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James H. Rowe Oral History Interview

James H. Rowe

Oral History Interview with
James H. Rowe

Technical advisor, to International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg, 1945-46; consultant, on aviation, etc., to the Bureau of the Budget, 1947; member, Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Federal Government, 1948-49; member, 1948 Foreign Service Selection Board, State Department; member, special commission, U.S. "spy" inquiry, State Department, 1948; chairman, commission to reorganize government of Puerto Rico, 1949; chairman, committee on personnel to Secretary of State, 1950.

Washington, D.C.
September 30, 1969 and January 15, 1970
by Jerry N. Hess

Interview Transcript . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pages 1-98
Appendix A . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . .99-126
Appendix B. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . .127-161

[Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | 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 It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.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 December, 1979
Harry S. Truman Library
Independence, Missouri

[Top of the Page | Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]



Oral History Interview with
James H. Rowe

Washington, D.C.
September 30, 1969
by Jerry N. Hess

[1]

HESS: Mr. Rowe, when did you join President Roosevelt's staff as an Administrative Assistant?

ROWE: I was on the White House staff before I was an Administrative Assistant. I went over early in 1938 as an assistant to Jimmy Roosevelt who was then the President's secretary. I had been a lawyer in various Government agencies and the last one I was in was the SEC and I was writing occasional speeches for Jimmy because he was very busy, but he was still trying to run for Governor of Massachusetts and when he started to write a speech he tied up large segments of the Government for two or three days, so I

[2]

started writing them. He then asked me to come over as assistant and I took a title that happened to be vacant over there, the Executive Assistant to the President. I don't know who had been in it before and I don't know what ever happened to it afterwards. Jimmy, several months later, went out West to be operated on for his ulcers and while he was out there he changed wives and never came back and I stayed on. The Administrative Assistants were created in what was the Reorganization Act of '37 or '38.

HESS: '39.

ROWE: '39. There was an act in '37. And I was appointed the first one, the first Administrative Assistant, in July 1939. The President appointed three and I happened to take my oath first so I was number one, in terms of time.

HESS: Who were the other gentlemen at that time?

ROWE: Lauchlin Currie was brought in from the Federal

[3]

Reserve Board, more or less as the economist, the economic advisor, and Bill [William H.] McReynolds, who had been a career man of the Civil Service Commission, was brought in really to handle personnel questions other than the political appointments. I handled the political appointments but Bill handled all the kinds of things that Civil Service deals with.

HESS: Just what were your duties?

ROWE: Well, the President once described my duties as that of a bird dog, which was to do, in effect, whatever he told me to do and occasionally I would do things of my own without being told. I did a variety of things. It was a relatively small staff in those days. This was before the war, when there were the three secretaries. I used to kid some of my friends on the Truman staff after the war when I came back and said I found nine men doing what I used to do. But I did what I would call the political personnel

[4]

job that John Macy did. I was one of the Hill men, one of the White House lobbyists. I did a large part of the work with the regulatory agencies because I was, at that time, the only lawyer in the place. I also did a great deal of digesting large reports to the President, summarizing them, giving them summaries. I handled the enrolled bills coming back, the vetoed bills. That was in very close connection with the Budget Bureau. I handled, for instance, the Civil Aeronautics Board route cases, the foreign route cases that the President had to pass on, that kind of thing. It was an across-the-board job. I used to get, oh, say two or three memos a day from the President saying find out about this or find out about that. That kind of thing.

HESS: How did you carry out your White House congressional liaison work? After the President had decided what measures he wanted to get through Congress, just what steps did he take to get

[5]

those passed?

ROWE: He didn't take them in the involved way we seem to do it now -- the present administration, the Johnson administration, or I suppose the Truman, but I can't remember enough about the Truman administration. In our day, the lead was usually taken by the department concerned, much more than today and much less centralization in the White House. Occasionally he would have someone -- financial legislation was drafted, for instance, by people like Tommy [Thomas] Corcoran, my law partner, and Ben Cohen. I did some work before I went to the White House on these, and they would do the drafting and also carry it through the Hill. So, in effect, you had a functional group in a department or an agency or even some outside who understood the substance very well, drafted it and worked on it, but also did all the political lobbying for it. I would go down on various bills, agriculture occasionally, once in a while, really to

[6]

give an extra "White House shove" to the stuff the President wanted but which the department was probably carrying along.

HESS: Did President Roosevelt make calls to the Hill much in the nature of Lyndon Johnson's type of operation?

ROWE: Oh, yes, he did a lot of that. Not, I would assume, as much as Johnson did, but on the important legislation, he would be on the telephone or calling Senators or Congressmen in to see him, that sort of thing. He did that.

HESS: Just how did President Roosevelt conduct his relations with his staff?

ROWE: Very loosely and informally. I'm talking, of course, about the prewar period; I left just before the war broke out. So, I'm not talking about the war period although there was a build-up of staff just the year before that. It was very informal. He did break down the staff duties. He had an appointments secretary, he

[7]

had a press secretary, he had, when Marvin McIntyre was there, and I guess later with Bill [William D.] Hassett, a man who handled other things. Jimmy Roosevelt concentrated on the agencies, mostly, and some of the politics. The administrative assistants saw the President on important things. I had to see him, of course, on the appointments all the time.

HESS: Did he have something in the nature of a daily staff meeting?

ROWE: No, he didn't. The only time the staff ever seemed to get together was before press conferences. He had two press conferences a week, as I remember, on Tuesdays and Fridays. Usually the staff would come in ahead of him, just to sit around. Sometimes he would ask them questions about what he ought to say and shouldn't say but it was very informal. Roosevelt was usually available to each member of the staff. The only problem I ever had was occasionally getting in, when his appointments secretary, who had all the

[8]

pressures of everybody trying to get in, would decide that what I was doing was not important enough to get in. If that happened too often I would go through the "back room," through Grace Tully and Miss [Marguerite A.] Le Hand. And I got to see him myself. It is the usual problem any appointments secretary has to go through to make these choices, and "Pa" [Major General Edwin M.] Watson did this.

HESS: What was the relationship between Judge Samuel I. Rosenman and the White House staff during your period of service?

ROWE: He was then a judge in New York. He did appear time to time. I remember mostly he appeared when I was there during the 1940 campaign and that was as a speechwriter. The President had great faith in the Judge as a speechwriter. And the Judge would slip in and out. I think it's fair to say, my memory is not too accurate on this, but on a major speech Sam would appear, irrespective of campaigns. The President had

[9]

various speechwriting teams. For awhile he had Rosenman, Corcoran, and Cohen; later he had, more or less it seemed to me, Harry Hopkins, not Harry -- well Harry was in on it but also [Robert] Sherwood, and Sam Rosenman. And Sam constantly, I think, until he came down here during the war, so far as I could judge, was a speechwriter. Now, he may have been very active politically, talking to the President but I didn't see that.

HESS: What seemed to be the relationship between Sam Rosenman and President Roosevelt?

ROWE: Oh, I think it was a very good one. Sam had been his counsel up in New York when he was Governor and the President had made him a judge. I think that's what Sam wanted. My feeling was the pressures were always with the President in getting Sam, and Sam would have been perfectly content to stay up there and do his work, but the President kept calling him down. When the war came I think he just said you've got to get

[10]

out and forget the judgeship and get down here and get to work.

HESS: I believe that he was made Special Counsel in 1943, which was after the period of time that you left. Correct?

ROWE: I'm not sure if it was '42 or '43. I went from the White House in November, 1941 to the Department of Justice where I became what was called The Assistant to the Attorney General, which is now called the Deputy Attorney General. And I remember we were very unhappy about Sam getting this job because we felt the Attorney General was the President's lawyer, and I think [Francis] Biddle protested about it. I think I may have even written a memo protesting about it to the President but it didn't do a bit of good. The President wanted it and Sam came down. And then Sam, I think, mostly worked in areas of specific problems. We did not have any legal conflicts between the Department of Justice and Sam once he came. Although we expected we would.

[11]

HESS: Would you know if there were any differences in the procedures between the way that Sam Rosenman handled the job for Roosevelt and that Clark Clifford and Charles Murphy handled it for President Truman?

ROWE: No. I wouldn't. I was outside looking at all three of them. My own guess is that, and this is purely in terms of personalities, Charlie Murphy was probably more meticulous and more precise than the other two. I think Clark was probably more on policy than maybe Sam was but Sam was a rather precise fellow. In terms of chasing down all the details, and this is not based on anything other than speculation, I would guess Charlie Murphy was the most precise, Sam Rosenman the next, and Clifford third on working out all the details.

HESS: If you were going to rate them in their political astuteness, and political perception, how would you rate them?

[12]

ROWE: That would be hard. I don't know. I've always understood that Clark really controlled pretty much the policy on the '48 election and it worked when everybody thought the President was going to be beaten. That's a little difficult. Roosevelt was always pretty much his own politician; now how much Truman was I don't know. I never worked with Truman and so I really can't judge too well.

HESS: What do you recall about the relationships both personal and professional, between Louis Brownlow, Harold Smith, and President Roosevelt?

ROWE: Well, Brownie was chairman, of course, as you know, of the Brownlow Commission that studied the Government and made the report, the Brownlow Commission Report, and then was responsible for moving the Budget Bureau out of Treasury into the White House. It was responsible for establishing the Administrative Assistants, and for creating one or two new agencies there. Brownie was a very persistent

[13]

fellow. He was a great talker. I have a feeling the President got a little impatient with him on occasion because he was always on his back wanting him to do this, wanting him to do that, but things didn't get done unless you would do it that way. I think that Brownie recommended Harold Smith, I'm not sure, as Budget Director.

Harold, when he came, was really the creator of the new Budget Bureau, a tremendous man, quiet man. The President had done everything he could to keep Danny [Daniel W.] Bell in there. Danny had been an acting Budget Director and always wanted to go back to Treasury and he would never take the title because he wanted to keep his Civil Service status. Danny finally insisted on going back to Treasury, really, and that is why there was a new vacancy at the right time for Harold Smith. Harold came out of Michigan. He, I think, in a way taught all of us how to use staff. I know as time went on, as Administrative Assistant I more and more leaned on the Budget

[14]

Bureau staff. We didn't have much in the White House and Harold and I had a very good relationship. It was a field that I was interested in more than anybody else in the White House so I worked with them. The President, I think, listened greatly to Harold Smith both on Budget and on management. I think Harold educated the President about the tools of management. My feeling is that, I suppose, President Truman was probably the best Budget man they've ever had. Some people say that Johnson was better. Roosevelt was quite good on all the figures in the presentation of the Budget. Harold Smith, I think, was a terribly important man at that period in the Government because I think he got rationale, reason, and everything else into the way the White House behaved.

HESS: Why would you rate Mr. Truman so high on that?

ROWE: Only because all the Budget people told me he was so good. Knew his budget very well, and

[15]

knew all the details and this I’ve heard from several generations of younger Budget people, the older ones, and so forth; all of these said that Truman was tremendously good at this. Now, just why he was as distinguished from, Eisenhower or someone like that, I just don’t know. Maybe it was the training he got out of the committee up on the Hill. It might have been something that he picked up in Kansas City. He was known to be excellent on every item in the budget.

HESS: As you know, Mr. Truman ran for reelection to the United States Senate in 1940, during the time that you were at the White House, and I would like to read a short passage from the Memoirs regarding the event. It appears in the Memoirs, Vol. I, page 159:

The President had offered, in a roundabout way, to put me on the Interstate Commerce Commission. I sent him word, however, that if I received only one vote I intended to make the fight for vindication and reelection to the Senate. The President really was encouraging Stark, my opponent.

Were you aware of that offer?

[16]

ROWE: I was not aware of the offer, and I'm not now aware of the offer. I might have been. I have a very vague memory, that for reasons I cannot now remember, that we were in favor of Stark as against Truman. This may have been just as simple as the fact that we didn't think Truman could win. We might have thought Stark could win. I can't remember what the reasons were but I do remember that there was a tendency to favor Stark. I have no memory of why.

HESS: Do you recall what President Roosevelt's attitude toward Mr. Truman was at this particular time?

ROWE: No. You've got to remember that right at this time Truman was pretty much of a junior Senator. I think, let me see, about this period he was working with Burt [Burton K.] Wheeler on the railroad investigation, and I think that whatever interest we had was what Wheeler and Truman were doing about railroads. I may be a

[17]

little off on my timing, but Truman until the preparedness committee, what did they call that?

HESS: The Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program.

ROWE: Yes. Until then he had been regarded as a quiet junior Senator, maybe too much a part of the Pendergast machine.

HESS: Did you ever hear President Roosevelt mention Mr. Truman's connection with Pendergast?

ROWE: No, but that doesn't mean he didn't. I cannot now remember anything. Roosevelt was a realist about the bosses. He played with [Frank] Hague, he played with Pendergast, and the New York crowd. He came up as you know, through that New York machinery and he was not a man to kick the bosses in the face more than once. He might do it publicly, but he didn't do it privately. I wouldn't think -- I just never did hear. I knew Roosevelt had some kind of relationship with Pendergast. You had to

[18]

if you wanted to carry Missouri.

HESS: What do you recall about Mr. Truman's selection as a vice-presidential candidate in 1944?

ROWE: I don't recall anything as I was in the Navy and in the Pacific at the time, but I can tell you of the conversation I had with the President in either December '44 or January '45. I was home on leave and my own opinion as I had sat out on a carrier in the Pacific had been that he would pick Sam Rayburn for Vice President, and I had not thought of Mr. Truman. I had been out of the country for, oh, at least a year and I was a little surprised about where did Truman come from and all that business. Why Truman? So, I .went in to visit the President on leave and he had some time and I, in effect, said, "Mr. President, why did you pick Truman?" And he gave me a very interesting account. He said that he had decided nobody could help him. No vice-presidential candidate could help him and the problem was

[19]

who would hurt him least. Then he went through the various candidates. On Bill Douglas he said, "Well, you know Bill said he didn't want to play second fiddle to anybody, and he said maybe he was too much of a New Dealer." I think Senator Bankhead, I'm not sure of my names now, maybe it was Speaker Bankhead, one of the Bankheads was talked about as a candidate. He said he was too southern. Jimmy Byrnes had been talked about and there had been a Catholic problem there. Jimmy had begun life as a Catholic, but I think when quite young had switched to Episcopalian. The President told me he had sent Frank Walker and Leo Crowley around to see the leaders of the Church, in effect, to see how much a bar this was and he told me that they came back and reported that it was not a bar. At least the Cardinals, or whoever would speak for the Church, understood that this happened to Jimmy when he was a young boy and therefore it would not be too much of a problem. That

[20]

was not the general approach. Most people thought he was ruled out on this. But the President said labor came in very strongly against Byrnes and he said when you got all through with the various people he said that the one fellow that the southerners liked, and the one fellow that labor could accept, was Truman.

HESS: What did he say about Henry Wallace at this time?

ROWE: Well, now, he said that the bosses had been in, Ed Flynn and all the rest. I've forgotten, he told me who they were. They came down and waited on him in effect, and said they just couldn't take Wallace; he would just have to, in effect, get rid of him.

HESS: Did President Roosevelt at this time say anything about Senator Truman's chairmanship of the Truman Committee?

ROWE: I can't remember anything, although as I say, I wasn't following it because I was out in the

[21]

Pacific. There had been, as you know, tremendous publicity and everybody had a feeling, which even I, out in the Pacific, had a feeling, that the Truman Committee was doing a very competent, careful job in which he was getting results. He was not smearing people, but he was not whitewashing them either. This was a constructive effort and it received a lot of publicity, so that by this time Truman was a very well-known figure and as well-known as Senators become I guess.

HESS: Well, of course, Henry Wallace wanted to get the nomination again. What do you recall about the efforts that he made?

ROWE: I don't recall much because I was away. I think Francis Biddle was for him. I think Judge Rosenman was involved in this some way or another. Now that I think of it, Rosenman originally picked Wallace. He was responsible for Wallace in the first place. I think that the liberal crowd was sort of backing Wallace. But you see we had run into this guru business. I don't know if you know about that.

[22]

HESS: The guru letters?

ROWE: Yes. That had worried Roosevelt a great deal.

HESS: You say Rosenman was responsible for Wallace in '40?

ROWE: That is my memory, yes, that he came up with the Wallace name. And during the campaign we ran into the guru letters and they made us all nervous and they didn't break. I think the President was a little shaky about Wallace from that time on but the other factor about Wallace was that he had been presiding over the Senate for four years and didn't have any allies up there. Rather odd fellow. Competent man. He was a great Secretary of Agriculture. But it was a fact that he didn't have any of these people supporting him.

HESS: Did you ever have occasion to work with the White House staff during the Truman administration?

[23]

ROWE: Yes, and no. I really did some work, mostly with Jim Webb, the Budget Director.

HESS: What was that work?

ROWE: Well, I did several studies. I did an aviation study for him. At that time, what had happened was, let me see -- I've forgotten the period, I think it was '46 or '47. I had been in Nuremberg and had come back in the fall of '46, the late fall of '46 and I didn't quite know what I wanted to do. I think I was perfectly sure I didn't want to stay in Washington. I was thinking about practicing law in California and Montana where I came from, and I was floating around really doing nothing. Then Jim Webb and I had got to talking somewhere or other about a few things, and before long I was helping him.

The airlines were in as bad a mess as they are now and I think the President gave Jimmy Webb the assignment of taking a look at the whole thing, and getting it straightened out. So he put a task force together, and I remember the

[24]

thing I was working on was the preparation of a paper. I don't know what ever happened to it. One of our concerns was the relationship between military and civil aviation, so I worked on that. I remember I came to the conclusion that civil aviation was not helping the defense program at all. It was all the other way around, as has been apparent pretty much ever since. This defense aid was one of the excuses for the airline subsidy and everything else.

Later, the other things that I did with the White House were really through Webb. I did two studies. I did one on jobs. I can give you a copy of both of them. Here's one. These are both political studies and the first one I see is called "Cooperation or Conflict? The President's relationships with an opposition Congress."* In effect, how does a President handle the Congress when you have both houses against him as Truman did? It was a historical study, but really it was a REALPOLITIK study. I see it's dated December '46, and was about

*See Appendix A for copy of this memorandum.

[25]

23 or 24 pages long when I finished. I spent quite a bit of time writing it. I don't know that it shows. I haven't looked at it for years. But I gave it to Webb, and Webb gave it to the President. Webb told me once, whether he was being kind or not I don't know, that the President told him that he kept it in a drawer of his desk and kept looking at it. But it was really a guide to techniques on how you handle the Congress. I think that maybe it might have been seed corn for the whole "do-nothing Congress" approach that the President took in the '48 campaign.

HESS: How important do you think that his handling of the 80th Congress matter was to his eventual victory?

ROWE: I think it elected him. But I don't want to suggest too much for this memo that I haven't read for a number of years...

HESS: Do you recall if he followed this suggestion?

[26]

ROWE: My memory is that he did. But I think the best thing to do is to let you have a copy, which I will get photostated and mail to you, and you make up your own mind on that one.

The other thing I did was this.*

HESS: We can include this in an appendix to our oral history interview.

ROWE: Good, you can do that. Now, I think Jimmy Webb told me that both this, and his own copy of this other memorandum, are in his papers in the Truman Library, and I'm not certain. I'll have a copy of this made and...

HESS: What is the other memorandum?

ROWE: The other memorandum is called the "Politics of 1948." Now, this gets a little complicated. I wrote this and it went to Clark Clifford. It's really a memorandum on how to handle the political campaign of 1948. Clark and I have since discussed what happened to this one. I happened

*See Appendix B for a copy of this memorandum entitled "The Politics of 1948," written by Mr. Rowe and dated September 18, 1947.

[27]

to read in the New York Times an article by Pat Anderson, which mentions this memorandum of Clifford's. Also, I think it's in a couple of books. I noticed some of the quotations at the time, and I thought they were very familiar so I went back and looked at this memo and they came from this one.

When I first wrote this memo, I mentioned it to a couple of people, and Clark heard about it, and gave me a ring. I guess that is what always does happen. I gave it to Clifford and I assumed that my name would be on it. What Clifford did, what he said he did, was that he took this memo and he took some other memos and he put his ideas all together and then gave the President an overall memorandum including, I think, most of this one.

HESS: Would you go so far as to say that the majority, or the largest part of the memo that he turned over to the President was taken from your memo?

[28]

ROWE: All the quotations I saw that have been printed since, in the books or anything, came out of this memorandum. Now this memorandum is about thirty-three pages. There have been references in the texts, somewhere or another, to a forty-three page memorandum. So, I would guess that if he used all this, he probably added another ten pages and maybe took -- I don't know. The problem was that Clark had sent his papers out to the Truman Library so he didn't have a copy of his memo. So, the two of us never did sit down and look at it. It was the kind of thing that happens very often, as it did when I was in the White House. You get ideas from a great variety of people. You put it together and you give it to the boss. You don't worry about who wrote what. I had had the impression from Webb that it was going under my name, and here I'll give you that. I've got copies of it.

HESS: All right, fine.

ROWE: That's a covering letter to Webb -- I guess with

[29]

his copy. A damn good memo if I do say so myself.

HESS: And this is dated September 18 of '47.

And in the book The Truman Presidency by Cabell Phillips on page 197, Mr. Phillips refers to an analysis of the political situation that was submitted to the President by Clark Clifford in November of '47.

ROWE: Yes. This was probably the basis or the seed corn for it.

HESS: All right. We will include this also in the appendix to your interview.

ROWE: Now what Clark added to this I don't know. It's out there somewhere in the Truman Library.

HESS: Have you ever seen a copy of his memo?

ROWE: No, I haven't.

HESS: Here is a copy.

I don't want to disturb you while you're

[30]

looking, but there are two points there that the forty-three page memo brings up that I would like to ask about. One, it mentions on page 29 that the President should take a trip and he likens it to the inspection trips that President Roosevelt took. Do you recall if that was yours?

ROWE: Yes.

HESS: That was?

ROWE: I think you will find that these were very much the same. The beginning doesn't seem that way. You can take a look at it.

HESS: Another point that I want to ask about is on page 40 of the 43-page memo where it mentions setting up a small working committee to coordinate the political program in and out of the administration. Do you recall if that was your suggestion?

ROWE: It was, yes.

[31]

HESS: Who served on that committee when it was started?

ROWE: I haven't any idea. I gave the memo to Clifford and what was done with it after that I don't know. At one stage Clifford had asked me to come over, back to the White House, to be an Administrative Assistant.

HESS: This was before '48?

ROWE: I'm sure it was before '48. I said, no; I had been an Administrative Assistant, and I didn't come back. In the '48 campaign, there is a fellow whose name I've forgotten, from California. I'm sure you're familiar with it, who came in to work on the campaign.

HESS: Dave Noyes?

ROWE: Dave Noyes. He asked me to come in and help him on the speechwriting and that sort of thing and I didn't do it for a variety of reasons. I was busy. But I do remember it was my suggestion that he get Dave Lloyd. Dave was a classmate of

[32]

mine in law school -- in college and law school both. He was practicing law; I said he is the best speechwriter, the best research man I know, and I can't do it but you might get him. And the next thing I knew Noyes had got Lloyd. Lloyd worked with him on the campaign and later stayed on in the White House. That's how Lloyd got there.

HESS: Do you recall if he was working with the Research Division of the Democratic National Committee at that particular time?

ROWE: I don't remember. I assume maybe somebody was paying him. It might have been that division. I think he was working with Noyes the first time he went over there.

HESS: Concerning the events of 1948. Were you involved in the decisions that were made, political decisions?

ROWE: No, I was not. There was only one thing that I did in the '48 campaign. Howard McGrath

[33]

was chairman of the Democratic National Committee, as you may remember, and Harold Ickes had been the Secretary of the Interior and had quit Truman. There had been a flare-up about Ed Pauley, and Ickes had resigned. He'd become a columnist and was writing mean things about Truman until Tom Dewey was nominated, and this was more than Harold Ickes could stand. In some way or another I got in the middle between McGrath and Ickes; I was going back and forth to get Ickes to campaign for Truman. I remember a meeting with Howard McGrath and Harold Ickes and myself and someone else. The latter may have been Dave Niles. I can't remember. We were all in Ickes' house discussing how this should be done. Ickes recommended a number of things including the request that I travel with him and help write the speeches and meet the politicians. That I did, and Ickes made some devastating attacks on Dewey all over the country, particularly in the West where he carried great strength, great weight. Having been a public power man, and having

[34]

been the Secretary of the Interior, he carried great weight in the West. That's about the only thing I did.

I do remember one interesting point regarding that meeting that stands out. In the middle of it Howard McGrath got a telephone call saying that he had to put up so much money to get the President of the United States to speak on radio. Howard didn't have the money, and didn't know where he was going to get it. I can remember his thumping the desk and saying if Truman wins, by God I'll make sure the President of the United States can speak to the country whenever he wishes. Of course Truman won and Howard forgot all about the pledge, but it was true at that moment that Truman didn't have enough money to make a radio speech.

HESS: They did have a bit of trouble raising funds now and then, didn't they?

ROWE: They had a terrible time raising funds. I

[35]

think Louis Johnson went out and did as well as anybody could, and I think Truman was always grateful to him for that reason. It was very hard. No one believed that Truman was going to win. No one, except Oscar Chapman and…

HESS: What was your opinion?

ROWE: I didn't think he had a chance. I thought he was dead. Oscar Chapman and Les Biffle were the only two people of any political background that thought he had a chance. They both went out talking to the people while the rest of us politicians were sitting around doing nothing.

HESS: I understand that Leslie Biffle dressed up as a chicken farmer and went out. Did you ever hear him speak of that?

ROWE: Yes, I talked with Le