Oral History Interview with
James L. Sundquist
Former staff member of the Bureau of the Budget, speech-writer for President Harry S. Truman, staff member of the Democratic National Committee, and Assistant Secretary to Governor W. Averell Harriman of New York
July 15, 1963
by Charles T. Morrissey
[Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]
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. ) within the transcript indicate
the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the oral history interview.
This oral history transcript may be read, quoted from, cited, and reproduced for purposes of research. It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.
Opened July, 1964
Harry S. Truman Library
[Top of the Page | Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]
Oral History Interview with
James L. Sundquist
July 15, 1963
by Charles T. Morrissey
MORRISSEY: Mr. Sundquist, we're interested in your relationship to Mr.
Truman and to the Truman Administration. When did this relationship begin
and what did it involve?
SUNDQUIST: I came into the Government in 1941, as a member of the staff
of the Bureau of the Budget, which is in the Executive Office of the President,
and was a staff member when Mr. Truman took office. In that capacity,
I was borrowed from time to time by the White House, primarily to help
draft speeches and messages and then in September of 1952, I was brought
up into the White House full time for the duration of the 1952 campaign.
MORRISSEY: Why did the White House staff choose you as the one to borrow?
SUNDQUIST: Well, before I came with the Budget Bureau, I was a newspaperman.
So during all the time I was at
the Bureau I got pulled in on various writing assignments and became known
as the Bureau's writer. The first writing jobs I did with the White House
were in the Bureau's own area of concern and the first time I went to
the White House for any length of time was in connection with the 1947
State of the Union Message. Clark Clifford was looking to Jim Webb, who
was then Director of the Budget, to help prepare it, and Webb had in mind
bringing David Cushman Coyle down to help. Someone in the Bureau, Arnold
Miles to be exact, said "Why, we've got a man already on our staff
who would be as useful as David Cushman Coyle," and that was how
I came to be assigned that year to Clark Clifford to work on the State
of the Union Message.
MORRISSEY: Could you give me a little biographical information on how
you came to be in the Bureau of the Budget?
SUNDQUIST: I was a newspaper man in Utah from 1935 to 1939 and during
that period I finished college. Then I took graduate work at Syracuse
from 1939 to 1941, two
years in Public Administration, with the intention then of going back
into newspaper work. But the Government was expanding very rapidly in
the spring and summer of 1941 and Public Administration graduates were
in great demand. So I was hired by Donald C. Stone, who was Assistant
Director of the Budget for Administrative Management, and who was looking
for a combination public administration type and writer. He needed someone
to translate into English the reports that his administrative specialists
wrote. So I came in as a writer, but I soon got rather tired of sitting
in the office and rewriting other people's stuff; I wanted to go out and
do some of the glamorous analysis work too, and Mr. Stone let me cross
over from being a writer to what in the Government is the equivalent of
an efficiency expert. All during the war I was doing efficiency expert
type work -- manpower control and organization studies, primarily in the
military -- although from time to time I was pulled back on writing chores.
I did some speeches for the Director and that kind of thing. I worked
on the message on consolidation
of the War and Navy Departments, which was sent up in the early months
of the Truman Administration, wasn't it?
MORRISSEY: 1945. I think after F.D.R.'s death.
MORRISSEY: From your experience, could you comment on the relationship
between the Bureau of the Budget and the White House staff?
SUNDQUIST: Well, during my time there, it was very close. The Budget
Bureau serves as an extension of the White House and Harold Smith was
very conscious of the organizational role of the Budget Bureau as part
of the Presidency. He was quite a philosopher about it and we were indoctrinated
with the idea that every time we acted, it was the President himself acting.
I believe that relations between the Budget Bureau and the President perhaps
tended to be more direct in Harold Smith's time than later when they began
to filter more through the White House staff. Smith was very jealous of
his personal relation with President Roosevelt.
MORRISSEY: How did Smith get along with Truman?
SUNDQUIST: I guess I really can't answer that. I was not close enough
to either one of them. But Smith was the man who built the Bureau into
the institution it was. It had had a more limited role before he came
and I have the impression that it reached its peak of competence and authority
during his tenure. The Bureau carried out a very active recruiting program
to skim the cream of the Public Administration people out of the colleges
and it was a training ground for public administration personnel throughout
the government. His successors were more politicians than professional
public administrators and I think the agency lost some of the appeal that
it had had -- and, well, agencies go through cycles.
MORRISSEY: Could you elaborate a bit on this impression you have that
the relationship between the Director of the Bureau of the Budget and
the President declined as time went on in the Truman Administration and
the relationship became more one between the White House staff and the
Director of the Budget.
SUNDQUIST: I don't know that I expressed it accurately if
I said it that way. Smith undoubtedly continued to deal with the President.
It may be that the relation between the White House staff and the Bureau
staff simply became more intimate. Charles Murphy was the man who organized
policy work in the White House on a really systematic basis, and in doing
so he spotted people in the Bureau that he could use and worked very closely
with them. I'm thinking particularly here of Dave Bell and Dick Neustadt,
both of whom he eventually pulled up on his staff. Dave Stowe was another
one who came out of the Budget Bureau, but he was on Steelman's side of
the White House.
MORRISSEY: Could you describe somewhat how Mr. Murphy handled his work
and handled his staff?
SUNDQUIST: Well, that's not easy to describe. Murphy impressed me at
that time, and still does, as a man with about as sound a judgment as
anybody I've ever known. He would take great pains to weigh all the angles
of a question in order to come out with the right position from the viewpoint
of the President. He was absolutely selfless and devoted to the
President and completely anonymous. He had a capacity for drawing out
of the staff people who worked with him the best they had to offer. They
were a harmonious, congenial group. He was always very calm and level-headed
and did not get flustered at all under pressure.
MORRISSEY: Could you specify some of the particular chores you did when
you were working in the Bureau of the Budget but working with the White
SUNDQUIST: It was almost entirely on speeches and messages. The first
one, as I recall, was the message consolidating the War and Navy Departments,
an organizational question on which I had been working as a Bureau staff
man. I have already mentioned the State of the Union Message in 1947,
which actually meant, of course, December of 1946. I worked on a series
of speeches Mr. Truman gave during a Western trip in 1950. Perhaps there
will be some historical interest in how the 1947 message was developed.
Do you want me to run through that?
SUNDQUIST: I went over with Mr. Webb for a session with
Clark Clifford, where I was introduced and it was explained that I would
work on it. Mr. Clifford in a very brief interview talked about the tone
of the message. We were confronted, at that time, with the Republican
80th Congress which had just been elected and we had the special problem
of addressing a message to a Congress of the opposite party. So there
was some discussion as to how conciliatory we should be and so on. It
was agreed that Mr. Webb and I would outline what we conceived the tone
and general content to be and then arrange another conference. I prepared
a document which set out some alternatives. One basic question was whether
the tone would be "boldly New-Dealish," or one of "consolidating
our gains." Those were phrases which I had culled, I think, from
newspaper columnists' speculation. I recall Mr. Clifford scratching out Boldly New Dealish and saying, Well, it wont be that.
As it turned out, it was a pretty prosaic message. There wasn't much
innovation in it, as I recall, and it did take a general tone of consolidating
our gains. My assignment was to coordinate the domestic phases
while George Elsey pulled together the international and foreign part.
On the domestic side, I brought in various people from the Budget Bureau
who had particular specialties. One of those, I remember, was Dave Bell,
because what we had to say about labor-management relations in that particular
message was important and Bell was handling that subject for the Bureau
at the time, under Dave Stowe. Joe Reeve wrote a section on the subject
of housing. What I tried to do was pull all those contributions into a
synthesized domestic half of the message, and I turned my drafts over
to Elsey who handled the clearances from there. It seemed to me that it
all went very smoothly and simply. The Budget Bureau fellows were able
to state the policy about as the White House expected it to be stated.
And the White House staff, on messages and policy matters, at that time,
was Clifford and Elsey, and that's about all. This may be one reason why
relations between the Director of the Budget and the President seemed
to be more direct at that time -- there wasn't any White House staff of
any size to filter through.
It was quite a contrast from the closing days of the Truman Administration
when Mr. Truman had Murphy, Elsey, Dave Lloyd, Bell, Ken Hechler, Stowe,
Harold Enarson, Dick Neustadt, and others on policy matters. The brain
power really increased over that span of time.
I went overseas in 1947 and came back in 1949. In the fall of 1950, I
was assigned to the Budget Message to pull together the whole document,
which was done, of course, inside the Bureau without much White House
review. Dave Bell, who had handled the Budget Message in 1949, was assigned
to work with us and he came over and sweated it out in the Budget Bureau
MORRISSEY: When was that message delivered?
SUNDQUIST: January, 1951, covering the 1952 fiscal year. We had to coordinate
the Budget Message with the Economic Report and the State of the Union
Message -- we had the three documents to dovetail.
MORRISSEY: Who was in charge of the overall coordination between these
SUNDQUIST: Charlie Murphy, I'm sure, but Dave Bell handled his relations
with the Budget Message -- although not in the sense that Dave was giving
orders. As the Budget Bureau's man, working for the Bureau and not the
White House directly, I didn't regard Bell as having the final say on
anything. He was just there to help, and his method of coordinating it
was to sit there and work through with us. If we stayed up till 4 o'clock
in the morning, as we did a couple of times, he stayed up till 4 o'clock.
I suspect he worked the same way with Leon Keyserling on the Economic
MORRISSEY: In regard to this point about brain power increasing in the
Truman Administration as time went by, would you credit this Mr. Murphy?
SUNDQUIST: Yes. I guess it was Clifford who brought Murphy in. After
Clifford left, then Murphy built the staff.
In regard to the 1950 Western speech-making swing, we met in Dave Lloyd's
office and it was he who laid out the schedule and assigned the work.
MORRISSEY: Dave Lloyd did?
MORRISSEY: Had Mr. Lloyd arranged the schedule himself?
SUNDQUIST: I don't know. I assume he worked it out with Murphy and then
took on the job of getting the drafts assigned. I was asked to write two
of them -- one on foreign trade and one on foreign policy. I had never
written a speech on foreign policy before, so I recall asking, "What
do I say?" I didn't get any specific guidance.
Dave Lloyd said, "Well, here are a couple of speeches (Dean) Acheson
has given lately; maybe they'll give you some ideas."
So I went around to my room in the Budget Bureau -- this was a Saturday
morning -- and asked myself, "What is my foreign policy today?"
I decided I would write my ideas on foreign policy before I read
Acheson's stuff, just to see how it would work out. I came out with something
pretty good, I guess, because hardly a word was changed and it was delivered
in Laramie, Wyoming. I was told later
that the newspapermen took a poll and voted it the best speech of the
trip. On the foreign trade speech, a draft had been done by some expert
somewhere, and all I did was give it a literary touch. The one on foreign
policy was scarcely even cleared with the State Department; they did contribute
a couple of paragraphs at the beginning on a gift of wheat to India, but
apart from that, they didn't change anything either. As you see, the speech
writing process under Murphy was a rather informal one.
MORRISSEY: Why do you suppose you were chosen to write these two speeches?
SUNDQUIST: They had an extra body and they had two speeches that hadn't
been written. I don't know why they didn't ask the State Department to
do them. It probably was mostly a matter of mechanics. They were starting
at the beginning of the schedule and getting the speeches assigned and
then, as they came up almost against the day of the departure, they discovered
the Laramie speech hadn't been written. So they sat around the table on
and said, "Well, this one better be on foreign policy." And
there I was, so they matched me up with the speech.
MORRISSEY: Did you travel with the President on the train?
SUNDQUIST: Not that time, no. Several of us drove out to hear the final
speech of the swing, at Cumberland, Maryland, where incidentally we developed
one of the more important innovations in the speech process. (I'll have
to enter a caveat here that I'm not sure whether the Cumberland speech
concluded this particular swing or another later one, around Labor Day,
but that doesn't matter for this particular incident.) We had written
a rather good speech on labor surpluses; Cumberland was a depressed area,
one of the first to be recognized. It was a minor speech, written by Hechler
and Bill Batt and me after the President had left and we mailed it to
them. It was about seven pages long -- not much more than that. Mr. Truman
was on the rear platform turning the pages and he'd covered page 4 and
as he went to turn to page 5, the wind caught one of the pages and he
to page 6, and went right on as though nothing had happened. Neither Mr.
Truman nor the audience knew that anything had been left out -- only the
authors were aware of the golden words lost in the wind. The result of
that episode was the development of an isinglass cover in which they enclosed
each page, which protected the manuscripts not only from the wind, but
from the rain.
Early in 1951, I left the Budget Bureau to go to the Office of Defense
Mobilization, where my particular assignment was the quarterly ODM report
to the President -- which was a report to the public too on the progress
of the defense program. Each three months, again, Dave Bell came over
and sweated out the final version with us. Dave Stowe reviewed it one
time when Bell was not available, but he didn't work on it with us line
by line as Bell did.
MORRISSEY: Did you discuss these reports directly with the President?
SUNDQUIST: No, I don't think he gave them any extensive review. I believe
Dave Stowe handled them for him
along with Bell; they had been with him long enough to know his views
and policies and when they gave the O.K., that was it.
I worked on a message proposing special relief for the Kansas flood areas
after the big flood of 1951 and that was all until I got pulled into the
White House on Labor Day, 1952.
MORRISSEY: I've asked you how Mr. Murphy did his work and how he conducted
his staff business. How did his way of doing things compare or contrast
with Clark Clifford's way of doing similar things?
SUNDQUIST: I can't really say, because I only did one job for Clifford.
My impression from that job is that Murphy was inclined to devote perhaps
more time to the detailed structure and content of a major speech or message.
Clifford seemed more the operating executive type who handled a thing
like this very briskly, while Murphy weighed each sentence judiciously,
one by one. But I'm speaking only from one case, as far as Clifford is
concerned. Clifford may have done more writing himself. Murphy did very
few original drafts.
His forte was editing the language and refining the expression of policy.
MORRISSEY: Let me pursue one matter in relation to the State of the Union
Message in 1947. You remarked that the emphasis in this speech was on consolidation of gains, and that in the preliminary stages, Mr. Clifford seemed to take that position. Whose influence was prevailing in the writing of that speech?
SUNDQUIST: Well, at the time I got into it, Mr. Cliffords mind was made up and from the firm way he expressed it, that it would not be a New Deal type speech, I thought he must be reflecting not just his own feeling but also that of the President.
The greatest frustration for me on that speech was on the
foreign policy side, which I was not handling. I did my best to convince
Mr. Elsey that the time had come for something bold in that area but I
made no headway. After I went overseas came the message announcing the
Greek-Turkish Doctrine and Mr. Elsey wrote me a note saying, "Here
it is. This is what you wanted last winter."
MORRISSEY: In regard to these two speeches you wrote for the President
during the 1950 campaign, how much of a difference, if any, was there
between the preparation of these speeches in Washington and their delivery
out in the hinterlands? Would someone on the train look over these drafts
and adapt them to the local conditions?
SUNDQUIST: Not in this case, no. These were prepared texts. Now, the
President may have opened up with some off-the-cuff banter and local color
comment. But once he got into his text he always stuck to his script.
That was equally true during the campaign -- well, nearly so, anyway.
Of course, he had a much bigger traveling staff in the campaign. Do you
want to go now into the '52 campaign?
MORRISSEY: I was about to suggest it.
SUNDQUIST: The speech-writing staff in '52 under Mr. Murphy consisted
of Dave Lloyd, Charlie Van Devander, Dick Neustadt, Ken Hechler, and me,
with occasional drafts from other people, particularly selected people
in the agencies who had something to offer. In the early
part of the campaign, Van Devander and I were back at home base cranking
out drafts and sending them to the train. Ken Hechler was also there part
of the time. But Hechler specialized early on local color and stopped
doing any drafting. Actually, he was a good speechwriter but he insisted
he was not, and in any case he seemed to prefer the local assignment,
and he was extraordinary at it. Neustadt began to specialize on the smaller
whistlestop type speeches, which were written up in outline rather than
textual form. However, the outlines were so complete that if the President
decided only to read the outline, it still came out as a speech and toward
the end, that's about what happened. Dick had these speeches numbered
and would rotate them somewhat so that if there wasn't anything special
to say at a particular place, he'd pull out number five which hadn't been
given yet that day. The major speeches were the ones that were released
to the press in advance and there were two of those a day -- one for the
afternoon papers and one for the morning's. Ordinarily we had one on foreign
policy and one on domestic policy and the general
pattern was that Lloyd did the former and I did the latter. We could work
at the rate of about one speech a day each, but of course it would be
considerably easier if someone had contributed a good basic draft to start
from. Sometimes there would be an extra luncheon speech thrown in, and
then there were letters and messages too that might be released -- you
might have as many as four or five texts in a day, but the standard was
MORRISSEY: What were your major problems during that '52 campaign?
SUNDQUIST: You mean mechanical or substantive?
MORRISSEY: Either, or both.
SUNDQUIST: Well, the main mechanical problem was the lack of an opportunity
to sleep. The grind on the train was a rough one. I wasn't on the first
trip, which took place in September -- the western swing. I joined the
train at Buffalo on the way back, followed it into New York and later
went on some of the other trips but not all of them -- the others were
would generally get the speeches ready by evening, and then go over them
with Murphy until they were done to his satisfaction. That meant going
over every line with great care. At the beginning of the trip, we'd have
the first speeches ready before we left and we might get the first day's
work done on the train by a reasonable bedtime hour, say 11 o'clock. Then
we'd start losing ground so that by the end of the trip we might not get
them all buttoned up until 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning. At that point,
Dave Lloyd and I -- although I can't speak for sure about Lloyd -- would
go to bed and Mr. Murphy (I don't know whether he slept or not) cleared
these speeches at breakfast with the President and I would wake up in
time to hear one or two of them and then start to work on the next day's
Substantively, I don't recall any particular problems. We had a good
story to tell; we had the administration's policies and record that we
knew forward and backward. The problem was to put it in language that
would communicate. It was Mr. Truman talking about his administration
and at some point
in the speech, making a plug for Adlai.
MORRISSEY: As you recall, how did you view the chances of success during
that campaign? Did you think the Democrats were going to win another term?
SUNDQUIST: I must confess that I got myself convinced at the end that
Stevenson was going to win. This came on gradually. I didn't let myself
fully believe it until the very last weekend in St. Louis when we all
listened to a man named Charlie Hamilton, from Mississippi -- I believe
I have his name right. He said he'd just come back from the convention
of country preachers, and all the country preachers were for Stevenson
and that meant the grass roots were for him. I guess there was a swing
toward Stevenson at the end, but it got started much too late. And I don't
suppose that at best it could have ever produced a majority. People were
convinced that the Truman regime was corrupt, and full of communists,
and even if they weren't sure, they were ready to give the other side
a chance after twenty years.
To get back to Truman's relation to the speech
writing business on the train; We would get our cues from Mr. Murphy as
to what he was most interested in talking about, but I had the impression
that he had all he could do to deliver the speeches and meet the dignitaries
and jolly up the politicians, all of whom had to ride the train to the
content of the speeches. I remember one evening I was typing away in my
compartment when I felt someone behind me and looked over my shoulder
and there was the President of the United States; he smiled at me benignly
and said, "Don't get up. I just wondered what stuff you're planning
to put in the President mouth tomorrow?" And I assumed he wanted
to know and started out to tell him, but he shushed me and said, "That's
all right, young man, I'm sure that what you're coming up with is going
to be a lot better than anything I could suggest." And he strode
jauntily away. Margaret used to come back and cheer us up occasionally
Another delightful incident was in Cincinnati. I had written a humorous
takeoff on Taft for Taft's hometown as a change of pace after so many
speeches. Dave Lloyd added a few touches, and so did some others. Truman
apparently liked it, too, because he hammed it up and ad libbed a great
many additional lines that added punch and humor. He thought he was so
good -- which he was -- that he stayed up to hear it played back in the
club car. Then he laughed so hard at his own wit -- and ours -- that he
almost broke down and had us all breaking down with him. In short, he
was a fine, relaxed, and enjoyable man to work for.
MORRISSEY: Could you give me your impressions of David Lloyd?
SUNDQUIST: Dave was a careful and penetrating thinker on international
and foreign policy questions. He probably was good on domestic questions
too, but the former was his specialty. He was as good a writer as he was
a thinker -- with a very lucid and eloquent style. I thought he wrote
brilliant stuff during that campaign. He was a delightful fellow to work
with, as they all were.
MORRISSEY: There must have been occasions when there simply
wasn't time to go over some of the speeches prepared for the President
line by line?
SUNDQUIST: No, that didn't happen. Murphy stayed up as, late as necessary
to go over them line by line before he went to bed. Each day he had a
full set of speeches to clear with the President at breakfast.
MORRISSEY: Was there much discussion between the President's speech writers
on whether he was more effective speaking extemporaneously or more effective
speaking from a prepared draft and not deviating from it?
SUNDQUIST: We all thought he was more effective extemporaneously and
so did he. We wrote in what was called, jocularly around the White House,
"Missouri English," which was designed to incorporate his extemporaneous
style into the manuscripts. What that meant really was short sentences
and short words where we didn't have to have big ones. His secretary,
Rose Conway, had devised a way of typing these so that they almost read
themselves. Maybe you've had this story before?
SUNDQUIST: Her trick was to put the natural pauses always at the end of
lines, so Mr. Truman could read on line to the end, pause, then read the
next line to the end, and then pause and so on. And the pauses came out
naturally. This was something, incidentally, that I taught the lady who
typed President Kennedy's speeches in the 1960 campaign.
MORRISSEY: Could you enlarge on that a little bit?
SUNDQUIST: Well, I don't know that this is pertinent to the Truman Library.
MORRISSEY: Well, we'd like to hear it.
SUNDQUIST: I was in the balcony looking over the President's shoulder
when he was delivering a speech in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, and
I noticed he was following with his finger to keep his place as he looked
up at the audience. And when he came to the end of the line if he paused
there, it might be pausing at the wrong place. They had just given him
a solid block of type -- the large speech type -- with no spacing whatever,
long paragraphs and sentences which overlapped lines and even
pages. He had difficulty in keeping his place and finding the beginnings
and endings of sentences. In every case, he had to pause at the end of
the page while he turned it -- and these pauses might be at very awkward
spots. So I explained to Mrs. Lincoln how Rose Conway used to type speeches.
I had a feeling that day I had really accomplished something for the Kennedy
MORRISSEY: Is it difficult for a Presidential speech writer not
to take pride of authorship in what he's preparing?
SUNDQUIST: Well, you take some pride, but in the review process we always
had the right of argument and Murphy was never arbitrary. As a general
rule, he would tend to preserve the original draft rather than make changes
where it was an evenly balanced decision. I remember, for example, working
over a speech draft that Laszlo Ecker-Racz had done for Spokane.
MORRISSEY: This was in 1952?
SUNDQUIST: Yes, '52. I remember rewriting it to put the language more
in the style that I'd developed, and to
refine the concepts in a way that the administration had customarily done.
I discovered later that Mr. Murphy had used the original Ecker-Racz draft,
almost without change. I asked him why he hadn't adopted my "improvements"
and he said, "Well, it seemed to be fresher the way Ecker-Racz had
drafted it and it seemed a little stale by the time you'd worked it over."
This illustrates his tendency to preserve the original draft unless there
was a good reason for changing it. He had a remarkably good feel as to
whether a speech could be delivered or not -- whether it was really a
speech as distinct from a magazine article or something written for a
learned journal. He was also good at inserting the colorful phrase. They
still talk about the Hungry Horse Dam speech which began with the line,
"You people here had better take a good look at that dam because
if the Republicans are elected, you'll never see another one." That
line has been quoted ever since for more than ten years. Nobody remembers
a word about what was said in the rest of the speech. The rest of the
speech, I did,
but it was the line that Mr. Murphy wrote in at the beginning that lives.
MORRISSEY: Were you involved in any other campaign activities in 1950
SUNDQUIST: No. In '50, of course, I was a career civil servant. I don't
recall the campaign very clearly.
One reason I got emotionally involved in the '52 campaign was that in
the Office of Defense Mobilization, we had been trying to mobilize the
country and rebuild the Armed Forces and so on, all of which involved
some inconvenience to the American people in the form of controls and
high taxes. The Republicans, and their Presidential candidate in particular,
chose to make political capital out of what seemed to me to be a patriotic
necessity. This got me sufficiently fired up that I probably wrote better
than I otherwise would have. I thought then, and I still think, that it
was one of the most unprincipled campaigns the country has ever seen.
Maybe later on as I mellow it will look more like normal political behavior,
but it did not then.
MORRISSEY: Were you involved in any of the planning during the transition
from the Truman Administration to the Eisenhower Administration?
SUNDQUIST: Well, I worked on the President's Farewell Speech. Other than
that, no, except, of course, I worked with Henry Fowler on getting the
office of Defense Mobilization ready to turn over, and I made my own recommendation
that the report I had been putting out for two years be abolished.
MORRISSEY: Could you enlarge a bit about the preparation of the President's
SUNDQUIST: Yes. This was a labor of love. Whereas we had been accustomed
in the campaign to turning out four or five speeches a day, as a group,
now we had more than a month to turn out one speech, and everybody agreed
this had to be a masterpiece in which we would express in a sensitive
way our feeling about the
seven years of the Truman Administration and maybe get across the suggestion
that the American people had made a mistake in repudiating it. Dick Neustadt
was assigned to do the first draft and I think took
almost a month just to do that. The pace had slowed down that much. But
at a certain point, when he had a draft to work on, we used to assemble
late every morning in the Cabinet Room and work it over. Then the President
would come in each afternoon and take up some of our time reminiscing.
He got in the habit of putting in a couple of hours there a day -- at
least, it seemed to be almost every day. This was most enjoyable; here's
where the oral history project should have had a tape recorder.
For instance, I remember his saying one day, "Somebody asked whether
there's anything I would do differently if I had it all to do over again.
I said, 'No, I wouldn't do one single thing different,' and that's true."
Somebody said, "How about the appointment of (James P.) McGranery?"
Truman smiled, "Well, maybe I'd do that one different."
He told a lot about Jackson County, Missouri, and cracked jokes. The
high spot was the day he came in, one afternoon, with a thundercloud on
his face and
everybody said, "What's the matter? Why are you so grim?"
And he said, "Well, I never really worried about the future of the
Republic until today, but I just had lunch with that man again,"
(this was his second meeting with General Eisenhower) "and he told
me he was going to do this job on a forty hour week. I started to explain
to him why that was impossible, that you had ceremonies in the Rose Garden
and people you had to see and all those things that had nothing to do
with the office of the Presidency, and running the Government alone took
forty hours a week, and every night you had to go up to your bedroom with
a briefcase full of papers -- National Security Council documents, some
of them fifty pages l