Collection Title: Jackson Purchase Oral History Project – Politics and Government
Series Number: OH160 (Session 3)
Interviewee: Clements, Earle C., 1896-1985
Interviewer: Hammack, James W.
Date interviewed: 1975 January 24-26, 1975
Processed by: Processed by Benjamin J. Drake from October of 2011 to February 16, 2012.
Date processed: February 17, 2012
Description: 12 sound discs (504 minutes)
Abstract: Earle C. Clements discusses the end of his military service in the United States National Guard and the early years of his political career in Kentucky. He recalls teaching military studies at Peru State Teachers College (now Peru State College) and Davenport Island High School, Iowa and mentions his discharge from the army at Fort Dodge, Iowa in 1919. He describes his career as a "wildcat" oil driller in Ranger, Texas and his return to Morganfield, where he coached football at the local high school from 1921 to 1929. He details his father's election as sheriff of Union County and his appointment as deputy sheriff in 1921. He recalls his appointment to sheriff following his father's death in 1922, his election as county court clerk in 1926 and county judge in 1934. He discusses his tenure as State Senator from 1941 to 1944, United States Representative from 1944 to 1948 and Governor of Kentucky from 1947 to 1950. He further explained the major policies, issues and legislation that dominated State politics during his years in office. He also offers his opinions on significant political figures in Kentucky, including John Sires, Thomas Rhea, Harry Lee Waterfield, Frederick A. Wallis, Lee Gibson, Alben W. Barkley, Keen Johnson, Simeon S. Willis, Beverly M. Vincent, Jim Diskin, and Tom Underwood.
Biographical / Historical note: Earle Chester Clements was born in Morganfield, Kentucky on October 22, 1896. He briefly attended the University of Kentucky before serving in the United States Army during the First World War. After returning from the war, he worked in the oil fields of Texas for a few years before returning to Morganfield to farm and coach football at the local high school. He served as Union County sheriff from 1922 to 1926, county clerk from 1926 to 1934 and county judge from 1934 to 1942. Clements was elected to state Senate in 1941 and in 1944 became majority leader. He served two terms in the United States House of Representatives from 1945 to 1948 and was elected governor of Kentucky in 1947. He resigned in 1950 to run for the United States Senate. He won the election and served in the Senate from 1950 to 1957. From 1959 to 1960, he acted as state highway commissioner. Clements also worked as a lobbyist in Washington, D.C. and held several executive positions with the American Tobacco Institute. He retired to Morganfield in 1981 and died on March 12, 1985.
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