Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Roger Gant, July 17, 1987. Interview C-0127. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Jordan sought no credit for the deals he arbitrated on behalf of Research Triangle Park and Lyndon B. Johnson

Everett Jordan could arbitrate political deals well but never tried to take all of the credit for his achievements. Gant illustrates this by referencing Jordan's role in starting the Research Triangle Park and in keeping Lyndon Johnson free of political scandal before he became president. Jordan never received due credit for either of these efforts.

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

He was a born trader. He would trade his position on a minor issue for somebody else's position on one that was more major to his constituents.
BEN BULLA:
D. K. Muse expressed it this way: When Everett Jordan compromised he extracted a price.
ROGER GANT:
He got the better end of the deal. He may have compromised on an issue that was unimportant to N. C. but very important to Idaho and in exchange he got an Idaho vote for an issue that was very important to N.C. and not very important to Idaho. He knew how to put those combinations together. He always got more than he gave for his constituents, and I don't think we have anybody that can do that now. Jesse Helms has given up his ability to do much trading and I don't think Terry knows how to do it very well. Everett was charitable in letting other people to take credit for things that he had done. Specifically the U. S. government environmental health facility at the Research Triangle; that agency came to N. C. principally because of Everett Jordan's work in Washington, but he allowed Terry Sanford to take the credit for it when he was governor. I believe my timing is right on that. And he really never stepped up and tried to take the spotlight away from Terry although Terry had very little to do with it. I wouldn't have stood back and let that happen but Everett saw that in the final analysis the important thing was that the agency came here; not that any one person get credit for it. He was instrumental in helping Luther Hodges and Archie Davis getting the Research Triangle going, but you rarely see his name associated with it. His influence was probably as great as either one of theirs, but the history books will record somebody else as the father of the Research Triangle. It won't be Everett. He and Luther Hodges were extremely close friends and business associates in two or three ventures. They had great respect for each other and worked very close together behind the political scenes, and I guess Everett had a lot to do with Luther Hodges going to Washington and certainly with his becoming governor. And I think Luther would have acknowledged that. Bill Umstead; Everett was quite instrumental in getting Bill Umstead elected and having Luther Hodges appointed to take his place. There were times when Everett did like to get the glory, but there were many times when he stepped aside and let somebody else get it. Everett liked the privileges of being a senator. He liked having a good parking place; having a senatorial license on his tags so he could swing and park in a great many places that were prohibited to other people. He liked the privileges that came with that job, and he liked running the inaugural proceedings and being able to get his family placed on the platform and letting people he wanted to to go to the inaugural balls and all that kind of thing. He liked that. I don't think he ever abused it but he enjoyed those privileges. You can't blame him I guess.
BEN BULLA:
He had one hot potato while he was up there that was somewhat controversial and he was criticized; Bobby Baker; how do you appraise that?
ROGER GANT:
Bobby Baker. Yes. Everett saved Lyndon Johnson's skin on that. Again, Everett's ability as a trader and a negotiator kept that matter about as quite it could be kept and Everett certainly pulled the attention away from Lyndon Johnson on the matter and let the heat fall somewhere else. He couldn't keep Lyndon Johnson's name out of it completely but the heat stopped with the senate and when Lyndon Johnson went to the White House the heat didn't follow him, and Everett maneuvered that.
BEN BULLA:
He and Johnson were very good friends.
ROGER GANT:
Very good friends until after the Baker case was settled and then Lyndon didn't have much more the need of it. Everett did not agree with Lyndon Johnson on very many social programs that Lyndon had adopted. Lyndon changed a great deal. Lyndon was a great politician and certainly controlled the senate and therefore to a large degree the house also, when he was the majority leader. After he got to the presidency Lyndon changed his attitude about a lot of things. He looked to the country rather than his stand changed about a lot of things and it got farther and farther away from Everett, and therefore Lyndon couldn't count on having Everett vote the same way he wanted the senate to vote, because Lyndon's requirements changed, so he no longer had this very close voting ally that he had had before, and he didn't need Everett very much any more. I think he kind of turned away from; turned his back on him. He couldn't ever give him credit for the Bobby Baker saving; saving his tail on that; he couldn't let that issue rise again; I don't know whether it's in his memoirs or not
BEN BULLA:
Did Everett ever comment on the Baker case in your presence?
ROGER GANT:
I don't ever remember discussing the Baker case other than commenting on what was in the papers. Everett didn't talk about it much. I don't think I ever heard him discuss it, certainly never heard him discuss anything that wasn't already in the papers.
BEN BULLA:
He was very discreet in those matters.
ROGER GANT:
Very discreet. He certainly was. I never heard him criticize Lyndon Johnson ignoring him.