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Matthew J. Connelly Oral History Interview, November 30, 1967

Oral History Interview with
Matthew J. Connelly

Chief investigator for the Senate Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program (the Truman Committee), 1941-44, Executive Assistant to Senator and Vice President Truman, July 1944-April 1945; and Appointments Secretary to the President, 1945-53.

New York, New York
November 30, 1967
By Jerry N. Hess

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


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

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

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 It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.

Opened May 1969
Harry S. Truman Library
Independence, Missouri

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



Oral History Interview with
Matthew J. Connelly

New York, New York
November 30, 1967
By Jerry N. Hess

[134]

HESS: Mr. Connelly, at the end of our discussion Tuesday, we were talking about the Cabinet and your duties in relation to the Cabinet, and there are a couple of other questions I would like to ask you on that subject. Today, don't want to get into the Cabinet appointments themselves, but just about your duties on the Cabinet--to keep things in a chronological order. Did any of the other members of the White House staff have occasion to sit in on the Cabinet meetings, other than yourself?

CONNELLY: No, none of the members of the White House staff sat in on those meetings, with one exception, John Steelman, who regularly sat in on the Cabinet meetings.

HESS: What percentage of the Cabinet meetings would

[135]

he sit in on?

CONNELLY: Well, he sat in on practically all of them. He sat there as a participant in the discussion, and I sat there as a reporter.

HESS: I see. So he didn't take notes or anything of that nature?

CONNELLY: Except when I was not available, and he would take the notes in my place.

HESS: Did he give you those notes?

CONNELLY: Oh, yes.

HESS: Fine. So you have the complete set even from when you weren't there?

CONNELLY: They're all there in the Library.

HESS: Was there an agenda worked out ahead of time for the business that was to be taken up at the Cabinet meetings?

[136]

CONNELLY: Well, Cabinet meetings were very seldom held with an agenda, except the President might want to bring up some particular subject. Otherwise, it was just an open meeting, and he handled that deliberately because his predecessor, unfortunately, did not have a Cabinet (the members would not talk in front of each other), and he was determined that he would eradicate that procedure and have a real Cabinet and let each Cabinet officer bring up his own problems and there would be discussion among other members, if they agreed or did not agree with his position.

HESS: On September 23, 1945, the New York Times published a story that in a Cabinet meeting Wallace had proposed that Russia be given the secret of the atomic bomb, and according to a statement in the book Out of the Jaws

[137]

of Victory by Jules Abels, Wallace said that the idea was proposed by Henry Stimson, and he blamed you for that particular leak. Do you remember anything about that episode?

CONNELLY: No, offhand, the only comment I recall Wallace making was that the Russians would have the atomic bomb in seven years anyway, so why should it be such a big secret. So, with reference to any leak from me, I never heard of it.

HESS: This was one thing that I had run across in my background work, and I wanted to bring that up.

CONNELLY: Well, I know that there was never any leak about Cabinet proceedings from me in any event or in any discussion.

HESS: At a later date we will cover the Cabinet appointments them selves, but right now I'd

[138]

like to ask one question that I should have asked in our last interview. During the time that you were with the Truman Committee, did you have any working relationships with Mr. Truman's private staff; and the second part of that question: What do you remember about the various members of that staff?

CONNELLY: Oh, certainly we had relationships because that was his principal project at that time. Prior to that he was just a Senator from Missouri, but even lower than that because the Senator from Missouri. in those days was Bennett Clark, and Truman was not known publicly outside of the Senate, except in the State of Missouri. But when you referred to the Senator from Missouri, it was taken for granted that you were talking about Bennett Clark, who was the senior Senator, and had been in the Senate for many years. But Truman, before the Truman

[139]

Committee was organized, was not well-known.

HESS: What was the relationship between Senator Truman and Senator Clark?

CONNELLY: The relationship was very cordial up to a point. They had minor differences, naturally, but Senator Clark seconded the nomination of Senator Truman for Vice President. So they worked very closely together in the interest of the State.

HESS: On Mr. Truman's private staff, who was there besides Victor Messall, Harry Vaughan, Mildred Dryden, and Catherine Bixler?

CONNELLY: Reathel Odum, and Lauretta Young--that was the total staff, until General Vaughan left for the wars in Australia, and then Bill Boyle left the committee to act as secretary to Senator Truman in General Vaughan's absence.

[140]

HESS: Were those people particularly effective in their work?

CONNELLY: Well, the people in his office had very little to do with the committee activities. Their work was principally Missouri business, and there was never any direct conflict between his office staff and the committee staff, because the committee was set up independently of his personal office.

HESS: When Mr. Truman became President, of course, Harry Vaughan made the switch with him from his personal staff to the White House, but why didn't the others? Miss Odum was the secretary to Mrs. Truman, is that correct, in the White House?

CONNELLY: That's correct.

HESS: Mildred Dryden did not make this switch.

[141]

CONNELLY: Mrs. Dryden had left before he was sworn in as President. She had other employment in Washington. Miss Bixler had other employment in Washington, and the other girls, who had been with him for many years, stayed with him. They were Reathel Odum, Shirley Green, and Lauretta Young, and of course, General Vaughan. He had returned from Australia.

HESS: Taking April 12, 1945, as the date now, just what were the problems relating to staffing, that presented themselves at this date? I have reference to probably the decisions about which of the Roosevelt people to keep, what other people to bring in. Were those problems during those days?

CONNELLY: Those problems were problems, but we decided that the best thing to do was to keep as much of the Roosevelt staff together as possible, because Senator Truman, myself or Harry Vaughan

[142]

knew nothing about how the White House was operated. We had to keep these people together so that we would have a continuity of the running of the Government. We purposely made that decision because we needed them, and there should be no blanket-turnout of people who knew what they were doing when we did not. So, those people were largely kept because of that fact. Secondly, Steve Early, who had already announced his retirement from the White House, stayed on to help us in that transition, and to work out a blend between the White House people of Roosevelt and the little group that Truman arrived with.

HESS: Did the President rely on anyone in particular to make these decisions?

CONNELLY: Those decisions were largely worked through me.

[143]

HESS: Through you?

CONNELLY: Right.

HESS: Did he ask you to do this to take on yourself the responsibility of looking out after the staff?

CONNELLY: He said to keep the ball game going.

HESS: Shortly after he became President, he left for Potsdam, of course. Was this part of your duties when he was gone?

CONNELLY: Yes, he asked me to go to Potsdam with him, and I said, "No, I think somebody should be here to take care of the store." So, I stayed in Washington while he was in Potsdam, to coordinate the communications between the White House and him in Potsdam, and of course, on route.

HESS: I have the names of several of the people

[144]

who worked in the White House during Mr. Truman's administration. Some of these were holdovers from the Roosevelt administration. Some of them came in sometime later, but I'd just like to ask you a few questions about these various individuals, and a little bit about what their backgrounds were, what their duties were in the White House, how effective they were in those duties, and things of that nature. Let's start with the gentlemen who were Special Counsels to the President, the first one being Samuel I. Rosenman.

CONNELLY: Judge Rosenman had been counsel to President Roosevelt for several years, and in the same theory of keeping Roosevelt's people together because they should know what was being done in the White House, what was required, Judge Rosenman agreed to stay on and help President Truman, and did for several

[145]

months or years. I forget when he did leave.

HESS: He left on February 1, 1946. He was there a little less than a year. What seemed to be his relationship with President Truman?

CONNELLY: It was a very close relationship. President Truman relied on him for legal decisions and points that had the legality problem, and he helped him on legislation, and he helped him on messages to Congress. He had been formerly a speech writer for President Roosevelt, and I believe, he and Robert Sherwood wrote most of Roosevelt's principal speeches. But the Roosevelt style and the Truman style were two different things in making a speech, because Truman would not be effective in using the Roosevelt technique in speechmaking. They were two different people, two different personalities. If he had copied Roosevelt he would have not come over as being very sincere.

[146]

HESS: Tell me how Mr. Truman's speaking ability evolved and developed during this time?

CONNELLY: Well, when I first worked with Mr. Truman on the Truman Committee, the few minor experiences I had with him in speechmaking were pretty sad. He had a great tendency to want to get things over, and you'd give him a prepared speech and he couldn't wait until he got to the end of a sentence so that he could get started on the next one. As a result, the delivery was terrible.

HESS: He had a tendency to rush it just a little, is that right?

CONNELLY: Always.

HESS: What speeches do you recall that he gave?

CONNELLY: He made very few, very few.

HESS: Do you recall any of the particular occasions

[147]

where you were present when he spoke?

CONNELLY: No. He made a speech at some kind of lawn party in Washington, and it was a pretty sad situation. When he became Vice President one of the first things I wanted to do was to try to correct that little fault of his about rushing through a speech.

HESS: How did you go about that?

CONNELLY: We had a boy named Leonard Reinsch, who was a speech adviser on radio, which was the media, of course, in those days; and he was from the Cox Broadcasting Company. He had worked on the technical side of speeches for Roosevelt, in presentation and engineering, and so forth. So, when Truman returned to Missouri to prepare for his campaign for Vice President, I brought Leonard Reinsch to Kansas City. Leonard Reinsch and I made

[148]

arrangements with a friend of Mr. Truman's, named Tom Evans, who owned a radio station. He had a studio set aside at his station and we'd have Mr. Truman come up there to work on the speech of acceptance that he was going to make in Lamar, Missouri, his hometown. We had a text of the speech, and we would have him come up to the studio every morning, and have him run through it and record it, and we'd play it back to him and point out where the bugs were. Eventually, we finally worked him down to completing a sentence without running through it. So, he turned out to be much improved, and as he went along, eventually he had more confidence, and he made a better speech. But it took a little training.

HESS: Who worked with you on writing that particular speech? Did you help write that acceptance speech?

[149]

CONNELLY: No, I don't believe so. I think that was largely developed at the National Committee.

HESS: That was the speech at his birthplace when he was informed that he was the official nominee of the party, is that right?

CONNELLY: Yes, a committee of Senators went out to announce to him that he had been selected. We had a very funny experience. Tom Connally was to introduce him, the Senator from Texas. We looked at Senator Connally's speech, and it was too long. We made a very bad mistake, Reinsch and myself. We just crossed out what Connally was not supposed to say in the speech, but we didn't block it out, so when Connally got up to make his speech, he ignored our markings and continued on and cut in on the President's time. But that was one of those things, because Senators are not known for terminal facilities.

[150]

HESS: We discussed Tuesday about a few of the speeches that were given during the campaign and some of the people that helped in the writing on those, but after Mr. Truman became President, who helped write the initial speeches, who helped write the speeches that were given, let's say, shortly after he became President?

CONNELLY: Initially it was George Allen, his man Friday, Eddie Reynolds, who was a speech writer, and had several college degrees, a good writer.

HESS: Where had he come from? What was his background?

CONNELLY: He had been with George Allen for many years in private industry. Judge Rosenman, I'm not sure that Clark Clifford was there. I don't believe he had gotten to the White House at that time. And myself.

HESS: When did Clifford make his appearance at

[151]

the White House? When did he come in?

CONNELLY: He came to the White House with Commodore Vardaman, who became Naval Aide to the President, shortly after we arrived at the White House, he was brought back to be Naval Aide by General Vaughan, who had served with him in World War I in the artillery.

HESS: This is Commodore Vardaman?

CONNELLY: In the Second World War Vardaman entered the Navy. He was in Okinawa and General Vaughan brought him back to become Naval Aide to the President.

HESS: Then Vardaman brought Clifford.

CONNELLY: Vardaman then brought Clifford in as his assistant.

HESS: Where had he met Clifford?

[152]

CONNELLY: In St. Louis, Missouri. Clifford had been his lawyer in St. Louis.

HESS: I have it down that Mr. Vardaman came in on May 4th of '45, shortly after. The first date that I have for Clifford is about the same. In fact, it's about a month earlier. I'll have to check that. I have an April the 4th date, and that's probably wrong.

CONNELLY: That's wrong, because I know that he did not arrive until Vardaman picked him as his assistant.

HESS: So, he was assistant naval aide, probably brought in at the same time--it's a typographical error.

Also, in Mr. Truman's Memoirs he states that Judge Rosenman helped him write the twenty one point message that was sent to Congress on September 6, 1945.

[153]

CONNELLY: I believe that is correct, but I think the principal architect in this speech was Clifford.

HESS: What can you tell me about that?

CONNELLY: I don't recall. I sat in on the discussion about the speech, but my contribution to speeches were largely negative. If I knew something didn't quite agree with the President's own thinking, I'd object to it. If there was a word used, or a phrase used that you have difficulty in delivering, I would object to that. When he first read the draft of a speech, I always sat in and went through the speech, and he would make changes, or suggestions, or he would want to say it his way, and then when we got through with that discussion, he would take that draft home, and he would have Mrs. Truman review it. And if she didn't like some phase of it, she would

[154]

make corrections. So we would finally get together again, and work out the final product. There are many instances, in fact, in most, where the President himself made the changes or revisal to what he wanted to say.

HESS: Was the President usually present at the first session when it was first discussed what was going to be in a speech?

CONNELLY: Oh, yes, definitely.

HESS: This would be before the wording had been decided upon.

CONNELLY: Right, he would say what he wanted.

HESS: This is the way it would originate?

CONNALLY: That's correct. And then there would probably be six or seven of the staff in the White House work on the draft of a speech.

[155]

They would probably wind up with seven drafts before they would finally present it to him. He would read it in front of the staff who had worked on the speech, he would read it aloud, and then he would be interrupted from time to time for changes.

HESS: Who were the principal speech writers?

CONNELLY: Clark Clifford, Rosenman--Rosenman originally--Charles Murphy, David Bell, David Lloyd--there are a few more--George E1sey.

HESS: Did Charles Ross sit in?

CONNELLY: Charles Ross sat in, yes. He never participated in writing the speeches, but he always sat in on the review of the draft.

HESS: What were his main contributions?

CONNELLY: Charles Ross?

[156]

HESS: Yes.

CONNELLY: He was Press Secretary. He was the mouthpiece of the President.

HESS: But I mean when it came to writing the speeches? Was he...

CONNELLY: He was there as an editor, but he didn't have time with his job to be a creator. But he would be an editor of every one of them.

HESS: Judge Rosenman left the White House in February of 1946, did he play any particular role in White House affairs after he left?

CONNELLY: No, other than contributions of ideas for speeches or messages to Congress.

HESS: But he would still make those contributions?

CONNELLY: Yes, he did, for quite a while. When there was a message to Congress going up,

[157]

Clark Clifford, who had succeeded him, would call him and ask him to come to Washington and sit in on the preparation of a draft for a presidential message or a presidential speech.

HESS: Did he also help Charles Murphy in the same way?

CONNELLY: I do not know if he helped Charles Murphy. I think by that time since Clifford left, I believe Rosenman did not contribute after that.

HESS: Clifford left January 31st of 1950.

CONNELLY: Well, I'm pretty sure that Judge Rosenman was long gone on contributing to speeches.

HESS: Now, the Judge did come back and help some in 1948, isn't that right, for the preparation of the convention, for the matters that went on at the convention?

[158]

CONNELLY: That's right. I think he came back to help Clark Clifford prepare the usual draft, which was not a speech, it was an outline.

HESS: How was that done?

CONNELLY: Well, instead of making a formal speech, we decided that the best thing to do was to make an outline and let the President make the best impression off-the-cuff, with guidance from an outline. He was a much better speaker off-the-cuff than he was from reading a printed text.

HESS: Who helped set up that outline?

CONNELLY: I believe Rosenman helped on that with Clifford. The same group that Clifford had working on the other speeches set up the outline.

HESS: Did the Judge go on any of the campaign

[159]

trips in 1948?

CONNELLY: No.

HESS: Why didn't he assist through the entire production, the convention and the campaign? Why was he there just for the convention, do you recall?

CONNELLY: I'm not sure whether he was at the convention.

HESS: But his services weren't used through the campaign?

CONNELLY: Oh, no, no. He may have given some telephonic advice but he didn't actively participate in the campaign.

HESS: Anything else about Samuel Rosenman that comes to mind?

CONNELLY: Well, he left the White House and went

[160]

into private practice of law.

HESS: Why did he leave?

CONNELLY: For money.

HESS: Wasn't making enough money in the Government, is that right?

CONNELLY: Oh, of course not.

HESS: And when he left there was a period of time from February the lst until July the lst, when there was no Special Counsel. Was there any particular reason for that lapse of time?

CONNELLY: That was because the President wanted to make sure that he would get somebody who could follow in Rosenman's steps and knew what the job would be about and eventually he settled for Clark Clifford.

HESS: Were there any others that were under

[161]

consideration?

CONNELLY: There may have been in his mind, but these I wouldn't know about.

HESS: Had Mr. Clifford been active in any way in Mr. Truman's senatorial campaigns?

CONNELLY: No, not in any way, that I know of.

HESS: Was the role that he played as Special Counsel different in any significant manner than that played by Judge Rosenman?

CONNELLY: Well, it was fundamentally the same. It was a question of examining bills that came to the President for signature and also getting the opinions of department heads, and making recommendations for signature or veto. His position was largely legality of documents that the President had to approve or disapprove.

HESS: Did he contribute any political suggestions,

[162]

any political advice to the President, as well as legal advice?

CONNELLY: Oh, certainly, he gave him opinions and suggestions like everybody on the staff did.

HESS: Was Mr. Clifford a good political adviser?

CONNELLY: I would say that Mr. Clifford was too academic to be a good political adviser, because Mr. Clifford's experience in politics had been nil, so from the point of practicality, I would not say he was a very good political adviser.

HESS: Why did Mr. Clifford leave the White House in 1950?

CONNELLY: Mr. Clifford had an ambition to become Attorney General, and when the President appointed an Attorney General to succeed Attorney General Clark, Mr. Clifford was very

[163]

unhappy, and he told me himself that he was under the impression that he would be the new Attorney General. We had luncheon one day and I explained to him that it was a political problem. There are little divisions in our country such as Catholics and Protestants, and I knew that President Truman was going to be severely criticized for not replacing Frank Murphy on the Supreme Court, who was a Catholic, by replacing him with Clark who was not--Tom Clark. So, I told Clifford probably what the reason might be. Mr. Truman had a little problem making that decision, and there would be great reaction among Catholic groups but by appointing a successor to Tom Clark as Attorney General who was a Catholic--I knew I would get the brunt being one myself, but if the criticism came to me I would have a complete offset.

HESS: This was when J. Howard McGrath was appointed?

[164]

CONNELLY: That is correct. And if they came to me I would say, "Well, when did you have two Catholics on the Cabinet?" And there was no argument.

HESS: Did you discuss this with Mr. Truman at this time?

CONNELLY: Certainly I did. And he agreed with me. As a matter of fact, I suggested McGrath.

HESS: Was there much of an objection raised at the time that Tom Clark was appointed to the Supreme Court, to the effect that it should have been a Catholic appointment?

CONNELLY: Oh, all over the country.

HESS: That's right.

CONNELLY: All over the country. Being a Catholic, I was the fellow who got the heat from the Catholic groups.

[165]

HESS: What was Mr. Truman's attitude about this?

CONNELLY: He could care less. He had no religious bigotry at all. He didn't care what you were if you could do a job.

HESS: Had Mr. Clifford discussed the possibility with Mr. Truman about his becoming Attorney General?

CONNELLY: At one time President Truman--Mr. Clifford told me--offered Mr. Clifford an appointment as Under Secretary of State and Mr. Clifford told me that he didn't want that, but that someday he would like to be the Attorney General. He told me that Mr. Truman said, "Well, I'll keep that in mind."

When McGrath was appointed, Clifford, naturally, was upset, and that was what brought about his departure from the White House.

HESS: And the day after he left, Charles Murphy

[166]

was appointed Special Counsel to the President. What can you tell me about Mr. Murphy? What was his background and how did he come to be a member of the White House staff?

CONNELLY: Charles Murphy had worked as legislative counsel to the Senate. He had been there for several years and he was well-known to Mr. Truman, and was highly respected up there. Charles Murphy is and was then a very able lawyer. One time when we were trying to build up a new staff, which could be Truman's staff, I invited Mr. Murphy to lunch. We had lunch, and I told him that the President would like to have him in the White House. He said, "Well, I would kind of like it too, but I've got to get clearance with Senator Barkley," who was then, I believe, the majority leader.

HESS: About what time was this? Do you recall, '45 or '46?

[167]

CONNELLY: Probably late in '45 or early in '46.

So, he went back to the Capitol, and he talked with Senator Barkley who was not very happy about the idea. Barkley wanted to know if the White House was trying to steal his brains. Murphy called me and he said, "It's no dice. Barkley won't let me go."

I'd say that within about a year later, Murphy called me and he said, "Is that job still open? I talked to Senator Barkley today and he thinks he's standing in my way, and I can take the job if it's still open."

I said, "You've got a job," which pleased Mr. Truman very much, because he had very great respect for Charles Murphy.

HESS: He was Administrative Assistant from December of 1946 until February the lst of 1950, when he became Special Counsel. Did he carry on the job of Special Counsel in any different manner than

[168]

Clifford?

CONNELLY: I would say only in one way, because the same problems arose for him that arose for Clifford. I would say that he was a little less flamboyant. He was a very level headed fellow, his feet were on the ground, and his main ambition was to do a job, where I believe Clifford's ambition went a little beyond the job he was in. All of the time I was with Murphy he never indicated in any way that he wanted to be anywhere but where he was. I would say that that was the principal difference.

HESS: The gentlemen who held the job as Secretary to the President, your name is first, we'll just skip that name, and start with William D. Hassett.

CONNELLY: William D. Hassett we inherited from

[169]

the Roosevelt administration and we used to call him the "Poet Laureate of the White House." His job was to write messages for the President's signature, write proclamations, which the President also signed. But that's principally what his activity was.

HESS: What had been his background?

CONNELLY: He was an old newspaperman and one of the assistant press secretaries to Steve Early under Roosevelt. We made him Correspondence Secretary technically, but he was still Secretary to the President.

HESS: Did he ever help out with the speech writing?

CONNELLY: He sat in on them, but he contributed very little because he was, I'd say, in the stratosphere. He was a literary figure. But as a politician, no.

[170]

HESS: And for the last few months of the administration after the death of Joseph Short, his wife was Correspondence Secretary.

CONNELLY: I made the suggestion to President Truman after Joe Short died, because we had a very short time to go, that it would be a nice tribute to Joe Short as a loyal and hard worker for Mr. Truman to appoint his wife to that position. So that the President agreed with. But Mrs. Short never had the real authority that her husband had, and after Bill Hassett resigned, we put her in Bill's place and got Roger Tubby, formerly from the State Department to become Press Secretary. That was close to the end of the administration.

HESS: Why did Mr. Hassett resign? That was in July of '52.

CONNELLY: For reasons of health.

[171]

HESS: The White House press office: We start off with J. Leonard Reinsch. Mr. Reinsch was in the press office for just a little while from April 12 to May 15. Why was he there for such a short time?

CONNELLY: Mr. Reinsch wanted very much to be press secretary, but the White House press, even more so than today, was press, in other words, newspapermen, and they personally resented what they called a radio man. They didn't like the idea of a radio man being press man for the President. That was very widely discussed between the President and myself, and I made a suggestion to the President that I go to Steve Early who was still at the White House and ask Steve to make a poll of the press people at the White House (the White House correspondents) and to have them recommend who should be Press Secretary. Because I wanted somebody who would

[172]

be respected by the press, and who could be accepted by the President. So Steve Early took that poll. He came to me with two recommendations and he told me that he didn't think the President would go for either one of them. I asked, "Why?"

He said, "They both are with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch," which had been very violently opposed to Senator Truman when he was Senator.

I said, "Well, those are the recommendations, let's give them to the President. Let him make up his mind."

So Steve Early said, "Mr. President, these are the two top boys on the list. One is Charlie Ross, St. Louis Post-Dispatch; and the other is Pete Brandt, St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The President grinned and said, "You know, I was thinking about Charlie Ross myself.

[173]

Did you know he was a classmate of Mrs. Truman and myself in the Independence High School?" which neither Steve Early nor I knew.

So Steve Early was flabbergasted, of course, but pleased. He said, "Well, I'll get in touch with him."

Charlie was covering the United Nations in San Francisco at that time. When he finished his tour of duty out there, he came back to Washington. Steve Early set up an appointment to have him come over and see the President. The President had left by the time that Charlie Ross arrived; he had gone back to the Blair House, where he was living at that time. We went over to see the President, and he said, "Charlie, how are you? I want you to be my Press Secretary."

Charlie said, "I just can't turn that down."

He said, "Charlie, how are you going to be

[174]

on your retirement with the Post-Dispatch?

Charlie said, "I don't know, this is the first I knew about it."

He said, "Well, I want to know." So, he turned to me and said, "Matt, get that no-good Pulitzer on the phone. I want to talk to him," which I did.

So, he told Pulitzer, the Post-Dispatch publisher, that he wanted Charlie Ross for Press Secretary. Pulitzer said it was a great honor. He said, "Mr. Pulitzer, I'm not through with you yet. Where's Charlie Ross on his retirement? Is he going to lose it?"

Pulitzer told him, "No, no, we'll take care of that. He'll have his retirement."

He said, "O.K., I wouldn't accept him if he was going to be cut out of his retirement." So, that was arranged.

We sat down again. Truman sent for some drinks to celebrate the occasion. We had the

[175]

first drink and he turned to me and said, "Matt, get Miss Tillie Brown in Independence on the phone."

I asked, "Who's Miss Tillie Brown?"

He said, "Charlie and I know. She was our school teacher."

So, I finally got Miss Tillie Brown. The President got on the phone and the President said, "Miss Tillie, who do you think this is?"

She said, "Well, I don't know."

He said, "This is Harry Truman."

She said, "The President?"

"Miss Tillie, who do you think I have with me?"

She asked, "Who do you have with you?"

"Charlie Ross. He's going to be my press secretary."

Well, it was such a touching scene. Steve Early was a pretty touch guy, a hard-boiled newspaperman. But I can be very frank

[176]

and say that Steve Early and I had little droplets when we heard that conversation. Steve Early finally said when we left that day, "Boy, what a man. I'll never forget it. I loved Roosevelt, but we have a Presiden