Interview with Sam J. Ervin, Jr., June 9, 1977

Project: Earle C. Clements Oral History Project

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Interview Summary

Former Congressman and U.S. Senator from North Carolina, Sam J. Ervin, Jr., talks about first meeting Earle Clements in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1946. He talks about Clements' personality and his first impressions of Clements. He discusses the difficulty of getting attention in the House of Representatives. He talks about Clements' support for President Harry Truman's policies, and gives his opinion of Truman's statement that the 80th Congress was a "do-nothing" Congress. He talks about Clements' support for organized labor, Clements' work as Democratic Whip and Leader in the Senate, the difference between Lyndon Johnson and Earle Clements' leadership in the Senate. Ervin gives his opinion regarding Clements' quick rise to a prominent position in the Senate. He talks about the relationship between Lyndon Johnson and Earle Clements, Richard Russell's refusal to serve as Democratic Senate Minority Leader in 1953, Clements' popularity in the Senate, and Mike Mansfield's leadership style. He describes a meeting in the Minority Leader's Senate office in August of 1954 between himself, Lyndon Johnson, Walter George, and Earle Clements to form a select Senate committee to investigate the excesses of Senator Joseph McCarthy. He discusses Lyndon Johnson and Clements' lack of criticism of the Eisenhower administration, and the lack of rivalry between Alben Barkley and Clements. He talks about Clements as a floor speaker in the Senate, and Clements as a "behind the scenes" persuader. He talks about a possible reason for Clements' Senate campaign loss to Thruston B. Morton. He discusses Clements as executive director of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee from 1957-1959, Chandler's opposition to Clements being named executive , and Senator George Smathers' reaction. He talks about Clements' support for Lyndon Johnson in 1960 for president at the Los Angeles Democratic National Convention. Ervin gives his opinion of Clements as a person and politician.

Interview Accession

1977oh043_clem031

Interviewee Name

Sam J. Ervin, Jr.

Interviewer Name

William Cooper

Interview Date

1977-06-09

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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Ervin, Sam J., Jr. Interview by William Cooper. 09 Jun. 1977. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

Ervin, S.J., Jr. (1977, June 09). Interview by W. Cooper. Earle C. Clements Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.

Ervin, Sam J., Jr., interview by William Cooper. June 09, 1977, Earle C. Clements Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.





Persistent Link for this Record: https://kentuckyoralhistory.org/ark:/16417/xt7m639k6c65