Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Clark Foreman, November 16, 1974. Interview B-0003. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Pamphlet on Southern politics written to support a candidate for Georgia senate

Foreman co-wrote a pamphlet about how New Deal policies affected the South on behalf of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He wanted to help Roosevelt's preferred candidate for the Georgia senate win the election.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Clark Foreman, November 16, 1974. Interview B-0003. 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

This was about 1937 and the funds for the Public Works Administration sort of gave out. It was about that time that I made a speech before . . . . There was a group of liberal southerners that met together in Washington for dinner at Hall's Restaurant. And we'd meet down there about once a month. And one time I was talking down there and I told it to Jerome Frank. And he said what we really need is a pamphlet that sets out, for people to understand, exactly what this is all about. I agreed. Then I got a call one day from the president, Roosevelt, to come over to the White House. I went over there and he told me that he was very unhappy with Senator George, of Georgia, who was opposing most of the legislation that he sent up to the Congress. And he was going to be up for re-election in '38. And he wanted to get a good man to defeat him. Did I have any ideas about that? I had to tell him that I did not, that I had been out of the state so long that I wasn't familiar with it.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you ordinarily have personal audiences with Franklin Roosevelt or was that unusual for him to call you over?
CLARK FOREMAN:
No, that was unusual, I'd sayunique, that he should call me over.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why did he do that?
CLARK FOREMAN:
He wanted help on the Georgia situation. So he said he had about made up his mind that Lawrence Camp was the best man to defeat George and he didn't have any organization and he needed an organization. And the governor at that time-who I can't remember-was a good man. Rivers. He said Gov Rivers was a good governor and he had agreed that he would support Lawrence Camp. So I told him what I thought. I said that I thought Rivers was a pretty good governor but that I didn't think that Roosevelt could count on him. When the going got rough, he would switch. Roosevelt said well, anyway, as far as he knew he was the best governor that Georgia had had in a long time and he was going to work with him. So I said "Well, I think, Mr President, that the most important thing that I can do is to get out a pamphlet that will tell the people of the South what you are trying to do in the New Deal. They're not getting the message through the newspapers or through the politicians, who by and large are hostile. So if we could get out a pamphlet that would tell them the story, I think that might be very helpful." He said "Well, it may be. But one thing I want to precaution you about. Don't talk about remedies. Just talk about the disease. Just say how bad it is, but don't say what to do about it. You go on and talk about this to my son Jimmy and then go see Lowell Mellette." So I left and I went to see his son Jimmy, who couldn't have cared less. He just was indifferent about the whole thing. Then I went over to see Lowell Mellette, who was the head of the National Emergency Council. A very fine man who had been an editor for a long time of the Scripps-Howard paper in Washington and other things. Lowell was delighted with the idea. Asked me to take charge of it. So I got together a group of southerners in Washington to help me write it up. We got up the pamphlet.