Oscar L. Chapman Oral History Interview, August 2, 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
August 2, 1972
Jerry N. Hess

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

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.

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 It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.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

[Top of the Page | Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | Additional Chapman Oral History Transcripts]

Oral History Interview with
Oscar L. Chapman

Washington, DC
August 2, 1972
Jerry N. Hess


HESS: Mr. Chapman, to begin this morning, let's discuss an occurrence that took place in June during the trip to the West, and that was the flooding of the Northwest at that time. What difficulties arose because of the flooding just before the President’s trip?

CHAPMAN: Well, you understand the psychology of the public when there is a tragedy of such moment, as this was. There were many people who had lost their lives in this flood. The flood was around Portland, and extended down the river a considerable way. The measure of damage in dollars would be almost impossible to estimate at this time. You can't estimate the loss of life in terms of dollars. The people were very much disturbed, very much concerned, about some immediate help right now, to help these people, because some of them were wiped out completely. It was similar but on a much smaller scale than the recent flood


we have just had down in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

HESS: From Hurricane Agnes.

CHAPMAN: Yes, Hurricane Agnes. That one was not as large as Agnes, but it was, nevertheless, extremely heavy and a number of lives were taken in that flood. Actually the people were very unhappy and disturbed. They needed help and they needed it quickly. I got there into Portland, traveling for the President, trying to make arrangements for his appearance at each one of these towns that we stopped in, and there we had to change the program a little for this reason: We had a program set up where he would march in what we called the Rose Parade. Portland is noted for its beautiful roses at that time of the year, and they were gorgeous. The roses all over Portland were just beautiful. They were in full bloom. The


schedule was set up for him to make a little brief talk at one of the halls down in town, then getting cars and starting to march behind the parade, or in front of the parade rather. As they went by they came by this hall.

But I saw the atmosphere that had been created because of this terrible tragedy, and I saw the President and I told him that I would recommend strongly that we cancel what we called the Rose Parade and let him drive out in a car, or we could take his train if necessary to Salem. So instead of going to some building downtown to a couple of those meetings with the officials of the Rose Festival, we went over to Salem that morning and the regional Red Cross man met us there and he set forth the things that they were doing and would try to do immediately for them, a strict emergency thing, and it showed us right where we had to pick up on the Federal Government side.

I had his speech. He gave me a copy of his


speech, and I had several of the men that were helping me on the train take that speech and outline the things in it that we could do as a follow-up to what the Red Cross representative had said. They took it and picked out the things that could be done immediately and fast, such as the Corps of Engineers sent in quite a crew of people to help clear the debris and the other things away from the river channel, and keep the channel open. There were trees and logs rolling down that river and some of them were hitting houses and knocking them over completely. If you have never seen a flood, real damage like that, it gives you a shock when you first see one. I had never seen one of that size before. The local people’s homes, you'd see them turned over sideways and mashed up against the banks and over in the trees.

These men took that speech of the Red Cross man and we analyzed it very carefully where we could pick up and go in. I had these fellows to


stay on the train until we got down to San Francisco. By that time they had it all outlined, the whole thing.

Then we put some orders into effect, the President did, to have the Corps of Engineers to send their crew in immediately and start to work and see what they could do, the Reclamation Service of the Department of the Interior to see what they could do in the way of help, and to help immediately. We did it and in several cases we didn't overrun our budget; we just simply overspent for the emergency of this, some extra money that we had that we were saving for other things, and we took it and turned it into this and started into helping those people. For instance, they went into such detail of helping them. They went down and bought a lot of bedclothes and things like that for them to sleep on. Some of these families didn't have anything. They were just wiped out. They were people who had lived comfortably and had nice little houses, and they


were people that were well-organized in life and worked hard for their living and they had nice little homes. They were small homes, as a rule, but they were nice houses. They didn't have, in some cases, any furniture whatever. Then they got them some furniture. The Red Cross did this part. Another thing they needed which people didn't think of, they needed groceries. They had to have some food. They didn't have any storage to keep any that hadn't been wiped out. So they got them adequate food supplies and what they did, they gave some kind of credit at two or three of the major stores in town where they could go and get what they wanted and just charge it. What they did, they gave them a limit, I think, so much, and they could go in and get their groceries and pay for it by just letting them tear off a little piece of paper off of this ticket that they had. Of course, this record just simplified it down to the nth degree, I honestly don't believe that there was a single case of unfair or


dishonest taking of groceries or anything else that could have been so easily taken through that system. You couldn't use that system widespread. But those people there used it as conscientiously as if it had come out of their own pocket, and they bought just what they had to have, what they needed, and that's what they did.

HESS: Did you ever later talk to any of the Oregon Democratic politicians to find out or to ask what effect on the election Mr. Truman's handling and your handling of matters there might have had?

CHAPMAN: Well, I talked to several of the political leaders and was asking and inquired of them whether the flood and the effort we made to take care of the emergency had had any effect or changed those people's minds about Truman's competency in handling a real problem. There wasn't any question; everyone, to the last man, gave him, in


a complimentary way, a comment as to how decent he was to do this without trying to get a lot of publicity out of it, which he didn't try to do. He spoke over the radio with this Red Cross man. I didn't put anybody else on that program. I just had the Red Cross man. The Governor was not there or I would have put him on. I think it was Governor [Douglas] McKay who later became Secretary of the Interior.

HESS: I think he was Governor at that time.

CHAPMAN: I think he was Governor at that time. Well, he was not there, or I would have had him. But the other officials all showed up and we spoke around 12 o'clock on the radio right on the steps of the capital. The checkup that I had made, I had asked two or three of the leaders there to make a little checkup for me to give me any idea as to whether this was having any effect on us one way or another, if we were lacking in anything we should do, to let me know. They


came back with glowing reports about the appreciation of the people. They were just thrilled, because by coincidence of facts that happened, I was in Portland before the water got through going down, and so consequently we were there on the grounds getting things lined up and I got the President's program outlined for him as far as what he had to do and should do. We got that straightened out for him and then I had several of the agencies of the Government that I had worked closely with and I contacted some of them direct and talked to them, and they started right in to help. They did it very quickly and very fast. It was one of the most efficient jobs that I ever had the pleasure of working on.

I like to work on a job that moves smoothly and nicely. This didn't have any crossing up of orders, and what one group was going to do and the other one was not going to do. And there wasn’t one bit. Just each group went ahead and did just what it was supposed to do. It was


outlined to them very easily, because it was very easy to outline to the Corps of Engineers what they should do, and the Reclamation Service. Even the Grazing Service was brought in to this because there were so many sheep up through the valley; they run a lot of sheep, and they lost nearly all of them. There again is where your money value loss comes in. The poor fellow doesn't have anything coming in for the next fall for his income, for the loss of his sheep. Some cattle were lost, but not many cattle. Sheep was the biggest loss in that area.

All in all, I was very pleased with the reports I had gotten that the people had appreciated what the President had done so quickly, because he arrived there. I stayed there to meet him in Portland. I couldn't meet him in Denver. I stayed there to meet him in Portland, because I, by telephone, had pretty much lined up my San Francisco meeting anyway, and my plans I wanted to work out. I'd gotten


men I wanted to help me down there and I got so much better support and help than the press was giving us credit for having. There was a lot of gossip about the coolness of the people and so on. Well, you did have some of this. You had some of that where the politician was scared to get too close to Truman, afraid it wasn't going too well. But by the 15th of October, you couldn't hold them back. I could tell by the change in the mood of the crowd that Truman was really coming to the top. He was surfacing to the top, to the lead, in this program. I could tell by the mood of the crowds from one town to the next.

HESS: That things were progressing and getting better.

CHAPMAN: Oh, absolutely. It was so obvious that you could see so clearly what was happening. For instance, if he stopped at the littlest place, little town, there was nothing but a train stop once in a while, not necessarily a big town or anything of the kind. Remember, when the President


goes anywhere and stops, the press has to be there, and they are there. I don't care if he spoke out there to just three people, if he made a speech and there was only three there, they'd have to write about it, even if they did have to write it about three people being there. They'd have to tell you why.

HESS: It would get in the papers.

CHAPMAN: It would get in the papers. And we got it in the papers by the sheer force of the office, you see.

We moved from that stand in Portland, which gave us a wonderful backdrop for the mistakes we made in Omaha.

HESS: Tell me about that.

CHAPMAN: Well, the Omaha situation just simply got crossed up between several people trying to set up the President's program.

HESS: Ed McKim was in charge of setting that up,


was he not?

CHAPMAN: Well, he took charge. He took charge of it and was setting it up and the local people, because he had just been at the White House, had been working there; they thought he was really running the thing and they had gone to him and he had talked with them and he had lined up the program in such a way that it was impossible for the President to meet that evening, to have spoken. It was humanly impossible. He couldn't do it. He had doubled his program for that evening on a timetable that you couldn't possibly keep.

HESS: Did you point that out to him beforehand?


HESS: What did he say?

CHAPMAN: He said, "Now, I'm handling it. Now, you just don't understand Omaha. I know these people and I can handle them."


I said, "Ed, it's all right with me. You can handle it, but I'm going to leave tomorrow and go on to Cheyenne." That was Saturday and I was going to be in Cheyenne on Saturday night to get a lineup for the Sunday meeting. Sunday afternoon the train was to arrive at 4 o'clock. The new mansion that was built in the capital there for the Governor to live in is, I would say, two or three hundred yards (I'm not a good guesser on distances), from the station up to the Governor's mansion.

HESS: In Cheyenne?

CHAPMAN: Yes, to the Governor's mansion. The setting was perfect. We didn't plan for him to stay there. We didn't want him to take his time there, because the press we knew would be there. The Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News, all from Denver, sent their reporters up there to cover it. Our newspapers from over the areas sent their local reporters in, and then practically all of them, the major papers,


I think, had someone on the train going with us. We had quite a good representation of the press on the train, better than I had expected, and it picked up as it went. By the time we got back to Washington we had...

HESS: Why do you think so many papers sent reporters along on this so-called "nonpolitical" trip? As you know a large number of reporters went along.

CHAPMAN: Yes. They were expecting to see a complete flop and they wanted to write about it. They got so disgusted after two or three of them. They, of course, wrote the one up in Omaha. Life magazine took pictures of that empty hall, and he wasn't even supposed to be at the hall. The schedule that this fellow had worked out for him didn't have him going to the hall at all, but a little handbill had been passed out by his Army buddies...

HESS: The 35th Division Association.


CHAPMAN: The 35th Division, and he marched with them that afternoon for a little ways. Then he couldn't go that night because what Ed had done, he had set up a cocktail party without telling me. I didn't know anything about it. That was the first I learned about it. After I called the President, I left on Saturday morning early and went on over to Cheyenne. The situation was obviously going to be very difficult to handle there under the circumstances and I wanted to get out of the way of it.

HESS: Did you communicate your feelings to President Truman?

CHAPMAN: Oh, yes. I talked to him personally over the telephone, direct, through Matt Connelly. I talked with Matt and then talked with the President. I talked with both of them.

HESS: And you told them that it looked like things were going to go wrong?


HESS: I told them that I was very concerned about it. He had a schedule that I didn't think could possibly be worked, and he would just have to play it by ear when he got there, and take what he could and the rest he'd have to--Matt being with him all the time, would just have to watch it and "make changes that you'd have to make when you get here, because you'll just have to make some changes, because you can't keep them all."

Well, they got there and they had it that way, but they got with their empty hall because he didn't go out there to the hall at first. He was a little late. It had been put in the press that only the 35th Division were to come to this meeting. Well, they thought the place would be so packed, and half of them didn't come.

HESS: And the public thought that they were not invited.


CHAPMAN: That's exactly what happened. They didn't come. That's one time that the public listened to the newspaper and read that article. It killed me. Well, we decided we'd just make the best we could out of it and let it go and not worry about it. "Well do something to cover that some other way." And we did later on get a chance to recoup that in Omaha. The whole program in Omaha was simply not the feeling of the people at all. They were in perfectly good spirits and as friendly with him as they could be. They were just not given the opportunity to see him in any way. Ed kept him completely surrounded with his own friends.

HESS: Kept him isolated.

CHAPMAN: Well, for instance, this is one of those things that has been printed. He took the President out to some place around 5 o'clock in the afternoon to meet some people and to see a hall or some new building. I never did know quite


what that was. But he leaves there and brings them all on by his house to a cocktail party that he had set up there at his house, and he had invited a lot of friends. What Ed didn't know was that invitations to something for the President have to be scrutinized so closely that I thought the Secret Service boys would go crazy. They were just wild.

HESS: They were taken by surprise?

CHAPMAN: They were taken by surprise, and so was I. Of course, I had left and I was in Cheyenne working on that meeting by that night. Matt called me in Cheyenne that night, at midnight or later, and he said, "Well, your predictions came true to perfection. You were exactly right."

HESS: It was a debacle.

CHAPMAN: But he said, "I'm sure glad you called the President and told him about it because he would have been surprised." He said, "You had put him


on notice and he was kind of ready for it, and he didn't let it bother him, and he just went on and handled it."

HESS: It didn't take him by surprise.

CHAPMAN: It didn't take him by surprise, so it didn't give him a chance to think what he wanted to do and say. He handled it in such a way that he didn't leave any implications on anybody that didn't handle things right, because this man was a friend of his family's and was a friend of theirs.

HESS: He used to work for him in the White House.

CHAPMAN: That's right. So he had all those credentials back of him. So that's what happened there exactly.

But I'll tell you what I did when we reached Cheyenne on Sunday afternoon. The plane arrived in there between 4 and 5; I can't remember the


exact time. Between 4 and 5 it arrived in there. I had arranged for the National Guard to line from the train to the Governor's mansion, and we had a soldier every ten or fifteen feet apart on each side of the street, Maxwell Street. It was fixed up nicely. We had one on each side about every fifteen feet apart, and it looked like a lot of people. We got them all set and we had several hundred like that. Then, besides that all the National Guard people had been notified that they and their families could come and be there, and that they might get a chance to shake hands with the President. They might not, but they could come and see him. Well, it followed through so nicely. The train arrived on time. The crowd had gathered down at the station, and there was a crowd. It was the biggest that was ever together in the State of Wyoming, even for one of their rodeos. It was on Sunday afternoon. A lot of people from Denver had driven up there. I had worked on that. See, that's a one hundred


mile drive, and a very beautiful highway; a lot of people from Denver drove up there. And these little towns in northern Colorado, a lot of people drove up to Cheyenne for a little Sunday afternoon holiday. It was a very pleasant little town for them to go to. So we had a crowd from the northern Colorado areas that had come in there that the people were not dreaming were coming. The local people would never have thought of such a thing, that that many would come. They thought a few would come, maybe forty or fifty. But there was some four or five hundred of them that were in there from Denver on up.

The press caught that that way, and I made it a point to introduce two or three of the editors, the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News and the Greeley newspaper, and one other newspaper editor was up there on one of those papers. These were two of the small papers and then two of the biggest papers. Then one of the newspapers from over in the West, the Grand


Junction Sentinel, which was the biggest newspaper outside of Denver. The man who owned that had been a great supporter of Truman. He had been worried about all the things he had been hearing. He said, "I think I'll go on over to Cheyenne anyway." This was by telephone. I was on the telephone, when I wasn't talking with one locally, I was on the telephone. So he went on up. When I left Cheyenne primarily the next stop for me was Portland to organize that Portland situation and to be there in plenty of time to get it lined up.

In the meantime, I had the chance there in Cheyenne to introduce a few of these editors to Truman and I gave a list of names to Clark Clifford and Clark knew one or two of them, like Palmer Hoyt at the Denver Post. I gave a list of them, the people there, the local people, to Clifford. He in a very astute way just made it look like it was just as casual as it could be. He said, "Come on and meet the President." He


would take in two or three of these reporters at a time to see the President and after they had stayed a few minutes he would motion for one of them that he knew, and he would take them on out. He handled that beautifully. He filled in the little finesse that you needed to have to make it look nice, and that overcame the Omaha thing so beautifully.

We had pictures of the Omaha thing in Life magazine. They were two-page pictures, terrific pictures, and the front page, that is, the outside, like this, had a picture of the hall with the vacant seats. Then I got an opportunity to get some pictures with the President at the Governor's mansion because all these people at the station walked up there, you see. As I said, it was 250 yards or more, about that. They all walked up and at the Governor's mansion there was a little balcony out over the front porch that three or four people could stand out on. There was the Governor and two or three other local citizens, including the head


of the Press Association for the State of Wyoming, and he runs a radio station, so he had him connected up and we had free time on that. He handled that local situation for me and I knew him well. I knew he could do a good job of it, and I had talked with him beforehand about the kind of thing we should set up up there, and he did it. He did a good job, a very good job. He's a typical, slow-moving fellow, but he stops to talk to every one of these cattle people he'd see from around the country. He stopped to talk to every one of them and he had the President meet every one of them. Well, fortunately, we had a time schedule there that gave us plenty of time. We could hold the train there for another hour if we wanted to. So, I told Clark before I left--I took a plane out of there and went on to Portland--and I told him, "Just don't worry about it, this Governor. He's all right. You may get a little nervous about him the first thing. He's too slow but he's exactly the pace that these people


are in, and when he introduces you to one of these old farmers up there, cattle people, it means something to you and it's worth something. So don't shortchange him on anything if you can help it because it's too valuable. You've got to keep pushing him." He pushed him to get him through. Clark caught that exactly and he handled it just to perfection with the President for me. He just handled it beautifully with the press.

Clark has a facility and a talent. His first meeting of a person, of making an impression; it's like Judge Lindsey, whom I used to work for in Denver, who ran the juvenile court there. I worked with him for seven or eight years; he used to tell me, he'd call me in and he'd say, "Son, I want you to understand that the artistry of approach is the finest approach you can make to those people that will be lasting." And he had always lectured me about the artistry of approach, your first meeting with people. Clark Clifford had


that just by nature; he had it to perfection. What Lindsay had been lecturing to me about all those eight years, Clark had it.

HESS: And he still has it today.

CHAPMAN: He still has it today. He could bring those people in and he would handle them in a crowd so easily, and he could get the President out of a crowd without any commotion or any apparent disturbance, so everything was running just fine. He handled that so well. We got terrifically good publicity on that one, and the reporters on that really caught the picture that something went wrong in Omaha that had nothing to do with the President at all, and so they really wrote that story up beautifully. They corrected that Omaha story, correcting what they had written before, saying the problem that they ran into in Omaha was nothing but a faux pas that had been pulled by a local man (they didn't mention his name), who wasn't familiar with handling a President. He


just didn't know how to handle it. They made another reference to me in the press at that time: "Oscar Chapman or Clark Clifford, had either one of them been there..." Well, it was too late for Clark to do anything. He couldn't do anything but help get him through the night, and I had gone.

So that covered the part of the program, for the atmosphere we started off with was bad from Omaha.

We had a little bit of a flap in Chicago, a little mix-up; the program there got mixed up a little bit by too many ambitious local politicians trying to take the lead, and that's a tough place to handle them in Chicago if you don't know the leaders. If you don't know the leaders and which ones you're talking to you can foul up a meeting terribly.

HESS: Who were the principal leaders in Chicago at that time that you had to contend with?


CHAPMAN: [Richard J.] Daley was coming to the forefront; right then he was coming to the front, and I spotted Daley as being the brains behind--putting his friends together and making them come to what he wanted to do.

HESS: You saw him as a comer at that time?

CHAPMAN: Oh, yes. I saw him and I used him. I used him heavily.

HESS: How did you use him?

CHAPMAN: Oh, I had him to get certain people. I said, "I want you to get so-and-so and so-and-so, get them to come in to see the President. You see Matt Connelly and talk to him." I gave him a list and he took care of it. Clark followed it on through like that. I mean, our coordination worked out perfectly and all because Clark had such good common sense.

HESS: That was the address in Chicago before the Swedish Pioneer Centennial Celebration?


CHAPMAN: Yes. That wasn't serious, or it wasn't big. I mean, there wasn't a serious error, but we could have gotten a little more out of it had Clark and I been able to be there all day that day beforehand, you see. I had to leave before to go into Omaha. Of course, it was a good thing that I did. But that was the one he spoke at there. Governor Green. Let's see, who was the mayor of Chicago at that time?

HESS: He'll be identified in the Public Papers. The mayor was Martin H. Kennelly.

CHAPMAN: Martin H. Kennelly.

HESS: "In his opening words he referred to Vilas Johnson, General Chairman of the Chicago Swedish Pioneer Centennial, Dwight H. Green, Governor of Illinois, and Martin H. Kennelly, Mayor of Chicago."

CHAPMAN: That's the one. I had given those names to Daley.


HESS: To Daley. To see that they showed up?

CHAPMAN: To see that they were at the right place at the right time.'

HESS: What was Daley at that time, do you recall?

CHAPMAN: I don't recall what his title was or what he was doing, but he acted more or less as a public relations man for the mayor. They were quite friendly apparently, and he was helping the mayor on public relations matters such as this. He had had a good deal of experience on this kind of a program, and that made him very useful and helpful to us.

HESS: One of the most powerful black men in the House of Representatives at that time was William Dawson.


HESS: Did you work with William Dawson?

CHAPMAN: Oh, yes. I worked with William Dawson and


I'll never forget his speech up there on the back of the car or automobile out at the community there, in the black community. I know, Dawson had set up (Daley had done this for me), he had set up a meeting for Truman to stop there in an automobile and make a speech at 5 o'clock in the afternoon as they got off from work, most of them. We caught the right hour. Dawson was riding in that car with the President. I had him riding with the President and the mayor was in the car with him. The Governor had been with us before. He was not with us at that particular meeting, but he was with us before during the day. The Governor had been very courteous and had been a little more helpful than some of them had been.

HESS: Was this during the regular campaign?

CHAPMAN: No, this was on that first trip, nonpolitical trip. But Dawson's speech up there, I will never forget the phrase that he used.


He had a deep, heavy voice as so many black people have, and he got up, introduced the President, and he said, "Now, the press is telling the public that this man has been in the White House too long, that he shouldn't be there any longer." He said, "I want to ask you, how long is too long when it's good?" That crowd just roared with that. He said, "How long is too long when it's good?" He got a terrific ovation out of that, and Truman got a wide ovation there. They just tore the town down for him almost.

HESS: That must not have been in the...

CHAPMAN: That might have been on the second trip.

HESS: I can't find anything about Dawson in the notes. The President also spoke at Gary.

CHAPMAN: Yes, he was in Gary.

HESS: I can't find anyplace where Dawson would have


introduced him in Chicago, but quite probably it was just not released to the press.

CHAPMAN: I'll tell you, this was nothing, this was purely a…

HESS: Off-the-cuff remarks?

CHAPMAN: I would say off-the-cuff remarks. The whole thing was informal.

HESS: It didn't go through the press office?

CHAPMAN: It was not on any program, you see. So, we did this at the last minute because Dawson was feeling like he was being left out a little bit. I caught that feeling. I had caught it before I left there, and I had tipped Clark off to it. I said, "Some way or another get him in the car with the President if you can and drive down through the black district. You can stop the car on any one of about five corners. He'll have 5,000 people there," He


passed my guess by a long way. He had far more than 5,000.

HESS: So this was away to give recognition to Congressman Dawson and also to have the President appear and speak before a group of black people.

CHAPMAN: That's right. He did.

HESS: How important to his victory in 1948 do you think that the black vote was, particularly the urban black vote? In Chicago for instance?

CHAPMAN: Oh, very definitely it was a real asset. They gave us a margin for victory. There isn't any question in my mind that they gave us the margin we got. Remember, that was a close election out there.

HESS: Why do you feel that most blacks were voting for the Democratic Party in 1948? Was this a holdover from the Roosevelt era when they voted overwhelmingly for Roosevelt? As I understand, the black vote was still dominantly Republican in 1932, right?


CHAPMAN: That is correct, and that was principally because it had not been organized sufficiently.

HESS: Then four years later in 1936, we see a definite switch, a definite change, after four years of the Roosevelt administration.

CHAPMAN: That's the part I want to tell you about. People didn't realize what Truman had done those first four years. He had done things for the poor people and for the Negroes. He had supported the Negro position right straight down the line. He was against segregation. He expressed himself. That word got around among people everywhere. And besides, Truman had done some things legislative wise. He had put himself on record on two or three important issues for them that he publicly had supported, which had never been done before by any President for the Negro people. He had put himself on record in such a way and on such important issues that affected the black man very deeply, and they began to realize that


"This man is really with us. He's really trying to help us." They got the feeling, the Negro group. The black man got the feeling that after his four years in there that he had really tried to do something for them. They had felt that he was trying to carry on the Roosevelt program, which was in their favor, and they believed that and some of the carryover was from that. But his record supported it. That's what made it solid.

HESS: Did political expediency enter into Mr. Truman's view of civil rights to any degree?

CHAPMAN: No, no. Tru