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Opened November, 1964
Oral History Interview with
October 4, 1963
James R. Fuchs
FUCHS: Well, first of all, I'd like to take up a few things concerning your book The Man of Independence, (Jonathan Daniels, New York: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1950) One thing, you said that Mr. Truman cautioned you not to trust his memory but to check the facts where they were recorded. How did you find the facts checked with his memory, Mr. Daniels, and what did you do to go about finding these facts?
DANIELS: Well, I found the facts checked very well with his memory, but I was not willing, when I was first approached by Lippincott to write this book, to merely write the book that was Truman's recollection. So, while the President was good enough to give me a number of hour-long, two-hour long interviews, in which he told me about his life and various aspects of it, I didn't want to depend on that.
So, being particularly interested and also most unfamiliar with his background in Missouri, I went back to Missouri and did -- the first thing I did, I went to St. Louis and spent two or three days in the morgue of the Post-Dispatch and talked to newspaper men there who had known Truman. Then I went on out to Kansas City and interviewed friends, enemies, relatives, all kinds of people who had known Truman. I also worked long in the morgue of the Kansas City Star. Through a friend of mine in Kansas City, Jerome Walsh, I got in touch with Thomas H. Madden, of the Kansas City Title Insurance Company, who specialized in land-title law.
He did for me a complete record of the purchases, sales, mortgages, and so forth, on the Truman lands. Then I spent a great deal of time in Independence interviewing a great variety of people who had known Truman, such as friends or political associates, or political opponents, business associates, and got their story of Truman and his background.
I was very much surprised when I went to Kansas City. I knew most of the newspapermen who were covering the President. Many of them had been covering Roosevelt when I was press secretary at the White House. I was surprised to be able to find material which was not even remembered by newspapermen in Kansas City. For instance, while everybody knew that he'd been Jacobson's partner in the haberdashery store, apparently it was completely forgotten that he'd been in the building and loan business, in the oil stock business, in lead mine speculation, in purchase of a bank which almost failed while he was involved. All these things were so little remembered that -- I've forgotten the name of the man, I think his name was Shoop, who was Washington correspondent of the Kansas City Star, who when the book came out, called me up from Washington and he said, "My God, you've got this stuff right under our noses that we didn't get."
I was shocked at newspapermen covering a President, going to his press conferences, getting his handouts, the day-to-day news, but while they were waiting around him in his hotel, they didn't do any of the type of research which should be done about any President. I have the feeling that when any man becomes President, the Associated Press, the New York Times, such news agencies ought to put trained research men on his story, and as you are doing now for history, they ought to bring up all the raw material of research for current news background material. That had not been done about Truman. I doubt that up to that time it had been done on any President, and I am proud that I had enough of the historian and the newspaperman in me to want to go and find out from the source, and that's what I did.
FUCHS: You did this while Mr. Truman was yet President and being a former employee of the White House, both under Franklin D. and Mr. Truman, how did he feel about you writing a biography?
DANIELS: I had never known Mr. Truman well at all until the day he came down to the White House to be President. I had met him.
FUCHS: Do you recall where?
DANIELS: In Washington around the Senate, and at Chicago. I remember the day or so before he was nominated, he came into the lobby of the Stevens Hotel and seemed to me a little more than just another senator. And he stopped and we had a long conversation as he was coming in to register, very pleasant. Lucy, my wife, was with me, and we saw him at that convention. But as to my writing the Truman biography: I did a review in the Saturday Review of Literature about some book connected with the death of Roosevelt in which I described the people on the funeral train coming back, the movement in of the new politicians into the new President's car, and so forth. And a friend of mine, George Stevens, who was then and is now, editor of Lippincott, wrote me and asked me if I would do a book about Truman. Well, I was rather uncertain in my own mind as to whether I wanted to do a book about Truman. I had not only stayed with Truman for a brief period after the death of Roosevelt, but he also had asked me to become Director of the Rural Electrification Authority at that time. I didn't want to stay in the Government; I wanted to get out of it; I'd only come into it for the war, but when the campaign of 1948 began, I had been a delegate from North Carolina to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia and I had seen Truman there. And then, rather suddenly, he invited me to come to the White House and asked me would I travel with him in the 1948 campaign. I did travel with him on practically all those presidential treks around the country.
FUCHS: Do you remember just when it was he asked you, the month possibly?
DANIELS: Well, it was between the convention and the beginning of the first trip. Now I can't fix that, but in the Truman papers you'll probably find that I was set up as a W.O.C. consultant to the President and so I traveled with him. Then after this, I was asked to write this biography and I went to see the President about it. He said he would be glad to talk to me and give me such assistance as he could, but I wanted to make it clear to him that I didn't want to write a campaign biography; the campaign was over. I wanted to write a biography of an American President and politician. I went out to do it. He helped me tremendously, and he read my manuscript. The corrections he made were insignificant. One or two were amusing. You'll find most of his comments on the margin of the manuscript at Chapel Hill, and I got a lot of satisfaction out of doing the book.
FUCHS: Do you think the fact that he was still President vitiated any of the stories, especially stories by those who might have had unsympathetic feelings about Mr. Truman, here in Kansas City I'm thinking of particularly?
DANIELS: No, I think that the Kansas City people were very willing to talk very frankly. I remember some who were willing to talk more than frankly.
FUCHS: Could you tell me who?
DANIELS: Spencer Salisbury, for instance, and he just let go at what a "lucky son-of-a-bitch" (with the emphasis on son-of-a-bitch) he thought Harry Truman was. I didn't undertake in interviewing a person like Salisbury to go to him as Truman's emissary. I let Salisbury "spill" to use the word. I also found that people like the editor of the paper there...
FUCHS: William Southern in Independence?
DANIELS: Yes, old man Southern was very willing to talk, quite frankly, particularly about Truman's background. Some of the material he gave me I didn't use, about the suicide of Mrs. Truman's father; the rather roughneck fighting of some of Truman's people around the -- I don't know whether you call it the courthouse square or what it would be -- in Independence.
FUCHS: Could you elaborate on any of this beyond what is in your notes?
DANIELS: No, I wouldn't dare to, because in my notes I put down what they told me. And I don't remember as well now as I did then, but Sermon -- a good many of Truman's friends -- you suggest that people might speak only piously about a President. A good many of Truman's friends had a certain sense that they were just as good as Truman and they were perfectly willing to say so and claim so. I didn't approach these people as any emissary from Truman and they talked quite frankly to me. I then assessed what they said about what others said. Now, Bundschu, for instance, is a Republican. He was very helpful in getting me in touch with Salisbury. In the old history of Independence, apparently at one time, it was a community with some very rich people in it and then some people who were much plainer. And while the Trumans were never plain in the sense of the log cabin-to-President tradition, they were people in moderate circumstances compared to some of those who occupied estates in the town. It wasn't the wrong side of the railroad tracks but it was simplicity compared to the wealth on the other side of the railroad tracks.
FUCHS: Did you have any feeling about the validity of one statement as compared to another? For instance, I have in mind Spencer Salisbury's story about Mr. Truman's entrance or non-entrance into the Ku Klux Klan and there are, as you know, several versions of that. Did you feel that one was more accurate than the other?
DANIELS: At this point I can't be sure. I believe now, and as a writer I don't try to remember forever, that there were some good reasons to suppose that the faction that Truman was connected with was in fact anti-Klan, but I wouldn't have any doubt of the possibility that in those days, when the Klan seemed to be just sort of a slightly more militant Junior Order that Truman as a local politician might have joined it. I haven't investigated this; I put it down in terms of, as I remember it, in terms of the different versions: that some said he did, some said he didn't; and I don't think anybody could prove the fact about that, but I would rather depend upon what I said in The Man of Independence than what I remember now.
FUCHS: Yes, I can understand that. Well, I don't want to ask you to be a psychiatrist, but I thought that, of course, there would be certain things you couldn't put in The Man of Independence...
DANIELS: I did not really suppress anything, but I have the feeling that Harry Truman as a politician in Jackson County -- with my memory of the kind of people who went into the Ku Klux Klan down in this part of the world in its early days when it had not become nearly disreputable -- that there was nothing about Harry Truman that made me feel he wouldn't have been willing to join it in the circumstances of the time.
FUCHS: Well, I didn't have the thought that you might be suppressing something but that you wouldn't have put in, "Well, I felt Spencer Salisbury was not necessarily telling the truth at this one time," and I just wondered if you did have some thought about Spencer Salisbury, because, as you know, he is a subject of discussion as far as Harry Truman...
DANIELS: I have the feeling that Spencer Salisbury's people were more socially prominent than the Trumans were and that Salisbury had that feeling of superiority. He was, as I remember it, and once again I want to say that the best dependence is what I put in my notebooks at the time, is that Spencer Salisbury was a very dashing young man who rode with a black coat on a motorcycle, but that Truman and he were unquestionably very close in business operations in their youth. And by youth, I don't mean childhood; I mean they were people around thirty.
It happened at the time I had a friend who was, at that time, an official of the Federal agency which dealt with building and loan, banks and so forth; and from him I got copies of the correspondence when Truman in anger at Salisbury wired back to slap him down. Salisbury says Truman was just lucky to get out; he persuaded him to get out. Truman thinks Salisbury was just a crook. Well, Salisbury became the operator of a drinking club and Truman became President of the United States. So it's very easy to say, "Well, we'll take the word of the President of the United States against the word of the president of a drinking club." But there was a time when they were very close and not dissimilar young men. Obviously Truman had some of the characteristics of the gambler in him. If he hadn't, he wouldn't have been in the oil stock business, the speculation in lead mines. When he ran for the Senate it was a great, wild speculation that he could be elected to the Senate of the United States. Now, it seems in hindsight to him, very simple. He was a close friend of all the county commissioners in Missouri, he was a big Mason in Missouri; therefore he had, as he felt, friends in every county seat. But still, it was a great speculation for him to run for the United States Senate from his position as county judge of Jackson County. There is the element of the gambler in the President, as I think there has been and probably always will be in anybody who runs for public office of that sort.
FUCHS: How do you weigh this as a speculation as against his being supported by the Pendergast faction?
DANIELS: Well, the Pendergast faction didn't control Missouri. There were tremendous factions in St. Louis at that time. I will not try to say to you the details of that political situation though they are in my book. It's been a number of years -- I don't remember -- but I tried to set down the imponderables in that thing. The notebooks contain all the material, with the exception of stuff that came out of books of history and so forth; and the things I left out that are in the notebooks, were some few vulgar remarks by Spencer Salisbury about Truman. Sometimes I had to assess differences of statement between one man and another, but all that will be clear in the notebooks. When the President read the first draft, there was one little thing I remember, I had said something about the fact that the Trumans were perhaps more prominent than the Wallaces. And his idea was, "Oh God, Jonathan, don't put that in; you'll get me into all kinds of trouble," which was a trivial, personal thing and had no relationship to history, and I was glad to do it.
FUCHS: I'd like to ask you about one hiatus I noticed and see if you do remember anything. There seems to be -- well, Mr. Truman in his Memoirs, of course, said that he worked for the railroad company in 1901 and you indicated that this was 1902. Do you recall the source of that information regarding the railroad company?
DANIELS: I can't be sure, but I think I got it from the railroad. Now, I know, for instance, that when he told me he worked in some minor capacity for the Kansas City Star, Roy Roberts went back into their corporate records and found out for me the exact dates when he was employed by the Kansas City Star. I'm not sure that I got anything as specific as that from the railroad, but wherever possible I did not depend upon the President's recollection as to dates and so forth. But if it was at all possible I checked it from the source where he was employed.
FUCHS: Yes, I noticed that you checked the Star records and showed that he actually only worked there for several weeks, I believe two, in August of 1902. And then there's just sort of a lapse as to what he was doing between the time he worked for the Star and the time he worked for the bank which, according to the directories, may have been from late 1903, and then, of course, from 1904 on, but there is sort of a gap for 1903. Now did you notice that?
DANIELS: I can't say at this point that I did, but of course, the only records about his employment at the bank -- the bank, as I understand it -- when I went out there, had ceased to be a bank. I think it had failed. I'm not sure, but I believe so. The only thing that I could depend on was the city directory and his recollection, and also I checked his banking work with one of the Eisenhower brothers. You will know who he was.
FUCHS: Is that Arthur?
DANIELS: He was also employed in the bank. I checked with him. Wherever there was a date or a fact about the President's young manhood that I could check from any source, I didn't depend upon his recollection. I tried to pin it down, but a city directory, you don't know whether he went to work in August, September, or when. You know that in this period....
FUCHS: The time lag there would be a factor.
FUCHS: David Morgan?
DANIELS: He wrote me letters which ought to be in my papers all about his memories of their association.
FUCHS: What about Jerry Culbertson, was he still living then? I don't know -- he may still be living? He was connected with Mr. Truman in the zinc enterprise and then also in the oil enterprise with Morgan?
DANIELS: I just don't remember at this moment, but my papers ought to show it.
FUCHS: Well, we'll get into that. Another point was that you stated Mr. Truman got himself excused from service on the Mexican border and I was wondering the source of that because, as I understand, he had been honorably discharged from the National Guard in 1911 after serving two hitches. Would he have had any obligation to serve on the Mexican border?
It would show up in my notes if it's there. I don't see where I say, "got himself excused from service on the Mexican border" [Daniels at this point referred to the text of The Man of Independence] -- wait a minute, I think that relates to the fact that he was having difficulty on the farm, wasn't he, at that time?
FUCHS: Well, I don't know. That would have been, what, 1916, that they went to the border?
DANIELS: Well, "the mortgage on Martha Ellen's land was rearranged at $25,000 at the Bank of Belton in February, 1917."*[Daniels read this from The Man of Independence, p. 86] He got excused in April, 1917. My knowledge about the mortgage comes from Madden's study of the lands. I'm sure Truman must have told me that, but that will show up also in the interviews with Truman.
FUCHS: Did Mr. Truman ever indicate why his father and his bride might have gone to Lamar to live?
DANIELS: Yes, as I understand, the old man was a cattle dealer and I think he just figured that his chances of cattle trading were better there. That's my memory now.
FUCHS: Well, that's what we want, as you remember it.
DANIELS: Once again, that could have come from nobody, except Truman, and if he did tell me that, it will be in the interview with Truman in my notebook.
FUCHS: What about the statement that John Truman was called "Peanuts?" Do you recall the source of that? As you say, it may be in the notebooks when I have access to them?
DANIELS: I don't recall the source of that right offhand, no. But I'm sure it's correct.
FUCHS: Do you recall a man named William P. Harvey who was supposed to have been associated with Mr. Truman? Now this may not be in your book, but I wanted to bring it in here; he was supposed to have been the publicity manager in the 1934 campaign for Mr. Truman and I wondered if perhaps you talked about it?
DANIELS: I don't remember him.
FUCHS: Do you know who wrote Mr. Truman's speeches in his senatorial -- and judge campaigns, as far as that goes?
DANIELS: Now judge, I don't know about but I do know that -- who was the man, a very well to do, prominent Jew, very attractive man, and a great liberal -- Lucy will know his name -- wrote a good many of his senatorial speeches -- in the railroad business....
FUCHS: The gentleman was in the railroad business?
DANIELS: No, Truman's speeches in that early railroad business...this man I'm talking about later wrote a book on the FBI which....
FUCHS: Was this Max Lowenthal?
DANIELS: Max Lowenthal wrote a lot of his Senate speeches.
FUCHS: Do you have any idea who wrote them when he was campaigning for senator the first time?
DANIELS: I doubt if there was much speech writing. I think it was mostly -- I don't think there was much oratory. I got the impression that it was pretty much county judge oratory in Missouri without any -- none of the polished speeches that a President is supposed to make. But he did make a speech at the dedication of the courthouse which must have been in some sense a literary job. Who wrote that or whether he wrote it, I don't know.
FUCHS: You referred to the fact that in the 1940 campaign for senator, that the wife of one of Mr. Truman's friends refused to allow her house to be used for a Truman function. The husband was later richly rewarded, you said, by President Truman, I assume. Do you recall who that was?
DANIELS: Not at the moment, but it ought to show up in my notes. That's the sort of thing that unless the man was a figure in Truman's career, I might just have used, "a man," but I think that in my notes it would say "so-and-so did this." In other words, my notes ought to constitute -- the notebook ought to constitute elaborate footnoting of every statement in this book.
FUCHS: I'm sure it will and we'll be delighted to have that. This may also come under the same category, but I thought you might remember the source for the story that Roosevelt offered to appoint Truman to the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1940.
FUCHS: On Mr. Truman's creation of the Senate investigating committee to investigate the national defense, you made a statement that Byrnes held up until he could determine that Senator Truman could be trusted with a senatorial investigating committee. I wonder how he could determine that he could be trusted?
DANIELS: I think that also is in one of the Truman interviews.
FUCHS: Very good. Would you, for the record, give a little background, biographical information on your birth and education and prior career before your Government service.
DANIELS: I can give you that or I can give you a mimeographed sheet telling all this. I was born in Raleigh, April 26, 1902. My father, Josephus Daniels, was, at that time, the editor of the News and Observer here and also Democratic National Committeeman from North Carolina. My father had been one of the original Bryan men in the campaign of 1896. Old William Allen White afterwards in some levity referred to him as the "Secretary of War in the first Bryan administration." But my father was in politics all his life, and I was born here in Raleigh in an old section of town which, when I was born -- my grandfather built the house down there, but at that time all the white people had moved away. All our neighbors were Negroes and I grew up as a boy in a small Southern town. My father's people -- his father had been a ship carpenter who had not approved of slavery. Before the Civil War he had said that there was no place in the South for a white man who worked with his hands. He had gone to Rhode Island, but he had fallen in love with a girl in North Carolina; so he came back in time to be here during the war. During my father's young manhood as a politician, some tried to make out that my grandfather was not true to the South. Well, I think my grandfather was a very simple man who was certainly not interested in the maintenance of slavery, but we understand that he helped build the Merrimac, that he was a ship builder in Confederate navy yards.
On the other side of the family, my mother's side, my great-grandfather for whom I am named, was
a Quaker who after the Civil War was elected governor by the conservatives, which is to say the white Democrats in North Carolina, and was kicked out of office by the Reconstruction government. He was elected as governor by the people but when Congressional reconstruction was instituted, he was kicked out. Well, I grew up here in Raleigh, went to public school here, then when my father in 1913 became Secretary of the Navy, I went to Washington and lived there. And that was a period about which I've written, in which my father as Secretary of the Navy brought Franklin Roosevelt to Washington as his assistant. I've written a good deal about this period in a book I wrote called The End of Innocence. As a small boy, Claude Kitchen, who was then the -- I've forgotten whether he was the Democratic majority leader of the House or chairman of the Ways and Means Committee -- got me smuggled into the House of Representatives on the occasion when Woodrow Wilson made his speech calling for the declaration of war on Germany. I came back to North Carolina to the University to college, got my A.B. and my M.A. at Chapel Hill, studied law at Columbia, took no degree, got my license to practice law, went to
work as a reporter on the News and Observer. First, briefly, I had worked on the Louisville Courier-Journal. Then here and as Washington correspondent, then I went to New York in 1929 to work on the staff of Fortune magazine, after the publication of a first novel that I had written, on the basis of which I got a Guggenheim Fellowship and went abroad for a year of study and writing.
FUCHS: That was about the angels...
DANIELS: The Clash of Angels, yes. I came back to Fortune and then after Mrs. Daniels and myself were married I came back down here.
FUCHS: What year were you married?
FUCHS: What was Mrs. Daniels' maiden name?
DANIELS: Lucy Cathcart. I say she is the most Southern woman in the world; she was born in New York City, raised in Hackensack, New Jersey, and educated at Northampton, Massachusetts. And then when my father went to Mexico, I became editor of the News and Observer.
I began to write books, beginning with A Southerner Discovers the South. Then when the war came on, I went to Washington, first, as assistant director of the Office of Civilian Defense, succeeding Mrs. Roosevelt, and, then, moved over as administrative assistant and, then at last, press secretary to Roosevelt.
FUCHS: What year did you go to the Office of Civil Defense? Who was your superior there?
DANIELS: James M. Landis was my superior. He had foxes in his vitals, then, and I'm saddened to see about Jim's troubles now.
FUCHS: Can you give any observations on his troubles now?
DANIELS: No, the best I can give is "foxes in his vitals." He was a very intense man. I had known Jim before when I was in New England writing a book on New England and he was dean of the Harvard Law School. We didn't get along too well, and I was very glad to become an administrative assistant at the White House and then press secretary. As soon as the war was over I was happy to come home, go back to writing in the newspaper
business. Then I became Democratic National Committee man myself -- traveled with Truman. Truman, in 1949, offered me the position of Secretary of the Navy, but there was a good deal of confusion there between myself and Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson, who had a fellow he wanted to appoint and I didn't very much want to get into the in-fighting and so that job was not for me; but the President later appointed me to a number of other positions, on the ECA Board, the National Hospital Council and the United Nations Subcommittee.
Now I am only active as a newspaper editor and a writer of books.
FUCHS: Very good. How did you happen to go to work for OCD?
DANIELS: Well, it was just a matter of when the war broke out I wanted to be in the war effort and....
FUCHS: What year was that?
DANIELS: It was January after Pearl Harbor, January of '42. I suppose Landis just called me up and asked me if I could come to Washington. Then soon after I had become assistant director, succeeding Mrs.
Roosevelt, Under Secretary of State Sumner Welles called me down to the State Department and wanted me to go to India in connection with the work being done by a gentleman who was the president of Dollar Lines. It was the first preliminary effort of America to get into India after our entrance into the war. Anyhow, we were to go over there as the American mission to India. My wife had our furniture all in a van in Raleigh and I said, "Hold up." And then I went to see Landis, who at that point was very insistent that I could not run out on him. Civilian defense at that moment had not begun to disintegrate, as it did, not long afterwards when no bombs fell, so I agreed to stay in Washington with Jim Landis and remained with him, oh, I suppose six months or more before I went to the White House.
FUCHS: Why did you leave Civilian Defense?
DANIELS: Well, Landis and I didn't get along very well. I don't think that that was my fault or his, but Civilian Defense, in the absence of any civilian emergency, began to disintegrate. LaGuardia had been in there and tried to make it a circus of national
morale. Mrs. Roosevelt had been in the position which occupied, and the day I arrived I found out that the Chicago Tribune was sitting on my step because Mrs. Roosevelt had appointed a number of people as coordinators of athletics; and she'd named a girl named Maris Chaney, who was a dancer, as a girl who was to go and build the morale of people in fallout shelters (if that were the name at the time -- I don't know). There was a great deal of, not scandal, but seeming boondoggling which caused a lot of confusion, and Landis, who had given up the deanship of the Harvard Law School, found himself running an agency which increasingly had less and less prestige in Washington. Now in that situation he was a very nervous man, and we disagreed on a number of things and I was very happy to escape.
FUCHS: There is a document in your papers which indicates that you were borrowed by the White House from OCD for a time, starting in September of '42.
DANIELS: That's right. There was a considerable period there when I was borrowed, theoretically, by the White House and was on the payroll of Paul McNutt's
Manpower Commission, during which period I was making investigations for the President.
FUCHS: What type of investigations?
DANIELS: Oh, he had an insatiable curiosity on all sorts of things. One thing he was worried about was that Washington might become in World War II, as he had a feeling it had become in World War I, a sort of a hideout for those who wanted to avoid military service by being in the military effort. And then there were a number of things like sports in wartime, problems of race in wartime, and a number of various chores that I did for him.
FUCHS: Is there anything that stands out in your memory about any or all these investigations that we might be interested in?
DANIELS: No, but very quickly, there was a situation which had to be dealt with and nobody was dealing with it. There was the increasing danger of racial difficulties in the war effort, and, without ever being set up as such, I became the focal point to try to prevent racial conflicts and racial difficulties
in the war effort. I had two men assigned to me from OWI.
FUCHS: Do you recall their names?
DANIELS: Yes, one of them is a very able colored man named Ted Poston, who is now a member of the staff of the New York Post; and the other was a man named Philleo Nash, who is now Commissioner of Indian Affairs. Though they worked for OWI, we really made a sort of a White House team to contact with the military, the FBI, and Manpower to try to work out and prevent any kind of racial things which might impede the war effort.
I had heard about atomic energy when my friend David Lilienthal came up to Washington and told me that he was in a hell of a fix; that he had received direct orders from -- I don't know whether it would be called the Manhattan Project or what -- to be prepared to produce at Oak Ridge so much power, and he had received from the War Production Board orders that he could not have the materials with which to produce that power. Then I came into the atomic business again, when at Hanford, Washington, (this would be the type
of racial thing we ran into) they had separate barracks for whites and Negroes, but they didn't have separate barracks for Mexicans, and they were about to have an explosion there on race things. Well, we tried to work these things out in various ways before they blew up. It was a very -- well, I would say, a very undercover operation, not in any sense of secrecy, but we just didn't want to have high visibility for purposes of attracting the lightning. But I think we did a very useful job in minimizing problems of race which might have impeded the war effort. She [This refers to Mr. Daniels' wife who was present during this interview and from time to time prompted her husband's memory. J. R. Fuchs] was just saying that a lot of your work there at the White House was with people who came at night to wring their hands and express their frustrations and hope that some lines could be worked out in the confusion of Washington that would help them, and work things out. Well, that of course was not anything direct and official.
FUCHS: I had a question about atomic energy. Did Lilienthal know -- did he actually use the term atomic energy, or did he just know that it was a big project? Did you know of the term atomic energy in this?
DANIELS: Whether the term was used or not, we knew that
it was the big push to some tremendous power. Whether the term "atomic energy" or "nuclear fission" or what was used, I don't know, but I remember both Lilienthal and Bob Patterson talking to me about this tremendous hush-hush business.
FUCHS: In other words, you thought of it as a secret weapon at the time?
DANIELS: Yes, it was the great, coming, secret weapon. Now I'm no physicist and at that time I don't even know what the language of people was about it, but both the conflict -- you see, that conflict between materials and the demand for power with Lilienthal, and then Patterson was worried about this blowup in his labor force at Oak Ridge.
FUCHS: Were you cautioned specifically to not talk about this?
DANIELS: Well, I figured that -- I didn't talk about anything, I mean, at the White House -- yes, I'm sure that I was told, "You know this is our..." I knew it just by instinct that what you learn at the White
House, unless it's just chit-chat, that's there and no where else.
FUCHS: Yes, that's natural. I just thought because of the supreme importance of this that they might have gone to greater lengths to re advise you about the security precautions. Well, what about -- how did you resolve this Mexican labor -- colored help problem at Hanford?
DANIELS: Well, now, I won't be sure, but I think what we finally had to do was to provide three sets of barracks.
FUCHS: Where were your offices after you were borrowed by the White House?
DANIELS: In the old State Department.
FUCHS: How long did you stay there?
DANIELS: Well, I stayed there from that September -- when I first went over there, I was working in a room in the basement with one secretary. Then I moved up onto the second floor where there was a whole battery of offices of administrative assistants to the President.
FUCHS: This is in the old State Department?
DANIELS: In the old State Department. At that time, the President only had one hall there, and only part of that, of his overflow from the White House. The staff today must be ten times as much as it was then.
FUCHS: Did your office remain there as long as you worked for the White House?
DANIELS: No, I stayed there until Roosevelt was inaugurated in January, '45 and then Early, who had been press secretary, got a job with the Pullman Company, and I was asked to come over and become press secretary. And I went over in January and was press secretary from that time until Roosevelt's death, though actually I was only sworn in after Roosevelt got back from Yalta.
FUCHS: Well, Early went to Yalta with Roosevelt. He went to Europe.
DANIELS: He went to Europe and then -- but he had already resigned -- whether his resignation in effect had gone
through? -- he was out. He'd taken his job with the Pullman Company but he wanted a last trip before he left the Government.
FUCHS: What was the purpose of the trip?
DANIELS: Well, frankly, I think it was just a last trip before he left the Government. He did not accompany the President. He went to England and maybe he went to Russia, but I don't think there was any really significant business about the trip.
FUCHS: I see. Well, then, you were acting as press secretary but it hadn't been announced or confirmed?
DANIELS: It wasn't announced until Roosevelt got back from Yalta?
FUCHS: Did you handle some CAB cases -- Civil Aeronautics Board cases while you were working in....
DANIELS: Yes, I did. Under the law the President has to approve, or did at that time, all airline routes that involved routes outside the borders of the United States, and I handled -- well, I say I handled them -- I did the White House work on their approval.
FUCHS: Why did they assign that special subject to you?
DANIELS: Well, I don't know. Chores were just passed around. Somebody in the White House had to do this business between the CAB and the President. Occasionally there were questions which he wanted answered. Then there was -- there were a number of cases, but the work at the White House wasn't in those days as carefully compartmented as it is now. The White House staff was relatively small, and we would meet with the President, generally after press conferences, about twice or once a week and something would come up and he would just say, "Jonathan, I wish you'd check on this." Another thing I fooled with was the business of continuation of professional baseball in wartime; I didn't know anything about baseball, but I could work on that. Then there was the business of a man named Harry Slattery, who was the head of the Rural Electrification Administration. They were having a feud inside the agency and I was given the job finally of trying, quietly and carefully, to ease Slattery out of the job. Slattery was a very good man who had had a fine, long liberal record, but confusion
had grown within the agency. He had a number of good friends on the Hill, however, and I was called up before a committee to tell what this business was about between the White House and Slattery; and I declined to testify on the grounds that what I was doing was the business of the Executive about which the Congress had no right to question me. There was quite a moment there when it looked as if I were going to jail for contempt of Congress, but at that time there was some other more important legislative questions in which the White House was concerned, and so I was authorized to tell all; and I went up and told all that I had done and we ended up, the committee and myself, in a very happy frame of mind and I didn't go to jail.
FUCHS: Well, what was the crux of this matter and how was President Roosevelt involved in it; what were his feelings that you recall?
DANIELS: The crux of the Slattery matter -- and I do not now say that we were completely right -- but there was an impression that Mr. Slattery, after a very useful governmental career (I believe he came into liberal
notice in connection with the Ballinger investigation under the Taft administration) -- the impression, or at least our impression was that he had become erratic and considerably less competent in administration than was needed at that time, and it was desired, in all kindly effort, to get him to resign. We used a familiar Roosevelt mechanism. I was authorized to ask Mr. Slattery if he would go abroad and investigate certain aspects of public power and so forth, but Mr. Slattery was not biting; he was standing firm. It came to a point where we had to push hard. There was quite a cartoon done by Berryman at the time about my trying to cut down a telephone pole and Slattery was up on top of it. But now I wouldn't say that he had become incompetent, but the impression and the feeling was, that he had.
FUCHS: Was he quite elderly by then?
DANIELS: Well, I couldn't check his age, but he was a rather effusive -- I wouldn't think he was too elderly, but that was the feeling.
FUCHS: I see.
DANIELS: In connection with that CAB business, I had a very amusing incident. Without naming names in this case, a very, very prominent American aviation executive had come to see me and sent a very effective public relations man to see me about this or that in connection with airlines. I remember coming home to North Carolina for Christmas one year, and we got here at a time when meat rationing had been very greatly tightened, and they said, "There's a great package for you at your father's house." I went into the pantry where this coffin-sized box was and we opened it; and in it were hams, sides of beef, smoked meats of all sorts, enough to last a family nearly a year and it was a Christmas present to me from this public relations man. So I said, "Nail it up." And we all stood over it drooling and then it was nailed up and sent back to my public relations friend in New York.
FUCHS: You said, earlier, you'd been offered a position later in the Rural Electrification Administration. Was that partly because of your work with the Slattery case?
DANIELS: I don't know why Truman offered that to me. The
position was vacant at that time and I suppose Slattery had come out of it, and he must have known about it; and I said, "No, Mr. President, I want to go back to writing," and he appointed Claude Wickard with whom I had been working in connection with the Slattery case when Wickard was Secretary of Agriculture. Between the time that I left the OCD and while I was working on chores for President Roosevelt he offered me the ambassadorship to New Zealand; and I was all ready to go. But at that time, Senator Josiah William Bailey from North Carolina was not appreciative of the fact that I had been rather sharply critical of him as a United States Senator who was rather strongly anti-New Deal. I'd written a book about North Carolina in which I had described him as a kind of demagogue who didn't fit strictly into the Southern pattern a la Bilbo and so forth, but was a reactionary demagogue. I had to go to my senators to see if I could be confirmed, and he quite candidly told me that "no" he would oppose my confirmation on grounds that I was personally obnoxious to him. So I did not go to New Zealand. I was disappointed at the time but later very happy because the whole war movement had already moved up
from that part of the Pacific and New Zealand had become a very quiet zone in the war effort. It was after that that the President named me administrative assistant which did not, I'm glad to say, require Senatorial confirmation.
FUCHS: Were you offered a job in CAB?
FUCHS: I saw something in the records there that seemed to indicate that you had declined.
DANIELS: I think maybe it was discussed. This will sound silly, but I think maybe it was discussed, but I didn't want to be on the CAB. Did you read my diaries at Chapel Hill of the Roosevelt years?
FUCHS: I read as much as I could find time for, yes, sir.
DANIELS: Some of those I'm not too eager to turn loose until I've had a chance to go over them myself because I wrote down very frankly -- many things. There are no carbons of them.
FUCHS: No, they're in with your regular correspondence series,
usually at the end of the year, but I think that they're very valuable; and I would suggest that you close them until you think they should be opened. But they certainly should be preserved.
DANIELS: What I am saying to anybody who wants to look at my papers is that I haven't had a chance to examine them myself, and while I'm glad for any scholar to go into the papers, I do feel that since I haven't had a chance to examine them, that I have a right to ask them to let me know what they do want to quote before any publication.
FUCHS: That's very fair.
You had the title in the War Manpower Commission of "special assistant?"
DANIELS: I think it was "consultant." In that period, the White House staff was relatively small. The President used other agencies and would have somebody set up under another agency although he never saw the other agency.
FUCHS: Do you recall a race case involving a Negro, Alton Levy? I think he was in the military and he had made
certain charges against his commanding officer and there seemed to be quite a bit of correspondence about it.
DANIELS: I just don't remember the name.
FUCHS: How did you come into the St. Lawrence Seaway proposal? Do you have any recollection of that?
DANIELS: Well, I was always interested in river development and I don't remember doing too much about the St. Lawrence Seaway thing.
FUCHS: When you went to the White House, did President Roosevelt talk to you about your writing and extra curricular activities. Did you have any sort of agreement or discussion on that?
DANIELS: I remember one piece I wrote. As a matter of fact, it didn't appear until after he died. That was a piece about -- for a book called While You Were Gone by a man named Jack Goodman who brought out this book to say, presumably to the returning soldier, "While you were gone, this happened in the Executive Department, this happened in the Legislative Department, this happened in sports;" and I wrote the one on the
Executive Department. That and the only other article I wrote after I gave up -- let's see, when I went to Washington, I was doing a page every week for The Nation and I gave that up. Then I wrote a sort of comic piece for the Atlantic Monthly on "I'm a bureaucrat but come the end of this war, I'll be in front of the train going home." I don't think I did any other writing while I was in Washington.
FUCHS: You weren't cautioned about writing when you went there, though, or about writing when you left as they now seemed to be concerned about?
DANIELS: I don't remember anybody cautioning me because I didn't have time to do any, except those two pieces.
FUCHS: Did you attend morning staff meetings with Roosevelt? Did he hold morning staff sessions?
DANIELS: At two different periods. The administrative assistants saw him about twice a week. When I became press secretary, and of course, this was a fairly brief period, we would go up every morning before he got out of bed and talk. Nobody would go to those except the three secretaries.
FUCHS: Would that be five days a week or would that include Saturday and Sunday, if he was home?
DANIELS: Every day he was in Washington. Now he was generally out of town on weekends, so....
FUCHS: Were these two-day-a-week sessions with the President for the administrative assistants a regular routine thing or was that just...?
DANIELS: Following every press conference we remained at his desk and talked to him.
FUCHS: Was he holding two press conferences a week?
DANIELS: Generally, well, no, it wouldn't come out that way, but the theory was two press conferences a week.
FUCHS: So, approximately twice a week....
DANIELS: Unless there was some special chore that he wanted to see you about. That would be relatively rare.
FUCHS: Who were the other administrative assistants at the time you went there?
DANIELS: Well, David Niles, [William H.] McReynolds,
Lauchlin Currie, James M. Barnes. Then there was a rather queer character who had been set up not as an administrative assistant, but as a sort of a special assistant to the President, who was a little wacky and who was later indicted for tax evasion.
FUCHS: What was his name?
DANIELS: His name was Eugene Casey. He got involved in all kinds of real estate operations out in Maryland.
FUCHS: Could you elaborate on Mr. Casey?
DANIELS: Well, Casey seems to have gotten in because he was very active in one of the presidential campaigns in fund raising and once he got in, apparently he had no job, but Roosevelt never fired anybody. I remember that at the White House some of the permanent staff, I think it was Rudolph Forster, referred to Casey as the "washroom rodent." He was really a very strange character.
FUCHS: What happened to him?
DANIELS: He, I believe, went to prison. I believe Barnes had to handle the business of getting him fired without
FUCHS: How did they accomplish that?
DANIELS: The details I don't remember, but I remember that as he left, Roosevelt gave him a fishing rod.
FUCHS: Was Lowell Mellett there at the time when you first went there?
DANIELS: No, Lowell had left to become head of the information agency which preceded the Office of War Information. It had an office right across from the Willard Hotel in a little triangle and it was called Mellett's Mad House, and I don't remember the name of the information agency. It was absorbed into the Office of War Information.
FUCHS: I can't recall. Was there any one of these administrative assistants with whom you were particularly close?
DANIELS: Yes, James M. Barnes was a very close, personal friend of mine. I didn't know him before. We both went there at about the same time. He was a former Congressman from Illinois and his job was largely
Congressional liaison. We had adjoining offices and became very devoted friends, and he died about three or four years ago in Washington.
FUCHS: What about Lauchlin Currie? What were his principal duties?
DANIELS: That was a tragic situation. Lauchlin had been appointed to do some work in connection with China. He came back and we sometimes referred to this row of offices of the administrative assistants as "Death Row." Lauchlin came back and he was in his office set-up, White House telephone, secretaries, no communication whatever and no job to do. I've often thought that that probably was the basis of the difficulties he later got into in connection with the Chinese situation, which resulted, and I don't know how justly, in his having fingers pointed toward him as possibly connected with the Communists.
FUCHS: I'm not sure I follow you. Now why was there no job for him to do after he came back?
DANIELS: Because Roosevelt just dropped him.
FUCHS: He had been disenchanted of....
DANIELS: That's the way Roosevelt worked. If he got tired of persons, he didn't fire them, he just left them on the vine. Or, as in the case of some other officials, for instance there's a man who is now very prominent in the Roosevelt recollection, lives in Atlanta, a real estate man. He's been president of the Roosevelt Foundation down there. He was the head of housing. Well, Roosevelt became disenchanted with him but it wasn't a matter of firing him. Far otherwise, he was asked to go to England and make for the President an elaborate study of housing in Great Britain. Well, the poor fellow went over there and he came back with trunks full of material and it was received and nobody ever paid any attention to it.
FUCHS: Why do you think he no longer cared for Lauchlin Currie?
DANIELS: That I don't know enough about.
FUCHS: What were your impressions of David K. Niles?
DANIELS: Well, I liked Dave. He liked to appear rather, well, the word "devious" is not exactly it. He liked to be a man of mystery with the ties and so forth,
and he dealt with some fairly radical groups; but he was really a very sweet fellow. I liked him and he did a lot of good work for the President in politics.
FUCHS: He dealt largely with minority problems.
DANIELS: He dealt primarily with minority political problems, but at the same time I was dealing with a minority, too. Dave was the sort of fellow who could go to Dave Dubinsky and get a large contribution or get Dave to help work out some problem in labor. I would say that Dave's work was really with labor, and of course, the Jews, rather than other minorities.
FUCHS: What about Bill McReynolds?
DANIELS: Well, he was a very excellent administrative man and bureaucrat; but when I got there he had, in large measure, well, I wouldn't say retired, but he was also on the vine.
FUCHS: There's a memo in your papers dated May 24, 1943, from President Roosevelt which was addressed to McIntyre, Byrnes, Hopkins and Barnes, in which is mentioned the "General Casey impasse."
DANIELS: General Casey impasse? Well, I don't think that's "General" in a military title. I think that's Eugene Casey.
FUCHS: And the impasse was?
DANIELS: "How in the hell are we going to get rid of the son-of-a-bitch."
FUCHS: What were your reactions to Franklin Roosevelt's running for a fourth term?
DANIELS: At the time I was very much in favor of it. I look back with twenty-twenty hindsight and recognize that I should have known that his health was such that he ought not to run again. And yet, I don't see what we would have done changing administrations in the last six months of the war.
FUCHS: Did you have any indications from, well, your own observations of his rapidly deteriorating health, or did anyone bring this matter up to you and at what early date might it have been?
DANIELS: The date I can't tell you but you can place it. I was terribly disturbed -- I think this was after
Casablanca when he came back to the United States and went down to Baruch's Hobcaw Barony for a rest and he came back; he didn't look well, but the impressive thing was that all those who had gone with him had obviously been out in the sun and had gotten brown and so forth, and it was pretty clear that Roosevelt hadn't been out in the sun. I was disturbed about his health then. But the strange thing is, after I became press secretary, Roscoe Drummond of the Christian Science Monitor (strange place for this inquiry), came to me and said he was going to write -- I believe by that time he'd begun to write for the Herald Tribune as well as the Christian Science Monitor -- a piece on Roosevelt's health. Well, it was a matter then that we were sensitive about and I went to see Admiral McIntyre, and I said, "Now, we've got this inquiry and we've got to give the straight dope...will you see Drummond?"
He said he would. He said, "It's all a bunch of crap, the President's in fine shape." And I had no reason to believe that McIntyre was undertaking to delude me, and I'm not sure that he was. I'm not sure that McIntyre himself was not self-deluded. On the other hand, I had been, then, going up to these
morning conferences and noting the regularity with which the electrocardiograph machine was up near the President's quarters, but I, of course, was a part of the protective mechanism. And I remember -- I've been criticized for this -- I remember that when the pictures came back from Yalta, the only photographs there were made by the Signal Corps, and all the pictures from Yalta came back to my desk. And I had to select the pictures to be released. Some of them were appalling. I must admit that as a part of the protective mechanism, I picked only those pictures which seemed to me to be the best ones of Franklin Roosevelt. Now I am subject to criticism for that, but I figured that was my duty at the time.
FUCHS: Did Marvin McIntyre...
DANIELS: Of course, that was a pretty disturbing time around the White House because one of my closest friends at the White House (I didn't even meet him until I got there) was Pa Watson; and he had died, as you remember, on the way back from Yalta and his death, I think, had disturbed the President a great deal. There was no real sense of impending doom, but now I
would like to tell you something which I would like to bind until I am ready to release it, if I may. I was first shocked and disturbed and greatly worried after Yalta when Anna Roosevelt took me aside and expressed her fears, not of the President's death but of his increasing incapacity. And there was a certain suggestion of something in the nature of a regency in which she and her husband John Boettiger would hold what would be dynastic positions.
FUCHS: In what terms did she couch this?
DANIELS: Wait a minute. I was to be a sort of front. At that time Early had resigned. Watson was dead. Hopkins was in Mayo's and McIntyre was dead. Strangely enough, I was, with the exception of Bill Hassett, practically senior in the secretariat. Now of course there was Byrnes, who had also gone to South Carolina, and I was to try to get people, for instance, like the head of the CIO, instead of seeing the President, often indirectly, to take the matter up with me and then let us siphon it back. It scared the pants off of me at the time and it scares me in history: It could have been a situation very much like that in which Wilson
was left at the most serious part of his illness. Now, I've often said that for his own sake, that this would never have worked because people not only want to go directly to the President -- a man like Phil Murray -- but it was essential to their prestige that they see not an assistant, but Mr. Big himself. This couldn't have worked without unhappiness, confusion, and danger. But I've often said that Roosevelt was blessed and the country was blessed, by the fact that when he got a cerebral hemorrhage, it was massive.
I would like to go on and amplify. There had been a period in which change was clear. Early had been eager to get out and make some money. He was close to a man, a very rich man, named Victor Emmanuel, who he said had helped him in many ways but had never asked him for a favor. He was to become the Washington representative -- that is Early -- of the Pullman Company. Jimmy Byrnes was very, very upset about what he felt was unfairness or ingratitude toward him. And there was much to be said for Byrnes' position. He had given up the position on the United States Supreme Court, but he was bitter then because he wanted to be Secretary of State, and Anna told me that at Yalta, he had --
of course, Byrnes had also become bitter because Truman had been nominated in place of himself -- Anna told me that at Yalta, to which I have the feeling that Roosevelt carried him as a part of that Roosevelt characteristic of protecting or trying to protect the face of people he was not willing to give all his confidence to -- Anna said that at Yalta, Byrnes had behaved dreadfully. Now what she meant by that I don't know. I was not there. Byrnes came back; he gave a press conference which was quite in support of the President's position. Then the whole business broke about giving seats in the United Nations to a couple of extra Russian states and Byrnes went away to South Carolina. The grounds were his health. Sam Rosenman, at that time, was acutely disturbed that he might be put forward in a position where people would shoot at him on the grounds of anti-Semitism; he was unhappy although a very able man. Then suddenly came the death of the President and the incoming of Truman. Early had been very close to George Allen. Allen had been put on the train with Truman as vice-presidential candidate in the 1944 campaign, and I remember when he came back, how he laughed at Truman as a candidate
and a man who faced the people. But as soon as Roosevelt died, Allen was back quickly. Allen's staff undertook to shape the first speeches of Truman. Early, who had gone, came back quickly, too, and he moved in on the announcement of the President's death as the press announcer, which I didn't at the time appreciate, as taking over a position to which I had been appointed. And Byrnes, who had two weeks before retired on the grounds of ill health, quickly, whether he called Forrestal or Forrestal called him, was coming back ready to be the Secretary of State under Truman, which he had not been able to become under Roosevelt. I doubt that there have been few more dramatic, confused moments in American history than the ingress of the people who saw power in their hands under Harry Truman, which had not seemed to them secure under Roosevelt.
In some cases it became perfectly comic as in the case of this idiot rug peddler Maragon, who, as I gather, had been nothing but a sort of a flunky in the Capitol. He came down and was going to push out quickly Dewey Long, who was the career transportation man at the White House. And there were weird
people like a fellow named McKim. I, at the time, though I came to have tremendous regard for Truman later, had the feeling that the aristocracy of Democracy had passed away and the Pendergasts of politics were pouring in. Truman himself, of course, pretty quickly recognized the pressures and so forth of some of those who got around him. But it was an amazing day to see the transition from the aristocrat of Hyde Park to what those of us who had been with Roosevelt, at that time thought, was this little guy from Kansas City. Now, I'm happy that I came to know Truman well enough to completely modify my view, because I'm not sure that the politician who succeeded was not in many ways a man of certainly equal rectitude and sometimes of greater courage, than Roosevelt.
For instance, just before Roosevelt went to Warm Springs, I was up one night in the family dining room and the question came up about the reappointment of David Lilienthal on the TVA. McKellar who was, as you know, the great patronage guy from Tennessee, had his big knife out for Lilienthal, and McKellar was in a position, I don't remember which chairmanship he held or exactly his position, but he was in a
position where he could facilitate or prevent legislation that Roosevelt felt necessary. Roosevelt told us that he was sorry, but that he was not going to be able to reappoint Lilienthal. Well, one of the first things I talked to Truman about was about Lilienthal. Truman had been in the Senate; he knew McKellar, and he knew that McKellar was a pretty damned vindictive guy and could make him trouble, but Truman had no hesitation about reappointing Lilienthal.
The time had come for that period of transition. The amazing thing is how well Truman took it over. He tolerated some people around him in a way hard to understand, but there were some weirdies around Roosevelt, too, although Roosevelt's weirdies were apt to be members of the better clubs and Truman's were apt to be members of the Elk's Club of Kansas City.
FUCHS: To go back a bit, Anna Boettiger's proposal, how did you reply to that and just how did she work into this, if you recall?
DANIELS: Well, it was one night late in the White House and she began to tell me about the difficulties at Yalta, and she and John were already working on problems before
the President. You see, I had known the young Roosevelts. This is a vulgar way to put it but I was more their kind of people than most of the other people around the shop, and I was in a position, as somebody had to be to handle the front detail. And I suppose they knew me best; I didn't think it would work, and so I told her then, but it would seem to be the only thing that could be done in her view.
FUCHS: Did she bring it up again?
DANIELS: Well, there wasn't much time to bring it up again.
FUCHS: What were some of the difficulties she outlined at Yalta, do you recall?
DANIELS: Oh, that Byrnes had been trying to push himself forward and he'd been resentful when he wasn't pushed forward; and I gathered that he had made something approximating a scene with her father. She told me that she had had talks with Dr. Bruin and that Dr. Bruin had, without getting into the mechanics of politics of government, insisted that something be done to reduce the strain of personal contact
dealing and so forth on the President. It was, as she stated, a protective business for the President.
FUCHS: Did you have a lot of contact with Jimmy Byrnes when he was there with OWMR?
DANIELS: Not a great deal. I worked with him when this business came up about Slattery and what should be done about placating the Senate when they were about to have me up for contempt, but I didn't work much directly with Byrnes. His office was way over on the East Wing and we were on the West Wing. Well, that doesn't seem very far apart, but it was a different set up in a way; two different clubs.
FUCHS: You say he was bitter. Did you observe some of this from first hand or from conversations with him or with people who had conversations...
DANIELS: Well, the first time I noticed his bitterness was that Lucy and I were at the 1944 convention with Jim Barnes and his wife. We were in a box right next to Byrnes and when the Roosevelt ovation occurred and
acceptance speech, Truman having been nominated, they were very -- I don't think they rose and joined in the shouting at all. Byrnes thought, still believes, that Roosevelt had promised him the nomination.
FUCHS: Did you have any inside information about the nomination?
DANIELS: No, I did not. The '44 nomination?
DANIELS: No. That was very closely kept. The Cabinet didn't know it; Barnes, who was the Congressional man, was surprised; that whole business of the letter in the railroad yard is still a difficult thing to figure.
FUCHS: Who was Carl Hamilton in Agriculture that you seemed to have quite a bit of correspondence with?
DANIELS: The name is very familiar. What did I correspond with him about?
FUCHS: Well, just various matters which I didn't write down, but I thought you might recall what the relationship -- he seemed to be a fairly good friend; I
gathered that from the volume of letters and "Dear Jonathan" salutation.
DANIELS: Well, you know, in the New Deal everybody went by his first name.
FUCHS: I thought he must have been an Assistant Secretary of Agriculture. [Carl Hamilton was an Assistant to the Secretary of Agriculture].
DANIELS: Well, it's perfectly possible and I'll probably wake up in the middle of the night tonight and remember that he was one of my dearest friends.
FUCHS: What about these later charges against Philleo Nash? They were made by McCarthy, I believe.
DANIELS: I just don't believe there's anything to it. I never had any reason to believe it. He was ardent always in his racial views; but of course, he was active in Wisconsin politics and helped get Proxmire elected. He was on the left side of the middle of the road, but I don't think they've ever been able to tag him as having any real fellow traveler tags. I'm sure that Philleo was by no means tied to any red line or anything of the sort.
FUCHS: Did you personally like Philleo Nash?
DANIELS: Fine. He was a very close friend of mine and he and Poston and I worked fairly close together and in, I think, great mutual confidence. I think it would be fair to say that in my position I was less militant than either of those two, but it was my business, and this is something that I think has to be understood, that a Presidential assistant has to be concerned with the politics of the Presidency and not merely the philosophy of race or anything else.
FUCHS: There was preparation of an executive order to establish an office of Foreign Surplus Disposal and War Claims Liquidation in the Foreign Economic Administration; and you wrote a memo to the President in 1944, in September, that Bill Batt had been suggested for this, and you thought that might not be too good an idea since he had some connection with world-wide cartels, and I was wondering if you recall how Franklin Roosevelt reacted to that?
DANIELS: No, I don't.
FUCHS: I couldn't find any indication in my hurried study
of the files. Do you remember anything about Bill Batt?
DANIELS: Yes, I remember Bill Batt. Washington was filled with a conflict, in the war, of the New Dealer and the business executive who had come in on a -- well, in the First World War, they called them the "Dollar a Year Basis" -- and I was largely associated with the original New Dealer element. And we didn't want the conservative business group, which had been very useful and effective in the war effort, to take over the reconstruction -- what do you call it -- the post-war arrangements.
FUCHS: Yes. I assume this is the same Bill Batt that did succeed to various jobs in the State Department, in connection with Foreign aid, if I recall correctly.
DANIELS: I'm sure it is; I'm positive it is. A very able man I'm sure; I just didn't share what I thought was his philosophy. I remember very little about this man.
FUCHS: As an administrative assistant, did you help Mr.
Roosevelt prepare for his press conferences?
DANIELS: No, as press secretary I did. There might be a question that would come up in which case you would -- if I knew of a question that might come up, I probably would have, when I was administrative assistant, said something to Early about, "Look, this may come to the President today, a question on this thing," but I would have gone through the press secretary on that problem.
FUCHS: There were prepress conference briefings, but you didn't normally participate in them?
DANIELS: Not until I was press secretary.
FUCHS: They did have these briefings though?
DANIELS: Not to the extent that Truman had. Roosevelt didn't go in for briefings on things like that as much as Truman did.
FUCHS: That's interesting. Did you attend press conferences as an administrative assistant?
DANIELS: Oh, yes, always.
FUCHS: Did you have a particular function there?
DANIELS: No, as I say, following press conferences he met with the administrative assistants.
FUCHS: So all the administrative assistants attended them?
DANIELS: Generally, yes.
FUCHS: Did the press approach you, because of your connections with the press, to get them exclusive information?
DANIELS: Well, I had connections with people -- newspapermen who would come and talk to me mostly for background and stuff like that.
FUCHS: I'm thinking of when you were an administrative assistant.
DANIELS: They would come and talk to me some of them, just because I had many friends in the press.
FUCHS: What about pressure for exclusive interviews?
DANIELS: I would have had nothing to do with that; that would have been the press secretary's function.
FUCHS: What do you know about Steve Early's background and why he was chosen to be press secretary?
DANIELS: Well, Early and Marvin McIntyre were newspapermen who covered the Navy Department, or, rather, Early covered the Navy Department and McIntyre was in the little news bureau back in the Navy Department when my father was Secretary and Roosevelt was Assistant Secretary, and they went out on his vice presidential campaign with him and worked with Howe, and they continued to work with him from the vice presidency up to the '32 presidential campaign.
FUCHS: What type of an individual was Marvin McIntyre?
DANIELS: He was a very bird-like individual, an attractive fellow. He and Early were bitterly jealous of each other. Each one feeling that he should be the more prominent. I was a much closer friend to McIntyre than I ever was to Early. McIntyre's health had broken down, oh, I would think about 1940, and he was out for a while and he came back. I was fond of him; he was a humorous, attractive fellow. I never thought that he was a man of great ability, but he was a man of great loyalty and a pretty good hard head.
FUCHS: What were his principal duties?
DANIELS: Well, when he came back from his sickness, he didn't have very specific duties. He felt that he'd been a little bit put aside because of his health. When I first came to the White House, Hassett was not a secretary. He was an assistant in Early's office, and always claimed that Early was so illiterate that he had to do all the writing. Well, it was true that Hassett had a very fine ability to write a letter or anything of that sort. It's impossible to understand how much in-fighting there can be within a palace guard. It's implicit in a palace guard. Between the two men, you could, in the in-fighting of a palace guard, say that McIntyre worked with a stiletto and that Early worked with a bludgeon. They were very different men but that would be a distinction that you'd make.
FUCHS: Did Early have what you would call an assistant press secretary other than Hassett?
DANIELS: Yes, when he asked me to take his place, and the President did, he had a man named Eben Ayers who stayed on after I became press secretary.
FUCHS: Had he been assistant press secretary long?
DANIELS: I don’t think they ever got that title until the Eisenhower Administration. He was in the press secretary's office, but I don't think they were called the assistant press secretary until recently.
FUCHS: Was Ayers a capable person?
DANIELS: Well, Ayers had won a Pulitzer Prize; he was a nice, pedantic, dull fellow. I was fond of him.
FUCHS: How did you like being a press secretary in comparison with being the administrative assistant?
DANIELS: Well, there's a terrific difference in prestige, and also you are much closer to the President as press secretary because you see him every morning.
FUCHS: You enjoyed it.
DANIELS: I enjoyed it very much.
FUCHS: In, I believe it was your book Frontier on the Potomac, you mentioned a presidential assistant who was willing to appear stupid to help the President. Do you recall who that was?
DANIELS: "Pa" Watson.
FUCHS: Can you cite a specific example?
DANIELS: Well, he just talked like a good old southern gentleman, you know, and all, but he was pretty shrewd. He presided over the appointments -- he was a very shrewd man; I was very fond of him. Frankly, it was a very strange thing, and this may not sound very modest. Pa, whose health was bothering him before he went to Yalta, told me that he had asked the President, or suggested to the President, that he appoint me to his job, just before it was suggested that I take Early's job. I always was very fond of him. His widow left me his watch when he died.
FUCHS: Is that right. You also said in Frontier on the Potomac, that an Assistant President is an impossibility. I wonder if you'd elaborate on that and also as to whether there was anyone you thought was close to being Assistant President in the Roosevelt, and in the Truman Administration?
DANIELS: Well, I believe I said, that a President can delegate any task, but he cannot divest himself of any responsibility. Any President who too much gives
his power is in for trouble. We have the two perfect examples of our time, one of them in which the Assistant President's vanity destroyed his usefulness, in Colonel House, and the other one in which the .Assistant President's venality destroyed him in the case of Sherman Adams.
FUCHS: Was there anyone that thought he was an Assistant President in the Roosevelt Administration?
DANIELS: Well, I would say Byrnes, as nearly as anybody else. Maybe Fred Vinson, but I don't think Fred Vinson came on until the Truman Administration.
FUCHS: What about Hopkins?
DANIELS: Well, Hopkins always had an administrative task of his own. There were periods when he didn't, I believe. But in general, Hopkins was head of WPA, head of the Department of Commerce. Well, anyhow, he usually had a job apart from the White House and was not merely the Assistant President. He was a very close presidential adviser, but he didn't occupy a place in the White House where he was designated number 2.
FUCHS: What about John R. Steelman in the Truman Administration? Did you have relations with him?
DANIELS: I knew John very well. I never was impressed by his -- I thought he was a nice, old, country boy, but I never was impressed by his brilliance.
FUCHS: What was the leak in March, 1945, on which Drew Pearson based a broadcast regarding peace? Do you recall anything of that incident?
DANIELS: Well, aren't you talking about Jack Bell declaring peace on the basis of a leak from Barkley in San Francisco?
FUCHS: There's also a statement regarding leaks from the White House in your diary in which you said the strange thing was that Leonard Lyons seemed to get the correct information, and that, of course, Pearson got a lot of information by leaks, but often was incorrect. How do you think Lyons -- did you ever come up with any ideas about that?
DANIELS: I know Lyons usually had just little gossipy things and Drew would try to have a big story.
FUCHS: Was there close liaison between the State Department and the White House press secretary?
DANIELS: Oh, on important foreign policy matters. In one of my books I told about the last time I saw Roosevelt when Archie [Archibald] MacLeish and I had to go up and see Roosevelt about -- it involved that business of those two extra votes for the Russian states, and MacLeish and I worked out the statement together and we had to go to see the President just before he went off to Warm Springs. And the tragic thing was (and the toughest moment of my life), Roosevelt made a change up here -- we were all of us very concerned about him at that moment -- and we got off the elevator and we realized that the change he'd made up here, made it essential that a change be made down here; but it was a matter of such importance that despite his distressing condition, we felt we had to go back and say, "Mr. President, look." And that was a damn tough walk back when you realized how -- in such a bad state the President was at that moment.
FUCHS: This is the instance about which MacLeish later wrote you about the look of death in Roosevelt's eyes?
DANIELS: Yes, and he said it was one of the hardest trips I ever had to go back. You found that letter? Yes, that was the instance.
FUCHS: Did you have any particular difficulties working with any government information officers in agencies other than the State Department?
DANIELS: Oh, there were always little questions coming up, speech clearances and things like that, but I didn't have many troubles with the State Department. There were questions that would come up and little irritations, but no more than there would be in any job. The danger is, "This is the White House calling." That has a terrific effect on other agencies and sometimes it can be too strong. That's the reason I fear the multiplying secretariat of Presidents, because of the old business, "This is the White House speaking," and now I say, "Well, who in the hell is the White House?" It's not always the President of the United States.
FUCHS: Did anyone ever suggest that the Roosevelt press conferences be electrically recorded in some manner
as was done for Truman's?
DANIELS: We were just coming, when Roosevelt died, to the possibility of radio and TV broadcasting, but that was just coming on.
FUCHS: Did you have anything to do with President Truman's decision to more or less follow President Roosevelt's policies in regard to the press conferences?
DANIELS: Well, I wouldn't say that I did, but obviously I was in on the discussions, but Truman took that ball and carried it. The night Roosevelt died, OWI was very eager for a statement to go out to the world that the new President declared that the policies and the fighting of the war and so forth would go forward exactly as they were going. I called up Truman, he'd gone home, and some person, and as I say there was quite a group of persons, answered the phone and I said, "This is Jonathan Daniels at the White House and I want to speak to the President," and he said, "Well, I don't know whether you can or not."
"Well," I said, "I insist upon speaking to the President." And I got Truman on the phone and he
said, "Why, of course, Mr. Daniels, that must go out now, and you have my authority to issue it." He picked the ball up -- nobody else had to. His first press conferences were wonderful. I think they made a tremendous impression. Of course, everybody wanted it that way because the conservatives felt that now they were rid of Roosevelt and that Truman was going to be a good old middle westerner who was not a wild liberal.
FUCHS: What about the policies as to a press conference itself? Did he more or less follow Mr. Roosevelt's ideas about what might be on the record and off the record
DANIELS: There was a little more briefing in the first days, because, naturally, he had to be briefed. He came in like a man on a rocket. He had not been briefed by Roosevelt much, as you know, before he became President.
FUCHS: Your reactions to the President's press conferences then, generally, were that he did a good job?
DANIELS: Oh, he came in doing a grand job.
FUCHS: Looking back, did you notice any particular change in his press conference over the years of his administration?
DANIELS: No, I think he always did a very good job. I had a funny experience with him. One day, I went into see him and told him I was writing an article on -- I've forgotten what it was, but anyhow, he outlined a plan he had in mind, of something to the effect Congressmen should be elected on staggered terms or something -- I've forgotten what it was, but anyhow, he outlined a plan he had in mind, of something to the effect Congressmen should be elected on staggered terms or something -- I've forgotten -- you'll run into this, and I wrote it in an article for Collier's. Well, Collier's put a hell of a big box rather amplifying what I had said, and Truman had Joe Short say that the article was not the President's views at all, because the article got him into trouble up on the Hill. And so newsmen called me up and I said, "Well, if the President says that, I stand by my article and Joe Short can say what he pleases." Then Truman in his book, Mr. President, put exactly the same thing in as I had reported it.
FUCHS: I recall this. He was supposed to have said this to you in a private conversation and they tried to pass it off as just a banality or something.
DANIELS: That was not true. No, no, they denied the truth of it. But when I went up to the White House a week later and went on into see the President and the newspapermen saw me going into see the President on a great basis of friendship, it was clearly a denial for the record.
FUCHS: I see. You don't have anything to offer about various news leaks of the White House do you during the Roosevelt Administration?
DANIELS: Well, I won't say about the White House, but of Washington in general, there are very few leaks in Washington; there are a great many plants.
FUCHS: What did you do at the convention in Chicago in 1944?
DANIELS: Oh. Lord, I don't know what you'd say I did. I was around trying to be useful and I doubt that I was particularly useful, because I had not been informed
about the finger being placed on Truman. I remember meeting up with Harold Ickes and [Francis] Biddle and they were both just astounded as we all were.
FUCHS: Why did Hannegan push Truman so hard?
DANIELS: Hannegan was in there and they wanted to get rid of Wallace. Now I quoted Roosevelt as saying, and he said this to me, that he had asked around and that he'd gotten the word from Spellman that while the fact that Byrnes was a renegade Catholic, would not necessarily be dangerous, there would be some Catholics who would give the benefit of doubt against Byrnes because he was. Spellman has denied that he ever said any such thing. But Truman, I'm sure, was sold to Roosevelt as -- he was convinced that Wallace was a danger. Truman, I think, was a pretty logical choice.
FUCHS: In other words, it's fair to say you think Hannegan decided that Truman was good vice presidential or presidential timber and he was doing....
DANIELS: I won't say that Hannegan did it alone, but Hannegan was in there pushing.
FUCHS: Why do you think Pauley was so much for Truman?
DANIELS: Well, Pauley had a lot of money and he was a great money-raiser, and Pauley was a Democrat; he wanted to be in power and he wanted prestige. He was interested in offshore oils and he hoped to be effective -- well, yes, he was an opportunist; a man with much money and he wanted to be a big shot and a richer man.
FUCHS: You went to a dinner that was given by Hannegan and Paul Porter for what you, I quote, "presumed to be the brain trust of the administration," and you said Hannegan never got around to letting anyone know why they were there. Did you have any indication at all what he was -- this was in your diary in June -- June 28, 1944 was the date of this. Lauchlin Currie was there, Wayne Coy, Dave Niles, Paul Appleby, "Tommy the Cork" (Corcoran), Ben Cohen, Isador Lubin
DANIELS: That's largely the old New Deal crowd.
FUCHS: ...Bob Nathan, Mike Straus, Oscar Chapman,
Mordecai Ezekiel, Randolph Paul…
DANIELS: I remember that dinner but I don't remember what the purpose of it was. Who had that dinner?
FUCHS: It was given by Hannegan and Paul Porter for…
DANIELS: I guess they were trying to -- that's a right articulate crowd of people there.
FUCHS: You indicated that there were no good ideas advanced and that Hannegan never centered the interest on anything and never let anybody know why he was there. I just wondered if you had any later thoughts about it.
DANIELS: He probably had another dinner at which he had all the right wingers. He didn't want anybody to feel left out.
FUCHS: You also indicated that Currie was in disagreement often with the other administrative assistants, but he was the only one that felt that Wallace should be renominated? Could you comment on that?
DANIELS: No, but I think I would say that is correct, that
Currie seemed to be -- he was sort of apart from us; he was a strange guy. There wasn't much comradeship with him. He was, probably, nearer the left than any of the other administrative assistants at that time, including Niles, although I have no reason in the world to believe that the charges of communism about Lauch Currie were -- I never saw any sign of it.
FUCHS: You quoted McIntyre as calling Chapman, "The gutless wonder." What were your thoughts about Oscar Chapman?
DANIELS: I was very fond of Oscar. I don't think that he was a fighting man; he was no Harold Ickes, but that's the kind of conversation you would get from McIntyre. I don't know what he'd been trying to get him to do, but apparently he didn't have what McIntyre thought were the guts to do it. McIntyre would say that to me, knowing that he could say it and that I'd known him all my life and he would be explosively frank with me.
FUCHS: What did you personally feel about Truman's nomination of Pauley for Under Secretary of the Navy?
DANIELS: I never have been impressed with Pauley. I
thought he was a sort of Neanderthal type of person, almost a Democratic Mark Hanna type; he wasn't my "bowl of cherries."
FUCHS: Were you or your father consulted about the nomination beforehand?
DANIELS: I'm sure he was not, and I was not.
FUCHS: Had you come to the conclusion, in regard to Mr. Roosevelt's health, that Truman would be succeeding him shortly, prior to April, '45?
DANIELS: No, I say I was disturbed by his pictures; I was particularly disturbed by the shape of his signature on my own commission. You have a sense of the immortality of a man like that when you're working with him. His hand shook but I didn't expect him to die, I know. We were working on his speech at San Francisco, [Robert] Sherwood, MacLeish, myself, and there was a plan that he was going to London that summer, still vague; but the whole world was going forward without interruption. Now in hindsight that's perhaps incredible, but that was the feeling then.
FUCHS: You noted in your diary in May, '44, that you had a
hunch or made an observation that you didn't think Roosevelt would run again and Hassett observed that he had the same hunch.
DANIELS: Well, around the White House there were questions. How close does that come to the visit to Hobcaw?
FUCHS: That was -- I think in the same notes you noted the bad state of his health after he returned from Baruch's place.
DANIELS: There was a rumor at the White House, which I don't believe was true, there was a rumor that he had had a secret operation. I've heard nothing ever said about it since.
FUCHS: Do you know what type of operation?
DANIELS: Just something had happened at Hobcaw.
FUCHS: You wrote a memo to President Roosevelt in September -- this would have been during the campaign, September 28th, that you understood the Attorney General was going to prosecute in Alabama on the denial of Negro rights to vote in the Alabama primary, and that you thought it should be delayed for political reasons.
Do you recall any response by President Roosevelt to that?
DANIELS: No, but I will say this, that in that campaign there were a number of matters up. There was a case involving Negro firemen, and I had a commission composed of Judge [William H.] Holly of Chicago, Frank Lausche, now the Senator, and [Wallace Parker] Stacy, who was then Chief Justice of North Carolina, working on some kind of a settlement. And it is perfectly true that we, in all these crucial cases, say in September, October, before the presidential election, were very eager to have decisions which might contain dynamite on one side or the other, postponed for settlement until after the election. That related to the danger -- I wouldn't think in September though -- that the reactionaries in Alabama were trying to beat Lister Hill, and that I may have been eager to help him -- Hill was a good liberal supporter of the administration at that time. You have to recognize that in the White House little happens, particularly in election years, which is not colored by presidential politics.
FUCHS: There's a memo in there regarding a Gallup Poll
"thing." It was from Paul Porter to you in October and he said that he had got some of the Gallup customers to raise hell and he, I presume he meant Gallup, assured Porter that he wouldn't publicly release this survey, it was only for a few selected clients, and he assumed this included Dewey. Do you recall anything of that?
DANIELS: No, but it doesn't surprise me.
FUCHS: You don't know just what the survey would have been?
DANIELS: No, I don't.
FUCHS: Was there a Negro division of the Democratic National Committee in 1944?
DANIELS: I'm pretty sure there was, and I suspect (I only suspect), the head of it was Congressman Dawson of Chicago.
FUCHS: I think that's right. He refers in a letter to the Negro Division, but I thought maybe that he was just using the term but there wasn't actually a division.
DANIELS: I think Dawson was that, yes.
FUCHS: Did you work fairly closely with that division in 1944?
DANIELS: No, not really in that, not really.
FUCHS: You brought up a matter with the President -- to the President's attention -- about recording the historical activities of the executive office, of the presidency, and he said that there was a young lieutenant keeping a log but it was unimaginative. Do you recall who was keeping that log? Was that similar to those that [William] Rigdon kept?
DANIELS: That's what he was talking about, yes; it was Rigdon's log.
FUCHS: He was doing that during the time....
DANIELS: Yes, I'm pretty sure.
FUCHS: Then he continued those in....
DANIELS: Yes, I was very anxious to go to Yalta, as I remember it, and I tried to put that in as a sort of a way to go and have a job for myself.
FUCHS: Well, that was a little bit later, because this
diary entry was in June, '44, and then in '45 you wrote President Roosevelt again, a memo that you had brought this thing up before and that you were sort of sticking your neck out but you thought you were well qualified to keep such a thing at Yalta. Did he respond to that?
DANIELS: They said, "No, we have another job for you. You will be press secretary." That was the response then.
FUCHS: On April 4, 1945, there was a letter from David Mearns of the Library of Congress reporting on Richard Robert Nacy of Jefferson City, Missouri. Do you recall what occasioned this report?
DANIELS: In '44?
FUCHS: '45, which was while Roosevelt was still living.
DANIELS: No, I do not. I don't remember that at all. Mearns is a great friend of mine.
FUCHS: Mr. Truman stated fairly recently that he frequently saw Roosevelt during the war, slipped in the back door unbeknown to anyone. What do you think of that?
DANIELS: I think it's a great exaggeration. I thought I had seen a statement by Truman that after he was Vice President he didn't see him but a couple of times.
FUCHS: Did you have any occasion to communicate with Vice President Truman's office?
DANIELS: I don't think I had any occasion whatever.
FUCHS: Do you recall talking to President Roosevelt about Senator Truman or about the Truman Committee?
DANIELS: No, I don't.
FUCHS: I believe you were involved with the proposal for a Missouri Valley Authority.
DANIELS: I was very much interested in it, but I went out, I remember (and I obviously went out with the administration's approval), and made a speech on the Missouri Valley Authority to the Farmer's Union in Denver. I've always been interested in river development, but I don't think I was handling any aspect of the Missouri Valley Development.
FUCHS: Did they ask you to come out or was there an approach to the White House for a speaker?
DANIELS: No, I think the President of the Farmer's Union, James Patton, who was a good friend of mine, invited me.
FUCHS: You also spoke, I believe, before the Liberal Forum in St. Louis. Do you recall that?
DANIELS: Yes, I recall it, but only vaguely.
FUCHS: Well, then why do you think that Truman, who was committed very much to this type of a project, as Vice President sent the proposal to the Senate Commerce Committee which was Bailey's and known to be hostile to the Missouri Valley proposal, when he could have sent it to the Agriculture Committee?
DANIELS: I don't know about that. That was before I knew Truman.
FUCHS: You never asked him about it?
DANIELS: I never did.
FUCHS: You knew about it?
DANIELS: I've heard about it but I was not involved at the time.
FUCHS: Who do you think inspired Truman to set up his committee? There are several claimants to the honor, as you know.
DANIELS: I really am not familiar with that period in the President's life other than just reading it in the newspapers, and I've read something he said about that, that's about all I know. And I think I found out as a historian, rather than as an observer, something about that, but I, at the moment, don't recall.
FUCHS: Do you remember anything about President Truman's first meeting with F.D.R.?
DANIELS: No, except as a historian I've reported this business about the Stark campaign and so forth, but I didn't know Truman except to meet him at a cocktail party or something like that, until he came to the White House.
FUCHS: There's nothing that sticks out in your memory as to conversations....
DANIELS: He came to Chicago at the convention. We were very pleasant, but, oh, yes, the Trumans had rooms
next to ours at Chicago, and we saw them and we remember some very amusing details but not anything important to history.
FUCHS: You remarked in your biography, The Man of Independence, that Truman organized his office, with some contempt for the way Wallace had run his, to be effective for the administration. Can you elaborate on that statement?
DANIELS: Oh, yes, Wallace had no skill in affability and camaraderie; he was an intellectual whose interests were not in the Senate, but in great problems in the office of BEW, the Board of Economic Warfare and things of that sort. He was an intellectual among politicians, whereas Truman understood the necessity for a politician of the administration among politicians. Truman had a lot of friends; he got along with Sam Rayburn --it was the difference between a political technician and an intellectual in the Senate.
FUCHS: Who was the Kansas City newspaperman who told you that Roy Roberts arranged the celebration after the Truman nomination in 1944?
DANIELS: Well, it could have been Roy Roberts himself, I'm not positive, but I think it's true. That you will also probably find in my notebook.
FUCHS: Mr. Truman states in his Memoirs that you and Steve Early and others searched for the Bible for the swearing in ceremony on April 12, '45. Do you recall who found the Bible and just where?
DANIEL: No, but I remember this, that he was sworn in on the Bible and that the photographers didn't get enough pictures. So we had a swearing in the second time for more pictures. So, he was sworn in twice.
FUCHS: Did you have an opportunity to talk with the new President that day other than the call on the phone to get a clearance for a statement?
DANIELS: No, but I was the only secretary at the White House when he arrived the next morning, and saw him then and tried to be useful.
FUCHS: I believe Hugh Fulton also had an early appointment the next morning.
DANIELS: Oh, there were people pouring in, but I mean, I
was the character of transition in the staff.
FUCHS: That's very interesting. The reason I mention Hugh Fulton is, as you know, he did not succeed to a position of prominence. Do you have any ideas about that?
DANIELS: No, that was all part of the problems and differences that had developed before he came up, before the President came to the White House.
FUCHS: The first day was pretty hectic, I guess?
DANIELS: I never have seen such a hectic day and there were so many people who were rushing in and coming in on the planes to help him be President. Yes, you see, it was not only the rushing in, but the funeral arrangements and the new administration and all that, both of them piling on top of us. So the day was the confusion of the departing administration and funeral arrangements and all this and the confusion of the new administration in the eagerness for power and various newcomers seeking pieces of power.
FUCHS: You took papers into his desk that morning. Do you
recall anything that he said offhand?
DANIELS: No, he was very nice and very friendly but I don't remember any specific problems.
FUCHS: There's not much specific about that day, April 13, that stands out in your memory?
DANIELS: Well-wishers were pouring in and pouring in and senators and everybody.
FUCHS: Did you carry the title "press secretary" then for the remainder of your time with President Truman?
DANIELS: Well, a very strange situation developed. The President planned to appoint Leonard Reinsch, but it turned out that Reinsch had never had any newspaper experience and it was a very unfortunate situation for him, and the press sort of boiled up and Leonard was not appointed. Then Charlie Ross was appointed, but he had to clean up his affairs before he came in. So, I was press secretary until Charlie arrived.
FUCHS: You didn't ever hold the title "administrative assistant" under President Truman?
DANIELS: No, I think the only other title I ever had was
as a consultant during the '48 campaign. I suppose I held the job of press secretary under Truman although he never appointed me; I was a hold over.
FUCHS: Had you been planning to leave Roosevelt?
DANIELS: Well, I only went to Washington for the war. I doubt, however, that if Roosevelt had lived, I would have left Washington until the end of his term. I mean, we would have been at peace and everything else and I doubt if I would have come home when I did if Roosevelt had lived, but once he was dead -- I didn't know Truman and I had not gone to Washington for a political job, and so I was all for getting out.
FUCHS: Did Mr. Truman urge you to stay on?
DANIELS: He offered me the directorship of the Rural Electrification Administration.
FUCHS: Oh, that was at that time. What about Sam Rosenman as an assistant to President Roosevelt?
DANIELS: He was a very able man. He was very sensitive about his religion and I remember him coming in almost crying when Roosevelt wanted him to take Byrnes' place,
saying it would put him in a position where people would attack him on account of his religion -- seemed very emotional about it. I never quite understood it.
FUCHS: This was as...?
DANIELS: This was as whatever Byrnes was when he resigned just before Roosevelt died.
FUCHS: As director of OWMR?
FUCHS: Was anyone particularly jealous of Rosenman's position; did he have any enemies that you know of?
DANIELS: No, I don't think so. He was an able fellow and he was in and out, you know, He wasn't there regularly until the very last. He'd been in New York. Whether he was on the bench in New York I don't know. I remember Roosevelt sent me up to New York once to talk to Rosenman about some matter about which I've forgotten.
FUCHS: Did you have a chance to observe Rosenman working
with the Truman staff?
DANIELS: Not so much, no.
FUCHS: What about the withholding of important information from the President, did you observe this under Roosevelt or Truman?
DANIELS: Well, Roosevelt always had -- the statement was, I said in some book -- I don't know whether this was something I said or whether the President told me, that if he said to a cabinet officer, "I'd like to see this done," he would say, "Yes, I'll look into it." And if the President asked him a second time he would say, "Well, I am looking into it," and then if the President spoke to him the third time, sternly, he would do it.
FUCHS: I believe that's in Frontier on the Potomac.
FUCHS: Do you think that President Truman relied more on advice from his staff than he did from people in the agencies, more than FDR? Can you comment and contrast or compare?
DANIELS: Truman was a more dependable man to work for. Truman gave a man a job and an agency. Truman would stand behind a man and work with him, whereas Roosevelt sometimes was playing one man against another pretty much. Truman had some good staff. Truman was more direct than Roosevelt.
FUCHS: Say a problem came up about labor, do you think he would depend more upon the advice of the Secretary of Labor or other people in the Department of Labor or upon John R. Steelman who might be advising him at the same time?
DANIELS: Well, Roosevelt didn't have anybody exactly like Steelman, or it would have been the Byrnes office. There wasn't any Steelman on Roosevelt's staff.
FUCHS: Do you think Truman relied more on his own staff than he did his department heads...
DANIELS: Increasingly I believe that the Presidential staff has grown, so much so that I think today it's grown to dangerous proportions.
FUCHS: Well, how do you think a President might improve
his staff -- improve the work of the staff?
DANIELS: Well, I think theoretically he ought to work with his Cabinet, and there ought to be fewer independent agencies. Unfortunately, however, members of the Cabinet have to be chosen for political considerations, whereas staff can be chosen for personal considerations. And a man who might wait to appoint somebody Secretary of the Interior because he wants to carry a certain Western state might not have as much personal confidence in him as he would in somebody he'd picked on a personal basis in dealing with a problem like irrigation or anything else. It's very human. His Cabinet is not his "kitchen cabinet," and unfortunately they ought to be. The Cabinet ought to be the "kitchen cabinet," too, but we've never worked that out.
FUCHS: Well, do you think the President's staff isolates him from what might be called his natural advisers, which might be the kitchen cabinet, as well as from the public?
DANIELS: Well, the staff is the kitchen cabinet nowadays.
They're not people like Kendall. Hopkins, of course, was a true kitchen cabineteer, so were Rosenman, Steelman. But Presidential Government is a very complex, nebulous, personal, and official thing and I believe it has grown its staff to the point where I think the use of the White House telephone, "This is the White House calling," can be very dangerous.
FUCHS: How did Truman assign his problems to the staff members?
DANIELS: Well, you see, I never worked with Truman much except for about six weeks at the start of his administration and during a political campaign, and in the political campaign, most of our work was just purely political. If Truman gave me an assignment, I wouldn't be fearful as I might be under Roosevelt that he'd given it to two other fellows at the same time.
FUCHS: Were you in these morning staff meetings with Truman for the short time you were there?
DANIELS: Oh, yes, for the short time I was there, except Truman got up so damned early. He didn't lie in bed and talk. He'd go into his office there, and they were
larger meetings than Roosevelt had.
FUCHS: He'd assign the problems then, wouldn't he?
FUCHS: That was sort of an informal assignment of problems?
DANIELS: But I'm really not capable of evaluating how he worked throughout his administration, because I wasn't on his staff except for six weeks at the beginning and in one political campaign.
There was, in Washington, during the Truman Administration, a very amusing British information officer named Campbell; I think his first name was Charlie, who collected dirty Limericks and one day he showed some of these dirty Limericks to Charlie Ross and Ross said, "Oh, my God, I've got to show those to the Boss!"
So Campbell said, "All right, show them to him."
And then Ross showed them to the President and brought them back to his office and he didn't want any of his secretaries to see them, so he looked over in the bookcase and there was a book I had left behind, The Consolidated Statutes of the State of North Carolina,
so he hid them in the book. Campbell saw him one day and said, "Where are my Limericks?"
He said, "They're safe enough; I put them in this book Jonathan Daniels left over here and I'll give them to you one day."
Then suddenly Ross died. Well, Campbell went over to the White House to try to retrieve his Limericks before the White House was disgraced, and they said, "Well, we're sorry, but all of Ross' books have been shipped off to be placed in the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri." And he said, "Someday some researcher is going to be working in the Library in Independence and he'll say, 'What in the world is this book doing here' and he'll open it up and find in my book with my name on it, a batch of the dirtiest Limericks ever collected in America." Maybe you should make a search and find them.
FUCHS: I would but we got Ross' books after a considerable lapse of time, I wonder if.... [Actually the papers of Charlie Ross acquired by the Truman Library included scrapbooks and photographs, but no books.]
DANIELS: I don't know whether the story is true in all its details.
FUCHS: That's pretty good.
Did Roosevelt have a good memory? How did it compare with Truman's?
DANIELS: Well, they were very different. Truman had -- well, I'm not talking now in the field of education. Truman imagined himself a great historian but actually Truman knew the kind of history that McGuffey would have put in his readers, and he liked the historical anecdote that expressed a moral. Whereas Roosevelt was a pretty rangy fellow with a lot of juicy information. Roosevelt's mind, intellectually, was far less stereotyped than Truman's, and maybe that explains why Roosevelt was not as simple and direct as Truman. I don't know whether -- it was Teheran, I believe, and there were questions of settlements with the Russians, and so forth, and Roosevelt quoted the proverb, "In time of trouble, my children, you may go with the devil as far as the bridge."
Well, in time of trouble, he and the devil could go very well together -- to the bridge. On the other hand, when the Bay of Pigs thing came up, or maybe it was the U-2 flight, Eisenhower said one thing and the next day he said another. And I said, "One thing
about Harry Truman, like all Presidents he would lie, but if he told a lie he would damn well stick to it."
The second interview with Jonathan Daniels at his home in Raleigh, North Carolina, October 5, 1963.
FUCHS: I want to ask you a bit about your duties in ‘45. Did you participate in any speechwriting sessions during that brief period in April and May when you stayed in the White House after Mr. Truman took over the presidency?
DANIELS: Not Truman's speeches, no. George [E.] Allen had a man whose name I don't know, whom he brought in, who worked on the first Truman speeches. I remember Steve Early called him "George Allen's brains." He was a very funny looking fellow and I never heard of him after those first months.
FUCHS: I wonder who that could have been?
DANIELS: He was a sort of secretary to George Allen.
FUCHS: I noticed that there was a request for a report that Sam Rosenman made after he came back from Europe relating to the problem of food, I believe, and Clinton Anderson, who was then a Congressman, requested a copy of the full report by Rosenman; and you forwarded this to Mr. Truman and he said, "No."
Do you recall anything about that and why would he have refused the....
DANIELS: I can't understand that because at that time he was thinking about Clinton Anderson for his Secretary of Agriculture, so I have no memory or understanding of that refusal.
FUCHS: How did the press view the President's use of the press conference in your opinion:
DANIELS: Well, now, that would be very varied. I think they found it very useful, but I don't think anybody could come forward and say what the press thought of the press conference. Obviously, the press did not like exclusives, and they felt that everybody who was qualified as a true correspondent should have an equal chance at questioning the President, that this was preferable to any system under which individual reporters were given special privilege in access to the President.
FUCHS: Did they object to certain characteristics of President Truman as in contrast to the way President Roosevelt had handled it, such as the amount of "no comments," or...
DANIELS: No, I can't say so. The first conferences that Truman had were tremendously successful. He seemed very candid; he seemed quite ready to answer questions. There was a tremendous turnout for his first press conference and it was a very successful press conference.
FUCHS: If you recall, there was criticism of President Truman when he took a quick flight to visit his mother in Missouri, by the press corps. Do you recall that?
DANIELS: No, I remember some criticism when he went to Pendergast's funeral, but I don't remember that criticism.
FUCHS: Well, he flew out to see his mother and the press felt they had to follow him and that there was a lot of unnecessary inconvenience and danger to them; and I was wondering if you recall it, if you thought at the time that was a fair observation for the press to make?
DANIELS: I don't remember this incident, but at that time, they were allowing only a limited number of the press to go with Roosevelt and Truman, an AP man, a UP man,
an INS man, and maybe a fourth, but they were limiting the number of people who accompanied the Presidents on flights. I have some remembrance of this but not enough to speak clearly about it.
FUCHS: Were there any members of the press who seemed to have Mr. Truman's special favor or affection?
DANIELS: Well, yes. There was Tony Vaccaro, who had been covering Truman in the Senate. He was transferred from the Senate to the White House because he had gotten along well with Truman and Truman liked him.
FUCHS: Did you ever reflect upon Mr. Truman's so-called tendency to shoot from the hip in reply to questions?
DANIELS: I've seen him occasionally shoot and miss, but almost all Presidents do that. I remember one occasion when Roosevelt used the same anecdote to point up something he said about the high cost of living. In one case he'd talk about a man buying strawberries, and of course the price was high, and then again a few conferences later, he said something about asparagus and some reporter said, "Mr. President, was that the same man who bought the strawberries?"
And I have seen Mr. Truman come before groups inadequately briefed, but only rarely. I saw it happen with the board of the ECA when he didn't know the facts about the situation that he was confronting. But that would happen to any President unless he was very carefully briefed.
FUCHS: Would you say that this point has been over emphasized then in respect to Mr. Truman?
DANIELS: I think that Truman shot from the hip, but I think a great part of the appeal of President Truman is the feeling that he will shoot from the hip; he'll say what he thinks. Occasionally, it seems that he blurts, but it also carries with it a sense, "By golly, old Truman will say what he thinks," and is not too hedged about with reservations.
FUCHS: And you would consider it more of an asset than a liability?
DANIELS: Well, for instance, the classic case, is the case when he blew off at the music critic. There was a case where, on that occasion, he blew off and wrote this letter, and Bill Hassett who was in charge of his
correspondence came in and he said to the President, "Mr. President, you haven't been letting me do my work lately," meaning that he better let somebody else handle these wild letters. I wrote a piece about the Truman letters for Collier's. I sometimes thought that his apparent blurting was rather thoughtful blurting.
FUCHS: I believe you mentioned Ed McKim, but do you recall anything about his brief tenure in the White House?
DANIELS: Nothing, except the impression he gave that he was one of a few who felt they were practically going to run the White House. That was the main impression I got. I don't think he made a very good impression on the established career staff or the departing Roosevelt staff. He was going to move in too fast and too big.
FUCHS: Well, was he still there when you left?
DANIELS: I believe so, but I can't fix that date clearly.
FUCHS: Who did you consider to have the most influence with the President in the first few months and then
after you came back as a consultant in '48?
DANIELS: That would be very difficult to say. He quickly associated himself with some very able people like Admiral Leahy and others whom he knew were informed. Then Clark Clifford came. Clifford is a very bright person. I think in an amazing sense Truman makes up his own mind. He permitted people on his staff whom he was comfortable with, even when he did not have the greatest confidence in their capacity. The prime example of that would be General Vaughan, his military aide?
Vaughan in many ways was a court jester. He could tell jokes that amused Truman tremendously. Also he had been loyal to Truman back in a time when few were, but I don't think Truman would have depended on Vaughan's judgment, certainly not in the field of military matters to which Vaughan was assigned. Vaughan came in and was another who created confusion. The first day or two after he arrived at the White House, the press corps came in to me and said, "General Vaughan is going to have an FBI study made of every person who is admitted to the White House press."
Well, it was none of Vaughan's business to do that. If such a check was necessary, that would be the function of the press secretary, but that was the sort of busy bodying that came in with a number of these people who came in with Truman who hadn't really understood their function at the White House, but wanted to be very helpful and so got sometimes so helpful that they created dissatisfaction and confusion.
FUCHS: How did you respond to this interference by Vaughan?
DANIELS: Well, we stopped that promptly. I don't remember whether I went directly to the President and said, "Mr. President, these people are known and adequately checked," but at any rate we prevented Vaughan from moving in on the whole American press in such a way as to antagonize them at the start of the Truman Administration.
FUCHS: Did you have the feeling, at the time, that Mr. Truman would be a strong President in comparison to…
DANIELS: I have said in a book that I wrote that when I
went in to see him the first time, I was still under the spell of the majesty of Roosevelt, and I felt that here was a very small man in a very great seat. I modified those views, but quite frankly, I felt that way at the outset.
FUCHS: You also noted in your book, The Man of Independence, that Sam Rayburn protested to Truman about the proportions of his self-depreciation (this is almost a quote). How do you know that he did that?
DANIELS: I'm sure Sam Rayburn told me so.
FUCHS: You don't recall anything else about that?
DANIELS: No, but I would have seen Sam at a cocktail party and he would say, "Well, Harry is just putting it on too thick about his humility and his inadequacy, and he ought to stop it." That would be the way Sam Rayburn would talk.
FUCHS: Mr. Truman laid out a rather full program, which you have noted in your book, in September of '45, when he put forward the twenty-one points, and you say in your book that it turned out to be wise to lay out the
whole program and yet you also point out it cost him the election in '46. Could you comment on that?
DANIELS: Well, when Truman came in there was a great hope that here was the end of Mr. New Deal, that the conservatism of the West, the supposed conservatism of the West, would take the place of this starry eyed New Dealism. Well, I had, I've forgotten in what connection -- I think in a review of some book -- gone back in the Congressional Record and found a speech by Truman which has a declaration of liberalism, even radicalism, which exceeded almost anything which Franklin Roosevelt had said. I'm sure that that speech was probably written by Max Lowenthal, but it indicated that this Truman was not going to be the pleasant, easygoing conservative that it was hoped and expected that he'd be. He made that speech in September 1945 in which he laid down his program, which disenchanted many of those who expected Truman to be a puppet President. And there was a good deal of expectation that Truman would be a puppet President in a nation in which many members of Congress were tired of a dominating Presidency.
FUCHS: Although you were out of the White House by the time he gave that speech, he did have points in there in regard to the Fair Employment Practice Committee. Did he consult with you about that speech?
DANIELS: No, he did not. I was out of the White House completely at that time.
FUCHS: Do you think he should have made that detailed a program that early in his administration?
DANIELS: You can differ as to that. I think that he was in danger of being "dressed" as a puppet and at some point he was going to have to assert the truth beyond this undue humility that Rayburn spoke about. He couldn't go along being, "I'm the man whose been hit by a bull," and "the stars have fallen on me." He had to asset the fact that he was President and a President with a program. September, October, November, at some point, he had to depart from this self depreciation and come forward with a sense, "I am a man qualified to lead the people of the United States along lines which I believe will serve them best."
FUCHS: Do you have any knowledge of when President Truman
first knew of the atom bomb, as such?
DANIELS: I have no personal knowledge as to when he first knew abut it. I would be confident, however, that as chairman of the Truman Committee, he must have known that these special great expenditures were justified by some aim at something very special. So I would presume that he knew about the hope of a new weapon long before he came to the presidency.
FUCHS: How would you assess Charlie Ross as a press secretary in comparison, say, with Steve Early or as you felt the job should be handled?
DANIELS: Well, I would say this, that Charlie Ross had the affection by long association and the confidence with many members of the Washington press corps; I would say all. There were only questions as to Charlie's age and vigor. I'm sure he was devoted to the President; he was straight with the press and they respected him.
FUCHS: Well, it was noted, I believe in your diary, that Charlie Ross refused to invite the new Senator Truman,
which would have been '35, to a Gridiron Dinner at the request of Roy Roberts. This was, I believe, something that you got out of the conversation with Duke Shoop who was a representative of the Kansas City Star in Washington. Now why would he have done that? Have you any ideas?
DANIELS: Well, I'm sure that at that time, the Post-Dispatch was antagonistic to and contemptuous of and distrustful of Pendergast politics of Kansas City. Where Charlie had been in the senatorial campaign, I, at this point, don't remember, but I can understand why he -- many Missourians felt that Truman wasn't big enough to be in the Senate from Missouri at that time, and Charlie may have shared those views; but I'm sure that their association improved and warmed with the years before Truman asked him to the White House.
FUCHS: What is your opinion about the break between Jimmy Byrnes and Truman?
DANIELS: Well, I said something about that last night, that Byrnes was a man of overwhelming ambition. I have somewhere used the phrase that he was running a race
with John C. Calhoun, and he felt that he should have had the nomination for the vice presidency in '44. And I'm sure that he felt that he was a more able man than President Truman. I've gone into this fairly closely as to Truman's own feelings, and so forth, about Byrnes' return from Russia and his issuing statements before he had consulted with the President. I think that Truman had a sense that Byrnes had decided he was going to run the foreign policy and that he would casually tell the President about it, whereas, by that time, Truman had decided, "I am President; I am chief of foreign relations, and nobody is going to treat me as if I'm something apart." Byrnes' ambition was -- oh, it was tremendous. He must have carried, even into his very ego desire to come back and be in the Truman Administration, still some of the bitterness that he had at being supplanted by Truman in the vice presidential nomination of '44.
FUCHS: Well, as you know, there are differing stories about this return from Russia. Mr. Byrnes did not agree with former President Truman's Memoirs statements. Mr. Truman has said he read the riot act to Byrnes.
Do you think he would have read the riot act to Byrnes?
DANIELS: The "riot act" would be a phrase Truman would use. I'm sure he was pretty sore. I doubt that there came an occasion where he was shaking his finger in Byrnes' face, but I'm sure he made it pretty clear to Byrnes that he meant to be the leader of American foreign policy. What a riot act is, I don't know.
FUCHS: Did you think it was wise to have Byrnes and Wallace in the Cabinet since they both had failed with presidential aspirations?
DANIELS: I thought it was ridiculous for Truman to welcome Byrnes back to a very active place in the Government within a month after Byrnes had said that his health was such that he had to retire from the Government. I remember just a day or two after Truman became President, I was having dinner at the White House with the Roosevelt family, and Truman called me
FUCHS: After he became Vice President.
DANIELS: No, after he became President. Truman was not
in the White House. The Roosevelts were still there.
FUCHS: Oh, with the Roosevelts; I thought you said with Roosevelt.
DANIELS: No, with the Roosevelts -- the family...he called me up and said "Can you find Jimmy Byrnes for me?" Well, I shared the feeling of the old Rooseveltians about Jimmy Byrnes, in effect as we felt, running out on FDR. And I was not at all eager for Byrnes to come back, but I had nothing more to do in this matter than as a member of the staff taking a presidential request to find a man and find him. So I found out where he could be located for the President and reported to him.
FUCHS: What was the occasion for this?
DANIELS: That I don't know.
FUCHS: Did you have access to the stenographic notes that Byrnes took at Yalta?
DANIELS: No, I don't think I ever did.
FUCHS: Did you form any opinions about the different stories Mr. Truman and Mr. Wallace held in regard to that speech
at Madison Square Garden?
DANIELS: That's a matter of the veracity of two men and I think, probably, you could put them together and neither one of them would be lying. I think Wallace showed the speech to Truman, but Truman possibly only glanced at it and was unaware of the implications. Then afterwards, Wallace could say -- this is supposition on my part -- that he had shown it to the President and he'd approved it; whereas the President had not given it, in the rush of those days, the scrutiny which in hindsight he would like to have done. That's my bet, but not my knowledge.
FUCHS: I wonder if you'd comment on a few of these appointments Mr. Truman made? Tom Clark, as Attorney General?
DANIELS: I think it was a dreadful appointment. This, of course, is a purely personal opinion. I'd known Tom Clark. He struck me as a rather second rate lawyer from Texas, but he was attentive to and liked by Sam Rayburn and some other Texas figures who were important to Truman. Connally, I believe, was Senator at that time, was he not?
FUCHS: I believe so, sir.
DANIELS: Clark was not the type of man I would consider as a really able lawyer who ought to be a member of our Supreme,Court.
FUCHS: What about Lew Schwellenbach?
DANIELS: Well, I never knew him well; Truman had confidence in him; he had a good record in the Senate, but I never knew him well enough to make any sound judgment about him.
FUCHS: Did you approve of the Hannegan appointment as Postmaster General?
DANIELS: Well, Hannegan at that time seemed to be a very able politician. The postmaster generalship has historically been the place for the political leader. I knew, at that point, too little about Hannegan to comment on it, but actually it's perfectly possible that Hannegan was more responsible for Truman being in the presidency than anybody else except maybe two or three men. Truman didn't put Hannegan in that position, did he? Wasn't he Postmaster General under
the Roosevelt...no, Frank Walker was Postmaster General, but Hannegan was National Chairman. If he was fit to be National Chairman in the tradition of the American presidency, he was fit to be Postmaster General which was the political job in every administration almost up to that time.
FUCHS: I believe the story is that Roosevelt had slated him for that at the time he died.
DANIELS: I would be pretty sure that that's so. Let's see now, Will Hayes was Postmaster General, and he was the Republican National Chairman. Without looking it up, I couldn't be sure, but I think you'll find a whole succession of National Chairmen who were Postmasters General.
FUCHS: I guess Farley was.
DANIELS: Jim Farley, yes, there you are; that's the classic example.
FUCHS: What about the appointment of [Clinton P.] Anderson to succeed [Claude R] Wickard?
DANIELS: Well, Claude Wickard was a nice, soft, good,
inept guy. I had worked with him in the Slattery case. I liked Claude Wickard, but why Roosevelt appointed him Secretary of Agriculture, except that it was an appointment that would offend nobody, I've never understood. Wickard was a nice, pleasant, not very strong character. Clinton Anderson seemed a pretty vigorous man. He had been associated with the President in the Senate. It seemed to me that the time had come for Truman to create his own Cabinet and that he had faith in Anderson, and so that seemed to me to be a perfectly proper, normal appointment.
FUCHS: Didn't Wickard go on to....
DANIELS: Wickard became later the Director of the Rural Electrification Administration, the job which Truman had offered to me.
FUCHS: What do you think would have happened to Wickard if you had taken it?
DANIELS: He was an inoffensive person; they would have found a place for him.
FUCHS: What about Judge [Fred] Vinson?
DANIELS: I am a great admirer of Judge Vinson. I think he was one of the most able men I have known in the Government in those years, and I thought his appointment was admirable.
FUCHS: Would you care to comment on Henry Morgenthau?
DANIELS: Well, Henry Morgenthau was a fuss-budget all his days. Roosevelt used to make considerable fun about his old Dutchess County neighbor. I remember shortly before Roosevelt died, Mackenzie King of Canada was coming to Washington, and one morning Mrs. Roosevelt brought the word that the Morgenthaus would like to be invited because they were "dear friends" of Mackenzie King, and Roosevelt's comment was, "Who said so, the Morgenthaus?"
FUCHS: I wonder if you would give your opinion as to how the original concept of the position of the administrative assistant has been carried out?
DANIELS: Well, you remember the Chicago group, Louis Brownlow and let's see, the other famous political scientist out there, [Charles Edward] Merriam, designed this whole business about these jobs in their reorganization of the presidency:
men of physical strength, vigor, and a passion for anonymity. Under Roosevelt I had my doubts about the idea. He needed some people around him, but as I told you last night, sometimes somebody would get appointed and then forgotten, but never removed. Now I think that in the beginning Roosevelt was very much interested in the idea, and he got some very able people in the positions. One of them, for instance, was Forrestal, but it had begun to disintegrate at the end of the Roosevelt Administration. Now, I don't know what the job amounts to, because there are so many administrative assistants of different title, category and nature, that I don't know what anybody is around the White House staff. So, I think the old concept has been expanded to the point that it would be difficult to say what it amounts to today.
FUCHS: What about under Truman?
DANIELS: I've forgotten who Truman had, really.
FUCHS: Of course, over the years he had David Lloyd, he had Niles
DANIELS: He carried Niles over from Roosevelt. Charlie Murphy, was he one?
DANIELS: He was an able man.
FUCHS: He was a special counsel after Clifford left.
DANIELS: That's right. He was an able man. And Stowe was a very able fellow. I would suspect that Truman used it more effectively than Roosevelt did, because Roosevelt was apt to have somebody out in left field that he would depend on that wasn't even connected with the White House, and he'd bypass his assistants, let people, as I said last night, die on the vine. Truman was a more orderly administrator than Roosevelt, in my opinion, although I was not there on the staff through the Truman Administration.
FUCHS: Well, there are, of course, a number of other assistants, but you don't feel that you could comment on them because of your brief association in the White House at the time.
DANIELS: Well, some of them I know very well. I thought
Stowe was able; I know Murphy was able. I believe my old associate, Philleo Nash, became one.
FUCHS: Yes, we might run down a few of these names. Did you know Dave Bell?
DANIELS: Not well.
FUCHS: He didn't go in until '51; he had previously been a special assistant. And then there was Donald Dawson.
DANIELS: Dawson was a very good front man, dapper, and engaging, but I don't think he was of the intellectual capacity of Charlie Murphy and Dave Stowe.
FUCHS: Did you have any contact with George Elsey?
DANIELS: Well, George Elsey was an ensign in the Navy, who under Roosevelt was attached to the Map Room, and after he came out of the Navy, he came back to the White House and began to work around the shop and became very useful to Truman. How effective he was I don't know. He was an attractive young man.
FUCHS: Did you know Richmond Keech?
DANIELS: That doesn't ring a bell with me at all.
FUCHS: Well, he didn't come in until October, '45, and was just there until near the end of '46. What about Dave Lloyd?
DANIELS: Dave Lloyd seemed to me to be a very able fellow, too.
FUCHS: Did you have any relationship with George Schoeneman?
DANIELS: I met him but don't have much memory of him.
FUCHS: [Stephen] Spingarn, I suppose, didn't come in here.
DANIELS: Not into my memories much.
FUCHS: What about Raymond Zimmerman?
DANIELS: I never knew him well.
FUCHS: Who did you consider to be President Truman's principal political advisers?
DANIELS: His political advisers were apt to be his friends on the Hill like Sam Rayburn and Fred Vinson. He also depended, strangely, on a boy named David
Noyes who was quite a public relations figure, and Jim Barnes was one of his advisers, but Truman stayed pretty close to his old associates in politics. I think you'd find it was a large group. A lot of people who were advising him were not politicians; and I can remember the group that worked with him in the '48 election, and strangely enough many of them were pretty amateurish.
FUCHS: Maybe you could comment on these, then we're going to get to '48. How about Bill Boyle?
DANIELS: Well, Bill Boyle was a nice ex-police commissioner from Kansas City, soft, not very strong man. I don't think he had any great ability.
FUCHS: George E. Allen?
DANIELS: Well now, George Allen was very strange; George Allen, of course, moved in rapidly with the accession of Truman to the Presidency in '45, but in the '48 election he was kind of playing it to see which side was going to win. I remember one day he came to the White House as the summer moved on and Matt Connelly said, "Well, we must be doing better, George Allen is back."
FUCHS: Do you think Tom Clark was a political influence on Mr. Truman?
DANIELS: I don't think Tom Clark had any political influence on Truman.
FUCHS: What about Les Biffle?
DANIELS: Well, Les Biffle, of course, while a political figure, was a career man in the politics of the Senate and he knew everybody and was a friend of everybody. He had much to do with arranging conventions and things like that, and, yes, I suppose that the President did consult with him but I think it was more social than fundamental. He was an informed man who had been on the Hill for thirty years knew every Senator and probably through them knew about conditions in various states. To that extent he probably had a good deal of information and some wisdom to contribute.
FUCHS: Would you place Chester Bowles in this category?
DANIELS: I don't think Chester Bowles ever knew anything
about politics -- nice, charming, intellectual, splendid man, but as far as politics at the precincts, I would say Bowles was an ideal ambassador to India.
FUCHS: Oscar Ewing?
DANIELS: Well, Oscar Ewing was an able man; he was a good friend of mine, and he was a very able lawyer. Yes, I think Oscar had a good deal to contribute. He worked with the National Committee closely and was pretty outspoken and I think a very able person.
FUCHS: Do you think Dave Niles was a good, bad, or indifferent political adviser?
DANIELS: Niles was very effective in dealing with labor and minority groups, notably the Jewish group and that sort of thing. Niles' political knowledge always seemed to me to be -- metropolitan rather than national. He would know about conditions in New York certainly -- probably in Chicago, Philadelphia -- but when it got out to Missouri and Kansas, Niles was a stranger in a strange land.
FUCHS: How did you look on Matt Connelly when you worked
with him early in Mr. Truman's administration?
DANIELS: Well, I want to be perfectly frank about this. I thought he was very attractive, He was always a slick, Irish boy from Boston; well dressed -- inclined to give the impression, at least, that he was out for the gals. I wouldn't have put much confidence in his moral fiber, and as the time went on I had less and less. He was a sad sort of boy. Truman gave a dinner at the end of his administration for all those people who had been on his personal staff one way or another, and I was there, and Matt got drunk at the dinner. He was apt to like to talk big in a dirty language. He was a pretty foulmouthed sort of fellow, but attractive and I would suspect pretty efficient. I wasn't particularly shocked at what happened to him.
FUCHS: You think that that was not just political, but that there was something else there?
DANIELS: Well, I don't say that he and [Theron Lamar] Caudle had their hands out, but I think that they were both pretty willing to be petted, and neither one of them would be granite Puritans. I have no knowledge
of that particular case.
FUCHS: Did you observe that Connelly did drink to excess frequently?
DANIELS: Well, the only time I saw him when it was bad was at that dinner.
FUCHS: Mr. Truman, as you know, was opposed by Whitney in regard to his position in the steel strike in 1946 and you wrote that after A. F. Whitney had died in July '49, that you spoke to a leader in the labor movement who was not in sympathy with Whitney's position in '46. Do you recall who that was?
DANIELS: I'm sorry, I do not.
FUCHS: How would you contrast the attitudes of FDR and HST in regard to civil rights?
DANIELS: Well, I think Truman was probably more forthright about it. You see, I think sometimes Mrs. Roosevelt irritated FDR. I remember one day in the White House she was practically going to make a cause celebre of the fact that somebody was complaining that they had white and colored toilets in the post office in Atlanta.
Well, today that might seem much more of a dramatic situation than it did then, but the whole attitude around the White House was, "For God's sake, we got so many things to do, please don't have us handling the privies in the post office in Atlanta." And Roosevelt would not have pushed anybody to that sort of thing. I remember once Roosevelt said to me,, "If they immediately ordered the end of segregation in the Navy, the Navy would deliberately start it in Charleston, South Carolina," meaning that they'd get him into trouble as fast as they could. I would say that Truman was the more direct man on the subject although I remember his sister -- Truman's sister, Mary Jane -- she said to me while I was out in Kansas City, "Why, you know Harry feels the same way about these colored folks as I do," meaning the conventional Missouri attitude.
FUCHS: Did she say "colored folks?"
DANIELS: I wouldn't like to say what she said, but I suspect it was a harder word, unless I've got that written down in my notes made immediately after my interview with her.
FUCHS: In your opinion, was the bolt in ‘48 and the formation of the States' Rights Democratic Party, based solely on civil rights or do you think there were other factors?
DANIELS: Well, there was, of course, a sense that Truman could not be reelected which gave some strength to some Democrats who opposed him and who were opposed to civil rights. Then there was that Democratic movement, you know, to replace him with Eisenhower; but the bolt as it formed under Thurmond was strictly on the basis of civil rights. I remember coming back from that convention where I was a delegate and about eleven of us from North Carolina who voted for Truman's nomination -- some of the politicians in the state here tried to label us as "nigger lovers" because we voted for Truman.
FUCHS: Do you think tidelands oil came into the picture to any great extent?
DANIELS: I don't know where Ed Pauley was in that -- he was for Truman. Well, I would say if you found out where Ed Pauley was you would pretty well know where tide --
lands oil was.
FUCHS: Why do you think Barkley wanted to be Vice President in '48?
DANIELS: He never had been Vice President. It's a great thing to be Vice President. Truman had tried to get Douglas, as I remember it, and Douglas declined, so definitely, that Truman rather resented it. Well, Barkley was getting along, it was an opportunity. I don't know whether he was coming up for reelection in Kentucky or not. He was pretty good choice but he was definitely a second choice.
FUCHS: Who do you credit with the idea of Truman's calling the 80th Congress back for the "Turnip Day" session?
DANIELS: It sounds like him to me. I'm sure a lot of people will claim the credit for it, but that Turnip Day thing seemed to me a pretty good Trumanesque gesture.
FUCHS: What about Bernard Baruch? He has been credited with that by some writers?
DANIELS: Well, I am very fond of Mr. Baruch. I've known him since I was a child; but it's odd how almost anything that turned out to be good in the history of
Democratic Presidents, and some Republicans, in the writings of Mr. Baruch's friends and admirers, turns out to have been originally a Baruch suggestion.
FUCHS: You wrote the President in July of '48 regarding the possibility that he would speak at Fort Raleigh in August of that year.
DANIELS: Oh, yes, that's Roanoke Island.
FUCHS: And you said in closing, "I have written Matt a letter about your suggestion to him and to me at your staff conference Friday." Would you recall what that meant?
DANIELS: Well, now, was that before I joined…
FUCHS: The letter was dated July 19, 1948, so that Friday would have probably been July 16, 1948.
DANIELS: Well, this may have been his request that I join his staff for the campaign. Roanoke Island is the place where the first English colony in this country was settled, and I suppose at that point I was torn by two interests: one, Truman's election; and two, North Carolina. And I wanted to write a speech about
a brave new world in which he would set up a program for art advancing America, on that ground using the simile of the first English settlement as a sort of a metaphor as a basis for his speech.
FUCHS: This didn't come to pass?
FUCHS: You had this rather close relationship with Bernard Baruch, did you and did he ever discuss HST in any detail that you recall?
DANIELS: Yes, I recall it, but I don't recall it definitely enough to say exactly what he said. He resented very bitterly -- you know the facts better than I can state them. Truman had wanted Baruch to assume a position almost as treasurer of the party, to collect the party funds, and my memory is that Baruch declined to do it and that Truman spoke rather sharply to him, something in the nature of "fair-weather friends;" and I believe, Truman made a public statement, or at least a statement that got around, to the effect that he thought Baruch wasn't standing with him because he didn't want to take a chance with a possible loser.
FUCHS: Yes, I believe you've chronicled his statement that "Politics is not a one way street." I thought perhaps you remembered something beyond.
DANIELS: I remember it now but, as I say, I don't remember all the things.
FUCHS: Who, as you recall, first suggested that you be brought in as a consultant in 1948?
DANIELS: I am not sure, but I'm sure Barnes had something to do with it, and as I look back, I think maybe this had much to do with it: The Southern bolt made it more important, for instance, that a person, like myself, from the South be there, and I had talked to the President and he seemed to have confidence that I could help him. In the campaign I arranged for him -- it had been said that he couldn't come South, and this is a rather amusing story. It had been said that Truman couldn't come South at all because he'd be hooted as the feeling was so strong against him. So, I began to work on the possibility of a nonpolitical speech in the South. Well, it happened that at that time North Carolina was about to dedicate
a monument to Jackson, Polk, and Johnson, who were the President who we say -- some South Carolinians differ about Jackson -- were born in this state. My father had been chairman of this monument commission and, late in 1947, he had written Truman asking him if he would come and make the dedication address. Well, at that time the President wrote him back and said he couldn't be sure, and so forth, but maybe if he'd write him later he could tell him whether he would or not. My father died in January '48 and I went to the White House and I found this correspondence in which Truman had not completely turned down the invitation. After my father's death, a man who was later Senator Willis Smith became chairman of the commission, and Smith was a very conservative Democrat. I wouldn't say that in that campaign he voted Republican, but he certainly was not an enthusiastic Truman man. I understood this, but there was this invitation, not declined or accepted. So, the President at my suggestion wrote a letter to the new chairman, and said, "In going through my files, I find this invitation from Mr. Daniels, and I find that I will be able to make this address."
Well, Willis Smith was fit to be tied. He did not want to be in any sense presiding over Truman's coming into the South, but there wasn't anything he could do about it. So while he came to me and fumed and fussed a little, "why, of course we were delighted to have the President come and make the address." Then suddenly while we were on the train on one of the first trips, the news came out that he was going to make this non-political speech in North Carolina. Then the State Fair people and the farmers who show at the state fair, wired and asked, would he make a political speech in the afternoon. So, he came to North Carolina, made the non-political speech, was well received; and then in the afternoon, he made a "give 'em hell Harry" speech at the fairgrounds and was heartily received, and I think that had much to do with his carrying the state and showing that he could come into the South and not be spit upon.
FUCHS: Who wrote the non-political speech for the dedication of the monument?
DANIELS: The non-political speech was written largely by Gerald Johnson. You may know him. He's a historian
in Baltimore; he's a North Carolinian and I got Gerald to go to work on it and I did some work on it, but it was largely the work of Gerald Johnson.
FUCHS: Did you talk to Willis Smith after this?
DANIELS: He came to see me very much perturbed about the whole matter, and I said, "There was the invitation." He couldn't, at that point, say, "Well, there's a misunderstanding, Mr. President; we don't want you," without exposing his hand as being opposed to the Democratic nominee, which at that point he was not ready to do.
FUCHS: Did you have a subsequent conversation about this after Mr. Truman had delivered his speech?
DANIELS: At that time I may have grinned about it with Smith later. We didn't become political antagonists until he ran for the Senate in 1950 against Frank Graham.
FUCHS: Was Gerald Johnson a speech writer on any other speeches, to your knowledge?
DANIELS: No, that was the only one in that campaign.
FUCHS: What thoughts did you have about the campaign of '48 before you were brought in as a consultant and then how did they alter over the course of the campaign, as to prospects?
DANIELS: Well, it was pretty rough, but I thought we had a chance and we ought to make a good fight. My friends in Raleigh, I believe one of my brothers, said "For goodness sake, why are you going down the drain with Truman?" There was a feeling that getting on Truman's train was sort of the flight to oblivion, but I thought it was a good fight and I enjoyed the work.
FUCHS: Did you feel a change during the campaign at any certain point, when you felt that he might make a strong...
DANIELS: I think Harry Truman was the only man on the Truman train who was confident, and I really believe he was, that Harry Truman was going to be re-elected. Many of us had moments of high hope and you began to get more hope as you saw the whistlestop crowds, but we were so overwhelmed by the reports of the polls
and the complete confidence of the Republicans. I remember coming home to vote, and in my office at the paper, I wrote a special piece about Truman and why the South ought to vote for him, and over the wire came the story of the Dewey train coming back into New York on the eve of the election and who was going to be in the Cabinet and all this. We have a custom on The News and Observer when there is a great Democratic victory -- this goes back to my father's time -- of printing a red crowing rooster across the front page, and so the night of the election, I asked the managing editor, "Have you got that rooster out?"
And the boys grinned at me and said, "Yeah, we got it out," but the whole implication was that they didn't think they would have need for it.
I went to bed that night. I was not sure at all, but I was encouraged, and I guess it was four o'clock in the morning that Truman called me up from Kansas City and said, "Well, Jonathan, we're in."
And I said, "I'm awful glad to hear it, sir. I want to see it nailed down."
He said, "Well, it's going to be."
Ohio, I believe, was the thing that had just hit
him -- that he was going to get Ohio. And I went to bed about four, and I had to go to New York the next morning on a nine o'clock plane, and I was flying over Richmond when the Dewey statement conceding Truman's election came on. And then that morning when he called me up, of course, he asked me to join him and go with them to Key West. He made a little stop, as you may remember, down at New Bern at a little Baptist or Methodist Church -- I've forgotten why or what. So I joined him in Washington and we went on down to Key West and stayed.
FUCHS: You were serving on a public advisory committee at the time you were asked to come in as a consultant. Do you recall anything about your activities with that?
DANIELS: That the Public Advisory Committee of the ECA?
FUCHS: Yes, sir.
DANIELS: Yes, he appointed me to that. I don't have the date in my mind, but I served on that throughout his administration. And then he also appointed me to the -- whether he appointed me or whether one of the Cabinet members -- to the National Hospital Council.
They were just once-a-month jobs when I'd go up to Washington to attend these meetings.
FUCHS: Is there anything that stands out in your memory?
DANIELS: Well, of course, ECA was under Paul Hoffman and the whole business of foreign aid was just beginning to be developed and worked out and it was an exciting enterprise. Then I was also appointed as the United States representative on the UN subcommittee with regard to the protection of minorities and the prevention of discrimination. I served on that during the Truman Administration.
FUCHS: Were there any particular disputes or problems that arose that stand out....
DANIELS: In the United Nations, we were always fussing with the Russians, and they were always trying to use it as a forum to emphasize to the world the mistreatment of minorities in the United States, We tried to get some sort of -- Bill of Rights, the International Bill of Rights. The Russians were more interested in it as a propaganda device than working out any plans.
FUCHS: What was your principal duty in 1948, in connection with the campaign?
DANIELS: I don't suppose I had any particular, special duty. I worked with public relations, some with the press; I made arrangements for this Southern trip, I helped with speech writing, I worked at the White House in connection with speeches, I met people.
At one crucial point once, I was violently opposed to the President's position. We had worked out a plan. We were pretty desperate in that campaign, and we wanted something that would be a dramatic gesture of the President's effort for peace and security in the world. Finally we came up with a plan that Truman would ask Fred Vinson, then Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, to go to Russia as his personal representative. I don't remember the exact aim, but the purpose was to reach some sort of agreement with the Russians which would assure world peace. Vinson had agreed that he would go. Then we were in a conference in the Cabinet Room at the White House and the President put in a call to Marshall in Paris. He came back in the room and said, "No," he wouldn't
do it, that, in effect, this would be injection of our foreign policy into politics. As a statesman he was right, but I said, "Well, Mr. President, if you believe in your foreign policy, it seems to me that you have got to work for its continuance by political means as well as every other; and I think that if you have faith that what you're trying to do is right, it's your duty not only as a candidate but as a President, to take an act which may bring about your re--election, and therefore the continuance of this foreign policy in which you believe."
I was rather passionate about it. I'm sure that the impeccable patriots would say that I was the politician trying to press the President into what they might regard as improper political activity, but I felt very strongly that his election was the thing necessary to the continuance of the Roosevelt-Truman type of foreign policy; but he said "No." I must say that I believe that most of the political advisers there were on my side, but we all respected and, of course, had no other choice than to agree to the President's decision.
FUCHS: Did he make a direct response to you, or did he
just listen to the general overall views and then make a decision in that instance?
DANIELS: We were at the Cabinet table and he did not make any elaborate justification of his position. He didn't have to. He said, "No, Marshall has said this would not be right." I always have had the feeling that this notion that the foreign policy -- that the politics ends at the water's edge is fairly ridiculous. I remember -- who was the man who wrote The Road to War [Walter Millis], former editor of the Herald Tribune -- anyhow he said that Henry Cabot Lodge thought that politics should end at the water's edge and that from that point outward it should be always Republican. I think that the most important political frontiers we have to deal with are the places where our boys may die and that foreign policy is a political matter as domestic policy. I'm speaking of Senator Lodge who fought Wilson on the League of Nations.
FUCHS: Who do you recall, if you do, thought of this mission to Russia by Vinson?
DANIELS: I can't say that. I think that it was discussed. Well, frankly there was a quest for something dramatic,
not Turnip Day, but something big and dramatic in the world that would indicate that Truman was the man of leadership and purpose and that was what the group came up with.
FUCHS: Who was in the group in the Cabinet Room as you remember?
DANIELS: Oh, Hassett was there and Murphy was there and Clifford was there, I think Noyes was there, Barnes -- I can't give you the list but it practically filled up the Cabinet table.
FUCHS: Was A: Z. "Bob" Carr there?
DANIELS: I'm not positive.
FUCHS: John Franklin Carter?
DANIELS: No, he was not there.
FUCHS: Did Noyes appear especially vociferous in favor of this plan?
DANIELS: I don't think he was as vociferous in support of it as he had part in the design of the idea. I suppose I spoke most vociferously in support, but
I did not originate the idea.
FUCHS: Was there a statement or a speech, so to speak, written and did you participate in the preparation of that?
DANIELS: It had not been prepared, but it was proposed that there be immediately -- I don't want to get too specific, but as I understand it, there was to be a special radio announcement. And there had been some complications about the radio, that there had been a request for time -- this I will not say categorically -- but this is my remembrance, in that there had been some question with the networks as to whether they would allot time for a non-political declaration, which this was to be, on the grounds that they wanted to know how non-political it was before they agreed to carry the presidential message; but it was all allowed to lapse.
FUCHS: Well, as you know, this came out in the press and the story is that Ross had communicated to the press, perhaps prematurely, before the President had talked to Marshall.
DANIELS: Well, the President talked to Marshall while we
were in the Cabinet Room, because he went out and then came back, and the President had seemed amenable to the suggestion and when he came back evidently he had given his word to Marshall that he wouldn't do it.
FUCHS: Do you remember whether this was a Monday or a Tuesday?
DANIELS: No, I can't.
FUCHS: There seems to me, if I'm correct, to be a glossing over of the chronology in Mr. Truman's Memoirs, in that the general story is that it was a Monday that he discussed this in the Cabinet Room -- this is your story -- and then he went off and called Marshall. But Truman says, "On last Tuesday when I communicated with Secretary Marshall..." and I just wondered if that had ever come to your attention?
DANIELS: My memory is subject to faults as other men's are, but my absolute confident feeling is that he left the conference, went out, and I believe he had to go to the Map Room because this was one of those calls that had to be made over special telephone equipment. He left the conference, went into the
Map Room, talked with Marshall and then returned. This was when the last minute discussion took place.
FUCHS: When would have Ross' communications with the press -- this secret pre-briefing of it been held?
DANIELS: Of course, this I can't be sure about, but I don't think it had gone as far as telling the press just what it was going to be, but that there was going to be an important announcement. And my impression was that it wasn't that he so much told the press as that in trying to make arrangements, he had to consult with the radio networks about time for a non-political presidential announcement. Now that is the best of my recollection. Weren't there any presidential diaries as to what the President did at this hour and that hour?
FUCHS: Well, there were his appointment schedules which were kept by Connelly, but there is an absence of notes for -- well, Cabinet meetings, although this wasn't a Cabinet meeting. There just is very much of a lack of that sort of thing -- surprisingly so.
Well, Dave Noyes at one time criticized the
piece you wrote in Liberty which, I believe, was adapted from a chapter you did for Goodman's book, While You Were Gone, and you made a diary entry on September 23, 1945, about it. Do you recall that?
DANIELS: I don't know what it was about. What does the diary say, you know?
FUCHS: Well, this was in regard to a day in which you had breakfast with Ewing and then you were on the Sandpoint Ferry with David Noyes and a number of others.
DANIELS: That was a party given at some island club in the Chesapeake, and I've forgotten whether it was in Truman's honor. Anyhow it was a gathering of the Democratic clan -- Congressional, White House, and so forth. I've forgotten the name of the club. We all went together down there.
FUCHS: What I was wondering was, you said that Noyes spoke in uncomplimentary terms about your Liberty piece, as you termed it, and then you said, "Obviously source of Barnes' criticism," and I wondered just what the connotations of that were?
DANIELS: I just don't know. I don't even remember what
the Liberty piece was. Was the Liberty piece the one about the change from Dr. New Deal to Dr. Win-the-War? The only specific criticism I remember of Noyes about anything I wrote was that he told me that my book Frontier on the Potomac, had too much old lace and too little arsenic in it.
FUCHS: That's pretty good.
There's an undated memorandum in your files which was from President Truman, entirely in his handwriting, and it says, "Memo to Jonathan Daniels. Please coordinate speech writing set up here in White House. I think Dave Noyes can take on Chicago and Boston; Sam Rosenman can take New York and Brooklyn; you see about Raleigh and Miami; let Clark and Murphy finish up the week and polish the rest with me. HST."
Could you comment on that?
DANIELS: I think that he was getting too specific, because the person who I would describe as the "city editor of speech writing," that is, the man across whose desk they came, was Charlie Murphy. And I think that this situation would have been rather confusing. Murphy had to be the man -- well, what do you call it --
the coordinator of the speech business; and I did stay at the White House and work on the speeches, principally the Southern speeches, I was working on. That was some idea the President got as to organizing his campaign. I don't think it ever came out quite as neat as that sounds.
FUCHS: Well, I was trying to date it more closely. He said, "Please coordinate this speech writing set-up," and I wondered if that was in September when you came back, or late in October…
DANIELS: It was between two trips.
FUCHS: Who carried the principal burden of speech writing?
DANIELS: Well, as I say, Murphy, it would be in my opinion, was the principal editor. Now, a good many people contributed, but I think Charlie Murphy was the coordinator and the man who sat on top to see that the speech was ready for such and such place and so forth.
FUCHS: Did he travel on the train?
DANIELS: He spent most of his time in his office in the old State Department Building.
FUCHS: Who did travel on the train when you did? I assume you did?
DANIELS: Well, let's see, when I was on the train there was Ross, Clifford, Bill Bray, the Naval and Military aides were along, Connelly, well, I would think that would be available in some kind of a log somewhere.
FUCHS: How did you operate in regard to speeches, first drafts, and so forth?
DANIELS: Well, I don't think you can ever say. It never did follow any pat line. We would get together, for instance, and discuss what he ought to say at some place. Then there was the business of giving him a little background about where he was, you know, the back platform business.
FUCHS: Was there someone in particular in charge of that?
DANIELS: It was not a train that moved with what I would describe as military precision, nor was it a staff in which duties were neatly coordinated. I think maybe that was an effort on his part to more neatly coordinate it.
FUCHS: As a general thing, were the major speeches drafted in the White House and then sent out to the train?
DANIELS: Yes, the major speeches were, and largely under the supervision of Charlie Murphy.
FUCHS: How were the newsmen accommodated on the campaign train?
DANIELS: You've never ridden on one of these trains? Well, it's a fascinating thing; all of them were compartment cars and they had two bars and dining rooms, and so forth; and it's a very social occasion as well as a very political occasion. And then, of course, they'd have a big kind of club car, to which, as you came into Indiana -- the Indiana politicians would get aboard and the more prominent ones would be taken up and presented to the President, and he'd spend a few words with them and they'd be patted on the back. Then when they'd get over into Ohio, they'd get off and the Ohio politicians would come aboard and things like that. I'll never forget down in Texas, Lyndon Johnson came aboard. He had about a three day stubble of beard -- the primary was just over, and he didn't know whether he was twenty-five votes ahead or twenty-five votes behind.
I say twenty-five -- I'm not using a specific figure -- but it was just that close, And he hadn't had any sleep or time to shave for three days. It was right at the close of the primary. I always remember that picture of Lyndon.
FUCHS: Were you rather close to Lyndon Johnson at one time or the other?
DANIELS: Yes, I've worked with Lyndon when he was in Congress and he had some things at the White House to attend to and I helped him; and then I helped write some speeches for the Congressional elections in '42, just as a sort of on the side operation.
FUCHS: Was this when you were in OCD?
DANIELS: No, this was when I was at the White House.
FUCHS: Late in 1942.
DANIELS: I just did this as a sort of, well, you're all interested in winning the elections.
FUCHS: How was the relationship between President Truman and the press on the train?
DANIELS: Everybody was fond of Truman. I don't think the press thought he was going to be elected.
FUCHS: Did you have much contact with the press on the train?
DANIELS: Oh, a great deal, because you see, I knew them all, and it was a matter of -- well, I tried to -- I don't know whether you call it persuasion or public relations with the press -- not merely giving them information. Well, you wanted everybody to write as nice stories as you could get on the train.
FUCHS: How did you view the press coverage of that campaign on behalf of Mr. Truman?
DANIELS: I thought it was fair. After the campaign was over I wrote to a friend of mine on the New York Herald Tribune which was, of course, very strong for Dewey, and I thought they gave -- except in their interpretive articles as to who was going to be elected; and I don't think that they were distorted, I think they represented an accepted view of the outcome.
FUCHS: Aside from this Lyndon Johnson memory, do you recall
any other incidents involving politicians in the various states?
DANIELS: Yes, I remember going through -- who was that Senator -- well, if I knew them I would suggest that they have something to say particular about the President when they were presented, you know. It was just a matter of suggestion and trying to be helpful.
FUCHS: You mention in your book Frontier on the Potomac, Grogan's Law, which was that, I believe, publishers follow the lead of Washington correspondents rather than vice versa. Could you elaborate on this and your present thoughts about that?
DANIELS: I think I better let that stand. I think I probably elaborated as much as Grogan's law will stand, but I do think that the average publisher, while conservative, gets more of his ideas from his correspondents than he gives ideas to his correspondents.
FUCHS: Anything that stands out in your memory about the informal press conferences on the train?
DANIELS: Not really.
FUCHS: What is your reaction to Mr. Truman's phrase, "The kept press and paid radio?"
DANIELS: Well, I had gone through the "one party press" with Roosevelt and when something is against you, you strike at it. That phrase didn't begin with Truman. I suspect it goes all the way back to George Washington; and when he was talking about Bache and Duane in Philadelphia in the 1790's, wasn't it, the things he said about the press and so forth, were equivalent to what Truman said. The press has always been a target and has deserved to be a target of the politicians. Those who shoot can expect to be shot at.
FUCHS: Mr. Truman since has said that he never had any respect for the so-called political influence of the press. Would you consider this as inconsistent with his concern with the kept press and paid radio?
DANIELS: Well, I've heard Mr. Truman say that he didn't think that money was important in politics, or the press was important in politics, if you were right, the people will vote for you and so forth; but I think Mr. Truman has been very careful about his
effort to have a good press, certainly personally, and I believe he recognizes the influence of the press in spite of this remark of his.
FUCHS: Any particular speeches in that campaign that you worked on that stand out in your memory for any particular reason?
DANIELS: No, these two down here were the main ones, others I helped with and read over and edited and things of that sort.
FUCHS: Mr. Truman made a decision to speak more from outlines or off-the-cuff, as you will, and he's remarked about this in his Memoirs. Were you involved in that decision or how did this come about?
DANIELS: He was the most remarkable man in the world in that he could speak in Podunk at two o'clock and say a few strong words, go back to his drawing room, lie down and sleep ten minutes and get up at Bingville and be as fresh as a daisy and make another little speech and then go back and take another nap -- the most remarkable man about the ability to sleep in the midst of strain that I've ever seen. He's always had
that gift. He told me that as a young man in Missouri, he'd be politicking all over the state and he could drive his car up a side road, lie down on the seat and take a nap and then go on.
FUCHS: That's interesting. I'm thinking of his speaking more from outlines of a speech or off-the-cuff rather than reading a prepared speech or statement. Do you remember anything about that in particular?
DANIELS: I don't think that he reached that decision in the '48 campaign. He was always more effective in my opinion and got his personality across better when he was just letting go, than when he was reading words prepared for him. As to reading, he has a certain problem with his eyesight.
FUCHS: Oh, you think that was a definite factor?
DANIELS: Well, he never said so to me, but I think so, yes. I don't know. I'm sure he must have bifocals, but you notice how thick his lenses are.
FUCHS: Do you have other thoughts about him as a political speaker?
DANIELS: Well, he manages to put across his personality in such a way as to make people have confidence in him. He projects his image, Madison Avenue might say.
FUCHS: You, early in October, 1948, wrote a memo, in fact it was October 1, in which you, among other things, said that you felt that there was no longer any particular job for you on the train and you were thinking of leaving it, and you offered a few suggestions which we might go into. You said "as the staff is now organized." Now just what did you mean by that?
DANIELS: Well, I think one of the things that was troubling me was North Carolina. I wanted to get down here and work in the campaign here, but there was a good deal of confusion in the staff. For instance, in some ways the President expected me to handle some press, and obviously it was Charlie Ross' function to handle it; there was, as I pointed out, his idea of coordinating all the speaking and so forth; there was confusion there. And I guess I felt a need of some neatness, but one thing was, I was an editor and ought to get back to my own bailiwick. He insisted that I stay.
FUCHS: You didn't leave the train at that time?
DANIELS: No. I dropped out for one trip and stayed working in the White House, shortly after this speech thing was fixed up. Then I left about, oh, I guess (I don't remember), but I would think it would be four or five days before the election, and came back to North Carolina.
FUCHS: Well then, to interpret this document, the phrase, "There's no job for you as the staff is now organized," meant that it just wasn't organized to provide, in your opinion, a further reason for you to stay.
DANIELS: I thought I could probably be more useful in North Carolina and I thought they had plenty of folks quite competent to handle it on the train.
FUCHS: It could have been interpreted, of course, that "I can now leave because we have now organized the staff," and I was trying to clarify this document.
DANIELS: Well, maybe, but I think it was -- we stayed in a state of confusion up to the very end.
FUCHS: You made a number of suggestions in that memo
that, to wit, "there should be more real news in the political speeches and statements," "the speeches should be ready at the beginning of the next trip and..."
DANIELS: Well, there's always a problem. The press is always screaming. They want a text of a President's major speech as long as possible before the speech is made so they can write their stories and have it all done. People who are running a campaign with the President making a speech every day, are apt to come up with the final version of the speech -- well, they don't quite hand it to him as he walks on the platform, but it's just a matter of pressures both ways, and I was trying to urge that so far as possible, texts be provided in time for the press to give it the best possible play.
FUCHS: Was this acted upon?
DANIELS: Oh, there was an effort in that direction, there always is; but under every President, this is true, when you're in a campaign where you're making a speech -- well, you're not making a major speech every fifteen minutes but there's a speech a day -- that's a
hell of a lot of speeches.
FUCHS: You also noted that the press had not been able to see and report on the crowd enthusiasm because they were usually too far behind in the parades. Was there any effort made to change that?
DANIELS: Well, that's always the case. They'd be griping. I was trying here to bring forward to him the gripes of the press as I was trying to carry to the press -- you see it's sort of an effort to please the press. You want to please the press that's covering the President because irritations can get into the news, and they had complained that they were so far behind that the crowds would come around and they couldn't even see to cover the speaking. They had to get off and run up the tracks, oh, seven or eight cars sometimes. Well, sometimes that couldn't be avoided, but what the press sends out about a crowd to the whole of the country can be more important than the impression made on the immediate crowd at the place. You see what I mean?
FUCHS: Certainly. Do you feel this was improved on subsequent
to October 1, '48?
DANIELS: Well, I hope so, but I would not claim any triumph in that regard.
FUCHS: The final remark that you made was that you thought the train lacked a "conning tower" and that you proceeded to remark about Eben Ayers. Do you recall his role and this lack of a so-called conning tower?
DANIELS: Well, Ayers was an assistant in the press secretary's office under me, and also, as I remember it, under Ross. I don't know what I would have suggested about him.
FUCHS: Do you have any strong impressions of the crowds that came to hear the President?
DANIELS: Yes, they were very colorful crowds of plain people whom he made contact with and they made contact with him. I think there was a good deal of sympathy to begin with. I mean, he was the underdog in the race, and I'm not sure that that sympathy didn't build up into part of his victory.
FUCHS: Do you recall who determined the itinerary for the
President's trips in that campaign?
DANIELS: Well, that would be a rather elaborate thing worked out both by the National Committee and -- the President, of course, would approve it, and then following the decision as to where the major speeches were to be made, Dewey Long, the White House transportation chief, would make all the railroad plans and so forth.
FUCHS: Was Oscar Ewing in evidence on the train at any time?
DANIELS: I'm sure he must have been. He must have gotten aboard sometimes. I don't remember him as a regular passenger.
FUCHS: How did the train work with the publicity division of the Democratic National Committee, or with the Democratic National Committee as a whole?
DANIELS: Well, it's always a very fuzzy business and there's a hope of liaison and often it works and sometimes it doesn't, but there's always a contention, my observation is, between those on the President's personal
staff who advise with him as to his politics and the people on the National Committee who are supposed to be the general staff of the campaign; but they get along pretty well in the end. There's always some friction and some difficulty but they get along pretty well.
FUCHS: Are there any cases that stand out in your memory.
DANIELS: None particularly.
FUCHS: How closely do you think the President followed the polls in 1948? Were there special briefings or discussions of them that you remember?
DANIELS: Well, we would talk about them. He didn't believe in polls, I got the impression, and he was confident that he took in what was going to happen, I don't know, by osmosis.
FUCHS: Were you concerned about the polls. I know you've said you didn't think he was going to win, but were they a major factor?
DANIELS: Of course, you can minimize the polls all you will, and we would always say, "Oh hell, look what
happened to the Literary Digest," and so forth, but of course you are disturbed about polls because, while you may say the damned Republicans are rigging them, you know that the man who is a Gallup doesn't want to run himself out of business deliberately. So, if you don't have faith, you have fear about polls.
FUCHS: Did you think the repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act was a strong campaign issue?
DANIELS: Well, certainly Truman made an appeal to labor not only on a basis of his position, but also because Truman somehow made the ordinary man think he was the ordinary man's man.
FUCHS: What do you recall of John Franklin Carter or Jay Franklin, as a speech writer in the '48 campaign?
DANIELS: I recall very little. He's been always a very nebulous figure to me in connection with all of the Democratic administrations with which I've been connected.
FUCHS: You mentioned Bill Bray in connection with the '48 campaign. Just what were his duties and how
would you assess his accomplishments?
DANIELS: Bill was, in a sense, a representative of the National Committee staff on the train. He had grown up in politics. He'd been a page in Congress. Certainly he became an employee in the Congressional set up. He had worked with Farley and he had a very wide knowledge of politicians and it was in that capacity that he worked to be sure that the right politician got the right treatment. You must remember that all politicians are as sensitive about their egos as anybody in the world, and if a senator gets on the train and he isn't given access -- admittance to the President, he can get off with an awful bad case of hurt feelings. The hurt feelings of individuals have to be avoided. Well, the man who knows who each politician is, not only the senators, but the workers in the various states -- I think Bray had a good deal of knowledge and skill in that field.
FUCHS: Did you have some sort of a special relationship with Bray or....
DANIELS: None except that I knew him well and we got to
be pretty good friends on the train.
FUCHS: There's a document in the Truman Library in which you wrote Connelly saying that you heard Bray was going to be departing from Government and you thought that was a great crime since he had done so well in '48.
DANIELS: I don't think he ever was given the reward he deserved. Now, I'm not suggesting that Bray is a brilliant man, but he was a very hard-working Irish politician and I thought that they ought to find some place for him, a pretty good job under the patronage of the Administration.
FUCHS: I believe he did do some work for them in 1952?
DANIELS: He did, but I don't ever think that he's been adequately rewarded.
FUCHS: In this letter you wrote to Connelly in November, 1950, you also said, "I think that our conversation at the table in the non-commissioned officers' club at Key West in 1948 needs to be reopened." What would that have had reference to? Do you recall?
DANIELS: I don’t even remember being in a non-commissioned officers' club?
FUCHS: How did you view the Progressive Party in 1948 and Henry Wallace?
DANIELS: Well, of course, my father was a great friend of Wallace's and I was fond of Wallace. Strangely enough, I had a very funny experience with Wallace. After I left the Government in '45, I wrote Frontier on the Potomac, and I wrote a chapter about Henry Wallace, which I did not think was in any way derogatory; but he took offense, so much so, that he wrote my father, who was an old man at the time, and complained about it. But I had no real feeling about Wallace except that he was a very interesting, and sometimes, fairly strange individual. One amusing thing about the Progressive Party in that campaign was, I remember sitting on the steps at the auditorium in, I think, Philadelphia, and a newsman, Bryson Rash came and sat down by me and he said, "I saw your daughter yesterday."
And I said, "Yes."
He said, "Yes, I suppose you know she's working at Wallace headquarters in New York."
"Well," I said, "she's free, white, and twenty-one."
FUCHS: You didn't know it?
DANIELS: No, I didn't know she was, but it was all right with me.
FUCHS: Is there more to the story about James J. Maloney who was chief of the White House Secret Service detail and is supposed to have gone with Dewey on election night in '48?
DANIELS: I've heard that story but I wasn't present to see.
FUCHS: Did you know Maloney?
DANIELS: Just slightly. He was not on the White House detail. He was, as I remember, the top man over in the Treasury Department. I arrived in New York on the day after election and I'd gotten a reservation at the Roosevelt Hotel; and I got there, oh, about two o'clock and all the newspapermen that I knew who had been covering Dewey, began to get out of their beds, having been up all night long. And so I guess I had a couple of drinks together with some of them, and they told me
all the gossip of the collapse of the Dewey triumph there the night before. I think that was where that story came from.
FUCHS: Anything else that you remember about that?
DANIELS: No, I don't remember anything except that they were all very much amused at the collapse. Newspapermen have a good time no matter who wins.
FUCHS: Anything that stands out in your memory about the vacation at Key West after the '48 election?
DANIELS: No, that was a purely social business, I mean, we swam and played poker and the President had a pretty good system, you know. You could lose -- I think you could lose two hundred dollars. Then if you lose two hundred dollars, you automatically get ten dollars back from the pot. So nobody could lose more than a hundred and ninety dollars. He plays what I'm sure serious poker players would regard as a weird game -- all kinds of strange poker hands -- "Baseball," I know is one of them, and we played poker and swam and drank a little whiskey and ate and had just a good time.
FUCHS: Does he like "Spit-in-the-Ocean," and "Low Hole Card Wild?"
DANIELS: Yeah, those are the kinds of games we played. I hadn't played much poker up until that time and when I did as a young man it was usually just a straight, serious game.
FUCHS: According to a letter you wrote afterwards, Mr. Truman (I'm speaking of after this vacation) made an offer which expressed his confidence in you. Would you care to say what that was?
DANIELS: He told me down there that he was going to appoint me Secretary of the Navy.
FUCHS: Is there anything about your attendance at the inaugural that stands out in your memory that might be of interest?
DANIELS: Just had a grand and glorious time. The White House put a car at my disposal during that occasion which was very nice -- at the inaugural.
FUCHS Is there anything about the inception of Point
Four, beyond your book, that you can elaborate on?
DANIELS: No, I had some correspondence with a young man in the State Department who is supposed to have been the genesis of the idea. Then, I believe I heard from his wife that he was killed in a flight over India. His name I don't remember, but he's the young fellow who is supposed to have come up with this suggestion. And Clark Clifford was looking for something dramatic to put in the inaugural address and came on this memo that had come up from this young man through all the echelons and that's the way it developed.
FUCHS: He was in the State Department?
DANIELS: Yes, I'm sure he was in the State Department, and not a very prominent figure there.
FUCHS: You associate Clark Clifford with this closely?
DANIELS: I associate Clark completely, almost, with the insertion of it in the inaugural address, but I don't think that the idea was Clark's; it was something he found when he was trying to make a dramatic inaugural address.
FUCHS: I believe in early '49, you were selected to be a Democratic National Committeeman from North Carolina?
DANIELS: That's right.
FUCHS: Is there anything that stands out in your memory about that?
DANIELS: Not a thing, except my wife was very furious because I got myself elected without consulting her, and by that time she was beginning to get just a little bit weary with me running all over in politics; and so she spoke rather sharply to me about getting myself back in again when I promised her to devote myself to writing and newspaper work.
FUCHS: To return to your offer by President Truman to become Secretary of the Navy, there were a number of press conferences in which this subject was broached and Mr. Truman had no comment at several, then someone suggested that there was a difference of opinion with Louis Johnson and he said he knew of no disagreement with Johnson. I think you mentioned this slightly in the last interview. Could you elaborate on that?
DANIELS: Yes, Johnson had been in charge of the collection of funds, and I think that some where along the way he had rather committed himself to -- whoever the man was who became Secretary of the Navy. Truman sent me over to see Johnson and Johnson wanted me to let this man stay in a year and then come in. Well, I didn't want to get in very much. By that time, also, Early, with whom I had had some differences, had become Assistant Secretary of Defense. The place didn't look as inviting to me as it had when the President had first spoken about it, and I didn't want to make a fight saying, "Well, you promised me this Mr. President...", and so forth. My chief interest, frankly, in that appointment was the fact that I suppose every boy in a way runs a race with his father and it would, from a sentimental point of view, have been very attractive to me, to have been Secretary of the Navy since my father had been Secretary of the Navy. But there again I got very little support from my wife who thought that going to Washington again would be a fate worse than death. She was sick at the time. There is a letter from the President, however, in which he says he's so glad that you're going to be -- or words to that effect -- a "member of my official family."
But these were the circumstances.
FUCHS: What was your immediate response when he offered this at Key West?
DANIELS: I thanked him.
FUCHS: You didn't make a decision at that time?
DANIELS: Oh, yes. I said, "Well, that will be wonderful, Mr. President."
FUCHS: Do you think President Truman made any blunders in the handling of the civil rights issues in '49?
DANIELS: Well, having lived through civil rights, I would say that anybody makes some blunders in connection with them. I don't know of any specific ones.
FUCHS: What about Senator Graham? Did you ever discuss his minority report of the President's Committee on Civil Rights?
DANIELS: Senator who?
FUCHS: Frank P. Graham.
DANIELS: Oh, well, you know, Senator Graham was the
president of the University of North Carolina. I was a very strong supporter of Governor W. Kerr Scott of this state, and became during his administration and with his support, Democratic National Committeeman; and when Senator [Joseph Melville] Broughton died, the Governor consulted with me about his successor. And I urged that he appoint Frank Graham, and he said, "Well, do you suppose we can get him?"
And I said, "I hope so."
And he said, "Well, got to Chapel Hill and see him."
So, I went to Chapel Hill and undertook to persuade him to accept the appointment to the United States Senate. He was reluctant to do so, but his retirement as president of the university was coming up, and after some sessions we persuaded him to take the post. But you asked about the civil rights report. He had dissented, but in North Carolina at that time, his dissent did not seem to be satisfactory to those who held more conservative views on civil rights, My own father, who was in most respects a very liberal man, was very much concerned in the last year of his life about the civil rights report. However, when
Graham came up for reelection in 1950, he was charged by Senator Smith, whom I mentioned earlier in connection with the Truman visit to North Carolina in the '48 campaign -- in the first primary, Mr. Smith's people charged him with being a member of many organizations, allegedly of a Communist front nature. And that didn't prevent Graham from coming out with a very good lead in the first primary. However, as has been said later, and I wouldn't attribute it to anyone, somebody said, "Well, we didn't beat him with the 'Red;' in the second primary we're going to throw the 'nigger' at him."
And they did throw it, and he was defeated for the United States Senate, and undoubtedly his part in serving on the President's Civil Rights Committee was significant in that.
FUCHS: Was it common knowledge around the White House that you were writing a book about Mr. Truman?
DANIELS: Oh, yes, and I asked everybody in the White House for help, and I asked everybody in Kansas City, so it was obviously common knowledge.
FUCHS: There was a press conference you attended on July 28,
1949, and the press was a little bit concerned about why you were attending. I guess none of them thought you were there in connection with the book?
DANIELS: Could that have been after Joe Short had denied that Collier article?
FUCHS: I think that was a little later.
In the files in the Library, there's a copy of a letter you wrote to Connelly on February 7, 1950, thanking Connelly for sending a copy of Ed Pauley's recollection of the "1940 convention," and we were wondering if that meant the 1944 convention?
DANIELS: It seems to me obvious that it does and that my letter had a typographical error in it, because Connelly undoubtedly sent me this document in connection with the book I was writing, as the letter makes clear, and the President was having his aide provide me with information that made it possible for me to correctly report the story of the President's life, including this convention.
FUCHS: In December, 1950, you wrote Connelly for an appointment with the President in connection with some
work you said you were doing then which was important in "getting his real dimensions over to the American people." Would you remember that?
DANIELS: Was that before or after my book appeared?
FUCHS: Well, it was December, 1950. I would say it was after.
DANIELS: I have no specific...unless it was referring to the Collier articles, the two I wrote about Truman.
FUCHS: Did you participate in the 1950 campaign in any way with the President? -- of course that was the off year Congressional election.
DANIELS: No, not really.
FUCHS: Is there anything that stands out in your memory about the farewell dinner for the President in December of 1952?
DANIELS: It was a very pleasant occasion marred by just one incident, about which I believe I've spoken. There must have been fifty of us there. Almost everybody who had served in any capacity during his two
administrations on his personal staff.
FUCHS: You were thinking of the Connelly inebriation?
FUCHS: What do you know about the inception of the Hillman book project [Hillman, William. Mr. President. New York: Farrar, Straus and Young, 1952.]
DANIELS: Very little indeed. I knew Hillman, but I don't think I was consulted. As a matter of fact, yes. A friend of mine, John Farrar, he's a publisher in New York, told me about the arrangements for that book, and I believe he told me something about the disappointment about the book. They had expected a very much larger sale, but as to when it was decided on and when Hillman became the President's writing aide, I don't know. I did review that book for Saturday Review of Literature, and I pointed out that the book was the definite announcement that the President would not run again and showed why and quoted from the book. And I remember I got a great many letters from people like Arthur Krock…and then a week later Truman did announce that he wasn't going to run.
FUCHS: Didn't you at one point write or say that Mr. Truman
was going to run?
DANIELS: No, this was a full page review in the Saturday Review in which I pointed out where he said in the book -- although it looked like a Technicolor campaign document -- in this book he says, "I am not going to run." He quoted some kind of old Latin fable in the book, which I don't recall now, about a man, in effect, going too often to bat.
FUCHS: Well, I was thinking earlier in 1951, which, of course, would have been prior to the publication of the book. There was considerable discussion of an article that you had written and....
DANIELS: It's perfectly possible that in '51 I thought he was going to run again.
FUCHS: There was a discussion in the press conference in April, 1951, about your article and whether you were still welcome at the White House, and I believe this had to do with an article concerning arrangement of the election of Congressmen. Do you recall that?
DANIELS: Oh, yes, I remember that that was the time when
Joe Short denied a statement, which I attributed to the President, in an article in Collier's, but the President himself -- I said the President has a perfect right to say what he pleases, and I don't question anything he says. But a week later the President said I was perfectly welcome at the White House, and in his own book, Mr. President, he embodied this idea which I had printed in the Collier's article; but at the earlier time he had to take the heat off of himself from opposition on the Hill to those who didn't like his idea.
FUCHS: Did President Truman ever discuss a potential candidate for '52 with you?
DANIELS: Yes. Once he asked me to go see Adlai Stevenson, and I called Stevenson up -- I was in Washington on some occasion -- and Stevenson came out to see me at Jim Barnes' house and I told him that the President thought it was time that he stopped being coy. This was some weeks or maybe months before the convention. Of course, Stevenson made no declaration to me that he was going to be a candidate. In fact, for months afterwards he said he didn't want to be. But the
President told me when I saw him to tell him that he thought he ought to stop being coy and get in and start running.
FUCHS: And you saw him at Jim Barnes' house?
FUCHS: Why did he select you to make this plea?
DANIELS: He may have asked others to do the same; I don't know about that, except I was for Stevenson.
FUCHS: Were you close friends with Stevenson?
DANIELS: Yes, Stevenson and I were boys together in Washington, and then I knew him when he was with Knox in the Navy Department and I was a fairly good friend of his.
FUCHS: Had you come out for him in your paper up to that time?
DANIELS: Well, I don't remember whether I had or not.
FUCHS: Any other way that you participated in that '52 Presidential election?
DANIELS: Oh, yes. In that convention I was a member of the Credentials Committee which undertook to work out some form of loyalty pledge by Southern delegates that they wouldn't participate in the convention and then come home and bolt; and I thought I worked it out and I had persuaded the Southern people to agree to say that any man who participated in the convention was in honor bound to support its nominees, but the Northerners, notably young Franklin Roosevelt, were not content with that. They wanted a very much more sweeping loyalty pledge and we had quite a fight on the floor of the convention, and before the committee as a whole committee. Then, at that convention I was also a member of a small group organized by Walter Johnson who was a professor at the University of Chicago, I believe. I recall the "Draft Stevenson for President," and we worked as a committee and did all we could. And, of course, I saw him a number of times and saw him before and then the morning after his nomination.
FUCHS: Who were your principal associates on the Credentials Committee and also opponents other than Franklin Roosevelt?
DANIELS: Well, we came to a unanimous decision in this subcommittee of the National Committee -- the Credentials Committee. And on it were a Senator from Kentucky -- you can find all about this fight in the proceedings of the 1952 Democratic National Convention.
FUCHS: Very good. Were you active as a consultant between '48 and '53 when Mr. Truman left office?
DANIELS: No, not as a consultant. I was on very familiar terms at the White House. I'd go there whenever I was in town. My position was entirely unofficial, but in writing the book and after the book came out I was on close and friendly terms with the President.
FUCHS: How did you view the passage of the 22nd amendment, and did you ever discuss that with President Truman, regarding limiting the Presidency to two terms.
DANIELS: I opposed it but I never did discuss it with Truman.
FUCHS: You quoted in your book, Frontier on the Potomac, one assistant of President Truman who said, "I wouldn’t
run this rat race for a thousand dollars a week." Do you recall who that was?
DANIELS: I think it was McKim.
FUCHS: You also cited an "old Presidential secretary." Do you recall who that was?
DANIELS: I think you're referring to the old secretary who said, "If the next President of the United States ever asks my advice, I'm going to tell him to have just one secretary." That was Marvin McIntyre.
FUCHS: You also mentioned an expert in public administration on page 30 of Frontier on the Potomac who sat in on Cabinet meetings. Do you recall who that was?
DANIELS: Page 30?
FUCHS: Page 30.
DANIELS: I don't find it. "I remember looking at the assembling Cabinet with a long, middle-aged expert in public administration whose job it has been to work with Cabinet members for the Bureau of the Budget. And he said, 'They're all pretty good
fellows and some of them are damn able men, but they act like commanders in the field and not like staff officers helping the President plan his strategy." [Mr. Daniels referred here to the text of his book Frontier on the Potomac] I'm pretty positive that that was McReynolds.
FUCHS: You have stated that President Truman had a number of face-saving devices he used when he wanted to fire someone. Could you elaborate on that?
DANIELS: All Presidents do. I'm not sure I can be specific about Truman. It's easier to remember how Roosevelt would send people on tours of investigation abroad and give them what seemed to be very large assignments when their whole purpose was really to get them out of the position in which they were then located.
FUCHS: In your biography of Mr. Truman, you also refer to State Department men who believed that the President's staff was more concerned with politics in regard to the Israel question than they were with anything else. Do you recall who those State Department men were?
DANIELS: No, but I'm pretty sure that they were referring to Niles specifically in the White House staff. And there were some State Department men who seemed to be almost anti-Semitic in their lofty notions about Israel.
FUCHS: Can you name some of them?
DANIELS: No, I can't remember any at the moment.
FUCHS: Are you familiar with the book that recently was published, The Man From Missouri, by Alfred Steinberg?
DANIELS: I'm ashamed to say I haven't read it.
FUCHS: What about the little pocket book, Truman and the Pendergasts?
DANIELS: That I haven't read either; I've been working in another field lately.
FUCHS: Well, he has almost a principal thesis that Mr. Truman held aspirations for the Presidency long before 1944. Would you comment on that.
DANIELS: Aspiration is a strange word. I'd say Truman
grew up in the school boy theory that this is a land in which every boy can hope to be President, but I don't think he believed he was going to be President very long before he went to Chicago to be nominated for the vice-presidency.
FUCHS: Was "The Buck Stops Here" sign on President Truman's desk while you were there in 1945?
DANIELS: Yes, and there was also an eight ball as I remember it.
FUCHS: Would you know where "The Buck Stops Here" sign came from?
DANIELS: No, I do not.
FUCHS: Did President Truman impose any restrictions upon your writing as a former White House staff member when you left in '45? Did you talk to him about it?
DANIELS: No, I didn't consult him because I was leaving Government. I wasn't writing as a member of the staff.
FUCHS: Where would you place Mr. Truman on the scale from
a liberal to a conservative?
DANIELS: In The Man of Independence, I used the simile of Jefferson and Jackson, and I think I said it was like the difference between velvet and leather. I still think that Truman comes after Roosevelt and in a sense after Wilson, as the tough Jacksonian Democrat of our century. Now, I don't think Andrew Jackson or Harry Truman were either one of them in any sense doctrinaire political philosophers. They would express political principles, but actually they were both very practical men. Their Democracy didn't come from a system. Their views came from their experience and their lives. And I think that comparison between Jefferson and Jackson and Roosevelt -- well, Wilson really, because Wilson was more of a philosopher than Roosevelt, and Truman as the plain man of a still sort of frontier spirit, best expresses where I think Truman stands. Sort of the Jackson of our century.
FUCHS: How do you think of Mr. Truman as a former boss?
DANIELS: I think of him with great affection; I would like to see more of him than I do. He is a very kind
and gentle, affectionate, man with a good sense of humor and I enjoyed all the work I had to do with him; and I think he's going to go down as a very significant President in our history.
FUCHS: Well, if there's nothing else that you think a good reporter should have asked you, why, I have nothing else.
DANIELS: Anything else you want to tell him Lucy?
FUCHS: Well, thank you very much. I certainly appreciate your wonderful cooperation.
Allen, George E., 56-57, 107, 132-133
Anderson, Clinton, 125-126
Atlantic Monthly, 44
Atomic Energy, 30-33
Ayers, Eben, 70
Bailey, Josiah W., 40
Cabinet, the, 100-102
Bailey, Josiah W., relations with, 40
biographical information concerning, 21-28
Civilian Defense, as Assistant Director of Office of, 25, 27-28
Collier's magazine article on Harry S. Truman, 78, 188, 189, 192
Credentials Committee member at the 1952 Democratic National Convention, 194-195
as Democratic National Committeeman from North Carolina, 5
Federal Government, positions held in during Truman Administration, 26-27, 148-151
and Johnson, Lyndon B., 161-162
magazine articles written while on the White House staff, 43-44
Navy, proposed appointment as Secretary of the, 25, 181, 183-185
New Zealand, offered post of U.S. Ambassador to, 40-41
1944 Democratic National Convention, with the H.S. Truman family at, 92-93
1948 Presidential campaign, accompanies Harry S. Truman on, 5-6
papers of, 41-42
Presidential campaign, 1,948, duties as consultant to HST, 150-180
Presidential press secretary, appointment as, 89
Press, suggestions concerning relations with during 1948 campaign, 169-172
Progressive party, daughter as worker for in 1948, 178-179
Raleigh News and Observer, editor of the, 24-25
Roosevelt family, relationship with, 60
Roosevelt, Franklin D., last meeting with, 74-75
Roosevelt, Franklin D., as press secretary to, 34
Roosevelt, Franklin D., running for a fourth term, reaction to, 51
Roosevelt, Franklin D., as special investigator for, 28-29
Rural Electrification Administration, asked to become Director of, 5
Rural Electrification Administration, offered directorship of by H. S. Truman, 97
Slattery, Harry, testifies before Congressional Committee concerning, 36-37
speeches, delivered by, 90-91
Stevenson, Adlai, discussion of 1952 Presidential nomination with, 192-193
Stevenson, Adlai, friendship with, 193
Truman , Harry S., biography of, 1-21, 187-188
Truman: Harry S., consultant to during 1948 Presidential campaign, 142, 146-149
Truman , Harry S., evaluation of as a person to work for, 200-201
Truman, Harry S., first day as President, recollections of, 94-96
Truman, Harry S., first meeting with, 4-5
Truman, Harry S., opinion of, 57-58
Truman, Harry S., political philosophy of described by, 200
Truman, Harry S., as Press Secretary to, 96
Truman, Harry S., relationship with after 1948 election, 195
Vinson mission to Moscow, 1948, support of proposed, 150-156
and Wallace, Henry A., 178
White House Office, interest in keeping historical record of activities of, 88-89
White House staff, describes functions of, 101-102
White House staff, as member of the, 42-50
White House staff, operations, opinions concerning, 101-102
Daniels, Josephus, 21-22, 143
Dawson, Donald S., 130
Democratic National Committee, 87-88, 134, 173-174, 176
Democratic National Convention, 1944, 61-62, 79-83
Democratic National Convention, 1948, 6
Democratic National Convention, 1952, 194-195
Dixiecrats, 138, 194
Drummond, Roscoe, 52
Early, Stephen T., 17, 34-35,
55, 67-69, 107,
Hanford, Wash., 30-31, 33
La Guardia, Fiorello H., 27
MacLeish, Archibald, 74-75, 84
Nash, Philleo, 30, 63-64
campaign train, crowds meeting H.S.T.'s, 172
campaign train, itinerary of H.S.T.'s, 172-173
Daniels, Jonathan, participation in, 168-169
and the Democratic National Committee, 173-174, 176
press coverage, 163, 165-166, 170-171
relations between the Democratic National Committee and H.S. Truman's staff, 173-174
speeches by President Harry S. Truman, 167-168
speechwriting for, 158-161
Truman campaign staff, 1948, organization of, 168-169
and Vinson to Moscow proposal, 150-156
and Wallace, Henry A., 178
Presidential government, 101-102
Presidential press conferences, 65-67, 108-109
Presidential press secretaries, 34-35, 118
Presidential transition, 54-58
President's Committee on Civil Rights, 185-186, 187
Press, the, 108-109, 118-119, 165-166, 169-172
Press reaction to Thomas E. Dewey's defeat, 1948, 179-180
Press, leaks of news to the, 73
Press Secretary to the President, 96
Progressive Party, 1948, 178
Public Advisory Committee of the ECA, 148
Racial problems, World War II, 29-31
and Casey, Eugene, 46-47
Civil rights, position contrasted with that of Harry S. Truman, 136-137
health at end of third term as President, 51-53
health of in 1944, 84-85
as an intellectual, 105
last days in office, 74-75
press conferences, 45
Truman , Harry S., appointments with during World War II, 89-90
White House staff, administrative use of, 129
White House staff, relationship with members of the, 49
Roosevelt, Mrs. Franklin D. (Eleanor Roosevelt), 26-28, 127, 136-137
Rosenman, Samuel I., 98-99, 102, 158
Ross, Charles G., 96, 103-104, 118-119, 160, 168
Rural Electrification Administration, 39-40, 97, 126
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2
Truman, Harry S.:
Anderson, Clinton P., appointed Secretary of Agriculture by, 125-126
Baruch, Bernard, differences with in 1949 Presidential campaign, 141
biography of by Jonathan Daniels, 1-21, 187
business ventures, 3, 11-12
Byrnes, James F., differences with, 119-122
candor of described, 110-112
civil rights position contrasted with that of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 136-137
Clark, Tom C., appointed Attorney General by, 123-124
crowds sympathetic towards during 1948 Presidential campaign, 172
Daniels, Jonathan, assisted by in the 1948 Presidential campaign, 5-6
Daniels, Jonathan, relationship with after 1948 election, 195
by Daniels, Jonathan, article concerning in Collier's magazine, 78-79
Daniels, Jonathan, first meeting with, 4-5
Daniels, Jonathan, offers appointment as Secretary of the Navy to, 26, 183
final dinner for staff prior to leaving the White House, 135
first day as President, 94-96
Ft. Raleigh, N.C., proposed speech at, August 1948, 140-141
as an historian, 105
humility during first days as President, 115
inaugural address, 1949, 181-182
as an intellectual, 105
Interstate Commerce Commission, F.D. Roosevelt offers appointment to, 20-21
Kansas City Star, employee of, 14-15
Key West, Florida, vacations at after 1948 election, 180
and the Ku Klux Klan, 9-10
Lilienthal, David, reappoints to TVA, 58-59
Pauley, Edwin, nominates as Under Secretary of the Navy, 83-84
as a poker player, 180-181
political advisors, 131-134
political philosophy of, 200
political views, announcement of in message to Congress, Sept. 6, 1945, 115-117
as a politician, 93
and the Presidency, 198-199
press conferences, 76-78, 108-109
and the press, 1948 Presidential campaign, 162-164
press, relations with members of the, 108-110
and public opinion polls, 174-175
reelection, confident of in 1948, 146
Roosevelt, Franklin D., appointments with as Senator, 89-90
Salisbury, Spencer, as business associate of, 11-12
Senatorial campaign, 1940, 20
as a speculator, 12
speech, forthrightness of, 110-112
speech at North Carolina State Fair, Raleigh, N.C., October 9, 1948, 144
speech at State Capital, Raleigh, N.C., October 9, 1948, 142-145
speech techniques, 166-168
speechwriters for, 18-20, 107
staff meetings, 102-103
Stevenson, Adlai E., support by for 1952 Presidential nomination, 192-193
as a strong President, 114-115
swearing-in ceremonies as President, 1945, 94
third term as President, decision not to seek, 190-191
21 Point program, 1945, 115-117
Vaughan, Harry H., relationship with, 113-114
as vice-presidential candidate, 1944, 80-84
and vice-presidential nomination, 1944, 61-62, 79-81
and Vinson mission to Moscow, proposed, 1948, 150-156
Wallace, Henry A., contrasted with as Vice President, 93
Wallace, Henry A., dismissal as Secretary of Commerce, 122-123
White House advisors, 112-113
White House staff, 128-135
White House staff, administrative use of, 129
Truman, Mrs. John A. (Martha Ellen Truman), 17
Truman, Mary Jane, 137
Truman Committee, 21, 118
Truman family real estate, 2
"Turnip Day" session, 80th Congress, 1948, 139-140
Vaccaro, Ernest B. (Tony), 110
Wallace, Henry A., 80, 93, 121,
and the Israel question, 197-198
Roosevelt, Franklin D., during administration of, 36-38, 127-128
Roosevelt, Franklin, relationship with, 49, 99-100
staff meetings with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, 44-45
Truman, Harry S., assignments under, 102-103
Truman, Harry S., relationship with, 99-103
Wickard, Claude R., 40, 125-126