Oral History Interview with
Member California Senate, 5th Senatorial District, 1941-49; Secretary, Shasta County Democratic Central Committee, 1941-48; Vice Chairman, California State Central Committee for 2nd Congressional District, 1948; Vice Chairman, California Democratic State Central Committee, 1948-51; and U.S. District Judge Northern District California, 1950-76.
Judge Oliver J. Carter
San Francisco, California
February 26, 1970
by James R. Fuchs
[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 It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.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 March, 1977
Harry S. Truman Library
[Top of the Page | Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]
Oral History Interview with
Judge Oliver J. Carter
San Francisco, California
February 26, 1970
by James R. Fuchs
FUCHS: Judge Carter, would you begin by giving us a little of your personal background, when and where you were born, your education, and some of your business or professional experience before you went into politics?
CARTER: Well, just a brief resume. I was born in San Francisco in 1911, while my father was attending law school here. Shortly after he graduated from law school, we moved north to Redding, California where I was raised. I went to public schools there, and from there I attended Stanford University. Then I went
to Hastings Law School at .the University of California and obtained my bachelors degree in law there. Then I went back to Redding where I practiced law in my father's office, starting in 1935. My father was appointed to the Supreme Court of California in September of 1939, but prior to that time he had been elected to the State Senate of California in January of 1939, during the period of the term of Governor Culbert L, Olson. Of course, prior to that he had been the northern California chairman of the Olson campaign. Now, Olson was the first Democratic governor of California in forty-four years. So, needless to say, I was involved in Democratic politics, having been active in the Roosevelt campaigns in the thirties and in my own father's campaigns and in United States Senator Downey's campaign in '38.
FUCHS: In what capacity were you active in these campaigns?
CARTER: Well, in Young Democrats. My father was a great friend of Senator Downey's. Downey being a Sacramento lawyer who was personally acquainted with my father, who was a man who was well-known all up and down the Sacramento Valley. He was also a Democrat and we supported him in those days. He was elected and he defeated William McAdoo, who was the so-called administration candidate and was the Democratic incumbent at that time.
FUCHS: This is Sheridan Downey?
CARTER: Sheridan Downey.
FUCHS: He defeated McAdoo in what year?
CARTER: In 1938. In that same year Olson was elected Governor of California, he defeated
the then Governor of California Frank Merriam, who was running for re-election. Olson, of course, was in turn defeated by Earl Warren in 1942 when Olson ran for re-election. Warren had been elected Attorney General of California in 1938, and he was a public officeholder during that period of time. When my father was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1939 there was a vacancy then in his office of State senator. It could not be filled by gubernatorial appointment and it was just allowed to remain vacant and no special election was called; and in the regular election of 1940 I ran for the office of State senator and was elected.
FUCHS: Why was there no special election called?
CARTER: Just because there were no sessions in operation at that time. The 1939 session was over and there was no regular session until
1941 when the newly elected senator of 1941 would take office. So, because there was no regular session to be called, the Governor decided that it would be wiser to let the people elect a senator at the regular election. And, while there were some special sessions that were in operation during that interim period they were not of sufficient importance that it was felt that it was necessary to call a special election. Based on that, I ran during the 1940 period, and was nominated on the Democratic ticket and was elected in November.
FUCHS: Where were you living then?
CARTER: In Redding.
FUCHS: You were practicing law there?
CARTER: Practicing law there. So, I started my term as State senator in January of 1941. I
was age 29, and it was my first experience at holding elected public office. I had previously been an assistant district attorney of Shasta County, which was an appointive office, for two years; but that was a part-time job and I left that but stayed in private practice. But the first elective office I held was the office of State senator. I had never had any legislative experience before and so I devoted myself to the legislative work and attended those sessions. As a legislator I was also automatically a member of the State Central Committee for the party. All of the legislators are automatically members of the committee. I was also designated as a member of the executive committee of the State Central Committee for the Second Congressional District, in which congressional district I resided. At that time the principal Democratic
leader in that area was a man by the name of Francs J. Carr, who was called Judge Carr, and he was a Democratic leader of some importance in our area. He was a very fine man and took quite an interest in me personally. I was very well acquainted with his children, and his sons who were active in public affairs. Two of them were lawyers and one was an engineer and they have since distinguished themselves in the public life of California and of the country. But, through him I became well acquainted with the personnel and people who were connected with statewide Democratic politics at the organizational level of the State Central Committee.
FUCHS: Who were some of these people?
CARTER: Well, the then chairman was William M. Malone. I also became acquainted with the
man who followed him, who was a man by the name of John McEnery. And, of course, then Jimmy [James] Roosevelt was elected State chairman and he was the immediate chairman to precede me in office. McEnery was a vice-chairman from the north. Under our system here we have a State chairmanship that goes from north to south every two years and the office of State chairman is held for two years. One two-year period is held by someone from southern California and one two-year period is held by someone from northern California. And in the 1948 to 1950 period it was designated to go to the north. At that time it was difficult to get anyone to accept the burdens of that office, I suppose, principally because the Presidential campaign of 1948 was approaching. All of the other races were pretty much attached to that Presidential
campaign and it was rather anticipated that the Democratic candidates were going to take a beating in 1948. A number of people talked to me as to whether or not I might be interested. Among them was Bill Malone and John McEnery and a number of others who suggested that as a young and active Democrat in the State legislature it might be wise for me to attempt to undertake this task.
FUCHS: They were both residents of this area?
CARTER: Of northern California, yes.
FUCHS: Malone being from...
CARTER: From San Francisco, and McEnery from San Jose. They both understood the difficulties. First of all they had both been in the office of State chairman or vice-chairman, as the case might be, from the
northern part of the State. They were both active in Democratic Party politics at a statewide level.
The chairman and the vice-chairman are elected by the State Central Committee. The State Central Committee then had some three or four hundred members in it, maybe five hundred, who were delegates to the convention, who then voted for a chairman and a state chairman and for the members of the executive committee. These were all elected by the committee.
FUCHS: Did you have some opposition, then?
CARTER: No, I had no opposition. They finally agreed to offer my name. They caucused by congressional districts, and the congressional districts then agreed, or either disagreed, as the case might be. They all had the opportunity to nominate candidates if they desired --
but it ended up that my name was the only name presented and there was no opposition.
FUCHS: James Roosevelt had no candidate?
CARTER: No, he was from the south and he understood that there was to be no one from the south who would run to...
FUCHS: I thought there might have been someone in the north that he wanted to have succeed him.
CARTER: No, he was perfectly willing to support me. No, he was not opposed to me because when he was state chairman I was very active in working with him. He always expressed a warm support for my position. I think he also urged me to run, if my memory serves me correctly. I don't know whether he was very active in that, but my memory is that he urged
me to be a candidate, because my memory is that it took some urging to get me to do it. I wasn't too much interested in accepting that office at that time. I was also concerned about whether or not there was, as the political leaders put it, any winning in that one. You don't like to preside over a losing campaign. I finally concluded, however, that, win or lose, it was a task that was worth doing. This was an opportunity to give leadership to some people who had a real cause, and, if that were true, who was I to say no. If I was willing to give my efforts, in an honest and conscientious cause, and do this with effort, I couldn't see that there would be anything improper or wrong in it, and that couldn't do anything but redound to my benefit. I could learn many things from it. I was a young man and it was part of the learning
process and I didn't see anything wrong with that. The only real problem was what compensation were you going to get for the time spent. Now, I'm not talking about dollar compensation because no dollars could ever have compensated me for the hours that I put in in that 1948 campaign or some of the hours afterwards in the Central Committee State chairmanship's work. Those were some of the most exhausting periods of time that I have ever spent in my life. Political campaigning may be thrilling and may be very alluring to the people who were in it, but it's darned hard work. It's very taxing physically. I was young and strong and I was able to withstand it, but it was very rigorous, and I wouldn't want to attempt to do it again. Having said that, I submitted myself to the task and undertook to work at it. Do you have a question?
FUCHS: Well, for the record, in what month was the State convention?
CARTER: In August of 1948.
FUCHS: In other words you were elected after the national party's nomination?
CARTER: Oh, yes. Now, I should point out this. Before this, of course, there had been a great deal of political activity and I was on the Presidential delegation, that is to the national party convention. This was a separate thing. We submitted a Presidential primary list of delegates to the national convention. I was the one from the Second Congressional District who'd go, there were a number of other people. We all got together and caucused by congressional districts as to who the delegates were going to be and that ticket was presented. James Roosevelt was on that ticket; Malone was on
it; and there were, oh, a number of people.
FUCHS: Now, this ticket is on the ballot in the primary?
CARTER: In the primary election.
FUCHS: And you're committed to a particular candidate?
CARTER: Yes. We were committed to President Truman at that time. This is one of the things that you're supposed to do. This was one of the real problems that we had with Roosevelt at that time -- whether he would live up to that commitment? And he took the position that this was not a binding and absolute commitment; it was just simply a statement of purpose at the time.
FUCHS: Do you recall anything specifically about your conversations, if you had any, with Mr.
Roosevelt at that time?
CARTER: Oh, I had conversations with Roosevelt and many others because I was working very closely with Jack Shelley, who was the chairman of our California delegation to the national committee. We interviewed every delegate to the convention on our trip. First of all you have to understand how the delegation gets together. First of all in those days we went by train. Most of us went by train from California to Philadelphia. The convention was in Philadelphia. We had a special train and it was made up in San Francisco and in Los Angeles. The trains left San Francisco and left Los Angeles and met in Ogden, Utah. These are Southern Pacific trains, and we went over the SP lines and that's where the Southern Pacific meets the Union Pacific and
then it goes on. There's SP, UP, and what is that. I think it's Rock Island from then on into Chicago and then it goes from Chicago over B&O or on in through Pittsburgh and then into Philadelphia, and that's the way we went. The point is that we were separate sections, north and south, until we met at Ogden, Utah. Well, most of us came to San Francisco and joined the train although some joined in Sacramento on the northern section. And this was a train with sleeping accommodations and eating accommodations. Of course, there were no communications between trains while the trains were en route. They didn't have telephonic communications nor did we have radio communication. Except for what could be done at station stops along the way, there was very little communication between trains. So, actually speaking, the southern delegation
and the northern delegations were doing their own politicking on the way over to Ogden, and there's where they met and the two separate sections got together. So what we attempted to do from the north was to poll our people carefully to ascertain where they stood on this question: Were they going to stand with Truman or weren't they? Were they going to stand by their commitment that was made when they went on the ballot or weren't they? We found that we had an almost solid group from the north, with a very few people who were either equivocal or not sure. By and large the northern group was very strong for standing by its commitment to President Truman and there were no "ifs" or "ands" about that.
FUCHS: In other words they wanted to go beyond
the first ballot?
CARTER: Right, stay with him until it was concluded. This was the basic approach although some were stronger than others. I think most of the delegates wanted to stay with him until the delegation released them to do what they wanted. Then, when we got to Ogden we had a committee of our people from the north talk to the people in the south, to find out where they stood, and we found out who was with us and who wasn't. In that respect I think we did a better politicking job. This was a matter of communication. We found out who was where on that southern group. We found a great many of people who were not willing to stand on that proposition and were wanting to jump the traces on the first ballot. Some were wanting to bolt on the first ballot and others were saying no, we'll stay. There was
a small group who would hang fast. There was a larger group who would stay with us until the delegation released us. And then there were those who wouldn't change at all. But this was a very small group.
FUCHS: Among the dissidents, was there a consensus for another individual in particular?
CARTER: No, this was, of course, the weakness, you might call it, of the opposition that they had no central figure to whom they could attach their loyalty. Roosevelt was one of those who appeared to be more interested in attempting to get someone other than Truman. His thesis seemed to be that Truman couldn't be re-elected and they ought to have someone who could be elected; this was his basic premise. At first he talked to Bill Douglas, then to General Eisenhower, who later became
FUCHS: Eisenhower had by this time more or less taken himself out. Earlier in the year, as you well know, Roosevelt had been very strong for Eisenhower according to public reports.
CARTER: Yes, this we understood, and also by the time we got to Pittsburgh Douglas was out.
FUCHS: So, Roosevelt didn't have any personal choice?
CARTER: He didn't have anyone. But the interesting thing was that Roosevelt really hadn't counted his noses, and we had. When I say we, I'm talking about the group from the north who were, of course, standing by their commitment and would not depart from their commitments to President Truman until the delegation released them. This was the basic proposition
that we took. We had our delegates from the northern end pretty well committed and we found we had a goodly number from the southern group already lined up by the time that we got pretty far away.
Pretty soon I think I said it to Jimmy, "You had better count your votes, Jimmy." And by the time he got to Pittsburgh he issued a statement in which he said he didn't think the California delegation was going to leave President Truman. He had counted his votes by then, and that's the way it stood. I think the work that was done, in terms of discussing it with all of the people as individuals and adopting a policy that we've committed ourselves and we are going to stay with this, and letting each person speak his piece, and letting them know that we stood for our commitment, and operating on that basis, did
a great deal to solidify the delegation. Having done that, then we had a basic understanding from which to proceed.
At the convention, first of all I was on the platform committee, and I was on it with Ruth -- I think it was Ruth Murray -- Murray is her name, but I forget what her first name is now. A lovely lady from California. I'm trying to remember her first name.
FUCHS: I don't know who was on that committee. Was there one committee, Resolutions and Platform? Were they the same committee?
CARTER: No. There were some resolutions that we worked on -- maybe it's Resolutions and Platform; but I know we were there to iron out or to develop the platform of the national convention and I spent hours on it. We had several sessions; went over every item. They had a
pre-platform committee, I wasn't on that, which had done the basic work, and had done a very fine job. First, on the civil rights section, Hubert Humphrey had a substitute minority report.
FUCHS: How about Andrew Biemiller, did you know him?
CARTER: I knew Andy, he was on the committee. You bet your life I knew him. Esther Murray, that's her name. Esther was a congressional delegate. She was a great friend and nominee of Helen Gahagan Douglas.
FUCHS: Now, were there two, you and Murray, Californians?
CARTER: Yes, we were the two Californians on that platform committee. We both signed the minority report on the civil rights plank,
and we reported back to our delegation what the civil rights plank was and that we had been outvoted. We had voted for the minority and we recommended to our delegation that the delegation support the minority; our delegation did support the minority plank.
FUCHS: Now, is this done on recommendation and instructions from your total delegation, or is this your own position and recommendation to your delegation?
CARTER: Well, we voted. Of course, we're free agents to vote as we please, but we reported back to our delegation as to how we voted; and we were, of course, subject to directions. If we didn't agree with what our delegation wanted to do we had either to decide that we would no longer represent the state on the committee and let someone else be substituted in our
place, or either we would have to agree, I suppose. I don't know what the answer would be because neither of us were in that position. We agreed with our delegation, number one, and our delegation agreed with us.
FUCHS: It sounds like your committee was certainly liberal and your delegates were liberal and that the Biemiller...
CARTER: Yes. Very strongly so. I don't mean to say that it was 100 percent, but it was strongly in favor of the Humphrey-Biemiller proposal. We signed it with them. We're two of the four.
FUCHS: How do you think Mr. Truman truly felt about the majority and minority?
CARTER: I never had a chance to talk to him. My impression was that several of the
pro-Truman people tried to talk us out of joining the minority on the basis that it was just causing trouble. I just took the position that maybe we needed some trouble but we got some fight into this thing and the answer was that that wasn't the way I felt and I wasn't going to do anything that I didn't think was right. So, the answer was "no," and they didn't tell me I should do otherwise. Nobody took that position. I know Howard McGrath talked to me for a little while. When he saw I felt the way I felt, he said, "No, you do what you think is right." He was not commanding that I do something different. He was the national chairman at the moment. I don't know whether Bill Boyle talked to me. Who else was there? Was Oscar Chapman there? I don't remember whether Oscar talked to me, but Oscar was around. There were a
number of people there and they were pretty influential. They were fine people but they were not aggressive or demanding about it. They were very understanding, and they were very understanding with Hubert.
FUCHS: Of course Oscar would probably be more liberal than some of the others?
CARTER: Yes, I agree, Oscar was never -- no one was angrily telling me I must do something. They disagreed with me, I must say. They said they thought that this wasn't a matter of -- they were more fearful about Alabama withdrawing. They had the threat, you know, of secession and Alabama did walk out. And I said, "So what if they do walk out. We have to face up to this." But this is what they were concerned about. As a matter of fact, Chairman Shelley, our chairman, was
the fellow that went over the top and got the microphone. You know our delegation was up near the front and we were the ones that led the charge.
FUCHS: Shelley was the chairman of the California delegation?
FUCHS: Roosevelt as the State Central Committee chairman was not chairman of the delegation?
FUCHS: I see.
CARTER: No, the chairman of the delegation was Shelley.
FUCHS: Now, is he elected to that position?
CARTER: Yes, he was elected by the delegation.
And this was done at a much earlier time in California at a meeting in San Luis Obispo, as I remember it. At the Anderson Hotel in San Luis Obispo. It's an old-time place. You've heard of Anderson's Pea Soup? Well, that same Anderson family that made the pea soup also owned the hotel there. But we had a meeting there in which we elected our delegation officers, and Shelley was elected chairman. He was a dynamic chairman and a big strong fellow and a very capable leader. He had a lot of dynamics. He was able to handle what might have been an otherwise unruly crowd. How many members were there on that delegation? I think there was forty some odd, if my memory serves me right.
FUCHS: Let's go back just a moment now. Jimmy Roosevelt was opposing President Truman in
the middle of '47, and in '48,one of the things, apparently, was opposition to his foreign policy of foreign aid, and lack of appeal to the United Nations.
CARTER: My memory of Jimmy Roosevelt when he was state chairman was that when he came into the northern area he really worked in terms of covering the territory and visiting the places where I thought he should go. He was very willing to do all the things we asked him to do. Yet, I do remember he had this area of disagreement with Truman. I read about it in the newspapers to the extent that it was given publicity, but he did not discuss those things with me and I didn't discuss them with him, so that I'm not in a position to really comment on them. My area of discussion with Jimmy essentially revolved around trying to
educate him in the area of the Central Valley project and California's local affairs, which he had to get a lot of education in. He had a prodigious capacity to absorb information. He was just like a human sponge. He was a remarkable person. How long he could retain it I don't know, but he was very competent in this area. I suppose he did many other things and then he may have been involved in this other area, but I just didn't have the opportunity or the experience of discussing it with him. You see where I lived and where I was active, in the Redding area -- and that's where I was in those days, in '47 -- I was active in the legislature. I was either in Sacramento or Redding. Well, it was at least six hundred miles from Los Angeles where Jimmy lived. It was only when he would come up to our area that we would see him. You see, we are a long
ways away. Redding is. Now Sacramento is closer. Sacramento is four hundred miles, say, from Los Angeles; so you're talking about distances now.
FUCHS: You didn't come to San Francisco until you were appointed judge?
CARTER: I didn't live in San Francisco until I was appointed to the bench. I was here quite often when I was State chairman. I really came here in 1949. I practically lived out here in 1949, but I traveled down here by plane all the other times. That's what I was talking about, this exhaustive way of life; I had to be on the road all the time. I had an office here in San Francisco that I was at most all the time and I was up and down this State. I spent a tremendous amount of time on that job as State chairman. I was
on the go. So, that was not very easy and I can understand how we could have not discussed this. There were no reasons for us to discuss it in particular and unless somebody would have asked me to discuss it with him and then there would have been some reason for me to -- and at that time there would have been none -- and then, until late spring of 1948, nobody even mentioned State chairmanship. I think the first man to mention my being a candidate for State chairman was Bill Malone who talked to me sometime, I think, in June of 1948.
FUCHS: I gather that distances are so great here that, even though you are all Democrats, you wouldn't normally go to a big function in Los Angeles, say?
CARTER: No, not unless I was State chairman. Then I would go and not always, only on most unusual
occasions. That would have to be something. You run this thing like two separate states when you talk about politics. They're not small units. They are huge and they are huge in size and they are huge in their population content. So, it's not an easy task. As a matter of fact, organizationally it's an impossible thing. When we talk about organization we're talking about the loosest kind of thing. I must say that we didn't have anything.
To illustrate this, I remember one time when one of the people in the national committee said, "Say, Oliver, we'd like to have you go down to San Diego and take care of something for us. We've got a problem down there." They were talking about national committee problems. He called me in Redding. I happened to be at home in Redding.
And I said, "Do you know what you're asking me to do? If I asked you to go to Tallahassee, Florida and take care of something, what would you say to me?"
He said, "I'd say, well that's a pretty long trip."
I said, "That's what you're asking me to do."
"Oh," he says, "it isn't that far is it?"
I said, "It's farther from Redding to San Diego than it is from Washington to Tallahassee, Florida. Now, you just think that one over."
"Oh, well," he said, "no, I'm not asking you to do that."
I said, "Now, if I can get him on the telephone and do something, I'll do that. But don't tell me to run down in just a couple of hours."
So, that's what I'm talking about. We had all kinds of problems. We didn't have the air accommodations then that we have now but we had reasonably good air transportation between San Francisco and Los Angeles. I don't mean to say we couldn't get transportation down there, and when you got in the air you got there reasonably quick. But, oh, boy, getting back here at 3 o'clock in the morning and back in the office at 9 after you'd be at one of those affairs down there and stay there until midnight, and you'd catch a plane and get here at 3, oh boy, that's too much. All right, you've heard my lament, now let's get on with the better part of it.
FUCHS: I have a question about something that occurred in Los Angeles that you probably didn't have brought to your attention, at
least not very forcefully. This was in June of '47 when there was a Democratic Jackson Day dinner, and Mrs. Roosevelt was the principal speaker. Some of the people from Washington that were coming out were Gael Sullivan of the Democratic National Committee and Secretary [John W.] Snyder. There seemed to have been quite a hassle about this because apparently Edwin Pauley, if these documents are correct, prevailed upon Sullivan to just go back home and Secretary Snyder was called back, or at least didn't attend the dinner. It was felt that this was a slight to Mrs. Roosevelt. Do you have any recollection of that?
CARTER: No, I don't have any recollection of that. Undoubtedly if it did occur, I don't know that I would have given any thought to it so that
I would remember it; because we had so many of those things coming out of Los Angeles that it would have taken a Philadelphia lawyer to straighten them out. They were just too difficult to keep track of. Those wars that were going on down there were constant. Those people cut one another up just for lunch. It's a common practice.
FUCHS: It was shortly after this that Jimmy Roosevelt wrote the President and asked that he invite Pauley and Mrs. Edward Heller, who you know is the...
CARTER: I knew Mrs. Heller. I knew Ellie very well. She was national committeewoman when I was there. I had just tremendous cooperation from her. There was one person who did work with me very closely and we cleared with one another. Now, I did keep in contact with
her while I was State chairman. She was just a superb official of the Party. She was not officious or commanding. She was a very, very helpful person. One of the finest.
FUCHS: Apparently Jimmy Roosevelt thought that there should be a meeting of the three of them with the President to help to foster unity in the Party. By this time he was talking that Truman could win if there was some unity brought about in the State Democratic organization. This, it seemed to me, probably came out of this episode earlier in the month when they felt that Pauley had something to do with this slight to Mrs. Roosevelt.
CARTER: Well, I do know that Jimmy felt that he didn't get cooperation from Pauley and Pauley wasn't very happy with Jimmy. I do know that
from having talked to both of them, but I didn't have much to do with Pauley. I only saw him very few times. He moved in many ways. He was a very skillful man and I'm not about to say that he didn't use his power in ways that I never even saw. On the other hand, I know that there was friction between Pauley and Jimmy. However, I can't say that it stemmed from one side or the other. I just don't know where it began or ended. My inclination was to just leave it alone, and not to either add to it or subtract from it but to try to get along with what we had and try to make it go. Use what we had and say, "Well, Jimmy will you do this," and to Pauley, "Will you do this," if Pauley was needed; and I don't think that we used Pauley too much. But to the extent that we wanted him I had no hesitation asking him would he do this. My
philosophy of how to approach the problem, is to put them all to work. I think it was Tolan who said my answer to that is to get above it all.
FUCHS: Who said that?
CARTER: Jack Tolan. Get above it all. Have a bigger job for all of them, that's the answer to it. And I think that philosophically that's the answer. Let everybody get to work. I think he's got an excellent idea. He was speaking down to earth-wise, I was speaking altruistically; but I think he's right. I think he's just as right as can be. Get above it all and give them something to do. Put them all to work. If you really put your mind to it you can take all of these dissident forces and let them work in their own way towards a common end. I don't think
they are at such swords point or going such divergent ways, that you can't harness them and get them all working towards an objective. If you get enough of this going, why, then you've got a big powerful force. Apparently something happened in '48 which none of us saw or understood, which produced this magnificent result. Well, in any event, it was an experience.
In that delegation thing there were a number of incidents. I'm sure that Pauley had his people on that delegation. I'm sure he did.
FUCHS: Was Will Rogers, Jr. on that delegation?
CARTER: I don't know whether he was, but he certainly was active during that time. He had run two years before, in 1946, against Bill Knowland and had been defeated. While he was
still active around there he more or less started to withdraw. He was not as active then as he had been before.
FUCHS: Do you have any observations about him?
CARTER: Yes, I do. I did get to know him in that campaign. And I managed his northern campaign. I liked Will personally, he was quite a guy except that his metabolism didn't start to work until after 7 p.m. He was a night-time guy and he didn't seem to wake up during the day. You couldn't get him to steam up at all. Oh, I'm sure he could, but he really was much more effective in the night than he was in the daytime. And for country people that isn't a very good way to campaign. They like their people to get out early in the morning and to hit the road you know. Will didn't like to get up before noon, if he even
liked to get up then; and he liked to work way into the night. He'd work all night. I don't mean to say he was lazy or a sluggard, but he just worked a different hour schedule. He was a very decent person in his personal responses. At least he was to me. I always kind of felt that politics was not made for him, really; that he wasn't tough enough for it. He wasn't, maybe, interested enough. I don't know. Maybe he had too much of a personal fortune of his own and it wasn't necessary to him. He didn't have to fight to live. There was some lack of incentive or something or other that he wasn't as driving and forceful as I thought he ought to be. Because I thought he could have done better against Bill Knowland, I don't know what it was. We carried our county for him. We carried a few of those northern counties for him. But that wasn't too hard to do.
Politically he was salable. I don't understand it myself, I just don't think the campaign job was done. I think he'd have been a reasonably good senator, too.
FUCHS: I believe in '48 Nixon was elected as a representative, is this correct?
CARTER: He may have been elected earlier than that wasn't he?
FUCHS: Was it '46?
CARTER: In '46 I think he beat Jerry Voorhees. And then he beat Mrs. Douglas in 1950 for United States Senator. That's when Downey retired, you see. After Nixon got elected Downey resigned to give him some seniority.
FUCHS: So, they appointed Nixon even though he had already been elected.
FUCHS: He was appointed to the Downey seat.
CARTER: Surely, and that's appropriate I think. I don't think there is anything wrong with that. I think that that was the right thing to do.
Downey wasn't well. You see he had those peptic ulcers or he would have run for re-election and he should have run for re-election. He could have been elected, too, if he had run for re-election. That's my view at least. I did my best to talk him into it, I know. Clair Engle and I, and Bill Malone, we talked to him one night and the next morning his ulcer kicked up and Mrs. Downey gave us hell, I know. Oh, she was kind of wrathful. We talked long and we talked to him, we thought he wanted to do it, but he didn't. His health was such that he didn't think he ought to do it, and he had
a peptic ulcer and it kicked up on him. But I know Mrs. Downey, she was a lovely person and I felt ashamed of myself afterwards because Sheridan was a nice guy. He was kind of a loner in his personal relations, but he was a very decent human being. His son I know very well. He happens to be our present referee in bankruptcy, but he is a very fine young man. And I knew his brother Stephen, one of the finest lawyers in California, the dean of the bar of Sacramento, who was just a great lawyer. My father always said that if he got into trouble he'd have Steve Downey as his lawyer. He thought he was the greatest lawyer that he ever knew. Steve was a superb lawyer. He's better than Sheridan, and Sheridan was good. But here you have these very capable men; and Sheridan had finished his second term in the Senate, so he already
had twelve years. The question was whether he was going to go for a third one. He was getting along in years, he was up toward his late sixties. And he had a peptic ulcer. He had tensions, he had had financial difficulties, too. So, life hadn't been too easy with him, the poor guy. So, we tried to talk him into running. I know I always felt, after that night, like I'd whipped my best friend. I talked with Mrs. Downey the next day. I said to Mrs. Downey, "If he doesn't feel well, you tell him to get out of the house. We'll leave him alone."
FUCHS: Is he still living?
CARTER: No, he died. She died before he did though. He lived quite awhile. I think he died here about five years ago. But he lived for quite a little while. He was a lonely
little fellow when he died. It was tragic to see him. After she passed away he was quite lonely. Of course, that's understandable. She was a great support for him. She was a wonderful woman. But you see these things in public life where a man does lead a lonely life; he was a lonely man. He was kind of a loner in the way he operated politically. I was very interested in the way his colleagues talked about him. He really didn't belong to the club. He was very competent, able, sharp, he knew the rules, he was a brilliant man, but he didn't belong.
FUCHS: Did you ever hear Mr. Truman comment on him?
CARTER: No, I don't believe I ever talked to Truman about Sheridan. You see, Sheridan was a great friend of the people that I was close to, and we all liked Sheridan and we
wanted him to run. I managed his campaigns up there when I was just a rank kid. He was one of the few people I could even -- I ought to have been suspicious about it, I guess -- get Republicans to support up in that north country. For a man who had as many radical notions as he did, it's surprising the number of so-called solid citizens that you could get to support him. He was an amazing person the way he could reach out and get support of people. If he had run for re-election, you couldn't have beaten him with a baseball bat, he was that strong.
FUCHS: Was Mrs. Douglas your first choice after Downey?
CARTER: Well, yes, but I tried to get her not to run. He said, "I won't run if she runs."
I said, "Well, Sheridan, you ought to run and I don't think she'll run."
She said that she was going to run anyway. In my opinion he would have beaten her. Some of my friends, said that you shouldn't do that and I said, "Look, it's my business to get a Democrat elected to this office and if you want my view, Downey is the one that can get re-elected; and while I don't hesitate to say I think that Helen Douglas would make a fine Senator, I just don't think she's going to be elected, if you want an honest view." I certainly supported her. I didn't back off of t