Oral History Interview with
Assistant Secretary of the Interior, 1933-46; Under Secretary
of the Interior, 1946-49; Secretary of the Interior, 1949-53.
Oscar L. Chapman
February 9, 1973
Jerry N. Hess
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Transcript | Additional Chapman Oral History
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
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Harry S. Truman Library
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Oral History Interview with
Oscar L. Chapman
February 9, 1973
Jerry N. Hess
HESS: Mr. Chapman, to begin this morning, let's discuss the events of
1952 concerning the election. When did you first become aware that President
Truman did not intend to run for reelection in 1952?
CHAPMAN: I think that it kind of developed in my mind, and strictly in
my imagination, as to what was taking place in the administration. I began
to feel it without any expression from Mr. Truman one way or another.
He at no time ever made any expression of whether he was going to or not
going to run. But I gathered from the--you get as much from a man's smile
as you do his words; but when he was talking to me one time, I got a feeling
that he was telling me something that he wasn't saying in words.
HESS: Do you recall about when that was, what date?
CHAPMAN: Yes, that was about less than 60 days before that dinner was
that night that he...
HESS: That's right, that was March the 29th of 1952 at the National Guard
CHAPMAN: That's right.
HESS: So this was about two months before then?
CHAPMAN: Just about two months before that dinner.
HESS: What did he say...
CHAPMAN: I began to get a feeling that he was thinking in his own mind
of some new approach for his own life.
HESS: What did he say that led you to believe that?
CHAPMAN: Well, one comment he made during our little visit was a comment
about some of the--well, just for classification purposes, I'd call them
the more conservative group, some on the Hill that were critical of Mr.
Truman instead of openly
taking the lead to support him and help him.
They were letting their feet drag and weren't really helping us as they
During that conversation, as we were talking about this, he made a comment,
and he was looking at me when he said it, and I was looking him right
in the face, and as I said, a man's smile and his expression often convey
an impression of a man, more than what he's telling you, his words.
And I got an impression from him at that moment that he was thinking
of whether he should or shouldn't run. He made this comment when we were
both a little critical in our discussion with each other. We were a little
critical about a certain party who had been not helping us but handicapping
us a little bit, and we made a comment and he said, "You know, what they
don't know is I don't have to run for President." And he was looking
at me right in the face, and I caught a grin on his face when he said that.
I said, "No, you don't have to, Mr. President, but you have an option,
in this case. Not many people will ever have a chance to have the option
that you have, because you have served, for all practical purposes, practically
all of Roosevelt's fourth term." You see, Roosevelt was elected on the
fourth term, but he served, what, up until April?
HESS: From January 20th until April the 12th.
HESS: Two or three months, something like that.
CHAPMAN: Something like that, but Truman for all practical purposes served...
HESS: Just about eight years.
CHAPMAN: That's right, about eight years. And that law, the spirit of
that law was really carried out the way Truman did it, the fact that he had...
HESS: Even though he was exempted.
CHAPMAN: He was exempted through a technicality here of a situation, but...
HESS: The 22nd Amendment, was it not? I think it is.
CHAPMAN: I believe it was. Yes, that was a Norris amendment; don't you
remember that was a Norris amendment that changed the inauguration date.
HESS: I'm not sure, but the amendment that limited the times that a President
could serve and cut it down to two terms was passed during Mr. Truman's
administration, but he was specifically exempted in the wording of the
HESS: It said something or other; the present holder of the office is
not bound by this amendment or something like that. He could have run
if he had wanted to.
CHAPMAN: That's right, he could have run.
HESS: In your opinion why didn't he run?
CHAPMAN: Well, I think it was just one of those things where he had his
feet on the ground and was thinking solidly with the people. Why should
he take on another four years when his own party wasn't giving him much
help or trying to give him any help, and he was carrying the whole fight
and was very successful in helping the party to hold itself together.
Had we been able to get the more conservative group and some of
the so-called liberals; a few of the liberals were not doing too much
to help us.
Now, you see, lead that over into this problem that Stevenson was faced
with in '52. Here he had been living, and did live, in a community where
the Chicago Tribune was the dominant force of all the news media
in that area, and so he saw something critical about Truman in every issue
of the paper nearly. I think that he had been influenced to some extent,
enough to feel that if he publicly tied himself to Truman, too--if he
did it too openly and too strong, he might hurt himself with the reaction
of people who considered him a Truman man to the extent that Stevenson
didn't want to be considered as anybody's man. But he didn't understand
Truman. That was the whole truth of it there and it took him about four
years after that campaign before he began to understand Truman and what
his problem was; because Truman had served up through '52, and then when
President Eisenhower defeated Stevenson for reelection in '52, Stevenson
had time to do a little thinking, lecturing and writing some articles,
and he was doing some thinking. He was quite a thinker and quite a writer
and he was an extremely conscientious man, but he was--I was more or less
like a go-between, between one group of the party element here and the
HESS: Did you ever speak with Mr. Stevenson about his views on Mr. Truman?
Did he ever convey
to you what he thought of Mr. Truman?
CHAPMAN: Oh, yes, we discussed it quite thoroughly, to a great extent.
I went out and I did this at President Truman's request, now. I went out
HESS: About what time of the year was this?
CHAPMAN: I went out on Lincoln Day and gave the Lincoln Day address,
at a luncheon that day.
HESS: February the 12th.
CHAPMAN: That's right. I went out there that day and spent the two nights
with Stevenson at his mansion there. And Mark [Marquis] Childs was there
spending a weekend with him, and I had quite a fine opportunity for really
consulting with Stevenson and talking with him, going very deeply into
his thinking about this thing. And I talked with him about this and I
raised this question. I said, "Now, Governor, if you are thinking
of running for President;" I said,
"I have not talked with you before.
Let me say to you, I would like very much to see you run and I will certainly
do everything in my power to support you, but," I said, "you've got a
problem here. You've got to find a proper way to approach it to the public."
I said, "Your expressions on Truman have been that you didn't entirely
agree with him on some of the things he handled. You didn't seem to be
in opposition to any particular policy that he was putting over; therefore,
that left it more or less a personality difference of opinions of people."
I made that statement to Stevenson.
He said, "Oscar;" he said, "my trouble is, he could get along with these
fellows like [Richard J.] Daley out here in Chicago, and," he said, "I
can't, I just can't get along with them. It isn't easy for me to get along
with them, but I have no feeling against Daley. It's just," he said, "I
find I let that run over into my thinking about Truman. I find it not easy for
me to be close to him in some way or another."
"Well," I said, "I think, maybe, if you will forgive me for saying so;
I think it's your approach to this, your method of handling it,
that has created that situation more than anything else." I said, "You
have known that Mr. Truman has spoken very kindly of you on several occasions,
and I'm talking with you today to say that Mr. Truman wanted me to tell
you that he was hoping you would run, that he'd give you every support
he could, to do whatever you wanted him to do to help you. And he would
help you, and he wanted you to run, and he told me that I could pass that
on to you and let you know."
HESS: One thing I want to clear up; this was before the announcement
at the National Guard Armory?
CHAPMAN: That was before the Armory thing.
HESS: Yes, see, the announcement at the National Guard Armory was March
CHAPMAN: That's right.
HESS: The end of the following month.
CHAPMAN: That's right.
HESS: And this was February the 12th.
CHAPMAN: That's right.
HESS: So, this was a good indication, was it not, that the President
did not intend to run?
CHAPMAN: That was one of the principal things that I put together that
he was not going to run.
HESS: When did he ask you
CHAPMAN: He never once told me that he was not going to run, one
way or another.
HESS: What did he say to you when he asked you to go to Springfield and
speak to Stevenson?
CHAPMAN: Well, we were talking and I told him I had an invitation to
go out there to speak at the
Lincoln Day luncheon at Springfield, within
a week or ten days or so, and asked if he had any message, anything he
wanted me to convey to Mr. Stevenson. I said, "The last time I spoke with
Stevenson has been probably six months before," and I said, "he spoke
in a friendly tone towards you at that time." And he did, but when I spoke
with him later, he had been worked on by somebody to get him away from
Truman, to get a break in between them, whoever it was. I couldn't tell
who was doing it, but there was also somebody influencing the President
to turn him against Stevenson, and they were doing the same thing to Stevenson,
some so-called friend.
HESS: Was it someone on Mr. Truman's staff?
CHAPMAN: No, I don't think it was anyone on his staff that was doing
it. I think it probably was one of the Senators, some Senator that I think
had a good deal of access to the President.
HESS: Who was the man?
CHAPMAN: I don't like to use his name; he's a sick man today, and I don't
want to name him, but that was Clint Anderson.
HESS: What did he have against Stevenson?
CHAPMAN: I don't think he had anything. I don't think he had anything
in the world against Stevenson. I think he really wanted Truman to run
again. I think Clint really wanted him to run again. Clint thought he
could make it.
HESS: He thought he would be reelected if he ran?
CHAPMAN: Yes, he really did. He thought he could. Now, I could be interpreting
that wrong. That's my own interpretation I'm putting on this; it's not
a direct statement from him that he said...
HESS: Did you ever hear him say that?
CHAPMAN: No. No, I never heard him say that, but what he did say, was
the opening with an option here for Stevenson and Truman to work the thing out.
He was quite fond of Truman, I thought, but Clint was a fast footworker,
when it came to the convention. He was a fast footworker, and he got around
among the delegations very well and being Secretary of the Agriculture
he made himself well-known and fairly well respected and liked among the
HESS: Then he'd run for the Senate in 1948.
CHAPMAN: Yes, that's what he did.
HESS: What was your opinion? Did you think Mr. Truman could have been
reelected in 1952 had he run?
CHAPMAN: I doubt it.
HESS: Why? What were the obstacles?
CHAPMAN: The obstacle was nothing but time. Time, and Eisenhower was
a world hero at that time, but that made him an extremely popular
HESS: One thing we ought to mention, too, is the Republican battle cry
during that particular election was "Communism, corruption, and Korea."
CHAPMAN: That was the theme song that the Republicans put across on us
HESS: The communism reference was to investigations about Communists
in Government at that particular time, particularly the State Department.
CHAPMAN: You see, [Joseph] McCarthy had stirred up the people to create
doubts in their mind. He had done a pretty good job of stirring up a lot
of people. He particularly had certain church elements very concerned
about this and of all the people in the world that could influence any
church element, Joe McCarthy was the last man in the world you would look
to to think that he'd be influencing a group of religious people. But
it fitted into their whole philosophy and religion. Let me go back a little
bit to clarify a little bit more of the importance.
We may go back to when Truman asked me to take that speaking date in
Illinois and have a good talk with Stevenson and see if "You can't get
him to announce himself as soon as he wants to, or whenever he wants to,
it doesn't matter to me. If he wants to wait until the convention, fine,
but if he'd give me a hint that he'd probably take a run at it, I would
be laying the groundwork to help him. And it's in an area in the party
where he needs some help." And that was so true. Stevenson needed help
badly from what I would call the conservative group, from them; he needed
help there more than he did anywhere else at the moment.
He had a liberal-tinged group that was supporting him, very strongly.
I was very fond of Stevenson, but he was the hardest man to work with
in terms of getting your guidelines from him to go forward on whatever
you were working on, whether it was on your program or the election, the
political phase of it. He was scared of politics; he acted like a man
that was really scared of politics, whereas Mr. Truman just enjoyed it,
like he was playing his last game of football or base ball or something.
He's going to play his last
game. He was going to have some fun with it
and Truman was having the time of his life; he really was. He was enjoying
himself and he had made up his mind. And those were the two things there
that were . . .
HESS: But you didn't have the feeling that Mr. Stevenson enjoyed politics?
HESS: He didn't like politics?
CHAPMAN: Not a bit. He didn't like politics at all.
HESS: Did he feel uncomfortable with politicians?
CHAPMAN: Yes. Oh yes, very much.
HESS: You mentioned that with Daley and others...
CHAPMAN: Yes, he was uncomfortable with them; he didn't feel like he
ever had a good rapport with the politicians.
HESS: Don't you feel that he viewed himself as more of a statesman than
CHAPMAN: Yes. That was it; he was thinking of himself more as a statesman.
I said this to him once; I ran the risk of making him misunderstand what
I meant, but I said, "Governor, some people can be statesmen, but not
until they are elected to office, and after they are elected they can
then become statesmen. But you don't usually find anybody in America that
has become a statesman unless he has shown his political strength with
the people on certain issues and things of that kind and is able to express
himself to the people in such a way that he becomes a man that's considered
HESS: What did he say, do you recall, when you told him that?
CHAPMAN: Well, yes, he said, "Well, my trouble is, Oscar, I think you
put your hands on it; that's one of my troubles. Now" he said, "I
have nothing against Mr. Daley. Daley
is--he's a typical example of my
trouble;" he said, "I don't have anything against him at all. But," he
said, "somehow or another he has created an atmosphere, and has created
a surrounding of himself, a psychological thing among the people, the
public, that think of him as a politician, something that's evil and bad."
"Well," I said, "how are you going to change that unless you change our
system of government, and I'm not for changing our system of government;
I like it like it is. I think it's pretty good; needs some changes here
and there, but it's pretty good as it is and I like it."
He himself was his own worst enemy, Stevenson was; he really had a spark
of greatness in him. He had a spark of genius, and a philosophy of concern
for the poor man and the working man, but he didn't quite know how to
approach them. He never quite--for instance, at no time did he ever reach
the depth of love for him by the poor
people, as the poor people did for
Truman. He never reached that point, at any place. Now, when I have said
you've got to be elected and show your ability to do something before
you can become a statesman, and people ought to remember that when they
are trying to be a statesman before they run for office once, try it out.
HESS: At the time that President Truman was debating this in his own
mind, whether to run, whether not to run, and he spoke to you about talking
to Stevenson, were there others under consideration by the President?
If he didn't run, was he thinking about other people who would be good
men to run on the ticket, other than Stevenson?
CHAPMAN: I didn't get any firm statement from him as I did on
Stevenson. There were others, no doubt, in his mind...
HESS: As you will recall, at the convention Senator--Vice President at
this time--Vice President
Barkley, even though age was against him...
CHAPMAN: That's right.
HESS: ...he wanted the nomination in '52.
CHAPMAN: He did want it badly.
HESS: And there were others; Estes Kefauver, who went up to New Hampshire,
ran in the primary in New Hampshire and out-polled Mr. Truman. And the
New Hampshire primary, of course, was before the President's announcement
that he was not going to run.
CHAPMAN: That's right.
HESS: There were those in the party that held it against Estes Kefauver
for doing this, for openly opposing the President before the President's
announcement that he did not want the renomination. So, there were others
who would have liked it. Did you ever hear Mr. Truman say anything about
Estes Kefauver's running against him in New Hampshire?
CHAPMAN: He thought it was an unfair political cut at him, and it was.
HESS: Because he hadn't announced that he wasn't going to run.
CHAPMAN: He hadn't announced. Kefauver lived three doors from me up there
on Hillbrook Lane. And I saw a lot of Senator Kefauver, and I liked him
very much, because he was quite aggressive in fighting for issues. He
did a good job in the Senate on legislative matters. He worked hard and
I give him a lot of credit on some of those good things that we did get
through up there on the Hill; he helped them. But I know Mr. Truman had
a right to feel that this was a little bit of an unfair cut from
his own party to do this at that time. Now, he should have waited until
Truman made his statement, and then he would at least have kept the door
open for himself for friendship with that group when and if the time did
come, you see.
HESS: You didn't hear President Truman speak favorably of anyone other
CHAPMAN: Not favorable in a sense that he made any outright statements
for some particular person running for President. Now, Jimmy Byrnes, he
always thought Jimmy was still holding it against him from previous conventions,
I think, and...
HESS: '44 in particular.
CHAPMAN: Yes. So, he had no--he didn't have that following with him in
the party; Truman didn't, because whatever following Byrnes had--he didn't
have as much as he thought he had, not by any means.
HESS: Was Richard Russell's name ever mentioned in 1952?
CHAPMAN: Only mentioned in a mixture of expressions of sentiment, "A
southerner that's real conservative couldn't be elected anyway." And he
never discussed it with any firmness that he thought he really...
HESS: Because even though Richard Russell was from the South he would
have liked to have had the nomination.
CHAPMAN: He wanted it. That's the first time I ever knew he really wanted
it. But he wouldn't have been elected either; he couldn't have been elected.
You have to take things as they are and as you meet them. Now what you
can do one year, you can't do a year later. Now if--here's what happened.
Truman's situation fell almost in the same category as Johnson's fell
in his category. Truman was nominated for Vice President with Roosevelt;
Roosevelt was a smart political man, I don't care what anybody says, he
was a smart politician, and he did like Truman.
HESS: I don't think you'll get too many arguments on that count.
CHAPMAN: I don't think so either. Any man who gets elected four times,
you can't argue with that.
Well, he liked Truman, Roosevelt did, and I
knew this. I knew he liked him and I had a very good relationship with
Roosevelt. I had an excellent relationship when I was Assistant
Secretary of the Interior, all the time I was in there under Ickes. He
always helped me. Anytime anything came up that looked like there would
be some problem for me, I would just go in and talk to Roosevelt. And
I could talk with him on anything I wanted, and he was most helpful to
me all the way through; he was helpful. I found out that Roosevelt was
very fond of Truman; he liked him. He thought Truman had done a masterful
job and a faithful job in that Senate committee, that he was carrying
that investigation on.
HESS: Did you hear why he did not speak directly to Senator Truman in
the entire time that they were selecting a vice-presidential nominee?
I've always thought that was rather odd.
CHAPMAN: It was; it was odd from my reaction of playing the game, and
how you would do it, guessing; but I did not take that as a feeling
against Truman. Knowing Roosevelt as I had I am positive he would have
said, "Well, I don't want Truman." If he didn't want him he would have
said so to me; now, because he did say so about two men that he didn't
want and I knew that.
HESS: But he did take him as a running mate in 1944 without speaking
directly to him about the prospect, right?
CHAPMAN: That's right, but he wrote the letter; now you see he wanted...
HESS: I've understood that Roosevelt phoned Bob Hannegan when Truman
was sitting--it was in a bedroom, and Truman supposedly was seated on a bed.
CHAPMAN: That's right.
HESS: ...right across from Bob Hannegan and Roosevelt phoned Hannegan
to ask Hannegan if he had Truman lined up. And Hannegan said, "No,
I haven't, sir, he's something like a contrary Missouri mule and he's
sitting right here," but still Roosevelt didn't say, "Well, put him on
the line. Hand him the telephone. I want to speak to him." It was all
indirect and through a third party.
CHAPMAN: That's right.
HESS: That to me seems odd.
CHAPMAN: It was very odd. Knowing how smooth Roosevelt handled his politics,
I was surprised that he hadn't cleared that out of the way before Chicago
and let them be working; but you will find, if you check back through
history then, that no Presidential candidate--well, very seldom, I wouldn't
say any, but very seldom does the candidate want to pick the Vice President
or want to be known to have dictated the Vice
Presidency openly. Hed
like to do it quietly, but he doesn't like to do it openly. Now a lot
have been like that.
HESS: In 1940 Roosevelt sent a letter to the convention stating something
to the effect, "If you don't put Henry Wallace as the second man on this
ticket, I won't run."
CHAPMAN: That's right.
HESS: Very open. He said, "If you don't give me Henry Wallace I won't
CHAPMAN: That's right.
HESS: And then four years later...
CHAPMAN: He wouldn't say a word.
HESS: Wouldn't say a word, seemed disinterested as to who the party picked.
CHAPMAN: Well, you know there's a possibility that a good deal of that
was in his mind, that he didn't
care an awful lot. That is he had gotten
tired of the opposition about his running and about whether he
should run or shouldn't, and he was getting tired of all that, I think.
HESS: But he still didn't make an announcement that--similar to the one
that Stevenson made in 1956...
CHAPMAN: That's right.
HESS: ...when Stevenson said to the convention, "I'm going to leave it
to you to pick the second man." That brought on the fight between Kefauver
and Senator John Kennedy.
CHAPMAN: That's right, exactly.
HESS: But Stevenson at that time made it known very plainly to the convention
that it was up to them to pick the Vice Presidential nominee and he would
take whoever they picked.
CHAPMAN: And that was a good way to do it.
HESS: You think that's a good way to do it?
CHAPMAN: I think it's a good way to do it. Let it be known, "I'm not
going to try to pick the Vice President." Now, sure as the world, if I
were running, I would want to let my friends and the leadership know that
I didn't want John Smith to be elected Vice President.
HESS: Well, in 1952 the man who ran with Stevenson was Senator John Sparkman
CHAPMAN: That's right.
HESS: Why was he chosen as second on the ticket in 1952, and who chose
him; did Stevenson choose him?
HESS: Who did?
CHAPMAN: Sam Rayburn.
HESS: Sam Rayburn.
CHAPMAN: Sam Rayburn was obviously the turning point in the selection
of John Sparkman. And he made the statement in my presence that he thought
John would get more votes than anybody else for that. He had turned to
me, Sam had, and he said, "Oscar," he said, "you'd have too many of these
southerners on your neck before you even started; that's the trouble with
your being the..."
HESS: Would you agree with that observation?
CHAPMAN: Yes. Yes, he was right, and there wasn't any question about
it; I knew it. That's why I didn't try to push myself; I didn't.
HESS: Do you think you would have had a pretty fair following from the
CHAPMAN: Yes, I'd have had a good following.
HESS: Yes, since you were from Colorado and you were Secretary of the
Interior, and the Interior is probably the most important department when
you get out to the Western part of the United States.
CHAPMAN: I'd have carried Virginia, too.
HESS: You'd have carried Virginia?
CHAPMAN: I really would.
HESS: Since you were born there.
CHAPMAN: As a matter of fact, Byrd would have nominated me, or he would
have seconded it.
HESS: Did you always have a pretty close relationship with Senator Byrd?
CHAPMAN: Yes, always.
HESS: Wasn't he usually known as the arch conservative; he was
a fiscal conservative, isn't that right?
CHAPMAN: He was at that point; he was a fiscal conservative.
He was a
financial expert in working out fiscal policies, and that was his field,
really that he was an expert in. Now, I came in...
HESS: Would you find him a social conservative?
CHAPMAN: Oh, yes, he's a social conservative; he's not...
HESS: Because he's from Virginia.
CHAPMAN: Yes, he's a social conservative, too, and not just a fiscal
conservative; he was a social conservative. For instance, he couldn't
support Truman's liberal bills on...
HESS: Civil rights and...
CHAPMAN: None of those. He wouldn't support it, where Johnson I knew
would. I knew Johnson would do that. It happened that Byrd and myself
never had a cross word the whole time when he was in the Senate
and I was in the Department of the Interior. Only once he came to me to
get me to not change a park
concessionaire in the Smoky Mountains up here
in the ridge--what do you call it?
HESS: The Blue Ridge.
CHAPMAN: Blue Ridge, where we had those cottages, things.
HESS: I believe there's a mountain down there called "Old Rag" that was
his favorite place. He used to climb it.
CHAPMAN: That's right, that was his favorite mountain.
HESS: He used to climb it every year on his birthday.
CHAPMAN: Yes, he'd go up there every year and climb that mountain. Now,
Byrd and I were very good friends; he was like Bill [William Munford]
Tuck and myself. There wasn't a closer friend I had in the House then
than Bill Tuck, but never once has there been any public issue on which
he and I would be together.
HESS: Where was he from?
CHAPMAN: Virginia, my district. He was in my...
HESS: Southern Virginia.
CHAPMAN: Southern Virginia, Halifax County. He was right in there.
I had a client in here yesterday, and the boys brought him in. They had
been working on his case for him and they brought him in to see me yesterday,
and this fellow was talking to me and he started talking, and I said,
"You are a Virginian aren't you?"
He said, "Yes, how did you know?"
I said, "You're a tidewater Virginian, anywhere from South Boston to
He said, "By God, you've hit all but the address. What made you think
I was a Virginian?"
I said, "You look like a Virginian." He just looked like one. I said,
"You belong to the changing group of aristocracy of the South, and your
father was one of the aristocracy of the South,
Virginia. You inherited
that good will of his and you're doing it well." I said, "That's why I
recognized you as soon as you started talking. I recognized your tidewater
brogue; it's totally different from up here around Fairfax County, anywhere
else in Virginia, because the tidewater brogue is totally separate and
different from any of the rest of the state. And if you're used to it,
familiar with it in your younger days, you could recognize it." And I
did. But it just buffaloed him. Well, anyway, he was talking to me just
day before yesterday. He was in here and he talked with me about the possibility
of the campaign.
"Well," he said, "we didn't have a chance in the last election to carry
anything down in Virginia, not for the Democrats." He said, "As a matter
of fact, I voted for Nixon myself." He said, "I don't know what was the
matter with our candidate; he just couldn't get off the ground." He said,
"Nixon got him down in the first round
and never let him up. He just kept
him down during the whole fight." And he did, that's just what he did do.
Well, now, let's lead to something else.
HESS: I believe the convention in 1952 was held in Chicago.
HESS: What do you recall about that convention?
CHAPMAN: Well, that convention held some very interesting sidelights
of history. First, you had a President there that had announced
that he would not be a candidate for reelection, although he could have
under the law run again. He was qualified, and was not disqualified because
of that act of Congress which limited Presidential candidates to two terms.
He was exempt from that, because he was President when the bill was passed.
Now that convention gave you a lot of history
and watching the change
take place from a middle-of-the-road, a liberal middle-of-the-road man,
like Truman, against a fellow whom you couldn't place to save your life--Stevenson.
He'd make a speech one week that you could kind of take as a guide for
this direction, and the following week he'd make another speech that would
look like he was leaving that road and going to another. And he didn't
follow consistently with his public announcements--pronouncements, on
policy of what he wanted to do. He wasn't consistent following through
with them, not that he meant to be, he wasn't trying to be deceitful;
it was one of the things that he had the right of a candidate to change
his mind if he was given evidence and information to justify a change
of his position.
HESS: What could the Democrats have done to have won that year, in 1952?
CHAPMAN: Nothing. You couldn't have won that year.
You see, you had up
against us that year--I first said that Truman couldn't have been reelected;
I want to hedge on that a little, because a man in office as President
of the United States goes into the campaign with one leverage in his favor
against the other candidate who's never been a candidate before, and he
would have had an edge there that people never stopped to think very much.