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Ken Hechler Interview Transcript

Collection Number: A&M 1164


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.


  • Creation: 1985


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0.1 Linear Feet (Summary: 1 in.)

Physical Location

West Virginia and Regional History Center / West Virginia University / 1549 University Avenue / P.O. Box 6069 / Morgantown, WV 26506-6069 / Phone: 304-293-3536 / Fax: 304-293-3981 / URL:

Ken Hechler Interview Transcript, 1985
Staff of the West Virginia & Regional History Center
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Part of the West Virginia and Regional History Center Repository

1549 University Ave.
P.O. Box 6069
Morgantown WV 26506-6069 US