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
August 18, 1972
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
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Harry S. Truman Library
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Oral History Interview with
Oscar L. Chapman
August 18, 1972
Jerry N. Hess
HESS: In our fifth meeting, we were discussing the New York Times
article by Anthony Leviero of August 1, 1948. In the article he referred
to a number of meetings that were held to form a staff of political advisers
and it states:
Such meetings have been held after a fashion for a few months. But the
group has been enlarged and has scheduled frequent meetings for an all-out
campaign. The first of the new high councils was held on July 22. The
White House declined to identify those who attended.
In writing to the Library I got a Xerox copy of the page from the White
House Appointments Books for July 22, and we see that the meeting was
held at 8 p.m. in the evening and included, according to the list in the
Appointments Books: The Attorney General, Tom Clark; the Secretary of
Commerce, Charles Sawyer; Oscar Ewing; yourself; Leslie Biffle; William
Pawley; Senator Carl Hatch; Stephen Early; Judge Samuel I. Rosenman; and
Matthew J. Connelly. Let's discuss that meeting for a moment and discuss
what was the subject of the meeting and were there others present who
are not named on the list.
CHAPMAN: Well, I'm just reading the list off here to see who was present
there that I didn't remember. I see one or two here that were there that
I had not remembered.
HESS: Who was that? Which ones?
CHAPMAN: Mr. and Mrs. Warren Pershing. That was arranged by Mr. Ross.
HESS: What time of the day there? Were they at the 8 o'clock meeting?
CHAPMAN: No, no, that's right. They were not at the 8 o'clock. It's got
the hours here.
HESS: The 8 o'clock meeting is the last one listed for the day. That
starts off with Attorney General Clark, I believe. That's the way I have
it on my list. Yes, that's right.
HESS: What was the subject of that meeting?
CHAPMAN: That meeting in the evening was devoted primarily to the discussion
of selecting a few more members to go on the finance committee, add to
the finance committee, and to enlarge our activities by that method for
the time being. Then we selected from that group; I know we selected from
that group, Oscar Ewing, Bill Pawley--I don't see any more on that list
that was there that night.
HESS: The article by Anthony Leviero of August 1 mentions that two men
at that time were under consideration for chairman of the finance committee,
and they were Cornelius V. Whitney, who was Assistant Secretary of the
Air Force at that time, and Mr. William Pawley who was former Ambassador
to Brazil. Pawley was at the meeting on July 22, but Whitney was not.
CHAPMAN: That's right.
HESS: Was Whitney's name also mentioned as a possible chairman of the
CHAPMAN: Yes, it was mentioned.
HESS: Was the job offered to him?
CHAPMAN: I didn't understand that it had been, that it had been offered
him. He was discussed in relation to his duties and what he was doing,
and whether he would be in a position to be able to help very much. They
discussed him for a little while but not long. They seemed to have dropped
him from the discussion as the thing went on in the evening, that it would
be hard to do with his duties that he had to perform. Somebody got a telegram
from him that night, about his not being able to serve.
HESS: What are the criteria that are looked for when you are selecting
someone for a position like that? What kind of a man do you want to head
the finance committee?
CHAPMAN: Well, you look for first, a man with courtesy.
HESS: Mr. Louis Johnson was finally chosen, or finally accepted the job.
Was he discussed that night?
CHAPMAN: Yes, he was.
HESS: Why wasn't he in attendance that night, do you recall?
CHAPMAN: Wasn't he there?
HESS: Not according to my list. Do you think he was?
CHAPMAN: Yes, I do,
HESS: For just a moment let's discus who else attended that meeting that
did not get their names on the list? We have Attorney General Clark; Secretary
Sawyer; Oscar Ewing, who was head of the Federal Security Agency at that
time, what later became HEW; yourself; Leslie
Biffle; William Pawley;
Senator Hatch; Steve Early; Judge Rosenman and Matt Connelly. Who else
do you recall being at that meeting?
CHAPMAN: Well, I thought Rosenman was there at the meeting.
HESS: He's listed. What about Clark Clifford?
CHAPMAN: Clark Clifford was there.
HESS: He was there. Sometimes, as I understand it, lists of this nature
were drawn up in advance.
CHAPMAN: Quite often they were just a bunch of names that were put down.
HESS: That's right, so the President would know who was coming in at
a certain time.
CHAPMAN: Then they would scratch them off sometimes when they didn't
HESS: And other people would come in whose names were not on the list.
CHAPMAN: That's right.
HESS: Do you recall anyone else besides Mr. Clifford--and you say Louis
Johnson was there?
CHAPMAN: Yes, he was there.
HESS: Do you recall anyone else besides Louis Johnson and Clark Clifford
who attended the July 22 meeting?
CHAPMAN: No, I don't.
HESS: What did Louis Johnson have to say that night, do you recall?
CHAPMAN: Well, he was quite talkative, free in giving his advice and
judgment and so on.
HESS: Was it about this time when he was offered the position?
CHAPMAN: I think it was at this time, the next day or soon after when
he was asked to do it.
HESS: What kind of a job did Louis Johnson do as
chairman of the finance committee?
CHAPMAN: I thought he did a pretty good job. You've got to remember the
circumstances under which he was working. Truman's stock was quite low
at that particular time. That was at one of his low points at that time,
and, naturally, no one wanted to take it, to serve, at that time. I think
Lou Johnson came to that meeting with full intention and everything of
taking it. I think he came there with the idea of accepting it if it was
offered to him at all.
HESS: Do you recall if he was offered any inducements to take that position?
For instance, if he would take that position and raise money for the Democratic
National Committee that he might be offered a position if the President
was successful in the election?
CHAPMAN: I don't know who would have offered it to him.
HESS: How about Mr. Truman?
CHAPMAN: He wouldn't do that. I have every reason to believe that he
wouldn't make that offer in turn for his raising money for the campaign.
I just don't believe he would do that.
HESS: There are those who say that an offer of this nature may have been
made because when Mr. Forrestal left in March of 1949, Mr. Johnson replaced
him as Secretary of Defense, and as you will recall. Mr. Johnson had been
in the War Department with Woodring before and had wanted to move up into
the top spot when Stimson was chosen back before World War II. But you
don't think there's anything to that?
CHAPMAN: I think that came entirely out of Johnson's mind. I think he
was spreading it.
HESS: Johnson did?
CHAPMAN: Yes. I think he was giving out information at that time that
he had been offered the Secretary
of Defense to take this.
HESS: The treasurer of the Democratic National Committee was Joseph L.
Blythe. Do you recall anything in particular about Joseph L. Blythe?
CHAPMAN: Not a thing. I didn't talk with him; I never talked with him
on anything that I can remember. He would work mostly with Johnson, and
Johnson would keep in touch with him because he was the money man.
HESS: Did you become involved in the matters of fund raising in 1948
in any way?
CHAPMAN: No. He's got things in here that are mixed.
HESS: That wasn't part of your duties as an advance man?
HESS: Anthony Leviero, in his article?
HESS: Where does he get mixed up?
CHAPMAN: He's got some things that are mixed, and I don't mean that he's
got them wrong, necessarily, but not in sequence of their actual performance,
when they did it and so on.
HESS: What did you find?
CHAPMAN: I was trying to look for that one spot that I found. I found
that you'd already marked one of them.
HESS: We should say for historians that what we are looking at is an
article by Anthony Leviero which appeared in the New York Times
on August 1, 1948, in Section 4, page 1, and starts on column 3.
CHAPMAN: That is right.
HESS: One thing that Mr. Leviero mentions is that two "old hands,"
as he calls them, are coming back to assist: Jonathan Daniels and Paul
Porter. Now, neither one of those men was at the meeting,
but what do
you recall about the assistance of Jonathan Daniels and Paul Porter about
CHAPMAN: Paul Porter was at that meeting.
HESS: He was?
CHAPMAN: Yes, he was at that meeting that night, but Daniels was not.
I don't remember his being there.
HESS: Do you recall anything about Paul Porter's assistance to Mr. Truman
during the campaign?
CHAPMAN: Yes, he was very active, quite active, in assisting in raising
money and turning it over to Mr. Johnson.
HESS: The article states that James Forrestal, who was Secretary of Defense
might take some part in political discussions, but that he usually disassociated
himself from politics. It says: "Observers cannot picture his taking the stump
for President Truman or any other candidate." Did Mr. Forrestal
assist in any way in the campaign, or did he keep himself separated from
CHAPMAN: As far as I know he did not do any work in relation to anything
I was doing, so I don't know if he assisted in some other way with some
of the other men who were working with the President or not.
HESS: Was it the normal course of events for people associated with the
Defense Department to disassociate themselves from politics?
CHAPMAN: Yes, it was pretty generally a policy for the Secretary of State
and the Secretary of Defense, not to make political speeches, not that
they didn't make some speeches occasionally. And whether they were or
not, they were always charged with that.
HESS: Did the fact that he did not take a role in
the campaign have any
bearing whatsoever on his resignation the following March in 1949?
CHAPMAN: No, I done think it did. I really think, as I look back on the
situation, I honestly believe that it was his health that was detected
by Truman and some of the others that were closely associated with Forrestal.
I think that that was the basis for problems that arose during the next
few months that brought it about, and when Truman was elected, Johnson
was beginning to spread pretty freely the commitment he supposedly had.
HESS: Do you recall when you first noticed signs of the unfortunate mental
breakdown that overtook Mr. Forrestal?
CHAPMAN: Well, it's very hard for a layman to say that, to know, because
you can't tell. It's so hard for a layman to judge. I don't know just
at what point he really was going down. I couldn't tell. I didn't see
him enough to tell
at what point he was breaking down. I never talked
to a doctor or anyone about him.
HESS: Do you know if he attended Cabinet meetings regularly, say in January
CHAPMAN: I am just thinking about that period.
HESS: This is something we can look up in the record, of course, but
did Mr. Krug attend regularly also in January and February?
CHAPMAN: No, he never attended regularly.
HESS: He did not attend regularly at any time.
CHAPMAN: No. He was traveling a good deal through the conservation areas,
Park Service, and Fish and Wildlife Service. There were some people who
began to make comments about Mr. Krug's absence from the campaign trail.
As a matter of fact, he didn't want to make any. He had been so convinced
by Barnie Baruch that he didn't want to take too much of a part in it.
By the same
token, Louis Johnson had a great deal of hesitancy about Truman.
HESS: Louis Johnson did?
HESS: Did you hear him make any comments of that nature during the campaign?
HESS: What did he say?
CHAPMAN: He just commented that there were such a lot of skeptics working
He was not critical of Truman as a man. He was not downgrading him, but
he was speaking in terms that Truman would have to overcome; he was speaking
in terms that Truman would not be able to carry this state or that particular
state, one or two states that he had in mind. They were big states and
he carried them both.
HESS: What states were they, do you recall? Some
of the important states were Ohio...
CHAPMAN: California, Illinois.
HESS: He didn't think Mr. Truman had much of a chance in those states?
CHAPMAN: No, he didn't think he would carry them. I said, "If I were
a betting man I'd make a nice bet with you on that, on each, state by state."
HESS: What did he say? He didn't want to take you up on that?
CHAPMAN: He pretended that he did but he didn't. He pretended where everybody
could hear that he was taking me up on it, but he didn't take me up on
it, and he wasn't intending to.
HESS: If he did not think Mr. Truman would take those states, and perhaps
was not going to win the election, why did he accept the position as chairman
of the finance committee?
CHAPMAN: Well, you sometimes wonder when a man takes
a position in a
campaign, obviously a lead man in an important position for the President,
as finance chairman for the committee would be; you wonder what he's thinking
and what his plans are.
I was working pretty close with Louis. We worked very close together.
He was trying to impress me with the work that he was doing, the amount
of work that he was doing. For instance, often held get a good-sized donation
and he would give me a call and say, "Oscar, I've got some good news for
you this morning. We can get the train out [or plane] and we can so-and-so,
absolutely on time. We can count on him. We got the money."
I said, "In hand?"
He said, "In hand."
I said, "Good for you. That's wonderful."
He'd keep on talking to me. He'd have to tell me. He always wanted to
tell me who it was. He fished around and he got it around to where it
looked like I was asking him, or trying to, who it was. He had a very
peculiar quirk in his
thinking. He'd like for you to know that he had
done certain things, but some things, I know, did not get done at all.
HESS: Even though he said that he had done them, is that right?
CHAPMAN: Even though he said he had done them, they had not been done.
HESS: Could you give me an illustration?
CHAPMAN: Yes. I don't like to use a man's name though.
HESS: That's all right.
CHAPMAN: He was telling me about the success that he had on his New York
trip. He says, "I had a wonderful trip to New York these last three days."
We happened to get back here the same day; we got in about the same hour.
I had flown back in and he had taken the train, and so when I got here
I telephoned him in the office and
I got his secretary who had been with
him for twenty-five years, and she would give me almost any information
she had; whatever I would ask her about, she'd tell me. I would ask her
views, fishing, giving information to get everything in line that I could
so that when I got down close to the end of the road, I had notes from
the meetings of what had been said and done by certain people. This particular
incident was recorded in a little memo I had, a brief memo, and I had
kidded him about it a little bit and I said, "Lou, what is your explanation
for Mr. So-and-So not coming through with that money?"
He was surprised because he didn't know that I knew about that. He was
a little surprised and he said, "Well, he's coming through. He's coming
through. He got a little bit late in some change of stocks and so he's
got to find the right time to dispose of those stocks and he's going to
do that. I'll have that ready."
I said, "That's the stock that I put on my
notation that you had in your
pocket and I committed it."
I always kept back enough money to pay my bills on the current trip,
each trip, always knowing that political commitments are not kept two
thirds of the time, or at least a third of the time. Should I say that
political commitments are not kept as easily as they would if they were
making a commitment to you up on the Hill as a Senator. "Johnson, I'll
do so and so for you as Senator," They would have much better headway
had we been able to get someone, but I don't think we could get any Senator
to do it. If you had had a Senator helping you, a Senator that was loyal
to the President, you would have had to work close with him as you do
any chairman of any campaign committee. I know Johnson was quite disturbed
in his own mind. I don't know how to follow this up now.
HESS: Senator Carl Hatch was at that meeting on July 22.
CHAPMAN: Yes, he was.
HESS: Did he provide assistance during the campaign?
CHAPMAN: Yes, he did, but not the type we needed. We needed more of the
intense contacting work than we did. Carl Hatch was very loyal and he
was very good. He was very loyal to the President, and I know he thought
a great deal of him. He was trying to help us all he could, but he couldn't
do but so much. He was still in the Senate; he couldn't resign. You see,
it's a little difficult to resign from the Senate and go back in when
you want to. Now an administrative man can take a leave without pay anytime
he wants to, if the President agrees to it. That's the way mine was done.
Ickes had gone but he was still shooting behind the scene.
HESS: A power behind the scene?
CHAPMAN: He was trying to be. You see, he was trying to get back with
Truman, but he didn't want
it known, in any way at all. But he was not
too happy with the President. He didn't agree with him, and I know he
made the comment in my presence that he thought I should take my leave
HESS: Without pay?
CHAPMAN: With pay, excuse me. That I should take my leave with pay. I
said, "I think that's too dangerous and would be subject to criticism.
I'd rather do without a few dollars than to be put in a position of having
to defend myself because I'm helping President Truman,"
Johnson was trying to get next to Truman all the time, closer, and in
that interim, transition period, Lou was keeping up with him like a bodyguard.
There was one thing I was going to tell. you about, Johnson's lack of
activities, some things he had done, reported done as if they were accomplished,
and they had not been accomplished.
HESS: Did you run across that several times?
CHAPMAN: Yes, I ran across that several times.
HESS: I understand there were times when the funds ran low and there
would be difficulty getting the train out of the station or paying the
bill for radio time.
CHAPMAN: I didn't handle details on train expenses for that particular
instance, but I know we were caught once where we were up to leaving time,
within an hour before we left, and we didn't have the money. I said, "Let's
go get on the Pennsylvania and put the President on that train and let's
see them put him off." I said, "They're a lot more worried about it than
Truman looked at me and he said, "I think you've got an idea there."
I said, "But we must work diligently to get the money and get it in there
as soon as we can. We must do it because it's not the foundation of a
specific law which affects a
President of the United States, but it might
cause some criticism for us to take advantage of that situation to do it."
HESS: Where was that recall, do you recall?
CHAPMAN: Right out of Washington. We didn't have the money to leave here
and naturally we were right under the spotlight right here in Washington.
HESS: Was that one of the western trips?
CHAPMAN: Yes, that was a western trip. On this trip west, he was making
little stops, a lot of stops between Washington, D.C. and Indianapolis,
and we took advantage of that, made a lot of stops on that.
HESS: Going back to the July 22 meeting, what was Mr. Truman's attitude
that night? Do you recall anything that he said?
CHAPMAN: Nothing other than in keeping with our discussions. We had had
some discussions in
which we talked about the campaign, and which section
of the country we should start first, and I think I recommended a general
outline that we should start first in the far away trips from Washington
and close in on New York and Washington and Philadelphia and the big cities.
HESS: Later in the campaign?
CHAPMAN: Bring it in as to the last part of the campaign.
HESS: That was done?
CHAPMAN: That was done.
HESS: Why did you think it should be handled in that manner?
CHAPMAN: Well, it was a question of saving time for the President so
he would cover more people, see more people, and more people would hear
him, more in that way than in any other way I could think of. You've got
to control your time and let more people see you, and by that time of
the campaign you're under heavy pressure; each day it increases, the pressure
for him to come to "my town and stop there and make a speech."
HESS: Do you recall any discussion about whether or not he should go
into the South during this campaign? As you recall, the South had walked
out. J. Strom Thurmond had started the States Rights Party and they were
going to be running, and Mr. Truman did not go into the South very much.
He went to Raleigh, North Carolina to the North Carolina State Fair, and
to Miami to the American Legion convention. But he did not take an extended
trip through the South.
CHAPMAN: No, he never did take a full-fledged trip into the South.
HESS: Was that by design, to limit his appearances in the South?
HESS: "We just can't go into the South."
CHAPMAN: Well, the point was, we wanted to be sure that we were not wasting
our time. Our time had to be measured in very careful terms, because we
had run pretty late for the convention and consequently we wanted to see
more people than it was possible to see, really.
HESS: And Thurmond took Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina
and one electoral vote out of twelve in Tennessee. So was it pretty well
recognized at this time that the Deep South was lost to the Democratic Party?
CHAPMAN: Yes. We had that about as well tabulated, up to the nth degree,
as to what we would be able to do and not do there. We had that pretty
well scheduled out and that was one of the most accurate pieces of work
that we did. You see, we had a man--I didn't go South myself, I never
did go South, because I was known as a crusader for rights.
My position on the civil rights issue was so
well-known and I had more
or less crusaded on it and had done some speaking on that subject. I had
done a great deal of work on that and it was well-known in the South,
although I was well panned for it at the time, being criticized as a Virginian
who was against my father and so on. My father was in the Civil War.
You know, things of evil intent seem to travel at such high speed compared
with things of honest intentions. They don't travel as fast.
HESS: They say the truth never catches up with a lie.
CHAPMAN: Never, never catches up with a lie, not to a full degree. You
may sometimes curtail it; you may sometimes do some good by trying to
curtail it, but you don't really catch up with the lie itself.
HESS: Mr. Truman's first talk that year was the traditional opening address,
the Labor Day address
at Cadillac Square in Detroit. Back in those days
when labor could pretty well be counted on to be in the Democratic line,
that was traditional, wasn't it, to open at Cadillac Square in Detroit?
Did you go up there that time?
CHAPMAN: I did.
HESS: What do you recall about that day?
CHAPMAN: Well, in the first place, Jimmy Hoffa was always in a fight
with his labor competitors in the union and he would take advantage of
any opportunity to knock them down where he could, and he did a good job
of it. I'll say that. It came up pretty close to Labor Day and we still
didn't have a good organization as I thought they ought to have worked
out to get the delivery of bodies in the hall.
HESS: What labor leaders were you working through?
CHAPMAN: Well, at that time, you'd be working through
the various top labor leaders.
HESS: Phil Murray...
CHAPMAN: Yes; Phil Murray was definitely with us all the way through.
He was a hundred percent.
HESS: Was Dave Beck in charge of the Teamsters at that time?
CHAPMAN: Yes, he was with the Teamsters at that time.
HESS: Walter Reuther, of course, with United Auto Workers.
CHAPMAN: What I did, I got in between those two or three people and did
all I could to stir them up on each other.
HESS: How do you do that?
CHAPMAN: Well, in the first place, I went to a meeting that they had
invited me to and I attended the meeting and made a little talk. I didn't
try to make a speech, but I made a little talk that would help. I knew
Jimmy Hoffa would see red if I mentioned Walter Reuther's name or Phil
Murray; he'd go wild on it. I had mentioned something they had done or
had planned to do, or was going to do, and added, "I wish this group would
take the subject up themselves and pass on it and pass it down the line
to your people, and get their real help in this location, in this area."
That set Jimmy Hoffa off. His fuse was at a low burning stage, and I set
him off in two minutes just by one or two things. He would never wait
to see whether you would qualify your statement or not, so I was always
careful about doing it. I saw Jimmy on Saturday before Labor Day. I saw
Jimmy. We had quite a session, a long session.
HESS: What did he talk about? What seemed to be his mood?
CHAPMAN: His mood was, "Now, you quit working with these other bastards
and I'll help you fill that damned hall. I'll have every seat in the hall
taken and 10,000 people outside, standing outside to get in."
HESS: But he more or less wanted to be the exclusive agent, is that right?
CHAPMAN: He did. He was trying to maneuver for that. He saw that wouldn't
go over, that that couldn't work. So, I tried to do it in as nice a way
as I could, to get him off of this shift as easily as I could.
HESS: Because in Detroit you could not ignore the United Auto Workers,
even though the Teamsters are a powerful union; you can't go to Detroit
and ignore the United Auto Workers.
CHAPMAN: No, you couldn't. It would be just as foolish as anything you
could think of. It was just plain foolish to think of it.
I was just trying
to look back in my brains, the things that I've been holding in my mind
for you, to give you. I didn't get a chance to go through some notes I
had there at the house that I would have used with you this morning. That's
what I planned to do. I clearly forgot them this morning.
HESS: One thing of interest that we might develop, you mentioned the
difficulty of getting Senators to help with the fund raising. Is one of
the problems there, trying to work with Congress, is that they're trying
to get reelected, too? Every member of the House is up for reelection,
and one-third of the members of the Senate, and they have their own fundraising
to do, do they not? I believe that Congressman Mike Kirwin of Youngstown
at that time was trying to raise money for the House, wasn't that right?
I don't recall who was the head of the Democratic senatorial fundraising.
CHAPMAN: He was.
HESS: He was, for the Senate, too?
CHAPMAN: No, just the House.
HESS: Just the House. I don't recall who was in charge of the Senate's.
CHAPMAN: Let me see. I think I can tell you that, I believe Mike Mansfield
was. I can't be sure, but 1 think he was.
HESS: Does competition for funds sometimes cause friction between the
people who are trying to raise money for the Hill and the people who are
trying to raise money for the executive branch?
CHAPMAN: They're always running into each other. But back to labor--if
we got an entree to a place that we can get to this man and his group,
we try to reach him as fast as possible. Otherwise, if you're expecting
anything like that, we
would always know where he was going to be at at
all times, and they kept up with him pretty regularly as to, where he
was. They were always keeping me informed of where Jimmy was. I kept up
with most of the other labor leaders, and I kept up with where they were
most of the time. Then I'd keep in touch with them. That's the way that
I stirred up all kinds of little contentions among--I didn't lie to them,
I didn't do that--but I would tell them what they had actually done, and
that they had done these things, you see. I'd tell them something about
a meeting in which a commitment had been made to me to do certain things;
that Reuther had committed himself to do certain things, and I made it
a point to keep it no secret at all. Well, that just burned Jimmy Hoffa
up, his name not being up among the first four or five, you see. That's
what he wanted. So, he really put the heat on Dave Beck. There was one
spot in there where he put the heat on him pretty hard.
HESS: In what way, what did he do?
CHAPMAN: Oh, by pressuring him to get his unions better organizes out
in the West to help Dave. They didn't have them as well-organized out
West there as they did certain little spots. Dave would tell me which
spots they were, if they had a good solid organization. Dave would tell
me, and I had that information and I would go to some meeting that he
was going to attend. Well, I'd have a good flash going by the time I'd
get through that meeting, because I'd said something at which I knew that
Jimmy Hoffa would be mad. He didn't get mad for nothing. It always paid
off for him, but he never got anything out of me. I want to say, he never
asked for anything. He never tried to get anything out of me. Not once
did he try to get anything out of me.
HESS: Did Mr. Truman's veto of the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947 make it easier
for you in your dealings with labor leaders?
CHAPMAN: Oh, yes, much easier.
HESS: What was the image that labor had of Mr. Truman?
CHAPMAN: It was a changing stream, going down hill here. They were uncertain
which way he was going to turn into the irrigation ditch, and whether
he was going to turn out in this direction, or into another ditch. I'm
speaking in reclamation language at this point.
I had to turn down a client, a good client, this morning, who made me
a good offer, but I couldn't take it, because I found that it was one
of the things that I had signed. I'd signed the contract. You don't just
pick up a case that you have handled in the Government. Now sometimes,
a question of time eliminates the evil of that, the particular thing,
but it doesn't always eliminate it, and certainly the question of what
is evil and what is not, the subject of that nowadays, comes to me pretty
freely and pretty fast. I have been trained under a man
like Ben Lindsay
in Denver, the judge who really taught me some things about that kind
of a thing. Ickes did the same thing. Ickes was very much like Lindsay.
They both were a lot alike.
HESS: What trips in 1948 did you act as advance man for? For all of the
CHAPMAN: Yes, practically all of the western trips. He may have made
a quick flying trip--in some cases, for instance, where he would fly up
to Chicago for a quick meeting. Matt Connelly would be along and I would
have my problems because I had my schedule already made ahead of time
and I couldn't make two of them.
HESS: You just couldn't do it.
CHAPMAN: I just couldn't do it, I said, "Mr. President, I can't possibly
make it, I have a conflict." I was briefed by Richard Daley on his
situation, what it was, and I knew pretty much what his problems were
there and I said to Richard,
"Richard, who in the administration in Washington
would be helpful to you out here, that would know enough about the politics
to know how to handle the President of the United States when he comes
here? You know, a lot of people don't know how t