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 home >> Civil Rights History Project >> Survey of Collections and Repositories >> Collections >> Collection Record

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Hechler, Ken. Interview transcript

Repository: West Virginia University. West Virginia and Regional History Collection

Collection Description (Extant): Transcription of an oral history interview by Niel M. Johnson of the Harry S. Truman Library with Ken Hechler. Hechler, born 1914 in Roslyn, NY, received A.B., Swarthmore 1935; M.A., Columbia 1936; Ph.D., Columbia 1940 in Political Science which he later taught at Columbia, Princeton, and Marshall Universities. He served as a U. S. Army combat historian in Europe during World War II. Hechler was a research assistant to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and was special assistant to President Harry S. Truman. He was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives as a Democrat from the Fourth Congressional District of West Virginia, 1958-77. A major part of the interview is about his work for President Truman as a speechwriter in political campaigns dealing with issues of public concern in the immediate post-war years such as the Korean War and political corruption. After completion of his White House duties he relocated to Huntington where as a professor at Marshall he staged a successful campaign for U. S. Congress. He mentions, as a congressman, his independence from his own party's state machine and his promotion of controversial causes such as implementation of civil rights and environmental protection legislation. Hechler is a popular, progressive who used a personal contact "grassroots" approach to campaigning. Eschewing the increasing costs of political campaigns and the heavy dependence of candidates on public relations firms, he was defeated in the late 1970's in his gubernatorial and congressional bids. He was successful, though in making a comeback in the 1984 race for West Virginia Secretary of State. He ends the interview by specifying the duties of this office and his accomplishments in it to date. Significant references are made to Dean Acheson, David Bell, Robert C. Brooks, John Carroll, Clark Clifford, Dwight Eisenhower, George Elsey, Hermann Goering, George Hechler, Lyndon B. Johnson, Max Kampelman, Estes Kefauver, Raymond Moley, Will Neal, George S. Patton, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Samuel I. Rosenman, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Adlai Stevenson, Harry S. Truman, Harry Vaughan.

Access Copy Note: No special access restriction applies.

Date(s): 1985

Digital Status: No

Existing IDs: Call number: A&M No.: 1164

Extent: 1 in.

Finding Aid URL:;cc=wvcguide;q1=ken%20hechler;rgn=main;view=text;didno=1164 External Link

Language: English

Interviewees: Ken Hechler

Rights (Extant): WV&RHC retains all rights to the copyright.


Civil rights--Cases
Democratic Party (U.S.)
Johnson, Lyndon B. (Lyndon Baines), 1908-1973
Truman, Harry S., 1884-1972
United States. Congress. House
West Virginia--Politics and government




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