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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Albert Gore, October 24, 1976. Interview A-0321-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Gore's support for Civil Rights and opposition to the Vietnam War

Though his opposition to the Vietnam War and support for the civil rights movement ultimately cost him his seat in 1970, Gore remained committed to both. He links his defeat to the character of the South, particularly its proclivity for violence.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Albert Gore, October 24, 1976. Interview A-0321-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

ALBERT GORE:
Well, I suppose that as a conterpart or as a result of my interest in international trade, my interest and acquaintanceship with international affairs as a result of my work as a member of the Interparliamentary Union, and as a result of my association with Cordell Hull, and because of the importance of the war and peace and my extreme interest in it, I earnestly sought membership on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Strangely enough, by my membership on that committee and my knowledge of the affairs of South-eastern Asia, particularly Vietnam, I became very much opposed to our prosecution of the Vietnam war. And this was one of the issues which ultimately led to my retirement from the United States Senate. As you know, Tennessee like all the other Southern states (except more so) has been supportive of all wars. [laughter] As I said one time in a debate, as far as Tennessee is concerned, "Just show us a war and we'll fight it": The Volunteer State. The whole South, as you know, has been prone towards violence. After all, slavery is an act of violence of a person on another person. The extreme rightist philosophy which many leaders in the South, both Democratic and Republican, have is in essence a spirit of violence. There are more firearms in the South; the statistics used to be that there were more murders in the South. We are a hot-blooded people. I'm trying to speak objectively and analytically about it; I'm sometimes hot-blooded myself. Maybe I have some of those tendencies. But in any event, the popular support of the Vietnam war was perhaps as strong in Tennessee as in any state in the union, and yet I was at least one of the leaders in opposition to it. This created a reservoir of antagonism toward me on this issue, which was quite sincerely held by many fine citizens with laudable motivations. They genuinely and sincerely believed that my questioning of the advisability and execution of the war in Vietnam and of the bombing and invasion of Cambodia was a lack of patriotism. So this was certainly one of the very fundamental questions, along with civil rights, which built a reservoir of antagonism toward me that played a very strong part in my ultimate retirement from the Senate. However, after saying that please understand that I treasure my service on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee more than that of any other committee, including Finance. Though I am proud of the interstate highway system, proud of the role I played in Social Security reform and the enactment of Medicare, international trade and fair policies of taxation, nevertheless I'm proudest of all of the role I played in opposition to the Vietnam war.