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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Horace Kornegay, January 11, 1989. Interview C-0165. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

B. Everett Jordan as a pragmatic politician

Here, Kornegay describes B. Everett Jordan as a pragmatic political leader, rather than as a visionary. According to Kornegay, the 1960s were a tumultuous time politically and that the "emotionalism" that era witnessed had been unprecedented since the 1850s. Nevertheless, Kornegay recalls that rather than concerning himself with ideological social issues, Jordan continued to focus on practical issues of import to his constituents in North Carolina. For instance, Kornegay describes here Jordan's preoccupation with local political appointments, such as county postmasters. His comments are revealing of the ways in which "day to day" politics were dealt with during a time of political tumult.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Horace Kornegay, January 11, 1989. Interview C-0165. 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

A lot of folks I have talked to have said that Everett Jordan was not an intellectual - he was smart - he was not a parliamentarian, because of his background - a businessman. And in Congress he was called a service senator, did a lot of little jobs for a lot of little people - big people too. Could you comment on that?
I think it pretty well describes my view of Everett, and I think he would be the first to admit that, because it is evident from our discussion here today that he and I never sat down and talked about the national scene or international scene or what we were going to do about world Communism or of the big civil rights business that was so troublesome during the '60's. And these some of the most tumultous and troublesome times from a domestic standpoint that we've had - the '60's were. I used to say that there's more turmoil in this country - right or wrong, regardless of what your views on civil rights are - now than has been in a hundred years. [END OF SIDE ONE TAPE #3]
You'd have to go back to the 1850's to get a reasonable comparison with some of the things that we had to face there in the congress in the 1960's. Yes, we've had economic problems; we've had world wars, but so many of the troublesome days in the intervening period were those that weren't confronted by most people as being almost insoluble. And that was pretty much the feeling in the '60's there. For right or wrong as I say - uncompromising on the part of both sides, that led to very strong debate and strong feeling. Emotionalism was running high. After listening to that debate in the '60's particularly '64 and '65, I remember telling somebody that as I walked down the corridor in the Capitol I could hear the rambling and the ravings of Charles Sumner of a hundred years before. You know the troubles, if you go back to the history of those days - the 1850's. But Everett, I just started out by saying, was a practical man; his best work was done on projects and this kind of thing and looking after the people as best he could that he was representing in a very direct way. He was always interested in who was going to be postmaster. That was another area that he and I would talk about, particularly when it involved anybody from Alamance County. I recommended for appointment a postmaster for nearly every postoffice in this district while I was there. That was back when the congress in the majority party had the privilege - the responsibility - some people didn't particularly like it - as the old saying goes, every-body in a small community wanted to be the rural mail carrier. You'd have ten strong applicants and you could only appoint one. You ended up making 9 enemies and 1 ingrate as the old saying goes. But I remember an appointment in Saxapahaw, and I went to Everett and I said this ought to be your appointment, this is your home town. He and I worked very closely on everything. Appointed a new postmaster for Burlington. He never tried to take over, it was my responsibility of course. In any of those appointments he never tried to dictate to me. He just couldn't have been a better fellow to work with in that regard. But he was interested, and he wanted good people put in positions just as I did. And I think we pretty much did that throughout that time.