Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
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 >>

Byrd held the Democratic Party together

Dabney describes the vital importance of Byrd to preventing an implosion of the Democratic Party. Byrd ran for reelection in 1956 because without him at the helm, the party would splinter ideologically.

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

WILLIAM H. TURPIN:
Did you support him in 1956, I believe, 1957, when he talked about not running for re-election. He announced that he would not run for re-election in '57, somewhere in there, and then after a few months, he came back and started running, said that he would run for re-election. Did you express to him at that time support? I find that people who were even his arch-enemies generally asking or were concerned that he would run for re-election then.
VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
I was glad that he ran for re-election. I think that we could list the reasons why he did it and you may want me to comment on that. There were, I think, two main ones. One was that it would split the organization wide open if he didn't. He was really worried because John Battle and Bill Tuck were squaring off to run for his seat, and Battle was from the more liberal side of the organization and Tuck was the ultra-conservative, and they were taking up sides. The thing was jelling in these two directions and polarizing. There was going to be one hell of a row between these two factions and that would not have been to Byrd's liking at all. He had been the friend of both men and he persuaded Mrs. Byrd to let him reconsider and go back. The other thing was that he really was urged by people all over the United States not to get out of public life.
WILLIAM H. TURPIN:
Did you urge him not to get out.
VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
Yes, I did.