Documenting the American South Logo
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Moon Landrieu, January 10-11, 1974. Interview A-0089. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Political variations within Louisiana

Landrieu uses Chep Morrison's three consecutive, and unsuccessful, bids for the Louisiana governship (1956-1964) as a lens for discussing political divisions within Louisiana. According to Landrieu, until the mid-1960s, New Orleans stood apart from the rest of Louisiana in terms of political orientation. Because of its urban and more liberal associations, it was difficult for New Orleans politicians to gain stature in state politics. His comments offer a unique perspective for understanding political variations within one southern state.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Moon Landrieu, January 10-11, 1974. Interview A-0089. 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

To get back to the hypothesis that some have suggested that political power seems to have shifted in the last election from the north to the south. And let me go back to Chep Morrison's run for governor, that he couldn't make it essentially because he was from New Orleans, because he was southern, so, do you think there is a real basis for that assertion?
Well, I think it was absolutely true that Chep couldn't make it, but for more reasons than that. He was Catholic. He was "big city." And he was liberal. He would have made it this time. He just . . . and probably would have made it four years before Edwin Edwards did. There's no doubt in my mind except Morrison would have been elected governor four years ago, if he had lived. But all of those barriers are breaking down. Television, education, travel. The world is becoming smaller. New Orleans was a thousand miles from Shreveport 20 years ago. Now we are only 300 miles from Shreveport. It's just that the world is changing and it ain't necessarily terrible to be from New Orleans now. And I think we have more respect for those who, you know, are in the rural section. It ain't so bad to be a Catholic, you know, any more. Racial and religious bigotry, the Kennedy election, and there a thousand things that have changed all that. And while the South has probably been much slower than anyplace else to change, nonetheless, it's not an island and that change has taken place. I don't necessarily think that there is a conscious feeling that, "Gee, this is a south Louisiana guy. Therefore, we ought to elect him." And it's sheer philosophy. That's all. What's the fellow's philosophy? The south has always had a bigger population base than the north. But it's always taken a northern guy to win or a central Louisiana guy to win in the state. And basically because they have always been running, you know, any black. So that you had a, let's say, New Orleans split down the middle, and, you know, we were not, while we're more liberal than the northern part of the state, it would be a mistake to say that this section of the state has been liberal. It hasn't been. It's been conservative in terms of the national standard. But, nonetheless, more liberal so to speak than the northern part of the state. So virtually anybody running here statewide would have the tag of being, you know, if you were an office-holder, anyway, of being liberal. We have always had a population base. It's just more of a philosophical thing than anything else. In other words, I think that a liberal, say a liberal moderate from the north can win statewide easily.