Documenting the American South Logo
Loading
Title: Oral History Interview with Herman Talmadge, July 29 and August 1, 1975. Interview A-0331-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Talmadge, Herman, interviewee
Interview conducted by Nelson, Jack
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Mike Millner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2006
Size of electronic edition: 196 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2006.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2006-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2006-12-31, Mike Millner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Herman Talmadge, July 29 and August 1, 1975. Interview A-0331-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series A. Southern Politics. Southern Oral History Program Collection (A-0331-2)
Author: Jack Nelson
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Herman Talmadge, July 29 and August 1, 1975. Interview A-0331-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series A. Southern Politics. Southern Oral History Program Collection (A-0331-2)
Author: Herman Talmadge
Description: 178 Mb
Description: 56 p.
Note: Interview conducted on July 29 and August 1, 1975, by Jack Nelson; recorded in Washington, D.C., and Lovejoy, Georgia.
Note: Transcribed by Joe Jaros.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series A. Southern Politics, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Editorial practices
An audio file with the interview complements this electronic edition.
The text has been entered using double-keying and verified against the original.
The text has been encoded using the recommendations for Level 4 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines.
Original grammar and spelling have been preserved.
All quotation marks, em dashes and ampersand have been transcribed as entity references.
All double right and left quotation marks are encoded as "
All em dashes are encoded as —

Interview with Herman Talmadge, July 29 and August 1, 1975.
Interview A-0331-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Talmadge, Herman, interviewee


Interview Participants

    HERMAN TALMADGE, interviewee
    JACK NELSON, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
JACK NELSON:
This is an interview with Senator Herman Talmadge on July 29, 1975. Senator, can we go back to Georgia politics and the Democratic party? I believe that it was in 1964, wasn't it, that several of your colleagues in the Democratic party decided to change parties?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I believe that it was '64. That was the Goldwater race, I believe, and that was '64. Five statehouse officials who were elected as Democrats switched over to the Republican party.
JACK NELSON:
There was Crawford Pilcher and . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Crawford Pilcher, who was a member of the Public Service Commission, Alpha Fowler, who was a member of the Public Service Commission, Jack Ray, who was State Treasurer, Phil Campbell, who was Commissioner of Agriculture and Jimmy Bentley, who was Comptroller General.
JACK NELSON:
The State Insurance Commission.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
That's right.
JACK NELSON:
Now, at least one of those office holders came to talk to you about it.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes, Jimmy Bentley . . .
JACK NELSON:
Who had been your executive secretary.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
He was visiting Washington and in his capacity as president of the National Insurance Regulating Commission and he came by to see me about two days before that letter was made public in the news media in Georgia. He informed me of what these five statehouse officials were going

Page 2
to do. I spent about an hour trying to dissuade him from making that switch from the Democratic to the Republican party. I got the impression that my arguments were penetrating his mind but that all of them had crossed the Rubicon together at a previous meeting and he would not change his mind.
JACK NELSON:
Was there any pressure on you at that time or any other time to ever get out of the Democratic party?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
No . . . well, of course, when Strom Thurmond switched from the Democratic party to the Republican party, I got several hundred letters and telegrams from Georgians urging me to do likewise and in my reply to them, I pointed out that we had two elements in the Democratic party and two elements in the Republican party, that the Republican party of Javits and Case and Earl Warren was no more attractive to me than some elements in my own party.
JACK NELSON:
So, you never really gave any serious consideration to it?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
No.
JACK NELSON:
In other words, you never really felt that the party was leaving you either, because it is such a diversified party?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Oh, the Democratic party has always covered every segment of the American society and it boxes the compass of all political opinion. I find myself comfortable with some members of the Democratic party and uncomfortable with others. The same thing is true in the Republican party.
JACK NELSON:
You would describe yourself generally as a conservative?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Oh, it depends on your point of view. I think that this "liberal-conservative" term has been much abused. Some people would consider me a wild-eyed radical on many issues and other people would consider me a

Page 3
reactionary beyond redemption. I usually have three rules on voting on measures: one is, is it constitutional? Two is, is it in the state and national interest? Three, can we afford it? If I resolve all those issues in the affirmative, I usually vote "aye." If I resolve them in the negative, I usually vote, "no."
JACK NELSON:
Well, you are a fiscal conservative, there's not much question about that?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes.
JACK NELSON:
When I was talking to you before, Senator, we were talking about President Truman and you said that you felt that history would record President Truman as one of the great presidents. What about some of the other presidents, particularly since your own time in politics?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Since I have been in the Senate, I have served under President Eisenhower, President Kennedy, President Johnson, President Nixon and President Gerald Ford. Dwight Eisenhower was a very attractive individual personally. He was a great military hero. He didn't know much about government. He meant well and I think that his subordinates made most of his decisions, called the shots and he would ratify them. Then of course, we had President Kennedy. He was a very charming, attractive, witty and personable fellow, but he had almost a complete failure in getting Congress to adopt his programs. Then after he was assassinated, of course President Johnson took over. He and I had been very close when he was majority leader of the Senate and when I first came to the Senate, he went out of his way to be as cordial and pleasant to me as he possibly could. I was made chairman of the Calendar Committee my freshman year in the Senate. It is

Page 4
the responsibility of that committee to look over the bills on the calendar call and to object to those that may be controversial and should not pass on a consent calendar. That was about the most choice assignment that a freshman Senator could have. He put me on the Agricultural Committee the first year that I came to the Senate. He put me on the Finance Committee the third year I was in the Senate, which is a much sought after post. He did everything for me that he possibly could. Johnson was the most able majority leader, probably, in the history of the country. He knew the legislative process very well. He knew the personalities in the Senate, and more about them than any member of that body. He knew their hopes and dreams and pet peeves and prejudices. He knew which ones could be driven like an ox. He knew which ones could be led with a carrot. He knew which ones could be motivated by certain special interests in their own state. He was a very artful majority leader. When he got to be President, he over committed himself on social programs and the programs and policies that were started during his administration, I feel certain, are piling up these huge deficits that are the cause of most of the monetary problems that we have and the fiscal problems that we have in this country at the present time. And of course, he was succeeded by President Nixon. Nixon was Vice-President of the United States when I came to the Senate. My personal relationship with him was very, very cordial. I always gave President Nixon extremely high marks for being a total Machiavellian type politician who could read the mood of the country very well and react thereto. But his actions in this Watergate thing are a mystery to me today because a ten year old child should have known better. When that thing first came into public domain, if he had gone on nationwide television and made a speech and said substantially

Page 5
that in politics, "loyalty is the name of the game, I have been in politics virtually all my adult life. My friends have been exceedingly loyal to me. I have been exceedingly loyal to them and in this instance, too loyal. I am discharging everyone responsible for it today. I apologize to the American people and pledge that it won't happen again," well, it would have been forgotten. Then, too, as soon as Butterfield blurted out before the Watergate Committee about those tapes, it is still a mystery to me why he didn't destroy them within fifteen minutes.
JACK NELSON:
He could almost have held a bonfire on the White House lawn and done it in the name of national security, couldn't he?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Of course he could. It was his property, he could have done anything with them that he wanted to. Instead of that, he had this wild conceived notion about executive privilege and that was the only corrobating evidence of John Dean's there was. If he had first pled what we lawyers call "confession and avoidance" in a statement and then secondly, if he had burned his tapes, he would be President today. Now, of course, Gerry Ford succeeded him and . . .
JACK NELSON:
Let me ask you this. It is hard to see Nixon outside of Watergate, but outside of that, how do you think Nixon did?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I think that many of his policies were good for the country. He tried to discourage enormous spending, with limited success, I may say. Only history will determine how this policy of detente is going to work, but the Soviet Union and the Red Chinese and the United States all live in the same world. All three of them are nuclear powers. It is in the interest of all three of those nations to avoid any confrontations, particularly a nuclear confrontation that could destroy civilization as we know it today.

Page 6
JACK NELSON:
And you were going to say about Ford.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I've known Gerry Ford since I came to the Senate. I didn't know him extremely well until he became Vice-President of the United States. You can't be around Gerry Ford without liking him. He is a patriotic, loyal, God-fearing American. I think that his candor and his openness have impressed the American people. It comes through on television and that is a particularly desirable trait in the aftermath of Watergate and the Nixon years. Now, this country has so many problems today that I don't think any President of the United States could make a good president. I think that Gerry Ford is doing the best that he knows how. No one can predict what will happen in 1976, but if our economy recovers rather rapidly, I think that he may well be difficult to defeat.
JACK NELSON:
I've heard a lot of people, Senator Talmadge, say that around the country President Ford is respected for his openness and for his being candid and so forth, but he is also perceived as a man who is just not quite up to the job of President, he just doesn't quite have the ability.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I don't think that he is the smartest president that we have ever had in the United States by any means, but I think that the people are not necessarily looking for the smartest man in the world today. They are looking for a candid man who is forthright and will lay it on the line like it is and Gerry Ford pretty much does that.
JACK NELSON:
What about one of your fellow Senators who was the nominee of the Democratic party once and was Vice-President, Senator Humphrey?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Hubert Humphrey is a very brilliant man. I think that he probably has the best coordination of mind and tongue of any man that

Page 7
I ever saw. He can make a brilliant speech on any side of any subject with or without notice. Hubert thinks that somehow the government possesses all the wealth in the world and they ought to distribute it to the people. He had not yet realized that the government possesses no wealth until they first take it away from the people.
JACK NELSON:
What about another of your colleagues, Senator Edward Kennedy?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Ted Kennedy is a very attractive fellow and of course, I guess that the Kennedys were born to run for public office, I don't recall that ever in history have we had three brothers, all having served in the United States Senate. I am not convinced as yet that Teddy won't run if the convention starts yelling for him about the fifth or sixth ballot.
JACK NELSON:
Do you think that he could overcome Chappaquidick and be elected if he was nominated?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I don't know how serious Chappaquidick has effected his political future. Evidently it hasn't hurt at all in Massachussetts. The polls show him overwhelmingly in the lead with the Democrats. My judgement is that if he wants the nomination, he'll get it.
JACK NELSON:
And of course, I imagine that there is a fairly good chance of a real deadlock at the convention.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I wouldn't at all be surprised. As I see it today, and of course, you don't know what will happen in the intervening fifteen or eighteen months until convention time, I can foresee at the moment that we might have four or five candidates with a substantial bloc of votes, not anything approaching the majority, probably with George Wallace having the largest number. And if those blocs remain firm for three or four ballots, it wouldn't surprise me at all to see the convention first start yelling for

Page 8
Teddy Kennedy and if he doesn't respond, then they'll start yelling for Hubert Humphrey and I am sure that he would respond.
JACK NELSON:
What about Edmund Muskie?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
There is a possibility there, but I think that it is more remote than Kennedy or Humphrey.
JACK NELSON:
Speaking of George Wallace, Senator, you've known him since he was a circuit judge in Alabama.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes, I've known Governor Wallace now for at least eighteen years.
JACK NELSON:
Give me your impressions of him, both as a state politician in Alabama, what he has done in his state and . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Of course, he has dominated Alabama politics completely for almost twenty years now. Anyone that thinks that George Wallace is a fool is wide of the mark. I have watched him in alleged debates with some of these presidential candidates, I remember when he was a candidate in Maryland a number of years ago, my colleague, Senator Brewster was the stand -in candidate for President Johnson and they had one of these alleged television debates. Of course, it was not a real debate at all, it was more or less interviews by the news media, but Wallace just cut up Brewster so bad that it reminded you of a cat chasing a mouse around. It was right pathetic. He has a very quick mind. He has a sense of what the average middle-class American is thinking and he knows exactly how to prey on their frustrations and in my judgement, in some of these primaries that he enters, he is going to get huge votes not only in the South, but states outside the South as well.
JACK NELSON:
He did before.

Page 9
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Oh, yes. Well, you remember his first race in Michigan, he got 10% of the vote and then that crazy judge up there threatened Detroit with cross busing all over the metropolitan area of Detroit and Wallace, as I recall, got over 50% of the vote following that busing decision with all the labor leaders, all the news media, all the members of the clergy and everything else denouncing him as a monster daily.
JACK NELSON:
One other political figure that I wanted to ask you about, Senator, was Lester Maddox.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I've known Lester a long, long time. I used to eat there at his Pickrick Restuarant, before he was elected governor. He had several unsuccessful races, as you know, once or twice for mayor and once for lieutenant governor and of course, when he was in the race, the year that he was nominated as the Democratic nominee and subsequently elected by the General Assembly of Georgia. No one gave him any chance of winning. Lester has a common touch that is somewhat like George Wallace in an appeal to the average rank and file voter and he also knew how to prey on their frustrations. Of course, when he got in the run over with Ellis Arnall, Ellis was too liberal by Georgia standards. A lot of people voted for him just to demonstrate their own frustrations and then stuck with him and he got the Democratic nomination. Of course, in the general election, there was a write-in effort for former governor Ellis Arnall that got thirty or forty thousand votes and precluded any of the candidates getting a majority of the vote. Then it had to go to the General Assembly for the resolution and they are about 90% Democratic and they elected Lester.
JACK NELSON:
Do you think that he has any political future now? Times seem to have passed him by.

Page 10
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I doubt that Lester could be elected by a majority of the voters of the state. He still has a strong following in Georgia in my judgement, about a third of the people, maybe more than a third, would vote for him again.
JACK NELSON:
I want to ask you one other thing, too, about George Wallace and his own political future. The former governor of Georgia, Jimmy Carter, is running for president and was in the office the other day and he said that while any candidate for the Democratic nomination would be a fool to bring up the question of the governor's health as an issue, because it would be counter-productive, everywhere he goes he does hear people and former Wallace supporters say that they don't think they can now support him because of his health. Isn't his health going to be an issue in this race?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
There is a possibility that it might, but I would point out that the only president ever elected four times in the United States also had to operate from a wheel chair and so does Wallace.
JACK NELSON:
I think that at least, Roosevelt did have more control of his bodily functions than Wallace does.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I don't know what control Wallace has. I have been in his presence only one time since the assassination effort and while he couldn't walk, he was otherwise active, mentally and physically.
JACK NELSON:
Senator Talmadge, let me ask you about some of our institutions. What about the Supreme Court, both the Supreme Court that you found when you came here to the Senate and the Supreme Court today.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
During my lifetime, it has absolutely changed. Of course, presidents up until the days of Roosevelt tried to pick out the most learned judges, scholars and lawyers for appointment to the Supreme Court bench.

Page 11
They were considered non-political in character. It was their responsibility to construe the Constitution and the law and make decisions accordingly. Of course, during the early days of Roosevelt's administration, the Congress passed a multiplicity of laws and a good many of them were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States. And Roosevelt, you remember, tried to pack the Supreme Court by adding additional judges thereto. After long and heated debate, Congress finally rejected that effort. Then nature took its course, a lot of those judges started dying and some of them, I believe, retired and it gave Roosevelt the opportunity to pack the Supreme Court that the Congress had rejected. He started appointed judges then not for what they knew, but for what they would do. Unfortunately, that trend has continued. We have had a whole pattern and series of decisions that have repudiated prior decisions that were valid for more than a hundred years. We really had virtually a revolution in this country as a result of the Supreme Court decisions. They have changed our form of government completely. For instance, the Founding Fathers, you know, were great students of history and they knew that all democratic governments had within themselves the seeds of their own destruction. So, they were determined to create a republican form of government that wouldn't destroy itself. So, they delegated to the federal government certain limited powers that only the federal government could do or could do best. All other power and authority was reserved to the states. Then, beginning with the Bell decision, as I recall . . . or Baker decision about 1935, the Supreme Court held that the Congress could legislate and appropriate in any area of public welfare. That was the origin of the welfare state as we know it today and every subsequent Congress has created new welfare programs, delegated more power

Page 12
to Washington. As a result of it now, we are swamped with letters and phone calls daily. I have got eleven telephone lines coming into my office. My mail averages five or six hundred letters a day. Sometimes all eleven of those telephone lines are engaged at the same time. Virtually all the calls and all the letters are some citizen that has a problem, sometimes real and sometimes imagined, with a federal agency. So, I've got thirty people up here on my staff in Washington and they stay busy all the time trying to cut red tape. You've had a transition of power from your city halls and your county courthouses and your state legislatures and your state capitals to Washington. More and more of it is being brought up here daily. Of course now, about one third of the gross national product of this country goes to taxes in one form or another and even under those conditions, the federal government last year and the present fiscal year that we are in, the budgetary deficits are going to be approaching 150 billion dollars. That's the reason that we've had a decline in our living standard, we've had an erosion in the power of the dollar, we have a lack of confidence by the people in their government. It has gotten so large and so complex and so far removed that people feel alienated.
JACK NELSON:
Let's go back to one of the Supreme Court decisions which had tremendous impact really around the country but beginning mostly in the South. That's Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954, the school decision.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
That was in 1954, as you recall, and it reversed previous decisions that held that children could be classified by race for assignment to public schools. Now, we've gone the opposite extreme, overriding the Brown decision and now they hold that you have got to assign schools by color to achieve a racial balance. You realize all the discord that it has

Page 13
brought throughout the nation. It has worked better in the South than it has anywhere else in the country because there is a common warm bond of friendship between lots of blacks and whites in the South. You don't have that in other sections of the country and you see the riots that they are having in Boston now and other areas outside the South where it has been implemented. It is a very foolish program in my judgement. It is extremly costly and counterproductive and according to the polls, only 4% of the whites and 9% of the blacks support it.
JACK NELSON:
Now, this is busing to achieve racial balance. What about the decision itself of '54, outside of any busing and . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Well, that is a fait accompli. No one is trying to return to the status quo of twenty odd years ago, but I think that certainly our school systems have degenerated since that time. Most of the urban problems that we have at the present time in part are related to that decision. You had a mass exodus of the whites from the central cities to the suburbs to get to what they thought were better schools. You had a decay of values within the central cities and a erosion of your tax base and some of the problems like New York is being confronted with are going to confront other cities, largely because of mass flight. I doubt if the schools now are as good as they were twenty odd years ago.
JACK NELSON:
What about Earl Warren as a Chief Justice, Senator Talmadge? I assume that you didn't care too much for him.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I knew Earl Warren well, we served in the Governor's Conference together before he went on the Supreme Court bench. Our personal relations were very cordial. He is personally a very warm, friendly, kind

Page 14
of a man, or was. He was never any legal scholar and I think that he is one of the poorest Chief Justices in the history of the republic.
JACK NELSON:
What about Warren Burger, the current Chief Justice?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I don't know Burger, except that I have read some of his opinions. Burger certainly looks like a Chief Justice ought to look. I think there has been some improvement in some of his decisions, particularly as it relates to criminal trials, rules of evidence and so on. I was very disappointed in Burger in the Swan case, which related to cross busing in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina because there was no basis in the law whatsoever for the decision.
JACK NELSON:
I suppose that busing, insofar as Wallace is concerned, will be an issue?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes, I don't know how much he'll talk about that issue, but everyone in the country knows that George Wallace is opposed to forced busing and that will be one of his principle drawing cards.
JACK NELSON:
Senator, I've heard it said that the two smartest men in the Senate are you and Jacob Javits, representing two sort of opposite ends of the pole. What do you think of Jacob Javits?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I'm flattered that I would be considered one of the two smartest men in the Senate, I have never thought so myself. Jacob Javits is a brilliant man. His mind is very quick. He has a vast army of employees that work with him and that keep track of every bill, prepare amendments and prepare speeches for him. He is a very resourceful man. He is a very good lawyer. Sometimes our political philosophy differs.
JACK NELSON:
There have been, particularly in the current session of Congress, moves to either do away altogether with the seniority system or at least to

Page 15
dilute the seniority system and I know that in 1971, you were on a three man caucus with Senator Humphrey and Senator Fred Harris of Oklahoma on a committee that studied it and I think that you came out in favor of retaining the seniority system.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes, and Senator Humphrey and Senator Harris submitted the report, which was a majority report and I overrode them in the caucus of the Democratic party in my minority report. What they really wanted to do was to prescribe standards by which all Democrats should be judged and it was a sort of a thought control criteria that was the essence of it. I thought that it would be utterly destructive to the Democratic party. You can't have a thought control process where you can mold a pattern between people that are different in viewpoint, as different as Stennis and Eastland and Humphrey and Joe Clark and people of that type. If they are Democrats, it's got to be like the Baptist Church, on profession of faith, you let them enter the party. You don't try to drive them out and you don't try to regulate their thought processes. Anytime you get away from that, you'll have a totalitarian form of government. Now, the seniority system is probably the worst system that you can have except any other possible alternative. In the final analysis, when you talk about seniority, you are talking about experience. You don't go to work at the Ford assembly plant in Hapeville, Georgia today and become a foreman that day. You have to work there and prove your skill and knowledge. You work at it and then they might promote you to foreman. If you are good enough, you ultimately might become plant manager. That's what we have in the Senate with the seniority system. It has never been an ironclad rule. The membership of all the committees is elected by the Democratic caucus

Page 16
when we have the majority party and the Senate as a whole in the final analysis. The chairman is selected by the Democratic caucus and theoretically, they could put the most junior member as chairman of a committee, but it would be a ridiculous thing to do. Why would you pick someone that was elected yesterday to the United States Senate and substitute him as chairman of the Armed Services Committee for John Stennis, who has had twenty odd years of experience and expertise in working on military problems for this country? And so it is with all the other committees. You take the Agricultural Committee that I happen to be chairman of, I have been on that committee for eighteen and a half years. I have been intimately involved with every piece of legislation that has gone through that committee since that time. The longer that I serve on that committee, the more knowledge that I have of those facts and the more experience that I have in those affairs and that is the reason that I have been selected now. I haven't seen but one or two instances since I have been in the Senate, when the most able member of the committee was not the chairman of that committee, not because they were the brightest, not because they were the sharpest, but because they had had the most experience in the legislative process. I have seen one or two become senile. Senator Theodore Green became senile when he was chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, but fortunately he had enough sense, or those around him had enough sense, to where he stepped down and Fulbright suceeded him. Jim Murray, who was chairman of the Labor and Education Committee for a time was somewhat senile, but that was only a matter of months before his term of office expired and he stepped out.
JACK NELSON:
What about some of the Senators who have been there for a long

Page 17
time now, Senator Eastland, Senator Stennis, do you expect them to be reelected or to at least run for reelection?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I have no way of knowing. I don't doubt but what the voters of Mississippi would elect Jim Eastland and John Stennis as long as they wanted to serve in the Senate.
JACK NELSON:
You don't have any idea, though, as to whether they actually are going to run?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I do not.
JACK NELSON:
Let me get your views on another man that you mentioned to me the other day, who has had a tremendous impact in this country. Some people think that it has been mostly for the good and some people think that it has been mostly for the bad and that is Ralph Nader, who burst on the scene a few years ago.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I don't know Nader well, I visited with him a time or two, he came by my office lobbying for the Consumer Protection Bill that he devised. He is an intense sort of a zealot, really. I think that it is his mission to save mankind. I don't doubt but what some of the things that he has advocated has been in the national interest, others have not. You take the Clean Air, Clean Water Bill, we probably went too far too fast. That is one of the reasons that we are having enormous inflationary problems now. The industry in this country is spending countless billions and billions of dollars for pollution control that is non-productive. It earns no income. I can give you an illustration with my personal automobile. We are going through an enormous energy crisis now. I've got about a seven year old Oldsmobile 98. It gets fifteen miles to the gallon. I have got a Cutlass that is a year and a half old, the smallest car that Oldsmobile

Page 18
makes. It gets about twelve miles to the gallon. It has got all of Mr. Nader's gear on it and we are using more energy because of those things. We had representatives of all the automobile manufacturers before the Finance Committee about ten days or two weeks ago and all of these safety and pollution devices that we put on automobiles in the last three or four years have driven up the price over a thousand dollars a vehicle. That is one of the reasons that people aren't buying automobiles today, they have gotten so high priced that they are out of the market and lo and behold, they have suddenly discovered now that some of the devices that we put on the automobiles at the request of Mr. Nader create more pollution than they solve.
JACK NELSON:
Why do you think that there has been such a tremendous consumer movement and environmental protection movement that has caught fire in the past decade?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
This country goes through slogans from time to time and they overreact frequently. When I first came to the United States Senate, they would burn your mother at the stake in the name of civil rights. Then it got to be the environment and of course, the environment needed protection, but we probably went too far too fast. Then it got to be consumerism and we passed a multiplicity of consumer protection bills in recent years, I would think twenty probably. I think that I voted for all of them but one. But it puts an enormous burden on business, trying to fill out all these forms and prove all of these things that sometimes they are criticized for, or to disprove them and the average businessman is just smothered in red tape coming from Washington. Bureaucratic controls and bureaucratic regulations. In the final analysis, in a free society like ours where we

Page 19
have the capitalistic system and private enterprise, say five firms are manufacturing the same product, the American people aren't all crazy. They know by the process of use which one of those products is the most efficient and which is the cheapest and in the final analysis, the consumer polices their own product. If you have got junk goods, it won't sell. At least you might sell it one time, but you don't buy it the second time. Pretty soon, that business, that firm, is out of business. They can't sell their junk goods. Of course, the capitalistic competitive system, where you don't have a monopoly, prevents them from gouging the consumer. If I am selling a device for a dollar that cost me ten cents, somebody very quickly will find out how profitable that item is and he will put it on the market and sell it for twenty cents and then I will cut mine to eighteen cents and he will cut his to eighteen cents and that is the way it goes. You've got your competition that regulates the sale of consumer products.
JACK NELSON:
What about the impact of mass media?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I don't think that there is any doubt but what television today has the most enormous impact on people's thinking of anything in the country. I know that most of the time I try to watch the evening news and people like Huntley-Brinkley report the news, they can omit whatever they want to and state whatever they want to and they have got fifty million people watching them and sometimes those fifty million people are too busy to read a newspaper. That might be the only source of information they have.
JACK NELSON:
And mass communications, and I suppose particularly television, have had a tremendous amount to do with all the movements that we have been talking about.

Page 20
HERMAN TALMADGE:
No doubt about it.
JACK NELSON:
Civil rights and environmental protection and consumerism.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
That's correct.
JACK NELSON:
What about the impact of television, you said on people's thinking? Have you ever been involved in the Senate in any of the legislation that had to do with advertising that affects children or violence on television and so forth?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
That doesn't come before any of my committees. It goes before the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee that have jurisdiction over television and radio licenses. We have had some bills, I think, that have come from the committee, but the Constitution of the United States, you know, contains the First Amendment and there is a prohibition against regulation of free speech and freedom of assembly. So, you are in a difficult area to regulate. Of course, I presume that theoretically you could regulate it to some degree because we grant the license. And the television and radio networks would be a little bit different from the newspapers in that regard. It is extremely difficult to regulate something of that nature because you get into the First Amendment.
JACK NELSON:
How has television changed your own campaigning, Senator?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I think that television . . .
JACK NELSON:
I know that you still do an awfully lot of the person to person campaigning.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Television, I think, has benefited me more than anything in my political career. I remember the first nationwide program that I was on at the Chicago convention in 1952. We were trying to nominate Senator Russell as the Democratic nominee at that time. It was my first

Page 21
appearance on "Meet the Press." The format has changed somewhat since that time. They had a panel of about nine reporters there asking the questions and I think that I came out pretty well on it. I got five thousand letters and telegrams as a result of that one program all over the United States. Some of them said, "Thirty minutes ago, I wouldn't have traded you for an alley cat and now I would like to see you as President of the United States." Prior to that time, the news media could project any image of me that they wanted to. Most of them were hostile and Time Magazine particularly would write little snide things. For the first time it gave me an opportunity to go into the living rooms and they could see Herman Talmadge as he was and not Herman Talmadge who had been fabricated by Time Magazine and some other journalists. So, I think that it gives people an opportunity to see the candidates themselves, to judge the candidates themselves, their intelligence, their philosophy and their candor. I think that it has been enormously beneficial to me.
JACK NELSON:
You are going to be on television this Friday night, I believe.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes. Senator Nunn and I are going to be on Channel 17 there in Atlanta. We have been on that program once or twice before, as I recall and the audience response was such that they wanted to set it up on a continuing basis. I believe that they broadcast to some of the CRTV stations throughout the state also.
JACK NELSON:
Now, you were telling me that you hoped to get from that television to the dinner for Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes, Dr. Martin Luther King, Sr. is retiring after fifty something years, I believe, as pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church. Dr. King I have known now for some ten or twelve years. He is an old friend of

Page 22
mine and I hold him in high esteem and I hope to get by before the dinner is concluded.
JACK NELSON:
You told me, Senator, that you really didn't know Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I don't recall that I ever met Dr. King, Jr.
JACK NELSON:
But you do know of him and what his impact was and so forth. What do you think of him?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
He undoubtedly had more influence in the civil rights movement than any leader in my lifetime. He was a magnificent orator. He knew how to dramatize an issue and get the attention of the news media and magnify it. He was responsible to a very great degree for all the civil rights acts that have been passed in the last twenty years.
JACK NELSON:
Would you say that his impact over all on the country was positive or negative?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Only time will tell.
JACK NELSON:
You know, I remember, I was in the Georgia House of Representatives in the early sixties, '64 or '63, when the speaker, I guess that it was Marvin Moate who was speaker then, looked up in the gallery and said, "Mr. Doorkeeper, get those niggers out of the white section of the gallery." And among those who they got out of the white section were Julian Bond and Ben Alexander and I don't know who else, but both of those now, of course, are in the legislature and have been for some time. How do you regard the changes that have come about in that respect, where now there are more black elected officials in Georgia, they have a much bigger voice in the government? Maynard Jackson, a black, is mayor of Atlanta, Georgia and . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I think that Georgia has about sixteen members of the state legislature who are black. I think that there is only one other state

Page 23
in the country that has that many and I believe that is the state of Michigan. The other forty-eight states have a smaller number. We have blacks that are active in politics now throughout the state, to a greater degree in the South than in other sections of our country, as a matter of fact. Mayors, county commissioners, boards of education and so on. They are just like white people, some of them make good public servants and some of them don't.
JACK NELSON:
But do you think again, that the impact on the state has been good or bad to have had this increase?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I think that it has probably hopefully improved racial relations and I think it has.
JACK NELSON:
And you do deal with Maynard Jackson as the mayor of Atlanta?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Oh yes. Yes, Mayard contacts me virtually every week about something in Atlanta's interest.
JACK NELSON:
I think that you told me, not during a tape session but the other day, that you had also talked with Julian Bond, John Lewis on the voter education project.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes.
JACK NELSON:
What about some of the other people in Georgia, Senator, who have been your big supporters? Mills Lane . . . the banker and . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes, I think that Mills has always voted for me. He never has contributed much money. I think that the largest contribution that I ever got from Mills was about $1,000 and that's about like me buying you a Coca-Cola.
JACK NELSON:
Yes, that's right. What about other supporters, for example, people who someday may want to go back and look at Herman Talmadge through

Page 24
the people that knew him best, who should they talk to in Georgia, people who would have been your supporters and some, maybe, who would have worked against you? We have talked about a number of them over the sessions.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Oh, at one time or another, I think that virtually all the people in Georgia have been my friends, so trying to identify my closest friends who know the most about me would be difficult indeed. Bill Kinbrough, who was married for a time to my youngest sister, was associated with me throughout my political effort as governor. Jimmy Bentley was my executive secretary and the youngest one in the nation for a time. A lot of people that were closely associated with me in my adminstration as governor are now dead, Charlie Redwine, Jim Peters . . .
JACK NELSON:
Roy Harris?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Roy Harris is still living and is about eighty years of age and still very alert physically and mentally.
JACK NELSON:
He was a kingmaker, wasn't he?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Roy Harris was considered the most astute political campaign manager in the state for many, many years and I think that was true. He was really the man who organized campaigns for Ed Rivers, Ellis Arnall and he helped me manage my father's campaign in 1946 and was the principal campaign confident that I had in 1948 and 1950 in my campaigns for governor.
JACK NELSON:
Is there anybody else similar to Roy Harris in the state? I mean anybody who would be a behind the scene man.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I don't want to seem boastful or egotistical, but when Roy Harris was in his prime, I don't think that he had but one equal in his political knowledge of the state of Georgia and I am vain enough to think

Page 25
that I was his equal.
JACK NELSON:
Yes, I think that people would say that was true of you. But you were not the behind the scenes guy in most instances.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
No, I never was a behind the scenes man. The only campaigns that I have ever been involved in in an active way, was my father's and my own.
JACK NELSON:
Right. Who else have you helped, though? You helped Marvin Griffin?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes.
JACK NELSON:
You've helped Senator Nunn?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
And Ernest Vandiver.
JACK NELSON:
Ernest Vandiver.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
That's right.
JACK NELSON:
Anyone else that you have aided, I mean beside being for, but that you have actively . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I think that's about the principal ones. Local races, I was involved in some of them, but on the state level you have named about the only three that I was actively involved in.
JACK NELSON:
What do you see coming up in Georgia politics?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
No one can tell, of course. You don't have a Senatorial race until 1978 and Senator Nunn will be up at that time and I have no doubt that he will be overwhelmingly reelected and at this stage of the game, Governor Busbee has only been in office a little over six months, so a gubernatorial race is three and a half years away and no one in his right mind could predict what will happen at that time.
JACK NELSON:
Right. Your own plans are to stay in the Senate?

Page 26
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Well, as long as I am mentally alert and physically active . . .
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
HERMAN TALMADGE:
. . . for my country, fifty-two months service in the United States Navy, over six years service as governor of Georgia, eighteen and a half years service in the United States Senate and if I complete this term, it will be twenty-four years in the Senate. I think that my mind now is probably at the very height of its capability. I am in good health physically. The people of Georgia have spent many hundreds of thousands of hours working for me, electing me governor and United States Senator. They've contributed many thousands of dollars to get me elected to positions of their trust and as long as I have the mental and physical capability of continuing in service, I would think that is what they would want me to do. If I ever get to where I am not mentally alert, I hope that my friends and my family will tell me to step down and I hope that I am wise enough to do so.
JACK NELSON:
You considered at one time going back and running for governor. What made you change your mind on that?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
There was the most amazing reaction that I have ever seen. When I announced that I was considering coming home and running for governor and . . .
JACK NELSON:
That was in 1966?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes, Lester Maddox was elected then. I think that's correct. I got telegrams and phone calls from politicians all over the state, white and black, liberals, moderates, reactionaries pledging their support and to, for God's sake, come home and run for governor. Now, the rank and file of the people, what we lawyers refer to as "the butcher, the baker and

Page 27
the candlestick maker," the reaction was not that way. Most of them said, "You have just been in Washington long enough to where you can begin to render a real service now." Then they would say also that the real battles were taking place in Washington now, the governorship had just about degenerated into a federal clerkship and they would say that Senator Russell was not getting any younger, and "We don't want two rookies in the Senate at once." Most of them would pledge their support, but I could tell that was the reaction from their heart and I realized then that the majority of the people wanted me to stay in the Senate and not come home and run for governor. So, I complied with the people's wishes and not the politicians'.
JACK NELSON:
Now, you've never had any national political ambitions?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
No.
JACK NELSON:
And yet you've been urged to.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I've always realized that the prejudices of the War Between the States is still in this country. Prior to the war Between the States, nearly all the presidents were southerners, the greatest that we have ever had. Some of the best talent in the Congress of the United States is from the South, but we have not had a southerner nominated or elected president from 1860 to date.
JACK NELSON:
And that still exists?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
That still exists.
JACK NELSON:
Do you think that Lyndon Johnson could have been elected in his own right had he not succeeded on the death of Kennedy?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Of course not. He claimed to be a westerner, not a southerner.
JACK NELSON:
Yes, I know, he didn't say he was a . . .

Page 28
HERMAN TALMADGE:
He tried to escape the onus of being a southerner. Let's go.
JACK NELSON:
O.K.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]
Interview of August 1, 1975 at Lovejoy, Georgia. Senator Talmadge is describing his home as the interview opens.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
. . . it was owned by the Dorsey family, Hugh Dorsey's family, for years and there is an old Dorsey family cemetary out there. There are some Dorseys buried as early as 1821. If you saw the movie, Gone With The Wind and remember anything about it, you saw Negroes picking cotton and singing in the fields and then panned the camera on an old fallen down ante-bellum home with weeds in the yard . . .
JACK NELSON:
Yes.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
This is it.
JACK NELSON:
Well, I might as well interrupt and say that this is an interview with Senator Herman Talmadge continuing and we are at his farmhouse in Lovejoy, Georgia and he was just describing the house. Your father bought the farm and house in 1940?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
1940, yes. When I got out of the Navy, he gave me the old house and a thousand acres of land, it took me about ten years to fix it up and we have lived here since then.
JACK NELSON:
How often do you get down here now, Senator?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
An average of about twice a month.
JACK NELSON:
You used to get down more often, didn't you?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Well, depending on campaigns, if I am up for reelection, I

Page 29
come down slightly more often.
JACK NELSON:
But anyway, you do get down fairly often?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
As often as I can.
JACK NELSON:
I wanted to get you to say for the record a couple of things that you told me inbetween tape session before. One of them is when you told then Senator Lyndon Johnson that you thought Bobby Kennedy was going to be nominated. Would you mind repeating that anecdote?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Not Bobby Kennedy, I told him that . . .
JACK NELSON:
I meant John Kennedy, I'm sorry.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Well, Senator Johnson was majority leader and he and I were great friends. He was very friendly to me and anything that he thought I wanted, I didn't even have to ask for it, he went out of his way to be nice and cordial to me. He would come back when the Senate was doing business rather slowly sometimes and sit on the back bench with me for sometimes an hour at a time talking about various things. He got the presidential bug very badly about 1959. He was making trips up in Michigan and New Jersey and New York and places like that and making speeches. He would come back and tell me what a great success he had had and so on. He actually got to thinking, I believe, that he would be nominated in 1960 by the convention. I was realistic enough to know that the Democratic party would not nominate a southerner at that time, even though Johnson had disavowed his southern heritage and claimed to be a westerner. I made him a bet, I said, "Lyndon, you won't get fifty votes from the five most populous states in the Union." He said, "What will you bet?" I said, "A suit of clothes." He said, "Let's make it a hat." We bet the hat and he never did pay me the hat before he died. He didn't get the fifty votes in the five most populous states. I

Page 30
imagine that he forgot it, I'm sure that if I had reminded him of the bet, he would have delivered the hat very readily.
JACK NELSON:
Didn't you also tell him that you didn't think he ought to accept the post of . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes, you remember that we recessed for the convention in 1960 and came back with a session to try to get the platform adopted by the Democratic party and acted into law in the fall of 1960 subsequent to the convention. And just before we adjourned for that recess, we had finished all of our business, except adopting a few conference reports, most of them were non-controversial and it didn't look like we would have any more votes. I walked by and sat down by him when he was seated in the majority leader's seat and I said, "Now Lyndon, John Kennedy is going to be nominated on the first ballot. If he is as smart as I think he is, he is going to ask you to be his running mate and I hope you won't accept." He looked at me in his sharp manner and said, "Herman, you know that I will do no such fool thing." I said, "That's all I wanted to hear you say. I'm not going to the convention, you will receive every vote in the Georgia delegation. I will be at Lovejoy watching the convention on television." Well, as I predicted, Kennedy was nominated on the first ballot and as I predicted, Kennedy asked him to accept the Vice-Presidential nomination as his running mate, which he did. About three days after the convention, I was sitting here in this chair watching television when the phone rang and it was Lyndon Johnson calling from the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver, Colorado. He said, "Herman, I just wanted to explain to you why I accepted that Vice-Presidential nomination." I said, "Lyndon, you don't have to explain it to me now, that is water over the dam. I just never did like to see one of my friends promoted from president of the corporation to vice-chairman

Page 31
of the board."
JACK NELSON:
Well, did he finally say why he did accept it?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Well, I don't know if I let him say in full, to united the Democratic party or something like that, that it was his duty and responsibility, the party had been good to him . . .
JACK NELSON:
Did he not see it down the road then that he might become President, though?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I don't think so at that time. Vice-Presidents rarely become Presidents. I don't think that he anticipated that the President would be assassinated.
JACK NELSON:
I'm sure he didn't, I just thought that maybe he might run for it in his own right sometime.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I doubt that, Kennedy was a very young man and under any normal procedure, he would have served eight years as President and that would have carried it to 1968.
JACK NELSON:
Do you think, incidentally, that Kennedy would have served eight years had he not been assassinated?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes.
JACK NELSON:
You think that he would have been reelected?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I think that he probably would have.
JACK NELSON:
What sort of President did you think he was?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
He was a very attractive, a very charming, a very witty, a very personable man.
JACK NELSON:
You met with him quite frequently, didn't you?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Oh, frequently, yes. I served in the Senate with him for two years before he became President and our friendship was cordial and pleasant and he was not one of the real leaders of the Senate. He never could

Page 32
get the Congress to approve his policies as President of the United States.
JACK NELSON:
Now, he met with you even after he became President?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes, in fact, he went out of his way on several occassions to be friendly to me. You know, the South is a deficit grain producing state, and that is particularly true of Georgia. At that time, we were the largest broiler producing state in the Union. We import vast quantities of grain here from the Midwest. The Southern Railroad was wanting to reduce their freight rates on the importation of grain into the Southeast. They were competing with barge traffic and of course, they wanted more of the trade. As a Senator from Georgia, I was interested in getting the cheapest possible feed for our livestock and poultry industry. So, I worked with a group of southern Senators and the Department of Justice, which at that time was Bobby Kennedy, and with the President, and Bobby Troutman at the time, who was very close to the Kennedy family and particularly to John F. Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy. He had been employed by the Southern Railroad as counsel to try to work this thing out. I had met with all these people on any number of occassions and when the President declared his support for what we wanted, that was President Kennedy, he called me to his office in advance of the other southern Senators and told me that he was going to support our efforts. He did that because he wanted me to walk out through the front door and announce to the press and get whatever credit there was for his support of our effort. But I refused to treat my southern colleagues in any such manner and so I slipped out the back door and waited until he got the entire group and let them make the announcement even though he gave me an hour's scoop on it.
JACK NELSON:
I think that there may have been some Senators there who

Page 33
may have been glad to have gone out and done that.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Oh, I'm sure they would have.
JACK NELSON:
Let me ask you something about some of the other members of the Senate who are running or planning to run for the Presidency. What about George McGovern who was the candidate in '72? I've heard it said that you said one time that George McGovern didn't have enough sense to be elected Commissioner of Henry County much less President of the United States.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
George and I serve on the Agricultural Committee. In fact, he is the third ranking majority member of the Agricultural Committee and I appointed him chairman of the subcommittee on credit and rural electrification. He worked hard on it and he does a very fine job for American agriculture. But George is of the opinion that the government can create wealth and it is the responsiblity of the government to create this wealth and give it back to the citizens. We are poles apart on that issue.
JACK NELSON:
Let me ask you something else, one other comment that I heard you had made in passing in talking about some of the candidates and that was that McCarthy, that's former Senator Gene McCarthy . . . this is when they would have all been running in '68, that "McCarthy is the laziest man in the United States Senate and Humphrey is a crybaby and can't make up his mind and vacillates and of the three, Bobby Kennedy is the strongest and most decisive and probably would make the best President." Can you sort of confirm that general . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Well, I don't know that I ever made any remarks like that. I served with McCarthy on the Finance Committee for at least four years.

Page 34
He rarely attended the hearings of the Finance Committee and rarely attended the executive mock-up sessions unless there was some strong interest that Minnesota had. He was motivated by other considerations. He was a rather strange man. He had a good mind but he was mentally and physically lazy.
JACK NELSON:
What about Humphrey?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Humphrey is a very brilliant man. He has probably the best coordination of mind and tongue of any man that I ever saw. He can make an eloquent speech on any side of any issue with or without notice. I don't know that Hubert has very strong convictions on any subject. He is always ostensibly for the underdog and he is strong for every program to give away more assets of the Federal Treasury to all citizens.
JACK NELSON:
You did have, didn't you Senator, an admiration for Bobby Kennedy as a person who was decisive and strong?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes, Bobby could make up his mind. He knew what he wanted and he was absolutely ruthless in achieving what he wanted. I think that he had more of his daddy in him in that regard than John Kennedy.
JACK NELSON:
Do you think that it's true, though, that he probably would have made, certainly of those three, probably the best President had he made it, because of his decisiveness?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Well actually, you know, he inherited vast wealth. He never had to work for a living. He never had to meet a payroll, he didn't know what the responsiblity was of struggling to pay house rent, automobile notes and supporting a family. I doubt with anyone with vast inherited wealth, who doesn't know what it is to work and sweat for a living, ought to be elected President, really.

Page 35
JACK NELSON:
What about Senator Jackson?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Jackson came up the hard way. As I recall, his parents or grandparents migrated from one of the Norwegian countries. As a young man, he had to deliver newspapers to help support the family. His family had a very humble working class occupation and Scoop has many characteristics that I think very well of, but recently since he has gotten this Presidential bug, why sometimes I wonder if those characteristics are rigid enough. Sometimes I think that no one who is a member of the Congress ought to be permitted to receive the nomination for President or Vice-President until they have retired from the Congress or the Senate for at least four years. It seems to be a rather common thing that whenever they get the Presidential bug, they lose their stability and their proportion of reason.
JACK NELSON:
Now, you've also got Senator Edmund Muskie who may be in the picture again in '76.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes. I've known Muskie since he came to the Senate in 1959, as I recall, two years after I did. Ed is an attractive fellow, our personal relationship is extremely cordial. Sometimes he acts responsibly, particularly since he has become chairman of the Budget Committee and he is trying in many instances to hold the line there and I admire him for it.
JACK NELSON:
Now, Senator Birch Bayh may also announce.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes, Birch is a very attractive fellow. He is on the Judiciary Committee. I've known him since he came to the Senate and we have worked together on some issues, but his philosophy is to the left of mine.
JACK NELSON:
Yes. Senator, let me tell me a little anecdote that I heard

Page 36
the other day from Senator John Tunney of California and the reason that I do it is that I wanted to ask you if you could tell me something about the way the power sort of works up there. He told me that he got on the Constitutional Rights Sub-committee and as chairman of it . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes, succeeded Sam Ervin as . . .
JACK NELSON:
Right and this was the way that it happened, though. He said that Birch Bayh was, I believe, chairman of two sub-committees of that committee, is that right?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Could have been.
JACK NELSON:
In any event, Tunney said that Bayh also wanted the Constitutional Rights Sub-Committee chairmanship. I suppose that he wanted it as a public forum sort of, partly for publicity for running for the Presidency. But Tunney said, "I really wanted that and I really wanted it bad and I knew that Birch Bayh had these two other chairmanships and I knew that under the Democratic caucus rules, I didn't think that he was entitled to another one. I went to Senator Eastland and I said, ‘Jim, I really want that#x2019; . . . " first he talked to Bayh and he told Bayh that he was going to have to give up one of the other chairmanships if he wanted that and Bayh said that he didn't want to do it and Tunney said, "I told him that I was going to fight him then. ‘I'm going to fight you for it because I really believe in it.’" So, he said that he went to Eastland and said, "Jim, I really want that chairmanship and I think that the rules provide that I should have it." Eastland told him that he had already given his word to Bayh. He said, "Jim, I'll tell you and I feel strongly about it and I think that you acted on bad information because I don't think that the rules provide for that. I'll tell you what, I would fight it on the floor if necessary, but let's go to

Page 37
the Parliamentarian first, and get a ruling." He said that he went to the Parliamentarian and got a ruling in favor of him and so, he was appointed chairman. The point that he was making was, he said, "You've really got to be tough in the Senate and if you are not, . . . they only recognize you if you stand up for what you believe in."
HERMAN TALMADGE:
There are a great many of them that grasp for power and will run over you if they can. I wouldn't think of appointing a Senator on the Agricultural Committee to the chairmanships of two sub-committees.
JACK NELSON:
Well, Tunney said, "You know, I am not by nature that kind of a tough person. I almost had to play a role because I thought that I had to serve my constituents and I felt that I should have the chairmanship." I suppose that it is a rough and tumble . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Oh, it is. You see, these people have fought their way to the top of the political ladder and politics is a very rough game, almost like the rules of the jungle.
JACK NELSON:
Well, was there any struggle at all as far as the Agriculture chairmanship was concerned?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
No, I have never had any problem in that regard at all. I have always tried to be fair and reasonable in the assignment of sub-committees and I have followed the seniority rule without deviation on my sub-committees. For instance, I have got Jim Eastland as chairman of the sub-committee on Environment and Forestry. I have got George McGovern as chairman of the Agricultural Credit and Rural Electrification, I've got Jim Allen as chairman of the Committee on General Legislation and Price Support and I've got Dick Clark as the chairman of the Sub-committee on Rural Development and I've got Hubert Humphrey as chairman of the Sub-committee on International Trade and Agricultural Exports. Of course,

Page 38
we've got two new Senators, Senator Stone from Florida and Senator Leahy of Vermont and neither of them have a sub-committee at the present time.
JACK NELSON:
Well, I think that we did discuss this briefly before, but as one of 100 Senators up there after having governed the state of Georgia, is it sort of a lonely . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Oh, it is indeed, it's a frustrating experience. You see, this is the first time that I have served in a legislative body. I started my political career as governor of a state. Under the laws and constitution of Georgia, a strong and determined man, that knows how to use his power and with leadership ability, can accomplish a great deal. When I was governor, virtually everything that I opposed was defeated and virtually that I supported became law. I had a legislature that not only was friendly to me but a great many of them were elected on the same ticket with me by my supporters and I could achieve my ends almost at will. Then, when I got to the Senate, I was only one of 100 members of the Senate. I had no vote at all in the House which has 435 members. Your authority is so diluted in the Congress that you never realize where it begins or ends.
JACK NELSON:
I guess that was one of the attractive things about thinking about coming back here in 1966.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
It was. I think that all former governors are frustrated when they come to the Senate. They learn to adjust and live with it, but I think that frustration continues as long as they serve in the Senate. I don't think that there has been a day since I've been in the Senate, now more than eighteen and a half years, that I haven't felt a feeling of frustration. You see so much going wrong and yet being utterly powerless to

Page 39
correct it.
JACK NELSON:
That reminds me of something. I heard, Senator, that with the current economic situation, the energy problems and everything, inflation, high unemployment, that you were fairly concerned about what might happen in this country?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Well, you know historically, throughout history, republican forms of government have had built within their systems the seeds of destruction. Our foreparents were great students of history when they framed our republican form of government and they knew that. They were determined to prohibit that from happening. They knew that we had a vast country with divergent interests and I imagine many of them foresaw the time when it would enlarge from coast to coast, the Atlantic to the Pacific. They tried to preserve a dual system of government with primary responsibility on the local and state level and delegated power only to the national government to prevent the seeds of destruction that republican governments historically have. They were exactly right in the type of government that they organized, but they didn't reckon with the power of the Supreme Court to contrue the Constitution. So, the dual system of government that they envisioned with real power on the local level, was broken down following Roosevelt's appointees to the Supreme Court, when he appointed people for what they would do rather than for what they knew. They cut loose all of the chains that restricted an onnipotent federal government. Since that time, there has been an erosion of power from the municipal buildings and from the county courthouses and the statehouses to Washington. It has got to virtually where everyone now comes with their hat in their hand, if they want to build a new jail in a little village in Georgia or elsewhere in the nation, they come to Washington wanting federal money. And of course, with

Page 40
that erosion of power has been the discipline that the federal government has been asserting on all of its people. Frankly, I am frightened about it. We now have about a third of the gross national product going for taxes. We have got about 177 billion dollars annually now in transfer payments, taking away from our most productive citizens and giving it to our least productive citizens. We have got more people actually riding the wagon now than we have pulling it. We have got more people receiving the benefits and largess of the Treasury than we have taxpayers in the country. A government like that is of great concern to me. I think that our people are becoming concerned, but it has not yet manifested itself in the Congress. If I had my way about it, I would dismantle about half of the federal government and transfer it back to the states and counties and municipalities.
JACK NELSON:
How do you think that this country could survive an economic situation that now confronts Great Britain?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I don't know. Historically, you know, when people lose confidence in their government, they start looking for a knight on horseback. We have had recent examples of that in Italy with Mussolini and Germany with Hitler and . . .
JACK NELSON:
Now, you are a student of that period, aren't you? In a lot of your readings?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes. And of course, Britain is in an extremely chaotic condition at the present time. What frightens me about the picture, not only for Britain's welfare, but our own . . . historically, the social programs and the laws, the political practices that they adopt in Britain

Page 41
have been followed in this country some fifteen to twenty years later. For instance, as I recall, Britain had their first Labour Government in either '24 or '28 with Ramsey MacDonald. We had our first labor government with Franklin Roosevelt in 1933 and there began a tremendous era of people not looking after their own interests, but the government taking over their custody and looking after their interests and raising taxes and passing more programs and making the people beneficiaries of government rather than individuals doing for themselves. Now, I believe in doing for our less fortunate what they can't do for themselves, but when you get twenty million living on food stamps and the federal government and they are advertising that you can get food stamps with incomes up to $15,000 a year, that's wrong.
JACK NELSON:
Do you find that your concerns are shared by a great number of others in the Senate?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes, indeed. By some members of the Senate at least, I don't know how many. Actually, I think that the thinking of the American people is way ahead of the thinking of their representatives in Washington. I find the people of this country wherever I go frightened and concerned about the future and we have had rampant inflation now for some ten years and our government has tried to act as banker and Santa Claus and policeman for the whole world and at the same time, passing vast new spending programs here, always with the idea that government can create wealth and give to the people. They don't seem to realize that government has no wealth at all. First they have to take it away from some productive member of society and then there is a great deal of red tape and then you give back a portion of it to the people after a huge cost of administration. You have got now about

Page 42
one person in five, I believe, who are productive citizens of the country working for the government, either local, state, or federal. You have got one out of every five in New York City on welfare. No wonder the city is in chaos and about to go bankrupt.
JACK NELSON:
I wanted to ask you about some of the time of your service on the Watergate committee and some of your impressions of the other people. I know that you mentioned the other day about a couple of national columnists that said that the questioning of the members of the committee, that the best questioning was done by you and Senator Inoyue. What was your impression of some of the other Senators? Well, Senator Ervin, for example.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Senator Ervin is one of the great men that I have known in my life time. He is the most profound student of constitutional law that I think I have ever known. He is one of the greatest story tellers that I have ever known. He is a great wit and a great humorist and a great showman and he simply delighted the American people with his anecdotes and one thing and another. I thought that he and some of the others got a little far afield with their pontificating and moralizing, rather than trying to do what we were supposed to do and that was to determine the facts.
JACK NELSON:
Let's see, the other Democrats on there were Inoyue, yourself, Ervin and one other . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Montoya.
JACK NELSON:
Yes, what about Senator Montoya?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Well, one of the columnists said Senator Montoya would read the question and then not listen to the answer and then read the next question. (laughter) I think that a good many people felt the same way.

Page 43
JACK NELSON:
Yes. What about Senator Baker?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Baker, I thought, handled himself very well.
JACK NELSON:
And Senator Weicker?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Senator Weicker would pontificate and moralize to a very great degree.
JACK NELSON:
Senator Gurney?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Senator Gurney, I guess, was the most partisan advocate on our committee in his efforts to defend President Nixon and he was somewhat tedious in some of his questioning.
JACK NELSON:
Would you say that inasmuch as Senator Gurney has now been going through a trial himself that is related to campaign contributions, that that could have had any influence on the way he reacted on the committee?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I don't know. Of course, at that time, Gurney's troubles were not known.
JACK NELSON:
What about Sam Dash, the general counsel?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I thought that Sam on the whole handled himself well. I was extremely frustrated by the leaks in our committee. Apparently in Washington, if two people know something, one of them has diahrrea of the mouth and has to run to the news media and start spouting off about what he knows or what he thinks he knows. We never could get that corrected. Frankly, I think that some members of the Senate on our committee were probably more guilty of all that leaking than some members of the staff, probably a combination of both. I know that Sam Dash didn't leak it, but it was extremely frustrating to me to pick up the Washington Post and read early in the morning what a witness was going to tell our committee several hours later.
JACK NELSON:
What was your overall evaluation of the committee's work?

Page 44
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I think that it probably was the most important investigation in the history of our republic. It developed the facts that later the Judiciary Committee used as a predicate for the impeachment resolution and forced the President out of office and developed the facts that we used to indict and convict, I think, three members of the Cabinet and a great many lesser officials. I think that it was probably the greatest civics lesson in the history of our republic.
JACK NELSON:
You mean by being televised?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Being televised, yes, letting them see how our government works.
JACK NELSON:
Are you in favor of televising if possible in the Senate?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I really have mixed feelings about it. I believe in the people's right to know about their political affairs, but I know from my Watergate experience and other experiences where we have televised committee meetings, that most politicians are hams and anytime that they get free television time, they are going to exploit it to the fullest. It will greatly delay the process of government. They won't be able to restrain themselves. They will play to the galleries instead of doing what they think ought to be done on the premises.
JACK NELSON:
I remember during the hearings that you made some comment fairly near the end of them, I think, that John Dean's testimony had stood up extremely well.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes. John Dean was one of the most remarkable witnesses I ever heard. He was the first witness that we had that implicated the President in a series of crimes. You will recall that he read a long statement, I think that it took him five hours to read. Then the lawyers

Page 45
zeroed in on him and then the Senators zeroed in on him and for five of six days, there was no substantial deviation in his testimony. The reason liars get caught is because they can't remember what they said. They may contradict their statements. So, I reached the conclusion at that time that either Dean was the most artful liar since Ananias or much of what he was stating was true. One or the other. Then we had sometime later, Mr. Butterfield, as you recall, who blurted out the fact that these conversations were being taped in the White House. We knew then that those tapes would either corroborate Dean's testimony and prove him correct or else disavow him and prove him incorrect. So, we realize that that evidence was highly pertinent to our inquiry. So, our committee wanted to treat the President with the respect to which his office was entitled. We voted unanimously to request our consel to request the President's counsel to deliver three of those tapes to us, the most important three. The President indicated at first that he was going to do so and we were all in the room when Chairman Ervin called and talked to the President and the conversation was very cordial and then later in the afternoon, several hours later, I presume that maybe the President had an opportunity to listen to the tapes during the interim, anyway he was very belligerent about it: no tapes.
JACK NELSON:
Who did he talk to then about it, do you know?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I don't recall. Maybe the word was passed through the counsels. So, then we voted to subpoena the tapes, the President refused to honor our subpoena, we went into court to try to enforce our subpoena and of all the things that I can't understand, we were a coordinate, co-equal branch, duly constituted committee of the Senate and the court held that we

Page 46
couldn't have the tapes, but an appointee of the President could. It was rather ridiculous decision in my thought.
JACK NELSON:
Of course, the tapes as they eventually came out corroborated Dean almost . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
They did. (interruption by telephone call)
JACK NELSON:
We were talking about Dean. I was going to ask you about him. Of course, it may be hard to judge another man's motives, but what did you think of Dean in the end? What kind of a man did you think he was? He is the man who almost singlehandedly brought down the President.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I don't know what I think of him, really. He is a very astute fellow. Of course, he was a part and parcel of the conspiracy and was sentenced to prison for it, you know.
JACK NELSON:
He indicated, of course, that he kind of got sucked up into it.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I think that was true of a lot of them. They were young, eager beavers. I felt so sorry for them, many of them extremely well educated. They came from fine families, lofty motives. I think that they all thought that the end justified the means and they got just sort of swept into this thing.
JACK NELSON:
In your opinion, would President Nixon have been impeached without those tapes?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
No, they couldn't have impeached him on the word of John Wesley Dean alone, uncorroborated.
JACK NELSON:
And what about the tapes? You've wondered, I suppose, why the President didn't go ahead and destroy them?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I couldn't understand, it was his property, as soon as

Page 47
Butterfield blurted out that statement, it seemed to me that President Nixon would have destroyed them within fifteen minutes and if he had, he would have been President of the United States today.
JACK NELSON:
And he could have done that in the name of national security?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Oh, he wouldn't have had to do that. I can go upstairs and tear up a shirt if I want to, it's mine and I don't have to plead national security.
JACK NELSON:
He would have had to give the American people some explanation, though.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Well, he could just have said, "I got to thinking about it and I thought that it was wrong to tape people without their consent, so I destroyed them."
JACK NELSON:
What about H.R. Haldeman? What was your impression of him?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I was rather surprised when Haldeman came before us. You remember Ehrlichman gave all the impressions of a Nazi storm trooper when he was before our committee. I interrogated him at some at some length and he indicated that he thought a man could commit murder for a good cause.
JACK NELSON:
I think that you asked him that specifically.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes, and he rather acquiesed that he could. Then, when Haldeman came before us, I was expecting him to be just as arrogant and he came on like an All-American Boy, an Eagle Scout, a man who had won the Medal of Honor and was going home to receive the plaudits of his neighbors. He handled himself extremely well.
JACK NELSON:
And he was the one that had the reputation of being the really

Page 48
tough guy. (interruption by telephone call)
JACK NELSON:
You were talking about Haldeman and his demeanor on the stand. Were you shocked when Erlichman answered that question the way that he did?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes.
JACK NELSON:
Because what you asked him in essence, as I remember, was whether there were any circumstances under which the President of the United States could order a murder and that it would be all right to do so.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
That came out, as you remember, on this question of national security. They had done various things that violated laws in the interest of national security. To wit, breaking into Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office and other things and he thought those acts should be permitted in the interests of national security and I was trying to carry him along the line and see how far he thought that thing ran. I asked him if they could order someone to murder in the name of national security and he indicated that that would be possible under certain conditions, as I recall. Certainly, he didn't disavow it.
JACK NELSON:
What about John Mitchell?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I felt sorry for John Mitchell, a man who had been considered one of the outstanding lawyers in the United States and had a very lucrative bond practice and here he had himself involved in all of these things and he came before us. He handled himself very well, I think. I got him excited two or three times there, I've forgotten exactly what the interrogation was about at the moment. I asked him . . . he was talking about the "White House Horrors" and I said, "Now, Mr. Mitchell, you were Attorney General of the United States, the highest law enforcement officer in the land, you were the closest man to the President of the United

Page 49
States of any man in America, why didn't you as the cheif law enforcement officer and his closest friend, go to the President and tell him exactly what was going on?" He said, "Well, I was afraid that he would blow it." I said, "You were afraid that he would lose the election because he blew it." He said, "That's exactly right."
JACK NELSON:
John Mitchell, I think, testified that he thought the election of Nixon was more important than anything else.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
He did.
JACK NELSON:
What about Jeb Magruder?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I felt very sorry for Magruder, he was one of those young men who thought that the end justified the means and he just got swept along with the tide.
JACK NELSON:
Well, Senator, have we really learned anything from Watergate?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I think that we have. In a republican form of government, as an investigative reporter, you know that an expose has a way of correcting the conduct of public officials and alerting others and preventing them from making similar mistakes. I think this lesson has had a cleansing effect on the body politic and I don't think that you or I will see the repetition of that in our life time.
JACK NELSON:
What about the current investigation over past practices of the FBI and the CIA?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Well, I think that will be corrected, too. As a matter of fact, I think that it already has been corrected.
JACK NELSON:
You don't see any real dangers then, of this ever cropping up?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Oh, it is conceiveable way down the road. Look what it

Page 50
cost those people, who wants to have that happen to them?
JACK NELSON:
Did you ever during any of the Watergate, or the Judiciary Committee hearings, have any discussions with other Senators and so forth about the impeachment? I am sure that you must have talked about it once in awhile, of President Nixon? When did you first think that there was really a chance that he was going to be impeached?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
As soon as these tapes became public that indicated Nixon's connection with it. I've forgotten the date of that tape that became public which was portrayed in the press as, "The smoking pistol." I thought at that time that his impeachment or resignation was inevitable and I thought he would resign to avoid it.
JACK NELSON:
What did you think the vote would have been in the Senate had he pressed it?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Well, after that latest tape came out, it would have been overwhelming, on the order of ten to one or better.
JACK NELSON:
There are a number of other things that I want to ask you about and I may have to wait until after I've gone back over the whole tape. I was wondering, though, if there is anything you can think of that we ought to put on the record before we close it?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Well, Jack, it looks like to me that we have pretty well covered it.
JACK NELSON:
Yes, we have covered the field. Let me go back to one thing that I noticed in the biography that was put out by your office. You said that in regard to welfare reform and problems, poverty, unemployment and poor housing, that you believed that "the best solutions and the most important solutions to the social and economic problems facing the country can be found in education, job training, retraining and the creation of more

Page 51
jobs and in more people that are able, read and willing to fill these jobs."
HERMAN TALMADGE:
That's right.
JACK NELSON:
I'm sure that you still feel that way, but is there anything else, though, that today with the problem being as severe as it is . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Well, we have made welfare so easy that a lot of people would rather live on welfare than work. I don't particularly enjoy work myself I would much rather hunt and fish and if the government gave me benefits according to the standard of living to which I had been accustomed, I wouldn't be out seeking a job, doing hard physical labor, I would just as soon sit around the house and hunt and fish all day.
JACK NELSON:
Speaking of work, Senator, it seems to me like you put in a tremendous number of hours. I've read somewhere that you go into the office seven days a week. Is that right?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes.
JACK NELSON:
You still do?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes, when I am in Washington. I have worked ever since I have been in the political arena about eighty hours a week and that really goes back almost to when I joined the Navy. When I went to sea, I was division officer and I had to stand a watch in three, so that meant twelve hours a day standing watches plus my duties as a division officer. So, that ran to fifteen or eighteen hours a day and then I got to be executive officer for the attack transport and it took about eighteen hours a day to run the ship. Then, when I got back and was managing my father's fourth campaign for governor, that took about eighteen hours a day and then I got into politics on my own and that took about eighteen hours a day for me to get elected. When I got in the governor's office, the only time that

Page 52
I had a chance to think and make decisions was before other people got up. When I got to Washington, those habits were so deeply ingrained that they were rather difficult to break. I go to bed with the chickens and I beat them up and any Senator that has to be reasonably well informed on what he is going to have to vote on, takes a great deal of work, not only on his part, but by his subordinates, also. I have worked those habits for seven days a week now . . . for more than thirty years.
JACK NELSON:
That roughly means that you go to bed maybe at eight-thirty or nine o'clock . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I do.
JACK NELSON:
And you wake up at . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Three to four . . .
JACK NELSON:
And go do your jogging of two and a half miles or whatever?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes.
JACK NELSON:
And you are down to the office by seven-thirty?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Usually between seven-fifteen and seven-thirty
JACK NELSON:
And you leave the office about what time?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Depending on when the routine is through. If I am sure that there is no further voting going to take place on the Senate floor, and if I have completed signing my mail, returning my telephone calls, routine meetings with my subordinates and my staff in Washington, delegating authority, I go on home as soon as I can. But even when I get home, I am still working, I carry a briefcase full of stuff with me wherever I go.
JACK NELSON:
You come here to Lovejoy and you answer the telephone of constituents. What sort of calls were these?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
One of them was obviously a drunk trying to get me involved

Page 53
in something that some state senator was involved in with the mental hospital at Milledgeville, Georgia. The other one was some woman who had some disease and thought that she was entitled to social security benefits.
JACK NELSON:
You don't screen any of these calls out when you come home to Lovejoy? You just answer the phone every time that somebody calls?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
That's right. It is a rather amazing thing. They will call Washington and ask for me and then they will chase me down at Lovejoy and it will be some military matter or something else and I have to refer them back to Washington. If they would go ahead and say in the original instance that "I have got such and such a problem," I could switch my expert on that problem on the phone and they could be handling that while they are chasing me down.
JACK NELSON:
What do you do for relaxation besides reading? You go fishing?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes, I will probably do a little fishing while I am here and I've got five lakes on the farm here and I've done a great deal of tree stand improvement and I've planted about a million pine trees on this place. I get out in the woods and I chase up some deer occassionally, flush some quail. I will get out and walk for two or three hours at a time.
JACK NELSON:
I read somewhere . . . this house has six fireplaces, is that right?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Let me see, one, two, three, four, five and six.
JACK NELSON:
And I also read where you really loved a fire and so, what I wondered is . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Betty will build one in the summertime.
JACK NELSON:
What I wondered is, why do you live in an apartment in Washington rather than a house where you could have a fireplace?

Page 54
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Well, I prefer not to, but up there, houses with fireplaces are very expensive.
JACK NELSON:
Yes, inside the District.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes, and then there is no . . . frequently I am in Georgia and Betty is up there alone and the crime situation in Washington is such that you are better protected in an apartment.
JACK NELSON:
When you are out jogging, you don't worry about the crime?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
No, of my friends sometimes get apprehensive about me but I tell them that the crooks and thugs are in bed at that time of the morning and the honest people are the only ones up working at 4:00 a.m.
JACK NELSON:
Well, Senator . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
It's rather intersting, though, when I am out running, I put on several layers of clothing, including a Marine fatigue uniform as the outer garment and you will have these police cars cruising around in Washington at that hour of the morning and when they see me running down the streets about 4:00 a.m., almost invariably they will stop and look at me there and sometimes throw the light on me to determine whether I am a criminal fleeing the scene of a crime.
JACK NELSON:
Let me ask you one other thing while I think about it. Now, you sold the Talmadge farm business, is that right?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes, the Talmadge ham operation.
JACK NELSON:
What other sort of business interests do you have now?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Actually, I own this property and I am president of a little family corporation called Lovejoy Investment Company that owns rental property primarily and I have some various interests in real estate in the periphery of the Atlanta Metropolitan area. Outside of that, I am

Page 55
in no business whatever.
JACK NELSON:
What about the news agency, isn't there a news agency or something.
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I have no connection with that. My good friend, Ed Elson, owns that. I have no stock in it at all. Ed Elson and I do have some interest in some real estate together.
JACK NELSON:
Have you practiced law since you have been . . .
HERMAN TALMADGE:
No, I quit my law practice and wound up my last case just before I went into the United States Senate and I have accepted no legal employment whatever since then. I have also resigned as chairman of the board of an insurance company that I was on. I was resigned from the board of directors of a savings and loan association that I was on.
JACK NELSON:
Incidentally, a number of Senators do still practice law, don't they?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes, I think it's a great error.
JACK NELSON:
You think it is a great error for them to practice law?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes, I see no way that you could avoid a conflict of interest if you had some measure pending before the Senate that vitally affected a client that you were accepting fees from.
JACK NELSON:
What about the other interests that some Senators have? What about some who are members of boards of directors of banks and so forth?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
I don't see any way on earth, I've got no criticism of that, because I don't see any way on earth that you can isolate yourself completely from any conflict of interest unless you are an inmate of a mental institution and even then, you will have a conflict of interest because

Page 56
government funds will flow into it. I don't think that the government meant that everybody that served in the Congress must be a pauper. For instance, the greatest conflict of interest that there every was happened the night before last when Senators were fixing their salaries and they voted to raise them. Now, who is going to do that if you can't delgate it to somebody else, they made the law. What you have to do is elect people with enough character to avoid any selfish interest in voting. There is no way that you can avoid a conflict of interest. I vote on my retirement benefits, I vote on my salary. That is the greatest conflict of interest that could possibly arise. You have just got to have character that can rise above any conflict of interest.
JACK NELSON:
Well, listen. I will plan to get the transcripts of all of this and go over it and . . .
END OF INTERVIEW