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Title: Oral History Interview with Thomas Jackson White Jr., March 14, 1986. Interview C-0029-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: White, Thomas Jackson, Jr., interviewee
Interview conducted by Dean, Pamela
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Jennifer Joyner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2007
Size of electronic edition: 164 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2007.
© 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:
2007-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2007-11-20, Jennifer Joyner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Thomas Jackson White Jr., March 14, 1986. Interview C-0029-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series C. Notable North Carolinians. Southern Oral History Program Collection (C-0029-2)
Author: Pamela Dean
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Thomas Jackson White Jr., March 14, 1986. Interview C-0029-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series C. Notable North Carolinians. Southern Oral History Program Collection (C-0029-2)
Author: Thomas Jackson White Jr.
Description: 299 Mb
Description: 56 p.
Note: Interview conducted on March 14, 1986, by Pamela Dean; recorded in Kinston, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Ron Bedard.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series C. Notable North Carolinians, 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.
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Interview with Thomas Jackson White Jr., March 14, 1986.
Interview C-0029-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
White, Thomas Jackson, Jr., interviewee


Interview Participants

    THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR., interviewee
    PAMELA DEAN, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
PAMELA DEAN:
This is Pamela Dean. The date is March 14, 1986. I'm going to be talking with former North Carolina State Senator Thomas J. White in his office in Kinston. You had told me in previous interviews that on some occasions a governor would call you in to ask you to assist the prosecutor in some particularly complicated or delicate case. If you could give us an illustration of that.
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
As I have said, my law practice was largely civil, but the criminal law has always fascinated me. In the early days of my law practice, like any other young lawyer, I'd take anything that I could make an honest nickel out of, so I had experience in criminal cases as well as civil cases. And after I became a member of the General Assembly, once in a while, very infrequently, there would be a case in which the governor felt that the regularly assigned prosecutor had a job on his hands in which he needed help. More often than not such cases involved very atrocious crimes. I have been called on by more than one governor to assist prosecutors in cases which were difficult and required a lot of, maybe, special investigation and to just take a leave of absence from the General Assembly for a week or more if necessary and help that particular prosecutor in that particular case. That occurred only a very few times.
For example (or to illustrate), there was one case in which a young white man had taken his girl in his automobile and gone for a ride and after awhile (this was at night) they stopped in a secluded wooded area and did whatever young boys and young girls are wont to do in situations of that sort. And all of a sudden,

Page 2
five black males came to the car and snatched open the door on the driver's side, took this young white man out of his car, took his car keys and unlocked the trunk or boot of the car in which they deposited the young white man. They put him in there and locked him up. Then the five black males took the girl and while four of them, one at a time, held the girl's arms and her legs, and the five of them raped her until she was raped by all five of them. Of course, she had no way of identifying these people. She didn't know them, had never seen them before, and neither had the young white man, and he didn't get much of a chance to see them as they locked him up in the trunk of his car.
Well, the case was an important one and a very unusual one. The prosecuting officer, in those days was what we now call the district attorney; at that time we called him "the solicitor for the state." He was the prosecuting officer. He felt that he needed help and some help was assigned to him in the form of myself. The governor asked me if I would undertake the burden of assisting the solicitor or prosecuting attorney in the investigation and the trial of this case. I agreed to do it.
I felt that I had agreed to perform an impossible task. I also felt a duty to understand that task and give it the best effort of which I was capable. The investigation was long, careful and tedious. With great care we explored first all the "possibilities," if any, that were open to us. We calculated as best we could the time during which a thread of evidence might in some way appear, as for example some chance remark by some one other than the five culprits might be made. We had the aid of

Page 3
enforcement people whose training we counted on, cautioning these to make as thorough and quiet an investigation as possible.
We hoped that the pressure which sometimes arises from guilt or the knowledge of it would eventually work in the state's favor. And eventually it did. It appeared that one or more of the cuprits was a son of a farm owner or of a tenant farmer. The crime occurred in a farm section of the county. The father of one of the culprits evidently concluded that the only sure way that he could help his son was for him to convince his son that cooperation with the District Attorney's office could result in his son's receiving, in return for his help, possibly a lighter sentence or even that by his cooperation his life might be spared. As a result of advice from his father and those who were his father's friends, this one culprit cooperated with the prosecution to the extent of identifying and "involving" the other four of the guilty ones and convictions resulted.
PAMELA DEAN:
You like a good fight.
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
Well, I've had a lot them and I've enjoyed some of them. I had the tar beat out of me at times; those I did not enjoy as much as those I won.
PAMELA DEAN:
Well, you won more than you lost, I understand.
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
I don't know about that, that's for others to say, but I had a good time.
PAMELA DEAN:
I think generally your reputation over the course of your entire career, from what I understand, is that most people do say you won more than you lost, that you were effective.

Page 4
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
Well, I've never tried to figure that out but I've enjoyed the practice of law. If it's done on a proper basis and you don't try to take shortcuts or surreptitious advantages and that sort of thing, it's fine. It's an exercise in skill, it's an exercise in figuring out what a human being will do under given circumstances. It has always been very interesting to me in selecting jurors for different kinds of cases.
PAMELA DEAN:
That's a real art.
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
Well, it is. I guess it's now more of a happenstance than it used to be. When I first came to the bar, no one in any county in North Carolina, was qualified to become a juror unless he was a resident freeholder in the county. And this made a tremendous difference. In a number of years after I came to the bar they abolished all the excuses and they called doctors and lawyers and a whole lot of other folks that nobody is going to have on a jury except in exceptional cases to serve. They can be excused. I guess that's good. It gives a lot of people who otherwise would not know that to serve on a jury is a valuable public service, they would never know that unless they had the experience of serving on a jury. To serve as a juror is one of the highest services that anyone can render as a citizen. You take that much time out of your life and you give it to the state and for a pittance. Of course, they can't pay but so much. This varies from state to state, and county to county sometimes. Anyway, the jury system is about as good a system as has ever been devised, I think.

Page 5
PAMELA DEAN:
I served in a jury once; I found it very informative, very illuminating. Shall we go on to talk about one of the other long-term battles that you fought and won? The other challenge which you took on, included the art museum. That was another one of your creations.
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
The art museum, to look at it one way, was, I guess, a lot of hard luck and hard work for me. I don't know anything about art, never have been particularly interested in art except to look at objects of art and realize whether I liked it or not. I was a member of the senate in 1967. The Honorable Dan K. Moore was the governor. [interruption]
PAMELA DEAN:
You were saying that Governor Moore had asked you to take on this project.
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
For many years prior to 1967, North Carolina had owned a very fine art collection and many people, particularly people in Raleigh, Winston Salem, Charlotte, and in several other cities, were interested in the arts. The objects of art which the state possessed were so numerous that many of them couldn't be exhibted in any one available place. They were set up in various places. We had a very active state art society and they did a tremendous work toward protecting these objects of art and adding to them. I think it must have been when Governor Moore was running for governor, anyhow, it was either shortly before his nomination and election or shortly after it, Mister Smith Bagley of Winston Salem said to the governor that "if you will use your influence and help to build a new state art museum, I will recommend to a foundation of which I am a member (or have an

Page 6
interest in) that it give to the state a million dollars on a new museum. Governor Moore told me that this offer had been made and stated to me that he wanted to accept that offer and that challenge. Governor Moore asked me to introduce a bill which would provide for the creation of a state art museum building commission. I introduced the bill and it was passed and the governor stated that he wanted me not only to be a member of that commission, but that he wanted me to be chairman of it. To this I replied, "Well, Governor, I don't know anything about art, and I don't have any culture." To this the governor replied, "Well, I know that, but you know about land and money and people and how to get things done and I want you to be the chairman of this commission."
PAMELA DEAN:
This was after you had already demonstrated your ability to deal with these sorts of things in getting the legislative building through. Is that right?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
This was subsequent to the building of the legislative building, yes. The legislative building was first occupied in 1963 and this was '67.
PAMELA DEAN:
So he knew you could get the job done, even if you didn't know art.
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
Well, I don't know what he knew but I knew what I didn't know. I didn't know at that time that it was going to take me eighteen years to do what the governor wanted me to do. And it need not have taken more than four or five years if we had had the cooperation of the people whose cooperation we should have had. Those who opposed the Building Commission's efforts

Page 7
wanted a new museum all right, but they wanted to put it where they wanted it and that's a story in itself. I told the governor that I would serve on that commission. The governor appointed, I believe, fourteen other members of that commission, and all of them except myself were very outstanding people in North Carolina.
PAMELA DEAN:
All of them except you?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
Except myself; that would be for others to say. [Laughter] Fourteen of them I can speak for and say that they were very outstanding people. I don't have a list of their names before me. And of course, there have been many changes because in the eighteen years which have gone by, a few of them have died, one or two have resigned and they have been replaced by other equally qualified people.
Well, we started out by having, of course, an initial meeting of our commission, and it appeared to me, as chairman, that the sensible thing to do would be to ask the commission to authorize me to appoint some committees, which they did. I appointed a committee on the selection of architects. I appointed a chairman of a committee on the selection of a site. I appointed a chairman of a finance committee. I appointed two or three other committees, one of which was, of course, a programming committee, which is very important because it's duty would be to say what the museum shall contain.
Then one of the members of our commission, who was very much interested in the arts, Mr. Gordon Hanes, stated that he would provide the travelling expenses of a committee appointed to visit

Page 8
wherever the Commission chose to visit museums. Mr. Hanes himself has been in museums all over this country and perhaps all over the world, many places in the world I probably never heard of, because he's been interested in the arts. So I appointed another committee, we didn't call it a visiting committee, we didn't call it a travelling committee, I've forgotten the name of it for the moment, but anyway, it was a committee to visit other museums. The main object of visiting other museums at this time was not to see what they looked like or what they contained, but to ascertain the most sophisticated equipment that was available anywhere, and particularly in use anywhere, which would enable us to prevent vandalism and theft and damage to the objects of art which the state had and which it might acquire. We felt that this was very important. Had Mr. Hanes not had the experience he had he may not have thought of that; I wouldn't have thought of it because I didn't know anything about museums anyway.
But anyhow, I appointed a committee, and that committee was very prompt in getting together their plans to visit museums. We visited museums in the United States, many of them. Some of our plans didn't work out because of things like illnesses at the time we could see a certain museum, but we visited museums in the northeastern and southwestern portions of the United States and just about encompassed this country. We visited museums in New York, Washington, and other cities in the northern and eastern United States. After visiting some of the museums in the southwest, we visited the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico, which is a wonderful thing to behold. You go into that

Page 9
museum, the architecture is beautiful, and the equipment is wonderful. For example, you can go into a room in that museum and you can hear descriptions of objects of art, that are available for you to see, in at least three different languages. We enjoyed that. When we left Mexico City, as I recall, the elevation was such that we could not in that altitude completely fill the gasoline tanks on the airplane because of the extra weight. So we flew from Mexico City to El Paso, I believe, and tanked up again. From there, we visited the museum of the County of Los Angeles in California. Back in the United States we went to a museum in Los Angeles, than to another one in Oakland, and then we went to San Francisco. I may have overlooked naming a city or two in which we visited a museum. After that, we went to a museum in Puerto Rico and still later we planned and made a trip to Europe.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

Page 10
PAMELA DEAN:
Alright, we are on side two. If you will go on with your European trip.
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
Alright. On the trip to Europe, as elsewhere, we were seeking modern museums. We were not looking for museums like the Louvre nor the Prado. We were looking for the most modern museums which we could find because we were looking for the most sophisticated equipment that we could find to protect the objects of art which would be deposited in the museum which we intended to build.
PAMELA DEAN:
You wanted state of the art.
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
Right. So we flew first to Heathrow Airport in England. We did not visit any museums in England. We went from Heathrow airport to Holland, and from there to Denmark, and from Denmark back down to Berlin. Of course we went to France. We visited museums in all these places. And we went to Athens and other places in Greece and then we headed west again and to Portugal, after visiting some museums in Southern France.
At the museum in Portugal I remember being profoundly interested in some of the beautiful silver, of which it was said, had been taken from the Bolsheviks many years before that. This silver was on display there and I think it was in Portugal that we saw the most sophisticated system of protecting objects of art. It was fascinating to see what you can do. Well, of course, we brought home much information in regard to this. Our committee made a report; all our committees made reports.
Well, by the time we got back, it seems that a group of people in Raleigh wanted the museum to be placed right down near

Page 11
the capitol. As a matter of fact the first bill that I introduced provided that the museum would be built in that particular area. But after getting into it a bit, and trying to conceive of what would be necessary to build and necessary to accomodate many visitors and provide adequate parking, and that sort of thing, it appeared that we would either have to build a high-rise museum, which was impractical, or one under the ground. And we didn't want to do that. Besides that, if we had purchased the land in and around the capitol sufficient for the museum, the appropriation we had would have gone by the board. We would have had nothing to build with, we would only have had some land and a lot of satisfied people who wanted to not go more than a few hundred yards from their homes to see what they wanted to see. Well, this developed into a very, very ugly political battle. Unfortunately, the press—I'm not talking about the entire press, but the folks that knew most about it or claimed they did, namely the Raleigh News and Observer and its little flunky the Raleigh Times, and its radio station, by whatever name it uses, zeroed in on me as chairman of the building commission and on the chairman of our site selection committee.
PAMELA DEAN:
Who was that?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
The chairman of our site selection committee was a very able man, Mr. Lewis R. Holding; he was president of the First Citizens Bank and Trust Company. Mr. Holding being a very able man and a man of foresight employed a company whose business it was to give information to people who wanted to select sites and to advise them about the selection of sites. For example,

Page 12
they knew about population trends, they knew about traffic patterns, and things of this sort that made a lot of difference.
Well, the first thing I did about it was to have the state provide me with a map of every foot of land that the State of North Carolina owned in Raleigh or its environs. And I turned these maps over to the representatives of this company that we employed to assist us in selecting a site. They spent a lot of time studying the thing and finally came up with the suggestion that we build on the site where it is now located, which is about, I don't know how far it is from Raleigh, but it's probably seven or eight or ten miles. But anyway, the site was already owned by the state, which meant that we didn't have to buy a site.
PAMELA DEAN:
So your whole appropriation could go into building instead.
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
The whole appropriation could be used for building the building. North Carolina has a system of allocating land which it owns for the use of various arms of the government, commissions and organizations. Now, part of that site was being occupied by the prison department. It was called Polk Youth Center, named for somebody named Polk, and, according to prison officials, it was obsolete before it was ever occupied for that purpose.
PAMELA DEAN:
That's not unusual, I understand!
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
That didn't make any difference. And its still occupied but we own the land. I say "we," the state still owns the land but its still allocated to the art museum. A little

Page 13
corner of it had been allocated to State College for some reason or other.
The first thing that happened that really started the war about the selection of this site was that a young man who had just been elected a member of the House of Representatives and lived in Raleigh introduced a bill to require the State Art Museum Building Commission to build the museum on a site downtown near the capitol. In recounting this, I did not mention the fact that many members of those who had kept the business of an art museum alive in the minds of people wanted it downtown. They were accustomed to having it downtown. But how in the world they figured that we were going to have any programs or other activities at night downtown, I don't know, nor do I know how they figured you could acquire the land necessary without using up your entire appropriation. Of course, there was a special group of very lovely elderly, what I call blue-headed women, you know the kind, who let the hairdresser put a little blue in their hair. Those dear ladies were going to have it downtown, regardless of all opposition. It turned out later that one or two of them owned some of the land that it would have been necessary to acquire for a downtown site. But that was never mentioned in the newspaper articles. [Laughter]
And the newspaper said that the chairman of our commission was arrogant; he wouldn't cooperate with the press, which he never had and never will. [Laughter] But that doesn't mean that he condemns the entire press. The chairman of the State Art Museum Building Commission has some very good friend who are in

Page 14
the newspaper business who rise many, many leagues above the caliber of those who were condemning our Commission and its Chairman in their writings. Anyhow, they castigated everybody that disagreed with them and we had hearing after hearing before legislative committees on that bill introduced by this young freshman.
PAMELA DEAN:
Who was that that introduced that bill?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
He's a real nice boy. I think he's a Republican, I'm not sure. His name is Ward Parrington. Of course, Mr. Parrington wanted his bill passed and it was introduced in the House and we had many hearings before house committees. And then one of the senators from Wake County got into the act and he introduced a bill in the senate to require us to put the building downtown. And we had hearings before his committee.
I remember one newspaperman demanding that I turn over to him, for his newspaper, the report of the company that made the recommendation for the site selection. I told him I would not give it to him. "Oh," he said, "you're withholding state property from the public." Well, I didn't tell him that it wasn't state property, I left that for him to find out about a year later. I wasn't under any obligation to give him that information. It belonged to us; it didn't belong to the state. It was not public property at all. But I didn't tell him that it wasn't public property because I wanted him to become as angry as he could. [Laughter]
Anyway, there was an old gentleman who was, I think, born and raised in my hometown of Kinston, his name was McDaniel

Page 15
Lewis, and he was a very successful broker up in Greensboro. He'd been there for years. Evidently, he thought he knew something about art and he accorded himself a complete knowledge of building museums and placing them where they ought to be.
PAMELA DEAN:
Which was not where….
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
Which was in downtown Raleigh and a number of miles from the site we had selected. [Laughter] Mr. Lewis engaged in a real personal vendetta toward me which was interesting and amusing, also. In addition to that, he brought a lawsuit against our commission and we employed counsel and we filed an answer. We had a hearing.
PAMELA DEAN:
What was he charging specifically in this suit? Do you recall exactly what the point was?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
I don't remember. I haven't read that complaint in many years, and I probably never will again, but he complained about everything he could think of, mostly me, I think. He seemed to take some degree of pleasure in castigating me, which was alright with me, it didn't bother me.
PAMELA DEAN:
What did he say about you?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
I really have forgotten. [Laughter] I really have forgotten what he said. He said whatever the newspapers were saying: that I was arrogant and this, that, and the other. You see at this time, I was chairman of the appropriations committee in the senate, and chairman of the Advisory Budget Commission, and I couldn't even raise a window without being criticized, which didn't bother me. I didn't let it bother me. I couldn't do my job and be bothered with—I don't want to say feisty dogs

Page 16
except that they reminded me of little feisty dogs the way they barked and squirmed and squealed and raised the devil about what I was doing, and I thought I knew what I was doing.
The main thing that I knew I was doing was placing that museum at a place where it would be available to all of the people of North Carolina. In that connection there are more people who live west of the site of that museum than live in Raleigh and all of eastern North Carolina put together. But these people that were raising so much sand were members of a little group that had grown up believing that the museum was sacred to them or they were sacred to the museum, I never did find which it was. [Laughter] But they felt that they owned the collection, almost, except the state held title to it, and it should be wherever they wanted it. But I was trying to look at it from the standpoint of the people who owned it, which were the citizens of North Carolina. The Raleigh people, who felt that the art collection was theirs, would stand back and accept all the nickles and dimes that the schoolchildren would contribute to it, you know, but they weren't going to give them any voice in where the Museum Building Commission should select a site.
But anyway, one point that some of the Raleigh folks and their newpapers made in the supreme court was that a part of this land was occupied by a prison, and certainly a prison was no suitable neighbor for a museum. To this the supreme court in its opinion, holding with the Building Commission on most points, observed that it certainly wouldn't hurt prisoners to look at the

Page 17
museum. Those who instituted the lawsuit against the Building Commission finally abandoned it, and it was dismissed.
PAMELA DEAN:
I see. So there wasn't an actual ruling on it?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
Well, the Court ruled in favor of the Building Commission on enough important points that the Commission's adversaries could discern they were not going to be successful.
So, prior to the end of 1972, North Carolina had nominated and elected its first Republican governor it had had in fifty years. This was Governor James Holshouser. Of course, this meant that everybody that had been running the state government for all these years were going out of office by the end of 1972. Within the space of about four days I had to get the board of directors, I think they called it, of the prison department, to which a portion of the land had been allocated, to meet with me and let me explain to them how we needed that land. I had to get the land allocated to the State Art Museum Building Commission by the council of state. This required a meeting of the council of state. We had the meeting of the council of state and the allocation was made but due to an error the allocation was not made; this made it necessary to get them back together to make the allocation to the Building Commission correctly.
PAMELA DEAN:
And this is all while the government is changing?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
This was in the last three days of Democratic rule in North Carolina at that time.
PAMELA DEAN:
Why was this deadline? You wanted to get it done before the new government came in, that was why you had this timeframe?

Page 18
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
I wanted to get it done, period. And I didn't know what kind of luck I might have with the Republicans, being a Democrat. I think the Republicans probably would have gone along with me, but I couldn't be sure of that, but I thought I was sure of what I could do before January 1, 1973. I was sure I could try to make the allocation come to pass. And this is what occurred. I got all these people together in the space of almost a few hours and I've forgotten many of the details about it but I had good help.
I ran into one snag I wasn't expecting from (I will not call his name) but from an official who was in position to be a lot of help. He tossed in a little bombshell that caused me to have to call on the council of state to meet a second time. And I only found out about this problem by overhearing some people talk about it in a restaurant at lunchtime.
PAMELA DEAN:
Now, what was this again?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
It was the manner in which the land was allocated, I don't remember the details. But this man had to sign a paper that authorized the reallocation of the Prison Department land to the State Art Museum Building Commission and it was either inappropriately signed, or it wasn't signed, or something else was not exactly as it should be.
PAMELA DEAN:
One of those bureaucratic snafus.
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
Anyway, it was something that I had to get right on and get it done, and it was done at the last minute.
That which I have told you up to this point was just the beginning of the museum fight. The Raleigh News and Observer and

Page 19
the Raleigh Times being what their editors make them, plus the way they train their reporters, continued to criticize the site selection, our Building Commission, and they saw to it that our Commission's Chairman received his full share of criticism and catigation. Well, eventually, I can fill you in on the date, I think, it must have been about 1977, the building contract was let. The contractor who was the successful bidder as construction contractor was named Middlesex Construction Company of New York. On state bids like that one you have four "prime" contractors. You have the general contractor, the plumbing and heating contractor, the electrical contractor, and one other. The general contractor usually is the one whose duty it is to coordinate everything. It used to be that you just had one general contractor and he called the shots, and that was a much more satisfactory way of dealing. Unfortunately, the contractor in the position of being the general contractor, the building contractor (Middlesex Contruction Company), and therefore the one whose duty it was to coordinate the efforts of all the four contractors who were successful bidders, chose a man to perform this duty who was very abrasive and eventually incurred the displeasure of the people he was trying to coordinate as fellow contractors. I suppose this man could not help being what he was, and he just seemed to be unable to lead his fellows who represented the other three contractors who were successful bidders nor inspire them to get the job done and get it done right. The contractors, or some of them had many arguments with the man Middlesex placed over them. These arguments began to

Page 20
occur after a short period of time and continued throughout the time Middlesex was on the job.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]

Page 21
PAMELA DEAN:
This is tape two of the March 14th interview. If you will go on. You were talking about the prime contractor for the art museum.
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
To begin with, I assume that this general contractor's man knew that water would run down hill, but if he did know it, he didn't make any provision against it because the first thing they did out there in that red clay land, and on a hillside, was to start the excavation for a tremendous building without making any provision to keep the water from running in the hole they were digging. [Laughter] And that's the same outfit that's now suing the State of North Carolina for $7 million, and part of their damages for that water running into that hole they dug. I don't know just how that's going to work out but water is going to have to run uphill, I think, before they win that one. Anyway, in many respects they did a good job but they kept sending men down here to run the job who couldn't get along with anybody.
PAMELA DEAN:
Where was this company from? You say, "Sending down here." Were they northern?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
New Jersey, I think. I'll get you that address.
PAMELA DEAN:
Had they been chosen because they had experience with this kind of thing?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
No, they were chosen because they were the low bidder. They were the low bidder on the general construction and there were four or five of these companies and we didn't have much trouble with the rest of them. Except that there was one that evidently did a very poor job with one section of the

Page 22
roofing and you would have thought that Noah's flood came through that little hole in the roof but I don't think that there was over ten gallons at a time. The News and Observer said that this is a pretty bad job.
But anyway, this was a large building. It would look better from the outside if it were white, but the brick of which it is constructed was chosen by a committee which our commission appointed to choose the brick, and there was some, I assume, good reason they chose this particular brick. If they are ever successful in moving that building downtown, they've got 1,100,000 bricks to move. That's how many bricks there are in that building. [Laughter]
PAMELA DEAN:
I don't think it is going anywhere.
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
I don't think so either. Anyway, the building was never completed by the original construction contractor (Middlesex), the subcontractors, yes, but the construction contractor, no.
PAMELA DEAN:
Middlesex?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
Middlesex, began to have just partial crews of men working. They weren't doing a good job. They didn't have anybody overseeing the job that seemed to be interested or wanting to do a good job. And finally, they were conducting their work in such manner that the architects, who were of course vitally interested in it, couldn't approve what they were doing. It was more what they were not doing than what they were doing. They weren't doing much of anything. They'd have skeleton crews on the job.

Page 23
PAMELA DEAN:
So they were getting way behind schedule, too, were they?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
They got behind schedule early in the game and stayed behind schedule. So finally, on the date which I'll have to provide you with, and after many efforts to work things out in many, many conferences with Middlesex and its attorneys, we finally (I say "we," I'm talking about the building commission), the building commission finally found it necessary, advisable, and their duty to declare the contract in default.
PAMELA DEAN:
That would have been November of '81, I believe, according to what I've got here. Does that sound right?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
That sounds right. Anyway, we declared the contract in default after making every effort to keep from having to do that. We notified the contractor's bondsman, which was the Travellers' Insurance Company, and it declined to take any action at all. The Middlesex Construction Corporation kept claiming that it had done all it was supposed to do and called for specifics on what it had failed to do. To get this up was quite a job; it took a lot of time, it cost a lot of money, but our architects got up the necessary reports and, of course, Middlesex agreed with nothing. Then Middlesex employed counsel and brought suit against the state.
I'll have to explain to you how you sue the state for different things. This case is entitled Middlesex Construction Corporation ex rel., which means "on the relation of," the State Art Museum Building Commission. That suit was started and we had our initial hearing on that before Judge James K. Pou Bailey, and

Page 24
he ruled with Middlesex; we appealed to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court ruled with us. I've forgotten all of these legal gymnastics, I could give them to you.
PAMELA DEAN:
They are on record.
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
Yes. They kept on undertaking to prevail through the courts, and the thing's been heard by the supreme court I think three times now. And it's now pending in the superior court of Wake County, to be heard by a judge without a jury.
PAMELA DEAN:
Now, do they keep bringing up new points? Is this is how they keep it going?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
No, same old things. The same points have already been ruled on about three times.
PAMELA DEAN:
It's basically a question of did they fulfill the contract and it's a haggling over individual points.
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
I don't know what it'll wind up as but it's going to be a right serious question for either side. I think that Middlesex is suing for a whole lot more than they expect to get. And, of course, we don't think they are entitled to anything. As a matter of fact, I think we may have filed a counterclaim. I'm not sure; I don't have the record before me. And it's very foolish to talk about a record if you don't know what's in it. And I can't remember what's in it; and if you don't have the record in front of you when discussing it you have to refer to the record itself for accuracy. But anyway, that suit will probably not come to trial before July of 1986, if then, and it will go on for quite a while because there will be many

Page 25
depositions taken and the record in that case will be quite voluminous, in my opinion.
PAMELA DEAN:
Now, are you actively involved in this case anymore?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
Well, I'm just the chairman of the commission that's being sued, or rather on whose relation the state is being sued. And of course I'm quite sure I'll be subpoenaed as a witness. Let's see, I've already got eighteen years of my life invested in this museum, and now I've got to have some more, which I can't help, I'll just have to do the best I can.
But there is one thing that I ought to point out which I think is outstanding, and that is that neither I nor any other person who is now or has ever been a member of the State Art Museum Building Commission has ever applied to the State of North Carolina for reimbursement of even so much as a postage stamp. I don't know how many thousands of hours nor thousands of dollars that I have invested in that museum out there. But all of us were glad to do that. We were that much interested in the state having a museum because we felt that we were building a museum which would serve the people of North Carolina for at least a hundred years, and that we were thinking of all the little children who in a hundred years, or even twenty years, can have the benefit of seeing the fabulous paintings and sculptures and other objects of art which are owned by the State of North Carolina and are out there now where people can ride up and park their cars in a safe place day or night and go in and look at them for free. The newspaper said that nobody would ever go to the museum out at that place where it is and there have been

Page 26
thousands and thousands more people visiting that site than have ever visited the other one, I guess, in the whole time of its existence.
Another thing is that we took into consideration in building this museum and this came poignantly to my mind when I was in another museum in San Francisco. If our commission has trained people in our museum competent to handle and care for objects of art, we can get art on loan from other museums. Let's begin at the bottom, people trained in building a crate in which to ship a painting, or how to take apart a crate that contains a painting, and how to protect them in transit, and how to protect them upon arrival at either place, how to care for them, that if we did that in a manner satisfactory to other museums all over the world that the people of North Carolina would have the benefit of seeing many, many objects of art that they could never see unless they left the country.
PAMELA DEAN:
You'd be able to take travelling exhibits because other museums would trust your expertise. Yes. It's very important.
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
Right. I saw some, well I'll call them objects of art, that were on display in a museum in San Francisco that had come there from the Louvre, I believe, I can't remember whether it was the Louvre in Paris or the Prado or somewhere else. But anyway, they were fabulous to look at. Now, the way our museum is constructed, with these things in mind, and meticulously cared for, our people in North Carolina, without leaving their homes any farther than to go from where their homes are to the museum out here on the edge of Raleigh, can see those things and enjoy

Page 27
them. And we thought this was very important to the people of North Carolina. And we felt that it was a part of our duty to do the very best that we could do along those lines.
PAMELA DEAN:
And you feel satisfied that you have fulfilled that duty?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
Yes, I think our commission did a real good job. I really think it did. They were all conscientious people. I suppose the one on the commission that knew less about art was I, but I didn't have to know about art to get that building built. I didn't think I did.
PAMELA DEAN:
You had to know how to make things work.
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
Anyway, it's out there and it's going to be there for quite a while, I think. I think that museum will be still in operation a hundred years from now.
PAMELA DEAN:
One of the repeated charges, I understand, that some of your opponents made and the newspapers made, is that you held a lot of your commission meetings in closed session. Is that true and, if so, what was the reason for holding closed sessions?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
Well, the best reason for holding a closed session is keeping newspaper people out of it. But I don't think we held closed sessions. Well, we held some closed sessions but we did it in accordance with the way the law provides that you may do it which is: there are certain things that you can consider in a closed session, of course, when these lovely newspaper people write things up they don't tell the public about this sort of thing, but if one of the things that you are going to consider is, for example, somebody's salary was going to be raised or some

Page 28
other kind of thing, all those things are set out in the statute itself. When it appears that a thing of that sort is to be considered, the procedure is for some member of the commission to say something like this: "Mr. Chairman, we need to consider so and so and so," whatever the thing is. "This is one of the things which we may consider in closed session. Therefore, Mr. Chairman, I move that the commission now resolve itself into executive session," or closed session. And that motion has to be seconded and it has to be voted on by the commission. Alright, let's assume that the motion carries and, when it does, the chairman announces to everybody that's present, "The commission has just voted to go into executive session. It's been nice to have you people with us and we are now going into executive session so we now invite everyone who is not a member of the commission to leave. We think this will take approximately so many minutes. When we are finished dealing with this, the closed session will be adjourned, the open session will be reconvened and you are welcome to come back." This is the way it works. But the newspapers don't approve of that. They don't think that's the way it ought to be done.
PAMELA DEAN:
Did they suggest that you were going into closed session at times that you shouldn't have been? Or they just generally objected to closed sessions, period?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
No, they never suggested that because they knew that it didn't make any difference whether they knew it was so or not. I don't think they ever accused us of that because they couldn't prove it. I also want to say this, that we occasionally when we

Page 29
had delicate questions coming up, and we knew about them in advance, and we apprehended that the newspapers would take some erroneous or false position about it and about what transpired at the meeting, that is when I would always employ a court reporter to take down everything that went on and give me a transcript of it.
PAMELA DEAN:
For a formal record.
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
Yes.
PAMELA DEAN:
Can you give an example of when that might have happened? What kind of things you might have been dealing with?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
Well, I remember, we had a group of people that lived in a small residential section on the north side of this site and they were very offended that anybody would build a museum close to the property that they owned. They didn't like that. Later on, they didn't like the noise that came from our little power plant. They didn't like this and they didn't like that. They didn't like anything and they frequently appeared before our commission, and they would write letters to the editors, and of course they were always opposed. They finally came to the point where they couldn't agree among themselves about what they wanted done. They didn't like the way we were going to plant trees. They didn't like anything. Then some of the state politicians, some of the Raleigh politicians, got into the act. They were going to use the people in this little community as a nucleus of vote-getters for themselves. It got real sticky and these people would come to our meetings and they would collaborate with the newspaper reporters at the meeting;

Page 30
some of these and some of the newspaper people, infrequently, but more times than once, became very insulting to the members of the commission at times. I remember asking a Raleigh Times reporter if he was present to report the news or if he was there in support of these people who were going to be heard. Whereupon this reporter informed me that that was none of my business. This was characteristic of the kind of meetings we occasionally had. The politicians whose attention these people (called "The Meredith Woods People") attracted, finally got around to getting up some state funds to build first one thing, and then another, in an effort to appease these Meredith Woods People. First, they wanted the state to build what is called a "berm", which I think is a mound of dirt. Then they were going to set out certain trees and all these things were designed to satisfy these people. They finally did satisfy them. I don't know how they did it but it was done in a way that didn't bother the museum. And when they got to that point, everything was rosy, it was all right. But I think they are still fussing over the thing among themselves. I hope they are. [Laughter]
Do you have some particular questions about this?
PAMELA DEAN:
Why don't you just start again telling me about the atmosphere of the construction meetings with the contractor and the other contractors.
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
All right. Long before the contract between Middlesex and the state was declared in default, those of us who were trying to get the museum finished and trying to keep things on an even keel learned that there was much dissension going on

Page 31
between the various contractors and Middlesex. The man representing Middlesex was not careful; to say the very least, he was not careful to not be offensive to his co-contractors.
PAMELA DEAN:
You characterized him as abrasive.
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
Yes, he was very abrasive and I guess he enjoyed it, he seemed to like to be that way. He may not have been, I may be mistaken about that, but all I can say is how it seemed to me. The reason I say "it seemed to me" is because I attended the meetings. Things reached the point where many people interested in the museum and its construction felt that somebody ought to go out there and sit down with these people and try to get them to agree and go ahead and finish the job. So, Mr. Hanes also attended some of these meetings with me and I don't recall how many we attended, there were not very many; but it didn't take but one to find out what was going on. And the Middlesex man was very disagreeable and it didn't take much to set him off, but if anybody disagreed with him on anything he became very abrasive. At one meeting, which I attended, a number of the contractors began to become angry at which point I said, "Well, gentlemen, if you have problems let's get them all out here on top of the table and look at them together and see if we can't solve them one at a time. Give them the necessary thought and reach conclusions which will permit all of us to go ahead."
[END OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[TAPE 2, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE B]

Page 32
PAMELA DEAN:
OK, we are on side two. So you were at this meeting.
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
At one of those meetings which I attended with the contractors when it seemed that no progress could be made satisfactory to anybody. They were at odds with the Middlesex man, or some of them perhaps with each other, I don't know about that, the main thrust of it was that the man who Middlesex had there was supposed to be sort of coordinating the thing and supervising the whole business, and either he couldn't get along with any of them or some of them couldn't get along with him. I know not what the trouble really was. But they reached the point at one time that I finally said to them, "Well, gentlemen, let's just calm down now and if you have problems, we'll take you one at a time or all of you at one time, however you want to do it. Let's get all the problems out here on the table and let's take them one by one and consider them, consider the points of the different contractors, and consider the points made by Mr. whoever it was representing Middlesex, and let's try to settle them so that we can get this building off dead center so we can go ahead and, sometime in the future, finish it and finish it like it ought to be."
We had lots of problems about the way some of the work was being done. Some of it was very, very sloppy. We finally wound up by waiving some of that sloppy stuff because it was holding up things that were more important than that one was. And I remember telling them one morning that if they couldn't get their problems out here without fighting and fussing over them, that I thought we ought to take one of these empty rooms and put a

Page 33
boxing ring in there and give them some boxing gloves and let them settle it that way. But that didn't work out. But it was very, very frustrating and time-consuming and then there was this business of change orders. I'd get these change orders that they'd requested through the architects and I would never sign a change order unless it was recommended by the architect because that went farther than just getting the job done. That had to do with paying somebody something. Of course, the one thing that ought to be pointed out is that the State Art Museum Building Commission never had one penny of money. It had appropriations made for the building of the art museum, all right, and the people of North Carolina kicked in $5 million dollars. And the schoolchildren gave some money. But the commission itself never had one cent and no member of the commission, as I've already said, ever charged one cent for his time or even a postage stamp, or a telephone call, or automobile expenses. Never has there been a request by any member of the State Art Museum Building Commission for the reimbursement to a member for expenses.
PAMELA DEAN:
And all your travel was funded by Mr. Hanes, that's right?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
No.
PAMELA DEAN:
I mean the travel, wasn't he the one… ?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
No, that was just on two or three trips of a committee.
PAMELA DEAN:
Just on the two or three trips? Otherwise you all paid your own expenses when you went to museums?

Page 34
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
Everybody paid his or her own expenses. No, Mr. Hanes paid the expense for the travel when we were going visiting all these museums to see what we wanted to put in our museum. And I'll say this, Mr. Hanes did it in a first class manner. He didn't hold back on anything. He was very, very generous. But the members of the commission, everybody that was serving on that commission, of course had some expense. I did the clerical work, I guess, myself. My law office made a tremendous contribution in the way of time, typing, and payment of stenographers and secretaries and telephone calls and postage and I don't know what else, but of course when I was working for the museum it was costing my law firm money. But they've never raised one question about it. They made a tremendous contribution and you couldn't ask for it to have been done in a more graceful way than the way they did it. They just did it as a contribution to the State of North Carolina. I never asked them what they thought about my giving so much time to the museum, but they never questioned it. And it took a tremendous about of time.
PAMELA DEAN:
But, we have a wonderful, beautiful museum now.
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
Well, that museum is great inside. I don't think it's so beautiful outside but it's good and it's located properly; and once you get inside of it you would never suggest changing a line of it.
Since the museum has been dedicated and occupied and so many hundreds of visitors have come there, it has been necessary to build an additional parking lot to prevent mud being tracked into the building from cars parked on the ground. So who did they

Page 35
come to about it? I was not even a member of the General Assembly but I was still chairman of the State Art Museum Building Commission. So one day I was visited by a delegation. They wanted a hundred and some thousand dollars to build an additional parking lot. Could I help them? Well, whatever I did didn't hurt them because in just a very few days they had a contract let for a hundred and five thousand dollar additional parking lot - but there were others who really put the matter through.
PAMELA DEAN:
And how did you do that?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
Made a few suggestions.
PAMELA DEAN:
Did you have to go to the legislature for an appropriation?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
No, you asked me how I did that. I cannot say that I did it. I just spoke to a few people who were in position to help with that sort of thing as a sort of an emergency matter. I never asked them what they did. All I asked them to do was to get the money and they did.
PAMELA DEAN:
This was somebody in the legislature and people in state government also?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
Yes, this was the 1985 session.
PAMELA DEAN:
So your contribution was knowing who to go to?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
I wouldn't say that. Now you're acting like a newspaper gal. [Laughter] First time today!
PAMELA DEAN:
I try not to! [Laughter] I'm just trying to get this process clear.

Page 36
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
Well, I tell you. If it isn't clear to me I couldn't make it clear to you, could I? I don't want to get into the details; I might find myself in error. Maybe I didn't have much to do with it except for suggestions. I did talk to two or three people, but….
PAMELA DEAN:
And I expect that goes a long way.
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
Well, I don't know about that but I am told there is another parking lot out there. That it is a very useful and a very good one.
PAMELA DEAN:
Well, I'm going to go sometime soon and check it out.
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
I was told that another parking lot had been added; that the cost of it was about $105,000; and that it was a boon, very good. And I don't know how they got it built so quickly. What I'm telling you now is what I hear.
PAMELA DEAN:
Shall we turn from the museum to talk a little bit about your work over the last several years as a lobbyist? You have a reputation for not only having been very effective in the General Assembly but since then to have been one of the most effective lobbyists in the state.
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
Well, some people have been very generous to me in making remarks of that kind. I probably have been given more credit than I am due. But I hope my clients don't think that. [Laughter]
I represent the most maligned and unjustly maligned industry in North Carolina: the tobacco industry. Were it not for the tobacco industry we wouldn't have Duke Hospital; we might not have the kind of hospital we have at the University of North

Page 37
Carolina. There are many libraries and many other valuable institutions and establishments that we now have and enjoy which are of great benefit to our people and to the state made possible by the tobacco industry and its generosity, and this has helped make North Carolina a great state for business and for educational and other great purposes. You can trace a great deal of the fiscal soundness of our state to the value of the tobacco industry as one of our greatest industries.
The history of tobacco is very interesting in itself. And of course, as you remember from your grade school history, tobacco was used as money at times, and tobacco played a good part in keeping the British from defeating the colonists. These organizations like the Cancer Society, the Lung Association or whatever it is called, and dozens and dozens of organizations that call themselves anything from Protect Babies from Cigarettes to no telling what are out to get money for their purposes. These organizations send people out who go around levying on people that have some money, or those whom they think have some money, begging for "help". They collect money from anybody that'll give them any money, and I suspect it would be very enlightening to see what becomes of that money they collect, under the guise of "protecting from cancer." There is a whole lot of fraudulent talk against tobacco, unsupported by scientific facts or even reason and common sense. Some of the statements being published today are apparently designed to frighten women. Eminent scientists report on some of these and many of these rash statements are not based upon complete and accurate tests. I

Page 38
haven't seen one yet that was not "flawed" in one or more respects.
I would not want to offend any lady and certainly I would not want to offend you but in considering women's reactions to public statements — take women's lib, for instance. The most insulting group I have ever seen appear before the General Assembly was a group either for or against the so-called Women's Lib Amendment. Present publications appear to be designed to excite women into condemning the right to smoke or not smoke.
PAMELA DEAN:
Is this one of the times they were trying to pass the ERA?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
Yes. There was a bill pending to ratify the ERA.
PAMELA DEAN:
Ratify the ERA?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
Oh, yes. There was a bill there to ratify the ERA and when it was not ratified it was amazing to me to see human beings walking around looking like ladies and acting like dogs.
PAMELA DEAN:
What did they do?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
What did they do? Oh, they were squaling, yelling. They were snarling, and I said acting like dogs, I mean they were snarling and barking and raising hell because they didn't get what they wanted. That's the most insulting group I've ever seen.
PAMELA DEAN:
Do you think that is one of the reasons that ERA that failed to pass? Was just the attitude, the approach of those that were working for it?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
I think it failed to pass because the General Assembly didn't think it was a good idea. I agreed with the General Assembly.

Page 39
PAMELA DEAN:
You think that even if the women hadn't been quite so offensive that it still probably, on its merits, wouldn't have passed?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
The height of their offense did not occur until after they had lost. This is when they showed their true colors. You could see which ones wanted it and which ones could get along without it. That may be an impolite thing to say as far as women are concerned, but I can't imagine my asking any woman to vote for me for anything else at my age. [Laughter]
PAMELA DEAN:
So you don't have to be polite now?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
There is never any real occasion to be impolite but I won't worry about that now. I was embarrassed for those women. I really was. I was sorry for them. I regretted very much that we had that many women in North Carolina who acted in a fashion unbecoming a lady. Of course, I probably am too altruistic about that anyway. [Laughter] That's what went on about that.
PAMELA DEAN:
That was something of a digression, an interesting one I think, but we were talking about your lobbying work for the tobacco industry. What sorts of things do you do as a lobbyist for them, as a representative of them?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
I guess the thing to do would to talk about my responsibilities to my client. In the first place, you need to know what's going on and you need to know from sound sources what's going on. You need always to be aware of what's going on. You need to be abreast of any changes that are coming on and you have to be alert to the filing of any bill affecting tobacco and analyze it, and of course you report it to your client

Page 40
immediately, and you see who the introducers or signers of that bill are, and you may wish to go to see them.
A lot of people sign bills maybe because the bill is being introduced by a good friend without taking the time to analyze the bill because the legislators don't have that kind of time here in the thick of things. So you need to see where that bill is coming from and try to evaluate its chances. And, of course, you report everything to your clients. Then you go to see members of the General Assembly and state whatever position you have about the bill and you ask them either to support the bill or to kill it, whichever would be desirable. You attend every committee meeting that time will permit which could have any effect on that bill. And you always want to know how the presiding officers feel about the bill. There are lots of things you don't do like you don't harangue people; you don't take too much of their time; you don't bust in on a legislator when he'd dictating his morning mail.
PAMELA DEAN:
So knowing sort of the routine of how a legislature works, I would assume from all of your experience with that, makes you more effective. You know when and where to approach somebody.
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
I've lived a long time and I have come to the conclusion that almost everything that any of us has to deal with is a matter of either economics or timing, or both. You can think about that a long time and you won't get away from the truth of that. Of course, there's a book in the Bible which says there is a time for everything; I don't know which one it is but

Page 41
I've read it. A time for this and a time for that. It takes some men longer than others to discern which is the best time to do and which is the best time not to do and the things to do and the things not to do. Nowadays, about the first thirty days of every session down here, the poor legislators can't get their work done for having to go to all these damn parties that are given for them by organizations.
They don't make contributions to any legislators. They pay me a salary. And yet I have even legislators come to me for contributions. And they'll come to me for contributions to pay off the debt of some politician that ran and didn't win. You'd be amazed at what they ask for. I was going down a hall in a hotel in which there was a meeting going on, a group assembled to raise money for some state official who happened to be running for governor, and I heard one of the group say, "Here comes old Tom White. He represents all these tobacco companies. He'll give us $25,000." He came on out and jumped on me. I said, "Well, that would really be nice to be in that position. But my clients have people like me in fifty states. In some of those states they have two people like me. They have to pay them. They'd be out of business if they had to make political contributions to folks like you in every state or anywhere." It just doesn't work that way. But you'd be surprised at the gall of people who ought not to be asking for contributions that'll ask you for a contribution anyway.
PAMELA DEAN:
Do a lot of companies or organizations make those kinds of contributions? Do you know?

Page 42
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
Yes. Some of them are afraid not to. They get in a situation occasionally that they feel that they have a choice of making the requested contribution or their cause goes down the drain.
[END OF TAPE 2, SIDE B]

[TAPE 2, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 3, SIDE A]

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PAMELA DEAN:
This is side A, tape three. We were talking about contributions and about the fact that, at the very least, if you don't make the requested contribution you can't really depend on the person who is asking for it really being receptive when you ask him for favorable consideration of a bill or something.
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
I would not want to give the impression that legislators of any kind would toy with the idea of putting a price on their votes. But it stands to reason that if anyone is displeased by what you do it does not make them, to say the very least, look with favor on what you want them to do. So it's just that sort of a psychology. You have to avoid getting in situations like that as much as you can.
PAMELA DEAN:
How do you turn down a request for a donation to some cause, campaign, what have you, without creating that kind of….
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
Well, it's pretty difficult to do. If somebody asks you for a donation they don't like to be put off. They'd almost rather be turned down than to be put off because if you say, "Well, let me think about that and see you later," then they'll get at least the notion that you are turning them down but you just don't have the courage to say no flat out, which isn't healthy either.
PAMELA DEAN:
So it's better to just say no?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
Well, there isn't anything good about it so you can't say anything is better. [Laughter] So you just have to make a judgment about it and if you are not in position to do it then you don't give them any canned story, you just tell them

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what the facts are about your situation, and then you can add, if you wish to, "I hope you understand." But if they don't get the money they don't understand. It's just about that vicious. [Laughter]
PAMELA DEAN:
Are there things that you can do for legislators that do create that kind of sense of reciprocity of "I've done something for you. Can you help me with this bill?" Are there some sorts of things that you do?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
Well, there are many possibilities of action that you know you couldn't even sit here and define. There are things that are helpful to legislators that they don't even ask for that a lobbyist can do. For example, there might be a legislator who has not had any legislative experience before and you realize that, and without making any point of it but just if you have an opportunity, present yourself. You can give him some of your time; you can enlighten him about how committee work is carried on. He may have some questions. I can remember when I first went to the General Assembly. The people who were most helpful to me were the lobbyists because they knew the legislative process, I did not. You don't want to wait until you have some reason to help a fellow, you know. You just help him when you know you can help him. You take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself to honestly give a legislator the facts and the import of legislative questions which arise on bills, and sometimes you can be of invaluable help to them. You may not see him again for a year but he isn't going to forget that, you helped him at a time when he needed a little help. So you try to

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be helpful without being ostentatious about it. Well, I love to help people anyhow. As a lobbyist you just like to help them and if a representative or a senator has a problem about a bill you are always glad to sit down and discuss it with him, whether you are interested in the bill or not. It's always more pleasant if you are not interested in it. I love to help folks and I guess I just follow the practice of doing that.
PAMELA DEAN:
So you sometimes suggest to a legislator who to talk to about what he's doing, or what procedure to follow to get his bill through, something like that?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
No, I wouldn't say that. But I would say that if he requests my opinion about something and I'm sure about the facts I'll give him my honest opinion about it. If he wants to know who to talk to, I never pick out any particular person—I say "never," never is a long time—I don't make a practice of saying, "Well, you need to go see Mr. So and So." I'll give him a list of the people whom I knew were interested in that bill and which way they stood. Then he could do his chore whichever way he chose. Because if you told him one way to go and he went that way and it didn't pass he'd think, "Well, you're playing hell with me. You told me to do so and so and I did it and the bill didn't pass." On the other hand, if there was something about the bill that neither he nor you knew about it, and the thing didn't pass, the next time you see him he could not say, "Why in the hell didn't you tell me this?" So you have to be very careful and cautious about how you talk to legislators, but always be honest with them; always tell them the truth. The

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truth is the most liberating thing there is in the world. It used to be, back in the days before redistricting, that every county sent to the General Assembly the best people they could find who were willing to go. And in those days, I remember back in the house in '53, '5, and '7, the senate in the '60s, if a member of the General Assembly told me something, I could count on it. And the boys tell me nowadays (I don't know because I'm not a member), that if you challenge a man about what he told you he'll say something like, "Well, when we were talking I didn't understand it that way." He'll give you some kind of a dodge like that. That, of course, relates to the character of the person you are talking to. There are people who will give you any kind of talk. I enjoyed my legislative experience and you soon learn the identity of those on whom you can rely and of those on whom you can't rely. And you don't have fights and fusses with them because there might be some things that you've got in your repertoire that that guy is highly in favor of. If you cuss him out for telling you a lie about something he isn't going to vote for it. It's a delicate tightrope to walk.
PAMELA DEAN:
You don't want to make overt enemies out of anybody.
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
No, ma'am. I like to convert my enemies into friends if I can, and I've done some of that in my lifetime. I had a good time doing it. [Laughter] It's been a lot of fun!
PAMELA DEAN:
How do you do that?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
How do you do it?
PAMELA DEAN:
Yes.

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THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
I don't know. I guess you kind of luck out. I can remember having savage trials with people who wound up being some of my best clients.
PAMELA DEAN:
You did such a good job on the other side.
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
In my hometown there used to be an old gal that was every once in a while in the toils of the law, and she became so angry with her lawyer in court that she picked up an ink bottle and hurled it at him because he had bested her in the trial. And later, she employed him, she retained him annually as her lawyer.
PAMELA DEAN:
That wasn't you, that was somebody else?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
No, it was not I. When that happened I was in knee pants. [Laughter]
PAMELA DEAN:
I'm trying to think of what else we can explore. From what you've been telling me, my impression of the way that the General Assembly works is that most things are fairly informal. My guess would be that any kind of speeches that are given on the floor are really not that important. That it's the conversations and the relationships you have with other members that are more decisive. Is that a fair picture of how things work?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
That is not an accurate picture, no. Of course, what you speak of is involved but there are not a great many bills, as they procede on their courses change course by reason of eloquent or other speeches on the floor. I say not a great many, yet sometimes, there are. I have known bills the passage of which appeared to be a foregone conclusion be completely turned around by a speech not so much of eloquence as practical

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application of the result of that bill, and things of that sort. That doesn't happen everyday.
PAMELA DEAN:
Can you think of an example of that happening? I mean, do you recall a specific case?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
Yes. In 1947, I think it was, there was an appropriation bill to appropriate $1 million from the general fund for the purchase of objects of art and, at that time, I would say perhaps the majority of members of the General Assembly were as bad off in their knowledge of art as I am. Certainly, in many counties of this state, there were no art societies, no art councils, no art this, no art that. That was not the kind of an object for which to be appropriating money that the average appropriation committee was interested in. The appropriations committee was primarily interested in the fiscal well being of the state and its institutions. Art had no special appeal to the committee. One man got up on the floor of the house and made a speech in favor of that bill and changed just about every vote that was against it. That was a great event in the history of North Carolina and its now having such a wealth of good art. That was a great speech. I didn't hear it, I wasn't there. But that is accepted as common knowledge in art and legislative circles. That's one example that I recall. Another example didn't involve a speech but it involved some doing.
PAMELA DEAN:
What was that?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
That was when the hunters and fishermen of North Carolina who had organized themselves into an association of wildlife clubs.

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PAMELA DEAN:
You had something to do with that process.
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
Yes. We had all these clubs all over the state and we were trying to get a bill passed to take the management of the state's game resources out of the hands of the Department of Conservation and Development.
PAMELA DEAN:
We talked about that in, I think, the first interview. You mounted quite an effective lobbying action in that case. Broad-based, I understand.
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
We organized these clubs all over the state and I was chairman of the legislative committee and I conducted the hearing in favor of that bill in the hall of the house. I had never been a member; I had just been beaten running for the house. The way we organized that thing was we wanted the members of the house to know every county, we didn't skip any of them. Every county had people interested in and in favor of that bill being passed. We chose people, of course, who would make a speech. We have a hundred counties in this state and the legislature isn't going stand hitched for very long at a time. So I told each one of these people who were going to speak saying, "If you speak more than one minute, I'm going to embarrass you and I'm going to ask you to sit down."
PAMELA DEAN:
So you had it really tightly organized.
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
That's right. The estimate was that we wouldn't get any votes, then the estimate got up to where we'd get a few votes, and it actually wound up we got all but about three or four.

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PAMELA DEAN:
It's known as doing your political homework. [Laughter]
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
To do that it took a lot of doing. We had a lot of good help. We had help from all over the state. Those boys were on fire.
PAMELA DEAN:
So sometimes a speech, sometimes a good representation at a hearing will make a real difference.
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
It will make a good difference and it makes a good difference in committees oftentimes. But usually, to change the course of anything of that sort, the speaker, number one, must have the respect of the people to whom he's speaking. Number two, he's got to have his facts straight. And if there are things wrong with the bill that he is presenting—maybe "wrong" is not the right word. If there are parts of the bill to which there is a general objection, he must be prepared to explain why it's that way and go farther and explain why it should not be that way. These are some of the principles that you follow.
PAMELA DEAN:
He can't just go in there and present a biased argument. He's got to give the full….
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
Well, the last time that I said anything to a committee on a tobacco bill, it was the bill to tax cigarettes, when they called on me, I said, "Mr. Chairman, all I want to do is to make a statement and announce a position." It was the cigarette tax bill and I pointed out how the tobacco industry felt about it; the kind of investment it had here in North Carolina; finally got around to what its value was to North Carolina, to how it contributed to the welfare of many other

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North Carolina industries and businesses; and wound up with the conclusion that North Carolina cannot afford to increase the tax on cigarettes. North Carolina manufactures 67 percent of all cigarettes manufactured in this country, and we grow a high percentage of all the cigarette tobacco that's grown in this country.
[text missing]
[END OF TAPE 3, SIDE A]

[TAPE 3, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 3, SIDE B]
PAMELA DEAN:
We have talked quite a bit today. We've had quite a session and I'd sort of like to wind up and ask you if you could take a minute and, I think you've touched on a lot of things that relate to why you have been, whether you wish to admit to it or not, a power in the General Assembly when you were there, an effective legislator in getting the art museum and as a lobbyist since you have been out of the legislature. Can you sum that up for me. I mean, if you will grant that you have been effective in what you have done despite your modesty, why do you think you have been?
What's the key to your success?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
First of all, it would not be for me to say if or how I have been successful. But if I had to stand off and look at it and feel detached from the total effort, I would say, basically, that I have always loved my state and wanted to serve my state in some capacity. If I did, I wanted it to be useful, conservative, and constructive and whatever I did I certainly wanted it to be honorable and I was not afflicted nor tainted with any burning desire for power. I've never aspired to being governor of North Carolina. A few people have suggested that I

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run for governor. I've had maybe more than a few to suggest that, but my answer has always been, "Well, thank you very much. I appreciate your suggestion and your confidence. But I've held the hands of too many governors not to know that it's a sorry job." I would just turn and brush it away like that because, to be governor, you have to sacrifice your independence, which means a lot to me. I have just thoroughly enjoyed serving the state of North Carolina, if I have served it, in the best way that I knew how. To do that, you have to be willing to get up in the morning and get on the job and stay with it and go back to it after dinner if it necessary or even if it isn't. But the basic thing you have to have, I think, in order to be successful as a member of the General Assembly, is to have the respect of the people with whom you deal. And you can't acquire that and keep it unless you demonstrate that you are willing to work hard enough to know what you are doing and that you are not real fond of getting full of steak and potatoes and liquor every night, not that I'm down on that, I just can do my job better if I don't do that. You try to help other folks with their problems without seeking any pay or remuneration of any kind, or even like favors. You're just willing to be helpful to other servants of the state, that's the way I look at it. I guess that's about as fair an analysis of it as I can give you.
But the thing that I would never want to lose would be the respect of the members of the General Assembly, the judiciary, and other lawyers, whether I appeared with them or against them. I would want them to know that when I was advocating a cause that

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the basis on which I was proceeding was, in my opinon, sound and one, I felt, was correct and should be given my best effort.
PAMELA DEAN:
I think from what you have said and from what I have read, even in the newspapers that you were battling with, that I don't think anyone's really questioned that.
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
Well, if I've ever had my integrity questioned I don't know when it was. There are two other ingredients which one has to have to be successful in the kind of thing that I have spent my time doing. Well, really there are three, we've already mentioned one of them, but I say you've got to have, number one, integrity. Then you've got to be enthusiastic about what you are doing. You've got to have courage to do what's right when it's uncomfortable to do what's right. And you've got to have an absolutely inexhaustible supply of determination. That's what you've got to have.
PAMELA DEAN:
Well, I'd say that to have done what you've done against some of the opposition you've had you were determined. [Laughter]
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
I love to have opposition.
PAMELA DEAN:
I think you mentioned to me once that your wife had commented on that in reference to your ongoing battles with the press. What was that she said?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
Poor little darling, I'll tell you about her. When we went to the General Assembly, of course it was a strange world for both of us. The News and Observer and one of its reporters came with an article, intellectually dishonest in design and calculated to be extremely critical of me as a legislator.

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Without any investigation of the facts, several other newspapers chipped in like howling dogs chasing a rabbit. They said the same thing in different ways over and over. My wife is a lady of fine sensibilities and that "publicity" just seared her soul. Of course, it made me mad as hell. Besides that, it had a completely false base. I wasn't as wary of newspaper story hunters then as I am now. I'd even try to be helpful to them. I even talked to some of them, and they'd usually "cut my throat" for my trouble. I learned quickly that I could not trust most of them but I do have some friends among them. Most of the newspapers in Raleigh plus some in Charlotte and Greensboro were my enemies so far as I was concerned. Finally, I got to the point where I'd take the offensive. I would write out, usually in longhand, a castigation of some editor or reporter, rise to a point of personal privilege on the floor of the senate, and read what I had written. Then some friend of mine would say, "Mr. President I think what Senator White has said should go into the journal of this senate and I move that it be placed in the journal." That usually annoyed the press very much. I never took anything off of them.
PAMELA DEAN:
So you took them on, gave as good as you got.
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
My wife finally said to me, "I believe that if they didn't get on you at least every other week that you go spitting out at them, make them mad enough to do it." [Laughter] But I didn't have to do that. Almost everything I did they criticized. There is a record of where the reporter who told me it was none of my business about something finally wrote something in the

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Raleigh Times which was in his poor way something in the nature of an apology, an admission that I was right and the press was wrong about locating the museum where it is.
PAMELA DEAN:
Really! Who was that?
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
Who was it? The only thing I remember is his name was Paul.
PAMELA DEAN:
Well, it's not crucial; I was just curious who it was.
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
I can find out for you if you want. I think I've got a copy of the thing. Incidentally, I saw him one day. He was down at the legislative building, and this was a year or so after the museum had been occupied, and we were having all the visitors we could accomodate. He stopped me to say this: he said, "Senator White, I took my family out to the museum." He said, "I want to tell you it is really great!" And I took his hand and pushed back his sleeve so that I could see his watch.
PAMELA DEAN:
Checked his pulse!
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
I said, "Paul, are you alright?" [Laughter]
PAMELA DEAN:
I think we had better wrap this up for today, and let you go home and me, too, probably. I want to thank you officially on the tape, on the record, for all the time you have given me and how gracious and generous you have been. We really appreciate it.
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
Thank you very much. I appreciate the privilege and I hope I haven't been too difficult about these things.
PAMELA DEAN:
No, I don't think you've lived up to your reputation.
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
I thank you for your generosity. I probably could have done more but I don't know any way to begin. [Laughter]

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PAMELA DEAN:
Well, I think you've done a great deal. I think we've covered a great deal of very interesting material that I think is very valuable and I'm delighted its to be preserved and available.
THOMAS JACKSON WHITE JR.:
Well, I appreciate the opportunity of doing it. I'd have never done it had it not been for you good people, and these things would have faded from my memory. A lot of them already have. I'll probably think of dozens of things that I'd liked to have told you about.
PAMELA DEAN:
You call me up if you think of a dozen more.
END OF INTERVIEW