campaign, but they tried awfully hard to get Eisenhower nominated. Well, you remember, it was Ike himself that just wouldn't have any part of it, thank God, also. Because they might have gotten away with that if Ike had just wanted to play games. Although I don't see how the hell you can unseat a sitting President at a convention of his own party. The only time that could have happened that I can see in American history is a rather interesting one that most

[77]

people forget about.

I don't think Abraham Lincoln could have gotten the nomination of the Republican Party in 1864. Most people forget he didn't run on the Republican ticket. He put his own ticket together, the Union Party, and Fremont had been nominated on the Republican ticket. And he got Fremont off the ballot with a simple little deal. He made a deal with the Republican leaders that he'd fire Montgomery Blair as Postmaster General if they would take Fremont off the ticket, and that's what happened.

FUCHS: You know your history.

BIEMILLER: I used to teach history.

FUCHS: How did you happen to become a special assistant to Oscar Chapman then?

[78]

BIEMILLER: He invited me there. He needed a guy to solve a couple of labor problems for him. He was having trouble with the labor movement on the big dams out West; and he asked me to come and see if I could straighten this thing out for him. So, I made a trip around on all the big dams. I enjoyed that thoroughly. I drove all over the West in a Bureau of Reclamation car with a driver. I remember one day, for example, racing with a herd of antelope. It was an exciting kind of thing, you know. And I came back and I sat down with Oscar and I said, "Look, Oscar, I have no doubt that your engineers are great people, they know everything there is to know about strains and stresses of materials, but they don't know a goddamn thing about strains and stresses of human beings. They just don't know how to sit down with a local labor

[79]

leader and work out a problem with him." I said, "What you've got to do is what Bonneville has done." (Bonneville came under the Department of Interior in a round about way.) "You've got to set up a labor section, and put somebody in charge and establish bargaining at the dams and establish some ground rules." I said, "It isn't a difficult thing to do. " Well I'm delighted to tell you that he did it, and that system is still operating to this day. Even the Republicans didn't try to disturb it. That was how I got in there. Oscar and I had been friends.

FUCHS: How did you become friends?

BIEMILLER: He was assigned to Wisconsin by the Democratic National Committee. In those days they used to pick somebody up, give them two or three states and Oscar used to come into

[80]

Wisconsin and work on the things there. That's how I got to know him.

FUCHS: You enjoyed that work then?

BIEMILLER: Oh, very much. It was a great job. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

FUCHS: Was there anything that you remember about the speech of the Southerners against the civil rights plank? I believe it was John Battle of Virginia that gave the principal one.

BIEMILLER: I think it was; I don't really remember. We knew it was rolling, I don't mean we assumed it was a landslide because it wasn't; we had a comfortable majority.

A couple little things on it that were kind of funny. We had an incumbent district attorney at that time, Bill McCauley, who was in bad with the black population, Negroes as

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we called them in those days, in Milwaukee, because he wouldn't appoint an assistant DA. And we had a big rally one night, and he naturally came, because it was a county rally, for Negroes, down in the Negro center. I had the then Congressman from Chicago, the first black guy to be chairman of a …

FUCHS: Dawson.

BIEMILLER: Yes, I had Bill Dawson come in; he was a tremendous orator. So there was a big mob out, and McCauley turned to me and says, "Do you mind if I speak after you?" he said, "Normally I would speak ahead of you."

I said, "No, Bill I don't give a goddamn."

He said, "All right, I'd like to speak after you."

So, I spoke, a fairly short, maybe eight minute speech, mainly civil rights, as you might

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expect. I mean what the hell, with that audience.

So then McCauley comes on right after me. He was a little bit plastered, not badly, but just a little bit, and he says something like this and it was all he said. He said, "I want you to know how proud I am of Andy Biemiller, he’s my neighbor" (we lived about three doors apart). "I was the other delegate from this district to the National Convention, and we were so proud of Andy. You know one of the things he did was he drove those no good Southerners out of the convention." He said, "It just so happened the Mississippi delegation was right across the aisle from us," -- they were. He said, "When they got up to leave, I was sitting on the aisle, I stuck my foot out and I tripped one of the sons of bitches." Well, the place went wild and that's all he said.

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There was no more campaigning that he had to do. Those are the funny little things you get into.

Bill Dawson was one of the most tremendous orators I ever listened to in my life. God he could turn it on. You know, he started out in life as a Republican, but when the guy that just preceded Daley came along, and the New Deal came along, he became a Democrat and stayed there. But Bill was loyal as hell and he'd fight hard. I was delighted to make friends with him early in the game.

FUCHS: Were there any Negro leaders that could really deliver a large bloc of Negro votes in those days? In '48?

BIEMILLER: Well, I don't think there were. I happen to have had a couple of pretty good lieutenants that I got through the Mayor's office. They were people who had been working with the Mayor's office. One of them was one

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of the tallest, thinnest men I ever knew, a guy named Pete Miles. He'd been with me way back when I was in the legislature.

FUCHS: Are these black people?

BIEMILLER: Yes, black people I'm talking about now. I had about a thousand Negro votes in my legislative district. He handled them beautifully for me, but in a typical kind of a way that the Negroes handle politics. I'm talking now about state legislatures. The first time that Pete met me, Otto Hauser, the secretary to the Mayor, said, "Now, Pete," -- and he told him, among other things, I was a graduate of Cornell. About five minutes later Pete comes back and he said, "Did Otto say, Andy, you were a graduate of Cornell?"

"Yes, that's right."

"Don't worry, you'll have our votes."

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I said, "What the hell are you talking about?"

He said, "I'm just going to spread a story that you were responsible for Brud Holland getting an athletic scholarship to Cornell." Years later I told this story to Brud Holland, he nearly collapsed, he laughed like hell, he thought it was very funny. He was an all-American end, if you remember, at that time at Cornell.

This is one other thing I did that they remembered down in that area, because believe me, it was the bartenders and the semi-underworld and the pimps and the prostitutes, and so on, that you got votes out of, more than you did the handful of high-hat Negroes.

When I was working for the War Production Board, I got back to Milwaukee occasionally, and each time I did I'd head for Walnut Street. Walnut Street from about Third to

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Eighth was where the black saloons were; and I never knew where Pete Miles was going to be working. I'd go in and I'd say, "Has anybody seen Pete Miles?" Well, usually somebody had seen him, and they'd say, "He's at such and such a joint working tonight." He was an itinerant, intermittent bartender, you know.

So, I'd walk in there. Well, the word got all over that black area, "Andy Biemiller even came to see Pete Miles when he wasn't running for office." Which I did. As a result, when I went back to run for Congress in '44 boy did I have that thing solid. Then in '48 with this thing going on, the Negro Republican Club invited me to speak to them in '48. They wouldn't back their candidate, you know. Really a funny one on that. But they were there.

When I say they handled this, that was

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the election of '36 that he pulled this Brud Holland thing. In '38 he gets hold of me here and he says, "Now look, Andy," he said, "that Brud Holland thing we can't use anymore, you know that's gone." And he said, "Furthermore in your first term in the legislature you emerged as a pretty important person, you were the Governor's leader," -- which I was; I was Phil LaFollette's leader. He said, "I need a couple of jobs down here, I've got to have one for me and one for my girl friend so I can point out how important you are."

So, we had a guy named Phil Flanner running WPA in those days, and I called Phil and he said, "I'll be in Milwaukee in a day or two; I'll talk with you, we can straighten it out." Well, fixing the girl friend up was no trouble at all. She was really a good nurse, and they established a project for her of house-to-

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house visiting nurse, for black kids, little kids; but Pete was walking around the bars, "Have we got an assemblyman. You know what I'm doing? I'm on the writer's project of WPA."

Now, what he didn't tell them was he was clipping newspapers. But you know, it sounded, oh boy. And this is the kind of game you've got to play in politics and that you understand, and oh, he worked hard and he never tried to hold me up for a dime. It was a very funny situation. We'd agree. I remember the first time I ran I said, "How many people do you need?"

He said, "Well, I think I need about seven guys to work the precinct, the lower end of the precinct here, and we'll work out of such and such a tavern" -- in those days taverns had to close on election day, but they worked out of a back room -- "and about 24 bucks; seven guys

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and me, three dollars a day."

Well, you stop to remember in '36 three dollars a day still looked like money, you know. Toward the end of the day I wander in and Pete shows me how they've been checking people off, he'd done a good job. He said, "That's great." And I said, "Now, you want to pay the boys off," and I handed him three $10 bills and started to walk away."

He said, "Wait a minute," and I thought, "Oh, oh, here comes the touch." He said, "You gave me thirty, you only owed me twenty-four, here's six bucks." You don't find many Negro politicians that are that honest. I said, "You keep that six bucks, I intended it, buy the fellows some beer or something, you know, tonight. But boy that's an honest guy among Negro politicians that offers you money back.

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FUCHS: How did you migrate from Sandusky, Ohio to Wisconsin?

BIEMILLER: Cornell. And then from Cornell I taught at Syracuse and I taught at the University of Pennsylvania, and that's where Dan Hoen picked me up and asked me to come out to Milwaukee. He was, frankly, looking for -- a word I don't like -- for a young intellectual, is what he was after. The great intellectual leader of the Socialists in Milwaukee, had been killed by a streetcar in '28 and they hadn't replaced him. Victor Berger, who served several terms in Congress.

FUCHS: In other words, you went into labor and civil rights?

BIEMILLER: Then I drifted into the labor movement, you see, from there. Now one of the first things I did in the legislature; Clarence

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Mitchell and I are old, old friends, we get along beautifully together, and I said, "You know, Clarence, I don't think I've ever told you about the first little political deal I did for Negroes. " I said, "As I look back on it now it was awful minor, but boy, it made a hero out of me." I said, "The fellow who had the heavy black district, a little guy named Ben Rubin, and I, put a bill in making it a misdemeanor for a bartender to break a glass after he had served a Negro." This was a dirty trick they were pulling on blacks trying to keep them out of bars. They'd serve you and then when you finished the beer they'd ostentatiously break the glass in front of them.

FUCHS: Did they have to serve them?

BIEMILLER: Well, they didn't have to, but they

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were doing it. But this was the signal, "Stay out of here!"

So, we passed a bill making it a misdemeanor to do this. It was enforced just once, that's all it had to be, no more trouble. And Clarence said, "My God, Andy, you think that was little, in those days that was a tremendous accomplishment."

I suppose really I picked it up because in Sandusky, Ohio where I was born we mixed with black people constantly, we didn't have any problems. I sat in double seats with black kids all the way through grade school.

I gave John Rankin a fit one day on the floor by just calmly saying, in the middle of some debate about Negro rights, that I had played baseball on a grade school team with five blacks and four whites. My God, I thought he'd have apoplexy, you know. John Rankin just couldn't understand this kind of thing

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at all. I grew up with it. My mother always insisted that the blacks, or Negroes as she called them, are people just as much as whites are and "I don't want to catch you ever being mean or nasty just because a person is a Negro." I think a lot of it goes back to this kind of thing. Now that, of course, in part is one of the mysteries about Harry Truman. When you stop and think about it, he's the guy that really broke the color line in this country when he went after the armed services; and yet here he came from -- well, remember his dear old mother was a Confederate until the day she died. She wouldn't sleep in Lincoln's bed.

FUCHS: He did bring out that Executive Order on equality of treatment and opportunity. Were you involved in that in any way?

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BIEMILLER: No, I wasn't involved in it at all, but that's what set the thing off.

FUCHS: He also came out for fair employment practices.

BIEMILLER: Yes. And GE Charlie Wilson was the chairman as I remember, of that first commission that he appointed, and so on. They just went ahead and quietly got the things done. But how the hell with his background he developed this I don't know. And in one sense Lyndon Johnson, too, if you stop and think about it.

Lyndon used to argue with me on the early civil rights bills. You know, most people forget there was a civil rights bill in '57. We're hitting a 20th anniversary of it this month. And he finally got behind it. But I remember George Reedy telling me at that time, he said,

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"Look, Andy, let me tell you something. If Lyndon Johnson ever gets national office, he will be the man who will show you the most amazing interest in civil rights of any man in this country."

I said, "Gee, that's hard to believe with his record."

"I know, but I'm just telling you."

Well, it wasn't until he took over that I remembered this. I had sort of forgotten it, you know, and George and I were very good friends, so I knew he wouldn't lie to me about the thing. And then Lyndon, as you well know, was the guy that really shoved things through.

Now, I want to say also -- it had nothing to do with Truman, but it's an interesting business -- I do take a lot of credit for Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. I saw to it that goddamn thing got passed and I got Meany to

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back it all the way and so on. Meany wanted, as he put it very bluntly in testifying on the Senate side, "I need a weapon for my recalcitrant local unions who don't want to admit Negroes."

FUCHS: Precisely what is Title VII?

BIEMILLER: That's the one where you can file cases of discrimination because of race, creed, or color. The Kennedy's didn't want it. Now they had no objection to a Title VII, but they didn't want it as part of the big bill. They insisted it would cause trouble. I had put together a group of Congressmen who just simply said to everybody, "Unless we have, what was popularly known as FEPC in those days -- it's now EEOC -- in the bill, we're not going to back it." We said this. Meany issued a January 1, 1963 New Year's message,

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in which he said, "The big goal of this year is an FEPC," and so on. This was orchestrated, needless to say.

We got the then Assistant Attorney General, Katzenbach, who later wound up in the State Department. (They transferred him out.) In sitting down with a bunch of Congressmen, of which Dick Bolling was one of the ringleaders, we said, "We either get an FEPC or you're not going to get a bill, don't kid yourself." Well, we got it over.

Now, where Lyndon gets in this, Lyndon was with us on this fight. And that's an interesting twist, you see, Kennedy didn't want it in the big bill. Now, I don't mean he objected to the idea, but he thought it would jeopardize the big civil rights bill, and so did Bobby. Bobby kept arguing with us on the thing, trying to get it knocked out. We

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said, "No thank you."

FUCHS: Lyndon really, then, came out for civil rights fairly strongly before he became President.

BIEMILLER: When he was Vice President.

FUCHS: They might argue that after he was President it was a matter of expediency.

BIEMILLER: When he was Vice President he did. And I remember another incident, just to show you how strong he was for civil rights. He hadn't been in the White House as President more than about four days, he asked Meany to come join him and the leadership at a breakfast. It was when we thought we were going to have to get the civil rights bill in the House out on the discharge petition route, because Howard Smith was still fouling things up in the Rules Committee. Even though

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technically we had control of the Rules Committee Howard could make things very nasty.

So we had this discharge petition filed. Two things happened. He has Meany come to his house. In fact, he had Meany come in Meany's own car. Remember he lived for a while in his old house, he didn't move into the White House right away, he let the Widow Kennedy stay there a bit. Meany simply transferred cars and Lyndon said, "Now, George, I want you to backstop me today, I'm going to get that civil rights bill moving." George, as he tells me this story, sort of shook, you know, thinking, "My God, what's going on here?"

So, he goes in, they talk about it, and as George is leaving the breakfast Lyndon says, "Now, goddamn it George, I want you to tell the press what you're going to do."

George said, "What do you mean, what I'm going to do?"

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"I want you and Andy Biemiller to go up and see Charlie Halleck and tell him he's got to get that discharge signed."

"Well," George says, "I normally don't talk to the press at the White House." He normally doesn't, and it doesn't matter who the President is, he says, "If the President wants to talk, that's his business, I don't talk to the press." So this day he did, because Lyndon had asked him to. He said he was going to see what he could do about getting Charlie Halleck to get that bill loose. And so we did go up that afternoon, and I remember Halleck receiving us and George saying, "You've got to get that bill rolling."

Well, Charlie made a great mistake. He said, "George, you don't really," -- it was Title VI at that time, it became Title VII -- "you don't really want that Title VI in the bill."

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George says, "Stop your nonsense, that's title, we put it in there, it stays in there and anybody I catch voting against that is an enemy as far as I'm concerned."

Charlie just couldn't believe this, you know, what was going on? Well, we finally got it out of the Rules Committee, thanks to Bolling's maneuvers. I assume you have got Bolling on tape. He was closer to Harry Truman than anybody in this town. We used to put it that Dick Bolling had a backdoor key to the White House in Truman's day.

See, what had happened was, for years and years there had been a no good Congressman. There was a guy named Slaughter who was on the Rules Committee, who was a no-good bum, a Democrat, he lost in '46. In '48...

FUCHS: Roger Slaughter?

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BIEMILLER: Yes, and then in '48 Dick took on a Republican and beat him. Dick won that primary on a fluke. Binagio backed him, because the Rabbits and the Goats both had their own candidate and Binagio didn't have any, so he backed Bolling. Bolling wins by 217 votes. Bolling comes down here and Truman thinks, "Jesus, at last I've got a Congressman." And he became friends with Bolling right away. To this day Mrs. Truman pays more attention to Bolling than anybody around here.

Then the next little incident that happened: He won the primary there by 217 votes on a fluke, then he won the election without too much trouble because Harry was carrying Kansas City heavy, as you might imagine; he carried Dick right along with him. But then their rumors got started all over again that the old Pendergast boys

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were going to dump Bolling.

So, during the spring vacation of '50, without telling a soul what he was up to, Harry invited everybody of any consequence in Democratic circles, even the hangers-on you know, to quite a big luncheon at the Muehlebach. When they got through their lunch and there was nothing but chit-chat, Harry said, "I suppose you wondered why I invited you all here today." He said, "I just wanted all you fellows to hear an announcement I'm about to make. I have persuaded my old friend Tom Evans to be treasurer of the "Bolling for Reelection Committee." Bolling didn't know it. It ended any incipient move on the part of any local leaders to try to unseat Bolling.

FUCHS: Where did you hear this story?

BIEMILLER: From Bolling.

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FUCHS: Did you know Tom Evans?

BIEMILLER: I met him but I didn't know him really. But no, Bolling told me this. Bolling is a very close friend of mine. I've known Dick for years and years. I knew him before he came to Congress; and he's a hell of a guy.

FUCHS: He was a schoolteacher, too, at one time.

BIEMILLER: Yes. And then he ran the cipher room in MacArthur's headquarters during the war. He was lieutenant colonel. He was on a ship, drafted, GI, headed for the Philippines on Pearl Harbor Day. They diverted the ship down to Australia and somebody had the brains to put him in Officers Training School right away, and he wound up a lieutenant colonel, in charge of the cipher room. He and Joe Rauh were both lieutenant colonels.

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FUCHS: You say on MacArthur's...

BIEMILLER: On MacArthur's staff. Phil LaFollette was on that staff, too. He tried to get Bolling to come to Wisconsin and get into politics. But Bolling didn't like Phil LaFollette any more than I did toward the end of his career. He turned against Roosevelt, you know, terribly. We dumped him in Wisconsin, and dumped, really, the whole Progressive Party. Well, he did it in the sense that he had gotten us so damn mad that we said, "To hell with it," so on. He and his wife denounced me when I came down to go to work for the War Production Board as a turncoat.

FUCHS: Is that right?

BIEMILLER: Yes. I'd handled all of his legislation his last term as Governor. I was a thirty year old kid in the legislature. I had learned a hell

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of a lot, fast, you had to. I remember, for example, taking on a farm mortgage moratorium bill. What the hell did I know about farm mortgage moratorium? But I studied it and worked pretty hard, got up-to-date on it, and then I, in the course of this had made friends with one of those rare guys you find around the legislature, Charlie Perry. He must have been 82 years old -- in those days I'm talking about -- if he was a day old. He had been in and out of the legislature; he had once run for Governor and been beaten in the Republican primary. But he knew the rules.

Again I'm back to this business, I've always had a great interest in parliamentary procedure. A couple of my old friends in Milwaukee tipped me off, "Make friends with Charlie Perry, drive him home weekends." He was from Wauwatosa, one of the suburbs that

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I went right through anyhow; it was very easy to do . So I'd drive old Charlie home and we'd talk about the rules and we got to be friends. And in this mortgage moratorium bill, he's leading the fight against me. During a lull in the debate, he comes back and sits down beside me, and says, "Andy, if you'd call up Amendment 8 before you call up Amendment 5, I think you'd pick yourself up a couple of votes," and then just walks away.

Well, I've got a hell of a decision to make. Is he trying to trap me, or is he really being a friend as I think he was. I decided he was a friend. I did it and he was right, I picked up a couple of votes I probably wouldn't have had, passed the bill by about three votes. There are curious guys you get in legislatures like that, you know. They are independent; they like to see young guys coming along and are willing to spend time with you;

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and it was one of the most fortunate things that ever happened to me. I had to learn the rules of that assembly, which I did know. I could tie that place up in knots anytime I wanted to, which I did a lot of as time went on, when I was minority leader. About all you could do was tie the place up in knots; we didn't have any strength.

See, that's one of the legislatures -- well, you can in Texas, too, and some of the others -- you can filibuster in the Wisconsin legislature, with one restriction, however, you can't read anything and you've got to stay on the subject. And twice I did this. Once Vernon Thomson, who is now on the Federal Election Commission and was a Congressman for many years, and Governor at one time also, when he was the Speaker. And two things I did, twice I pulled this on him. Once I got the floor toward the end of a session where they made the mistake of voting

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a sine die resolution -- at a time certain, about three days in advance. I got the floor on a milk control bill, which other people were very interested in, our Teamsters, milk delivery guys -- and they were good pals of mine. And then the farmers were interested, you see and anything I could ever do to keep the farmers happy I liked to do, because then I could pick them up on some other things. And I filibustered and finally the Speaker buts in on me. He said, "Will the gentleman agree to a ten minute recess if I guarantee him the floor at the end of a recess?"

I said, "Of course, I will."

So he raps recess, motioned to me, "Come on back to my office." He said, "What the hell do you want?"

I said, "I want bill 711," or whatever the number was, "back in this chamber with no

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amendments, then I'll yield the floor."

In about an hour I get the word from the Speaker, "Will the gentleman yield for a message from the Senate with the understanding that he has the floor when the message..." And the message is read, it's the bill back with no amendments on it. And so I then said about three sentences and quit.

The other time was almost an act of desperation. I'm now getting to the time when I told you about Tehan and me between us had just enough members to block suspension of the rules. They caught us one night when we didn't even have that many people there in a night session. The majority leader hauls out a rules change that he can pass on a simple vote that barred memorials to Congress for the rest of the session. Well, this was about the only weapon that we had to even make noise you know.

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So, I get up, take the floor, and I ask the Speaker, I said, "Would you agree with me that the pending resolution, rules change, involves the rights of minorities in this legislative body?"

And he sort of smiled, as though to say, "You dumb s.o.b., yes, of course, I would."

And I said, "Okay, I'll tell you what I'm going to do. I'm going to start discussing the rights of minorities in legislative bodies, starting with the Icelandic Althing in the year 1000. And I kept talking and I kept talking and I kept talking. I had finally gotten up to around the Long Parliament, and I had been particularly a student of British history, so I was having no trouble. Hell, I could have gone on forever. I never did get to the Napoleonic days when he had that famous three-house legislature. One house could introduce bills, one house could debate them, and one

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house would vote on it. I never did get that far. Anyhow, finally the majority leader gets up, "Would I yield for a question with the understanding I have the floor. If I give the gentleman my word of honor that I will withdraw this resolution will he shut up?"

I said, "I will yield only for the purpose of withdrawing that resolution. I still have the floor."

Well, he gets up and withdraws the resolution and I shut up. But, I mean, this is the thing you can do if you know your way around legislative bodies, and I've always enjoyed this kind of thing, you see; had a lot of fun doing it. I used to do it with Roberts Rules of Order in the labor movement. I was regarded as a young Turk at one time and so on, because I was making a nuisance out of myself so far as some of the oldsters were concerned. Now, I'm an oldster, you know. You wonder as you

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look back, however.

But the whole business of the legislative process has always fascinated me. And, as I say, while I wouldn't have minded continuing as a Member of the House, I got as close to it as I could when Meany said, "Will you take this job with the understanding that you're not going to run again?" He said, "I'm not looking for a guy for about a year around here, I want a guy that will be with me right on through." I never dreamt it would last as long as it has because I never dreamt that Meany would still be president. But if Meany wasn't still president I'd be quitting. I'd like to quit, I'm 71 now; I'd like to spend a few years doing things I want to do with my wife. She's after me all the time saying, "Why don't you quit." But I can't walk out on Meany. We've gotten along beautifully together. He understands

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the legislative process thoroughly. He was president of the New York Federation of Labor, and he and old Herbert Lehman were the greatest mutual admiration society I ever knew. Lehman was Governor during the time of Meany's greatest triumphs in the legislature. He had a time there when out of I think it was 72 bills, he was successful on 67 of them, and he used to always credit Lehman. Lehman would credit Meany.

He said, "I couldn't have been a good Governor without Meany." Meany said, "I couldn't have done what I did without Lehman," you know. They really did respect each other and got along very well together and so on. So, as I say, Meany understands the legislative process. I don't have to explain anything to him. If I say "We're doing it this way," he'd say, "You're doing it that way for this

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reason. " And I'd say, "Yes, that's right. " A lot of labor lobbyists around here for international unions have trouble with their presidents who think all you've got to do is introduce a bill, get a couple of friends to be for it and maybe a month later it's a law. Well, it's a little more involved than that, as you know; but Meany understands this. You don't win everything all the time and so on.

He laid down three rules when I took this job that he said he wanted me to follow. Don't beg, in other words don't demean yourself, saying "Please, just this once." He said, "If you ever do that the guy will never have any respect for you."

Don't threaten, because you'll make an enemy out of that guy forever, and if you can really threaten you don't have to, he knows it; if you've got power knock him over.

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And don't assume you're always 100 percent right. And you just add those three things together and you've got the essence of good rules for lobbying.

I've got to get back up, I've got people coming in in about five minutes.

FUCHS: I have this one question if you have time.

BIEMILLER: All right, go ahead.

FUCHS: There has been talk of course as to whether President Truman really favored your plank, or favored the more conservative plank?

BIEMILLER: I haven't any idea, we never talked to him about it. We just went ahead and did it. As I told you earlier, I was determined to get this job done, so I never talked to him about it, or to any of his people, we just went ahead and did it.

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FUCHS: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

[Top of the Page | Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]


List of Subjects Discussed
    American Federation of Labor, 20, 55
      Humphrey, Hubert H. gives speech at a meeting of, 55-58
    Americans for Democratic Action, 74-75
    Anderson, Helen Eugenie, 54
    Arvey, Jacob M., 15, 53

    Ball, Senator Joseph H., 2, 55
    Battle, John, 80
    Becker, Carl, 19
    Berger, Victor, 90
    Biemiller, Andrew J.:

    Binagio, Charles, 102
    Blair, Montgomery, 77
    Bolling, Richard, 97 Bonachowicz, Mr., 65
    Bonneville Power, 79
    Borchert Field, 11
    Bronx, New York, 15
    Brown, Abie, 71-73

    California, 16
    The Candid Biography of Hubert H. Humphrey, 74
    Cannon, Clarence, 14
    Carter, James Earl, 60, 63
    Case bill, 31, 34, 37
    Casey, Gene, 4
    Cellar, Manny, 53
    Chafee, John H., 69
    Chapman,Oscar L., 19, 79-80

      and Biemiller, Andrew J., 77-80
      and labor problems, 77-79
    Civil rights, 63 Clark, Tom C., 19
    Congress of Industrial Organization, 57
    Connelly, Matthew J., 24
    Cornell University, 70, 84, 85

    Daley, Richard, 83
    Dawson, Bill, 81, 83
    Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, 29-30
    Democratic National Committee, 7-9
    Democratic National Convention, 1944, 3-4
    Democratic National Convention, 1948, 11-12, 14, 49-55
    Deschler, Lou, 13
    Dewey, Thomas, 60, 63, 72

    Eich, Otto, 64-65
    Eisenhower, Dwight D., 20, 29, 75-76
    Equal Economic Opportunity Commission, 96
    Evans, Tom, 103-104

    Fair Employment Practices Committee, 96-97
    Farm vote, 60, 62
    Ferguson, John Donald, 51-52
    Fishbein, Morris, 33
    Flanner, Phil, 87
    Flynn, Ed, 14, 16, 49, 51, 53
    Forand, Aime, 68
    Foreign Commerce Committee, 26
    Freeman, Orville, 54
    Fremont, John Charles, 77
    Friedrick, Jake, 20

    Grauer, Ben, 49
    Griffith, Winthrop, 74

    Haberman, George, 19
    Hague, Frank, 15
    Halleck, Charlie, 100-101
    Hauser, Otto, 84
    Health Insurance bills, 25-26, 33
    Hearst newspapers, 50
    Henderson, Leon, 75, 76
    Hennings, Tom, 27-29
    Hoan, Daniel Webster, 64, 90
    Holland, Brud, 85, 87
    House Interstate Committee, 26
    Humphrey, Senator Hubert H., 11, 14, 74, 75

      American Federation of Labor speech given by, 55-58
      Democratic National Convention, 1948, 53, 54-55
    Humphrey, Muriel, 55-57

    Indiana, 10, 15, 16, 19
    Interior Department, 79

    Johnson, Lyndon and civil rights, 35, 94-95, 97, 98-100
    Johnston, Alvanley, 38, 39-40

    Kaltenborn, H. V., 9
    Katzenback, Nickolas, 97
    Kennan, Joseph, 4
    Kennedy, John F., 68, 96, 97, 99
    Kennedy, Robert F., 97
    Korean War, 23
    Kotecki, Mr., 66

    Labor:

    LaFollette, Phil, 51, 87, 105
    LaFollette Progressive Party, 3
    Lawrence, David, 15, 53
    Lehman, Herbert, 114
    Lewis, John L., 1-2, 38
    Lincoln, Abraham, 77
    Longworth, Alice, 60
    Lucas, Scott, 53

    MacArthur, General Douglas, 104, 105
    McCauley, Bill and Biemiller, Andrew J., 80, 81-83
    McCormick, John W., 32
    McMurray, Howard, 46, 47
    Madison, Wisconsin, 7
    Meany, George, 42, 58

    Medicare, 35
    Miles, Pete, and politics in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 84-89
    Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 6, 20, 29, 30, 45, 47, 64, 71, 90 Milwaukee Journal, 47, 51, 52
    Missouri, 2-7, 54
    Mitchell, Clarence, 90-91, 92
    Monroe, Walter, 38, 40, 41
    Myers, Francis, 53

    National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, 51
    New Jersey, 16
    New York, 15
    New York Federation of Labor, 114

    Office of Price Administration, 42
    Oliver, Eli, 40-41
    O'Neal,, Emmet, 43

    Pell, Clairborne, 67, 68, 69-70
    Pendergast, Thomas J., 102-103
    Pennsylvania, 16
    Perry, Charles, 102
    Philippines, 104
    Platform Committee, 49
    Porter, Paul, 75
    Presidential election campaign of 1944, 5
    Presidential election campaign of 1948, 5-11, 60, 62

      and Truman, Harry S., 16-17

    Railroad strikes and Truman, Harry S., 32-33
    Rankin, John, 92-93
    Rationing during World War II, 44
    Rauh, Joseph, 74, 104
    Rayburn, Sam, 12, 13-14
    Reedy, George, 94-95
    Reuther, Walter, 58-59
    Rhode Island, 68
    Roberts Rules of Order, 112
    Roosevelt, Franklin D., 4, 5, 17, 46-47, 48, 53, 105
    Roosevelt, James, 20
    Rubin, Ben, 91

    Sandusky, Ohio, 44, 90, 92
    Schoemann, Peter, 20
    Slaughter, Roger, 101
    Smith, Howard, 98, 99
    Syracuse University, 90

    Taft, Robert A., 33
    Taft-Hartley Act, 30-31, 34, 37
    Tehan, Robert, 8, 110

      nominated as Judge from Eastern Wisconsin, 19, 20-23
    Texas, 13, 108
    Thill, Lewis, 46
    Thomas, Norman, 50
    Thomson, Vernon, 108
    Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 95-101
    Truman, Harry S., 18-19, 23, 48, 64, 66, 70, 76, 93, 101, 102, 103 Truman, Mrs. Harry S., 16, 17, 60, 61
    Truman, Margaret, 17, 61
    Truman Committee, 1, 40

    Union Party, 77
    United Mine Workers, 1
    University of Pennsylvania, 90

    Wallace, Hanry, 3, 5, 76
    War Production Board, 4, 6, 40, 85, 105
    Waukesha, Wisconsin, 7, 106
    Weichel, Al, 45
    White, Walter, 51
    Whitney, A. F., 38, 39
    Wilson, Charles, 94
    Wisconsin, 3, 4, 5-8, 9, 10-11, 16, 17-18, 26, 51, 60, 61, 62, 63, 71, 72, 79, 80, 105

      and Biemiller, Andrew J., in the legislature of, 105-113
    Wisconsin State Federation of Labor, 19
    Work Projects Administration, 87
    Wyatt, Wendell, 75
    Wyerville, Wisconsin, 7

    Zablocki, Clement J., 18, 22

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