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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Virginius Dabney, June 10-13, 1975. Interview A-0311-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

FDR's New Deal policies upset southern Democrats and Republicans

Dabney discusses the precursor to the Dixiecrat Party as a reaction to Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal policies. He also reveals the great political power of the Byrd organization.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Virginius Dabney, June 10-13, 1975. Interview A-0311-1. 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

DANIEL JORDAN:
I think that we certainly want that in there, but we might hold it for the relationship between you and Byrd, in the next section of this session. Is there anything significant about the '36 election, the Presidential election between Landon and Roosevelt?
VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
I don't remember anything. I suppose that Byrd went through the motions of supporting Roosevelt, I don't know specifically what he did. I don't believe Glass did, I think he came out against him. Glass was so vitriolic in his references to many of the things Roosevelt did that I don't believe Glass made any pretence of supporting him.
DANIEL JORDAN:
In 1938, Roosevelt tried to purge certain Congressmen who had opposed some of his measures and Howard Smith was one of the Congressmen. Was that a controversial measure in Virginia?
VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
Well, of course, the entire machine was solidly behind Howard Smith and not only that, Governor Jim Price, who was not in Howard Smith's corner politically, although a Democrat, told Roosevelt that he was making a grave mistake in putting up this young fellow, William E. Dodd, Jr. against Howard Smith. Jim Price told Roosevelt that Dodd didn't have a prayer, which was certainly true. Dodd was a perfectly insignificant nonentity. His father was a famous historian at the University of Chicago, but Dodd himself was a political nobody . . . He simply spoke in liberal terms and against Howard Smith and Smith just snowed him under.