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Clark M. Clifford Oral History Interview, April 13, 1971

Oral History Interview with
CLARK M. CLIFFORD

Assistant to White House Naval Aide, 1945-46; Special Counsel to the President, 1946-50.

Washington, D. C.
April 13, 1971
by Jerry N. Hess

[Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | Additional Clifford Oral History Transcripts | List of Subjects Discussed]


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 It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.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 April, 1977
Harry S. Truman Library
Independence, Missouri

[Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | Additional Clifford Oral History Transcripts | List of Subjects Discussed | Top of the Page]



[27]

HESS: To begin today, Mr. Clifford, do you recall if Hugh Fulton may have been under consideration for a position as Special Counsel or Attorney General at the time Mr. Truman took over the office of the Presidency?

CLIFFORD: I would not have any information on that because when I came in about May of 1945, I had had no previous acquaintanceship with President Truman. I had no knowledge regarding the associations that he had with any number of men. I met Hugh Fulton during that period, from time to time at the White House, but I was not privy to President Truman's plans with reference to him.

HESS: One point, to keep things in chronological order, also, what stands out in your mind concerning

[28]

the events around the White House at the day that the Japanese surrendered in August. Anything in particular?

CLIFFORD: I remember at that time that we had given some attention to the statement that President Truman made on radio. And it was a time, obviously, of great rejoicing. I remember being interested in when he was going to make the announcement, what was to be said, and when that was done, then I remember everybody pretty well declared the rest of the day a holiday. My wife was in town at the time, and I remember that we went our perhaps in the late afternoon, and stayed out all through dinner time, all through the evening, just mixing with the crowd. It was a marvelous experience. Everybody knew everybody, everybody was everybody's friend, any time a soldier would walk down the street, all the girls would stop and kiss him. It was a most . . .

[29]

HESS: A good day to be in the Army.

CLIFFORD: It was a most wonderful spirit of comraderie among all Americans, a time of great rejoicing and all. I know we got a great psychological lift out of it.

HESS: All right, moving on in time, Mr. Truman sent a message to Congress on September the 6th of 1945, the twenty-one point message, and in his Memoirs you are referred to in this context, and Mr. Truman says:

I sent the final revised version to the printer, and when the galley proofs were ready I called Clark Clifford, John Steelman, John Snyder, Charlie Ross, and several other advisers. With Rosenman, we went over the proofs point by point . . . .

What comes to mind when you look back on that message?

CLIFFORD: My recollection of it would be that I had worked with Judge Rosenman on it in a minor

[30]

capacity. It was mainly his job. I believe that what Judge Rosenman wished to accomplish by it, and President Truman was to show a continuity of governing and a continuity of policy between the Franklin Roosevelt Administration and the Truman Administration. It was something of a reiteration of the basic principles that Judge Rosenman had worked on with Franklin Roosevelt, and I believe that President Truman wanted his team in on a conference to determine whether or not it would be right for him.

At that particular time, my own view of it was that it was a correct position for him to take. I believe that what he wanted to do was to demonstrate continuity of policy to the American people. It was not a time with all that was happening, to inform the American people that they were going to have a great shift in governmental policy. I think

[31]

any new President coming in under those circumstances is interested in demonstrating continuity. It helps keep the Ship of State on an even course, so that the public doesn't get an idea that there's vacillation going on on the bridge.

And in this instance, I'm sure that we all met and went over it and exchanged ideas. It is my recollection that the twenty-one point message came out pretty much as Judge Rosenman had originally prepared it. I don't believe that there was much modification of it. I might say (and we'll touch on it later) that as we got on into '46 and '47, I think that we changed from the policy of showing continuity to a policy that showed an affirmative effort on the part of President Truman to develop a Truman program as distinguished from a continuation of a Roosevelt program.

HESS: Was there a conscious effort on the part of the

[32]

White House staff at this time, say in the summer and early fall of '45, to show a continuation and to say that we should carry on with the Roosevelt policy.

CLIFFORD: I would say that it was more one of general attitude than it being a specific formulated policy. When President Truman came in, the war was still on in both theaters. I suppose it was in May that the European phase ended, May of '45 . . .

HESS: April.

CLIFFORD: In April the European phase ended, and then in August the Japanese phase ended. We were still carrying on in the Roosevelt tradition through that time. And I'd say for the balance of '45 there was still a basic concept, "Let's carry on with the program the Franklin Roosevelt started." That was very much the

[33]

feeling, I believe, on the part of all of us at that time.

HESS: One other quote about that particular meeting that the President had on the twenty-one points message. He said:

Most of my advisers agreed with the message, but some of my more conservative associates advised me against this definite commitment to such liberal measures. One of these was John Snyder, who at that time was Director of War Mobilization and Reconversion.

At this time did you notice any beginnings of a struggle between the so-called liberal and conservative elements for the President's attention?

CLIFFORD: I was not conscious of it that early. The fact is that I had known John Snyder before I came to Washington. I had known him slightly in St. Louis, and I had an office in the White House in the East Wing where he had one. I saw

[34]

him from time to time. We were working together and I was, at that early stage, not conscious of the beginning of the struggle that was later to become so important. Also, I had not, by that time, worked into the inner counsel sufficiently to be conscious of the various cross-currents which were even then obviously starting to flow.

HESS: When things began to shape up between the conservatives and the liberal elements who were a few of the people in each camp?

CLIFFORD: I would say that as we got on into '46 I became conscious of two major forces which were pulling and tugging at the President. And on the liberal side, I would say that Oscar Chapman would be an important figure, and I believe, I might have talked about the Oscar Ewing group? Did I go into that?

[35]

HESS: We haven't touched on that yet.

CLIFFORD: We haven't? All right, well, that was one of the most significant developments that took place. There were others . . .

HESS: Did that--we'll cover that later, but did that start in '46?

CLIFFORD: Probably that did not start until either the end of '46 or the beginning of '47. I'm not sure I can just designate at the very beginning who the liberal forces were; it wasn't too clear. Most of the old Roosevelt appointees had been of liberal persuasion. By the end of '45 most of them had gone. Now, on the other side, I think that as time went on, John Snyder headed up the conservative group. I think I'd put Clinton Anderson, the Secretary of Agriculture, in that group. That would be about as far as I could go.

[36]

HESS: Any White House members, any White House staff members?

CLIFFORD: I think that I would put, generally, I'd put Dr. [John R.] Steelman more in the conservative camp than I would in the liberal camp. Oftentimes the line of demarcation was not too sharp. I think that a man like Charlie Ross might sometime be in one camp and sometimes in the other. He was more likely to be in the liberal camp than in the conservative camp, but in those early stages the lines were not nearly so clearly drawn. Later on they did become very clear.

HESS: Do you recall the incident, or the occasion, w hen you first noticed that there were two such forces?

CLIFFORD: No. I would not be able to pick up . . .

[37]

HESS: Can't pin it down?

CLIFFORD: I would not be able to be that specific. I would say that in the first half of '46, while I was still in the Naval Aide's office, I started doing some of the duties that had previously been assigned to Judge Rosenman. Also, I remember working quite closely with John Snyder during that period. I remember writing speeches for him. And then we came to the railroad situation in the spring of '46.

HESS: That's right.

CLIFFORD: And I'm sure that John Snyder probably applauded my efforts at that time in writing that very rough speech for the President. I might add that I later thought that maybe the speech was too rough, but certainly at the time it helped accomplish the purpose. It broke the strike and kept the railroads running.

[38]

And then later that year we got into the real serious imbroglio with John Lewis. At that time I suppose that John Snyder probably applauded my efforts in that regard, because I counseled the President to take a very hard line with Lewis.

HESS: Why?

CLIFFORD: Because I thought we could not permit a strike. We were just coming out of the wartime economy, the peacetime economy really was teetering in balance, and a coal strike at that time would have dealt the economy a blow from which it might not have recovered for years. It so happened that I remember there were very short supplies of coal all over the country. And if we had a strike, our public utilities would have been forced to shut down, our office buildings would have had to shut down because

[39]

the elevators couldn't run, and our schools and hospitals would have had to close. I felt that Lewis was wrong and I felt that the President was going to have to take a hard stand.

Also, I thought that it was an excellent opportunity for President Truman to be a very strong President. And he was a strong President; and he busted that matter wide open and it did a great deal for him. He took the case to court and it was tried and he won, and it went to the Supreme Court where the decision was affirmed. And I think it was that case together with the railroad strike that began to develop a real place for President Truman. Up until that time he was but a carbon copy, and a rather pale carbon copy, of Franklin Roosevelt. And I think that, although he had to take a very hard position in both of those

[40]

situation, they both turned out successfully. In politics, it's really success that counts.

HESS: Do you recall the nature of the advice the President received in the Lewis matter from the Department of Labor and from John Steelman, his labor man in residence in the White House?

CLIFFORD: They were both of the strong conviction that a settlement should be worked out, and that we should not get into a law suit over it. They felt it was better to work it out with Lewis and conceded that some kind of strike might be necessary. They didn't want to get into this kind of head-on contest.

Fortunately, President Truman rejected that advice, and did engage in it, and the courts and the public ultimately held that he was right and Lewis was wrong. And curiously enough, out of that struggle came a lasting friendship between

[41]

President Truman and John L. Lewis. John L. Lewis developed a lot of respect for President Truman in that fight, because he had given him a whale of a licking, and there weren't many who had given John L. Lewis a licking up until that time. And it was an interesting result; they both had a very real respect for each other, and later became friends.

HESS: We have mentioned the fact that several of the Roosevelt people stayed over in the Truman administration for a period of time. Did you detect any note, or feeling, of resentment on the part of the Roosevelt people against Mr. Truman, in the nature that they thought he might not be up to Mr. Roosevelt's standards?

CLIFFORD: Oh, unquestionably. As far as I was concerned, that was the attitude of practically all of the Roosevelt appointees.

[42]

HESS: How about Judge Rosenman?

CLIFFORD: Judge Rosenman could very well have been the exception to it. And I think there was another exception and that would have been Steve Early. I think that those two could have constituted exceptions, but you have to think back about the climate at the time. Franklin Roosevelt was a towering figure. He had had a very successful term as President; he had helped bring the country out of the depression of the thirties; he had been the wartime President in the first half of the forties (and successfully so), he was bringing the war to a successful conclusion when he died in April of 1945.

Then came President Truman, who was not nearly so well-known, who didn't have the style and the grand manner of FDR, and it was a very serious let-down for the Roosevelt

[43]

appointees, and they went rather quickly. And I think it was wise that they did, because President Truman was not comfortable with them and he began to organize his own team, with whom he felt comfortable and with whom he could work more effectively.

HESS: Now, getting ahead of the game a little bit, but in 1946, an off-year election when the 80th Congress came in, during the campaign Mr. Truman's activities were held down, and I recall that there were a good many Roosevelt speeches on records which were used quite extensively. And there were clubs for--it was almost as if the Democrats were running Roosevelt as head of the party and not Mr. Truman.

CLIFFORD: I think that's right, and I think the significance of that is clear. Franklin Roosevelt died a hero in office, and it was claimed that he was a casualty of the war, just like the

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man who carried the gun, as the burdens of office had been so great for him. There was a great outpouring of sympathy and admiration for FDR, and it was a very difficult time for the Vice President to come in. With the elections coming on in '46 the Democrats in a great many parts of the country, instead of pushing President Truman, pushed the Roosevelt program. They thought they had a more saleable article. "Keep the present administration in and you keep the Roosevelt program," was pretty much the philosophy at the time.

HESS: Do you recall President Truman's attitude about this particular happening?

CLIFFORD: Not in any detail. I think he accepted it philosophically. I think he sensed why people felt that way about it. You will remember that when he ascended to the office of the President, he said that he felt like the roof had just fallen

[45]

in on him. And I think he understood it very well. I don't believe it was a matter of very much concern to him that certain people felt that way. As a matter of fact, the election of November of '46 was to a great extent a question of whether or not the country wanted to continue on with the Roosevelt program. By that time President Truman had pretty well adopted it in the twenty-one point message in September of '45. He continued to go on with FDR's programs without rocking the boat. In November of '46, the people were sick and tired of the war, and tired of the effect of the war on the economy.

I remember one of the big issues at that time were price controls, that people had gotten sick of. I think to a certain extent, the election in November of 1946 was rather comparable to the British election in the spring of '45

[46]

which seemed absolutely unbelievable to us. After Winston Churchill took the British people through the most grievous experience in British history successfully, to a great extent by the strength of his character and his integrity, they turned him out of office under the most embarrassing circumstances. The British election was held in the spring and early summer of '45 during the Potsdam Conference.

HESS: Right during the Potsdam Conference.

CLIFFORD: And Winston Churchill was representing the British Empire at the Potsdam Conference; the election then takes place, and he is defeated in a most humiliating way. He had to get up and leave the Potsdam Conference and go back to England and Clement Attlee came over and took his place. So, there was a certain amount, I think, of that general public reaction when the

[47]

November '46 election came up. They were sick of the war and they were sick of all that went with it, and . . .

HESS: Time for a change, more or less.

CLIFFORD: . . . turn the folks out--time for a change, that's right.

HESS: Return to normalcy, as they said after the First World War.

CLIFFORD: That was Warren Harding's slogan, "Return to normalcy."

HESS: That's right.

At one point you mention that in your opinion Mr. Truman was a very strong man. I would like to ask when you first noticed that characteristic about Mr. Truman.

CLIFFORD: I would say that one would not notice it

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at first because when he came into the Presidency, the office was so new to him. Franklin Roosevelt had taken no steps at all to prepare Vice President Truman to assume the former's office. My own view of it is, I believe, that Franklin Roosevelt did not think he ever was going to die and so there was no need to prepare anybody else to be his successor. And when President Truman came in, it was a trying time, and since he was new at the job, it took him quite a while before he began to assert himself. I believe the first time (and I'm sure there were more minor ones) that it was dramatic and important and came to the attention of the public in the early spring of '46, when he had the railroad strike. He showed plenty of courage at that time. Nobody had stepped up to these fellows before. They really had run it just the way they had wanted to run it; he stepped up to them and there was

[49]

no question at all about President Truman's courage from that standpoint.

He did the same thing in the contest with John L. Lewis. On the other side of the ledger, he showed quite a lot of courage in stepping up and vetoing the Taft-Hartley Act, since he felt that the Act was definitely inimical to the interests of labor. He was getting a lot of advice at the time to go ahead and sign it but he stepped up and vetoed it. He wrote a fine veto message, a strong, ringing veto message.

Two or three years ago I had some occasion to check that and it has stood the test of time very well. It was a cracking good message.

HESS: Did you help write that?

CLIFFORD: Yes. It's his message, though; all an adviser does is to help a President draft it. You get his ideas and then you try to formulate his ideas. You turn them over to him and he does

[50]

what he wants with it. It becomes the President's statement.

Nobody really writes anything for a President. You assist a President, but it's the President who makes the policy, and it's the President in the final analysis whose words they become.

HESS: How important do you think Mr. Truman's veto of the Taft-Hartley Act was in his victory in 1948?

CLIFFORD: It had some usefulness. It was one of a series of actions on his part that showed his interest in, and dedication to, the advancement of working people in the country. Labor was very helpful in that campaign.

You're familiar with the political memorandum that I wrote for the campaign. What we were aiming for at that time were various large voting blocs. In that regard we made a real pitch

[51]

for labor, and rightly so, because the President felt a very real sympathy with the working people. That was one of the voting blocs we went out to get.

Another was the Negro. There had been a lot of talk prior to President Truman about civil rights. He's the first one who really did something about it, in my opinion. He put into operation, for instance, certain regulations in our military forces that had never been in operation before. He had a civil rights program and that's why the South walked out on him. That was another voting bloc.

Another bloc was the consumers. Another was the farmer. And those were four great blocs, voting blocs, that we made a very real bid for, and they are the ones that pretty well carried us through.

HESS: When we get up to the subject of the 1948

[52]

campaign, we will want to go through that very important memo quite extensively. I will just mention one thing in passing, though, I think you missed it on the South, isn't that right?

CLIFFORD: I did.

HESS: Remember that?

CLIFFORD: I did, I had some language in there that . . .

HESS: "The South has nowhere else to go," or something to that effect.

CLIFFORD: Oh, it was terrible!

HESS: I have it here with me today, but I won't dig it up right now. We'll get into it later.

CLIFFORD: Okay.

HESS: But, why did you feel that way about the South? Do you recall?

[53]

CLIFFORD: It was traditional. I felt that when the chips were down in 1948, that although the South had bucked before, and the South had not been fond of Franklin Roosevelt or Mrs. Roosevelt, when the time came to vote, why, they had voted Democratic. And I thought that we had not pushed the South beyond the limit that they would accept. I was wrong.

Now, in some other parts of the memorandum that I think the prophesies, or predictions, turned out to be pretty accurate. On that one I placed too much reliance on the tradition of past elections, and the historic loyalty of the South to the Democratic Party. The fact is they were completely fed up with the progress that he was making in the ci vil rights field.

I remember, for instance, a Jefferson-Jackson dinner in the spring, I think it was, of 1948, in which South Carolina had taken a

[54]

table, and Alabama, and Georgia. There were about five or six of those tables that ended up completely empty at that dinner. That was the South's way of protesting. They were not going to come and attend a Democratic dinner at which the President of the United States would speak. I saw all that.

At the same time I still did not think that the South had turned that far away from the Democratic Party. Well, it turned out that they had. But I believe that we had still made the right decision. I think the statistics bear this out. In the early morning of the day after the election, before all of the returns were in, the election hung on the results in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and California. My recollection is that by very narrow margins we carried each of those four states. And I believe the margin by which we carried the Negro vote in each of those four states substantially exceeded

[55]

the margin by which we carried each state which was a rather significant development. So, the votes we lost in the South, I think we made up in other places. When the final electoral count was made, it didn't turn out to be a very close election. President Truman had won by really quite a handsome majority.

HESS: That's fine. Well, we will go into that extensively when we reach the '48 campaign.

One question on the time you took over as Special Counsel: do you happen to know if anyone else was in the running for the position?

CLIFFORD: I had not heard that, and I believe that nobody else was. My progress in the White House occurred, if I might say, not through any intrinsic merit or ability, but because of the existence of a vacuum.

When Judge Rosenman said he was going to

[56]

go, President Truman made the decision not to replace him. I think Rosenman left the lst of January 1946. All of the jobs that he had been performing up to that time were no longer being performed because he had left, and yet somebody had to do them. I don't know quite how President Truman thought they were going to be performed.

HESS: And you had been assisting in that office anyway, on your own.

CLIFFORD: I had been assisting Judge Rosenman on a voluntary basis. As we got into '46, January, February and March, I began to do some of those matters on my own that I had been helping him with. And the fact is, that's what I really was interested in.

The war was over and I had no real reason to want to stay in the Navy. I would have been

[57]

glad to have been out of the Navy, but I was then serving as Naval Aide, which doesn't take much of your time. I don't know if I mentioned it, but about 25 percent of your time as Naval Aide, you serve as a "potted plant," you see, at White House festivals and parties and so forth. And that didn't interest me at all.

But the President would use me more and more because somebody had to do the various tasks Rosenman had done, and there was nobody else doing it. I wasn't particularly equipped to do it, but somebody had to do it, and fortunately I had had previous experience with Rosenman. I was learning fast and I did them. And then came the railroad strike and President Truman said to me, "I want a good hard-hitting message." He gave me some notes, some handwritten notes, as I remember.

HESS: According to Cabel Phillips, the notes that he

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handed you were rather inflammatory, is that right?

CLIFFORD: Plenty! He was mad.

HESS: Do you recall that?

CLIFFORD: Oh, yes. And that was, of course, one reason that the speech was so tough.

HESS: When he handed you those notes, were they more or less in the form of notes or what he would have--sort of a draft as he would have liked to have given?

CLIFFORD: It was not so much a draft, but rather contained points that he might have expanded on. It might be a paragraph that would contain an idea, and then there might only be a sentence or two to hit hard, and then he might have started to write another paragraph. And I might say to you, Charlie Ross and I looked at

[59]

those notes and we agreed that he never could have given that speech. I mean . . .

HESS: Isn't that the one where he ended up saying, "Come on boys, let's go hang some traitors?"

CLIFFORD: I don't remember the words, but it was just rough as a cob. We toned it down a great deal, and I think he felt it was right to tone it down. He just let go. It's like writing a letter to somebody in which you just pour out all that you feel and when you finish you feel a lot better. Then you tear it up and put it in the wastebasket. And I think he didn't intend that we go that far, so we toned it down quite a lot, but it was still a very rough speech.

HESS: Two of the men who are mentioned in that speech are A. F. Whitney and Mr. Alvanley Johnston, or however you pronounce his first name. I understand they came into the White

[60]

House for discussions about this time. Is that correct? They came in to discuss . . .

CLIFFORD: Yes. I think he saw them before he reached the decision to go up to the Hill, and I think he had conferences with them that contributed to his attitude. I think he felt that they were completely intransigent.

HESS: Did you sit in on those conferences?

CLIFFORD: No, I don't know whether anybody did. I'm quite sure that I did not. I think he felt that they were really awfully arrogant, and this is what really got his goat. And that was the background of his writing these very tough notes.

HESS: I believe it was at this time, when President Truman--when A. F. Whitney said he would spend every penny in the union treasury to defeat Mr. Truman in the next election.

[61]

CLIFFORD: That's right. That's right. After the President hauled off and let them have it in his speech, they were outraged and just as bitter as they could be. And they took a pretty stiff trimming, which people don't like to do, and nobody had trimmed them before. And that's when, I think it was Whitney who said, "I will spend every cent in the treasury to beat President Truman." It didn't turn out that way at all. By the time '48 came around these men were for him.

HESS: That's right, he was a real supporter during the '48 campaign.

CLIFFORD: He was. And I think John L. Lewis was too.

HESS: That's right. Now, this is also the speech at which Mr. Truman was handed the note by Leslie Biffle . . .

[62]

CLIFFORD: That's right.

HESS: During the speech.

CLIFFORD: Halfway through the speech.

HESS: Now, some people at that time felt that was staged.

CLIFFORD: I know it was not. I know that I rode up to the Hill with President Truman in his limousine. John Steelman, I think, was at the Statler Hotel in conference with Whitney and Alvanley Johnston. The idea was all set up that if he made any progress there, he was to get in touch with me, or I was to get in touch with him at the intervals, because I could locate him more easily since I had his phone number.

When we got up there, I did not go sit in the chamber, but instead I sat in an anteroom

[63]

off the chamber, the House chamber, for the very purpose of trying to get any word that came through. I don't recall whether he had my number. I may have called him and given him my number after I got there. I believe that's the way it went, and he was to call me if any developments took place that were significant. Approximately halfway through the speech, the message came from Steelman (I talked with him directly over the phone), and he said, "We have reached an understanding. The strike is broken. The men are going back."

I wrote a quick note in longhand, took it up to Biffle who was sitting within the Chamber. He then looked at it, recognized the significance of it, stepped up and handed it to President Truman while President Truman was delivering his message to the joint session. And President Truman stopped and then read the

[64]

statement there to great applause. A photographer fortunately took a very dramatic photograph of Les Biffle handing the note to President Truman, and President Truman receiving it, and then that photograph appeared in the paper.

Now, it was Wayne Morse of Oregon who contended in a public statement within a day or two, that he thought the whole affair was framed and he thought it was staged. President Truman got in touch with Wayne Morse and explained to him everything that happened and Wayne Morse apologized to him and said he was awfully sorry that he had gone off half cocked.

HESS: All right. We have mentioned Judge Rosenman. After Judge Rosenman left, did he ever come back to assist you at any time?

CLIFFORD: Very rarely. On, I'd say, two or three occasions he came back. I think sometime in

[65]

1946 we had a crisis over the question of whether meat should be decontrolled. It was a great issue with the housewives of the country. The President had to prepare a message and, I think, the President asked Judge Rosenman to come back at the time to help with it, because I remember Judge Rosenman working with me on the message in the Cabinet Room. We worked late one evening. I think he didn't get down until dinner time and we worked most of the night because the President had to deliver the message the next day. But that's one of the few times that he was called back.

I believe that what President Truman wanted to do was to have as clear a cut-off with the old Roosevelt administration as possible, and that would include a complete separation from the former Roosevelt personnel.

HESS: What was your view on that?

[66]

CLIFFORD: I thought it was probably wise. I was interested in President Truman developing his own status, his own personality, his own image, and not being a reflection of FDR. As time went on, President Truman did do that, and it was right that he should do it, and he could never have gotten anyplace in 1948 unless he had. People weren't interested, in 1948, in voting for a pale carbon copy of FDR.

HESS: This brings up the standard stock question. Was the Fair Deal a continuation of the New Deal, and is that even valid, would you want such a continuation?

CLIFFORD: This is really quite clear. The Fair Deal was not a continuation of the New Deal.

My interpretation of it would be as follows: Through the lengthy Roosevelt administration the New Deal was a great liberal move. It accomplished a great deal, and at a time when we had to work

[67]

out of the awful depression of the late twenties and early thirties it was very definitely needed. I like to view President Truman's Fair Deal as an analysis of the New Deal, with the preservation of some of its tenets, and the discarding of others. I think it was more of a stopping to study, and reflect, and regroup.

If you wanted to compare it to the field of battle, let's say that President Roosevelt conducted a constant offensive for twelve years, and finally then he left and President Truman came in. I think President Truman found that maybe we had advanced to a point where it was not a good idea to advance further. Stop and establish a line at that point, bring up your supplies, bring up your lines of communications, reorganize, and re-evaluate, and then gradually, and slowly, start a gradual new offensive under the name of the Fair Deal. That's the way I

[68]

like to visualize it, and I think that's the way it turned out.

HESS: All right, fine.

In our first interview we mentioned the memo that Arthur Krock has as Appendix A of his memoirs, but I would like to continue on just a little bit in that because as I see it, two of your most important roles as Special Counsel were advising on foreign affairs, and advising on domestic affairs. And, using this memo, I think, to start a discussion on your role as an adviser on foreign matters, foreign affairs matters. One thing: Who helped you, who assisted you in the compilation, or in the writing of this particular memo. Do you recall?

CLIFFORD: Yes, his name was George Elsey.

I would say that after I was first precipitated into this vortex at the White House

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(and that's what it was in those early days), I gradually became involved in (in the year '45), domestic problems. Afterwards, I gradually began to have some part in foreign policy and national security problems.

You go into those things slowly. One reason I went into them slowly is that I had such an enormous amount to learn. I had no real background in them. I had, I think, an excellent background in American history, but no previous background in government. And I had to learn as I went; it was catch as catch can, and those were pretty hectic days.

As we began to get into 1946, I became involved in more matters all the time. During '45, the President gave me an assignment to conduct a study and write a memorandum on the possibility of putting universal military training into operation. Also at one other time in '45,

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I had an assignment to start preparation of a study on the unification of the services. These were fascinating.

Then we get along into '46 and in the spring of '46 the President gave me the assignment of preparing memoranda for him on our relationship with the Soviet Union. That was the occasion when I talked with different individuals that we have mentioned. And with Elsey's help, we obtained a great mass of material, distilled it, synthesized it, and wrote the report. I might say, that as I began to get into these areas, I found that the enormous, attractive,