SHALETT: Senator, this is the morning of July 25, and we'reresuming on reel number eleven, a propos of our discussion the other day of Fiddling Bob Taylor in Tennessee, whom you described as a wonderful old-fashioned orator. What happened to the art of old-fashioned oratory? Are there any practitioners left?
BARKLEY: Well, not many. The art of old-fashioned oratory, as itwas known a half-century ago, has almost passed out of existence completely. There are now and then a few examples of it, but the breed seems to be dying out rapidly, and a more practical form of public speaking has come into existence in its place. And no longer do you hear the flamboyant, florid, arm-waving, foot-stamping, shouting, roaring type 1:00of oratory that was so effective years and years ago. When I was a boy, I can recall that if a man came to the courthouse in a public speech and did not engage in that sort of oratory, the crowd went away disappointed. And it not only was true of political oratory, but it was true of the pulpit also. I can recall as a boy when ministers who came to our church and to other churches which I attended, especially throughout in the country, preached long sermons, sometimes an hour, sometimes an hour and a half. In the little church of which my father and mother and my family were members, the preacher only came once a month. He had four or five churches which he had to serve, and no one of them could pay him enough in the way of salary to enable him to live. So they had what they called a circuit, and they'd go one Sunday at one church, the next 2:00Sunday at another, and so on.
SHALETT: Circuit riders, weren't they?
BARKLEY: Circuit riders. Now, the circuit rider is a term whichreally applied itself more to Methodist preachers, because they are given a circuit by the conference, which is the executive and controlling body of the church in the assignment of ministers. But without being called a circuit rider, the Presbyterian preachers, especially through the rural sections, engage in circuit riding in the sense that they went around to four or five churches during the month, preaching once a month at each one of them. And I recall many of these godly men who were devoted and sanctified to the cause of religion, who would just preach and preach and preach, because sometimes they said, "We've only got a chance at an audience once a month, and we might as well give them the works," which they proceeded to do. Well, that sort of oratory has vanished also in the pulpit. And it was a 3:00gradual transformation from the physical efforts that were usually exerted in preaching and in public speaking to a more calm, deliberate, logical, but equally forceful method of presenting any cause. So that today you rarely ever hear the old-fashioned type of oratory, of which Bob Taylor was a shining example, and of which many others--
BARKLEY: Bryan, in a sense, was a shining example of that,but he was not precisely the flamboyant speaker. Bryan was a very graceful speaker. He had a magnificent physique, he had a matchless voice, he had--he was a handsome man, and he stirred audiences. He didn't make very many gestures. He--his gestures were rather gentle. He made them sometimes with one fist pounding into his other hand, which is a 4:00habit that I have fallen into somewhat. And you know, gestures are more or less automatic. You may be trained to make gestures in a graceful way, and open up the fingers of your hand gently and gradually so as to look like it's graceful, but when you get into the heat and turmoil of public debate, your gestures come very naturally. And speaking of Mr. Bryan, I was saying a while ago or in an earlier comment about him that he was not as profound a thinker or scholar, of course, as Woodrow Wilson. Few men were. But I think that Bryan, in his effect upon an audience, in the beauty of his manner and the impressiveness of it, was as great an orator as I have ever heard in all 5:00my life. And I think that his lecture on the Prince of Peace, which he delivered throughout the country, and which I heard him deliver in my home city of Paducah at a Chautauqua which he addressed, is one of the most beautiful and one of the greatest orations that I have ever read. It's worth reading on the part of anybody.
SHALETT: Are there any practitioners of the art of old-fashioned oratoryleft in the Senate or House? How about Senator Tobey?
BARKLEY: Well, Tobey is not precisely that type. He is--Mr. Tobey,who is--Senator Tobey, who is a warm friend of mine, and the friendship is mutual, he has more of an emotional approach than flamboyant. He's--he has a very good sense of humor and inflicts it on the Senate now and then (laughs) to the amusement of all of us, and he's a very sincere man, a very consecrated man. He's 6:00a deeply religious man. He believes in religion, he believes in morality in public as well as in private, and in that belief, I share. And he and I had many opinions and had many attitudes in common in that respect. And he's a little different type of public speaker from the average senator or the average public speaker. But I wouldn't describe him as the old-fashioned, flamboyant, gesticulating, foot-stomping, roaring type of a public speaker. He's an effective public speaker. I suppose he would be a sort of an interim between the old type of oratory and the new type, which now is more common and more argumentative and less demonstrative, or demonstrative, whichever one of those syllables you wish to accent above the other. I've heard it both ways all my life.
SHALETT: Well, there are no real old-fashioned orators left.
BARKLEY: I--well, I wouldn't say that. It might not be regarded7:00as a compliment to anybody now to say that he was an old-fashioned orator. I have been described sometimes as the old-fashioned type, but I don't think I'm the old-fashioned type, certainly not now. It may be that when I started out as a young public speaker years ago, I copied the methods of those whom I heard in public discussion. But I think I've gotten away from that long ago, and I certainly know that I do not make as many gestures as I made in my early life. I do not try to use the same kind of florid language that was current and customary a half-century ago. And while I put all I've got in a speech that I make by physical exertion so as to intensify my sincerity, my belief in what I'm talking, I would not describe myself as a representative of that old-fashioned type of which you're speaking.
SHALETT: You've changed with the times.
BARKLEY: Well, I've changed with the times. I'm not like thefellow who started out running for office, however, and he worked a 8:00long time on his platform, what he was going to represent. I think he was a candidate for Congress. And he wrote out in detail in a speech the different things for which he stood. And there were a dozen or more of them in a long category of things that he stood for and believed in. When he wound up his speech, he said to the crowd, he said, "Now, my friends, these are the things in which I believe. If you don't agree with me, I can change." (both laugh) I'm not--I haven't changed in that way, but I think I have--I hope I've improved somewhat in my method of speaking during the last fifty years, and I'd hate to think I hadn't improved in my mental approach and in my knowledge and every other way, but I wouldn't describe myself, although I think it's sometimes wise if we can see ourselves as other see us. Bobby Burns, you know, got off that a long time 9:00ago.
SHALETT: You'll hear yourself as others hear you.
BARKLEY: Yeah, hear yourself as others hear you. And I neverdid come into that until the radio came into existence. And I recall in that connection--this is rather rambling--but I made a speech at a dinner in New York a good many years ago, and it was taken down and recorded on one of these recording machines. I had never heard my voice before. Well, the recording company sent it to me on a disc or two, and said, "This is the speech you made in New York the other night, and thinking you might be interested in having it, we have sent it to you. If you want it and will send us twelve dollars and a half, you may keep it. Otherwise, you can return it." Well, I was busy. I was busy in the Senate, and I didn't have much time to go downtown and hear my voice. I had, in 10:00the meantime, sold my old Victrola when I got a radio set. I had no more use for the old-fashioned Victrola that you wound up on the side with a crank, like winding up a Model-T Ford automobile, so I didn't have anything in my house where I could play this speech off and listen to it. They kept writing me and saying, "If you don't want that record, send it back. If you're going to keep it, pay for it." Well, six months went around, and I--finally I decided, well, I really ought to do that, I guess I ought to send it back or pay for it. So I took it downtown into one of the department stores and off into a booth where I could hear myself alone, and closed the door, and put this record on. Pretty soon the voice began to come out. Well, I thought, 'Well that is not my voice. I don't sound like that, I'm sure.' I kept listening, though, and it was this speech, all right, that I'd made, I knew that. And I decided I'd keep it. I sent them the twelve dollars and a half, and I still have the record. But the 11:00trouble was, and is, as many people discover, that a man's voice to himself comes to him up through his jaws and up through the bones of his cheek and into the ears that way, whereas those who sit out in front hear it coming out of his mouth, and it's an entirely different tone, and it makes it difficult sometimes for a man to recognize his own voice.
BARKLEY: But since I have been listening to my own voice--anda friend of mine--many friends of mine have sent me records of speeches that I made. And I have bought a number just for the purpose of listening, just to see how it sounded, and also to hand them down to my children and grandchildren. They might someday want to hear what my voice sounds like. I have many records of my speeches, and the latest one that I have is the speech I made in Chicago in 1952 at the convention. A friend of mine at Owensboro who has a radio station took a record 12:00of it and sent it to me. I think it took twelve discs with the speech on both sides to encompass it. And of course, the record not only reproduced the speech, but it reproduced the ovation and the applause and the whole scene.
SHALETT: The entire--
BARKLEY: The entire thing. It's really a very thrilling thing tolisten to it now--it's some satisfaction--and see what man gets in the way of applause and approval and good will by a great convention like that.
SHALETT: That was about thirty-seven minutes of speech and about twohours of applause?
BARKLEY: Well, there was--I was on my feet over two hours.I think my speech was about thirty-five minutes. They said that the demonstration before I could begin the speech was about thirty-five minutes, and that it was thirty-five or forty minutes after I concluded, so that 13:00I was on my feet, either speaking or waving or acknowledging greetings from the crowd, and bowing and doing the things a man will do when there's a great demonstration on his behalf, I was on my feet more than two hours.
SHALETT: I believe you were labeled Mr. Democrat at that convention.
BARKLEY: Well, a lot of people have called me that, andsome of them still do. And it's a very--of course, I'm not Mr. Democrat. There are many, many outstanding Democrats to whom that appellation would apply with propriety, but it's been a compliment. Of course, it has been applied to me because I have been in public life so long. Forty years in Congress is a long time, though that is not the record. Congressman Sabath of Illinois, who died a few months ago, was in the House over forty-four years. Congressman Robert L. Doughton of North Carolina was there longer than I was. Sam Rayburn, 14:00who went into the House with me, is still there, so he's out-stripped me in length of service. But forty years is a long time, and there are very--
[Pause in recording.]
BARKLEY: Very few men attain that record, continuous record, in theHouse or in the Senate. I don't think anybody has ever served forty years in the Senate alone. Thirty-six years, I believe, is the record.
SHALETT: Getting back to old-fashioned orators, there's one very colorful gentlemanin the Senate now who looks as if he might be one. I don't believe he fits the bill oratorically, Senator Hoey?
BARKLEY: Well, no. Senator Hoey is a type of the--the waythe old-fashioned senator used to appear.
SHALETT: Could you describe him?
BARKLEY: He's--well, he's a very distinguished-looking man.
SHALETT: Yes, he is.
BARKLEY: I would say he looks as much, if not more,like a senator, like the public picture of what a senator ought to look like than any other man in the Senate. Now, before his day, Senator Thomas Heflin of Alabama represented that type, and he 15:00was in truth a representative of the old-fashioned type of oratory. He was one of the greatest storytellers I ever heard, either in public or in private, but he had that old-fashioned touch of the rather flamboyant, florid oratory, and he interspersed it with many amusing stories that made his speeches very attractive to listen to, although not necessarily profound. But he was a very attractive public speaker, and he was a great personal friend of Senator Ollie M. James of Kentucky, of whom I'll have something to say at another place, because I succeeded him in the House, and he was my friend while he was in the Senate and I was in the House. He died before his first term expired in 1918.
SHALETT: I believe we're at the end of reel one. Let'sreverse.
[Pause in recording.]16:00
SHALETT: Reel number eleven, side two. You want to just continue?
BARKLEY: I recall, while I was in the House, Senator JamesK. Vardaman of Mississippi represented that old-fashioned type of orator of whom you have been speaking. He had been Governor of Mississippi; he was a very colorful figure. He had a very swarthy, dark complexion that made him look a little like he had Indian blood in him. He was very tall, and he wore his hair long and roached(??) it back over his head, and it fell down to cover his neck. And in the summertime he wore very smartly tailored linen suits, and he was a very handsome figure in the Senate. He only served one term, as I recall it, and was defeated in 1916, I think it was, by a Pat Harrison, who had been a 17:00member of the House of Representatives for a long time, and he ran against Senator Vardaman. Senator Vardaman was not in sympathy with many of the policies of Woodrow Wilson, and he opposed them, as Senator James A. Reed of Missouri did, and as Senator Hoke Smith of Georgia in some respects did, and others. And Senator Harrison--Congressman Harrison, who later became senator, ran against Senator Vardaman and defeated him, so that Vardaman only served the one term, as I recall. But he was the type--his son now is a member of the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, appointed by President Truman. I think he moved to St. Louis and lived out there for a long time and was appointed to some position in Washington by President Truman, or maybe by President Roosevelt before Truman came in, and then President Truman made him a member of the Federal Reserve Board in Washington. I think he's still a member. Well, I could recount a number of senators who served 18:00in the Senate years ago who represented that old-fashioned type. But I'd--getting back to Senator Hoey, he looks the part, but he does not speak that way. He's a very effective and a very logical speaker, and personally I'm very fond of him. He and I are great friends. You know, my people having come from North Carolina originally, I've always had a very intense, maybe a nostalgic interest in North Carolina and in the men she sends to Washington in the House and Senate. And during my forty years, I've served with some of the outstanding men of the nation who came from North Carolina. Senator Hoey was a member of the House for a number of years, then he was elected governor of North Carolina, then he was elected senator. He is not the old-fashioned flamboyant, gesticulating, foot-stamping, shouting type of orator. He's a very quiet, logical, calm sort of a speaker, but very 19:00effective. And whenever he speaks in the Senate, he always receives respectful attention of a very considerable body of the senators. They all have great respect for him.
SHALETT: You mentioned--
BARKLEY: But he does look like the old type, because hewears a long-tailed coat. That is, he wears a high collar and the tie that suits a high collar. He wears a cutaway coat all the time, winter and summer. And he always wears a red carnation in the left lapel of his coat, and that has been the subject of a little joke every now and then between him. I said to him one day, I said, "Senator, does this red carnation in your lapel have any symbolic indication?" He said, "Yes." Smiling, he said, "That means that I'm always ready and willing." I said, "Ready and willing for what?" "Ready for service and willing to perform it," he said. (Shalett laughs) Well, I said, "I might put other implications to that description of that red flower, but I'm sure that 20:00they would have been wrong if I had."
SHALETT: You've mentioned one of the really colorful figures of theSenate in past days, Senator. I think they called him "Tom Tom" Heflin. And you also mentioned in an earlier discussion that you had a great regard for him, but you didn't go along, I believe, with his white supremacy.
BARKLEY: Oh, no. I--Senator--I've often said, and I think it's generallyconceded, that Senator Heflin talked himself, literally, out of the Senate. He'd been a Congressman a long time. He and Senator Ollie James--or Congressman James were like Damon and Pythias, they were just inseparable. They went everywhere together, they believed alike, they spoke together, and they dined together, and their families were warm friends and associates. But when Senator James was elected to the Senate in 1912, after ten years in the House, Senator--Congressman Heflin had a very urgent longing to go to the 21:00Senate also, very naturally. So it was a perfectly legitimate ambition, even if he had never known Senator James, but the fact that his close friend and associate had gone, I think intensified his desire to go to the Senate. Well, he had to wait quite a while to make a--for an opening to come. He was a friend of Senator Underwood and would not undertake to beat him, and probably could not have defeated him anyway. Senator John H. Bankhead, the father of Speaker Bank---William B. Bankhead, and the father also of Senator John H. Bankhead, his son and namesake who later came to the Senate, was very popular and very strong in Alabama, and Mr. Heflin had to wait almost for Senator Bankhead to die before he would undertake to 22:00come to the Senate. Well, finally Senator Bankhead died, and Senator Heflin ran for the Senate and was elected. There's a very amusing story about conversation that took place between him and the secretary down in Montgomery, when he was making the last race for Congress, before he ran for the Senate, because he realized that unless he stayed in the House, he would be out of the picture as far as the Senate was concerned, and he was anxious to remain in the House. In this particular race, a very strong man in the district had threatened to run against him, and he talked in the cloakroom about this man. And it's amusing how--what remarks you'll hear in the cloakrooms around the House and even the Senate by sitting members against whom some man is threatening to run. I wouldn't repeat them here, because it would be too much of a detail. But this man was supposed to be a very strong man, and frankly, the fact is that Mr. Heflin was afraid of him. He was a threat 23:00to his continuance in the House until he could find an opening for the Senate. Well, the man hadn't filed, however, although he was threatening to, and there was a certain day which was a deadline, at midnight that night. After that, nobody could file for the primary election. Well, about a week before the primary, he sent his secretary down to Montgomery to watch in the office of the Secretary of State, and to let him know the developments and see if this man filed against him for the House. Well, he'd call him up every day about it, and he hadn't filed. Finally, the last night came. We were having an all-night session in the House for some reason, and there was a telephone booth right in the cloakroom, and during the last half-hour before midnight, which was the deadline for this man to file, Heflin called his secretary up every five minutes. And you could hear the conversation outside this booth; it was enclosed by 24:00a glass door. Well, the conversation ran somewhat like this: Heflin would take down the receiver and call his secretary in the Secretary of State's office in Montgomery, and he'd say, "Is that you, Jim?" If that was his name, I think it was.
SHALETT: The Senator's holding his hand to his ear.
BARKLEY: "Is that you, Jim? Yeah. Well, how is it downthere? Where are you? You're right there in the office, are you? Right there in the Secretary's office?" "Yeah." "You're right there where you can see what goes on?" "Yes." "What time is it down there?" He said, "It's ten minutes to twelve." "Yeah. Well, has he filed? Did he file against me? Has he filed against me?" "No, he hasn't." "What? You say he has? He filed? You mean he did? Oh. Oh, he didn't file. Hasn't filed yet. All right. All right, old boy, thank you." (Shalett laughs) And he hung up the telephone, and he'd go back outside, and in about two minutes, he'd call again and that same conversation would take place. And finally, he called 25:00him at one minute after twelve in Washington. He calls him and says, "Hello? Is that you, Jim? Yeah. Well, where are you? Still there, are you, right there in the office, right there by the desk, are you? Well, what time is it down there? One minute after one--after twelve? One minute after twelve? You sure? Are you looking at the clock? Are you sure it's one minute after twelve? Well, what did he do? Did he file? What? He filed? You say he filed? He did? Oh. Oh, you say he didn't file. He hasn't filed yet, has he? Didn't file? Too late now, is it? Deadline's gone, and it's after twelve and he didn't file and he can't file. All right, old boy. Thank you, goodbye. See you later." Hung up the telephone, he came out of the telephone booth and shut the door, and he said to all of us who were sitting around wondering what was going to happen, he said, "God damn him. I wish he had filed. I'd beat hell out of him." (both laugh) Of course, I'll have to eliminate that cuss word. 26:00
[Pause in recording.]
SHALETT: We're censoring a bit. What was the end of thatstory?
BARKLEY: Well, when he came out of the booth after he'dbeen assured by his secretary that this threatening opponent had not filed and it was too late, he came out of the booth and closed the door and looked all around to us who were sitting around, knowing exactly what was going on, because we could hear it, he said, "Damn his soul. I wish he had filed. I could beat hell out of him." (both laugh)
SHALETT: Senator, where is the cloakroom? What--and what's its function? Whatdo the members do there?
BARKLEY: Well, the cloakroom is off the chamber of the Houseand the Senate; they both have cloak rooms. There is a Democratic cloakroom and a Republican cloakroom. And senators go out there to converse, 27:00they go out there for relaxation, they go out there to smoke because the rules forbid smoking in the chamber itself, they go out there where--the telephone--there are telephone booths out there, they go out to call up their offices or the departments in Washington or anybody else whom they wish to confer with.
SHALETT: Where--how far back is the main cloakroom, though?
BARKLEY: Oh, you go--
SHALETT: You can't--
BARKLEY: No, originally it was a place where the members hungtheir coats--their cloaks. Well, the fact of business is in the early days, many members wore cloaks. Instead of overcoats or topcoats now, they had a cape. And Woodrow Wilson wore a cape when he would go to theaters and to dinners while he was president, a very dignified garment, and one that I always thought that I'd like to have. I have one which was given to me, which was a 28:00cloak of a naval officer. I don't wear it. I haven't worn it yet, but I hope someday that I may be bold enough to wear it. But it was really, in a real sense, the cloakroom where members hung their cloaks and their hats, because at that time--
SHALETT: Roosevelt wore a cloak too on occasion.
BARKLEY: Yeah, he wore a cape. A cape. It was acloak or a cape. At that time there was no offices. There were no offices for members of the House or Senate. There was no office building where they had commodious quarters like they do now. Their offices were in their hotels or in their boardinghouses until, I think, the first office building was constructed in 1906 for the members of the House and members of the Senate. Since that, the work has increased so enormously that the House has built another office building. They have two office buildings, and the Senate has a--Congress has authorized and the Senate has purchased a lot across the street from its 29:00present office building for the construction of another office building for senators. But back in those days, prior to 1906, neither the senators nor the members of the House had any offices. Anybody that went to Washington to see them, they didn't know where to find them unless they learned where they boarded or lived, and then they would go there, because that was the only office they had. Very inconvenient thing and--but it wasn't, of course, as inconvenient as it would be now for them to be without offices, because a senator or a Congressman's office is now about as busy a place as you'll find in Washington. The government has increased, and the demands of the people have increased, and their correspondence has increased, their visits to Washington on official matters have increased, until you have to have an office where you can have a secretarial staff to do the work. Why, even when I went to Congress in 1913, I had one room in the 30:00House office building, just one room, and if anybody came there to confer with me and wanted to talk to me in private, I had to either get in the--out in the hall or send my secretary out in the hall, or get in the water closet or somewhere else in order to have a private conversation. Since that, each member of the House has been given more room, and members of the Senate have been given more room. When I first went to Washington in 1913, my allowance for clerk hire was 125 dollars a month, fifteen hundred dollars a year, that was all I had. And it was enough for me, as a young Congressman. I got along pretty well with it. I took one young fellow up there with me and paid him the salary. And if I had to have anybody else, I had to pay it out of my own pocket, as the others did. Well, that, of course, was four decades ago, and the business of Congress and the demands of the people upon 31:00their Congressman for every species of service has made it necessary for Congress to increase its secretarial staff, and even now it's doubtful whether some of them have enough.
SHALETT: You can't--a senator doesn't take a visitor into the cloakroom.There's another room for that.
BARKLEY: No, there's a reception room out off the chamber ofboth the House and Senate where people who come to want to see him send their card in and he comes out, and there are seats there and chairs where they may sit down. Of course, visitors are free to go to the gallery. Behind the House and the Senate chambers, in the House it's called the Speaker's Lobby. It's not a lobby in a sense, except that--in the same sense as a lobby of a hotel where people assemble and have informal conferences. And this lobby, known as the Speaker's Lobby, is back of the 32:00Speaker's desk in the House. And it's very lovely. It's a long corridor, in the first place, and then the room. They have newspapers out there, they have stationery, they have all sorts of accommodations for the members, and they have--members go out there to confer, but they do not invite visitors in from the outside into that Speaker's Lobby. And it's called the Speaker's Lobby because it's back of the Speaker's rostrum in the House of Representatives. In the Senate, it's called the Marble Room, where the newspapers--the daily newspapers from all over the country are on file, and where of course you can read magazines and the Congressional Record and confer. There are lounges and seats out there for relaxation, and it's a very lovely place for members of the Senate, and in the same case, members of the House to assemble for informal discussions or for relaxation or for any other informal purpose for which they wish to assemble or to retire. 33:00
SHALETT: May a member of the House visit a member ofthe Senate in the cloakroom?
BARKLEY: Oh, yes. Members of the House are at liberty tovisit the Senate chamber. They can come in on the floor and occupy seats, and they can go in the cloakrooms and frequently do. It's a very customary thing for, not only one member of the House, but three or four or half a dozen members who want to see a senator about something to come over and go off into the cloakroom and sit down and talk about whatever it is that interests them.
SHALETT: Speaking of the--as a footnote to the Heflin story, isn'tthere a political axiom that it's better to run scared?
BARKLEY: Oh, yeah. Well, of course, many a man has beendefeated by overconfidence, by taking it for granted that he was stronger than he was or is, and neglects his own personal campaign, whereas somebody else is out hammering at him all the time. I know a good many instances where men were defeated because of overconfidence, so 34:00that it's a wise political axiom that a man, no matter how strong he thinks he is, ought to run a scared race so that he will not be taken by surprise. And I've found myself in that same situation, and I've always adopted that rule, although in my fourteen years in the House, I really had only one contest, and that was when I first was nominated in 1912. From then on, I had practically no opposition. One man ran against me two years later, but I think I carried practically every precinct in the district, and I know I carried every county. I didn't even go home from Washington, because it was in the middle of a very strenuous legislative program that President Wilson had projected, and I remained in Washington performing my duty. And I wrote a letter and had it published in all the newspapers of the district explaining why I couldn't come home to campaign, and I didn't go home at all. But 35:00that's the only opposition I had while I was in the House fourteen years. So I didn't have to run a scared race all those times, because I didn't have any opposition. And in all my political life, I've found that the easiest way to run for office is without opposition.
SHALETT: (laughs) The other day you mentioned one occasion when youused your power as majority leader to issue an arrest warrant to summon a quorum when it was necessary. Did you find it necessary to use that arrest power often?
BARKLEY: No. That was the outstanding instance in which I foundit necessary to use that power. And of course, it is a power that the Senate must possess, because the Senate cannot afford to acknowledge that with a quorum of senators in Washington--and there's always presumed to be a quorum there--it cannot get enough of them on the floor to transact business. And while frequently quorums are hard to get, and in recent years it has become more difficult because of the 36:00enormous amount of work in the offices of senators, in the departments that they--because of the demands of their constituents and in the committees, that it has been increasingly more difficult to get members to remain on the floor. And in the House of Representatives, they have a rule by which, when they go into the consideration of a bill, they go into what they call the Committee of the--on the--the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union. And in the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union, which is a sort of a fiction because it's the same House, the same members, but they had to adopt that rule because without it, it required a majority of all the members--in the present case, 218 members--to constitute a quorum. And they had to adopt this method of going into the Committee of the Whole on the State of the Union for the consideration of bills in detail, for amendments where 37:00the five-minute rule of debate prevails, and provides that one hundred members present constitute a quorum in the Committee as a Whole. And it was in connection with that that Tom Reed--Thomas B. Reed, the czar of the House when he was Speaker, exercised the right to count members who were on the floor but wouldn't answer to their names in order to constitute a quorum, and that rule has been prevalent ever since. If anybody makes a point of no quorum in the House, the Speaker, if it's the House in session as a House, or the chairman of the Committee of the House on the Committee of the Whole counts the members there to see whether there is a quorum. But in the Senate, it's a different rule. If anybody--there's always presumed to be a quorum, no matter if they're not more than a half a dozen there. The rule is presumed that there's a quorum present unless some member makes the point of order that a quorum is not present. And in the House, the Speaker or 38:00the presiding officer counts to see whether there's a quorum there, and if so, he announces it. But in the Senate, even though every member were in his seat, all ninety-six senators were in his seat, and any senator makes a point that a quorum is not present, the rules require the secretary to call the roll of the senators to see if there's a quorum.
SHALETT: That's a great aid to filibustering.
BARKLEY: Well, it's--that particular thing is not such a great aidto filibustering, because it doesn't take very long to call the roll of ninety-six senators, but it has always seemed to me a rather ridiculous thing that the presiding officer of the Senate was not permitted to count the members of the Senate on the floor to see if there were forty-nine there, which makes a quorum of ninety-six. But anyhow, that's an old rule that's been adopted long before my day, and the Senate is loath to change its rules, no matter how antique or outmoded they may become. It's a rule that's still in 39:00vogue there, and that's different between the House and the Senate, as there are many differences between the methods of procedure in the two houses.
SHALETT: Isn't the--if a member of the Senate wishes to beabsent, doesn't he have to obtain the consent of the majority leader, at least theoretically?
BARKLEY: No, the rules require that if a senator is goingto be absent, he must get the consent of the Senate, not the majority leader. And in that case, he rises and addresses the chair and asks unanimous consent that he be absent for a week or on a particular day or as the case may be. That rule fell into disuse for years and years, and it's not observed now completely. If a senator wants to leave--and the same rule applies in the House to a certain extent--members ask permission to be absent. And of course, that--there are two sides to that, as far as the member himself is concerned. If he asks to be absent on 40:00official business for a week or for a day, that record is not to be considered against him, because if he really has official business elsewhere, he can get the consent of the House or the Senate to leave. But sometimes senators, and members too, have occasion to return home on personal matters or on--not necessarily on official business. And if they put in the record a statement that they're going to be absent, they--they're sometimes called to explain why they're absent, even though they had permission of the Senate or House to be absent. Well, that thing had fallen into such disuse in the Senate that some senator a few years ago raised the question, and he pointed to that rule, and he criticized senators who were absenting themselves without the consent of the Senate. So the practice was somewhat revived, or rather the observance of the rule was somewhat revived, and many more senators 41:00ask permission of the Senate to be absent, either on official business or on personal business. And of course, the Senate never refuses consent for a member to be absent. They assume that he has some important matter that calls him away, otherwise he wouldn't ask to be absent. But still, many members do absent themselves without the consent of the Senate.
SHALETT: This official business can be a rather large-size cloak.
BARKLEY: It's a flexible term. And of course, even if aman were going home, going to his state or his Congressional district, for instance, to confer with some of his constituents upon a bill, or to permit his constituents to visit him and discuss a matter of legislation or some political appointment under the federal government, that would still be official business, and it would be an appropriate description of his absence. I used to do that when I wasn't very busy, 42:00especially at the time when political appointments were being changed by the defeat of the opposition party and by the success of my own party. I found it more convenient to go back to my district or back to the state than it was for the people who wanted to see me all to come to Washington. So I used to go home sometimes, when it didn't interfere with my official duties, and allow the people who wanted to see me to come and see me, either in my own district when I was a Congressman, or at some central point in the state when I was a senator. And I found it worked very well, and it was really a great accommodation to the people because I could go there much more easily and much more cheaply, although I paid my own expenses, than a whole delegation of people could come to Washington.
SHALETT: How do you feel about a practice which the publicsometimes deplores of a senator making an important speech on an important issue, and there will be as few as six men on the floor listening to him?
BARKLEY: Well, that is a deplorable situation, and people who visit43:00Washington and come into the gallery of the Senate do not understand the reason for that. Deplorable as it is, and as bad an impression as it gives to the public, there are sometimes reasons which explain it. As I've already indicated, the business of Congress and the business of the government has increased, oh, enormously in the last generation, especially after World War number one, out of which grew many economic problems, out of which grew the hospitalization of veterans and their compensation for injuries received, and either in battle or to their health in training and so forth that might be service-connected. All of this piled up additional work on members of both houses, because anybody in a 44:00state or district who has some business in Washington or some claim against the government in Washington, of course first feels at liberty to write to his Congressman or his senator. He doesn't, as a rule, know anybody in Washington except his Congressman or senator. And the practice has grown up; it grew up long before World War I in this respect. Following the War Between the States, Union soldiers were pensioned, there were frequently omnibus pension bills adopted by Congress. They had a pension bureau, but it didn't always grant the pensions that were desired, and it was customary for Congress about once every year or at least every two years during the length of a Congress to enact what was called an omnibus pension bill, in which all of the pension claims that had been denied by the bureau of the pension, 45:00and which had made out a reasonably good case before the Committee on Pensions in the House or the Senate were grouped into one bill, and passed en masse, and they called that an omnibus pension bill. Grover Cleveland vetoed a good many of those bills while he was president of the United States. The same thing applied to rivers and harbors improvements. There was at that time a Committee on Rivers and Harbors in the House, to which I sought membership when I first went, as I've already stated.
[Pause in recording.]
BARKLEY: They--there was also, as I've already indicated, the committee inthe House on rivers and harbors, and once--about once a year it brought in an omnibus rivers and harbors bill, grouping together all the projects that members of Congress wanted in their districts, and senators wanted in their states. And it became a habit to pass these omnibus 46:00pension and rivers and harbors bills. Well, that long ago ceased to be the practice. The Rivers and Harbors Committee was abolished, and its jurisdiction was taken over by other committees, and the Committee on Pensions was abolished. No longer did Congress pass any omnibus pension bill, and they tried to get away from these individual pension bills after World War I, when the Bureau of War Risk Insurance was set up, now the Veterans Administration, and provided liberal laws under which they could administer them. And long since, it's ceased to be a practice for Congress to pass individual pension or compensation bills. But it increased the work of the Congressman and the senator in regard to those matters, because they had to take up with the Veterans Administration every claim. And after the World--after World War I and after World War II, it got to the point where it took all the time of 47:00one of my secretaries looking after veterans' claims before the Veterans Administration. Now those--that was a duty--that was a service that the people back in the district and the state felt that they had a right to demand or ask of their Congressman, and not only in regard to that, but in regard to any other matter in which the people in a state or district are interested. They felt at liberty to write to their Congressman or come to see him; they felt at liberty to ask him to go down to the departments with them or in their behalf. And they did it. It was customary, nobody thought anything about it. I guess I have gone to a department--in the years in which I've served I've gone to various departments thousands upon thousands of times, either alone or with a constituent, and that applies not only to the regular executive departments, but it applied to WPA, to PWA. It applied to the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, it applied to the Shipping Board, it applied to all government agencies in 48:00which any constituent might have a project or an interest. And when he wrote to his senator or Congressman asking that they render that service to them, they weren't--they felt compelled to do it, and they were glad to do it. They received no extra compensation for it, of course. If they had, they would have been violating the law not only, but they would have been violating the proprieties and the decencies if they accepted compensation for this extra service they rendered, not exactly in line with legislation. Theoretically, a member of Congress is sent to Washington to legislate, to write laws, and as has been sometimes said--I never use the term, but a lot of people have used it--not to be an errand boy for people who had some claim or matter before a department where they wanted to be represented and were not able to employ a lawyer to represent them. And in many cases, it was not a situation where legal services were required, 49:00and yet people felt free--and that's why the habit has grown up, in both houses of the Congress, for members to occupy a great deal of their time in the departments trying to help their constituents. It undoubtedly takes away from their legislative efficiency, no doubt about that. Sometimes it interferes with their committee work, and now all legislation has to go through committee. The great bulk of Congressional work is done in committee, and that's where many members are when the House or Senate is in session. It may be they're in a committee, holding hearings or helping to write a bill, iron it out and work it out so they can present a report to the Congress or House or Senate. It may be they're downtown in a department trying to get some favor done to a constituent, all these things. Maybe they're in an office trying to keep up with their mail. Congress, in the Reorganization Act, I think, allowed each member what's known as 50:00an executive secretary, somebody who might supervise the work in the office and relieve the Congressman or the senator of a great deal of the detail. But even that has not relieved either the House or the Senate members of this detailed attention to things that come to his office from his constituents. And that's why I have urged that when--that they get out a little pamphlet or a little sheet--and I think they have adopted it to some extent--that when visitors come in the gallery to see the Senate in operation or look down on the floor and see six or eight or ten members there and wonder where the rest of them are, and may wonder where their own senators are, that there would be a little piece of information that if you do not see your own senator on the floor, he may be off in committee. He may be downtown at a department, he may be in his office answering mail or doing any 51:00of the thousands of things that he has to do outside of his original and fundamental duty of writing legislation.
SHALETT: It doesn't mean he's off in a back room chewingtobacco or reading the paper.
BARKLEY: No. Oh, no. No. The fact of business is Idon't know of a single senator who chews tobacco. There have been some though. There may--there might be one or two, I don't know. I don't think so; I don't recall them. But it means he's not off idling his time away. They are very busy. Now, of course, that's--there's a human element that enters into that. As a rule, every senator and every Congressman wants to be re-elected. He wants to be friendly with his constituents, and frequently you'll go into a district and you'll hear men say, and it used to be said of me, "If I write him a letter, no matter how unimportant it may appear to him, I get a prompt answer from him." And that creates a fine feeling among the people. It gets circulated around over a district or over a state, that if you write to 52:00your Congressman, whatever his name is, he'll give you a prompt answer. He may not be able to do what you ask him to do, but he'll write you a letter explaining. And that is of very great value to a man in his races for re-election. And the human element enters into it, as I think maybe I have quoted already. Artemis Ward, didn't I quote him about when he said, "One man has as much human nature in him as another, if not more." Well, that's true of Congressmen and senators as well as it is of anybody else.
SHALETT: How many--
BARKLEY: But it is a method by which to ingratiate yourselfin the good will and approval of your constituents, those who have elected you, and those who feel they have a right to call on you for any services, outside the legislative field, in which they may be interested.
SHALETT: Let's describe a typical day of a hard working senatoror a Congressman. What time to you get down? How many visiting firemen do you take to lunch and so forth and so forth?
BARKLEY: Well, I think probably the visiting firemen may be exaggerateda little, although it's very frequent. Well, of course, it depends a 53:00good deal on whether--what committee a senator may be on. It depends on the size of his state, population; it depends upon their commercial, economic, social interest in what goes on in Washington. But I would say a typical day for a senator, who is on two or three important committees, or even one important committee, but most of them are on two or three--under the new rules of the Senate, a senator can be on only two of what they call major committees. For instance, if he's on Finance and Foreign Relations, he cannot be on Banking and Currency or Armed Services or Appropriations. He may be on one or two minor committees, such as the District of Columbia, and Rules, and things like that, but if he's on one of 54:00these major committees, the theory is that that committee is of sufficient importance, and will be holding enough hearings on legislation, to take about all of a senator's time that he can devote to committee. But assuming that he's on two major committees and on one or two minor committees, well, we'll say he arrives at his office at nine o'clock on the average. He may have to go by a department, which frequently occurs, on his way to his office, in order that he may save time and not have to go to his office and then come back downtown to a department. Frequently a senator goes by a department on his way. And they open up from 8:30 to nine. But assume that a senator goes to his office at nine o'clock. A committee of which he's a member meets at ten, we'll say, or 10:30, but usually at ten if it has important 55:00business before it. He gets there at nine. There may be constituents waiting for him, whom he must see. He has a pile of mail, which his secretary has already opened and sorted out and put on his desk, what the secretary thinks demands his personal attention, and that pile may require, some of it, immediate answer. That pile may require telephone calls to a department to get information sought by a constituent, or the status of an appointment, or some application. If it happens to be, say, an application for a loan by a constituent from the Reconstruction and Finance Corporation, we'll say, "Will you find out," says the letter, "what the status of that application is?" He calls up somebody, which got a good deal of publicity in the last two or three years, even telephone calls. Well, I guess I've made 56:00a thousand telephone calls to the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, asking what is the status of a certain loan application by a constituent of mine, he's asked me about it, and I want to write him what the facts are. I would get the facts and write him what the member--or the staff said about it. I never, in all my service, attempted to influence the Reconstruction Finance Corporation in making a loan. But I never felt any impropriety in trying to get the facts about a loan so I could give my constituent the facts so he'd know, because maybe he had no lawyer in Washington, he had no representative there, maybe he couldn't afford one, and he felt that he had a right to ask that information from me, and I think he did have that right. And I think I had, and any other senator had, the right to ask for that information and get it and then write back and tell him what the facts are. And when the NRA was created, and General Hugh Johnson was 57:00made the administrator of the National Recovery Act, of course, which was one of the first acts passed in the Roosevelt administration, why, people came to Washington, businessmen of all kinds, large and small, who had urged this legislation. Many of them came to Washington and said to Mr. Roosevelt and to the administration, "Take us over. We're sinking. Take us over. Operate us. We're in the ditch." Well, of course, as a result of all that and the Depression, the National Recovery Act was enacted, and General Hugh Johnson was appointed. Fact is, he sat in in the Committee on Finance, as I recall it. I think the Committee on Finance sponsored that legislation. I know I was committee--a member of the committee that sponsored it, and I think it was Finance. And General Hugh Johnson sat in as an advisor with the committee while it was framing the legislation. And then he was appointed director--or administrator of the National Recovery Act after it became law. Why, 58:00I--he was a very busy man, he wasn't easy to see. But I recall a case where the wage was to be set. And of course, this NRA provided for all sorts of codes and agreements, fair practices and everything else for a business and for labor. And there was an institution in Kentucky making electric lights and electric tubes. It had a competitor in Pennsylvania and one in other places which had been in existence for a long time. And they'd built up a background of efficient and trained employees, trained personnel. And this plant was established down in Kentucky, south of the Ohio River, against which there was a twenty-five percent freight differential in order to get north of the river to compete with this competitor, whereas the plant--the industry 59:00north of the river had to pay no freight differential to get south of the river. And it put this--it put all industry in the south--south of the Ohio River at a disadvantage with their competitors north of the Ohio River. That differential has now been abolished by the Interstate Commerce Commission, but it was in effect then. And the manager of this factory came to Washington to try to persuade General Hugh Johnson, as administrator of the NRA, to give him a freight--a wage differential of fifteen percent, and not require him to pay the same wage paid by his competitors north of the river. Well, I went down with him to see General Hugh Johnson, first place to introduce him. And I was familiar with the facts, and they were laid before General Johnson, the difference in the efficiency of the employees in the first place, due to lack of experience, and this freight differential that was a handicap, sort of a wall that separated industry 60:00north of the Ohio River from industry south of the Ohio River. And he listened very patiently and finally gave to this industry south of the river in Kentucky the wage differential of fifteen percent. And without that, it could not have stood up against the competition and the increased freight rates that it had to pay. Now, that was a--that's an example.
SHALETT: Some of the chores you have to do.
BARKLEY: That's an example of the chores, if you call themchores. But it's an example of the service that your constituents expect you to render, even in the House--either in the House or in the Senate.
[Pause in recording.]
BARKLEY: And I'll say frankly it was a service that notonly I, but all members of the House and Senate with whom I'm acquainted and have ever been acquainted, were glad to render and did render. Now, you might say that they were playing politics in 61:00a sense in doing that. Well, they were not playing politics any more than they were playing politics when they voted for or against a bill in which they thought their constituents were interested or approved. It's just one of those things, because politics, as you know, sometimes is regarded by a lot of people as a mere game where men maneuver for position, for advantage for themselves or a political organization of which they're a member, or maneuver to prevent their opponent, either as a party or as individuals, from gaining an advantage. But in the real sense of the word, politics is the science of government. It comes from an old Greek word which means government, polis, polis, p-o-l-i-s, which means city. That's where you get metropolis, or metropolis, the largest city. That's where you get Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Indiana's city; you get 62:00the word police from that word. So it all comes form that old Greek word, and politics, which is the derivative of that old Greek word meaning a city, is the science of government. And it's not an exact science as I have always said, never will be, as long as it's bound to be conducted by the frailties of human nature and of human beings. But it is a science, and because of that I've always felt that politicians, who are described sometimes as mercenary and cheapskate because they are called politicians, a term of derision, politicians ought to be versed in the science of government, whether it's in the nation or a state or a city. Now, that may be an idealistic view to take of politics, but it's a very human view to take of it, I think. And I doubt if we ever get very far away from it, because in a 63:00democracy you've got to consider all elements, all human frailties, the strengths and the weaknesses of people. You've got to consider individuals as well as you consider masses of people. And so long as we have a democracy, and I, of course, hope that it'll never--not only never terminate or be destroyed, but that it may continue to become more democratic by giving the people greater participation in their government than they've ever had. As long as that exists, you're going to have--you're going to have situations where a great many people who dwell in a rarified atmosphere, and draw their garments around their bodies, lest they be tinctured, soiled by some political contact will be calling public servants politicians. Somebody has described a statesman as a dead politician, but many men have been in politics all their lives and have been statesmen also. 64:00And numerous examples of current statesmanship and current politics are coextensive and coeval.
SHALETT: I think we're at the end of side two, reeleleven.
[End of interview.]