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Oscar L. Chapman Oral History Interview, April 21, 1972

Oral History Interview with
Oscar L. Chapman

Assistant Secretary of the Interior, 1933-46; Under Secretary of the Interior, 1946-49; Secretary of the Interior, 1949-53.

Washington, DC
April 21, 1972
Jerry N. Hess

[Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | Additional Chapman Oral History Transcripts]


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

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

RESTRICTIONS
This oral history transcript may be read, quoted from, cited, and reproduced for purposes of research. It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.

Opened 1980
Harry S. Truman Library
Independence, Missouri

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Oral History Interview with
Oscar L. Chapman

Washington, DC
April 21, 1972
Jerry N. Hess

[33]

HESS: All right, Mr. Secretary; to begin today, at the conclusion of our last conference we were discussing Israel. Are there any other facts that you want to set down on that subject?

CHAPMAN: I'd like to tell you of the incident coming in on the train from the western tour we made at that time. I don't have the exact date of that trip in my mind.

HESS: We call that the "June trip."

CHAPMAN: The June trip, all right. I don't remember the exact dates, but it's in my files there.

HESS: I think that that trip terminated the 18th.

CHAPMAN: Mr. Clifford and I had a long conference on the train coming through Ohio and Western Pennsylvania as the train was coming into Washington from this long trip. We had about two or three

[34]

hours there in which there were no stops. We got in here, I would imagine, around 3:30. There was a reception being given for Mr. and Mrs. Truman that evening over at the Mayflower Hotel. He was going to be there at 6 o'clock or 7.

On the train, Mr. Clifford and I discussed the Israeli situation from a basic point of view that first really had no relationship to the campaign, per se. We agreed very quickly that obviously this would be a great political asset, we felt, to the President's position, if he could endorse the State of Israel immediately. But we had a basis that was more fundamental, more basic than that, that will go down in history, in which President Truman's image grows and improves on you as it's related from time to time, because his approval of the State of Israel was not just for the political benefits that he did get out of it, and he did get some real benefits politically; but it was much deeper than that and went much farther than that. You had the United

[35]

Nations just getting underway. There were a lot of little countries from all over the world clamoring to become a member of that body and wanting to be a member of that body, feeling that it would offer them some protection.

Now, the basis of the Israeli thing came out something in this order. Here was a small country, and their people had been persecuted all over the world, in fact, in every country to some degree, and they wanted a homeland of their own. That was very deep and fundamental in the minds and hearts of the Jewish people. I felt, and so did Mr. Clifford feel, that if the president could set an example here and now, he had the opportunity to influence the United Nations for one thing. We felt that if the President could at this time give his approval and recognition to the State of Israel immediately, without any delay, it would have a great influence in building up the confidence of other little countries that knew they were going to have trouble or anticipated

[36]

some difficulties with their neighbors. There were a lot of little countries that felt like, "This man is interested in the little people, and not just the big power-play." It had a far-reaching influence on the peoples of the world, particularly the people from these small countries that had problems they wanted to get solved between themselves and sometimes much larger countries. They felt the United Nations was a good place to get them solved, so they wanted to be in. And yet, to have one of the principal leaders of the major power bloc, if you want to call it that, to come out and boldly endorse and give recognition to the State of Israel so quickly after it had established its position legally in the councils of the world, would be a lasting and growing influence, we felt. We thought it would not be recognized at first in the headlines. There wouldn't be much thought of it at first, until problems would come up between other little countries and some larger nations, and they would come to the United Nations

[37]

with a sense of hope that, "Here's one of the greater powers; they did this for Israel, and I believe we've got a friend among these powers of the world that will help us solve our problems." It would give them a great hope.

I could name you many of the little countries, which you know, many of the little countries that have been helped by the United Nations. They have been greatly helped by the President's position in recognizing Israel as quickly as he did. It's been very helpful to these people, and it's still helping the little countries. It will go down in history as one of the things, when you get far enough away from the tree so that you can see it in its proper perspective to the forest, the public will begin to appreciate what that meant, more than just some political benefits that he might have acquired through that action.

It was a basic thing to President Truman, and to Mr. Clifford, a basic philosophy of theirs, thinking of laying the groundwork for the future, of being able to say, "Well, we had a President who

[38]

did this for a little country," and if any injustices were imposed upon some other little country they could live in hope that they would have a friend at the United Nations to help them to get justice.

I wanted to make that detailed explanation to you because that got no publicity at the time at all. Everybody was writing about the immediate political impact this was having. It did have a beneficial political impact on the campaign, very beneficial.

HESS: Did you also take that into consideration?

CHAPMAN: Absolutely. I discussed that wholly with Mr. Truman, and I found that he was thinking about that more than he was of the immediate thing. He was more concerned about what it would mean in offering encouragement of leadership to the little people of the world, small countries, who wanted to be equals with us in the United Nations.

[39]

HESS: But it was also discussed that this might be a way of obtaining Jewish votes and contributions?

CHAPMAN: Oh, yes. I raised that, and I told them that there wasn't any question in my mind that it would be extremely beneficial for the immediate time being, to help us in the campaign. It would mean votes and contributions. But I felt that his philosophy and his feelings of it went so much deeper than that.

HESS: By the way, do you have a 1948 edition of the Public Papers of the President?

CHAPMAN: I have a copy at home,

HESS: The date of the recognition of the State of Israel has slipped my mind.

CHAPMAN: May 14.

HESS: May 14. That was what I was thinking. So that had taken place before the June trip.

[40]

CHAPMAN: That's right.

HESS: So what you were discussing was after the fact?

CHAPMAN: That's why you've got to clarify that point; there was some confusion there.

HESS: There were two recognitions, the de lure and the de facto.

CHAPMAN: That's right, but I still have in my mind that we had made a trip in May, then one in June. The one in May was not a political trip. The one in June was; it was a political trip. Now, that's my recollection of that, and I don't have the papers to correct my memory here of them, and I want to check that.

HESS: That we can check on, because this was coming back from the trip to the West, on which you were the advance man?

CHAPMAN: That's right.

[41]

HESS: That was in June.

CHAPMAN: That's right.

HESS: I don't recall a trip in May, but we will check on that and see.

CHAPMAN: You can check your dates, because May 14 was the date of the recognition, and he sent that cablegram off about 5:30 in the afternoon, sixteen minutes after it was published over there.

HESS: But when you were discussing these matters with Clifford was before the recognition.

CHAPMAN: Oh, yes.

HESS: Before the recognition?

CHAPMAN: Oh, yes. This was before the recognition that we discussed it.

HESS: What should be done, not what already had been done?

[42]

CHAPMAN: Oh., no, we were discussing what ought to be done in this.

HESS: That's what I was thinking, because the trip, I'm positive, was in June, and I thought that the recognition, the first recognition of Israel, did come in May. Now, I'll just read a short quote from Patrick Anderson's book, The President's Men. This is on page 118, and he says:

In May, 1948, Clifford and Chapman persuaded Truman to override State Department objections and grant immediate recognition to the new state of Israel. They hoped a dramatic gesture of support to Israel would be repaid by Jewish votes and campaign contributions that fall. Eventually, Truman agreed...

That's what Mr. Anderson has to say.

CHAPMAN: That is correct; that is, we both, Clark and I, were absolutely together in our thinking about what was the right thing we felt the President ought to do.

But I want to give you a little sort of clarification on that, because so far it's always been referred to as the immediate political thing, and when I talked to Truman, I immediately caught that

[43]

he had in his mind, "What values does this have for the future of the little countries of the world." The man was fantastic, Truman. When I talked with him he was fantastic about his long-range thinking on this thing.

HESS: I want to discuss one word of Anderson's: He says "eventually." "Eventually, Truman agreed." What were Mr. Truman's views at first when you proposed this to him?

CHAPMAN: Well, this is the way we handled it. This is why when you're doing teamwork with another fellow you can check things pretty carefully. Clark would see him and talk to him about it, say one thing--this is just before we left for the West, now--and talked to him about it, or raised this question with him. He usually pulled me in on this, and then I would follow up by seeing the President the next day on something else, and I would raise the same issue with him again, discussing the ramifications of

[44]

what this meant, and also discussing the idea that the State Department was not sympathetic to this.

HESS: What were their main objections? Oil? British influence?

CHAPMAN: I think it was the British influence a great deal, and the British influence tied with the interest of the oil people who had their interests involved in this, and they naturally got their friends talking around.

HESS: In this matter, were there leaders of the Jewish community that came in to speak to you or to Mr. Clifford, or who communicated with you in some way?

CHAPMAN: That was done so consistently from coast to coast. I don't believe there was a stop that we made on that train anywhere from New York to California that some leader of that group didn't take advantage of the opportunity to

[45]

get their story told, their needs expressed for our help. They were very persuasive in the presentation of their case, at least I thought they were, and I felt they had done a very fine briefing job in putting down the facts of history there in its proper perspective of what was going on in the world at that time.

HESS: Do you recall any names, any particular leaders in the Jewish community, who may have spoken to you on this matter?

CHAPMAN: I can't think of any that didn't.

HESS: They all had.

CHAPMAN: To tell you the truth, I can hardly think of one that hasn't. They either talked to me or Clifford and usually both of us.

HESS: What about David Niles? He was Administrative Assistant in charge of minority matters at that time.

[46]

CHAPMAN: That's right.

HESS: Did you work with Mr. Niles on this same matter?

CHAPMAN: Yes. Oh, I talked to a dozen or so people that had any entree into the White House at all. I talked to them about it.

HESS: Did Mr. Eddie Jacobson, who was of course Mr. Truman's old haberdashery partner, did he have a hand in, or any influence in Mr. Truman's decision to recognize the State of Israel?

CHAPMAN: Decidedly, I'm quite sure he did.

HESS: Could you tell me about what influence he may have had?

CHAPMAN: I think he had this influence. You know, President Truman's principles of standing by a friend, and he knows you, and knows of you. He's going to listen to you with an open mind, and in Jacobson's coming to see him, or seeing him whenever he was there--now, I did not know

[47]

when he saw him, or anything of the kind, but I know he did talk with him about it. Jacobson had been his partner and they were friends, and he tried to help without injecting himself, let's say, into the picture. He didn't want to project himself in the eyes of his own people that he was trying to take advantage of his relationship with Truman, assuming a leadership role in what they were doing. He was very sensitive about that, and he was very good about it.

HESS: If I recall correctly, there was a time when Dr. Chaim Weizmann came over from Israel. He wanted to speak to President Truman; he had spoken to him on occasion, and then Mr. Truman decided that he did not want to speak to him on this occasion, and Mr. Jacobson intervened in Dr. Weizmann's behalf, and Mr. Truman did speak to him. Do you recall that?

CHAPMAN: Yes, that's a correct analysis of what

[48]

took place. But Jacobson, as I say, was very careful not to leave impressions among his own people that he was trying to impose himself upon his friendship with Truman.

HESS: On this same subject, Mr. Truman did recognize Israel, the election came along, and Mr. Truman did win. How important do you believe that the Jewish vote, Jewish support, for Mr. Truman was to his victory in November?

CHAPMAN: I believe it had a very definite impact, favorable to the President, in that campaign. It was an influence that went far beyond just the Jewish vote on this, and part of that came about on the basis of what I just explained to you awhile ago, this long story I have you, these smaller countries. That began to be discussed among these people in this country, these minority people, a lot of minority people. You know, you're surprised when you find out how many minorities we have in this country, so many

[49]

different races and issues.

HESS: We are supposed to be a melting pot, but sometimes we don't melt.

CHAPMAN: That's right.

HESS: We're just a bunch of minorities.

CHAPMAN: That's right. We look like we're lumps that don't melt. That's true.

I looked at Mike Douglas' show last night. He had this Negro man and author on there who is quite a writer, who had traced the history of his family back to his village in Africa. The book will be out in May, I think. He's been working on it for four or five years. It will be a fascinating book, because he traced the log of the ship that brought his grandfather over here as a slave on an English ship. It was a very fascinating thing.

That was just a little incident that I throw in, but it shows you how that feeling had

[50]

a way of spreading among so many different people, and for different reasons, you see.

I had worked rather hard on this particular subject in my mind to try to relate it to the future relationship of the President in this country, this country's own reputation as a whole, with the rest of the world, the little countries of the world. I couldn't help but believe that it would have a lasting, beneficial effect on our relationship with these little countries. I think it has surfaced in several issues in the United Nations, where it would get no particular publicity. At that time, they were not issues that showed up as a real issue, in some of those little countries.

HESS: One further point on this; you mentioned that you and Mr. Clark Clifford brought this issue to the President. Just a question about Mr. Clifford. How valuable a man is he to have on your side in something like this?

[51]

CHAPMAN: Well, if I'm going to get into the in-fighting, I want him on my side.

HESS: He's a valuable man.

CHAPMAN: You bet he is. I soon found that out. If you're going to get into an in-fighting, I want him on my side. You know, Clark is a very unusual man, and I don't want to belabor the question, but he's a very unusual man. First, he has a wonderful memory, remembering things; second, his word is so completely accepted as being absolutely bona fide and accurate when he tells you something. You can depend on him. You can depend on Clark Clifford's word, whatever he told you.

HESS: How would you evaluate Mr. Clifford as a political adviser?

CHAPMAN: Well, I soon came to believe that Mr. Clifford was one of the very top advisers to the President in his value to advising him on

[52]

political matters. It came about this way: He knew so well how to select out from the conversation he would have with me, we'll say, or somebody else that was active in the political arena; he knew how to select out from them just really what they were thinking and interpret their story, or what they wanted to tell him, to the President. He could do it so well that he became invaluable to the President on that; I felt that his judgment to the President on political matters was being proved very fast. I thought he was already at the top when we started working together on those things.

Now, we worked on many things, for the Government I mean, regular business matters. I found the same thing there in his thinking and in his mind. His mind worked so systematically. If he'd tell you something, he did it in sequence and in order. If you think back over your conversations with him, it will come back to you when you least expect it, "Clark

[53]

Clifford told me that when I saw him," and it was quite a while before the event, maybe. He knew about it, and knew how to relate it. He could relate. For instance, let's take the State of New York. There are always, as there are in every state, other differences of opinion, different factions, and that's part of democracy and it's very healthy. The differences of opinion that will sometimes arise also sometimes will get very bitter. I hated to see them get personal and bitter, and of course I don't think it was ever necessary. I think you accomplish more if you have a quiet approach and keep talking, because you lose your case when you show your temper and your outrage in talking with another man. You've lost your case already. So, Clark had that down to perfection. When he talked to somebody, Clark would come across and just let him say what he wanted to say, and Clark would go on and do what he wanted to do about it.

[54]

In answer to your question, a short answer, I'll say that I think he was one of the most effective advisers on political matters with the President.

HESS: His name will probably come up several times more when we get back to the '48 campaign.

CHAPMAN: It will come up on that.

HESS: It certainly will, but let's move back now to the events in 1944. You mentioned last time about your discussion with Mr. Truman before he left for the convention in Chicago, and that you had spoken to the President. One reason I want to mention that again is because, as you know, there is some disagreement among historians as to whether or not Mr. Truman knew for sure that he was under consideration by Mr. Roosevelt. His name was in the press a good deal as a prospective candidate, but there's some disagreement as to whether or not he had received definite information that

[55]

Roosevelt was thinking of him, too.

CHAPMAN: Let me give you my interpretation of that era, that short period there. Say two or three months before the convention, along in that period, I was seeing Truman some. I'd see him quite often--not often, I didn't see him too often--but I had a feeling, and I came away with that feeling every time I talked with him, that he knew what Roosevelt wanted; but he also knew that being President of the United States, Roosevelt knew enough about politics not to handle this in a crude, smoke-filled room for picking a Vice President, that Roosevelt knew enough about politics that he wouldn't do it that way. That's what kept him from commenting to a lot of people on whom he would rather have. He saved his ace card till the last minute, and played it. That's exactly what I was expecting him to do.

I went up to see Senator Truman for this reason: I wanted to be sure that I was in the

[56]

clear with him on my position, my not having any word from Roosevelt one way or another. Roosevelt never told me whom he wanted at all. I got a feeling from Roosevelt that he would rather have Truman, and that's why I would want to comment on that. I had a feeling that he would be more than just satisfied to have Truman. I think he felt that Truman would really add something to his campaign, and he admired Truman's loyalty. That's one thing you always remember about Truman and give him credit for, because there was a man who would stand by his friends regardless of what the situation was. He would stand by his friends and wouldn't let them down. I don't mean by that that he condoned or tolerated crookedness; he didn't at all. You'd soon find that out if you got to working with him.

Let me make another comment on Truman at this point here. You referred to my record as to how long I served in the Department and when I was appointed Assistant Secretary and Under Secretary

[57]

and then finally Secretary. I want to correct the statement that someone made reference to, that Truman offered me Secretary of the Interior to succeed Ickes. That's not quite correct. It would leave the wrong impression. I want to correct that statement, because you'd have to go into that in long detail to get it straight, because it developed over a period of time, and also involved some people who are still living who were quite upset about it. So, I don't want to stir up anything by a statement like that. So, I'd like to leave that statement out of my interview about Truman offering me the Secretaryship when Ickes went out.

HESS: Would you like to tell me a little bit about the resignation of Harold Ickes, and your involvement or what you recall about these matters?

CHAPMAN: They were pretty hot days for a while. The

[58]

Secretary wrote one of his famous letters to the President, which I regretted to see written, because I didn't want to see the President and the Secretary break; I wanted them together, because as a matter of fact, they were more together on basic issues than they themselves realized. They were not as far apart as they thought they were.

The problem that brought this to a head was the appointment of Mr. [Edwin] Pauley to be Assistant or Under Secretary of the Navy, I believe. Secretary Ickes had some differences with Mr. Pauley which he had had some time before that, and he didn't think he ought to be an Assistant Secretary of the Navy because oil companies have such a large purchasing program of petroleum and its byproducts. He just didn't think a man from the oil industry ought to be in that particular place. So they were differing over not necessarily an issue but over a personality. The President liked Ed Pauley; he liked Ed, and Ed had been awfully good to him, but

[59]

Secretary Ickes did not like Mr. Pauley. He didn't like his operation generally.

Now, when his name was sent up to the Hill, I don't know how that corresponds with the date as to when the President received that letter, but Ed Pauley's name was already before the Senate. I think it was already up there for hearings. Now, the Secretary wrote such a letter to the President. The Secretary showed me a copy of the letter that he had sent on Saturday (he usually worked on Saturday as a rule; nearly all of us at that level did), and I saw it; he let me read it. I told him that I regretted his writing it, because I said, "You're leaving the President no option but one thing." I said, "You're going to get either a call or a very quick note, short, telling you he's accepting your resignation." I said, "I think he's going to do it for immediate action."

Well, as a matter of fact, that was on a Monday when he let me read this letter, and we

[60]

talked for a little bit, and on Wednesday, because Ickes had said in the letter, "If I don't hear from you by 11 o'clock Wednesday morning, I'm going to have a press conference and give this letter out to the press." You don't tell a President of the United States something like that.

So, I regretted to see that very much. I was standing there by the Secretary's desk; I'd been talking to him for nearly an hour, and he was waiting for a call from the President. Sure enough, he had a call--the President's secretary calling Secretary Ickes, "Do you know where Secretary Ickes can get Secretary Chapman?"

He says, "Yes, he's right here."

I got on the phone and his .secretary says, "The Boss wants to see you right away. Can you come over right now?"

I said, "All right, I'll be over right away."

I turned to the Secretary and I said, "Mr. Secretary, I think I know enough to know just what this is going to mean. What would you do if you

[61]

were in my place? If I walk into that office, and if he should ask me to take the Secretaryship, what would you do if you were in my position?" I said, "Can't you see what would happen to my appointment?"

All of the liberals of that period, who were at that convention, know that I was supporting Henry Wallace in the convention, and that's what I had gone up on the Hill to tell Senator Truman about, to explain to him that I was under commitment because I hadn't gotten any word from the President. Lacking that word, I would have to keep my commitment, and he assured me he was not a candidate and for me to go right ahead with anything I wanted and he would understand. He said, "I believe every man ought to keep his commitments." He couldn't have been more decent.

I said, "Don't you see, Mr. Secretary, all the conservative people in the convention, including Bob Hannegan and a few other people, would not like

[62]

my appointment because I wasn't supporting the President in the convention, and they know it." I said, "Now, the liberals will all think that I have done an underhanded job on you at the President's level to talk to him, to cut your throat, to discredit you with the President. It would throw me open to all kinds of criticism. If I should take it, it would be almost impossible for me to do a decent job with a reasonable chance for success on my part. That's the way I feel about it."

HESS: What did he say?

CHAPMAN: He said, "Well, I'd take it, and I think he ought to appoint you."

I said, "He has no obligations to me whatsoever, Mr. Secretary, none whatever."

HESS: What did the President want to talk to you about when you got to the White House?

CHAPMAN: Now, that brings in the part of this question,

[63]

the part I was going to suggest that we leave out.

HESS: We can close it for any length of time that you want.

CHAPMAN: Let's go ahead with this and I'll tell you what he said. I didn't even sit down, because this had to be done quickly because Secretary Ickes was calling this 11 o'clock press conference. He had called it already. We got a short, one paragraph letter from the White House saying, "Your services will be terminated at 5 o'clock. Dispose of business for today." And that's all. It didn't say anything else. I walked into the President's office; it was about a quarter of 11, I guess by that time.

As I walked into his office he was standing up, and he had a letter in his hand--I don't know what the letter was--but he had a letter in his hand. He said, "I want you to go back to that Department, take it over, and run it."

[64]

Now, under the circumstances, you could interpret that to mean an offer of appointment, or you could take it that, as a practical matter, that's the only thing he could do for the moment.

HESS: Sort of an Acting Secretary.

CHAPMAN: It could be that.

HESS: Maybe not even with that title.

CHAPMAN: That's right. You see, he could have done several things at that point. But he said, "I want you to go back, take that department, and run it." He said, "You've been running it anyway and I want you to run it."

I said, "Mr. President, I appreciate this; it's a great honor," something like that. "Naturally, it's something a young man with desire would like to have, but if I ever have the opportunity to be Secretary of the Interior, I do want it under circumstances in which I have a reasonable chance of making it a success. If this was intended

[65]

to be an offer of appointment, I don't think it's wise at this point. I would find some new person. I'll be glad to serve as Under Secretary under whomever you want to pick; I'll be glad to serve as Under Secretary. In thirty days we'll find somebody, but I'll go back and start running it now and we won't have any problems." I said, "Don't be concerned about the stories in the press that Ickes said there would be resignations in mass, that every bureau head was going to resign. You won't have a single resignation, except perhaps a personal stenographer or secretary." And that's what we had; that was all. That's the only one we had. Every bureau head came to me that afternoon and offered me his support and assurance of his loyalty to me, saying they hoped the President made this appointment. They were most loyal to me, and during that thirty days we didn't have a single resignation.

About the end of the thirty days Mr. John Snyder and Barney [Bernard] Baruch went into the

[66]

White House and Cap Krug was in Snyder's office when they left to go over to the White House, and they talked about his being Secretary of the Interior--Snyder and Barney Baruch. Mr. Krug had been chairman of the War Production Board; he had a record to go on, he'd been with TVA, and so he had quite a nice record to go on there.

That was the way I left it. I said, "Mr. President, I'd be happy to do it, and I consider it an honor to be asked to take this for the time being," and I kept it on that basis. I don't like to put it on a flat statement that he offered me Secretary of Interior. He may have and he may not have. I don't know. I wish I did know. I don't know yet whether he actually intended that to mean an offer. It could have been, or it could have been the other.

HESS: He didn't clarify it.

CHAPMAN: He didn't clarify it. That's all he said,

[67]

because he was very quick with these things, you know. He did them just like this. To him, it was just another job you had to do, so "Go ahead, let's get busy with it," and he didn't take a lot of time with anything like this, talking about it. He'd handle things quickly.

HESS: In his Memoirs Mr. Truman mentions an effort that he made to get Justice William O. Douglas to leave the Court and head the Interior. Do you recall that?

CHAPMAN: Who said that?

HESS: Mr. Truman has in his Memoirs that he phoned and talked to Justice Douglas and asked him if he would leave the Court and run Interior, and of course, it was turned down.

CHAPMAN: Truman made that statement?

HESS: Yes, in his Memoirs.

CHAPMAN: I remember the timing of that, and Bill Douglas

[68]

missed being President of the United States because he listened to somebody else and didn't have as good a political sense as Clark Clifford had. When you asked me about Clark's judgment on political matters, that was a case where the stakes were high. Bill Douglas could have been President.

HESS: When?

CHAPMAN: In '44.

HESS: In '44.

CHAPMAN: He could have been in '40.

HESS: In '40. Just a question about '44. There was the so-called "Truman-Douglas letter," in which Mr. Roosevelt said he would be glad to run with either Senator Truman or Justice Douglas. Neither man really put himself out to try to get the nomination. Do you think if Justice Douglas had been a more active candidate, shall we say, in 1944, that Mr. Roosevelt would have taken him rather than Mr. Truman?

[69]

CHAPMAN: I'm not sure about that. I've thought of that several times. I was confident that Douglas would not resign from the Court to run with Truman. He was given serious thought for the Vice Presidency by Roosevelt.

HESS: In '44.

As you know, Truman also asked him in '48 to run, and he turned that down too.

CHAPMAN: Yes. I told him that he was going to turn him down.

HESS: You told Mr. Truman that Douglas would turn it down?

CHAPMAN: I did. I said he was going to turn it down. And that's exactly what he did. He took the advice of Tom Corcoran.

HESS: It seems that in '44, in speaking of the Vice Presidential spot, we have active candidates: Henry Wallace and Jim Byrnes, and we have inactive candi