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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Margaret Carter, October 25, 1975. Interview A-0309-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

1948 presidential campaign

The 1948 presidential campaign caused further confusion in Texas as liberal Democrats tried to decide whether to support Harry Truman or Henry Wallace, the Progressive Party's candidate.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Margaret Carter, October 25, 1975. Interview A-0309-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

CHANDLER DAVIDSON:
How many liberals would you estimate were on the committee at that time?
MARGARET CARTER:
It was the committee that had a majority of liberals, I think the only one in the history of Texas.
CHANDLER DAVIDSON:
Is that right?
MARGARET CARTER:
Stuart Long was a member of that committee and Lillian Collier.
CHANDLER DAVIDSON:
Lillian Collier?
MARGARET CARTER:
Yes.
CHANDLER DAVIDSON:
And Stuart Long of Austin?
MARGARET CARTER:
Yes.
CHANDLER DAVIDSON:
What accounts for that, why were they able to control the committee at that time?
MARGARET CARTER:
Well, the people who hedged their bets all expected Truman to lose and it was only the Democrats who were Democrats-Win-Or-Lose who were active in the Truman campaign. So, we controlled the convention.
CHANDLER DAVIDSON:
Wasn't it the case in 1948 that there was at least some split among the liberals, between the Wallaceites and the Truman people?
MARGARET CARTER:
Wallace in '48?
CHANDLER DAVIDSON:
The Progressive …
MARGARET CARTER:
Oh, Henry Wallace.
CHANDLER DAVIDSON:
Yes, Henry Wallace.
MARGARET CARTER:
The Progressive Party. It didn't amount to much in Texas.
CHANDLER DAVIDSON:
Is that right? Were very many of the prominent liberals identified with the Wallace effort?
MARGARET CARTER:
No. I was in Austin, in Gregory Gymnasium on the night in 1947 when Wallace intimated, although he didn't formally announce, that he would be a candidate for the presidency on an independent ticket and I was appalled. I don't remember that there were any of my friends who felt any other way. We went from that very large meeting to … you see, that was another end of the war meeting with a bunch of very progressive veterans, students at the University. I don't remember how it was, but I do remember that we went …oh yes, I do. It was because Marion Storm had made the arrangements for that meeting and we went from that meeting to a much smaller meeting in the penthouse of Austin Austin hotel, which was the newly fashionable hotel at the time, where Wallace was staying and to wait for the time that his plane would leave. There was maybe two hours between the time of the end of the meeting and the time that he needed to go to the airport and John Henry Faulk was there entertaining Henry Wallace with a stand-up kind of lampoon of all the Texas leaders in the national Congress. [Laughter]
CHANDLER DAVIDSON:
Well, John Henry then, was a Wallace supporter though, wasn't he?
MARGARET CARTER:
I don't really remember.
CHANDLER DAVIDSON:
I remember watching the television show a couple of weeks ago although i haven't read John Henry's book,-but the right-wing people who got him blacklisted that he voted for the Communist candidate in 1948. Well, the "Communist candidate" in 1948 was Henry Wallace the Communist party supported Henry Wallace and that was how he was slandered there.
MARGARET CARTER:
Yes, I suppose you could say that. I met John Henry Faulk that night and I don't remember what he did in the campaign. We ran the Truman campaign. Nobody who was anybody wanted to have anything to do with it and you know, that was the year that Allan Shivers, who was the governor, persuaded the … no, I beg your pardon. In '48, everybody just kept their hands off, everybody who had any influence, because they didn't want to be caught associating with a loser.
CHANDLER DAVIDSON:
Well, did that include some of the liberals, or were the liberals pretty strongly out in force to back Truman?
MARGARET CARTER:
Well, it was our definition of a liberal that he supported the Democratic candidate. [Laughter] And of course, my husband was a state committeeman. He had an obligation, which he took very seriously, to organize for Truman and it embarrassed Mr. Blalock to have to come to 1 A well-known entertainer and reconteur whose budding radio career was destroyed in the 1950's by a right-wing smear campaign that led to his being fired from C.B.S. and blacklisted by the radio-television industry. Faulk eventually won a libel suit against his detractors, but his career was never salvaged. He recounts his story in his book, Fear on Trial. Ft. Worth and associate with the man whom he had gotten thrown out of the Young Democrats, as a state committeeman, but he did it and we associated with him. Then, he put Mr. Buck in charge of raising money for the campaign and made my husband the chairman of the Truman-Barkley Club, which was supposed to round up smaller donations and make the little people feel a part of it.
CHANDLER DAVIDSON:
Now, what was Mr. Blalock's position at this time?
MARGARET CARTER:
He was national committeman for Texas.
CHANDLER DAVIDSON:
I see. And what role did Sam Rayburn play insofar as Texas went in that campaign?
MARGARET CARTER:
Well, Mr. Rayburn, of course, was loyal to the nominee and was happy to receive whatever money Mr. Buck could raise from our county.
CHANDLER DAVIDSON:
So, it was largely then, the labor of the liberals, at least at the grass roots level, which accounted for …
MARGARET CARTER:
That was all there was. They said that Mr. Amon Carter placed a bet …now Mr. Amon Carter made a substantial contribution to Truman and then he placed a bet with Jimmy the Greek with the odds ten to one in favor of Dewey. So, by making a hundred dollar bet, he got a thousand dollars back and that was all he had given to Truman. It cost him nothing to be known as a staunch Truman supporter. [Laughter] And he did nothing but write a check.
CHANDLER DAVIDSON:
He wasn't stupid, was he?
MARGARET CARTER:
Oh, no. [Laughter]