Interviewer:
Well, during this period since 1948, what have been the major changes that you have seen in southern politics and in Florida politics?
Claude Pepper:
Well, along about that time, perhaps a bit before, the South was beginning to revert to the attitude of conservatism which had so long characterized the dominant attitude in the South. While we did have a populist movement back in the early part of the century, it never did take the whole South. It was a sporadic movement which died out pretty soon. But I recall that in '44, in my Senate race, I was a staunch supporter of Roosevelt and the New Deal, and my majority, although I won in the first primary, was considerably reduced over what it had previously been. I attributed that to the growing strength of the combination against labor, the growing conservative attitude, the growing departure from the principles and policies of Roosevelt, especially since Truman, whatever good qualities he had, he had many, as an executive, he wasn't the kind of a political leader who could bring a large volume of people along with him as Roosevelt could. So, with no dynamic, magnetic personality like Roosevelt to lead in the liberal cause, I noticed even as early as '44 that the trend was developing strongly toward conservatism. And by 1950, there were six... I'm speaking of the whole country now, there were six senior Senators defeated. I was one of them. And the basic issue was National Health Insurance, civil rights, liberal attitudes favoring labor, minimum wage and all that sort of thing. Adequate hospital and medical care for the people, those were things were basically the issues. And of course, the McCarthy stuff was simply the coloration of it. It was an excuse, it was simply a manifestation of that extreme right-wing conservative attitude that was beginning to grow stronger and stronger. And since that time, we have seen more Republicans elected.

- Claude Pepper, former senator of Florida from 1936 to 1951

Interview with Claude Pepper by Jack Bass and Walter DeVries, February 1, 1974, Interview A-0056, in the Southern Oral History Program Collection #4007, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Click here to access the full interview.