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The Public Papers of Governor Keen Johnson, 1939-1943

The Public Papers of Governor Keen Johnson, 1939-1943

Frederic D. Ogden Editor
Copyright Date: 1982
Pages: 618
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  • Book Info
    The Public Papers of Governor Keen Johnson, 1939-1943
    Book Description:

    Keen Johnson was governor of Kentucky from 1939 to 1943 -- years that spanned the end of the Depression and the initial involvement of this country in the Second World War. The account of Johnson's administration is chronicled here through a collection of his public papers. The material, organized by subject and arranged chronologically within each area, presents a rather clear picture of Governor Johnson's plans and concerns for Kentucky and of the actions he took as chief executive on behalf of the state.

    In contrast to contemporary procedures concerning the preservation of governors' papers in university and state archives, many of the Johnson papers were difficult to locate and, apart from a few complete speech manuscripts, were reconstructed in large part from cards containing outlines and notes for speeches, along with many state and local newspaper accounts of speeches he made and of events in which he participated. Many speeches have been extensively footnoted by the editor to provide the reader with supplementary information.

    Also included in this volume is a perceptive evaluation of the Johnson administration by H. Clyde Reeves, who served in it as a commissioner of revenue. The appendix offers as complete a listing as was possible to reconstruct of the speeches delivered by Governor Johnson during his term of office.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5692-7
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-xvi)
    (pp. xvii-xx)
    H. Clyde Reeves

    Keen Johnson promised in his campaign to make a careful and frugal governor, and he was. His speeches often placed emphasis on democracy, and as governor, he never succumbed to dictatorial or autocratic methods.

    He delegated responsibility for preparing the executive budget to the members of the Legislative Council and sat with them frequently through days of hearings, participating more as a member than as governor. He did not deliver his budget message in person. With the war operating to depress state revenues, his budgets were by necessity tight.

    Despite his low-key approach to the problems of the state, Governor...

    (pp. xxi-xxii)
    R. F. S.
    (pp. xxiii-xxiv)
    F. D. O.
  6. GOVERNOR KEEN JOHNSON October 9, 1939, to December 7, 1943
    (pp. 1-4)

    Keen Johnson, the forty-second governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, was born on January 12, 1896, at Brandon’s Chapel in the “Between the Rivers” section of Lyon County, Kentucky. He was one of four children born to Robert and Mattie D. (Holloway) Johnson. He was named for John S. Keen, a native of Adair County and a friend of his father.¹

    His father was a circuit-riding Methodist preacher and his earliest teacher. Because the administrative policies of the Methodist church required its ministers to move frequently, Keen Johnson became familiar with many parts of the Pennyrile and Purchase sections of...

  7. INAUGURAL ADDRESS Frankfort / December 12, 1939
    (pp. 5-12)

    It pleases me immensely that you have assembled here in such numbers to witness the induction of myself and the Honorable Rodes K. Myers¹ into the exalted offices of governor and lieutenant governor. It delights me that virtually every county in Kentucky is represented in this vast throng. Much effort, ingenuity and expense has been required to make this, the supreme moment of my public life, a colorful and memorable event. So I want to express my appreciation to the members of the inaugural committee in Frankfort and to every individual in this great assembly, for their respective contributions to...

    (pp. 13-81)

    The Honorable A. B. Chandler,¹ Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, having resigned said office and reliquished all of his rights thereto, as appears of record on the Executive Orders of the Governor of the Commonwealth now on file in the office of the Secretary of State, came the Honorable Keen Johnson, the duly elected, qualified and acting Lieutenant Governor for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and the Honorable Alex Ratliff,² Chief Justice of the Court of Appeals of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and the Honorable Chief Justice administered the oath of office as Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky to...

    (pp. 82-120)

    From and after this date you will please advise Mr. J. Lyter Donaldson by written memorandum or letter, whenever in your judgment it is advisable to remove, release, or transfer any employee in your department, accompanying such advice with your reasons for recommending such action, and you will forward this advice to Mr. Donaldson at least ten days prior to the date you think it advisable to make such change in present employment, and you will furnish Mr. J. Dan Talbott, commissioner of finance, with a copy of such memorandum.¹

    Hereafter, whenever in your judgment it is necessary for the...

    (pp. 121-180)

    It has been suggested that some of you would be interested in my thought as to the problems you confront as you undertake the important responsibility of making a textbook adoption. Your task is to determine how about $5 million shall be expended for textbooks. I have confidence in the integrity of members of this commission and have no disposition to question their judgment. My chief concern is that, when the adoption has been completed, you will have selected the best books available for our schools and at the most favorable prices to the Commonwealth. I have no doubt that...

    (pp. 181-234)

    By virtue of the authority vested in me by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, under the provisions of the Reorganization Act of 1936, on recommendation of the Commissioner of Welfare with the approval of the Commissioner of Finance, I, as Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, hereby authorize the establishment of the following administrative organization of the Department of Welfare. This order supersedes and nullifies the Executive Order No. 11, issued August 10, 1938, and becomes effective on the date signed by me:

    1. The Commissioner of Welfare, assisted by a Deputy Commissioner and advised by the Board...

    (pp. 235-253)

    Senator Chandler and Governor Johnson each praised the aid of the other during their nearly four years together.¹ Governor Johnson referred to it as “teamwork, with a mandate that designated Governor Chandler to pull in the lead position and I was to pull my portion of the load from the off side.”

    He said the new institution with its large administration building, nine dormitories, and its shops and farm was made possible by Chandler’s “vision” and by the “awakened conscience” of the people and invited all Kentuckians to cooperate in carrying forward the work until “all institutions of Kentucky are...

    (pp. 254-284)

    “I always enjoy coming to Paducah. It was the first town larger than Smithland I ever saw. I came here on the Cumberland river packetJ. B. Richardsonwhen my father brought our crop of dark tobacco to market. I saw here the first bright lights—first streetcars—first elevator in the old Palmer House. Here we bought the suit of clothes that had long pants. I rejoice in the development of Western Kentucky. There are no finer folk beneath the sun than those who reside in Western Kentucky. I promise you that as your governor I shall have a...

    (pp. 285-305)

    “Farmers are the finest citizens, individually, but it is often difficult to get concerted action and cooperation. It requires much intelligence to be a good farmer. There is a difference of opinion among farmers on farming. The best farmers are in the Farm Bureau. There are critics of the farm program and its national administration.”

    Turning to the national debt, Governor Johnson said, “Your part of the debt can now be paid with 1,000 pounds of burley—and in 1931 it took 3,000 pounds.

    “Unity is necessary to prevent scuttling the farm program. There ought to be a stampede to...

    (pp. 306-322)

    Governor of Kentucky accepted invitation to be a spectator while President Roosevelt dedicated the Chickamauga Dam, near Chattanooga, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park at Newfound Gap, N.C.¹ Keen Johnson, newspaper reporter, also went along as did Zellner Peal and Tom Underwood.² Zellner, as secretary to the governor, does most of the work at the executive offices. Tom is editor of theLexington Heraldand chairman of the Democratic State Central Executive Committee. Sergeant Dan Gray piloted the Buick bus provided by indulgent taxpayers for the governor.

    Governor of Kentucky joined Governor Prentice Cooper, of Tennessee, and Governor Ed Rivers,...

    (pp. 323-367)

    Governor Johnson assured Kentucky businessmen that he intended to keep the state on a sound financial basis by practicing the most rigid economy. “My greatest ambition is to do as little to the state’s business and to you as taxpayers as I can.”

    The budget soon to go to the legislature would contain three items of increase, one being $1 million for social security benefits, mostly old-age pensions. This could be regarded as insurance against the furtherance of unsound pension schemes. The other increases were $500,000 for a teachers’ retirement plan which the governor termed desirable, and allotment of $10,000...

    (pp. 368-433)

    Governor Johnson voiced disillusionment over the “war to end wars” in 1917 and urged that the veterans’ organization lend its full influence in keeping “America from again crossing submarine-infested oceans to fight un–American wars.” The veterans should take every precaution to see that “our sons are not subjected to the same experience we went through in that other war.”

    In outlining the work of the state Disabled Ex-Service Men’s Board, he traced its accomplishments since its formation in 1921. Through its activities all but five mentally ill ex-servicemen, who were lodged in state mental hospitals, had been transferred to...

    (pp. 434-477)

    No one could stand here in the shadows of the historic steeples of Churchill Downs and see the marvelous sight we see here at this moment without a thrill of pride for things that are Kentucky’s.

    The thoroughbred has a particular place in Kentucky. And to all the world the Kentucky Derby¹ stands as a race full of the rosy memories of a great past and full of the drama and excitement of a great present. To win this race is a wonderful and proud distinction, both for the horse and for everyone who has had a hand in his...

    (pp. 478-514)

    I want to thank Senator Barkley, Senator Chandler, and your next lieutenant governor, Rodes K. Myers, for their fine contribution to our concluding campaign broadcast.

    This is the last time in probably a long while I shall address myself primarily to the Democrats of Kentucky. Tonight I am a candidate and find my audience divided between those who are my supporters and those who are the supporters of a political opponent. But for more than four years after tomorrow, I will be the governor of all the people of Kentucky without regard to their political faiths or stations in life...

  20. APPENDIX 1 PRIMARY CAMPAIGN OPENING Shelbyville / June 24, 1939
    (pp. 515-531)
  21. APPENDIX 2 General Election Campaign Opening Mount Sterling / October 7, 1939
    (pp. 532-549)
  22. APPENDIX 3 Speeches of Governor Johnson
    (pp. 550-572)
  23. INDEX
    (pp. 573-592)