Joseph Rauh Oral History Interview: Truman Presidential Museum & LibraryCatherine Nugent2022-04-26T17:10:54-04:00
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Oral History Interview of Joseph L. Rauh, Jr., published June 21, 1989,
Truman Presidential Museum & Library
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Oral History Interview with
Joseph L. Rauh, Jr.
U.S. Army officer on Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s staff, 1942-45; officer of the Americans for
June 21, 1989
Niel M. Johnson
[Notices and Restrictions I Interview Transcript ]
This is a transcript of a tape-recorded interview conducted for the Harry S. Truman Library. A draft
of this transcript was edited by the interviewee but only minor emendations were made; therefore,
the reader should remember that this is essentially a transcript of the spoken, rather than the written
As an electronic publication of the Truman Library, users should note that features of the original,
hardcopy version of the oral history interview, such as pagination and indexing, could not be
replicated for this online version of the Rauh transcript.
This oral history transcript may be read, quoted from, cited, and reproduced for purposes of
research. It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.
Opened January, 1992
Harry S. Truman Library
[Top of the Page I Notices and Restrictions I Interview Transcript]
Oral History Interview with
Joseph L. Rauh, JR.
June 21, 1989
Niel M. Johnson
JOHNSON: :Mr. Rauh, I’m going to start by asking you to tell us where you were born, when you
were born and what your parents’ names were.
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RAUH: I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on January 3, 1911, making me 78 now. My father’s name
was Joseph Rauh; I’m a junior. My father was born in Bamberg, Bavaria, Germany; he was an
immigrant. My mother’s name was Sarah Weiler. She was born in this country, but her ancestors
came from Germany. We were German Jews; Cincinnati was quite a home for German Jews and
JOHNSON: That’s where you got your education?
RAUH: Yes. Actually my father was an education nut. He was a small businessman, but he anted to
make enough money to give his kids the best education. Of course, in those days, and maybe it’s
still true, the prestige lay with Harvard, and the happiest thing in my father’s life was that he had
enough money to send both my brother and me to Harvard. So we got the best education possible.
JOHNSON: You had one brother. Did you have any sisters?
RAUH: Yes. My brother’s dead. My sister is alive; she is 87 years old. She’s a pediatrician. She
doesn’t practice anymore, but she was a very wonderful, successful pediatrician in Cincinnati,
setting up her office in the poor districts. She was a liberal, a Truman liberal, all the time.
JOHNSON: So there were three children.
RAUH: Three children.
JOHNSON: And you’re what, the oldest, youngest?
RAUH: I’m the youngest of the three.
JOHNSON: What was your brother’s name?
RAUH: Carl. He went into my father’s business, but the business folded. It was a shirt business and
you couldn’t make apparel in the north after a while because of the southern competition in wages.
So my brother sold out. He got out of the business rather young, and he died rather young. He was
just 67 when he died.
JOHNSON: Your father’s occupation then was …
RAUH: A small shirt manufacturer. He was a died-in-the-wool Republican who marched in the
1896 gold parade of McKinley in Cincinnati. He was a died-in-the-wool, conservative Republican,
and all three children were Democrats.
JOHNSON: Did he mellow as he got older?
RAUH: Well, the joke in our house always was, and my mother would tell the joke; he would
denounce Roosevelt, and then say to my mother, “Sarah, go upstairs and get that clipping about
Joseph and the New Deal.” I mean he was proud of his kids even ifhe disagreed with them. We had
a happy family.
JOHNSON: What was your major in college?
RAUH: Economics, although I don’t know a damn thing about it. I don’t know why I did that.
When I went into college it was before the Depression; I matriculated in 1928, September of ’28.
October of ’29 is Black Monday, and that’s when people started worrying and that’s when I went
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into law. So I went into law school rather than anything else. There was no room in this little
[family] business for anybody else, so my father said, “Why don’t you go to law school?” I was sort
of treading water, going to law school.
JOHNSON: Are you saying now that your father was probably the most important influence on you
in these years?
RAUH: Up to the time I went to college, there’s no question, he was the most important influence.
College and law school changed all that.
JOHNSON: Okay, what influences did you come under there?
RAUH: Well, the most important influence, of course, was Felix Frankfurter. I am what they called
back in the thirties one of the Frankfurter “happy hot dogs.” I don’t think there were terribly many
influences that I had in college. I did fairly well; I was not a bad student. But going to law school,
the chief influence was Felix Frankfurter and that’s how I came here to Washington.
One day in my third year in law school, he stopped me and said, “What are you going to do next
year?” I said, “Well, I’ve been hired by the best Jewish law firm in Cincinnati.” And he said, “Well,
you’re not going there.” I said, “What do you mean, sir?” He said, “Well, you’re going to
Washington. You’d just be silly not to.” And he got me a job; he got me the law clerkship to Justice
[Benjamin] Cardozo, and the law clerkship of himself when he took Cardozo’s spot three years
later. So, yes, that was the greatest influence in my career.
JOHNSON: And Frankfurter was a reformist.
RAUH: He was a reformist. Hugh Johnson, the head of NRA [National Recovery Administration]
hated Frankfurter, but he said–and this wasn’t necessarily right– “He is the single most important
person in Washington after the President.” There’s some truth in that. I mean that’s obviously an
overstatement, but it wasn’t so ridiculously an overstatement. He was a tremendous figure down
here. Well, there weren’t many people that were closer to Roosevelt than Frankfurter.
So, my father’s belief in the prestige of Harvard and my going to Harvard Law School affected my
life. I mean it changed it completely. I always say if it wasn’t for Felix Frankfurter, I’d be an
overstuffed corporate lawyer like most everybody else.
JOHNSON: So you came into Washington and became a law clerk …
RAUH: To Justice Benjamin Cardozo. There are some pictures there, and there [pointing to the
wall]. Then when Cardozo died, Frankfurter got the job. I actually volunteered for law clerk
because it was in the middle of the year that he was appointed to Cardozo’s seat, and it’s hard to get
a law clerk right in the middle of the year, so I just volunteered. Of course, Frankfurter took up the
volunteer offer, because he knew me. Also he said, “You’ve got more experience on the Supreme
Court than I do,” because I’d been there for two years with Cardozo. So I went back for a few
months with Frankfurter, and then I went back into the Government.
JOHNSON: In what year did you start with Cardozo?
RAUH: I came here in ’35 and I would have been Cardozo’s law clerk that year, starting in the fall
of’35, but Cardozo decided for the first time to keep his then-law clerk, a fellow named Alan
Stroock. His father was a big Jewish lawyer in New York. Since Alan was staying an extra year,
Felix told me, “You go work for Ben Cohen and Torn Corcoran for the year while you’re waiting to
be the law clerk to Justice Cardozo.” So l worked for Ben Cohen and Tom Corcoran: it’s described
a little bit in Joe Lash’s book on Dealers and Dreamers. I worked there for a year. Then in ’36 l
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went to work for Justice Cardozo, and I was there until ’38. Then there were a few months, after
Cardozo died, when there were no appointees. Roosevelt then appointed Frankfurter in December
of ’38, and he took the seat in January of ’39. I was his law clerk for a few months, and then I went
back to the New Deal and was there until the war.
JOHNSON: Were you involved in drafting any of the arguments, as in 1937, to defend the New
RAUH: No. I was working for Cardozo, for example, when he had the Social Security decision to
· write; that was in 1937, but I was working for the Court, not for the outside. Cardozo wrote the
· decision upholding Social Security. There was a big attack on Social Security. There was an attack
on everything the New Deal was doing, but after the Court packing plan, why the Court made quite
JOHNSON: Of course, one of those conservative justices retired at a propitious time.
RAUH: Yes, that was in May of 1937.
JOHNSON: Yes, I think they talk about ’37 as the time of revolution in the Supreme Court.
RAUH: That’s right.
JOHNSON: And Cohen was one of the drafters of the Social Security Act, was he not?
RAUH: Cohen had been drafter of a lot of the legislation: the Securities Act, the Securities and
Exchange Act, the Holding Company Act, the Minimum Wage Act, he drafted all those, and he
helped with some of the others, including Social Security. But as far as the Court packing plan was
concerned, he and Tommy Corcoran were not consulted on the Court packing plan until it went up
to Congress. Then they were consulted and they changed the whole strategy, those two. What
happened was that Roosevelt had this ridiculous strategy that Homer Cummings the Attorney
General had worked out, saying, “The Court’s too old, and they can’t do their work. We’re going to
appoint one new judge for every judge on the bench over 70 who doesn’t resign.”
That was ridiculous because there wasn’t anything wrong with these guys’ brains, what was wrong
was their goddamn views. They were knocking statutes out right and left. Cohen really was the
architect of this, but he and Corcoran always worked together. They said, and they persuaded the
President, that the age of the Justices was not the way to get the packing plan adopted. What you
had to do is just say, “We need minimum wages now. The only way to get them is this way. We
need a maximum hours law now. We’ve got to stop child labor now. We’ve got to have a labor
relations act now.” So the emphasis was on the word “now.” If you wanted to have these things that
people wanted, you had to change the Court. The Court changed and then, of course, interestingly
enough, the Court not only changed but then Roosevelt’s plan got defeated. I think that was divine
intervention; this was the perfect outcome. The New Deal was saved by the Court changing its
views,, but there’s no precedent for the future of packing the Court by increasing the numbers. You
may say that Reagan packed the Court, but he packed it by the people he put on; he didn’t add
people. So, I think the result in 1937 was perfect. The New Deal was saved, and Roosevelt’s Court
packing bill was defeated. See my article in the November, 1990, North Carolina Law Review.
JOHNSON: So, it didn’t set a bad precedent.
RAUH: That’s right.
JOHNSON: You know, I think that Truman was critical of that Court packing bill. He was about 98
percent in line with New Deal legislation, but I think he was a critic of that approach too.
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RAUH: Burton Wheeler was the leader of the negative approach. I don’t know what Truman’s
relations with Wheeler were.
JOHNSON: Well, he felt favorable towards Wheeler because Wheeler really helped him take a role
in the transportation field, you know. Truman’s the one that helped rewrite the rules on railroads
and made that famous statement about Jesse James being a “piker” in holding up railroads, in
comparison with holding companies that were “looting” them.
JOHNSON: So you were a clerk on the Supreme Court to these people; and you were very well
acquainted with New Deal legislation as a result. Then you take up private practice?
RAUH: At the end of’45, the beginning of’46, I did.
JOHNSON: Not until after the war?
RAUH: Not until after the war did I go into private practice.
JOHNSON: Were you with Frankfurter then when the war came?
RAUH: No, I was at the Lend-Lease Administration and the Office for Emergency Management.
Of all the times in the New Deal, that was the most exciting period. You have to realize that there
was a lot of anti-Semitism in those days–Pelley’s Silver Shirts, and Father Coughlin’s Social Justice
movement, and all of that. Anti-Semitism resulted in part because many thought the Jews were
trying to get us into the war. I plead guilty. I felt that Hitler was going to try to conquer the world,
and the sooner we prepared for war and got into it, the safer this country would be.
So in 1941 I worked in two agencies. I was the Deputy General Counsel of the Lend-Lease
Administration under a wonderful man named Oscar Cox, whose papers are at Yale. Then I also
was the Deputy General Counsel of the Office for Emergency Management, of which Cox was also
the General Counsel. Wayne Coy was the head of that agency. He was assistant to the President,
running sort of a holding company for all the war preparation agencies.
Here are some things that may be worth recording, not because they are important as recording my
feelings, but I think they happen to be right. In ’40 and ’41 when we were supposed to be preparing
for war against Hitler, and most Americans thought we would ultimately have to fight Hitler, we
did a bad job of preparing for war. Big business didn’t want to prepare for war. Big business was
making so much money with civilian production they didn’t want to talk about it. The auto
companies, for example, made more cars in 1941 than ever before, when they should have been
making airplanes. The interesting thing there, affecting President Truman, was that at that time as a
Senator he was chairman of the committee to oversee war production for Congress.
The committee made a terrible mistake, I think, and I’ve given a talk on this. I gave a lecture on this
at a convocation on the Holocaust at the Harvard Divinity School last year. Here was my point. I
was not here during the Holocaust; I was overseas. When they asked me if I’d speak, I said, “No, I
really don’t know that much about the Holocaust. The only thing I have to offer is that in the two
years before Pearl Harbor we didn’t get prepared; we lengthened the Holocaust by the fact that
victory took much longer to achieve than it otherwise would have.”
Well the relevance of Truman to all this, in my judgment, is that they set up this committee for
oversight, the so-called Truman Committee; I can’t remember its exact name.
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JOHNSON: It was the Senate Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program.
RAUH: That committee, which we can call the Truman Committee, did a good job on the
unimportant things. They did a good job exposing waste and fraud, but they did nothing about why
the Armed Services weren’t getting any guns and planes and tanks. I really made a study of this. I
got every book out of the Georgetown University Library that dealt with the Truman Committee,
and every book shows that the first time they criticized the failure of production was after Pearl
Harbor. The Truman Committee had an opportunity there to have hastened preparation for war and
didn’t do it. When I say the committee dealt with the minor things, I’m not saying it was minor
politically, but to me the important event was getting ready to fight Hitler and to get enough planes
and tanks and trucks and guns and ammunition and all of the rest of the things that go with the
preparation for war, and they didn’t. The Truman Committee didn’t press business for more military
and less civilian production. Truman was not part of the group that was trying to do more about
that. He limited the work of his committee–that is until after Pearl Harbor–he limited the work of
that committee to waste and fraud and things like that.
Well, I’m not saying that those are unimportant. I’m saying though that compared to the importance
of our getting ready to fight, getting the munitions, I consider them unimportant. That was the .. .
JOHNSON: Yes, the committee had actually started, I believe, because of reports of fraud and
mismanagement, during the construction of camps like Fort Leonard Wood.
RAUH: Sure, right.
JOHNSON: Truman kind of justified the thing originally on the need to investigate how they were
building these new Army camps, training camps, some of the early construction of buildings.
RAUH: What they could do was shown when the war finally came, and Truman held hearings on
why General Electric was still making all of this civilian stuff like refrigerators and all of their other
wonderful civilian things when they could have been making war materiel. There was tremendous
conversion to war production once Pearl Harbor happened, but prior to Pearl Harbor, there’s not one
line you’ll find in any Truman report or statement criticizing the failure to produce for war. Yet
everybody knew that industry wasn’t producing adequately for war.
JOHNSON: So you went with the lend-lease program as soon as it started?
RAUH: Yes, I was there right at the beginning.
JOHNSON: You left Frankfurter?
RAUH: Well, I had had a year in between at the Wage and Hour Division in the Labor Department,
and at the Federal Communications Commission, but my heart was in getting prepared to fight
Hitler. That’s why I feel so deeply about the Truman Committee; they did one of their two jobs and
they did that one very well. But the other jo}? that I think was so important–speeding up production
for war–that was not done at all. At least I tried to make sure before I said that at this meeting in
Cambridge, at this convocation on the Holocaust, I tried to make sure I had read everything that had
been written on or by the Truman Committee prior to Pearl Harbor. I haven’t read everything since
then. They exposed a lot of inaction after Pearl Harbor, but if they had done more before Pearl
Harbor I think we would have saved a lot of soldiers lives and a lot of Jewish lives.
For example, take something like Walter Reuther’s plan to build 500 planes a day in auto factories.
That plan was floated in the winter of ’40. There’s no reference to it anywhere in these books on the
Truman Committee. Now, I don’t want to say I’ve done more than I have. I never went through the
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files of the Truman Committee, so I can’t say that there’s not something in the files somewhere
there, but as far as the books on the subject of the Truman Committee, there’s no reference to the
I would have thought somebody that supervised war preparation would have wanted to see whether
Walter Reuther was right. Ifwe could have made the Reuther Plan work, we could have won the
war sooner and all the American boys’ lives, and the Jews’ lives, a lot more could have been saved.
So, I’m critical of President Truman in that respect, but I’m not able to say what’s in their files about
why they did and didn’t do what.
JOHNSON: After your work with lend-lease, what did you do?
RAUH: I went in the Anny.
JOHNSON: What month and year was that?
RAUH: Well, Phil Graham, later the publisher of the Washington Post, and I tried to enlist in the
Air Corps the day after Pearl Harbor. I thought the guy was going to die laughing at the two of us.
I’ll tell you exactly what my motivations were.
We had been trying to get this country into war. We thought we had to go to war ultimately, we had
to stop Hitler ultimately, and the sooner you stopped him, the better. I believed you couldn’t just let
him conquer more and more and more, and then try to beat him. So I felt once war was declared -especially
being Jewish–that I couldn’t possibly not go into the military. It took a while, but by
spring I was on my way to Australia in the Anny.
JOHNSON: The spring of’42?
RAUH: By the spring of’42, I was on my way to Australia on a ship. In the war I had different
posts. I had no military training, but there were things you could do that were valuable. The most
important job I had was planning and assisting the military government operation in the
Philippines. You have a military battle plan, and then there are appendices to that battle plan, and
there’s an appendix on supply and an appendix on this, and an appendix on that. Then the last
appendix is on what we called civil affairs, but what they called at the Pentagon, Military
Government. Our final plan for civil affairs was completed in Hollandia just before we shoved off
for the Philippines.
MacArthur wouldn’t take Military Government people from the States. He refused to accept any of
them. You know, the military commander in the area can bar people, and he barred any Military
Government troops. He wanted to do it out of his own people. Since I was a lawyer, the deputy
chief of staff put me in G-1 which was where we had the civil affairs section before we made it into
a G-5. I was to draft how you dealt with Military Government problems. Jeez, maybe I was a good
lawyer, but I didn’t know anything about that.
So, what happened was this. A friend of mine had gotten a trip back home to work on some supply
side problem in the invasion. He brought a book back with him. It was John Hersey’s A Bell for
Adano, a story of the invasion ofltaly. It had all of the problems in civil affairs_ like roads being
clogged by peasants when soldiers wanted to move to the front and so forth. I’ve always said I
helped write the battle plan on civil affairs for the Leyte invasion out of John Hersey’s A Bell for
Adano. I read it three times; I read it and read it. A marvelous book; it taught you how to do it. So I
was in civil affairs from, say, the summer of ’43 until after V-J Day when I left in August of ’45.
JOHNSON: What was your rank?
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RAUH: I ended up as lieutenant colonel. They offered me the moon to go to Japan, but …
JOHNSON: Were you one of these 90-day commissions when you went in?
RAUH: No, I had a regular lieutenant’s commission when I went in.
JOHNSON: Was this attached to the headquarters, to MacArthur’s headquarters, the civil
. government section?
RAUH: Oh, yes.
JOHNSON: That’s where you met Richard Bolling I suppose.
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RAUH: Yes, that’s exactly where I met Dick–first at our Hollandia headquarters and then Dick and
I were on the same LST from Hollandia to Leyte; that’s six days at sea, weaving back and forth.
Dick was the adjutant and I was more or less in charge of civil affairs. It was damn nice to have
somebody who could write an order when you needed an order fast. Dick and I weren’t quite
military, you know; we didn’t follow routines too much. Anyway, Dick and I were on the same LST
together, but we never talked politics or ideology. I guess you’re a little scared you’re going to die
on the beach. Even though I wasn’t a shooter, you were on the same beach with the shooting. So we
never talked about anything serious.
That’s 1944. Three years later, in March in Chicago, I bumped into Dick at an ADA organizational
meeting and both of us exploded at each other, “What the hell are you doing here?” We didn’t know
all we had in common.
JOHNSON: You didn’t talk politics.
RAUH: Not on that LST. I have no recollection of any politics on that LST.
JOHNSON: Did you share any of your feelings about MacArthur, the two of you?
RAUH: I don’t think so. As a matter of fact, both of us had fared rather well. Dick was the head
adjutant for the invasion. Even though only a Captain, he was the Adjutant on the invasion.
MacArthur got pissed off, I think, with his regular Adjutant General and he wanted somebody else.
Somebody suggested, “Well, that young Bolling is pretty good.” So Dick was the Adjutant there,
and he fared pretty well. I was in general charge of Civil Affairs, and that’s a pretty good job, too.
So I don’t know that we were really that hostile to MacArthur at the time.
My wife says that I’ve changed. She says, “Your letters were a lot downer on MacArthur than you
are now.” I said, “Well, I did get home didn’t I?” So, anyway .. .
JOHNSON: And Bolling was rather critical too of what he saw, especially those around
RAUH: Well, we both felt that, Dick and I.
RAUH: Yes, sycophants they were.
JOHNSON: And those were the only ones he’d have around him, rubber stampers?
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RAUH: I can’t think of anybody that wasn’t a rubber stamper.
JOHNSON: Was (Major General Charles A.] Willoughby then with them?
RAUH: Willoughby was G-2; [Major General Stephen A.] Chamberlain was G-3, that’s for
operations; [Brigadier General] Bonner Fellers, who later was a public right-winger, one of those
Birchers, was G-1. He was my boss, but he gave me pretty much a free hand. And then Courtney
Whitney, who was MacArthur’s speechwriter, took Fellers’ place and was my boss in the Civil
Affairs. Courtney just said, “Keep them out of my hair. I don’t care what you do, but keep those
guys away from me.” We were finally in Manila. Courtney had lived in Manila and MacArthur had
lived in Manila, so a lot of these Manila businessmen would demand to see us and say something
like, “I need three trucks to start my business up.” All Whitney would say was, “Goddamn it,
Colonel, get that thing settled. I don’t want to be bothered; I’m writing speeches for the General;”
there was, of course, only one general there–MacArthur.
One of the most interesting things for me from that period, historically, I think, happened when my
father died. I had been overseas by that time for more than a year and a half, and I was entitled to a
trip home, to see my wife and children. I got the trip home in December of ’43 after my father died.
I was on this plane going to the States and so was Phil Lafollette. You know, you’re sitting there all
night on a plane and going home, and you get kind of emotional and talk to the guy you’re sitting
next to. I also had some booze which we shared. Phil says, “I’ve got something here pretty
important.” I said, “What is it?” He said, “It’s a letter from General MacArthur that I’m to deliver to
Tom Dewey.” I said, “Well, what’s it say?” He said, “Well, I don’t know,” but he said it in a way
that I thought he did know. He said, “I think; I think it asks Dewey what he, MacArthur, could do to
help in the upcoming election.”
You know, it’s funny, that’s what, 45 years ago. I don’t know ifhe read me that. I can’t remember; I
just remember the clear feeling that he was telling me something, or he showed me something. I
can’t remember that, but I do know that he was saying, “I got a letter from the General to next year’s
Presidential candidate.” I’ve never seen Phil Lafollette since that night on the plane.
JOHNSON: It seems that MacArthur was sticking his neck out. He is a general under the
Commander-in-Chief and he’s offering to help the future political adversary of his Commander-inChief
in the ’44 election.
RAUH: Oh, but he hated Roosevelt with a passion, indeed.
JOHNSON: Did you ever hear him talk about Roosevelt?
RAUH: Oh, I wouldn’t know big stuff like that. I wouldn’t have heard MacArthur talk about
anything important. I would hear Bonner Fellers talk pretty loosely. There wasn’t any question that
he, Bonner Fellers, was interpreting MacArthur’s views, that MacArthur hated Roosevelt. Of
course, there was that big argument, I guess it was in Honolulu, where FDR, [Admiral Chester]
Nimitz and MacArthur met, and Nimitz wanted to go to Formosa.
JOHNSON: In fact, I think that was during the convention in ’44.
RAUH: Nimitz wanted to go to Formosa. And MacArthur wanted to go to the Philippines, and they
both argued their case in front of Roosevelt.
RAUH: And MacArthur won the battle. The witness was Fellers. I don’t know what the hell
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MacArthur took Fellers along for, but he did take Fellers along …
JOHNSON: He was there with the President and the General and the Admiral?
RAUH: In that meeting, yes. There was terrible ill-feeling between Washington and MacArthur.
Every time a division went to Europe, to Eisenhower, boy there was grumbling in our headquarters:
“Roosevelt has screwed it up again.” “Why do we want to let the Communists win in Europe and
then we lose in Asia. Why don’t we win in Asia, and to hell with the other side.”
JOHNSON: But MacArthur did get his way on that one.
RAUH: Yes, he did.
JOHNSON: And he finally did convince Roosevelt that it would be a betrayal of the Philippines if
he didn’t return like he said he was going to.
RAUH: Oh, yes. Oh yes, no question about it, MacArthur won that battle. You should have seen
Feller’s face when he walked in to report to his staff, in G-1, what had happened there. Boy, you
would have thought that he inherited a million bucks. He was so excited that MacArthur had talked
down Nimitz, and Roosevelt had ruled for MacArthur.
JOHNSON: Roosevelt was on his way to this meeting, when he stopped in Chicago.
RAUH: Is that right?
JOHNSON: During the convention. And they got this letter from him in which he said that either
[William O.] Douglas or Truman would be fine as Vice-Presidential candidates. Apparently,
Truman’s friends included some of the city Bosses, and they influenced Roosevelt.
RAUH: Who was it that was chairman of the party.
JOHNSON: [Robert] Hannegan.
RAUH: I was always told that Hannegan went on that railroad car and got the letter with a
reverse draft of that.
JOHNSON: With Truman mentioned first.
RAUH: That’s right.
JOHNSON: And Douglas second.
RAUH: Then Hannegan leaped on that, that the President’s real preference was the first one-Truman.
JOHNSON: Yes, they worked that pretty smoothly. That was a very eventful month, there is no
question about it, with the convention and then the meeting with MacArthur and Nimitz. That
would have been July of ’44.
RAUH: The Democrats being in, they had their convention second. The ins always have it second,
because they need less time to work.
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JOHNSON: Well, you were released from the Anny when?
RAUH: Early September. I got home on the first of September . MacArthur had promised
me. You know about the point system? After V-E Day in Europe, they set up a point system of
getting out. You could go home, depending on the number of months you were overseas, if you had
a family, a good record. I had enough points coming out of my ears after Europe surrendered, and I
wanted to come home. I put in for my points, and they didn’t want me to go. They wanted me to
finish the job of setting up the civil government there. They gave me MacArthur’s word that they’d
get me home by the first of September which was also my tenth wedding anniversary.
JOHNSON: In ’45,just before the signing of the surrender terms.
RAUH: So I’m getting ready about August to go home, and along comes the [atomic] bomb and the
surrender. My superiors said, “Won’t you come to Japan,” and I said, “No, everybody has promised
I can go home for staying this extra couple of months.” They took it to MacArthur and he signed
the order, and gave me an “A” Travel Priority, which was the earliest plane you could get. I got
home on the first of September, my tenth anniversary. MacArthur lived up to the promises made to
JOHNSON: You came back here to Washington, D.C.
RAUH: That’s right.
JOHNSON: And to your family. Did you take up where you’d left off, in the Government?
RAUH: No, I didn’t go back. I started to practice law, but within a few months, Wilson Wyatt, the
President’s Housing Expediter, called up and said, “You’ve got to come over here and help run this
place; it’s a mess.” What this place was, was
the . . .
JOHNSON: Veterans Emergency Housing program?
RAUH: Yes, the Veterans Emergency Housing Program. He says, “The place is a mess and
everybody says you’re a great guy, and we’ll get along fine, and why don’t you come over and run
this thing for me. I can deal with the problems that I have, with the Congress and the
Administration, and all that, and will you come over?” Oh, hell, I was still young, see, I was 35, and
I said, “sure.” So I went and worked with Wilson until Wilson got canned, and then I left with him.
The housing program was very difficult. We were past the war. There was no fear of war. There
were only very small areas of controls left from the war. I used to put it, “We’re an island of control
in a sea awash without any controls whatever.” There were some controls. Price controls were still
on, on most things. There was still some controls on supplies, but they were very weak.
So, on the housing thing, we were pretty much alone, and we just had no way of getting housing
built. We weren’t getting the houses, let’s face it. There wasn’t much being built. There weren’t any
nails, there wasn’t any plaster, there wasn’t any anything, because you had to get it all going and we
tried to do it too fast. Hell, there were 15 million new families that you had to get places for. Wyatt
was a dynamo, and he’s a great guy, but the obstacles were overwhelming.
JOHNSON: Did you get involved with the Lustron Corporation?
RAUH: Oh, yes. Sure.
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JOHNSON: And that was going to be a prefab aluminum type
RAUH: Oh, boy did I get involved. I’ll tell you about that. We decided that the veterans housing
program just wasn’t going to work unless something new and drastic was inserted in it. So, what we
tried to do was to get RFC to give 100 percent loans to companies who could really offer something
new–either on-site mass production or like Lustron, who we thought could offer off-site
: prefabrication out of steel.
Well, several things were going forth at the same time. We were trying to get 100 percent loans
from Jesse Jones at RFC. That was one of the things we wanted. We also needed a factory for
Lustron, and the available factory was the big surplus engine factory, Pratt and Whitney, in
Chicago. A guy named [Preston] Tucker, who wanted to build a rear-engine car, got an option on
Pratt and Whitney.I t was an engine place in Chicago; that is my recollection now. And Lustron
came in and said, “That’s the perfect factory to build prefabricated housing, the perfect place, and
we want it. ”
There was no need for automobiles, for Christ sake; there were plenty of companies who could
build automobiles, but there was only one company that said they could build prefabricated houses
en mass. Wilson was out of town, so I signed the order taking Pratt & Whitney away from Tucker
and giving it to, I think the man’s name was Strandlund, of Lustron.
Then we lose the election. All of this happens about the same time; and then we lose the ’46
election. Then, Wyatt wrote a Jetter to Truman saying what had to be done to save the housing
program. We were pretty well admitting we were not building the number of houses that we
needed. And so Wyatt wrote this letter outlining everything that needed to be done. We all worked
on it all night, and the letter was delivered to the White House in the morning.I don’t know the
sonofabitch that leaked that letter, but somebody showed Truman the outlines of that letter in the
Wall Street Journal, and he went through the roof. Wilson got a letter back. I got a call from his
Secretary, “Get in here.” Wilson handed me a letter from Truman. He was ashen.I t said something
like, “I do not like to read my mail in the Wall Street Journal.” I can’t quote the exact language but
you probably have it anyway. You’ve probably got that letter.
JOHNSON: You got this letter from Harry Truman, President Truman.
JOHNSON: Complaining about reading this letter in the Wall Street Journal.
RAUH: Reading the letter in the Wall Street Journal. I think it was the Wall Street Journal.
JOHNSON: And that letter concerned …
RAUH: It was our new program; what had to be done if the program was to be saved. It had 100
percent loans in it; we had to have the right to cut off sending nails to any place except housing
people. It was really
a . . .
JOHNSON: Somebody leaked that letter to the …
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JOHNSON: And you have no idea who it was?
RAUH: I have no idea. I’m a big leaker, but I didn’t leak that one. I engaged in a lot of leaks
because I believe that the only way you ever get anything done in the Government is to get the
problem out in the open. So, I’m not saying I wouldn’t have leaked it, but I’m saying before I even
thought about leaking it, Goddamn if Truman doesn’t see it in, I think, the Wall Street Journal. At
any rate, from there on it was pretty clear we were going to have to get out.
JOHNSON: And that was not his favorite newspaper, either, of course.
RAUH: I guess that’s right. At any rate, Wilson came into my office one day early in December I
guess, and said, “Joe, we’re going over to the White House.” I said, “What are we going to do over
there?” “Well, we’re going to negotiate my withdrawal, my resignation.” I said, “What do you
mean?” He said, “Oh, I’d like to give them a nice letter, and get a nice letter back, and so we’re
going over.” I said, “Who are you going to deal with?” He said, “Clark Clifford.”
So, we went over and we were seated in some room or other. I’ve been in most of the executive
rooms there. It wasn’t the one the President uses; it was some small room. Clifford and Wilson and
I were the only ones there, and Wilson says to Clifford that he’s ready to resign if that’s what the
President wants. Clifford made clear in that oily fashion of his, that the President wanted Wilson’s
resignation. They were talking about that, and everything was going very reasonably. Wilson was
trying to work out the language, why he’s resigning and so forth; that’s always the hard problem
when you’re really being fired. I hadn’t said boo, but then I said something to Clifford such as, “I
don’t think that’s fair to Wilson,” something concerning what Clifford had written. Clifford said to
me, “I don’t know what you’re doing here anyway.” Boy, I will love Wilson to the day I die for this;
Wilson said, “Clark, I’m packing up, and we’re leaving unless you apologize to Joe.”
Oh, boy, that oiliness went out the window. I got such a fast apology. So I’ll love Wilson until the
day I die for that one.
At any rate, Charlie Ross soon came in. He was then, I guess, the press secretary. He came in and
said, “How’s it going, boys?” I guess the press people were on his ass for news. I think both said,
“It’ll be all right; it will just take a little while.” So, he resigned that afternoon. I resigned the next
day, with a fellow named Norton Long, who was the program director. Long has never been the
same since because he made a crack that was much quoted then: “The greatest disaster in American
history is when Jacobson’s haberdashery went broke.” Long got drunk and went to New York after
he made that crack, and he saw it in the New York Times and in lights on Times Square. It’s got this
thing, that Norton Long said, “The greatest disaster in American history is the Jacobson
haberdashery going broke.” I don’t think Long was ever the same after he saw that. That headline
was on the Times Square building.
I resigned the next day and went on a vacation, but I did get out to see the Strandlund house, and it
was a very interesting thing. I don’t say it was economically feasible, but it was a very interesting
experience. We took some vacation, and then I went back into law practice.
Wilson and I remained great friends. I love him; I can’t understand his book, but I love him. He’s a
wonderful guy, but his book is rather strange on the issue of whether we were canned or not. I have
never felt as sure that I was being canned in all my life. You’d have to judge for yourself.
JOHNSON: He wrote his autobiography and it was published?
RAUH: About 200 pages, very short. But this thing I just couldn’t understand. Anyway, Wilson and
I became great friends.
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Now, on January 4, 1947, the ADA is formed. That’s less than a month of our being canned, of Paul
Porter and the OP A going out, and everything happening.
JOHNSON: Did they dissolve that emergency housing, or was he replaced?
RAUH: No. He was replaced and the thing was cut to almost nothing. It was not dissolved, but it
was cut. They pretended like we’re still going to have the program, but it was all cut to nothing.
: JOHNSON: So you went back into private practice. Were you by yourself, here in Washington?
JOHNSON: Your own office. Did you decide to orient yourself toward certain cases?
RAUH: No, I didn’t. I was just waiting to see what would happen, and many things happened fast.
There was the ADA [Americans for Democratic Action].
JOHNSON: How did you get interested in the ADA? Were you in the UDA [Union for Democratic
RAUH: Well, I was not in the UDA because that was during the war.
JOHNSON: That was [Reinhold] Niebuhr’s and [James] Loeb’s organization.
JOHNSON: Had you met them, or did you know them before ’44?
RAUH: No. Not before ’46. I met Jim in ’46. Well, Jim sought me out in ’46 to go into the planning
sessions for the ADA, and into the UDA, which was to move over into ADA. Jim sought me out
and we became fast friends. Jim Loeb is one hell of a guy.
JOHNSON: But he knew you were interested in civil liberties, apparently.
RAUH: Well, I was just starting out. My interests weren’t so obvious yet.
JOHNSON: You had worked for Frankfurter, though.
RAUH: Oh, yes, I would be known as a liberal because of Frankfurter. But I guess if you’d take my
interest in the Government, I always felt that the greatest contribution, if I made any in the·
Government, was in trying to get preparation for war in ’40 and ’41. At any rate, I did start to
practice and we did start the ADA. There was an all day meeting at the Willard Hotel on January 4,
1947, and then two months later there was a two-day meeting at the Washington Hotel, and that’s
when Wilson was elected chairman of the Board of the ADA. All of these things were happening at
once. Truman was at a very conservative, unpopular stage, under the Clifford regime, which was
getting out of price controls, and we’re going to be tough on labor, and he had the strikes you know.
JOHNSON: A record number of strikes in ’46.
RAUH: And they were very tough.
JOHNSON: But he had a fact-finding board to try to work out agreements.
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RAUH: That’s right. And he threatened to draft the railroad strikers–all of this. There was this
period–and everything’s going forward at the same time. Wyatt’s out, [Paul A.] Porter is out, the
ADA is being formed, there are strikes and labor is angry; so you get all that in this period.
JOHNSON: Anti-Communism was starting too because of …
RAUH: I don’t know what you would call the dominant motivation of the ADAers in ’46 and ’47. In
’46 we had a steering committee. It was Loeb, Jimmy Wechsler of the New York Post; Arthur
Schlesinger [Jr.], the historian; myself, I guess; and somebody from the AFL, Boris Shiskin. There
was also somebody from the CIO, George Weaver. So that was sort of a steering committee that put
the thing together for the Willard Hotel meeting on the fourth of January and the Washington Hotel
in March or April. That’s how the ADA started. The motivations were clearly two-fold. One was
Truman’s movement towards the conservative side, after the ’46 election, the disaster to the
Democrats there. The other was the effort to separate the Commies from the liberals, and the antiWallace
feeling on our side, and the anti-liberal feeling on the Wallace side.
JOHNSON: You were trying to restore the respectability of liberalism after the Republican
victories in ’46?
RAUH: Well, it wasn’t just the Republican victories, although that helped in what we were trying to
do, but we also had a number of the issues there regarding the Communists. There was no question
that in the PCA, Progressive Citizens of America, the Communists had control. Indeed, Wallace
wrote a piece in 1950 flatly stating that he had not realized that the Communists had control of the
group then. That was a real watershed in American liberalism.
JOHNSON: How about the American Veterans Committee? Had you been a member?
RAUH: Yes, I was a member of that.
JOHNSON: As soon as you came back, after you came back here?
RAUH: I have a 1945 card in the A VC. It’s pretty frayed; I’ve kept it in my pocket.
JOHNSON: And that kept you identified with the liberal veterans didn’t it?
RAUH: Yes. And [Charles] Bolte, the chairman of the AVC, was at the ADA founding. Those
things were going forward in ’46 and ’47, together.
JOHNSON: Did the American Veterans Committee ever have any links to the White House, or any
correspondence with any staff people at the White House? Or any support of any kind?
RAUH: I don’t have any remembrance of it.
JOHNSON: But the White House did give support to ADA, did it not?
RAUH: In other words, there were people in the Administration who were members of ADA.
JOHNSON: David Lloyd, of course.
RAUH: Yes. I’m trying to think of other people who were there. There were people in the
Administration that were in the ADA. I mean, basically, we were pushing from the left on Truman.
We had many disagreements. For example, there was Truman’s loyalty program in 1947. ADA was
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screaming about the loyalty program, and I was working a great deal defending loyalty cases. When
you say, “How did your practice get set up?”, well, your practice gets made for you. That was the
pre-McCarthy period, but you already had all of the loyalty cases. It’s very hard making a living on
that, but I did have a little …
JOHNSON: They gravitated toward your office?
RAUH: Well, probably the most famous loyalty case for that entire period was in my office. It was
William Remington. Some people did contribute to the cause, and you could eke out a living.
JOHNSON: Okay, so you were pronouncing a strong anti-Communist position, and at the same
time you were promoting a strong pro-civil liberties position, and I suppose that created some
RAUH: Predsely, or presumptive problems. The Communists would say, “You don’t believe in
civil liberties, because you’re against us,” and then we’d say, “Well, we’re not against you, and we’ll
defend your civil liberties to the extreme, but we don’t think we have to have your crowd wreck our
organization for us.”
So there our ADA is started, basically on civil liberties grounds, even though we didn’t want the
Communists in our organization to wreck it. They had pretty close to wrecked the AVC, and we
had the benefit of that experience.
JOHNSON: Civil rights maybe was secondary at this time. In other words, civil liberties comes
first, and then civil rights entered the picture and becomes more common?
RAUH: Civil rights takes over pretty fast.
JOHNSON: By ’48.
RAUH: By ’48, because by July of ’48, when the Democratic Party had its convention, we were
able to win with our minority plank. Now, that story has been told many times.
JOHNSON: Before we get to that, of course, Truman set up Presidential commissions on civil
RAUH: Yes. To Secure These Rights. A fine report. That’s right, and so Truman had a pro-civil
rights aura, from that event of setting up that commission, a very liberal commission, which made a
very liberal report. But, when we came to talking about the party platform, Truman was not for a
strong civil-rights platform.
Incidentally, in his memoirs he says he wrote our civil rights dissent. That can only be called a
monumental mistake of fact. Truman was on the wrong side of that fight. We beat the whole
machinery of that convention in ’48. The Missouri delegation voted unanimously against us; that
was the President’s delegation. The Kentucky delegation of Alben Barkley, the nominee for Vice
President, voted unanimously against it. The Rhode Island delegation of Democratic chairman [J.
Howard ] McGrath voted unanimously against us. So Truman’s story is just not correct. Mr. Truman
must have had a blur in his memory.
JOHNSON: Before that, many ADAers had said, “Well, we like your programs for the most part,
but we don’t think you win, and we need a winner.” So they started talking about [Dwight D.]
Eisenhower and [William O.] Douglas.
RA UH: And/or Douglas.
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JOHNSON: What were you doing at this point? Were you trying to . . .
RAUH: I wasn’t for any of them. I mean I was against Truman. I don’t think you’re quite accurate
when you say that the ADA was satisfied with the platform,
JOHNSON: Let us say, before the convention.
RAUH: Or, I mean was satisfied with Truman’s actions, and the only ground for opposition was
that he couldn’t win. There was great dissatisfaction with Truman’s actions. There was the loyalty
program which was violently opposed. There was no civil rights legislation. I mean he had helped
with To Secure These Rights, but he didn’t do anything to follow up that report. There was a great
feeling that he was wrong on Israel at this particular time. Later, he changed, but at the time of the
ADA convention in February of ’48, he was all wrong on the Jewish crisis, and you couldn’t get him
JOHNSON: Was he going for a mandate again, or a trusteeship by the U.N.?
RAUH: All that I remember now, over forty years later, is that he was getting hell from every side.
I know I was against him on Palestine, but I don’t remember exactly what the position was.
JOHNSON: Maybe, at about that point he was suggesting a trusteeship under the U.N.
RAUH: Well, whatever it was, what you had then was a great resentment against Truman on the
merits. Also there’s this tremendous change in personnel away from the New Deal people. Take, for
example, the situation involving [Francis] Biddle. I heard this from Biddle; this is Biddle’s side of
the story: Biddle was the Attorney General when Truman became President. A few weeks or maybe
a month maybe before Roosevelt’s death, Biddle had told Tom Clark to look for another job. Tom
Clark had some moderately top spot in the Justice Department, but Tom wasn’t so hot, and Biddle
thought he ought to look for another job.
Roosevelt dies, and Tom Clark goes to [Robert] Hannegan and says, “Do you want a pliant Justice
Department?” “Sure, how do I get one?” Clark replies, “Make me Attorney General.” Truman fired
Biddle and made Tom Clark Attorney General. Truman said in his memoirs that Biddle had
resigned and had recommended Tom Clark. Biddle wrote a letter to the [Washington, D.C.] Star–1
think it was the Star–saying, “That is an utter fabrication. I didn’t recommend Tom Clark. Mr.
Truman asked for my resignation, which I, of course gave him.” There was a lot of feeling about
this sort of action. Almost all of the Roosevelt New Deal people were out under the new President.
There was a piece in the New York Post, either just before or just after the ADA was founded,
about all the New Deal people who had left the administration.
JOHNSON: [Henry] Morgenthau, of course, was succeeded by [Fred] Vinson, as Secretary of the
Treasury, and then by [John W.] Snyder.
RAUH: There was a lot of that, you know. And so all of this created the Eisenhower and/or
Douglas movement, and I was part of that Eisenhower and/or Douglas movement. I am not the least
bit sorry about it. I think, if Eisenhower had been elected President in 1948, he probably would
have been a liberal President on the Democratic side. But he was a goddamn reactionary on the …
JOHNSON: He didn’t have a record at that point, did he?
RAUH: Yes, the record that we were going on were his speeches, which were very internationalist
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in substance and tone. In fact, we used to say, “Well, it’s all right with us, that the Chicago Tribune
calls Ike ‘FDR in uniform’.” We said, “That’s exactly what we’re looking for.”
At any rate, we did have that position and Paul A. Porter, who was for Truman at this time in 1948-
-he was back being an adviser to the President–said to me, “I’ve got a message for you, Joe.” I said,
“What’s the message.” He says, “It’s from President Truman.” Truman says to tell you that
“Anybody, any shit behind his desk, can get himself renominated and I want the ADA crowd to
know it.” That was the message that Porter gave us. I didn’t hear Truman give Porter that message
for us. And he proved to be right, although in [Lyndon B.] Johnson’s case twenty years later, that
didn’t prove to be right, that anybody behind that desk could get renominated. But there were more
primaries by the time Johnson came in.
JOHNSON: Well, at the convention, I guess by that time the ADA had decided to be more or less
RAUH: Well, by convention time, it was all over. We endorsed Truman. I mean, “what the hell.”
Even dumb liberals like me could see, when it’s hopeless,
and .. .
JOHNSON: So that kind of patched things up to a large extent, with Truman, your endorsement,
the ADA endorsement?
RAUH: Everybody worked in the campaign for Truman. That was the last campaign where you
could say “lib-lab” won–liber?s and labor. That was the last of the lib-lab successes.
JOHNSON: I suppose that’s been a paradox, or a tension, or whatever, in trying to match labor,
labor unions, especially labor union membership, with liberal causes.
RAUH: I think that’s the last time. I gave a lecture on it. I-can send you a copy sometime.
JOHNSON: That was the last time, you say, that you had a,real collaboration between liberals and
RAUH: I think it was the last big lib-labor collaboration. Stevenson didn’t arouse the labor people
very much the way Truman had done. Then you get into the ’60s: Meany was for the war in
Vietnam; liberals opposed the war. That [the 1948 election] was a real lib-lab, liberal-labor, victory.
As a matter of fact, the term “lib-lab” was used over and over again in the ’48 campaign.
JOHNSON: And, of course, farmers contributed to that.
RAUH: Well, sure, but people could treat them as labor.
JOHNSON: And the Black vote wasn’t all that much?
RAUH: Oh, you didn’t have that much of a Black vote. That would have been lib-lab, but you didn’t
have any real big Black vote.
JOHNSON: But you had a switch coming now, in party loyalties by the Blacks that did vote? That
is, they were switching to the Democrats?
RAUH: Well, they shifted really under Roosevelt. But there weren’t so many voting.
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JOHNSON: I notice Niebuhr was skeptical oflke and of his military background, having a military
RAUH: We had a lot of skepticism, and that’s where the Douglas thing came in, “and/or.” Bill
Douglas wanted it–bad. I was on the phone with him from the convention. The call was put in by
Leon Henderson Sunday afternoon, but Leon asked me to sit in with him. I heard that whole
conversation. Douglas still thought he had a chance, but he was wrong. We were there and we knew
it was over. We knew it was over from the time Truman got there. It proved Truman had it under
There is one thing about the convention I want to say. In this book by Hamby [Alonzo L. Hamby,
Beyond the New Deal: Harry S. Truman and American Liberalism. New York and London:
Columbia University Press, 1973.)–1 looked at it this morning for a minute .. .
JOHNSON: I’ve used that for some references too.
RAUH: Hamby says that after Eisenhower and Douglas were out, I went for [Claude] Pepper. That
is an absolute mistake of fact; and he had interviewed me. I didn’t remember he had interviewed
me, but I looked in the notes and he said he interviewed me. He said I had been for Pepper at the
convention. That is absolutely a falsehood. I agreed with Leon Henderson’s wonderful remark, “I’ve
had two horses shot out from under me and I’m not getting on any red roan.” I mean it was
ridiculous. I don’t know if Pepper ever endorsed Wallace, but he agreed with the Wallace view, and
there was no way any ADAer could have been for Pepper against Truman. The story is just not true.
The other person he mentions is Ted Thackrey, and that is true. Thackrey tried to keep going
against Truman. He was editor of the New York Post at the moment, and I believe he made Jimmy
Wechsler write a column for Pepper. The poor guy almost died; he wasn’t for Pepper at all, he was
JOHNSON: It is clear that ADA did have a positive effect in this election, for the Democratic
candidate, for Truman. Do you think the ADA ever had as much influence in subsequent elections
as it had in ’48?
RAUH: I think probably not.
JOHNSON: That was the high point of ADA’s influence on Presidential campaign politics?
RAUH: Things are a little hard to measure, but there was a good deal of influence in 1960. After
Hubert [Humphrey] got trounced by [John F.] Kennedy in ’60, in Wisconsin and then in West
Virginia, the ADA leadership swung to Kennedy. Walter Reuther and I helped swing ADA to
Kennedy. That, I think, may have prevented the Stevenson movement from getting strong enough
not to win, but to block Kennedy and give the nomination to Johnson. You know, the galleries were
packed with Stevenson people; someway or other they got the tickets. I don’t know who the hell’s
brainstorm that was. Letting the tickets out of hand was the way [Wendell] Willkie got nominated
and that’s the way Stevenson had the gallery in 1960; there’s no question about that. But I think the
ADA’s role there really was to block Johnson, and I think that’s what happened.
JOHNSON: You still had [Walter] Reuther and the CIO backing the ADAin ’60?
RAUH: Yes. And what I considered the “Stevenson Movement” was really a “Stop Kennedy
Movement.” And Truman was in on stopping Kennedy; he didn’t want Kennedy.
JOHNSON: He wouldn’t go out there; he said the convention was being rigged by the Kennedys.
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But he patched it up afterwards with the Kennedy people and party leaders.
RAUH: Oh, yes, he patched it up. But he made a statement one Saturday afternoon before the
Convention, and I remember listening to it on the radio and television. It was a statement against
Kennedy, that he hadn’t been tested enough to be President. I don’t think Truman wanted
Stevenson, for God’s sake, but he didn’t want Kennedy either.
JOHNSON: No. He was supporting [Stuart] Symington in ’60.
RAUH: Symington? But that would require stopping Kennedy, too. I think the ADA pulled the
roots out from under the stop Kennedy movement, and I think if you say, “Where did we have a
real input?” I think it was on that. You see, there was a letter from the ADA leadership, liberal
leadership, to Kennedy, that we support you and that really cut into the Stevenson support. I mean
the Stevenson campaign was a dichotomy. It had [Senator A.S. Mike] Monroney and the Johnson
people running it in large part, but it also had some damn good liberal support, I mean true general,
liberal support. But it was a dichotomy and nobody ever thought Stevenson would get the
I think Monroney was running it out of Johnson’s pocket. At any rate, I think the ADA influence
there, to hold the liberals for Kennedy as against Stevenson, not as against Humphrey. The ADA
had endorsed Humphrey; I mean we were all for Humphrey, but he just got slaughtered in the
JOHNSON: In 1948 Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr. and James Roosevelt were among those who were
promoting Eisenhower for President, and this really irritated Harry Truman. I think Truman says
that when he got to Los Angeles, in that ’48 campaign, why he just read James Roosevelt the riot
act, that his father would have been ashamed of him for doing this. Did you talk to James Roosevelt
or Franklin, Jr. during that time?
RAUH: Sure, to Franklin Roosevelt, Jr.
JOHNSON: And do you recalJ some of his comments, or statements about why he was promoting
Eisenhower so strongly?
RAUH: I think it was anti-Truman.
JOHNSON: Because he was really anti-Truman?
RAUH: I think so.
JOHNSON: Would you venture an opinion as to why he felt so strongly about that? Didn’t he think
Truman was upholding his father’s programs?
RAUH: I think that’s right. I think that’s true of Mrs. Roosevelt too. Why did the two of them come
on January 4, 1947, to the first ADA meeting? They knew what it was going to be. And what did
Elmer Davis say when he opened the meeting? “This is the New Deal Government in exile.”
JOHNSON: And this loyalty program that you said ADA was very critical about. Wasn’t that in
response to terrific public pressure?
JOHNSON: In a way, then, could it have been a safety valve to vent some of that pressure which
could have resulted perhaps in something worse? You didn’t see it as a pragmatic response?
: Truman Library – Joseph L. Rauh, Jr. Oral History Interview Page 21 of38
RAUH: We didn’t see it that way. Now, if you’re saying this 45 years later, for gosh sake, to think
about that, you’re raising a different point. Would it have been worse if Truman had not done the
loyalty program? That requires some thought. I don’t want to swear one way or the other off-thecu:ff.
Right then, I thought not. I mean, I thought you had to fight it. The worse thing about it was
his yielding to [J. Edgar] Hoover, because generally Truman was pretty tough on Hoover; but on
this one instance, he yielded to Hoover.
The Loyalty Review Board wanted to let the employee face his accuser, and Hoover said, “I will
not agree to have my informants identified where they don’t want to be.” And Truman’s crowd
I’m going to get ahead of the story, but I’m going to do that if you’ll let me. This is in Bob
Donovan’s book, because I gave it to.him, but I would like to put it in my oral history now.
One day in ’51 I got a call from Lloyd or Charlie Murphy or someone over there. Truman is living
in Blair House. It was early in the morning and they said, “The President would like to meet with
the leadership of the ADA this evening. Will you round it up?” I said, “Sure.” I rounded up ten
people. There were several labor people. I remember one Al Hayes, of the machinists, and there
were a couple of others. Jim Carey, I think, was there. And there was Biddle and me; we were the
officers then. And there were four or five others. There were ten of us. We were sitting around the
table there in Blair House, and Truman said, “I am considering whether to run again in 1952, and I
want your honest appraisal of the situation.”
We had not been prepared for this, so there was no collaboration. Each of us gave our individual
views. But the views were quite similar in the statement that we don’t know for sure, but there was
no Republican on the horizon that would get much ADA support. We went around the room to the
different people. Everybody had their say, and since I had arranged the meeting, I was last. I called
on the different people; Biddle was second to last.
My time came, and I went after the loyalty program. I gave him case after case where there were
terrible blunders and Truman didn’t seem to know that the employee couldn’t face his accusers. I
told him of one case where I found the accuser by accident. We had called the landlord to testify on
something or other and we didn’t know he was the accuser. We called him as a favorable witness,
and I asked him some question. He made clear that he told the investigator that this guy was a
Communist, my client. I said, “Well, how did you know he was a Communist.” He said, “Well, it’s
the literature he got.” I said, “Well, did you read it?” “Oh, no. I simply saw the word ‘Communist’
repeated there.” I said, “Well, could it have been statements that were anti-Communist?” And he
said, “Oh yeah, Communist, anti-Communist. This had happened in a hearing under his loyalty
program and I was able to tell this to the President of the United States. I was up to my ass in these
kinds of cases and I gave him two or three of the worst horror stories.
The President turned to Charlie and Dave, who were not at the table, but a few feet behind it at the
end of the room. And he said, “Is Joe right, is this stuff going on? Is it like this?” Dave and Charlie
vowed as how this kind of stuff was going on. And Truman said, “We’ve got to do something about
that. Damn it, we’re going to do something about that. 11
Three weeks later, Truman tightened the screws on the program. To me, that is, of all things of the
Truman days, that I find incomprehensible, that is to me the most incomprehensible. The tightening
of the screw as I remember it, that occurred a few weeks after the meeting with Truman, was an
Executive Order. I think it changed the finding of reasonable grounds that the employee is disloyal
to reasonable grounds that he may be disloyal. That was the tightening of the screw ifl remember
correctly. Never, to this day, can I tell you what happened inside the White House. You may know.
JOHNSON: Well, yes. It involved the review board, and there was a hardliner that changed the
. Truman Library – Joseph L. Kauh, Jr. UraJ History lnterview Page 22 of38
RAUH: From reason to believe he!§., to reason to believe he may be. I was going around town
telling everybody that the President really had his mind set against this type of thing, this kind of an
unfair program and we’re going to see something better. And the next thing I read is the news story,
“President Tightens Loyalty Program.” I couldn’t believe it; but I read the story, and it was
absolutely true. I called Dave Lloyd, and Dave knew nothing about it.
JOHNSON: I wonder if that slipped around them somehow.
RAUH: Yes. Dave didn’t know about it. Now, whether Charlie knew, I can’t say. I didn’t talk to
Charlie. I talked to Dave and he did not know about it. That is in Donovan’s book, that story I just
told you. I told it to Bob.
JOHNSON: Yes, it does seem a little out of character.
RAUH: I mean, how much does the President understand. Did he realize that he had said to this
group that he was going one general direction and that signing that Executive Order was going the
other direction? Did he realize that, do you think?
JOHNSON: I’m trying to recall what he had to say on that, but yes, it does seem somewhat out of
Andrew BiemiUer, apparently, was a labor official and Congressman from Wisconsin.
RAUH: Yes, and he also was in the ADA. He would win his race for Congress one time and then
lose the next time and work with ADA.
JOHNSON: He claims he broke with ADA when some of their people promoted Eisenhower.
RAUH: No, he stayed at ADA; that’s not correct.
JOHNSON: He made this claim in an interview the Truman Library did with him in 1977. [oral
history interview iwth Andrew J. Biemiller, July 29, 1977, p.75, Harry S. Truman Library]
RAUH: No. He worked on the political side of ADA after 1948.
RAUH: Look, even though the majority of the ADAers were for Eisenhower and/or Douglas, the
majority will tell you they weren’t. You’ll get as many views as you want on that, Niel.
I got ahead of the story, but I’ll tell you when we were working the closest with the Truman
administration; that was on the Marshall Plan. The ADA was very much for the Marshall Plan and
we were working on it all the time, providing speakers and material on the Marshall Plan. In some
respects there was a close relationship with Truman, and in some, there was not.
JOHNSON: Well, maybe we can get back to that civil rights issue in 1948 at the convention
because that is one of the big issues and interesting events of that whole period.
On the civil rights question, James Loeb in an interview that we have comments about a meeting of
the ADA board in March 1948 in which the decision was made to campaign for a strong civil rights
plank on the Democratic party’s platform. Among those involved in this decision, that he identifies,
. Truman Library – Josepn L. K.aun, Jr. urru .t11story mterv1ew ragt:: L.::, 01 ::,o
is Edward Prichard. Do you recall anything about that, about Prichard’s role? [ oral history interview
with James Loeb, June 26, 1970, pp.28-30, Harry S. Truman Library]
RAUH: I do not. Prich was a brilliant strategist until he put those goddamn crooked ballots in the
box in November 1948, one of the dumbest things that ever was done. I love Prich; he was one of
my best friends. My recollection is that the 1948 civil rights fight sort of evolved out of the failure
of the Presidential fight. We had gone out to get a lot of delegates and there wasn’t going to be
much to do. I had the feeling that the only fight we were going to have at the Convention was over
the platfonn as it got clearer and clearer Truman was going to be renominated. As the opposition to
Truman went down, the desire for some action in the civil rights field went up. That’s really when it
started. Then you had this letter from Jimmy Roosevelt, Hubert Humphrey, and Mayor [William]
O’Dwyer to all of the delegates, saying that we’re going to make the fight on the civil rights plank.
JOHNSON: Well, let me say, too, that Jim Loeb mentions Eugenie Moore Anderson and yourself,
as well as Milton Stuart, providing important support. Eugenie Anderson, he says, had the “genius
of putting in that minority plank, [the statement] ‘We support President Truman’s civil rights
program,’ in so many words …. ” [Loeb interview, p.36]
RAUH: That’s right.
JOHNSON: So that’s your recollection, too? By the way, Eugenie Anderson became the first
woman ambassador in American history.
RAUH: Well, she was the first woman minister and then the first woman Ambassador.
JOHNSON: She was Ambassador to Denmark [1949-1953].
RJ\UH: Yes. Well, anyway, I had written the plank.
JOHNSON: You wrote the plank?
RAUH: Yes, but you see, our plank was developed over several days because we were fighting to
get something into the Platfonn Committee’s report to the Convention.
JOHNSON: You were on the Platform Committee?
RAUH: No, I was outside, but Hubert kept coming out to confer.
JOHNSON: Okay, so you were feeding Hubert.
RAUH: Oh, yes. But the point I want to make was that Hubert, between about 4 and 5 in the
morning, was shaky on whether he was going forward. The ADA had had a meeting that might in
their rented fraternity house near the convention center and decided to go forward, but we didn’t
have a decision from Hubert. The final decision was with Hubert. The ADA was pushing him to go
forward, but he was really shaky because of pressure coming in from the Truman regulars not to
take the issue to the floor. Dave Niles, Truman’s civil rights advisor, was pressuring him
JOHNSON: He was an ADA man, was he, Dave Niles?
RAUH: I can’t swear he was a member.
JOHNSON: Philleo Nash; was Nash another one?
: Truman Library – Joseph L. Rauh, Jr. Oral History Interview Page 24 of 38
RAUH: I can’t swear who had an ADA card, you know, an ADA card in their pocket. But Dave
Niles was telling people to call Hubert and tell him not to do it. The genius of Eugenie Anderson
was to offset Administration opposition to our minority plank. She said, “Well, let’s add a sentence
saying, ‘We commend President Truman for the report of his Commission on Civil Rights,”‘ or
words to that effect. That was put into plank and Hubert said, “I’ll do it.” So, there is no question
about Eugenie’s tremendous contribution to that fight.
JOHNSON: I think ADA was saying too, wasn’t it, that we’re trying to get Truman to live up to his
. statements that he’s made in the past in regard to anti-poll tax, anti-lynching, pro-voting rights, and
· pro-FEPC [Fair Employment Practices Committee]?
RAUH: We were saying that in public. But you know what we were saying on the floor? And do
you know who bought it? We were saying on the floor, “Goddamn it, if you want to beat Henry
Wallace, you sure better go for our plank.” And who did we get with that argument? Jake Arvey,
Ed Flynn, David Lawrence, and what’s that guy’s name in Philadelphia? Green? Anyway, all of the
big Democratic bosses. Strange bedfellows: ADA and all the bosses. What people generally forget
about the ’48 fight is that Truman could not control the bosses on the civil rights issue. They took
our side of it and the argument that got them was sort of, “Well, maybe we will lose this election,
but we don’t want to lose the whole ticket. If we want Blacks to support the ticket, we better adopt
this minority plank.” They bought that argument hook, line and sinker, and that was more important
than all the goddamn rhetoric used on the floor.
JOHNSON: So what role did you play in the campaign, then?
RAUH: Oh, we went out and talked, wrote speeches, argued–tried to get organizations to support
JOHNSON: So you went all out for Truman in ’48?
RAUH: Yes. I can’t remember if there was any particular fight about what we should do for
Truman. Christ, who could be for Dewey? I don’t remember any argument about what we were
going to do for Truman. We endorsed him right there at the Democratic Convention–not happily,
but then once he had the nomination, he made a good speech that night, his acceptance speech.
JOHNSON: Were you there, then, about two or three in the morning when he finally got to give his
RAUH: No, what happened was that we were up all the night before, and we won the platform fight
in late afternoon. We had to talk to reporters until oh, late in the evening. And then we sat around
the fraternity house and watched the floor action on TV. I never went back to the Convention. I
couldn’t stand up, I had been on my feet for so long.
JOHNSON: But he was on TV then?
RAUH: Oh he was on TV. Yes, and we watched it from the fraternity house.
JOHNSON: When did you first meet President Truman?
RAUH: I may have met him someplace else, but the first time I ever talked to him was in early
1942, when he had his first hearing on why the country hadn’t converted to war production. This
was his committee’s first hearing on conversion despite our complaints of the year before prodding
business for more war preparations. It was in connection with those hearings that 1 first spoke to
Senator Truman. There was a guy whose name I’m having trouble remembering who worked for
. Truman Library – Joseph L. Rauh, Jr. Oral History Interview Page 25 of38
General Electric and the Committee had him come and tell about his efforts to get conversion to
war production which didn’t work.
JOHNSON: Way back in ’42?
RAUH: Oh, yes.
JOHNSON: How about after the war? When did you first meet him again then after the war?
RAUH: I’m trying to recollect if there was any meeting before Wilson and I saw him on the
housing program one day.
JOHNSON: Well, when you went over there for that resignation ..
RAUH: No, I didn’t see him then. I can’t swear where it was; it may not have even been in the
White House, it may have been that he was somewhere else and we got a chance to talk to him
about the housing program.
JOHNSON: But he was acquainted with you and your background, by the time of the ’48
RAUH: Well, I think he would have had reports. I had made an awful lot of public statements about
the loyalty program. Now, if Truman thought he was cutting off worse deprivations of civil
freedom by his loyalty program, well, he may have thought so. I can’t challenge that position; it’s a
possibility. But I brought several law cases trying to knock out the principle that you could be
found disloyal without facing your accusers.
JOHNSON: In other words, hearsay evidence could get …
RAUH: Well, what could be more hearsay than an FBI report that says, “Confidential Informant
TX says, quote.” You know, oh, boy.
JOHNSON: Steven Gillon in his book Politics and Vision [New York: Oxford University Press,
1987] says you argued for flexibility in regard to whether ADA should work within or outside the
Democratic party. Trying to obtain or retain labor support was one big problem you had to work
with, and another was what kind of relationship, or connections, you should have with the
Democratic Party itself. What was your position? Would you care to describe your position?
RAUH: My feeling always was that we had to have both working relations with the Party and
independence from the Party. By independence from the Party, we meant the freedom to criticize
when we thought they were wrong, and even to back somebody else when the Democrats put forth
a bad candidate. There weren’t too many non-Democrats you could find to back, but there were a
few Senators that you could find, such as Cliff [Clifford] Case and Jack [Jacob] Javits. I mean there
are a few but not too many outside the Democrats.
JOHNSON: Gillon says, “You remained faithful to this view but the organization did not.” I
wonder what he means by that?
RAUH: Well, I’ll tell you what my present view of the organization is. It is too much tied to both
the labor movement and the Democratic Party. It’s reluctant to criticize either the Democratic Party
or the labor movement where a lot of money comes from. So my feeling is that now, 40 odd years
after ADA was founded, it’s awful hard for a genera] liberal organization not to build up a Jot of
resentments and so forth. I’m not sure ADA wouldn’t do better starting a new liberal organization
from scratch, but at 78 I’m not capable of starting one.
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JOHNSON: Is it true that the word “liberal” has been corrupted by modem political campaigns?
RAUH: No, I don’t think so. Well, they try to make “liberal” a dirty word, but I don’t think it has
worked. I think [Michael] Dukakis played right into their hands when he denied he was a liberal.
He should have said, “I’m a liberal and proud of it.”
JOHNSON: And not let the other party define liberal for him?
RAUH: That’s right. Why didn’t he define it?
JOHNSON: That’s what I mean.
RAUH: He let the other party define.it. I think he should have said I’m proud of it, and said what it
was. I think what we have to do is make clear we’re the only idealistic party. How can it be
idealistic to help the rich get richer? We’ve got a built-in idealism–to help those who’ve got too
little. We get the idealistic side of politics without even having to try. Why we blow it is beyond
me. I don’t know.
Take Truman as an example. He was at his lowest ebb in 1946 and ’47 when he was most
conservative. When he won in 1948 it was “look out for your neighbor,” and it was a real lib-lab
campaign that he put on. You never had better proof that the Democratic Party thrives on liberalism
than you had in Truman’s 1948 campaign. Also, a Democratic President goes down when he takes
the conservative side, as Truman was doing in ’46 and ’47, and early ’48. It’s when he shifted his
position that he won out. There is a debate, I gather, whether [James] Rowe wrote the memorandum
or [Clark] Clifford wrote it proposing the shift for the ’48 campaign.
JOHNSON: Strategy, yes.
RAUH: I don’t care. It was a goddamn good memorandum whoever wrote it.
JOHNSON: I think Clifford’s given credit for it, but James Rowe wrote the original draft.
RAUH: A professor at the University of California in San Diego told me that he had been through
the papers and it looked to him like Rowe had written the memorandum and given it to Clifford and
Clifford had given it to Truman as his own.
JOHNSON: Yes, I think Rowe was the originator really, but it was edited or changed at least
RAUH: Clifford defended having given it to Mr. Truman as his own, that the reason that he did that
was that if you told Truman it was written by Rowe, Tommy Corcoran’s partner, Truman wouldn’t
have paid any attention to it. I don’t know whether that’s true or not.
Oh, that reminds me of one thing that I wanted to mention. Why did Truman allow Hoover to tap
the wire of Tommy Corcoran?
JOHNSON: That’s a good question, and I should ask you that. Do you know anything about the
wiretapping of Corcoran by the FBI? We don’t know really the background for it. This is something
we would like to know.
RA UH: The first I ever heard of the tapping was when two guys came to see me, or called me, I
can’t remember which. They said that they had been out at the Truman Library and had asked what
: Truman Library – Joseph L. Rauh, Jr. Oral History Interview Page 27 of 38
a stack of papers in a corridor was, and one of the staff said, “It’s not important; they are taps on
Tom Corcoran.” They went through them, and the reason they were calling me was they asked if I
objected to their using one tap that’s about me. There’s one about me in 1946 I think. A
conversation was tapped between Ben Cohen and Tom Corcoran, and Tom is criticizing me for
trying to run the ADA and be a lawyer at the same time. He said something like “You’ve got to
represent the interests if you’re going to be a successful lawyer in Washington.” And Ben is
defending me, and they have this wonderful conversation about being a lawyer. Tom says, “It’s
impossible to be a liberal and do what Joe’s trying to do here. He’s trying to do good for the ADA
and practice law; you can’t do it, the law’s all negative.” He’s mad because he got me a client or
something, and I went to an ADA meeting instead of taking care of it, or something like that.
Anyway, I’ve read that tap and enjoyed it.
JOHNSON: Do they imply that Truman had authorized the FBI to do the tapping?
RAUH: Oh, yes. And they implied that Hoover was trying to ingratiate himself with Truman, and
thought that Truman probably didn’t care much for Tommy. [See Kai Bird and Max Holland, “The
Tapping of ‘Tommy the Cork,”‘ The Nation, February 8, 1986, pp. 129, 142-145. Also see “Tommy
the Cork: The Secret World of Washington’s First Modem Lobbyist,” The Washington Monthly,
February 1987, pp. 41-49.]
JOHNSON: He apparently was lobbying for the United Fruit Company and other special interests.
RAUH: Yes, that’s right.
JOHNSON: And there was some concern about what he might be telling his clients how he might
be trying to influence officials in the Government.
RAUH: Yes, that’s right. Well, also, wasn’t Truman a little concerned that the old Roosevelt people
really didn’t want him, and might start a counter-movement? There was a counter-movement but it
didn’t result from what these two guys who originally broke the story uncovered. Actually, I think
they were out there writing a book on John McCloy.
JOHNSON: Yes, I remember them being there, and I know they aroused some controversy with
these transcripts. But we still do not really have information, solid information, about how and why
that was started. There is nothing in our files at the Library that reveals clearly how it started.
RAUH: Well, they must have surmised something. In the Nation article about this, they say that
Truman started it.
JOHNSON: We don’t have records how it started, so if you find anything out, let us know.
RAUH: I will indeed. These two are the only people I’ve ever talked to about it. Ben and Tom were
dead when I heard about it.
JOHNSON: Well, J. Edgar [Hoover], of course, is no longer around, and Corcoran’s not. Of course,
I don’t know when he found out about it.
RAUH: I understand he was informed of the wiretaps, but that he died before he had a chance to
read the transcripts.
JOHNSON: Yes, that’s one of those strange episodes.
In March 1950 from Key West, Truman wrote to [Hubert] Humphrey, saying, “I’m glad as always
to send my greetings to the National Convention of Americans for Democratic Action. I’m sorry
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: Truman Library – Joseph L. Rauh, Jr. Oral History Interview Page 28 of 38
that my schedule prevents my being with you in person to talk over our mutual interest.” Was it
common at these national conventions for a letter from Truman to be read praising ADA?
RAUH: It was, whenever we had a Democratic President, up until the Carter days. Whenever we
had a Democratic President. I don’t think we very often got something from the Republicans.
JOHNSON: Okay, but Truman was using the word “liberal” without any fear?
RAUH: Oh, yes, he always did. I don’t think that word bothered him one bit.
JOHNSON: Because he said here in this last paragraph, “Your meeting will show that the forces of
liberalism would be martialed in full strength. This 1950 campaign may well be one of the most
crucial tests of liberalism in this century.”
RAUH: Oh, I think Truman never had any trouble with that word. I never had the slightest thought
that he did.
JOHNSON: Well, unfortunately for Truman, Democratic seats were lost in 1950. Democrats did
lose seats. It was an off-year election.
RAUH: [William] Benton lost in a victory for Joe McCarthy.
JOHNSON: The Korean war had started by this time. Yes, I think that’s when Biemiller was
defeated, and Millard Tydings, I believe, was defeated. McCarthyism was in the air.
RAUH: Biemiller came back to the ADA in ’50.
JOHNSON: Yes. There are quite a few glittering generalities in that statement, but it certainly is
clear that Truman did not back off from liberalism.
RAUH: No, you are right on that.
JOHNSON: Well, that 1950 election, as I say, did result in some losses of Democratic seats, but
they still retain control. But then you have the conservative Democrats always, you know, in that
equation, from the South.
RAUH: Sure, that’s why you couldn’t get any civil rights legislation through.
JOHNSON: So ADA certainly must have been disappointed in the election.
RAUH: Oh, yes.
JOHNSON: And through this period, 194 7 to 1952, civil rights and civil liberties remained, of
course, major issues. The loyalty program, the presidential commissions, desegregation of the
Armed Forces did start. Desegregation was accelerated apparently during the Korean war.
RAUH: Oh, and you got the Executive Order by Truman on the Armed Forces. [EO 9981, July 26,
1948, established the President’s Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the
RAUH: I’ve never been sure why Truman did want to beat us on civil rights at the ’48 convention. I
. Truman Library – Joseph L. KaUh, Jr. Ural History Interview .rage L’:J ot JlS
have never quite figured that out. We won, and we won because we were right politically and it did
help him; and Wallace didn’t get any Black votes at all.
JOHNSON: It’s a little ironic. I think they were lifting that so-called soft plank from the ’44
RAUH: Sure. Oh, absolutely. You didn’t have a civil rights movement during the war.
JOHNSON: And of course, the Roosevelt New Dealers had to recognize the fact that Roosevelt had
not done as much as Truman up to this point.
RAUH: No question about it.
JOHNSON: It is said that ADA generally favored Truman’s approach to the loyalty issue, but you
were critical of the Smith Act.
RAUH: Well, ADA was against disloyal people being in high positions, but that’s just loose talk.
Of course, you’re against that. But the question is how are you going to ensure that? And the ADA
violently opposed the idea that you couldn’t face your accuser. I had a majority of the ADA on that;
don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.
JOHNSON: So that was the crux, right there.
RAUH: That’s really what it was all about. You wouldn’t want a guy in on atomic bomb secrets and
have doubts about his loyalty. What are you going to do? Are you going to say he’s disloyal without
ever his knowing who said he was disloyal or what facts he had to base that on?
JOHNSON: Now, you were critical of the Smith Act, under ·which the Communist leaders were
RAUH: I wrote an article in the New Leader attacking the Smith Act.
JOHNSON: You had a statement ready to praise the reversal of the conviction of the Communist
leaders, if that would happen. You had a statement ready, but a poll of the chapters caused you to
change your mind.
RAUH: My mind didn’t change; I just lost the vote. I didn’t change my mind. The Smith Act was
wrong. Actually, we ultimately pretty much prevailed. In the Yates case, the Smith Act was really
JOHNSON: Okay, the ADA remained consistent in challenging the constitutionality of the Smith
RAUH: They did.
JOHNSON: Is it correct that the ADA was defending the advocacy of ideas versus advocacy of
violent overthrow of the Government? In other words, the Smith Act made it criminal to advocate
the violent overthrow of the Government.
RAUH: My view is that you may advocate anything you want, as long as you’re not making clear
and present advocacy of violence. I wouldn’t want to say you had a right to shout “fire” in a theater
if there was a dear and present danger of violence. But my God, the Communists, they had nothing
there. Where the Communists were a danger was on espionage or sabotage. Their goddamn
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performance over here–they couldn’t overthrow your Aunt Tillie. They were wreckers, not doers.
JOHNSON: So it had to be more or less an overt act?
RAUH: It had to be the way [Wendell] Holmes always put it, that you can’t advocate the overthrow
of the Government by violent actions, when that advocacy would bring a clear and present danger
of that violence.
JOHNSON: Did the Korean war, which was not legally a war, but in fact was a war, create a
situation in which the “clear and present danger” doctrine could be applied, whereas later, after the
war, wasn’t it in ’54 that the Supreme Court did declare unconstitutional certain portions of the
RAUH: In ’57. Well, I think the real change wasn’t the Korean war, as much as the composition of
the Court under Warren and Brennan.
JOHNSON: Okay, when the Supreme Court upheld the conviction of the Communist party leaders
under the clear and present danger doctrine, you and James Wexler prepared a statement criticizing
the decision for making free speech into “a political football.” But the majority on the board,
including Schlesinger and Biddle, felt that was too harsh. It sounds like maybe the majority on the
board of ADA was being very cautious and rather conservative on this issue and you were more
toward the liberal side on this. Were you in the minority position then on that?
RAUH: It’s hard to remember exactly. But ifI had to try to put it now in some context, I would say
something like this: I think everybody, or almost everybody in the ADA–a great majority at least-favored
repealing the Smith Act. But the degree to which, when you have the Act on the books, the
ADA should be the one to say you shouldn’t prosecute Communists under the Act is another matter.
I think these people didn’t want the Act, but they also didn’t want to bear all the burden of public
obloquy like the Communists did. If you could get rid of the Smith Act, then you didn’t have that
problem. In other words, the ADA was against the Smith Act, but it wasn’t prepared to put all its
political marbles in that basket.
One of the reasons, I think, was that I got terrible hell for what I said right after the conviction of
the Dennis crowd, the first group of Communist leaders tried. What I said was that [Judge Harold]
Medina was wrong in not giving them bail. You don’t repeal the Constitution because there are
some communists here. But my statement was very, very ill received. People just felt it was proCommunist.
JOHNSON: Felt they didn’t deserve bail. The majority of the Americans felt they should put them
in jail and throw away the key?
RAUH: Right. I think that probably was true. Many of the political leaders of the ADA, or people
in Congress like Hubert Humphrey and others, didn’t like the idea that the ADA was talking about
you giving bail to convicted Communists.
JOHNSON: On the other hand, here was Acheson saying that he would not turn his back on Alger
Hiss, and then Truman getting all that flak because of the “red herring” remark in a press
RAUH: Sure you had a great deal of that. I think almost all ADAers were against the Smith Act,
but they just realized there was an awful lot of heat there, politically. This was the McCarthy
period. By ’57, when Warren’s in charge and with some of the ugliness of the Communist feeling
having been drained a little bit, you get an end to the situation. Indeed, by a few years after ’57 there
weren’t any Communists in jail under the Smith Act.
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JOHNSON: You had a kind of a restoration of a traditional view of civil liberties, the rights of free
speech, first amendment rights?
RAUH: Right. There was a good free speech case today; we won 5 to 4. The Court overruled a
conviction for flag desecration.
JOHNSON: Yes, I saw that on TV.
This kind of raised the problem again with the labor unions. Labor union members had this kind of
gut feeling about Communists by this time, didn’t they? You were having a problem, I imagine,
with the labor union membership if you were perceived as a little soft on Communism, even though
RAUH: Well, there was no doubt that we were perceived as soft on Communism.
JOHNSON: By labor union members.
RAUH: By some labor union members, but I don’t know that there was much of the union
leadership that believed that. Walter Reuther for example–} was UAW general counsel and
Washington counsel for many years and Reuther always let me write UA W’s civil liberties
JOHNSON: \Veil, was he the exception rather than the rule? You had the teamsters, for instance.
RAUH: I don’t know how much they knew about these matters. Jim Carey ofl.U.E. was a civil
libertarian, and Walter was, and there were others.
JOHNSON: Were David Dubinsky and Reuther the most consistent labor leaders who were
supporters of ADA on these matters?
RAUH: Yes. They disagreed on foreign policy. Dubinsky was very conservative on foreign policy,
but he let us have our head. Dubinsky was a great man, I always thought. He never tried to throw
his weight around, or his money around, and control the ADA. On domestic affairs we didn’t have
much difficulty; on foreign affairs there were some differences, and he was in the minority. But he
never used his money and strength to force ADA to his position.
JOHNSON: He had the garment workers, and didn’t they provide much of the income?
RAUH: The I.L.G.W.U. was the largest single donor. As a matter of fact, on ADA’s opening day at
the Willard Hotel on January 4, 1947, Mrs. Roosevelt got up towards the end of the meeting and
asked for the floor. I was in the chair at that moment when she asked for the floor. She said, “We’re
about to adjourn. This has been a wonderful day, and we’re going to do something fine here. But I
don’t believe you should adjourn without having some finances for the organization as it starts out
tomorrow.” And she said, “I’ll raise $1,000. I’ll give you $100 right now, and I’ll raise the remaining
money.” And Dave Dubinsky said, “I’ll give five thousand,” and that started ADA off.
JOHNSON: In ’52 we have the Stevenson campaign. You have ADA apparently backing Stevenson
RAUH: Oh, no question.
JOHNSON: He’s known to be strong on civil liberties but soft on civil rights.
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RAUH: Soft may be too tough a word, but he was not a passionate civil rights advocate. I will
admit that. I wouldn’t have used the word “soft.” I would have said that he was–l’m trying to find a
word to describe him.
RAUH: Lukewarm is even too tough on him. I think he believed in civil rights, but he was going to
take it slow and wasn’t going to allow it to interfere with the nation’s politics.
· JOHNSON: He wasn’t going to revive that ’48 plank on civil rights was he? He wasn’t going to let
that in the platform?
RAUH: Well, the issue in ’52 was different.
JOHNSON: You’ve got “Korea, Communism, and corruption,” the three big issues used by the
RAUH: I’ll tell you the things we didn’t get in ’52 that we wanted. We didn’t get, for example, a
provision to legalize sit-ins and things like that, but those were pretty far-out provisions. I’d say on
one-to-ten on civil rights, Stevenson would be about six or seven, and if you want to call that soft,
JOHNSON: Where would you put Truman on that scale?
RAUH: Oh, eight.
JOHNSON: Apparently, Stevenson was no great supporter of Federal aid to education, or national
RAUH: He was the most conservative of the three candidates: [Estes] Kefauver, [W. Averell]
Harriman, and Stevenson. If that’s what you mean, I agree with that. He was more conservative than
Kefauver or Harriman.
JOHNSON: Did ADA give any support to Harriman in ’52 or ’56?
RAUH: Not really. I’ll try and tell you what happened on Harriman. ADA didn’t take a position
between Harriman, Kefauver, and Stevenson in 1952. During the summer [of ’52] Stevenson was
acting like Hamlet; “I don’t want to run. Maybe yes; maybe no.” The question arose, “What are we
going to do?” Most ADAers were for Stevenson and were scared that Kefauver would lock it up.
He had won all the primaries. It looked like Stevenson might not get it. Herbert Lehman called me
up and said that Harriman was going to run in the District of Columbia primary in May and he
wanted me to be the campaign manager. I said, “But I’m for Stevenson.” He said, “If you’re really
for Stevenson, in a Kefauver-Harriman fight you better see that Kefauver is licked.” He said, “The
best thing you can do for Stevenson is to win for Harriman.”
I thought about it for a few hours. I asked a couple of people, including Jim Loeb, who went for
Harriman too. I asked Jim what he was going to do. He wasn’t working at ADA any more; he wasn’t
running the ADA at that time. I said, “What are you going to do?” He said he bought the Lehman
argument. A couple of other people bought it, too.
JOHNSON: Yes, FDR, Jr. and Reuther apparently …
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RAUH: Well, they bought the Lehman argument. FDR, Jr. went for Harriman. I don’t think Reuther
JOHNSON: Well, Gillon puts Reuther in that group.
RAUH: Does he? Maybe he does it because of me; I don’t think it’s right. Anyway, you’re certainly
right on FDR, and you’re right on Loeb. Harriman, to win, had to beat Kefauver, and some bright
analyst saw that there would be a lot of Black votes here. So in my talk with Harriman on whether
I’d do it or not, I said, “We have worked out a civil rights position for you which is far to the left of
Kefauver and Stevenson.” He said, “Okay.” We won four to one here. That’s the only time in my
life I ever had more money than I needed.
JOHNSON: Harriman then was behind a strong civil rights plank.
RAUH: He didn’t know exactly what it was when we started. But he stayed with it.
JOHNSON: But of course, he lost. In ’56 Truman was backing Harriman’s candidacy. Did you
support him in ’56?
RAUH: No, I was for Stevenson.
JOHNSON: You were for Stevenson the second time around.
RAUH: I was for Stevenson the first time around.
JOHNSON: Were you being a little more pragmatic?
RAUH: Well, you know, we sort of favored Stevenson because of his candor, eloquence and civil
liberties stands. Harriman was the most liberal of the three; there wasn’t any question about that.
JOHNSON: Why didn’t the ADA support him instead of Stevenson then?
RAUH: Well, all I can tell you is, I used to introduce Harriman, and when I would finish, and when
Harriman would finish, people would come up to me and say, “Joe, why don’t you run for that
office. That guy can’t make a speech if it killed him.” Averell Harriman was tongue-tied. He got a
little better as he went along, but gosh, he couldn’t have been elected dog catcher. He just couldn’t
speak to an audience. The poor guy; I mean he just didn’t have it on a platform.
JOHNSON: Despite his great wealth, do you think he was a true liberal?
RAUH: I think, yes. He worshipped Roosevelt. My answer to that question is yes.
JOHNSON: The Republicans apparently painted the ADA as socialist, “popular-fronters,” and that
sort of thing.
What could you do about that?
RAUH: Well, we worked with the press as best we could. I remember talking to different people. I
remember one night Eric Severeid got on CBS News and just blew the whistle on the Republicans,
giving our positions and the whole history of how we fought as liberals for everything.
JOHNSON: Do you agree with Gillon when he says that the ADA’s influence on the Democratic
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Party reached a new low between 1952 and ’56 when Stephen Mitchell, for instance, was DNC
director. He was Stevenson’s choice. Do you remember Stephen Mitchell?
RAUH: Oh, I was about to tell you about that. He made a mistake in attacking the ADA. Jim Doyle
and I went to see him. Jim was a Wisconsin politician, who became a Federal judge. Johnson
appointed him a District judge. Jim and I went to see Steve Mitchell, and we said to him, “Come
on, what’s going on here. You say you’re a liberal; we’re liberals. Why can’t we live together? We
have a right to criticize you; you can criticize us, too. But don’t make it out as though we were
doing something venal.” He said, “Well, you are.” And I said, “Well, what is it?” He said, “Every
time I’m about to say something or have a new idea, and I’ve told our people let’s say this or say
that, they have said, ‘Well, last month, the ADA said that,’ and I’m tired of hearing all this stuff.” I
mean there was a fight for turf on the liberal side and he really didn’t want that. I became friends
with Steve in ’68 when we worked for Gene McCarthy on his anti-war campaign.
JOHNSON: Truman didn’t like Mitchell. McKinney, Frank McKinney had been, I think, Director
of the DNC, and he liked McKinney, but he didn’t like Mitchell.
RAUH: Well, Mitchell wasn’t really an old-line political hand, was he?
JOHNSON: Was he a pragmatist really, a political pragmatist?
RAUH: I think so. I was quite surprised when Mitchell called me up one day in 1968 and said,
“Will you be the credentials coordinator for Eugene McCarthy at the convention?” We hadn’t been
friends but I would have done anything for McCarthy. I was that much against the war. I wasn’t
particularly close to Gene McCarthy, before 1967-68, but he was the only one standing up against
the war until Bobby Kennedy got in later, and then Bobby got shot.
JOHNSON: This is a letter, dated May 7, 1956, that was written to you by Truman, to you as
National Chairman of the ADA. It is really kind of a quintessential statement of liberalism.
RAUH: Well, was this the letter for the convention?
JOHNSON: Yes. It says, “Please extend my good wishes to the delegates of the ADA, meeting in
their ninth annual convention.”
RAUH: I’m sure I would have given the original to the ADA for its files. I wouldn’t usurp
something like that.
JOHNSON: But he’s certainly still promoting support for ADA, that is Harry Truman is.
RAUH: For liberalism.
JOHNSON: Yes. Well, he says, “The country has unfilled needs for education, health, roads, and
expanded community services of all kinds. Civil rights and civil liberties must be high on any
liberal agenda. But I would invite your special consideration on three major problems.” Then he
goes into foreign policy, into agriculture …
RAUH: Who would have helped him with that letter? He was out of office.
JOHNSON: David Lloyd, I suspect. Do you remember when he died? I wonder ifhe didn’t have
some authorship of this. Maybe it was David Noyes. Did you know David Noyes, who was
RAUH: Yes, I knew him. Yes, he was a nice fellow.
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JOHNSON: He wrote a lot of post-Presidential correspondence.
RAUH: That may have been his.
JOHNSON: Was he a liberal?
RAUH: I really don’t know.
JOHNSON: He came out of big business. He came out of advertising.
RAUH: I don’t remember him too well, actually.
JOHNSON: The third point that Truman makes in this letter is probably kind of traditional
liberalism. I’m quoting: “Third–the growth of a new feudalism. Centers of private power, beyond
democratic control, are exerting greater and greater influence over our national life, driving small
business to the wall, and strangling individual enterprise. This curse of bigness dominates our press,
our airways, our amusement industries, and is beginning to shape our thoughts and beliefs. We
must oppose the socialism of corporate power quite as much as socialism by Government. Liberals
can serve their country by devising means to reverse this trend.” Does that kind of represent to you
the basic philosophy of the ADA, at least in that period?
RAUH: I think that letter could have been written by an ADAer. That reminds me now; I wonder
what Truman would think of all these take-overs. He probably would have had a hemorrhage,
JOHNSON: Yes, I think so.
On another topic: Stephen Spingarn, you’re acquainted with Stephen Spingarn?
RAUH: Oh, sure. He tried to move into local politics, which you haven’t gotten into.
JOHNSON: We have an 1100-page transcript with Stephen Spingarn. He had something to say
about a lot of different things. In 1956 he was special activities director for the Vice-Presidential
campaign of Estes Kefauver. Spingarn was on Kefauver’s side, and a little irritated by ADA, which
he called “An excellent organization, but one which I have found often too ‘Ivory-towered’ and
RAUH: Well, there may have been something to that.
JOHNSON: “Who insists on going down to defeat with perfection rather than winning on an
effective compromise.” Oh, he mentions an episode in which he needled you and you referred to
him as a “dirty, yellow-bellied, sonofabitch.” You invited him outside to beat him up.
RAUH: Oh, I might have said that. He gave that story to Drew Pearson. That quote is directly out
of Pearson’s column.
JOHNSON: He says that occurred at a housewarming at the National Capital Democratic Club. I
think that was in ’56. Well, there isn’t too much that’s significant here, but in ’64 you were
Democratic Chairman of the Washington, D.C. city committee. And Spingarn does mention
RAUH: Well, at one point he ran a slate against us without much success.
.· Truman Library – Joseph L. Rauh, Jr. Oral History Interview Page 36 of38
JOHNSON: That’s right–what he called the Reeves-Lanahan slate against the Rauh-JacksonShackleton
RAUH: That’s right. Steve came out and got himself what do you call them, a truck, a campaign
JOHNSON: One of these sound trucks?
: RAUH: Yes. He got a sound truck, and he came up our street on the sound truck. He was shouting
about me and so forth. My son, Carl, that’s in ’56; Carl would have been …
JOHNSON: He said your son had a little confrontation with him.
RAUH: That’s right. Carl went out there and said, “You get out of here.” Let’s see, in ’56, he was 15
I think, and he ran Steve off the block.
JOHNSON: Spingarn also says that you were against LBJ in ’60 but you loved him in ’64.
RAUH: That’s true. The civil rights law of 1964, whose 25th anniversary we celebrate this year, is
my reason for that.
JOHNSON: Apparently, Polly Shackleton held a grudge against Spingarn for some time, but then
he wrote a Jetter, I think to you. He sent a letter to you and you forwarded it on to Polly and things
got patched up. He said that yo·u were a “good politician ” who can differ politically but still remain
friendly after all that. He does say at one time you insisted on perfection, and also in reference to
you, Spingam says, “He was too quick to denounce in very intemperate terms the people who were
against him, which is a mistake.” He said one should be selective on this. He adds, “I think that Joe
has moderated with the years.” Do you have any response to that?
RAUH: I think Steve’s probably right.
JOHNSON: How would you characterize Spingarn very briefly?
RAUH: Oh, I have this recollection of him at the Federal Trade Commission.
JOHNSON: Yes. He was on the FTC.
RAUH: And I would say he was a very valuable guy there. He was always on the side of the angels,
as far as I can remember, at the Federal Trade Commission. I didn’t see him in enough political
situations to be able to tell much about him as a politician. What I do remember is that anybody that
he should have seen that in the 1964 local election he was throwing his weight into something
which he didn’t know anything about.
For another example, getting on a sound truck back in 1956 and going in front of our house was
crazy. I don’t think anybody on the street knew there was a primary election or gave a goddamn
about it. But after Steve got done, I had so many supporters I didn’t know what the hell to do. It was
a slaughter. He may have felt that 1 used language sometimes that I shouldn’t have, and that’s quite
possibly true. But I would say he had no understanding of the political forces of the city, how Black
it was and things like that. I had the advantage of having been the first white civil rights activist
around town, and all of that. So I had all sorts of advantages. There was just no chance that we were
going to lose an election. Why he wanted to jump in, I don’t know.
• Truman Library – Joseph L. Rauh, Jr. Oral History Interview Page 37 of 38
I would say that, with the exception of two or three incidents of the kind that we’ve discussed here,
we were perfectly good friends. I think he did a hell of a job on the Federal Trade Commission. I
think that was the important part of his life. And he was very good at publicity. He had Drew
Pearson’s ear, and naturally that was very important for the muckraking that the Federal Trade
Commission wanted to do.
JOHNSON: That letter to you in ‘1956, from Harry Truman, was that the last correspondence as far
as you know with the President?
RAUH: What was the date of his death?
JOHNSON: December 1972. Did you have any personal correspondence other than this sort of
thing where he was corresponding with the ADA after he left the Presidency?
RAUH: Well, I did talk to him the night, I believe it was in ’59, when he presided over a beauty
contest of all the possible Democratic candidates for 1960. It was in New York City, and Truman
was the master of ceremonies. Kennedy, Humphrey, Symington, Jackson, Stevenson, Johnson all
spoke that night. I can’t remember what was said, but it was a beauty contest at a big dinner in New
York. At the cocktail hour I did have a talk with Truman. Maybe that was the last talk. I guess I
said something nice about Humphrey, because I and most of my friends were all for Humphrey at
that time. Truman, a good politician, said, “Oh, we’ve got wonderful people; we’ve got a lot of
wonderful candidates.” I don’t know who his candidate was at that moment, maybe it was
JOHNSON: I think he always was very respectful of Humphrey, wasn’t he?
RAUH: \Vell, not at the beginning. When Hubert got to Washington in 1949, they were very hard
on him because of the ’48 fight.
JOHNSON: But, of course, he won the election, and you say he takes credit for that strong plank, in
RAUH: Yes, I know; I told you that. But that was the most ridiculous thing I ever heard.
JOHNSON: When Hubert Humphrey, you think, and the ADA should have gotten the credit?
RAUH: And Eugenie Anderson. I mean there’s enough credit to go around. You don’t have to grab
credit there. There’s plenty of credit to go around. But Truman did write in his memoirs that he
wrote the minority plank and that’s a joke.
I think the Truman story that seems almost the worst was the one on Francis Biddle, and Biddle felt
he had to correct it. I don’t know if you have Biddle’s letter in your files. Biddle wrote a letter to the
[Washington D.C.] Star or the Post in which he set the record straight on the Tom Clark matter and
it wasn’t at all the way Truman had written about it. The incident shows how smart Tom Clark is;
he parlayed getting fired by Biddle into becoming Attorney General and a Supreme Court Justice.
Now, you can’t do much better than that.
What happened, as I recall, was this: Clark had a job at Justice. Biddle was dissatisfied and asked
him to look for a job elsewhere. FDR died. Clark went to Bob Hannegan, head of the Democratic
Party, and asked Hannegan if he wouldn’t like a “cooperative” Attorney General. Hannegan got
Truman to fire Biddle and appoint Clark. Truman wrote that Biddle had wanted to resign and
recommended Clark. Biddle contradicted this in the letter to which I referred.
. , Trwnan Library – Joseph L. Rauh, Jr. Oral History Interview Page 38 of 38
JOHNSON: But Clark was on the Supreme Court when the Brown vs. School Board came down in
’54. He was on the side of Brown, wasn’t he?
RAUH: It was unanimous.
JOHNSON: It was unanimous, yes. So that perhaps helped prepare the ground for desegregation
and what followed.
What grade would you give to the Truman administration after all these years on say civil rights,
and civil liberties?
RAUH: It would take a little more thought than we have tonight. There were some terrible breaches
of civil rights and civil liberties and there were some good things. The record is mixed.
JOHNSON: Well, thank you.
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