Oral History Interview with
Former investigator for the Truman Committee (Senate Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program) and in charge of public relations for the Committee.
April 16, 1969
by J. R. Fuchs
See also Frank McNaughton and Walter Hehmeyer
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[Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]
This is a transcript of a tape-recorded interview conducted for the Harry S. Truman Library. A draft of this transcript was edited by the interviewee but only minor emendations were made; therefore, the reader should remember that this is essentially a transcript of the spoken, rather than the written word.
Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. ) within the transcript indicate
the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the oral history interview.
This oral history transcript may be read, quoted from, cited, and reproduced for purposes of research. It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.
Opened April, 1972
Harry S. Truman Library
[Top of the Page | Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]
Oral History Interview with
April 16, 1969
by J. R. Fuchs
FUCHS: Mr. Hehmeyer, I wonder if you would care to begin by giving a little bit of your background: Where you were born and raised, your education and jobs you may have held prior to your coming to the Truman Committee.
HEHMEYER: I was born in New York -- in New York City, and I graduated from Yale. After college I went with a daily newspaper in New Jersey, and I started out as a cub reporter and then became the night editor before taking a job with Cue Magazine in New York, which was starting out then.
FUCHS: In about what year was this?
HEHMEYER: This goes back. Nineteen hundred and thirty-nine. Yes, that was about 1939 I went with Cue. I stayed with the magazine about two years. The National Defense Program was getting underway at that time and my brother, who is an attorney, was then in the law firm of Cravath, De Gersdorff, Swaine and Wood, and he had known Hugh Fulton who had also been with that firm. Hugh was with
the United States Attorney's office in New York and had just gone down to Washington to become the Chief Counsel for this new committee that was set up headed by Senator Truman. He was getting a staff together and was looking specifically for someone to handle the press relations. Although everybody on the staff was an investigator, my special duties were to deal with the communications media. And I remember Hugh sent me a telegram and said could I come down to Washington to see Senator Truman and he was the first United States Senator that I had ever met. I met him in his office one morning, that was about May of 1941, and it was a spring day like about now in Washington and I went in to talk to him. I was very impressed with his friendliness and his very direct manner. Hugh Fulton was also there and Senator Truman told me, "Well, we're going to have a lot of national press attention and," he said, "we want to be very careful that this doesn't become the kind of committee that's looking for headlines. You certainly are not to be a press agent for the Committee. You are to handle the public relations for the Committee and at the same time be sure that the press gets all the information that we are able to release."
It was a short interview and, as I say, I was very
impressed with him. A very vigorous man. Alert. Straightforward. He and Hugh Fulton were on their way to Florida on the camp and cantonment investigation; one of the first investigations the Committee conducted. I got a telegram from Hugh Fulton a few days after our interview saying, "Come to work Monday morning." That's how I was hired.
FUCHS: Well, did your brother put you in touch or...
HEHMEYER: With Hugh Fulton. Yes, he put me in touch with Hugh Fulton.
FUCHS: You went to see Hugh Fulton?
HEHMEYER: Yes. I didn't know Hugh and I didn't know Senator Truman, but my brother and Hugh had been colleagues in the same law firm as I mentioned. [Mr. Hehmeyer's brother, Alexander Hehmeyer, has written an interesting letter about the decision by Hugh Fulton to accept the position of Chief Counsel with the Truman Committee. See Appendix I. J. R. Fuchs, HSTL].
FUCHS: Were you particularly interested in going to Washington or looking for a better job or...
HEHMEYER: I was getting restless in New York and things were getting very serious, what with Europe at war -- the defense program was moving along at that time and I was most anxious to get into something like that that would be productive and a real challenge. And I thought the
background that I'd had in college and journalism qualified me for the job and I guess they did too.
FUCHS: I wonder what Mr. Truman had to offer in the way of remuneration at that time since he said that of the $15,000 that he originally got he was paying Hugh Fulton better than half. That'll leave about $7,000.
HEHMEYER: Hugh Fulton, I think was getting eight to nine thousand and the ceiling for a Senator was ten, so nobody could go higher than ten. We were all very modestly paid, believe me, there at the beginning. However, a standard practice of that time was, and this was the case with the Truman Committee, they had a $15,000 appropriation, but they put a number of their staff people on other payrolls in the executive branch. The idea was that Congress appropriated the money so that if there was a vacancy on some payroll and there was no conflict of interest so to speak, then congressional employees would be placed on executive payrolls. Officially I was with the Housing Administration. I went down there and I was fingerprinted, photographed and so on. And then they assigned me to the Truman Committee. Because on $15,000 they couldn't pay a staff. As you point out, Hugh was getting more than half of that.
FUCHS: Do you know of any of the others with similar assignments?
HEHMEYER: Yes, there were -- I'm not sure, I think Charles Clark, he was the Associate Chief Counsel. Whether he was on some other payroll or not I don't know. It was not a desirable practice though perfectly legal. Once the Committee got its own money, then everybody was switched over to the Committee payroll. It was just the only way that they could get a staff together on a small Senate appropriation like that. Of course, it raised the question: "Well, supposing some of those agencies were subject to investigation?" But as a matter of fact, the Housing Administration, for example, was not involved directly in the war effort.
FUCHS: Who else was there when you joined the staff?
HEHMEYER: Well, when I got there Hugh Fulton was the Chief Counsel and Charlie Clark was the Associate Counsel, and Matt Connelly was on the staff then, although he was not the Chief Investigator. The Chief Investigator was Henry A. Stix, an accountant and friend of Hugh Fulton's from New York. Another topflight man and another friend of Hugh's was H. G. Robinson who had been with the Federal Bureau of Investigation for about nine years and had worked with Fulton in New
York in the U.S. Attorney's office; Robby was an outstanding investigator and an accountant. Another man was Peter Ansberry, who was a young attorney in Washington, and another was Herb Maletz -- he may have come shortly after I did, but I was one of the early ones. Rudy Halley came long after that and so did George Meader.
FUCHS: Now Robinson didn't stay too many years along with the Committee, why was that?
HEHMEYER: Why, yes he did, he stayed with the Committee until Hugh left to set up his own law firm..
FUCHS: Oh, is that right?
HEHMEYER: ...and Robby went with him and became the office manager of that law firm. The law firm was centered in New York, but they had a branch in Washington.
FUCHS: Maybe I'm thinking of Maletz, I guess who left...
HEHMEYER: No, Maletz left to serve in the Army for a brief period of time. Various staff members came on after that: Bob Irvin and Joe Martinez and others.
FUCHS: Who was the first one that you named? Before Martinez?
HEHMEYER: Bob Irvin.
HEHMEYER: He's out in Long Beach, California now. He and I were roommates during Committee days.
FUCHS: I have a list here of a good many of the members but I don't seem to have Irvin or Ansberry.
HEHMEYER: Frank Parks. Frank Parks.
FUCHS: Frank Parks I have.
HEHMEYER: Wilbur Sparks, you probably have them because they are still in Washington.
FUCHS: I see.
HEHMEYER: Now Peter Ansberry was a brilliant young fellow and he -- well, he married a girl with money and he had money too and Peter was a very able guy, he worked on a number of those investigations.
FUCHS: He was an investigator. How long did he stay, approximately?
HEHMEYER: He was with the Committee the better part of this period under Truman.
FUCHS: I do have Irvin here. He started in '42 and served to September '45.
HEHMEYER: He was a lawyer.
FUCHS: I see. Where was he from?
HEHMEYER: He was from Michigan. He graduated from the University of Michigan.
FUCHS: Anything in particular that you might mention about
him, particular investigations that he handled or anything?
HEHMEYER: He had a great deal to do with the landing boat investigation involving Andrew Jackson Higgins. The Navy was hampering Higgins' efforts to get the Higgins' landing boat into war service, which was really a better designed boat. Far better designed than the Navy model. And there was quite a bit of controversy over him. Andrew Jackson Higgins gave the Committee credit for having opened up that whole thing and put him in business, and, once he got into mass production he had landing boats coming out of people's ears. He was a tremendous man, that Andrew Jackson. He was from New Orleans. And this is a little anecdote here. When Shirley and I got married we were able to get away for a week to go to New Orleans on our honeymoon. And Hugh Fulton said, "Now I want you to call Andrew Jackson Higgins while you're down there." And so we called him and he said, "Oh, yes, I'll have a car at the hotel for you, I want you to come over here and see our operation." This was 1943 in February. We went out there and it was the most impressive assembly line operation of boats that you ever saw in your life. He gave us a personally conducted tour. He was a flamboyant figure, Andrew Jackson
Higgins, given to violent outbursts of language and temper, but a tremendous driver. Anyway we finally got in his private office and he said, "You're Hugh Fulton's secretary."
And Shirley said, "Yes."
He said, "Here's a pad." We were on our honeymoon! He dictated a long, confidential memorandum to Hugh Fulton and Senator Truman. He said, "This is a good opportunity for me to get all this off my chest."
When we were returning to Washington Shirley was very fearful on the train that somebody might take the memorandum. I said, "I don't think that they could transcribe your notes." And when we got back home she transcribed what proved highly useful and confidential information.
FUCHS: Do you remember the gist of that?
HEHMEYER: I really wish that I could remember. Shirley might remember some of it. Anyway, that was Andrew Jackson Higgins. But Bob Irvin, getting back to him, he did work closely on that landing craft investigation and I would have to jog my memory on others that he worked on; because all of us had a regular caseload of investigations and most of them -- this people don't realize -- most of them never got to the hearing stage
and never got on the public stage. Mr. Truman said, "If something is wrong, let's get it corrected and not make a big to-do about it because there is a war on here and we don't want a lot of credit." And he was also careful that if we had -- all the investigations that we had going, if we had made those a matter of public hearing or public knowledge, as Senator Truman said, "We'd just become known as a common scold. We'd find nothing right. And that is not our job, our job is to try to quietly correct these situations." And there were many of those, for example, I was assigned to a case which came in through Senator Green's office of Rhode Island. Quite a few of the complaints about inefficiencies or something wrong in the war effort would come through Senators' offices -- through their constituents. And this one came through Senator Green's office from a man by the name of Gazda. He was an inventor and had developed and held the basic patents on the Oerlikon gun, which was a 20mm antiaircraft gun; which was standard equipment with our Navy and the English navy, and Gazda had developed an improved Oerlikon gun. He called it the Gazda gun.
FUCHS: Was the Oerlikon gun the Swedish gun?
HEHMEYER: No. I think he got his basic patents in Switzerland,
I'm not certain about that. But the basic patents for the gun were held by Gazda. Tony Gazda. And, at the time before Pearl Harbor, he tried to interest the British in the Oerlikon and they were not interested in it, and then he tried to sell our Navy on the gun. And our Navy was not interested in it. He went to Japan -- remember this was long before Pearl Harbor -- he went to Japan and they were very interested in it. He closed a licensing agreement with the Japanese for this 20mm Oerlikon gun -- they took the Oerlikon gun, and then subsequently our Navy and the British navy adopted that gun as a standard weapon.
FUCHS: You mean the Japanese took it?
HEHMEYER: They had it. They had it before Pearl Harbor. Then he started to work on the Gazda gun which had basic improvements in it. The recoil mechanism and other things in it were vastly improved with much more rapidity of fire. This was about 1943 or '44. At the time of Pearl Harbor -- when we declared war on Germany, Gazda was picked up as an enemy alien. He was an Austrian and he was put on Ellis Island. He was a wealthy man. He was put on Ellis Island, but he had friends here in this country. One of his big friends in England was Lord Mountbatten. Anyway, through
various connections, including Senator Green and the Governor of Rhode Island, who was Howard McGrath. I think that Biddle was the Attorney General, anyway Biddle "sprung him," you might say, from Ellis Island, and he was sent back to Providence where he lived -- Providence, Rhode Island, and a guard was put on him, military guards in civilian clothes. He lived in the Biltmore Hotel in Providence and they even walled up one of the doorways so there was only one entrance and exit. He was watched constantly to see that he only worked on the Gazda gun. This was fine with him, he said, because he was convinced this gun should be replacing the Oerlikon gun as standard equipment and -- but he was having his headaches with the Army and with the Navy who were showing no interest in this improved version.
FUCHS: How did this gun compare to the, I believe it was the Bofors that I probably had in mind. Wasn't that a Swedish antiaircraft gun?
HEHMEYER: I don't know. Was it 20mm?
FUCHS: I think so, but...
HEHMEYER: The Oerlikon was a standard antiaircraft gun, and I believe that the Japanese had it on aircraft 20mm. Gazda was not getting anywhere in interesting
our Army or our Navy in the merits of the Gazda gun. They wouldn't even test it. So we got this complaint and the Truman Committee always took the position that we could not stand in technical judgment of a given weapon or anything like that, but that we could look into it and insist that if it had merit that it be properly and fairly appraised by the agencies involved. I went up to Providence and the first man I saw was Howard McGrath, the Governor. He assured me that Tony Gazda was a trustworthy man and he said that this was just utterly ridiculous -- oh, they had lifted the ban by that time -- on the guard. They had some kind of hearing in which they said that he was actually free to walk around the streets like anybody else, and Governor McGrath said that the whole thing was an outrage. I made it clear that the Committee's only interest would be if the gun really was better. But we weren't the ones who would decide that. I wrote a long memorandum -- stating all the facts in the case as I had gathered them -- and the memorandum was sent to the Navy Department initially. We got a rather terse response from Secretary Forrestal who was Secretary of the Navy at that time. He said that the Navy did not trust Mr. Gazda because of his evident willingness to deal with
any governments. He was referring to the licensing agreement Gazda had made with the Japanese. We replied that that may be true, but the fact of the matter was that Gazda was spending his own money and had developed what he regarded as an improved weapon which he was prepared to turn over to the U.S. He had a working model of the gun -- and we insisted that the Navy and the Army should test this weapon and if it proved to be a superior weapon that we should have it for the war effort. Well, you know how it is when you get into the high brass, they take a different attitude on these things and we strongly suspected, too, that maybe there was some production contracts and whatnot involved, because this would have meant scrapping the Oerlikon and substituting the Gazda gun as an improved weapon. Anyway, I'll never forget, it was a very cold day and Senator Truman called me into his office and he said, "I understand that a test for this Gazda gun is being set up at Aberdeen Proving Ground."
I said, "That's right, Senator, they are finally going to test it."
He said, "Well, we've got to be there." And he said, "You're in charge of this investigation, but
you're a civilian so I'm going to give you some brass to go with you." And he assigned, at that time, a lieutenant colonel, Harry Vaughan, and a major general, Frank Lowe. Frank Lowe had been assigned to the Committee by the War Department -- he had a wonderful kind of status, he wasn't really beholden to the War Department; so we set off in an Army car and drove from Washington to the Aberdeen Proving Ground. It was below zero.
FUCHS: About what date was that?
HEHMEYER: That was about 1944 sometime. And I'll never forget driving up there, I was sitting up front with the driver and General Lowe and Colonel Vaughan were in the back, and as we approached the gates to Aberdeen Proving Ground, General Lowe, who looked like MacArthur, he even wore a Sam Brown belt. He was a magnificent cut of a military figure. But he was a businessman primarily -- he was a Reserve officer. Frank Lowe said, "Now, Walter, he said, "you're in charge of this investigation." And he added, "You know all of the ins and outs of this, but," he said, "just because -- let's put it this way -- because I'm the oldest man here I will be in complete charge of the military." Harry Vaughan told me later, "I've had rank pulled on me
before, but never like that."
As luck would have it when we got there, the Navy had a lot of rank and the Army did too, but no officer as high as Lowe, which was a break. The Navy had two captains and the Army a couple of full colonels, and, I think, a brigadier general. But Lowe was the top guy as far as rank was concerned. Gazda was shivering in the freezing weather and just beside himself with worry. He came running up to me and he said, "It's going to be too cold." He said, "It's below zero and," he said, "I just hope that gun doesn't malfunction." It was all set up.
And I said, "Now what do you want done?"
He said, "Well, let's have rapid fire first." It shot very well on rapid fire and we were all standing around there, and this colonel who was in charge at Aberdeen, he said, "Well, I don't know."
And Gazda said to me, "We've got to have antiaircraft fire too. It's got to fire that way to show that it will do both."
The Colonel didn't want to. He didn't want to set up for antiaircraft. I went to General Lowe and whispered in his ear. He ordered antiaircraft fire. I'll never forget that colonel. He was furious. But
what could he do. He had a direct order from a superior officer. Unfortunately the gun malfunctioned, which ended the testing and Gazda was very upset. However some time later he did get a development contract from the Army. As far as I know he may have even later with the Navy, but before that gun ever got into production, the war was over.
HEHMEYER: I've never followed through whether that gun has ever come into use in our armed forces -- whether the special features of that gun have been adopted. As I say the war ended. That was just one investigation.
FUCHS: How did they fire the antiaircraft, with a towed target?
HEHMEYER: No, they just fired it into the air, they didn't have a target.
FUCHS: Was it a...
HEHMEYER: It was a handmade model that Gazda and his engineers had built. He clearly was a genius in his way, and, I say, he was so well connected, he was a man of considerable wealth and a charming man. He'd come to Washington and, of course, as a Committee investigator I had to be very careful not to become indebted in any way. He was just a friendly kind of guy, but so many
times he'd call me from Senator Green's office for lunch or cocktails, and I simply begged off. I would continue to work through Senator Green's office because they were the original complainant in the case. But there was a good example of an investigation that never was made public.
FUCHS: Yes. Well, now, were you the only staff investigator on this particular case?
HEHMEYER: Well, as actual staff investigator, yes, although of course, Hugh Fulton got involved in it in phone calls and conferences; and of course he reviewed everything that I did and of course Senator Truman was fully informed too.
FUCHS: Was this the normal procedure to have one person on each case?
HEHMEYER: It depended on the case. Some cases there might be two or three men working on it depending on the scope, but this was a relatively confined matter. But I think it's a good example of what the Committee tried to do. In other words, if it would help the war effort then we felt that it should be given every consideration, and there was no sense in blocking something. My own personal view was that Gazda was a completely loyal man. He was a businessman and he set up this arrangement with the Japanese after our Navy and after the British navy had turned it down. And there was no war
at that time. He had a perfect right to conclude a licensing agreement with the Japanese.
FUCHS: Yes. Well now, how much did you, as a staff investigator, consult with Mr. Truman personally?
HEHMEYER: Not a great deal. Occasionally, like the example I mentioned, there might have been several dozen times where you'd drop into his office; and I know a couple of times I'd have to clear something with him -- maybe even on the floor of the Senate. I'd go in there and talk to him briefly, but Hugh Fulton, as the head of the staff, he conferred with Truman just about every day and they were both farmers by upbringing and they'd be at work at 7 o'clock in the morning. I think this had a great deal to do with the efficiency of it. The staff was small and therefore you didn't have a lot of administrative problems or personnel problems and so -- and we were advised, don't bother the Senators unless there were -- of course there were ten Senators on that Committee before we got through and frequently an investigation would come out of a particular Senator's office. Senator [Olden] Brewster of Maine was very active on that Committee. Senator [James M.] Mead, although he was from New York and couldn't devote as much time as he would
have liked to, he was involved. I'll say this for all of the Senators, they didn't drag in a lot of state matters, and I think the fact that the war was on and a lot of these men had their own sons involved, that's why they stayed away from the political side. They really did and a great deal of this credit goes to Truman for having kept it on a non-partisan basis
FUCHS: Well, now would Senator Brewster, for instance, bring the matter to the attention of Hugh Fulton and then Hugh Fulton would make the assignment?
HEHMEYER: Hugh would either assign if directly or to the Assistant Counsel or Associate Counsel to handle. He'd delegate it to them; and then one man would get it and he might pursue that and it would get to a certain point where he'd get up a memorandum and that would go to Fulton, in some cases it might go to Mr. Truman. But usually, the bigger aspects of the thing -- I mean Truman was busy and on three or four other committees in addition to his own. He was on Military Affairs at that time.
HEHMEYER: Appropriations, and I think Interstate Commerce. So, most of the work directly with Truman we did it through the Counsel.
FUCHS: Yes. Now would the Senators ever make recommendations as to who would be assigned a case? To your knowledge?
HEHMEYER: They might have. I don't recall any direct case where, except where a Senator might know some man that he had worked with on some other investigation and he might say, you know, "Is Joe free to look into this matter?" That might happen.
FUCHS: Senator Truman usually left it up to Fulton?
HEHMEYER: He left that up to Fulton or individual Senators.
FUCHS: You don't recall of any case when Mr. Truman said, "I want so and so put on this case?"
HEHMEYER: I'm sure that he did do things like that, but usually where a case -- Hugh would come down and say, "Well, now we have these cases that we're looking into," it wouldn't be a person saying, "Well somebody's handling this or handling that." Truman would just assume that it was being properly handled, and if it got to a place where he should be involved, he would come into it. And he was always free, I mean he would -- well, sometimes I'd get a telephone call from him and -- in the middle of the morning and he might ask me something that he figured I would know. It was very free and
easy because of the small number of people on the staff. I think that if we had had a great big cumbersome staff, I don't know how we would have done the job.
FUCHS: Well, now how did Mr. Fulton select an investigator for a case?
HEHMEYER: Well, I explained how I was put on. Usually they would be people that either he would know personally, naturally he would have more confidence if he knew their work. And he was pretty free to do this. Mr. Truman gave him a very free hand. Or if someone was recommended by Mr. Truman or someone else, Hugh would be glad to interview them and if he seemed to be capable and qualified he would put him on.
FUCHS: This is for the hiring; but after they were actually on the staff how did he assign a staff member to a particular case? Did he consider certain qualifications?
HEHMEYER: Yes, he might or he might consider certain knowledge that the man might have. Now I mentioned Robinson who was an accountant and was tremendous at being able to work up charts and track down a pattern or something. In that kind of investigation, invariably he would get it.
FUCHS: Robinson resigned in November '44. Did he depart for a particular reason?
HEHMEYER: He departed to go with Hugh Fulton's law firm.
FUCHS: How long was he with Fulton then?
HEHMEYER: He was with Fulton for several years and then Rudy Halley persuaded him to go with him on the Kefauver investigation. He was really the chief investigator on that crime investigation under Senator [Estes] Kefauver. So Robinson was in Washington for quite awhile. And then he came out to the West Coast and became the head of crime prevention -- on the state side in California -- for the entire state of California. I haven't seen Robby in years.
FUCHS: Do you recall anything about Mr. Truman's investigation of incompetence, inefficiency in the war effort that led to his asking that the Committee be set up, in other words, on this trip that he was supposed to have made?
HEHMEYER: That was before I went with them. We cover that in This Man Truman, how he went out to Fort Leonard Wood.
FUCHS: I was wondering how you got that information that's in your book. Was it from Mr. Truman or Hugh Fulton?
HEHMEYER: We got that from Mr. Truman -- and Hugh, too. Hugh
knew the background of it and I might add here I think Hugh took a pretty big chance taking that job. And I know that a lot of his lawyer friends thought he'd lost his mind. But -- going to Hugh Fulton, and this is something I think the record should show, as far as the reports were concerned, now I think that the Committee's reputation in a very large measure was made by the thoroughness and the concise and lucid manner in which those reports were prepared and the impact that they exerted. As far as authorship of those reports was concerned, most of that credit belongs to Hugh Fulton. He would stay up all night sometimes writing out the draft. Now, he'd leave a lot of spaces in there where information had to be developed that he didn't have; dates, figures -- things like that. He was great for leaving a lot of blanks. You'd come in in the morning and find you'd have to fill in all the blanks which took a lot of phoning and checking around. But, I frequently -- and again I would sort of be the final editor as far as language was concerned on those reports -- but you couldn't improve much on his language. He had sort of a metallic style that was very direct, you couldn't wrench it apart. I remember very few instances where Senator Truman
made corrections or the other Senators made corrections. Maybe a little bit here and there, they would make a comment or two -- but they were substantially Hugh's reports. As I say, it took a whole staff to get all the information together, but the thought content and the direction of those reports and the scope of those reports were his.
FUCHS: What percentage of your time would you say was applied to public relations, editing, as against investigation?
HEHMEYER: Well, that's a little difficult to say. On the press side I simply tried to make myself available to the press people, mainly through the Senate press gallery. They'd call me if they were expecting something, but I would never say to some reporter, "Well, you know you can't just go wandering in there to Truman's office or Hugh Fulton's office," we didn't have any kind of rules like that. And they usually would come to me and say, "Look, can you set up an appointment, I'd like to talk to Hugh Fulton or (in some cases), Senator Truman." Although, with the Senator, because he was a Senator and not just the chairman, they would always feel free to cover his office in their own way; but as far as press matters were
concerned we kept it centralized. In other words, if it was something to do with the Truman Committee, the announcement would not come out of Senator Truman's office. It might come out of his office as chairman, but usually we released it from what you might say, Committee headquarters. And I think this had a lot to do with the -- you know the press, frequently they'll think they are getting a runaround or something like that, and I might mention here that one of the difficult problems was not to get publicity for investigations, but to cut it off. Because, after the first annual report which I guess every magazine and newspaper in the country covered, I'd be on the phone sometimes all day talking to reporters, "What have you got in this area or that area," and I'd always tell them, "We'll let you know, we are going to make an announcement on it," and -- in other words, we'd try to keep it cool. Lots of times it was a question of -- now of course you go into public hearings and you automatically got coverage. On hearings, I would simply advise the press gallery that we were having hearings and who the witnesses were going to be and I'd be sure that the statements, if they had prepared statements, that there was sufficient numbers of them available for
the press; and then I would go up there and if they needed to know something else I would go to whatever Senator it might be or Hugh Fulton and try to get the answer for them.
FUCHS: Did you have a specific assistant who helped you with press matters?
HEHMEYER: No, we had a secretarial pool, and of course there would be a fair amount of dictation and mimeographing copies and things like that; but, no, I didn't have any assistant.
FUCHS: Well, now when reporters would call in, did you have a specific secretary that those calls came to?
HEHMEYER: No, they came through the main one, but again I didn't go through a secretary, I figured if they wanted to talk to me I was going to be available. If I wasn't in the office, then there was one particularly who handled more of the press calls. She knew how to talk to press people a little bit better than the others did, and she would take most of them and then I'd pick up the messages when I got back to the office. I think that on the press side, again, the press was aware of the job the Committee was trying to do; we stayed as accessible to the press as we could. Yet I know I made many friends among the press people;
I felt they always gave us a very, very fair shake.
HEHMEYER: Even papers that were hostile politically to Mr. Truman, or Democrats you might say in general, because I know even the Chicago Tribune -- their Washington correspondent, his name was Chet Manley, Chet was an excellent reporter, but working for the Tribune they were all kind of axmen for Colonel McCormick. I remember a particular incident, a writer for American Magazine (you may remember American Magazine), he wanted to do a story, to write it for Senator Truman's byline, about the war effort and the work of the Committee. And we said, "All right." He saw Hugh Fulton and he saw Senator Truman and -- this is amusing here this part of it was unbeknownst to us. So, we said, "Of course, the manuscript would have to be checked, that anything he wrote if he wrote it for Senator Truman's signature, it was going to have to be very carefully checked." Well, he submitted the manuscript and Hugh went over it and made some rather etensive changes. There were a couple of places there where it was just something that Senator Truman would not say; because we were very careful not to -- for heaven's sake, you have to be practical about it, he
wasn't going to say the Roosevelt administration was doing a lousy job of running the war. But this implication was in several statements that were in that article; and I went over it and made some other factual changes, and those, too, those were the same ones that Hugh had spotted, I said, "Senator Truman doesn't want to be saying this." Well the writer came down, he said, "Well, I've been up to Senator Truman," he said, "everything's cleared."
I said, "Fine," and it came out. Well, it wasn't actually published, it was in galley form and those objectionable passages were still in it. We said, "Holy mackerel, this can't be." And Hugh talked to Senator Truman and he said, "No, we can't have that in there." So, Hugh Fulton enjoined the publisher of American Magazine from publishing this article. It got to court in New York, I went up there with Hugh. I had signed one of the affidavits attesting that I had gone over the article. Hugh knew the judge; and the attorneys for American Magazine were there, because it would have been a hell of a thing if they had had to withdraw that magazine, I mean that would have cost -- you can imagine, in advertising alone. But the attorney for the publishers held up the manuscript and it had
Senator Truman's name on it; he had signed it in his own handwriting. We never did figure out that mix-up because evidently Senator Truman thought that any objectionable parts had been deleted. In any event, with Truman's signature on there there was nothing we could do. We couldn't enjoin the publication. They had written permission by the author to print it.
FUCHS: Did he initial every page, by any chance?
HEHMEYER: No. He did not, no, he did not, he just wrote his name across the title page. I can see what happened. The writer just said, "This is fine. Everybody on the staff says this is fine." So Senator Truman said, "Fine," and signed his name on it. Well, here's the strange thing. They adjourned the court hearing and Hugh and I went out and read the finished story as it appeared in the "make ready" press runs. By some fluke -- really this is a real fluke -- the objectionable passages had been deleted for space reasons -- they were towards the end and they just chopped them out. And the way the article appeared it was all right. It was the strangest thing. Of course, as I say, Hugh was embarrassed because when he saw his boss' signature there was nothing that he
could do except to say, "Is this manuscript the same as is going to appear in the magazine?" And that is where we made the comparison during an adjournment. And Hugh and I said that it was unbelievable. It came out O.K. -- space requirements had removed the explosive passages.
Well, to get back, Chet Manley of the Chicago Tribune called me up and he said, "We have a story we're about to break that Truman has suppressed an article to appear in American Magazine. Did he suppress it?" He gave me to understand that the White House had put pressure on this thing and so forth. I said, "Chet, let me level with you and tell you exactly what happened because I was there." I told him all about the hearing and I really was a little worried because of what the Trib. might print. But Chet never printed a line of that story. And the article came out which was critical of the war effort and what was wrong with it, but the objectionable passages had been taken out.
FUCHS: There was a little repercussion about the article. Is that correct?
HEHMEYER: Not after it appeared -- oh, a little bit -- almost anything that the Committee came out with there was some repercussion. But it worked out fine. I remember
saying to Hugh coming back on the train, "Hugh, this guy Harry Truman has got to be the luckiest human being in the world."
FUCHS: This is the one entitled "We Can Lose the War in Washington?" It appeared in that magazine in November of '43.
HEHMEYER: That's right. That's the one.
FUCHS: Did you say who ghosted this?
HEHMEYER: I wish I could remember his name. I can't remember. It might have been a fellow by the name of Eddy, but I'm not certain.
FUCHS: Did the Committee and staff as a whole ever have meetings?
HEHMEYER: Staff meetings. We had very few staff meetings. It seems to me at the very beginning this idea of everybody getting together and what are you working on and so forth, but it wasn't fruitful really -- I mean it was more -- Hugh Fulton's office was always open and an individual investigator would go to Hugh or the Associate Counsel or Assistant Counsel and check things out, rather than having a meeting. Now, when Senator Truman resigned and Senator Mead became Chairman, and Rudy Halley became Chief Counsel, we used to have a meeting once a week. It wasn't the whole staff, but
Rudy was there and George Meader who was the Associate or Assistant Counsel at that time, and I used to sit in on those meetings. Senator Mead had to budget his time so carefully, being from New York State, and as you may recall, Senator Wagner was ill a good part of the time, so Senator Mead was really the only Senator from New York and the workload in his office was unbelievable.
FUCHS: The Committee staff seldom met with any of the Senators?
HEHMEYER: Well, they would meet with a Senator if it was a particular investigation and it involved -- maybe if -- for example on aircraft, Mon Wallgren, Senator from Washington was primarily involved in that area, and the investigator or investigators that might be working on aircraft production would check with him occasionally, yes. But again it would feed largely through Hugh Fulton.
FUCHS: Yes. What was your first assignment, do you recall, when you came to the Committee?
HEHMEYER: I'm trying to remember, I think my first assignment -- we'd had some hearings, this was in the early days when the Committee was not getting much public attention, I remember having a conversation with Charlie
Clark. He said, "You know, we had these hearings and the press hasn't paid any attention to them at all." I think, now, these were the hearings on aluminum production. That was one of the early investigations. So, I got the transcript of the hearings. We used to get those the next day; we'd get a complete verbatim transcript of the hearing. I went down to see Ernest Lindley, you remember he's the columnist. He was then from Newsweek Magazine. I guess he's still writing isn't he?
FUCHS: I believe so.
HEHMEYER: Ernest K. Lindley. I went down and just told him that I was with the Committee now and that we were trying to get as much attention, because the press was very important in making the people mindful of the war effort -- how it was growing and so forth. And I left the transcript with him; and he used some of that in his column, and he sent it back to me with a little note saying this was very helpful to me. I also went down to see Felix Belair who at that time was the bureau chief for Time Magazine. And I asked Felix, I said, "What can I do that will help the press?"
And he said, "The best thing that you can do is to go at these verbatim hearings and if one of our people
is not covering the hearings, go through it and point up areas that you think are particularly significant and if you give those to our man on the Hill or send them to us. We've got so many damn things going on here that that will be one way that we could stay in touch with what the Truman Committee is doing." And I did that with other bureau chiefs in Washington; and then of course once it got rolling, they would send their own men to cover, and I know that there towards the end all of the major publications would cover almost all of the hearings. Other than just the wire service people, of course, who got out, you know -- running stories on it.
FUCHS: Were you taking the verbatim transcripts and annotating or blocking out?
HEHMEYER: I'd mark them up -- point them up. In other words there might be an area there which was of particular significance, and a newsman would say, "That's a story that hasn't been run. This is significant." I'd try to point it up; and frequently I'd go over them with Hugh, if I could get him to sit down, and he'd say, "You know, that questioning of that witness brought out some very interesting things," and that was what I would try to point out. And you'd get some of those
sort of left-wing press like Izzy Stone who worked with The Nation. He was great on that. He would always try to -- and he used to call me up lots of times and want to know. I know we had a hearing, with Jesse Jones, who was head of Reconstruction Finance Corporation and was very close to Roosevelt and was involved, I believe now I'm right, in the aluminum thing -- in metals. And Hugh Fulton really did a cross-examination of Jesse Jones, it was unbelievable, but there were practically no reporters at that hearing. The Committee met in an out-of-the-way room in the Capitol. In fact, I don't think that there were any although it was an open hearing. That story was sort of a delayed thing because Izzy Stone called me and said, "I understand that" -- he had talked to some Committee member -- "that Jesse Jones really got a working over."
And I said, "Yes." I said, "Let me send you the transcript." So, I sent it to him and he was very up on this whole thing and he wrote a tremendous story, a big cover thing in The Nation and after that -- well, Fortune magazine reported that Jesse Jones had referred to Hugh Fulton as "that young whippersnapper," which was in reference to that hearing. Hugh sometimes, as
all attorneys, they get a little rough sometimes with witnesses and -- as I say, Hugh Fulton just had no fear of high places at all. No matter how high up a man might be it didn't really bother him. He always believed in cross-examining step by step by step. He said, "If you've got a hostile witness, he isn't going to admit to a conclusion unless you've built that conclusion to the point where he has to admit it." I remember so well the hearing with John L. Lewis. He had called a coal strike and I was in Hugh's office when he called John L. Lewis, who was in Boston, I think; and John L. Lewis said, "Well, I can't be coming down there talking to the Committee." It got Hugh irritated and he said, "Well," he said -- he was very polite -- but he said, "Well, Mr. Lewis, I'm just sending you a subpoena in the mail." He showed up, of course, and it was a tremendous hearing. The caucus room was packed. And John L. Lewis sat there and -- as I say it was one of the most dramatic hearings that the Committee ever held. Maybe in some ways it was significant as far as Truman's career was concerned, because he handled that extremely well and you had a witness like John L. Lewis not many people would tangle with, as dramatic a figure as he was. But Truman cut him down to size.
He really did. I remember one point -- and I'll make my point later about what Hugh Fulton said, because Hugh did very little of the examination of Lewis. He told me later, "You've got a witness like that and all these Senators show up and they naturally want to do the questioning." But, he said, "Invariably they will ask a question or state a conclusion that simply gets him stirred up." He said, "I was going to ask slowly, like 'Well, now how much in wages were your miners getting at such and such a time,' then they got such and such an increase, and then they got this and they got that." This line of questioning would have shown how much the miners had gained over the years. But Lewis had said that his miners were hungry.
Senator Ball from Minnesota, who was a young Senator shouted at him, "If you say your miners are hungry, you're nothing but a demagogue."
And Lewis shot right back at him and said, "If you say I'm a demagogue, I say you're less than a fit representative of the American people." You didn't top Lewis in an exchange like that.
But Hugh said that the way to have topped him would have been to build up to a point, where then you could say, "Well, so if you say that your miners are hungry,
evidence shows that they're not." But anyway, at that point when he said, "less than a fit representative of the American people," Harry Truman's gavel came down very hard and he said firmly, "Mr. Lewis, you're not going to sass a member of this Committee." Then Lewis shouted, "He cast the first stone." You know he was big for biblical references. And afterwards, this was never reported, and I told you how the subpoena was sent to him in the mail. Lewis told someone at the hearing, he said, "Why this Committee, they've dragged me here before it like some barbaric king in chains."
FUCHS: Very interesting. Did you attend Committee hearings?
HEHMEYER: Just about all of them. And we had many, although we tried not to have too many executive sessions, but when we did I used to attend those too. And he would have a stenotype record taking of it and the operator would have to take this tape and come down to our offices and transcribe it right there and give it to us. So there was only one copy. Because you get five or six people in a room, even Senators, and something is going to leak out. So I would say that the most important executive sessions were held in the "doghouse," in Senator Truman's own office, although we did have a number of executive hearings, and I assume that by
this time those records have all been made public. I'm sure they have.
FUCHS: Where were they held, the executive hearings?
HEHMEYER: They were held usually in the caucus room or some committee hearing room. The doors were closed, that's all, and I would never announce those hearings. Or if somebody said, "I understand your committee's going to meet this afternoon."
I'd say, "Oh, it's an executive session and if anything comes out of it we'll make an announcement." And we were always -- again going on the press side -- tried to make an announcement to that all press people got it at the same time. When you start showing favoritism to certain reporters you are going to get into trouble. But there was this exception, if a reporter, for example, was doing special research on a special story on his own and came to us and wanted to get certain information, then we would protect him on that story. In other words he was developing his own exclusive story and no reporter would be mad about that. There were a number of such cases.
FUCHS: Did you have any trouble with leaks?
HEHMEYER: Occasionally. Occasionally, but really not very often. Sometimes something would leak and it would be
some Senator that had talked about it, usually.
FUCHS: Not through the staff? Or your secretarial pool?
HEHMEYER: I don't know of any, now a lot of times it was awfully hard not to talk about something when you knew something. The press was very fair about this and I think mainly it was because we would let them know when something important was going to happen. Also, if they wanted to wander in and chat they could. This is how I got to know Frank McNaughton because he was covering Capitol Hill for Time magazine. He'd come by my office and we got to be good friends. Of course, he took a special interest in Truman's career; and he developed all kinds of information. I mean, he would talk to Truman at greater length than I would, because they were both from Missouri, both from the same, really the same kind of farming background. Frank developed an awful lot of information and then Time magazine did about two cover stories, or one that I know of, on Truman as a Senator, and I think one as Vice President. So they had a tremendous amount of information and when Frank and I did the book, Time gave us access to all of that. We really had it. That plus the knowledge I had of the Committee operation; and we sort of made a good team to bring it all together into a
FUCHS: Did McNaughton know Senator Truman before the Committee came into being?
HEHMEYER: I think he may have, I think he probably did. Now I just don't know; but he didn't get to know him well until he was chairman of the Committee.
FUCHS: Where was he from in Missouri?
HEHMEYER: Where was Frank from? I have forgotten; I think it's on the little flap on the jacket of the book. But he lived in that same general area; the farm chapter in the book, Frank just wrote that with all kinds of sentiments. The way we wrote the book, Frank is one that just writes. The machine starts to smoke and he'll do fifteen pages and maybe five pages are good -- that can be used. He can't edit himself.
FUCHS: He types his drafts?
HEHMEYER: He types his drafts. And then I would go over the drafts and then if there were places that needed filling in, if it was an area that I knew something particularly about, then I would fill in and add to it. But he would never look at it again after the first draft. Although actually This Man Truman went through nine drafts. But Frank had no real patience
with that kind of laborious editing and checking and whatnot.
FUCHS: You did the polishing of the language?
HEHMEYER: Yes, and also, like on the Committee, those were my chapters, whereas the farm chapter was strictly his. The farm chapter, as you know, was reprinted in Life.
FUCHS: How did you come to write the book?
HEHMEYER: Well, I think I mentioned to you, Frank had covered the Truman Committee and also Senator Truman as a Senator for some years and, in fact, all during the period of the Committee's growth. When Vice President Truman became President of the United States there was a tremendous news void surrounding him. Though his work as chairman of the Committee was known, I think it was really more the Committee as a group whose work was known; and as Vice President, as you know, he was not very active. He certainly wasn't very happy in that job. Cabinet meetings had largely become routine affairs and he didn't do much more than preside over the Senate. So, when he became President there was a tremendous need for more complete information about the man that had suddenly become President. The McGraw-Hill people approached us to do a book and the actual writing of it took about six weeks.
FUCHS: How did they make the approach?
HEHMEYER: It was really through Hugh Fulton who was a good friend of one of the officials at McGraw-Hill, and they were most anxious to have a book and he recommended us as knowledgeable people in this area.
FUCHS: He came to you and you went to MacNaughton?
HEHMEYER: MacNaughton and -- well, Frank and I really were very close friends. I remember Frank came in my office and he said, "Let's do it." It was that simple. Now, my brother who is an attorney, and at that time was an attorney in New York, he drew up the contract. And at that time there was quite a bit of controversy over various kinds of publishing contracts, and he wrote in a provision which -- I don't know since then whether the authors have this right or not -- but he wrote in the contract that no changes could be made in the manuscript except with the consent of the authors. I think I talked to you about this a little bit earlier, that that gave us the right to object to anything that we felt that the publishers might feel, "Well, this man is now President of the United States and that comment isn't fair," or something like that. We were very careful -- and it never came up, but we did have the provision in the contract that we could object if they made changes
in the manuscript. So, that is the way we wrote it.
FUCHS: How did you split up the drafting of the various chapters? How did you write the book?
HEHMEYER: People often wonder how two people can write a book. We had masses of information. Frank undertook to write the first draft of the chapters. We blocked it out by chapters and we were determined to write an objective book and yet a book that was readable and in popular journalistic style. And Frank would write the first chapter -- the first draft of the first chapter and I would pick it up from there and if there were places that needed expansion or polishing or cutting, then that was my job. Actually, as I mentioned, I went through nine different drafts on that book before we finally were satisfied with it; and we were very complimented because McGraw-Hill told us it was one of the cleanest manuscripts they have ever received.
FUCHS: Well, now the chapters where you were most knowledgeable, you did the draft then, such as on the Committee?
HEHMEYER: Yes. Well, on the Committee chapters I would do the draft and then Frank added here and there. Now, I know in the boyhood chapters there were some gaps in there and Frank actually went back to Missouri and did
some further research on those chapters -- on the early days of Mr. Truman, his boyhood days, his days in Missouri. Of course Frank was from the same area, had grown up in that same area in Missouri, so he knew that country very well.
FUCHS: Did he know Mr. Truman before the Committee had been set up?
HEHMEYER: I don't know, he may have, I don't know, whether he knew him personally. I think he got to know Senator Truman when he became chairman of the Committee. As a matter of fact, that must have been so because Frank wasn't assigned up there to the Hill by Time until about -- after Pearl Harbor.
FUCHS: Did you ask Mr. Truman if he objected to a staff member of his former Committee writing this book?
HEHMEYER: No, no -- he was President then and I think maybe informally word got to Matt Connelly, who was his Appointment Secretary, that we were doing a book. And I did ask permission of Senator Mead, who was the chairman of the Committee, since I was an employee of the Committee still at that time, and Frank MacNaughton got permission from Time magazine to do it. We took the galley proofs to the White House for factual checking.
FUCHS: I believe you have a little story about the details of Mr. Truman going over those galleys.
HEHMEYER: Well, I took the galley proofs down to the White House and talked to Charlie Ross who was the Press Secretary at that time; and he looked at those galleys and he said, "You know, we're not going to make any comments about your opinions in here."
I said, "No, that's fine, but we would be very, very indebted to you if you could go over this for any factual errors, since we want this to be an authoritative and accurate biography."
So he said, "Well, leave it with me." It was on a Friday and I got a call from the White House on the Monday to come down there, and I went down and Charlie Ross said, he said, "Well," he said, "you fellows are in luck. We went on the White House yacht this weekend and as we were going up the gangplank, I was looking at those galley proofs and the President said, 'What have you got there?"' And he said, "This is a new book that is coming out about you."
He said, "Well, I think that I'm the one that ought to go over that."
President Truman had gone through that galley very carefully and in his own handwriting had made notations
and annotations. I told Charlie Ross, I said, "We can keep that galley?"
He said, "No." He said, "You have to bring this galley back here after you have taken the information from it, it's going to be made part of the President's papers." Also, the President took time to dictate, oh, maybe five or six pages single spaced background information on the Pendergast days. Now we didn't take all that and just incorporate it the way he had written it, but we were able to make changes and corrections in that chapter in the light of the information that he gave us. Unfortunately, that memorandum also had to be turned back to the President.
FUCHS: You made no copies?
FUCHS: I guess there wasn't any Xerox, I guess there was...
HEHMEYER: No, there was no Xerox in those days.
FUCHS: ...probably photostats then.
HEHMEYER: It could be that I've got the stuff he dictated, maybe I did make a copy of that. But, of course, you couldn't make a copy of his own handwriting. I tried to get that galley. I'd love to have it. So, then the book was published and we went down to see the President on that occasion, the publishers were there
and they presented us with leather-bound copies and the President with a Morocco-bound copy. He inscribed the book for us, and he said, "I think you were fair." He said, "I think you were both fair and I think anybody has a right to make a fair comment about the President." Although, understand that This Man Truman only took him to the White House. The next book, Harry Truman, President, which McGraw-Hill also published, dealt with the Presidency until the time of the 1948 election.
FUCHS: What was the reception to this first book?
HEHMEYER: Excellent. We were delighted. We got uniformly good reviews including magazines like the New Yorker, but strangely enough Time magazine never reviewed the book. But Newsweek and the critics in general received it very well. I'm trying to remember the name, he's still with the Chicago Tribune -- Walter Trohan. Walter Trohan was the Washington correspondent, and had been for many years. We saw Walter Trohan somewhere -- Frank knew him and Walter Trohan said, he said, "Well, I understand you fellows have written a book about Truman." He said, "Well, I'm going to help you along. I'll attack it." And, of course, he hadn't even seen it. And I might add, he did attack it.
FUCHS: He did?
FUCHS: In what way?
HEHMEYER: Well, he said that it was a very nice biography but certain things were sloughed over and left the implication that we had sort of glorified Mr. Truman. Now we did have one other comment, I think it was one of the critics in New York, said that the book showed signs of hasty preparation. And what got us mad about that was that we had been so careful in the manuscript and the cut lines for the photographs. I did those cut lines and I had been very careful to doublecheck spellings and everything else, and in the rush to get it out they never sent the cut lines back for final proofing. For example, they spelled the President's birthplace, Lamar, as L-e-m-a-r instead of L-a-m-a-r. And I checked back and it had gone in L-a-m-a-r, correctly spelled. There were other misspellings like that which were typographical errors. I could see how some critic would say this looked like this thing was thrown together.
FUCHS: You mean it had gone in L-a-m-a-r. Correctly and they...
HEHMEYER: And they had changed it to L-e, it was a
FUCHS: I believe that a lot of your, if not all, of your photographs have a credit line "European?"
HEHMEYER: Well, I'm trying to remember where we got all the photographs. We got a number from Life, which they didn't usually release, but, again, with Frank working for Time -- but the publishers got those pictures. The publishers felt those were representative and, again, there were really relatively few pictures available.
FUCHS: You got an advance for the book from McGraw-Hill?
HEHMEYER: We did.
FUCHS: How was the sale?
HEHMEYER: It went through three printings and sold about thirty, thirty-five thousand copies and was reprinted, I think, in six languages, and, also, it went into braille for the blind. I know some of our friends when we told them there was a Portuguese edition and a Spanish edition, and somebody said, "Well, why don't you write it in English?"
FUCHS: What was the initial printing?
HEHMEYER: I think the initial printing was ten thousand copies. Course at that time the war was still on and there was a paper shortage and a whole lot of other
delays. I have never understood, myself, why it takes so long to put a book out when a very complicated magazine, for example, can be put out in a matter of hours almost. But the book publishing business, maybe today they've improved, they're still sort of in the pedestrian stage. And it just seems to take forever to get a book out.
FUCHS: It is strange.
HEHMEYER: It's just straight typesetting, it's not complicated. It takes forever.
FUCHS: I'd think a magazine would be more difficult.
HEHMEYER: Much more. Take something like, well, Life magazine with all those pictures and captions and -- or some really complicated magazine like Fortune. They come out with that every month.
FUCHS: And you have got to get the ads in there...
HEHMEYER: Sure, all that. Much more complicated publishing job.
FUCHS: How did the second book come to be written?
HEHMEYER: Now the second book, we went to the publishers with that -- I mean, as you know, President Truman fell into great -- sort of unpopularity, with all of the tremendous problems that he was wrestling with in the postwar period. We told them that we thought a book
would be of value covering his period in the White House and how he had done as President of the United States up until that time. This was in 1948, which as you know, was an election year. So, we had the same arrangement with them; they gave us an advance and we wrote that book, which was a much more difficult job, but I think, actually, a better book because when two people write a book, they are going to improve as they go along. But we were really victims of our subject. At that time nobody wanted to read about Harry Truman. I mean he was way down in popularity. They just weren't interested. Now they would have been interested if we had done an axing job on him. Then I think they would have said, "Boy, let's get all the dirt and errors in that book." Well, we wrote the second book the way we wrote the first, on an objective basis of analyzing the very difficult problems of the nation that he had to face in those three years. When the book came out, if anything, we got better critiques than we did on the first. I remember the New Yorker magazine said, "If this book is a campaign book," which it really wasn't, although you time something like that, "then it could stand as a model for all such books in the future," which we thought was very
high praise. And I might add that we complimented ourselves as sounding like the prophets of Job, because we said that Harry Truman had a very good chance of being elected and there were not many people who thought that in 1948.
FUCHS: I noticed that the book This Man Truman was not indexed, while your second book was. Any particular reason?
HEHMEYER: I don't think so. Again, on This Man Truman we really endeavored to write a more popular biography and I think maybe the publishers felt that cost factor and whatnot, and the time element, I mean there was really more time on the second one. It took longer to write it and we had more time to -- they did, too, to index it.
FUCHS: Your final chapter in the second book entitled "Evaluation" -- how would you revise that now after he was elected in 1948?
HEHMEYER: I'd have to go back and read it now, Jim, I haven't read it recently but, as I recall, we said that there was certainly a lot of things on the debt side of the ledger as far as Truman's administration was concerned, but we felt that the credit side outweighed that. That he had grown enormously in the job
of President and that the very big decisions he had made right. As I say, we predicted that he would have a good chance of winning the election. I might add, when the book appeared -- I've forgotten the date exactly.
FUCHS: I was thinking that you autographed a copy to Mr. Truman in May '48, but that may be.
HEHMEYER: Well, it was -- yes it was, as a matter of fact it was in '48 in May. That's correct.
FUCHS: Really more in the spring than in the fall.
HEHMEYER: Yes. Then of course the stunning upset election, and I was in California and came back to Washington to go with the Cotton Council after the election had been held. Frank MacNaughton called me up and he said, "I've got an appointment, we're supposed to go down to see the President." So we went down there and went in the back door and it was just before lunch, and that's one of the most interesting sessions that I've ever attended. We sat there, just the three of us, and Mr. Truman reminisced about the election, and if ever you saw a man who had won against unbelievable odds, and yet he was extremely humble about it and kept saying that it was a real victory for the American people; and, we just sat there in his office for half an hour or more. He
told us some of the sidelights. He said that one of the best campaign meetings that he had was up in Harlem, and he got a tremendous ovation up there and he explained to us that he didn't think that the press had been fair to him. He said, "It isn't," he looked right at Frank and said, "It isn't you reporters," he said, "I got along fine with all of the reporters," he said, "I think that the head of Time and some of the other big publishing houses -- all those publishers got together and they said, 'This s.o.b. has got to go." He then recalled that he had really not made up his mind about seeking the nomination in 1948, but he said, "When people like Jimmy Roosevelt were maneuvering behind the scenes to get Eisenhower to run," he said, "it just made me mad." And he said, "Well, in the first place I could have the nomination because I was the President." He said, "In the second place, I was determined to get out there and tell the American people the truth." He was not a man who seemed surprised at all that he had won. Of course, he had that copper engraving of the Chicago Tribune headline "Dewey Beats Truman," he had that right on his desk. But he reflected also on the Presidency and -- of course, I've never known any other Presidents, but I don't know
of any man who gave more the impression of a really sound mind in a sound body. He seemed completely normal. He sat there in that leather chair and he'd make comments like, "Well, right here where I'm sitting," he said, "this is the top of the world, right here." And he said, "These Cabinet officers will come in here and they'll complain about this and complain about that," and he said, "I just tell them 'Look, when you get as much abuse as I do then you can have reason to complain."' He had enormous respect for the office that he held. He was very aware of the fact -- he recalled "Even when I was Vice President I could drive around in my car and go to the bank," and he said, "now," he said, "it's like moving a circus." But he said, "It isn't the man. I'm the same man, it's the office."
FUCHS: Did Frank MacNaughton have a response to Mr. Truman's charge about the editors and publishers?
HEHMEYER: He just smiled; there wasn't much that he could say. He said, "Well, Mr. President, we have bosses too." He gave him quite a lecture, and Frank squirmed a little bit in his chair. But, again, he said, "Now, on your second book, again, I think you're fair. I think you've been very fair about it." I
know there were some things in there that he may not have taken kindly to, but he always seemed to have that broad view that journalists or biographers -- that it was a difficult thing to write about a President, but they certainly had a right to make fair statements.
FUCHS: What was your sale on the second book?
HEHMEYER: I don't remember, but it was not anything like the first one. Maybe ten thousand copies or so. As I say, we were sort of victims of the subject because nobody wanted to read about Harry Truman, but we felt it was a valuable contribution.
FUCHS: Was that reprinted in any other languages?
HEHMEYER: No, not that I know of, not that I know of.
FUCHS: Did you have any personal interviews with Mr. Truman for either of the books?
HEHMEYER: I'm trying to think now. Of course, as I say, the information I had was from the experience of a number of years working on the Committee. Not while he was President, no you see once he got in the White House then he wasn't available for interviewing -- the best I can say on that was the galley he corrected himself. There is a tremendous difference between a man who -- even the Vice President -- then suddenly gets to
the top job -- it's just hard to realize how much power that office has.
FUCHS: While we are on the subject of books, you're familiar of course with William Hillman's book, Mr. President?
FUCHS: Do you have any comments on that?
HEHMEYER: No, and I don't recall that book too well except that it came out -- I'm trying to remember when that book came out -- that he was a friend of Truman's, but he went through the book, or Frank did briefly, there wasn't a great deal of new information in the book as I recall.
FUCHS: He had access to some of his diaries and private memorandums.
HEHMEYER: That's right. I might say this, that all the biographers, Jonathan Daniels and some of the others, I know on the Committee things on which I had personal knowledge, in many cases I don't know where they got their information, for it was just plain inaccurate. For example, Hugh Fulton rode on the vice-presidential train when Truman campaigned for the Vice Presidency in 1944 and he wrote most of the speeches for Truman when he was Vice President. I talked to Hugh at great
length about his relationship there, and, at one point, if I recall correctly, Jonathan Daniels wrote that Hugh Fulton was in an entirely different location than where he actually was. I'm not knocking another author, but in a number of areas there are misstatements of facts.
FUCHS: It has been said that there was an estrangement between Hugh Fulton, which led to the conclusion that that was why he didn't get a position in Mr. Truman's administration. Do you know anything of that?
HEHMEYER: I don't really know the facts, certainly not from Mr. Truman's side. I think it's fair to say that Hugh Fulton's job as the Chief Counsel for that Committee was one that Mr. Truman himself would say was probably the prime contribution, and, in turn, led to Truman's being a logical candidate for the vice presidency. But Hugh Fulton was not a politician; he didn't understand the working of politics. Although I think Hugh was a life-long Democrat, he looked at things in a very pragmatic way. He didn't understand how politics worked. Often he didn't understand human motives. He misjudged people. And, of course, when Mr. Truman became President, Hugh at that time, had set up his own law firm. And Hugh operated there for those years
on a very modest salary and tried to get his law firm started with very little money. I think he had some liquor accounts, and I think one that caused considerable eyebrow raising was Peron in Argentina. I don't think he did a great deal of work for Peron and what legal services he may have given I don't know. But Hugh Fulton told me that Mr. Truman had said, "If I become the President I would appoint you as the Attorney General." Of course, the attorney generalship would be the goal of most any lawyer. That would be sort of the highest job outside of the Supreme Court. Although, I think complications had arisen as far as some of Hugh's clients were concerned, and I have a personal feeling that if Hugh had been appointed as Attorney General that he might have been subject to a great deal of press comment and probably public criticism of one kind or another, because he was not somebody who weighed out political implications. But I know it was a very great disappointment to him because he called me up on the day that Tom Clark was appointed Attorney General, and he said, "This is a hell of a birthday present." It was on Hugh's birthday the announcement came out that Tom Clark had been named. Now, Tom Clark was head of the War Frauds Division
of the Department of Justice at the time of the Truman Committee -- and, I think, was a close personal friend of Sam Rayburn, and, again, a politically savvy guy. But as far as legal ability is concerned, I don't think that he was in the same class with Hugh Fulton, even though he went on to the Supreme Court. I have nothing against Tom Clark, because I never knew him -- I think I met him once in Hugh's office. Anyway, as far as I know, Hugh and the President remained good friends on a private basis.
Now, I was told this, that one of the Senators who had been on the Committee when Truman became President, said to the President, "Well, why isn't Hugh Fulton in the administration?" And the President said, "I don't know of any job big enough for him," or something like that, which some people said was sarcastic. But there can't be any question that during the Committee days that Hugh's counsel was followed very, very closely by Mr. Truman, and I don't recall of many instances where the Senator overruled him. Hugh was usually right and Hugh, I say, had a great personal admiration for Truman. I think that he saw him a number of times as President, although he didn't move in around the White House at all. Of course, as you know, he never had any official position
with the administration.
FUCHS: Yes. Well, Biddle didn't resign until May 21 and would you say then those two months before Clark was appointed -- or nominated at least -- that Hugh Fulton and Mr. Truman were on good terms? He was still expecting perhaps to be...
HEHMEYER: Well, yes, I do. I do, I think Hugh expected it.
FUCHS: Some attention has been paid to the fact that Hugh Fulton had a business card printed noting that he was former Chief Counsel for the Truman Committee and it's been implied that that was a major factor in Mr. Truman's…
HEHMEYER: He may have. I never saw such a card. Hugh may have done that.
FUCHS: Do you think Mr. Truman would have taken that much exception to that?
HEHMEYER: I don't think so. My only feeling is that some people who didn't like Hugh and were in the political realm -- of course a President has to operate politically because he's not just President but he is head of the party -- that may have made Mr. Truman have second thoughts about Hugh in that picture -- that's the only way that I can see it. But I do know it was a great
disappointment to Hugh.
FUCHS: Did you talk to Hugh much after...
HEHMEYER: Oh, I saw him, yes. He had a farm up in New Jersey, and Hugh wrote letters to us before he died saying that the happiest period of his life had been when he was Chief Counsel for that Committee and the challenge that it presented. I guess Hugh made all kinds of money as a lawyer, but there was nothing ever so satisfying to him as the Truman Committee job.
FUCHS: Did he ever remark to you about Mr. Clark's performance? As Attorney General? His qualifications?
HEHMEYER: No. No, he never did. I think that Hugh felt that he was far more entitled to -- I don't think Hugh wanted a Supreme Court appointment, but the attorney generalship, I think in his own mind he believed that he was going to be appointed. No, as I say, there might have been conflicts of interest there and Hugh might have had a hell of a time being confirmed. That's something you can't tell.
FUCHS: Do you recall what year Mr. Fulton died?
HEHMEYER: I was in Dallas, Texas, on a business trip. It was in 1962. He died in October. He had a stroke at his desk. Hugh was a tremendous size -- he suffered from gout -- but he had enormous energy. That man could really,
really work. And a brilliant mind. He could see right to the nub of a problem and -- he told me this, that the day that Truman became President, that first morning, which was April the 13th, Hugh had breakfast with him. He said that he advised Mr. Truman, he said, "Now, you're the President, and if I were the President one of the first things that I would do would be to clean out the State Department from top to bottom."
And I said, "Did you give him any other advice?"
"Only that he was the President now and not to let people talk him out of things that he thought were right." As I say, Hugh continued to have the greatest affection for him.
FUCHS: Do you think that...
HEHMEYER: But I never talked about Hugh Fulton with Mr. Truman.
FUCHS: Did you feel that this advice might have been considered presumptuous by Mr. Truman on the 13th of April?
HEHMEYER: Possibly. Although Hugh had been advising him in a very straightforward way for a number of years. He called him Harry as the Counsel for the Committee and I know that he felt like "I've given you counsel
and I'm just going to continue." I think maybe -- I doubt whether Mr. Truman was suddenly aware of the fact that he was President. He might have thought it was presumptuous. But, again, that would be kind of a political thing and Hugh was not savvy to politics, he really wasn't.
FUCHS: Did Fulton ever discuss with you the subsequent difficulties with McGrath and McGranery and...
FUCHS: ...the Attorney General's office?
HEHMEYER: No, he never did -- of course, I didn't see as much of Hugh, he was busy all the time and occasionally Shirley and I would go up to visit him at his farm. We knew his wife very well and sometimes Rudy Halley would be there. As you know, Rudy made a big name for himself as a Kefauver investigator. Rudy was much more savvy politically than Hugh ever was. Rudy was a very good attorney, but he wasn't up to Hugh's stature as a lawyer. As you know they were law partners. When the firm was formed it was Fulton, Walter, and Halley. Hank Walter was another attorney they knew in New York, and that's how that firm started, Fulton, Walter and Halley. Then Rudy died after he had been president of the New York
City council and had run for mayor. In fact, I think that Rudy would have made it into the mayor's office if he had lived.
FUCHS: Fulton, the story is, came to the attention of Mr. Truman through...
HEHMEYER: Justice Jackson.
FUCHS: ...an inquiry of Jackson.
HEHMEYER: That's right. Hugh told me that, that Jackson had called him and told him that this Committee was about to be formed and Hugh was very impressed with Truman.
FUCHS: Was Connelly already aboard when you came in?
HEHMEYER: Matt was there when I came with the staff, yes. I forget what Matt's background was, but he had operated on Capitol Hill for several years before that and knew his way around very well. Matt became the Chief Investigator for the Committee staff. And, as you know, then he went with Truman when Truman became Vice President.
FUCHS: Yes. Do you think he came on the Committee through Mr. Fulton's aegis or Mr. Truman's?
HEHMEYER: He came through, I think, through Charlie Clark. Now Charlie Clark sort of sold himself as the Associate Counsel to Senator Truman and brought Matt in. I don't
think that Hugh had anything to do with that. Hugh was trying to unwind everything in New York, and then Hugh finally got down there and then began to hire his own people.
FUCHS: Do you have any reflections on Charles Patrick Clark?
HEHMEYER: Well, he was a character, he really was. Charlie died a few years ago. Well, put it this way, Charlie was a politician and in many ways was sort of a balance wheel to Hugh. Because Hugh, as I say, was a pragmatic guy, he'd get down and get the job done. If he called up some high official and maybe the official thought, "Who is this guy," Charlie sometimes would be the diplomat. I remember Charlie very fondly though I used to have a lot of fights -- not really fights, disagreements -- with him and he used to have those with everybody on the staff.
FUCHS: He did?
HEHMEYER: He was a very brusque man. And he was a great one for having several secretaries answer the telephone and so forth, he was that type. I think, Charlie, finally, at the time of his death was representing the Spanish government, I think, in Washington. He was colorful, there wasn't any doubt about that.
FUCHS: What were these fights about? Just the way things were handled?
HEHMEYER: Oh, he would be great for sending down some correspondence -- he would put this "see me" and then he would sign it CPC, Charles Patrick Clark. You would go to his office and he'd give you a big lecture on how the correspondence should be handled and all this and that. He was big on office form and that kind of business. Bureaucratic. But Charlie was an able fellow and -- but I think there was a natural jealousy that you'd expect between Charlie and Hugh Fulton. Hugh very quickly established himself as "the Chief Counsel," and I think Charlie Clark probably envisioned himself as Chief Counsel, which would be perfectly natural. And then Rudy Halley, who had worked with Hugh in New York, and George Meader, I mean they were strictly Hugh Fulton choices, and other lawyers that he brought in later on. Sam Stewart, who now I think is general counsel for Bank of America. Sam was a brilliant lawyer. Another fellow by the name of Bill Russell, these were men and lawyers that Hugh knew in New York.
FUCHS: Did Clark do any investigation personally?
HEHMEYER: Yes, he handled several hearings. I'm trying to remember which ones specifically. He was really
the administrative man. On matters of personnel and payroll and that kind of thing, Charlie did that. Charlie kept the office moving with a lot of help from Matt Connelly.
FUCHS: Now, did Fulton do any leg work on investigations or did he just...
HEHMEYER: Oh yes, he went all over the country. Like on the camp and cantonment thing, they traveled all over, and other cases where it was important to be on the scene but he would largely rely on Washington sources or on reports by his own men. If the Committee went somewhere he would go. Sometimes it would be a subcommittee would go and do a particular investigation, he would go along on that.
FUCHS: Well, now you say that you attended most of the Committee hearings in Washington, was that in your capacity as press relations man or was it customary for the staff investigators to attend these hearings?
HEHMEYER: In my case it was on the press side primarily, unless it was a matter that I also might be working on, because some of these investigations ramified various angles to them; there was such an enormous size to some of these investigations that would be pieced out -- each staff member would get a piece of it
you might say. I know on the annual report we'd work night and day on those to get all that information together. As I say, Hugh would set the broad thing. He would dictate just by the hour, and he would get these drafts up, and, I say, there would be gaps in them and he might call you in the middle of the night to get information. But, again, it wasn't rigid, if some man over here was working on something and he needed some information you'd just say, "Well, here, I'll get it for you," and then you'd just feed it to him.
FUCHS: Now, he wrote many of Mr. Truman's speeches as Vice President, what about speeches Mr. Truman gave as a Senator?
HEHMEYER: Yes, well, I'd say almost all the speeches that Mr. Truman gave in his role as Chairman, Hugh drafted. Now, if he gave a speech as a Senator from Missouri, Hugh would probably not be involved in it; Bill Boyle used to do most of those. You remember Bill Boyle was his secretary and -- but as far as the Committee was concerned, Hugh would handle those.
FUCHS: What about the operation of the Committee hearing -- now say it was one in which you had done the staff investigation work and you would be there, how would
you enter into the proceedings?
HEHMEYER: You wouldn't. You probably wouldn't be taking an active part -- you would just sit there and Hugh would do the cross-examining of the witnesses and he would have the information. How he might want something -- but the staff people did not participate as such.
FUCHS: You were there for consultation with the Counsel and with the Senators.
HEHMEYER: Yes. Arid sometimes, you know, he'd need something and you'd just leave the hearing and go down and try to get the information before the hearing adjourned. Again, Hugh would prepare himself very, very carefully -- the Committee was very careful not to go on some fishing expedition -- if the thing got to the public hearing stage it was carefully documented, and they had direct evidence that they wanted to bring out. He was always -- if someone wanted a day in court, we'd be glad to call a hearing and let them appear.
FUCHS: You were acquainted with Mr. Messall who was Mr. Truman's...
HEHMEYER: I didn't know Vic very well. Matt Connelly knew him very, very well. Again now, Vic worked on the
political side. On the staff -- I mean Hugh Fulton and basically the staff, we never got concerned with political matters. In fact we were never asked -- I know Hugh never asked me whether I was a Republican or a Democrat or anything else. Neither did Mr. Truman.
FUCHS: Course Messall departed, I believe, before the Committee was established.
HEHMEYER: I think he did. He never worked on the Committee.
FUCHS: Did you hear anything about his departure?
HEHMEYER: No. I'm trying to remember now, Vic Messall was really just a name to me and I met him a few times. But he and Matt were good friends, I recall, and Bill Boyle.
FUCHS: What about Harry Vaughan in connection with the Committee?
HEHMEYER: Well, now Harry Vaughan was a very likeable guy and I have great personal affection for him. I saw him a few summers ago, he's living in Alexandria, Virginia. He's retired. But -- he was intensely loyal to Mr. Truman, and he served as his secretary during Mr. Truman's first term as Senator. Frank MacNaughton -- and this never got into print -- Frank once said that
Harry Vaughan was as out of place in the White House as a hippopotamus in a bird bath. You could kid around with Harry, and as I say, he was a most likeable man that you would ever want to meet, but he would just put his foot in his mouth very often and said things, particularly when he got down in the White House that was simply out of keeping for the position that he held. I think that he was greatly abused by the press, but I think a lot of it he brought on himself from the way he behaved and talked.
FUCHS: In the short time he was around before he went into the Army, he never got into Committee matters?
HEHMEYER: Not much. Now I say -- I mentioned that incident with Gazda, that's the only time that I ever worked with Harry directly on anything involved with the Committee. And that really was sort of a semi-military matter. But, see, he worked with General Lowe. Now the theory of General Lowe was, that we had so much to do with the War Department, so many contracts with so much war activity, and the War Department assigned -- they had a Miles Knowles, who became a full colonel, and he was the liaison between the War Department and the Committee. Miles Knowles was
a very astute attorney, but his primary interest was the War Department, and his primary interest was to see that the Committee didn't get too much or that the War Department always looked good on anything. And so Frank Lowe was a Republican and really was a friend of Owen Brewster's. I think it was Senator Brewster that recommended Lowe. They put him in a uniform (he was a businessman), and assigned him to work for the Committee. In areas where the military was primarily involved, Frank Lowe could do a job of breaking through red tape and whatnot that we couldn't do, and that liaison officers from the War Department were not going to do. So, again, now Frank Lowe -- it's a question of how effective a job he did. I mean, you make a major general out of anyone and pretty soon he's going to act more like a major general than he is a liaison man. A lot of times Frank Lowe just got involved with making arrangements for trips. After the war when Senator Mead was the Chairman he appointed a subcommittee headed by a Senator Tunnell from Delaware and we were looking into all the disposition of this huge amount of war surplus. I went on that trip. We flew all over to these big bases and Frank Lowe went along on those. But I don't think
there was anything that Frank Lowe cut loose in the way of information that the lawyers didn't do. But he was a very likeable man and had a tremendous affection for Senator Truman -- President Truman. And, I don't know whether you saw it -- there was a big story in Time during the Korean war -- Lowe had wrangled some kind of orders and got over there to Korea and went right into the front lines and there were stories coming back that some of the men were actually shooting themselves to get out of service, and he laid all these stories to rest. He was very much a GI guy. In that he was a tremendous kind of man. I don't know whether he is still living or not. Do you?
FUCHS: I think that Frank is dead. It seems to me he died just recently.
HEHMEYER: He may have. I lost track of Frank Lowe entirely. But as I say, he looked like General MacArthur and had the bearing of a general.
FUCHS: He was sent by Mr. Truman to Korea on an investigation trip and I wonder if you have any more knowledge of that.
HEHMEYER: That's all I know because, of course, that was when Mr. Truman was President and I was never in the
White House picture.
FUCHS: You mentioned that there was a little friction with Charles Patrick Clark. Was there any other friction among staff members that you recall?
HEHMEYER: With Charlie?
FUCHS: No, between other staff members?
HEHMEYER: I can't think of any friction basically. Of course, the day-to-day operation you're going to get a certain amount of friction in any operation. And Hugh fairly well isolated himself -- as I say, he was so busy all the time with the investigations that he pretty well left staff matters and personnel matters to Charlie. I really can think of nothing significant, now maybe you know of something that would jog my memory. I don't.
FUCHS: In a committee of considerable diversity, and, of course, with two political parties involved, how do you account for the fact that there was such unanimity in the reports?
HEHMEYER: Well, I really assign it to two things: One, the fact that there was a war and that these Senators had put aside partisan consideration, coupled with that the fact that a number of those Senators had their own sons or relatives of some kind in the front lines. They
were very aware of the tremendous problem of war. That was certainly one factor, but probably a bigger factor was the personality of Mr. Truman himself. He really did not ever try to be the big chairman and as the Committee grew and became better known, he would always bow to the other Senators. He would appoint subcommittees, he'd urge them to do investigations and give them full credit for them. I think he developed a harmony and a sense of team play. And, again, behind that I think accurate staff work, that they just did not go off on any matters that were not within their province. And a very few political matters Happy Chandler's swimming pool is the only one that I can think of where really a political thing that the Committee was sort of forced into looking into. So, when you ask why there was such harmony, I think these were the primary reasons.
FUCHS: What do you recall of the Chandler swimming pool episode?
HEHMEYER: I don't recall more than it was sort of an excruciating thing for all of us. I was not involved in that investigation. Matt Connelly handled that one primarily and they knew that they were stuck, a Senator had dropped it in their lap. I'd have to
go back and read what the report said, we certainly made some comments in there that no United States Senator should ever get himself involved in that kind of thing. This was said very forthrightly in the report. I don't recall any people coming out and saying that it was a whitewash. But it was the kind of thing that the Committee didn't want to fool with. Now, I'd have to read back up on that, Jim, that was a long time ago.
FUCHS: Did you attend any Committee hearings that were on the road?
HEHMEYER: At the early stages I did not go on the road with them. They were just getting started and almost all the hearings subsequent to that, during the war, were in Washington. Now, as I say, I mentioned that Hugh may have made a flying trip at various times. Rudy Halley, he traveled on the U.S. Steel investigation and the Curtis-Wright investigation. I went on several out-of-town investigations with Rudy.
FUCHS: Did you come in touch with Eddie Locke?
HEHMEYER: Yes. Eddie Locke was a very, very able guy. He worked for Donald Nelson on the War Production Board and was, you might say, the liaison man -- of course, that was a civilian agency -- between the War Production Board
and the Committee and did an outstanding job. He had the confidence of Truman and Hugh Fulton and then, of course, when Truman became President, I think he appointed Eddie Locke to a sort of assistant's job in the White House. I liked him very much. He was a very able man, he really was.
HEHMEYER: And did a marvelous job on that whole War Production picture under Donald Nelson.
FUCHS: Did you ever have any dealings with Sidney Hillman?
HEHMEYER: No. Of course he was big in labor and the Democratic Party.
FUCHS: How about Lou Holland, who was a personal friend and head of the Small Business Administration?
HEHMEYER: I met Lou, and, again, now my knowledge of the personal friends or the political friends of Truman's, I didn't know them.
FUCHS: Did you ever hear Mr. Truman evaluate the other members of the Committee, that he felt some were more effective than others?
HEHMEYER: Again, he was not one that -- occasionally in the "doghouse" and I was at some of the meetings, he would come out with a pretty blunt evaluation of somebody and I know that he -- he didn't have much use
for Happy Chandler. And he didn't have much use for Claude Pepper. But I don't recall anything -- now, again he might have, probably did make comments to members of the Committee. In fact, he would always be very careful maybe because I was on the press side and sometimes he would think, "Well, whatever I tell this guy he may" -- maybe conditioned his thinking, although it really didn't. But I know whenever a new member came on the Committee he would always say, "This man is going to work out very well." I recall Homer Ferguson, who was a Republican from Michigan and he made such a big name for himself out there as sort of a prosecuting -- it was in Wayne County. There was some question about "Maybe this man's going to start all this fancy investigating right here" and -- but Truman had judged him very, very accurately. He said, "loo, I think that Homer Ferguson will be a real workhorse on this Committee and will do a very effective job." And I believe he did.
FUCHS: Well, I suppose he felt that since you were all working for all the members of the Committee, that it wouldn't have been right to criticize your employers.
HEHMEYER: But, again, it was a very unusual kind of a team operation and I think that the teamwork had a great deal to do with the success of the Committee and the record it compiled.
FUCHS: As Chief Investigator, how did Mr. Connelly's duties differ from those of the other investigators on the staff?
HEHMEYER: Well, I would say that, simply, his was more of an administrative job perhaps than those who went out in the field or took on certain investigations in the office. Matt was also very good at meeting people and lots of times people would stray in there and he would take care of them. His job was to keep the staff moving in an administrative way. Matt also, of course, was very close to Truman's office and handled quite a few of the details of the liaison between those two offices.
FUCHS: Did Mr. Connelly have a secretary assigned to him?
HEHMEYER: Yes, and I have forgotten her name, he had several, you know, they would come and go. One of them had a baby and another one went off to get married. Although, there again, in room 160, which is where we were located in the Senate Office Building that is the Old Senate Office Building -- he had a
secretarial pool and some girls would be tied up for maybe months on end with one man's work; but again, we kept it on a basis where most any girls could work for any one particular man. And Matt as the Chief Investigator would parcel out the work so one girl wouldn't be overloaded and somebody else not have enough to do. That's about the way that worked out. Again it was a very small group, basically, we had maybe twelve men in that room and maybe five girls. It was a big room, room 160, and I might say that the day that Mr. Truman bowed out as the Chairman of the Committee he made a speech on the floor of the Senate, and officially resigned as Chairman saying that he felt that any report or any statement coming from the Committee due to the fact that he was running for the vice presidency would be construed in a political sense and he was not going to do this to the Committee, so he resigned. Now, he could have, of course, stayed on. In fact he could have used the chairmanship of that Committee to further his campaign as Vice President. But he did not do that and said that he wouldn't do that, and so Senator Mead took over as Chairman. That day Mr. Truman came back from the Senate floor -- incidentally
he mentioned each staff member by name on the Senate floor; and then subsequently, when the reprint from the Congressional Record came in, he autographed each one of them for the individual people on the staff -- but he came down to room 160 and said that he really didn't want to go to Chicago to the convention, but that he had been nominated and that he was going to run and do his best to win; but that it was a great source of disappointment to him to leave the Committee. It was obvious sincerity. And when he got all through there was a sort of a silence and everybody in the room stood at their desks. Mr. Truman walked around the room and shook hands with every single person in the room including the office boy. This is the kind of man that Truman was. He clearly wasn't looking for votes, I mean, there was no crowd, no reporters. It was just very personal. This was the kind of thing that endeared the people that worked for Truman as Senator that -- he was very genuine in this, and I can also say from my own personal experience that I never knew him ever to berate someone on the staff or berate someone in his office. The way it was with Mr. Truman, if you made a mistake, you felt so bad about it because you felt
that you had let him down, not because you thought that he was going to turn on you and give you a bawling out. I never heard him bawl out anybody. And I know at times he was sorely tried in this area. Now, as President I think that his public utterances as sort of a hard hitting down-to-earth kind of man -- hard language sometimes, that he was never this way in private. He was very loyal to his staff people -- and as I say, if they made a mistake or embarrassed him, which sometimes they did, why, he forgave them, he felt very bad about it.
FUCHS: Can you give examples of any such occasions?
HEHMEYER: Well, no, I'm just thinking of some of the things that happened in the White House that have been reported many times, his loyalty to staff people, like Harry Vaughan, for example. But I can't remember even in cases of stress -- I'm trying to think now -- no, they don't come to mind right off, except that in his office you could walk in there any time and even the secretary wouldn't bar the way. You could just walk in there no matter what he was doing and how busy he might be he'd have time to talk to you, and it wasn't necessarily a business matter, I mean on any personal matter, he was the kind of man you could feel
that you could talk to at any time. He had this great human quality about him. We had mentioned earlier here during lunch that he could get along with people with entirely different backgrounds. Secretary of State [Dean] Acheson was a good example of that -- I find it hard to understand that those two men got along so well. I remember this, Dean Acheson was Assistant Secretary of State before Truman became President -- while Truman was Vice President, and Acheson was the liaison man with the Congress. A very adept debater and knew his ins and outs, knew Senators and knew how to tell Senators what they had better watch out for and so forth. I remember -- this again was after Mr. Truman had resigned as the Chairman, he was the Vice President, so his office therefore was sort of a meeting grounds for higher-ups in the administration. He was really not part of the legislative branch anymore. And on this investigation I mentioned earlier, disposal of surplus government property, there was some overt acts involved in that thing. Not that there was crookedness, but there was so much mismanagement. In some of the foreign areas where they found all kinds of surplus material, it was loaded up there, and it was a real reflection on the State Department and everybody else involved. This was brought home
strongly to the State Department and to Dean Acheson. I remember he came up to talk to Senator Tunnell. Now Senator Tunnell of Delaware had been the chairman of that subcommittee, Senator Tunnell called me on the telephone and said, "The Assistant Secretary of State [Acheson] is coming up here and wants to talk about this surplus thing. I don't even know his name."
And he said, "I'd like for somebody to sit in there with me. You're familiar with this investigation, so if you'll come up here."
So, I went to Senator Tunnell's office and Dean Acheson with his wax mustache came in. He couldn't have been more polite and he couldn't have been more austere and sort of forbidding in his presence -- a big, tall man. And Senator Tunnell, you know he had a palsy condition, he looked like he was about ready to pass out, but he was a sturdy man. He just let Acheson have it on these conditions overseas. He said that they were the worst that he had ever seen. And Acheson just quietly listened and he said, "Yes, Senator," and then he finally said, "But, Senator, I don't think you would want to make a public statement to this effect." And then he pointed out why he
wouldn't want to be making public statements to this effect, and the next thing I knew, Senator Tunnell was just eating out of Acheson's hand. I thought this man must have something because he is a very persuasive debater. And several times after that when I happened to be in Truman's Vice President's office, Dean Acheson was outside there waiting to see Mr. Truman. So, they evidently formed sort of a working relationship with each other that early. Because Acheson got to know Truman well while Truman was still associated with the Senate.
FUCHS: What did you see Mr. Truman about as Vice President? Just social?
HEHMEYER: Well, usually it would not be a Committee matter, but I was just dropping in there saying hello to some of the people like Matt Connelly that were working in there; whereas we used to go back, you know, when he was Chairman we would drop in down there and -- actually Mr. Truman was far more accessible to talk to as Vice President than he was as a Senator because he didn't like the job, he chafed under it. You could sit in there and he'd just chat away, and maybe the phone would ring and he wasn't very busy, and he did a lot of socializing, sort of representing Mr.
Roosevelt in those days, of course it was on a restricted basis because of wartime conditions. But I think that must have been a very unhappy period for Mr. Truman. He was not Chairman of the Committee any longer and he was just -- well like you recall, he was quoted somewhere as saying that he felt like he was a political eunuch as Vice President of the United States.
FUCHS: Mr. Truman was mentioned in connection with the Vice-Presidency, I believe as early as, perhaps the middle of '43 or late in '43, and of course, really got going in the early part of '44. Do you recall anything -- anecdotal or otherwise -- about his being mentioned for Vice President?
HEHMEYER: No. And really, again, we were out of that situation on the Committee staff; but I remember before the convention in 1944 that Matt Connelly and Bill Boyle, they were talking about the convention coming up and they were very knowledgeable about the political picture, and they said something about the vice presidency, did anybody want to get in on a sort of an office pool where they put down who they thought might be the Vice President? I didn't know much about it, but I went along on it, and I think my choice was
Sam Rayburn. Someone else put down Jimmy Byrnes. And it really had not occurred to me that Truman was really in the running. But both Matt Connelly and Bill Boyle said it would be Harry Truman. So whether they knew more than they were saying, or whether their political hunches were stronger than other people's, I don't know. But I was very surprised, I really was.
FUCHS: Was Ed Pauley around the Committee office?
HEHMEYER: I don't recall. He was a witness, not before our Committee I don't believe, but there was a big oil hassle, I think it was before the Senate Naval Affairs Committee that Ed Pauley was a witness. I know it involved oil and I believe that I met him, but that's all. Now he probably called on Mr. Truman in his own office because they were close friends.
FUCHS: That wasn't the Canol Project? The oil pipeline .
HEHMEYER: No, no, that was a different one. That was our Committee. We had that investigation. What did this involve? This involved, Harold Ickes when he was Secretary of the Interior, and there was a big oil scandal brewing, and Ed Pauley was involved in this thing and I've forgotten the details of it. It was not before the Truman Committee; I think it was the
Senate Naval Affairs Committee, or one of those committees.
FUCHS: Do you recall anything that might be of interest in connection with the Canol Project?
HEHMEYER: No, you mean that Alcan Highway, is that the one that you mean?
FUCHS: No, the oil line.
HEHMEYER: The oil line, no, I don't recall that. Again, I'd have to go back and read the report. Again, Hugh Fulton wrote that report which was extremely critical of -- I just can't recall.
FUCHS: Did Mr. Truman deliver that speech, the farewell speech, so to speak, to the Senate, extemporaneously?
HEHMEYER: No, no, it was written.
FUCHS: Did he have help in the writing?
HEHMEYER: I think Hugh Fulton probably wrote most of that. There again, as I recall it, I saw that speech and went over it on the last go around, and I don't know. I think, though, that Hugh wrote most -- I know he did -- wrote the observations about the value of an investigating committee that is handled properly and that the Senate must watch out and be a watchdog, and that there is no substitute for a fact; that a good investigation properly carried out is essential to the running of a
democracy. If you recall it, he defended the right -- not only the right of Congress to investigate, but the duty of Congress to do it properly. Hugh wrote most of that.
FUCHS: Did Mr. Truman ever speak of Bernard Baruch in your presence?
HEHMEYER: No, not that I can recall at all. He may have known Bernard Baruch before he became President, but I rather doubt it.
FUCHS: What about his criticism of dollar-a-year men?
HEHMEYER: Well, there again, there's something that Hugh Fulton and Mr. Truman talked over at great length. It was quite an issue at the time and I think that that was probably Mr. Truman's own observation, although Hugh Fulton may have pointed this out to him; that the concept was wrong, that a man can't serve two masters. He can't be getting a dollar a year from the Government while he is drawing a full salary from industry. And it was one of those gimmicks that caused mischief. I think a lot of those people were unfairly criticized and yet they shouldn't have entered into an arrangement like that.
FUCHS: What about the project in connection with the atomic bomb, I believe in Hanford?
HEHMEYER: That's an interesting one. Incidentally, I would like to set the record straight on that -- at least a small facet of it. Everyone thought that the development of the atomic bomb was clothed in the utmost secrecy and that no one knew about it and that this thing was a stunning kind of revelation to the entire world. The fact of the matter is, I would say just about every staff member on the Truman Committee knew about the development of the atomic bomb, that such a project was underway. When you have a Government agency come up to Congress, the Appropriations Committee, to get "X" million dollars for a project of that kind, they can't just ask for the money, they have to reveal the nature of it to some extent. That's going to get talked about. I know that informed press people knew about it. Now you might say we were isolated up there on Capitol Hill but that was a whirlpool of information up there. We got a complaint about mismanagement and inefficiency, the kind we got lots of on the Hanford project out there in the State of Washington. What we did on those complaints, we would detail the gist of the complaint in a letter to the agency involved -- in this case it was the War Department -- and then we would ask for their comments. We
would say, "If this situation is incorrect, tell us. If it is right, tell us what it is, if it is too big for you to correct, we'll help you." This was always a kind of a threat, that the Committee could say, "Now you clean up your house; we're not going to make a big thing about this, but we want to know about it." Because these complaints that would come in sort of "over the transom" from workers in plants who actually at least knew a localized situation in their plant, were extremely valuable to us because this would be direct information. And on that occasion, General Marshall, who was chief of staff at that time, did come up and talk to Mr. Truman and explained to him about the nature of the Hanford project. That it was an atomic development, and I believe Mr. Truman knew about it from the Appropriations Committee, and so we just backed away from it at General Marshall's direct request; normally we did not do this. Some newsmen, you may have heard this story, did come to the Committee and ask what they made out there, and we told them "bubble gum." It was a hush-hush thing, but I do want to make it clear that that was known and when the atomic bomb was dropped it was not that big a surprise up there. We all felt that the
development of an atomic weapon was definitely moving ahead.
FUCHS: Did you know of this or think of this only as a super weapon, or big explosive or do you think the term atomic weapon was known, or nuclear fission?
HEHMEYER: Well, we knew in general what was being done, and that atomic energy was involved, and that a super weapon was being developed and that if it was developed and it was used, that it probably would cause untold damage and destruction, probably enough to defeat any enemy. We did know that. And this is not in the light of hindsight. It was no big secret to us as it was to the nation at large and certainly there was no mention of it to the press. Even though I know a lot of informed news people knew about it -- Frank McNaughton knew about it.
FUCHS: Did they know of the Manhattan project as such?
HEHMEYER: Well, now whether they knew all of the details or not, but they -- I remember Frank telling -- in fact, he was my source of information -- he told me about tests that were being made in Alamagordo, New Mexico where the first bomb was detonated. That was some time before Hiroshima.
FUCHS: Do you recall anything of Fred Canfil in connection
HEHMEYER: No. You mention that and it rings some kind of a bell. Fred Canfil worked for Senator Truman I think. Again, I didn't know him. I met him, but I don't remember him being down in the Committee offices.
FUCHS: He was supposed to have been appointed as an investigator on June 1, '42 and then resigned January 31, 1944.
HEHMEYER: If he was, he was not under direct staff supervision. I didn't know he had that particular designation. But Fred did not work in room 160 and he did not work directly with the staff as we all did.
FUCHS: You didn't think of him as a regular staff investigator?
FUCHS: What about Bill Boyle as an investigator?
HEHMEYER: Bill came from Missouri and came in, forget when it was, but Bill was right there in room 160 with the rest of us and handled a number of investigations. Bill was an attorney. I have forgotten how long he was there. Then he went back up, I think when Harry Vaughan left -- I'm not sure about this timing -- but he did go back up into Senator Truman's office, that is the Senator's office as separate from the Committee. But Bill was
an active worker on the Committee and an active investigator on the Committee. For awhile there he was working in sort of both jobs. I mean there would be an overlay of work from the investigating staff and he was still doing that as well as being secretary to the Senator upstairs.
FUCHS: I think he did go back up and was primarily secretary to Mr. Truman until Harry Vaughan came back from the Army, and I wondered if you knew why he then went to the Democratic National Committee.
HEHMEYER: That I don't know.
FUCHS: Did you see Mr. Hannegan around very much?
HEHMEYER: No, although he was always talked about in political conversations as being very much behind Truman and many people, of course, credit him with having sort of engineered the vice presidency for him. I believe I met him one time, but I don't know him. He was never at the Committee offices. Now he may have been up at Hugh Fulton's office, I don't know. But I didn't ever see him.
FUCHS: Did you know William S. Cole?
HEHMEYER: Yeah, I knew Bill Cole, he came through Senator Brewster's office. He was from Maine and a hard working investigator.
FUCHS: Anything in particular, any cases he dealt with come to mind?
HEHMEYER: I'm trying to remember what he worked on -- housing or some area of reconversion, I don't remember. But Bill Cole was on the investigating staff. He had originally come from Senator Brewster's office, I recall.
FUCHS: What about Donald Lathrom?
HEHMEYER: Lathrom? Now, Don at one time was with the Democratic National Committee. And Don married into a well-known Washington family and Don was on the investigating staff and prepared large portions of the aircraft section. The aircraft section in the first annual report and then subsequently a report on aircraft production. He pretty much specialized in that area. We then opened up some further offices down in the basement of the building. There were four or five people down there and I remember Don was one of those. Rudy Halley started in the basement.
FUCHS: What about Harry Magee?
HEHMEYER: Harry Magee was on the investigating staff. A latecomer. I recall Harry very well, but I can't recall what he specifically worked on.
FUCHS: What about Maletz?
HEHMEYER: Herb Maletz.
FUCHS: How important was he in this?
HEHMEYER: Well, Herb was an attorney. I think he graduated from Harvard unless I'm mistaken. Herb was a nervous guy -- he chewed his nails all the time. We used to all laugh at him when he'd chew his nails right down to here. Herb was a good friend of Matt Connelly and Bill Boyle and worked on a number of very important investigations. He was a very able lawyer and a good investigator. I say, we used to get amused, because Herb would get so nervous about everything. But he was an excellent man; I think that he's still with the Government. I haven't seen Herb in a long time.
FUCHS: I believe you mentioned Martinez before. What is his background, do you recall?
HEHMEYER: Joe Martinez was from New Mexico and Joe worked for Senator Chavez from New Mexico. Of course Senator Hatch the other Senator from Mexico was on our committee. And Joe worked as a page in the Senate while he was studying to be a lawyer. I think he finished law school and he was married, with several children; and he heard about the possibility of maybe working for the Committee. As a matter of fact, I think
it was Shirley that knew him and asked Hugh Fulton if he would interview Joe Martinez who was just finishing law school, Joe was older, he wasn't a young student type. He'd gone to college and had considerable experience before he became a lawyer and that's how Joe got on the staff. He was an investigator.
FUCHS: What about Franklin Parks, who rose to be Chief Investigator, subsequent to Mr. Truman's departure?
HEHMEYER: Yes, he must have been Chief Investigator many years later because after Matt Connelly, Wilbur Sparks became Chief Investigator, and it was about that time that I left the Committee. It got a new chairman. You know Kilgore was Chairman there very briefly, then William Rogers following that was Chief Counsel for really the offshoot of the same committee. Francis Flanagan was also Chief Counsel after Rogers. Anyway, it's fuzzy in my mind because I left the staff in 1946 after the war, so I really don't recall -- but Frank Parks, I knew him very well. He was also an attorney. Bob Irvin was an attorney, too, but Bob left before I did, he was in Washington for awhile and then went out to Long Beach, California.
FUCHS: Do you recall Haven Sawyer?
HEHMEYER: Haven Sawyer? Yes, he had the desk right in front of mine. He was an older, elderly gentleman at that time. He came through Senator Brewster's office. He would do certain kinds of statistical studies. He was not really involved in any kind of major investigation, except in sort of a collateral way. He died, I think, some years ago. He was sort of a prim in many ways and he was anti-women -- he didn't like women much. But Haven Sawyer was a delightful gentleman.
FUCHS: Do you have anything further about George Meader whom we mentioned before and who subsequently became Chief Counsel?
HEHMEYER: No, except George was a classmate of Hugh Fulton's at the University of Michigan. A very able lawyer, although he used to say that in law school that Hugh Fulton used to irritate them all, because they'd all be studying for their exams and Hugh Fulton would want to do something, and he'd always get the A's. George was a very methodical man and a good, thorough attorney; and after Rudy Halley resigned as Chief Counsel and while Senator Mead was still Chairman, George Meader became Chief Counsel, and stayed on then for I don't know how long. Later he ran for Congress
and he served for about three or four terms as a Congressman from Ann Arbor as a Republican.
FUCHS: How did you think the Committee compared under Mead as under 'Truman's chairmanship? Of course, times were different.
HEHMEYER: Times were a lot different and it's hard to evaluate this; it's almost unfair to make this comparison. Senator Mead certainly was a dedicated man and a Senator from a highly populous state. He got along well with other Senators, but I don't think that Senator Mead had the personality that Truman had. I remember after Senator Mead had been Chairman for some months, he said, "Somebody has got to take over the sweeping up the party committee." He felt somewhat that he was at the end of it, the big job that the Committee had to do during wartime was over and although there was still a lot of work to do. I worked very closely with Senator Mead. I had great personal affection for him, a very, very fine man. But I wouldn't want to really gauge it because he was so busy in his own office with state matters. All these people would come down from New York to see him. Often he would call me on the telephone and he'd say, "Well, you know what door to come in."
I would go in the last door of his suite which he would have left unlocked and that would be his private office. And he'd say, "I hope nobody saw you," because if anybody had, his constituents would just come marching down there. He was so busy, he needed more help really than any Senator I ever saw, and there we would get involved in a lot more matters that really involved his office rather than Committee things. It got mixed up a lot more after he became Chairman for the simple reason that he carried an overwhelming workload. He had to have sort of expert screeners that would try to keep his constituents happy. Of course, the war was over at this time. I remember once during the war somebody proposed that they have a five-cent train fare from New York to Washington, and Mead said, "Boy, that's all I need, to get all these people down here on a nickle train fare."
FUCHS: Is there anything that you might want to say about another investigator Hendrick R. Suydam?
HEHMEYER: I didn't know Henry well, and I don't think he was a very well man. He had a certain number of assignments that he did; he was a latecomer on the staff, too. He and Peter Ansberry were very good friends although there was a big difference in
years, but I think socially they knew each other.
FUCHS: What did Ansberry work on, primarily?
HEHMEYER: Well, Ansberry did a lot of jobs. One, of interest to me now, but it wasn't then particularly, but it was a question of cotton versus rayon in tire cord, which was a big problem at that time. They wanted to put all this rayon in tire cord and the cotton case was much stronger and that case prevailed. Now, I remember that he worked closely on that, and I forget -- again I would have to look over this list of investigations -- there were so many -- that you don't remember who had what and some were very big and some were small. I know one of my assignments, we'd get all these crackpot letters from people with inventions to save the war and we'd get all kinds of letters in this area. There was a National Inventor's Council, and it would be a handy thing just to say, thank them for the letter and refer it to the National Inventor's Council, and that usually would end it because they weren't about to look into some of those crazy things. But where, again, where an invention seemed to have some kind of merit we would try to undertake to get this particular person a hearing before maybe the National Inventor's Council, or some other agency. In the book
I mentioned several cases where actually these inventions proved out to be of value to the war effort. Of course, we really got some wild ones, and I remember one time a telegram came to my desk -- this guy sent telegrams threatening Franklin Roosevelt saying that he was the cause of the war and the death of all of these boys. Finally, the tone of the telegrams was so threatening that we called the Secret Service -- the Treasury Department. They had charge of that and they sent a man over there right away and I turned the telegrams over to them and they picked this man up and locked him up.
FUCHS: There was a Marion G. Toomey?
HEHMEYER: She was an attorney. Shirley knows her very well and she worked as Hugh Fulton's secretary for a number of years and also did some of the investigating work. She was very good. As I say, she was an attorney and she could take -- there was never any lack of work, I mean if somebody wanted some project to look into, there were plenty around.
FUCHS: You mean that she worked as his secretary on the Committee?
HEHMEYER: On the Committee.
FUCHS: Subsequent to your wife's service.
HEHMEYER: That's right, before Shirley, she was Marion Toomey and then she married -- gosh, I've forgotten when. But she and Shirley were both in the same office and then Marion left, and then Shirley took over as his secretary. Shirley worked up there with her for awhile.
FUCHS: How long did your wife serve as his secretary?
HEHMEYER: I guess -- as Hugh's secretary -- a year and a half, maybe, something like that.
FUCHS: After you were married?
HEHMEYER: No, no, after we got married, then she left.
FUCHS: What about Agnes Strauss Wolf?
HEHMEYER: I'd forgotten about Aggie Wolf. I remember her well. There again, now, all these people, there's not really much other than I knew them personally and I didn't necessarily know what they were doing in their work.
FUCHS: Nothing particularly comes to mind about...
HEHMEYER: But all these people though were involved in that picture at one time or another.
FUCHS: Any interesting anecdotes you can recall about any of the Committee members?
HEHMEYER: Well, now let me see. Committee members -- you're talking about at the time.
HEHMEYER: Let me see.
FUCHS: They met, I guess, not as a whole but some of them from time to time in the "doghouse?"
HEHMEYER: That's right, they'd meet Truman in the "doghouse." I can't think of any particular anecdotes offhand. Certain ones, of course, were naturally a little closer -- maybe because they worked harder on that Committee -- Senator Kilgore from West Virginia was very much of a hard worker on the Committee and Mon Wallgren was, from Washington.
FUCHS: They were frequently in the office?
HEHMEYER: Very much so. And Tom Connally, now he was sort of a prima donna you know. But effective and never blocked the Committee, and although he was chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee he would show up at the key hearings; and he was a good attorney, and, again, effective man, although he was not really that active on the Truman Committee. Senator Ball from Minnesota was an active Republican. So was Senator Burton who became a Supreme Court Justice. I worked fairly close with Senator Burton. I think he'd been the Mayor of Cleveland. He and Mr. Truman were very close; they became very close on the Committee. I don't think that they knew each other one way or another particularly
in the Senate, but on the Committee. As you know, he was the first Republican that Truman named to the Supreme Court, Harold Burton.
FUCHS: Well, now Mr. Truman's "doghouse," was in part of his suite as Senator.
HEHMEYER: That's right. And it was a room right off his personal office. Entering from the hall, the first office you came to would be Bill Boyle's, he had his own office in there. Then you got to where Mildred Dryden and the other girls were. Then the next office was Senator Truman's own office and the next one down was the "doghouse," which was just an offshoot of his office. He had a refrigerator back there and he had all kinds of pictures on the wall, and leather chairs, and it was sort of a confidential gathering place. I guess that it got to be fairly famous after awhile because -- but then again there was a room problem; we didn't have enough space.
FUCHS: His office was 240 in the Senate Office Building.
HEHMEYER: Senate Office Building.
FUCHS: And then the Committee offices were where?
HEHMEYER: Well, in room 160, where the bulk of the staff was, in room 317 where the Associate Counsel was located and then room 449 where the Chief Counsel was. We
were all over that building. It was not all together. Later we acquired the space I mentioned in the basement.
FUCHS: Did Mr. Truman have a desk in one of those areas?
HEHMEYER: No. He operated out of his own office.
FUCHS: You say space was a problem?
HEHMEYER: Yes, it was a problem, when we staffed up, so to speak, and got more members. Now where the records were kept and the hearing records were assembled for printing and finally bound, that was another little office down the hall where Lydia Lee Heflin -- I don't know whether she's come into your situation or not?
FUCHS: No, who was she?
HEHMEYER: She handled the printing of the hearings. She worked for several other committees performing the same kind of function. She had an office, which was sort of a semi-committee office, you might say, because she -- I think received some of her salary from our Committee.
FUCHS: Where was that?
HEHMEYER: On the first floor and I can't remember the number of the room, but it wasn't too far from 160.
FUCHS: Well, now, you said from time to time you were in the "doghouse" with other members of the Committee
staff. Was that upon invitation of Mr. Truman?
HEHMEYER: Usually. It was pretty informal. I mean, somebody might be down there and call up and say, "Look, we've got something to talk about and let's go down here and talk about it." Mr. Truman was not a formal man about that. I mean you could wander in and out, and during the later periods there, Harry Vaughan's office was back in the "doghouse." He had his own desk back there.
FUCHS: Oh, is that right?
HEHMEYER: He was injured, you know, during the war -- it wasn't a war injury, but I think it was an accident of some kind, broke his leg. He came back and then he was assigned up there. He was a light colonel at that time, and that was where his desk was. It was in the "doghouse."
FUCHS: I guess Carl Hayden, who was an original member, had resigned in April which was prior to your coming there, do you know why?
HEHMEYER: Never knew him. He was an elder statesman. He was replaced, I believe, by Senator Hatch. I think he was; I don't think Hatch was on -- originally the Committee had seven members, and then it was raised to ten. They kept the percentage about the way the Senate was divided.
I mean between Republicans and Democrats. So, at the beginning there were only about two or three Republicans on the Committee. Ball was one of these and Burton. They were two of the original ones. And Ferguson came on later on and one more Republican -- Brewster. Brewster was one of the original.
FUCHS: Other than the Atomic Energy program, did you have any other problems with military secrecy. Do you recall?
HEHMEYER: I always had my own feelings about this area and I always felt that there was entirely too much circulation, you might say, of information on Capitol Hill, and in the Library of Congress. For example, any kind of self respecting spy could go over there and just on information that was published could get all kinds of facts about our war effort, and I'm sure they did. There was one case where we got out a report about shipbuilding and the need for building more ships and the fact that the Germans were sinking "x" number of tons of our shipping every month that we had to increase the shipbuilding program. I can tell you this for a fact because I worked on that particular phase of it, and Hugh Fulton told me, I forget how many tons a month of shipping were being sunk by the
Germans. We found an article in the Library of Congress in Pic magazine -- it was sort of an imitator of Life -- and they had an article in there in which they had these exact figures on the number of tons of American shipping that were being sunk every month by submarine action. We took that information out of there because we figured that it was pretty accurate, and when we submitted that report, which we did to all affected agencies for their comments, the Secretary of the Navy Knox, at that time, was absolutely indignant and the admirals came up to see Truman and they said, "This is a violation, this is giving away secrets," and we showed them the article in Pic magazine. And they were terribly embarrassed, and we said, "We just submitted the report to see if you thought it was accurate." And they said, "Yes, it's accurate."
FUCHS: How do you suppose that magazine got that?
HEHMEYER: They took an educated guess. And again, they probably read various publications and pieced the accounts together. I always felt that we were very lax as a country on this. It was really ludicrous, I mean, right after Pearl. Harbor they had guards on every door at the Senate Office Building. They had some
soldiers up on the roof and they had what purported to be an antiaircraft gun and it was wooden -- it was a dummy. I don't know who they were trying to fool with that. But this was to try to show that the Congress was aware of the fact that there was a war on. And for some weeks there, to get in the building we had to show passes and all this identification, but it was very perfunctory and they had -- at first for about a week after Pearl Harbor, they would search everybody going in the building. Then they went to the other extreme, of course they took the guards off because there got to be some public criticism about that and anybody could have gotten in that building. Really, I mean anyone could have walked in there. Now, our files, I mean our confidential files, were locked, but they certainly weren't put in any vault, and lots of the stuff in our files might have been very helpful to the enemy. I don't think they ever got ahold of it because I don't think that they ever thought that that might be a source of a lot of information. But on security, I don't think that the Congress is at all mindful of this. As you know, the Congress operates on its own, just as the executive branch does and the judicial branch. So they set their own rules. And
each Senator's office and each Congressman's office is sort of a little world into itself and sometimes each one of them operates differently. It's amazing sometimes. I sometimes feel that we all make a lot of progress not because of the Congress but despite the Congress. They sometimes operate on a strange basis.
FUCHS: Does anything occur to you about the Committee's relations with General Somervell?
HEHMEYER: Well, that was the Alcan highway project and the Canol project, as I recall. All I know there, again -- and I'd have to go back to the record -- but I'd say that the cross-examination of General Somervell that Hugh Fulton conducted was brilliant. He had that man admitting things and saying things that a general of his stature should not have had to admit, that they were lax. That is really one of the few relatively unpublicized reports. The record of General Somervell's and the cross-examination of Hugh Fulton was a brilliant piece of work.
FUCHS: What about Max Lowenthal? Did he ever come to your attention? He was counsel for the Interstate Commerce Committee earlier.
HEHMEYER: I didn't know that man. I remember his name but
I didn't know him.
FUCHS: How did you come to leave the Committee?
HEHMEYER: Well, I just figured it was time. I wanted to get back and I knew it would be a temporary thing. It's interesting to note that the Chairman of the first Committee became President of the United States and the Chairman of the subsequent Committee, Robert Kennedy, became Attorney General, and the Chief Counsel for that same committee is now Secretary of State. It's very interesting that they all come from that basic investigating "apparatus," you might say; although, of course, the Committee changed, and its functions changed, and the directors changed; but it all really started with that Committee that was formed in March of 1941.
FUCHS: Did you know William Rogers?
HEHMEYER: Didn't know him. Didn't know Rogers. I met him; I knew Frip Flanagan who was the Chief Counsel prior to Rogers and they were very close friends. Frip was on our investigating staff, Francis Flanagan. He's now with the Grace Company, the holding company in Washington. In fact, I saw Frip about two summers ago; he's got eight children.
FUCHS: Is that right?
HEHMEYER: He was a friend and had been a former FBI agent and came on the staff through Senator Mead.
FUCHS: Were any of your release dates violated on your press releases?
HEHMEYER: I really can't remember that happening. We were very careful -- I tried to accommodate both the morning and afternoon papers. It wasn't as complicated as it is now with television. You put an a.m. release on something, that means 10 o'clock at night, you see, because they figure that an a.m. release like the New York Daily News is on the streets about 10 o'clock, the next day's paper. So we always tried to work it out that one report would come out for an a.m. release and another for a p.m. release. I don't recall, some of them may have jumped it, but it certainly was nothing serious. And again we tried to make sure that the release was a general release to all the press at one time; and did it through the press gallery where they had their own committee and their own sort of operation where they observed the rules. We got very little of any kind of a reporter going off on his own and breaking some release. I don't recall this happening; there may have been some, but they weren't serious.
FUCHS: I wonder if you would have a comment about this
statement from Mr. Truman's Memoirs:
Senators Brewster and Vandenberg tried at times to make another Committee on the Conduct of the War out of our committee by attempting to bring the Congress into control of the operations of the military establishment, but we never permitted that to happen.
HEHMEYER: I don't remember Vandenberg being mixed up in that, but he might have been. I think Senator Brewster was a very ambitious man and you know all the trouble he got into in the Garson case. There again, that was after my time; but Truman again was very, very mindful of that kind of maneuvering within the Senate and he was determined to keep that committee on a straight path and I think he succeeded very well.
FUCHS: Harry Toulmin wrote a book on the Truman Committee called Diary of Democracy. Are you familiar with that?
HEHMEYER: I don't think I read the book. When did he write that? Harry Toulmin.
FUCHS: I just wondered just who he was, if you know of him and how he happened to write a book on the Truman Committee.
HEHMEYER: I would like to know and I would like to read the book. When did it come out, do you know?
FUCHS: Well, I'm sorry, I have read the book, but I don't recall the date. It seems to me that it was early in
Mr. Truman's Presidency but I couldn't say.
HEHMEYER: Well, let me put it this way. I don't know the book and I don't know the man. I don't know where he would have gotten his information about the Committee firsthand, because he was not on the Committee staff. He may have gone through a lot of the records, you know they were all turned over to the Archives, all the Committee records were, all the files. They were broken down into I don't know how many categories. I think I'll have to look that book up.
FUCHS: Yes. I believe you wrote an article in 1947 for Parade magazine on the President's health, or were writing one.
HEHMEYER: Yes, I wrote that article, it was on the cover. The way that worked out, he was in Key West and the Associated Press had taken a very fine color picture of President Truman sitting in a camp chair with a cork hat down at his side. They wanted a story to go with it, so they contacted me. At that time I wasn't working for the Committee; I was on my own as a public relations man. I interviewed Charlie Ross and Matt Connelly and a number of the people down at the White House to get the information on that story. It
was not so much on his health other than the fact that Truman stayed in good health because he was able to sort of disconnect his thinking apparatus from all his problems. That did appear in Parade.
FUCHS: Then you went from the Committee into public relations work?
HEHMEYER: In Washington, and then went out to the West Coast, worked briefly out there with a college classmate, and then the Cotton Council thing opened up and I came back East. I was glad to get back East.
FUCHS: How did you happen to come with the Cotton Council?
HEHMEYER: Someone that I knew was working for the Council and he recommended me. I had an interview out there on the West Coast with the president of the Council and the executive vice president, and that's how I came with them and I've been with them ever since.
FUCHS: I have been told that Mr. Truman wouldn't accept fees for speeches, articles about the Truman Committee and that one time, and this may have been I don't know, in connection with the article in American Magazine, they didn't want to return a fee that he had got, he threw a party for the...
HEHMEYER: That's right, he did.
FUCHS: Was that...
HEHMEYER: That's the same article. I'm trying to remember, the fee was something like five or six hundred dollars. After the hearing that I told you about in the court up there, Hugh was so relieved by the whole thing and so was I. We had a small party on some of that money, Hugh and I did, invited some friends over and then we got back to Washington and the balance of the money President Truman used for a party for the staff over in the Capitol building. That's how it was spent. That's a true story.
FUCHS: You know of Joe Feeney in connection with the Committee in any way, later served in the White House with Mr. Truman?
HEHMEYER: I didn't know him. Again, keep in mind a lot of people bumped in and out of those offices and sometimes they might go to Senator Truman's office and as far as the staff was concerned they might not have ever heard of the man. And the opposite might be true, some people would come down -- like Tony Gazda that I mentioned to you, he worked through Senator Green's office, he used to come down and see me in room 160 and I doubt that he was ever in Senator Truman's office. He might have been. He might have gone in there to thank him for sending so much brass to Aberdeen.
FUCHS: Thank you very much, I think that's all that I have now. [Mr. Hehmeyer later wrote an interesting anecdote for this memoir which is appended. See Appendix II. J. R. Fuchs, HSTL].
HEHMEYER: All right.
FUCHS: I appreciate it very much.
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List of Subjects Discussed
Acheson, Dean, 86-88
Ansberry, Peter, 103-104
Atomic bomb project, knowledge of, by Senator Harry S. Truman, 93-95
Atomic bomb project, and Truman Committee, 93-95
Belair, Felix, 34-35
Boyle, William, 96-97
Canol project, 114
Chandler, Albert B. ("Happy"), 78-79, 81
Clark, Charles, 67-70
Clark, Tom, and appointment as Attorney General, 61-62
Connelly, Matthew, 82-83
Cotton Council, 119
Cue magazine, 1
Ferguson, Homer, 81
Flanagan, Francis, 115
Fulton, Hugh, 1-3, 50-66
Gazda, Tony, 10-18
Halley, Rudy, 66-67
Harry Truman, President (book), 49, 52-54, 57-58
Heflin, Lydia Lee, 109
Hehmeyer, Alexander, 1, 3
Higgins, Andrew Jackson, 4-9
Higgins landing craft, 8-9
Jones, Jesse, 36
Knowles, Miles, 74-75
Lathrom, Donald, 98
Lewis, John L., 37-39
Lindley, Ernest K., 34
Locke, Edwin A., Jr., 79-80
Lowe, Frank, 15-16, 75-76
McNaughton, Frank, 41-46, 55
Maletz, Herbert, 99
Manley, Chet, 28
Martinez, Joseph, 99-100
Mead, Senator James M., 102-103
Meader, George, 101-102
Mr. President (book), 59
National Inventor's Council, 104
Oerlikon gun, 10-14
Pauley, Edwin, 90
Pepper, Claude, 81
Robinson, Harold G., 22-23
Sawyer, Haven, 101
Stone, Izzy, 36
This Man Truman (book), 42-52, 54
Toomey, Marion G., 105-106
Trohan, Walter, 49-50
and American Magazine controversy, 28-31
Truman, Harry S.:
financing of, 4-5
Fulton, Hugh, role of, 21-25, 36-38, 71-72, 91-92
and Lewis, John L., 37-39
offices, location of, 108-110
personnel of, 5-7, 19
and press relations, 28-31, 34-35, 40-41
and press releases, 25-27, 116
reports of, preparation, 24-25
and secrecy, wartime, 111-114
and Senator James Mead as Chairman, 32-33
Senatorial members, 19-20, 106-108, 110
Truman's leadership of, 21-22, 39, 78, 83-85
atomic bomb project, knowledge of, 93-94
Tunnell, Senator James M., 87-88
election of 1948, reaction to, 55-57
fees, on Truman Committee, 119-120
and Fulton, Hugh, personal relationship with, 60-66
managerial methods of, 84-86
nomination as Vice-President, comments on, 83-84, 89-90
and This Man Truman (book), 46-49
as Vice-President, 88-89
Vaughan, Harry, 15-16, 73-74
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