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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Herman Talmadge, December 18, 1975. Interview A-0331-3. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Reaction to abuses of power by J. Edgar Hoover, the CIA, and the FBI

Talmadge reacts to then-recent disclosures regarding abuses of power on the part of J. Edgar Hoover, the CIA, and the FBI. According to Talmadge, he was not surprised that presidents, dating back to Franklin Roosevelt, had been provided with information about various political figures. He cites as evidence how his father was investigated for tax fraud during the 1930s and suggests that the investigation likely occurred at the behest of Roosevelt.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Herman Talmadge, December 18, 1975. Interview A-0331-3. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JACK NELSON:
Would you ever have had any idea at all, for example, going back to J.Edgar Hoover, that he would have been supplying presidents from Franklin D. Roosevelt on up with political information on various people?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Oh, I had assumed they had done that. I remember back during my father's lifetime, he was probably the first Democrat to get at odds with President Roosevelt. They set the tax people on him and investigated him for ten years, going into all of his farms and counting chickens and hogs and cows and searching for concealed bank accounts in Cuba, Mexico and Canada. They completed their investigation about the time that I returned from the Navy. One of them came up and presented him with a bill, I think, of something like two thousand plus dollars and he used some profanity and told them that if they thought he owed any income tax to go over to the courthouse and get him indicted and he would meet them there. That was the end of it and when he died, they never even presented the bill.
JACK NELSON:
And he never paid the bill?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
He never paid it.
JACK NELSON:
Well, was that accepted then as just sort of hard boiled politics?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Yes. Roosevelt was a hard boiled politician and probably one of the hardest boiled in the history of the country and I think that he thought deep down that all politicians were crooks. Of course, they had moved in on the Long dynasty, as you remember, in Louisiana and sent several of them to the penitentiary, but they never did find anything wrong with my father.
JACK NELSON:
Have there ever been any investigations aimed at you that you know of? I mean, were they out in the open?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
Not that I know of. They have denied some depreciation on our ham plant down there many years ago. I think that I could have gone to court and won, but politicians can't get into litigations about their income taxes.
JACK NELSON:
I think that President Nixon learned that, didn't he?
HERMAN TALMADGE:
That's right.