Interview with James T. Norris, July 19, 1976

Project: Fred M. Vinson Oral History Project

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Interview Summary

President and editor of the Ashland Daily Independent, James T. Norris was a graduate of Centre College and schoolmate of Fred Vinson. In this interview, he tells of meeting Vinson at Centre after he entered in 1910. He gives his impressions of Vinson as a student leader, as an athlete, and playing baseball. He talks about early Vinson ambitions to be a lawyer and politician. Norris describes Vinson as a good campaigner, "quite a speaker," and tells about helping Vinson with his first congressional races in Bracken County. He mentions Vinson was a member of the American Legion. He gives his opinion of what Vinson's early political position was and how that was influenced by his early life experience. An anecdote is told to illustrate how Vinson appreciated honesty. Norris discusses Al Smith's presidential campaign and the effect on Vinson's campaign. He discusses reasons Vinson may have had for moving his law practice to Ashland from Louisa after losing that election and how Vinson gained the reputation as a tax lawyer. Vinson's candidacy for Congress against W. J. Fields is mentioned. Norris gives his opinion of Vinson as a congressman and talks about projects Vinson got for his district. He tells a story about asking Vinson to try to help him get into Marines during World War II. The Veterans' Bonus Payment of 1935 is discussed, which leads into a discussion of Vinson's relationship with the press. Norris gives his opinion as to why Vinson took the U.S. Emergency Court of Appeals appointment and how he felt Vinson was aiming for a position on the U.S. Supreme Court. He talks briefly about what he knew about Vinson's relationship with A. B. "Happy" Chandler. Norris goes on to reminisce about Roberta Dixon Vinson and then Vinson's relationship with the Blazers of Ashland. He relates how he was with Vinson the day he was appointed to the Supreme Court and uses that anecdote to bring up Vinson's remarkable memory for people. Norris talks about how Vinson wanted to bring together the divisive Court. He feels Vinson declined when Harry S. Truman wanted him to run for president because of his health. Some of Vinson's changes in personality over the years are mentioned, which leads into a discussion of Vinson's political position.

Interview Accession

1976oh065_vin020

Interviewee Name

James T. Norris

Interviewer Name

Terry L. Birdwhistell

Interview Date

1976-07-19

Interview Rights

All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.

Interview Usage

Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Norris, James T. Interview by Terry L. Birdwhistell. 19 Jul. 1976. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

Norris, J.T. (1976, July 19). Interview by T. L. Birdwhistell. Fred M. Vinson Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.

Norris, James T., interview by Terry L. Birdwhistell. July 19, 1976, Fred M. Vinson Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.





Persistent Link for this Record: https://kentuckyoralhistory.org/ark:/16417/xt79zw18pb6p