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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Lloyd E. Griffin, August 20, 1982. Interview C-0135. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Description of B. Everett Jordan's leadership style

In this excerpt, Griffin discusses his perception of B. Everett Jordan's style as a United States Senator from 1958 until 1973. Responding to questions regarding the nature of Jordan's conservatism and whether or not he became more moderate in the Senate, Griffin explains that Jordan juggled various points of view, but always sought to work for what he perceived to be the best interests of North Carolina.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Lloyd E. Griffin, August 20, 1982. Interview C-0135. 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

BEN BULLA:
What is you appraisal of Everett Jordan as a Senator?
LLOYD E. GRIFFIN:
Well Everett had not lived up there long enough to develop an outstanding viewpoint that some of them that had been up there for several years had, but at the time of his death he had been up there for what seven or eight years?
BEN BULLA:
Almost fifteen years.
LLOYD E. GRIFFIN:
As I recall now, Everett was anxious for the North Carolina Democrats to understand his viewpoint up there. Not only because he thought his viewpoint was a sound viewpoint to have, but because he hoped to sell it to the North Carolineans and hoped himself to be returned. See that's got actually more to do with a man's viewpoint - I mean his viewpoint that he speaks out about - he can have two viewpoints; one he talks about and the other he doesn't. Now everybody you talk to may not agree with what I'm saying about these things, but mine came from actual experience because I wasn't running for any job in Washington. I didn't want any job in Washington. Pshaw! Hunh! I've had many suggestions about running for Washington right from this district here, but I wasn't the leeast bit interested in it - not the least in the world. We had a man over here from little Washington - a pretty good man, and he did alright, so I thought. Pshaw, I can't think of his name but he was a pretty good man - pretty well known. I went on a fishing trip with him and two or three more friends one time and that got to be a standard set up you know. Best way to really find out what a man thinks or to impress him with what you think is to go on a fishing trip [with him]. 'Bout time for me to stop talking.
BEN BULLA:
I've got some questions here that I'd like to run over with you Mr. Griffin. One thing I've heard is this - and you've touched on it a little bit - about having two opinions, one you talk about and one you don't. Did Everett desert some of his conservative viewpoints after he got to Washington? Some of his friends back home thought that his voting record was not quite as conservative as he appeared to be here in North Carolina. Would you comment on that?
LLOYD E. GRIFFIN:
No I can't make any positive statements about that because I don't know exactly what you are talking about.
BEN BULLA:
Well some people thought that he might have tempered his viewpoint somewhat in order to get re-elected. Because if you appeal to just one group only, you lose the support from the other group and he tried to kind of play a moderate and middle road, and doing that he couldn't always be on one side.
LLOYD E. GRIFFIN:
Well I'm not certain what particular incident you are talking about, but I can say this: In my opinion, Everett tried to follow the wishes of the administration both in Washington and Raleigh as well as he could. He thought that was his duty and I think he was trying to follow what he felt like that would be best for the administration.
BEN BULLA:
The national administration?
LLOYD E. GRIFFIN:
His state first.
BEN BULLA:
So when Kennedy was president you think he went along with that administration and when Johnson became president he went along with that one?
LLOYD E. GRIFFIN:
Well I don't remember his attitude on those two, but I think he came as near as he could of trying to do what he thought was best for the administration; and that means that a lot of people could have different views you know. They did have different views. If you had to go out with a dog and gather up a dozen rabbits without scaring the rabbits so bad they would go in all different directions, you sort of see what I'm talking about. People in North Carolina, or any other state you put them in, think and talk just as mixed up as any group you ever saw - and why are they? because from the time they are born until the present age they have heard different folks say so many different things and came to so many conclusions that you just wonder what is right anyhow. That's what used to bother me when I was a young fellow. There was a very responsible man in my neighborhood and I thought that he ought to know everything, and a man next door to him come along and had a different - completely opposite - viewpoint, I think to myself when I was a young fellow, what in the world is the matter between them. Well there wasn't anything wrong between them, they were just expressing viewpoints in the community - and kept it up all their lives. Well now that's what Everett heard. As he became Senator and got to hear the viewpoints of Senators from other states, many of which varied from his own viewpoint, he didn't know which one to express. And so he usually expressed the one that he thought would suit the fellow he was talking to. That's the way they all do near about.