D.B. and I served our first term together in the Texas House of Representatives in 1951.
John McCully, then a newspaperman and a partner of Stuart Long, came to me and said: "You're going to meet a man named D.B. Hardeman. He will talk conservative at first but will vote liberal. He's smart as a whip and a good fellow. Don't run him off because of what he says at the outset."
As we liberals began to discover one another—John Barnhart of Beeville, Bob Mullen of Alice, Doug Crouch of Denton, Jamie Clements of Crockett, Edgar Berlin of Port Neches, Jim Sewell of Corsicana, and Bob Wheeler of Tilden, among others—D.B. would tell us, "Now let's give Governor Allan Shivers a chance to do right. He was one of my campaign managers when I ran for editor of the Daily Texan at the University of Texas."
But Shivers turned more and more to the right, and D.B. began to turn more and more to the left, although he never called himself a "liberal" because he didn't like the term. He used the term "progressive." Whatever term you prefer, Hardeman, according to the AFL-CIO, had a perfect voting record for both of the terms he served in the House.
On a long-range, day-in, day-out basis, D.B. was the most important member of the Texas House of Representatives I ever served with in my six years as a legislator. He was not important in the sense of power or committee assignments because he was not then the Speaker's man. In those days he fought the Speaker. But he was important as an intellectual, and as a high-minded person. Above all he was important because he brought the liberals together, taught them how to count votes, and even persuaded them to be polite to one another.
We gathered at least three nights a week at D.B.'s apartment and plotted floor fights for the next day, sometimes drinking too much and on occasion making fools out of ourselves. As an aside, I could always tell when it was the end of the month and D.B. was broke—he started drinking cheap whiskey and lived off Brussels sprouts.
But at those nightly meetings, usually around midnight, D.B. would be in his baggy shorts—a libation in one hand, a book in the other—and deliver a stirring oration, urging us to go out on the floor of the House the next morning and fight the honey-money lobbyists.
D.B. had a quality of kindness about him which was his strength, but also his weakness and the reason, I think, he never held high office, such as U.S. senator or even higher.
He just couldn't hurt anybody. In politics, figuratively speaking, one must on occasion plunge a knife into an adversary. D.B. understood this, would talk about it late at night, advocate it, and promise to personally do it the next morning. But he never would and with those of us who loved him it became an affectionate joke.
When the time came for D.B. to retire, my wife, Julia, and I had a significant hand in getting him to make his home in San Antonio. In less than a year he had made more friends than you can shake a stick at. Especially young people.
About two years before D.B. died—his middle name was Barnard—I began efforts as a lawyer to bring to Texas the remains of his great-grandfather, Dr. Joseph Henry Barnard, "The Surgeon of the Goliad Massacre," as he is known in Texas history books.
Dr. Barnard, a hero of the Texas Revolution, had unexpectedly died on a visit to Canada in 1861. On the same day that D.B. died in the Nix Hospital in San Antonio, the remains of Dr. Barnard arrived at the funeral home in Austin.
After former governor Dolph Briscoe gave the eulogy for D.B., who had been Dolph's best man, we buried D.B. and his great-grandfather next to one another midway along the west fence of the State Cemetery in Austin, a stone's throw from Stephen F. Austin, Big Foot Wallace, and D.B.'s favorite history professor, Dr. Walter Prescot Webb.
Then we went over to the home of Jean and Russell Lee—Russ was one of the New Deal's great photographers of hungry people during Depression days—and had a few drinks and told D.B. Hardeman stories.
Maury Maverick, Jr.
* * *
In 1952 Stevenson was coming to Texas, and there was nobody to run the campaign. Our Democratic politicians had run off. So Sam Rayburn just had to do it as a civic duty. He'd never managed a campaign, including his own. He knew nothing about managing a campaign. He knew a lot about politics, but not about campaign managing. He had very little money, and he didn't know where to begin.
Well, in the Texas Legislature a group of us on the liberal side—the loyal Democratic side—had gotten to be very close friends. Maury Maverick, Jr., was one of the group; and one of the boys we loved very much was Jim Sewell, who'd lost his sight in World War II—a wonderful man, later a district judge in Corsicana.
Now, when Maury Maverick, Jr., gets an idea about something, he runs his friends absolutely to the asylum, and his enemies over the wall! Maury decided that Mr. Rayburn should have Jim Sewell as his campaign manager for Adlai Stevenson. Mr. Rayburn had never heard of Jim Sewell, never met Jim Sewell. But Maury sent telegrams. He sent oversized postcards. He sent special-delivery letters. He just drove the old man out of his mind until Rayburn finally said, "Well, let's talk to this fellow Sewell."
Rayburn fell in love with Jim Sewell, like the rest of us, and asked Jim to be the campaign manager. Jim agreed. Jim phoned me and asked if I'd come to Dallas and handle the organization. I said yes, I'd be glad to do it.
So there were three of us: there was Jim, myself, and Ray Roberts (who took Mr. Rayburn's seat in Congress). Roberts was the administrator—the office manager. Ray had done this work in the Navy and was very good at it. It was the best-run office I've ever seen in a campaign. It was the only one I ever saw where anyone could find anything in the files. An interesting sidelight on this was that (with all those charges of corruption in Washington, and so forth) Ray was the commander of a Naval Reserve unit near Dallas. It was an office administration unit, so Ray got half a dozen of his boys and put them in civilian clothes and hid them away in his office in the Adolphus Hotel. They actually handled all the files and much of the paperwork. I just knew the Dallas News was going to find out about it and blast us. Here we had called to active duty these Naval Reserve boys, and they were hidden away working on Adlai Stevenson's campaign, being paid out of the Federal Treasury and out of the Pentagon budget! But we got through, and so far as I know, that has never been revealed—certainly never in print. [Luter, No. 1, December 27, 1969]
* * *
This is a little footnote to history. Governor Stevenson was coming to Texas, to appear in Dallas-Fort Worth and then in Houston. But in those days you had a very different situation. Because of the racial issue, neither the presidential nor vice-presidential candidate of either the Democratic or Republican party could spend the night in the South during the national campaign—because there were no hotels that would rent a room to a black. The candidate would fly in, make a speech in Atlanta, and fly out to sleep in Baltimore or Philadelphia. That was both parties.
Well, a group of younger Texas Democrats got together in San Antonio when Jim Sewell made a speech, and they phoned me. (I was the only person left in the state headquarters. Mr. Rayburn had gone over to the Louisiana line to make a speech there, and I was in charge of the little headquarters in Dallas.) So they phoned me and said, "We've got the answer! We've got the answer!"—former vice president John Nance Garner, who was the hero of many conservatives in those days lived in Uvalde, Texas—"We've got the answer! Stevenson's got to go to Uvalde and pay homage to Mr. Garner, and that will line up the conservative vote for us!" Well, I still didn't know Mr. Rayburn; but he had the suite on the floor above me, so about eleven o'clock at night I typed out a little note, saying that I'd had this call urging that Stevenson go to Uvalde to see Mr. Garner, and I stuck that under his door. Well, it was past midnight when the phone rang:
"This is Sam Rayburn. Come up here!"
So I went up there, and he said, "Mix yourself a drink." He had on his robe and slippers, and he had this piece of paper in his hand. He said, "Stevenson's going to Uvalde."
Well, this created a problem, because the airfield that had been built at Uvalde during World War II wasn't big enough to accommodate Stevenson's plane: How do you get him in there and get him out of there? Well, the only way possible they could think of to avoid the hotel situation—since there is always the possibility a black newspaperman, or a black liaison officer, or a representative of the NAACP, or somebody, will be on the trip—was to charter a train in Dallas, travel all night long, have a ranch-style breakfast at Mr. Garner's, and take the train back to San Antonio. Stevenson could make a couple of speeches in San Antonio, then fly to Houston and out of the South that night. That's what was done.
One of the great thrills of my life was the Stevenson campaign in 1952. His speeches were probably the highest quality of any speeches since those of Woodrow Wilson in 1912 when he outlined the New Freedom. They thrilled many people, including myself. His frankness, his candor, and the beauty of his language have set a lot of people on fire. A lot of people have never gotten over that campaign even now, almost thirty years later.
Aboard that train was Jim Sewell, the blind man; Dolph Briscoe, later to be governor of Texas: Maury Maverick, Jr.; and myself—all young guys, unimportant in the state political hierarchy. Stevenson had the little dinky parlor car—something left over from the 1890s—on the back end of the train. That morning, before we got to Uvalde, Mr. Rayburn sent for "the four young guys who were up to their necks in the campaign" and had us come back to the parlor car to be introduced to Adlai Stevenson. That was one of the great thrills of my life!
* * *
There is another story about the train trip to Uvalde. We were on this train and it was sort of a lark, you know. A special train was a lot of fun, and the newspapermen and a lot of others sat up much too late drinking. About four o'clock in the morning Maury Maverick, Sr., came through the press car with an armload of mimeographed things. Maury had gotten on board in San Antonio early in the morning, and he had this mimeographed speech of Adlai Stevenson's—in Spanish! He gave it to all the newspapermen.
Well, word got back to Carl McGowan or Bill Blair, and they hit the ceiling. They didn't know anything about this speech attributed to Adlai Stevenson—I'm sure Maury must have made an English translation of it—and here was Stevenson making all sorts of pledges and promises to the Latin American community, and about the Good Neighbor Policy, and what have you. The Stevenson staff just hit the ceiling. They got frantic and went through the train taking up all these speeches, trying to get them all back—confiscate them.
Maverick was unruffled. Maury Maverick, Sr., had been a great friend of Stevenson's back in their early days in Washington together. Someone asked, "Maury, why did you do this?" He said, "Oh, well. It didn't hurt anything to try. It's all right. I don't care if they confiscate them, because I've seen to it that it's already in print in La Prensa, the Mexican paper."
So, Stevenson made a speech on Latin American affairs which was never official. Maury Maverick, Sr., wrote it without telling anybody, because he knew they'd say no. He just committed Stevenson on the things he thought he ought to be committed on and got it out to the Latin American community. This was the phantom Latin American speech of Adlai Stevenson. [Luter No. 1, December 27, 1969]
Maury Maverick, Jr. Reminiscences of D. B. Hardeman, Compiled by Larry Hufford