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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Roger Gant, July 17, 1987. Interview C-0127. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Effect of age issues on 1960s American politics, especially during the Kennedy administration

Gant is unsure whether the United States became divided on the issue of youth in the 1960s, but he recognizes how the issue of age impacted the Kennedy administration. Gant is impressed with how Everett Jordan showed loyalty to his staff despite changes in the political climate.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Roger Gant, July 17, 1987. Interview C-0127. 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

Was there a change in this country from the so called ERA people, the younger folks and the John Kennedys and Robert Kennedys; a youthful group. Was that a sort of mass type of thing at that time where youth versus age was taking a bigger role?
Yeah, I guess so. The mood of the country changes from time to time. Some of these changes happen very quickly and are very short term; Camelot, the Kennedy Camelot era certainly had an effect on the country, and still has. Many people consider John F. Kennedy to be one of their great personal heros. Even I do in some respects. I think John F. Kennedy was certainly one of the great leaders we've had. He was very charismatic, and like the Pied Piper, when he blew his horn, people followed. Whether he led them in the right direction is another story. I guess the mood of the country had something to do with it.
Do you think the Democratic Party had become complacent?
Ben, I'm no political strategist. Gosh, I don't know, I don't understand the way the public behaves. I think the fact that these issues of health and age were constantly touted in the media and by the other side, certainly were the principle cause, whether they were legitimate or not is not the question, but the fact that they were constantly brought to the public's attention certainly had an impact. I don't know about the general youth syndrome because there were a lot of older people who were; look at Walter Jones. You talk about age and health, Walter Jones should have been gone from the Congress years ago. That guy can't even get to the floor to vote but about one time out of ten his health is so bad, but nobody has made an issue about it. . . . protective of the people that worked for him. Look at the people on his Washington staff. When he knew that he wouldn't be back he found good jobs for everybody on his staff I think, that wanted to stay there, from Bill Cochrane right on down to the newest clerk. He placed them all and I think that's a great credit to the respect that other people had for him. If they hadn't had that respect then they wouldn't have found jobs for these people. It was a much less friendly capital than it would have been had he won his election.